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5 household jobs to do over summer

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though Christmas may be over, many still on holidays have a chance to not only spend time together, but to finally tackle some of those niggly jobs around the house that you have been meaning to get done.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Whether the pool is looking a bit murky or you’re looking to make some small improvements, here are five odd jobs around the house to tick off your to-do list this summer.</span></p> <p><strong>1. Treat your garden to a little TLC</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While mowing the lawn and edging the driveway are done on a more regular basis, the summer holidays are a perfect chance to tidy up your garden and show some love to your plants with some pruning.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In particular, the start of the year is a good time to prune gardenias and other plants that have finished flowering, cut back herbs that have run to seed, and inspect plants for mildew, petal blight, or signs of being eaten.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For help with your garden, Stuart Tucker, the Chief Customer Officer at hipages, recommends using the Yates My Garden app.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Consider it your ‘personal trainer’ of the garden world. The app gives you access to qualified horticulturalists that can talk you through anything that’s happening in your garden,” he told </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.bhg.com.au/summer-household-jobs?category=garden" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Better Homes and Gardens</span></a></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“You can take a picture and share via the live chat and the team will help ID and provide further details on what you need to do.”</span></p> <p><strong>2. Refresh your interiors with paint</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For a cost-effective way to change the look of your home, a fresh coat of paint can refresh your interiors and make your walls look cleaner without costing an arm and a leg.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, it’s recommended that you put the paintbrushes down on especially </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://trimaco.com/blog/5-tips-for-interior-painting-in-the-winter/" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">humid days</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> as the heat can affect how the paint dries.</span></p> <p><strong>3. Get your pool in tip-top shape</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Maintaining a pool during winter months can seem like an unrewarding task, so the summer break can be a perfect time to give it some of the attention it may have missed during the rest of the year - especially so you can finally enjoy it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“If your pool filter or equipment needs attention, see to it now before your friends and family start commenting on the murky pool water,” Stuart said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you’re in need of a helping hand, Stuart said there’s an app for that too.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Try using an app like Blue Connect - Pool Care to track and analyse your pool water by measuring the temperature, pH, the disinfectant concentration and salinity,” he explained.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The app will also notify you in case of any problems.”</span></p> <p><strong>4. Service your air-con unit</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A must for staying cool when the mercury rises, air-conditioning units often work their hardest during summer - meaning it;s important to check that they’re still in good shape.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“If you have an internal unit, clear any dust to prevent it (from) performing poorly,” Stuart said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“External units need to be cleared of leaves and other debris.”</span></p> <p><strong>5. Tidy up</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With many of us visiting and receiving family during most of the holidays, it can be tricky to keep our homes clean. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But, giving your home a deep clean can make maintaining it that much easier - though you don’t have to do it all on your own.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Before you welcome any visitors, consider hiring a local on-demand cleaner who can give your home a deep clean from top to bottom, including all floors, surfaces and windows,” Stuart said.</span></p>

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Cats love it but mozzies don’t

<p>At the risk of becoming the Pied Piper of cats, you could use the garden herb catnip as a non-toxic insect repellent – and scientists have now nutted out why it wards off mozzies and other irritating bugs.</p> <p>The active ingredient nepetalactone in the mint-like herb (<em>Nepeta cataria</em>) selectively activates the irritant receptor <em>TRPA1</em> (transient receptor potential ankyrin 1) in certain insects, according to a study <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(21)00217-7" target="_blank">published</a> in the journal <em>Current Biology</em>.</p> <p>The protein is best known as the “wasabi receptor” (many people will be familiar with the eye-watering sensation caused by the Japanese horseradish), but although humans and other animals have it, catnip doesn’t affect us in the same way.</p> <p>More intriguingly, tear gas – which contains mustard oil – activates the same irritant receptor in both mosquitoes and humans, says co-senior author Marco Gallio from Northwestern University, US.</p> <p>“But it may not be a good insect repellent,” he adds, “as it makes people miserable too.” Even better, catnip doesn’t seem to deter bees (although aphids don’t mind it either).</p> <p>Importantly, it’s particularly effective at repelling mosquitoes, which pose a major <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/science/bacteria-v-mozzies-bacteria-holding-their-own/" target="_blank">public health problem.</a> Some studies show it to be as effective as chemical repellents such as DEET – <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-36814-1" target="_blank">if not more so</a> – which many cannot afford or avoid due to concerns about toxicity.</p> <p>And its use is not new. As lead author Nadia Melo, from Lund University in Sweden, and colleagues note, Pliny the Elder described several medicinal uses of it in his encyclopedia <em><a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://www.livius.org/articles/person/pliny-the-elder/pliny-the-elder-natural-history/" target="_blank">Naturalis Histori</a></em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.livius.org/articles/person/pliny-the-elder/pliny-the-elder-natural-history/" target="_blank"><em>a</em></a> back around AD 77.</p> <p>In the ninth century, they write, <em>Bald’s leechbok</em> “reports catnip as effective against everything from bedevilment (mix leaves with ale, chant 12 masses) to shoulder pain (pound leaves in ale, drink by fire)”.</p> <div class="newsletter-box"> <div id="wpcf7-f6-p140820-o1" class="wpcf7"> <p style="display: none !important;"> </p> <!-- Chimpmail extension by Renzo Johnson --></div> </div> <p>In humans it was known to be soothing and calming, while for cats, rolling in it seems to evoke euphoria – apparently it gives them an opioid-like hit – and it’s thought the aim is to <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/search/mozzies+vs+moggies/" target="_blank">help them deter mosquitoes</a>.</p> <p>But it’s long been observed that mozzies and other insects are not nearly as keen on catnip – the team notes its historical use as a repellent against “pesky small creatures”, as referred to by Johannes Franck’s <em>Speculum botanicum</em> in the 1600s, and others.</p> <p>Adding some modern molecular science to this, the collaborative experiment by Melo and colleagues at Marcus Stensmyr’s lab in Sweden was quite thorough.</p> <p>First, they tested Pliny’s claim that catnip repels scorpions by allowing four <em>Heterometrus cyaneus</em> to choose a pot to hide in, one of which contained catnip. The scorpions all chose the pot with catnip, “displaying no apparent distress”. To be fair, the authors say the plant Pliny refers to as <em>Nepeta</em> may have been a different herb.</p> <p>They continued with a vast array of experiments with different arthropods ranging from ticks, mites, aphids and planthoppers to bees, wasps, weevils, beetles, flies and mosquitoes, finding evidence to support the notion that nepetalactone is an irritant.</p> <p>Then they used cultured cells expressing the <em>TRPA1</em> genes – a molecular mechanism for “pain” and response to irritants <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://news.northwestern.edu/stories/2017/october/wasabi-receptor-for-pain-discovered-in-flatworms/" target="_blank">discovered</a> by Gallio’s lab – in flies, mozzies and humans to test if they are activated by catnip and nepetalactone.</p> <p>Finally, the team tested catnip on mutant mosquitoes and flies without the <em>TRPA1</em> receptor and found they lost their aversion to the herb. “<em>TRPA1</em> mutant mosquitoes in particular do not avoid catnip any more at all,” says Gallio. “Cool.”</p> <p>Now they’ve shown why catnip works and is so powerful, he says their study further supports its widespread use as a natural, safe repellent, accessible in poor countries afflicted by mosquito-borne diseases. “Great because it’s cheap and it grows like a weed.”</p> <p>What can you do to avoid excessive feline affections while warding off the pesky bugs? Not a problem, says Gallio: “We like cats.”</p> <!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <p><img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=140820&amp;title=Cats+love+it+but+mozzies+don%E2%80%99t" alt="" width="1" height="1" /></p> <!-- End of tracking content syndication --> <div id="contributors"> <p><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/nature/cats-love-it-but-mozzies-dont/" target="_blank">This article</a> was originally published on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com" target="_blank">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/natalie-parletta" target="_blank">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.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p> </div>

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Why has my home been overrun by pantry moths and how do I get rid of them? An expert explains

<p>Has your home recently been overrun by tiny grey moths, flapping erratically around your kitchen? Spotted some suspicious webs in a cereal box? You might be sharing your dried food with pantry moths (<em>Plodia interpunctella</em>).</p> <p>Although several species of moth can live and breed in our homes, the pantry moth (also known as the “Indian meal moth”) is one of the <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/pest-insects/stored-food-insects?page=0%2C1#:%7E:text=There%20are%20three%20major%20storage,warehouse%20moth%20(Ephestia%20cautella).&amp;text=The%20moth%20lays%20eggs%20on,takes%20one%20to%20three%20months." target="_blank">most common</a> unwanted moth-guests.</p> <p>Pantry moths are found on <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/124184-Plodia-interpunctella" target="_blank">every continent</a> except Antarctica. They feed on rice, grains, flour, pasta, cereals, dried fruits, spices, seeds, nuts and other dried food. Their fondness for dried foods makes them a major pest in food storage facilities.</p> <p>So how did they get in your house – and what can you do to get rid of them?</p> <p><strong>‘Large amounts of silk webbing and faeces’</strong></p> <p>Like other moths, pantry moths have four distinct life stages: egg, caterpillar, pupae and adult.</p> <p>The first sign of a pantry moth infestation is often the sight of adult moths flying in an erratic, zig-zag path around our kitchens.</p> <p>Pantry moth adults have grey-coloured wings with bronze or tan <a rel="noopener" href="http://lepidoptera.butterflyhouse.com.au/pyra/interpunctella.html" target="_blank">bands near the wing tips</a>.</p> <p>Although they can be annoying, adult moths do not feed at all. The trouble arises when female moths lay their eggs in or around our food. The tiny eggs hatch into barely visible cream-coloured caterpillars small enough to crawl into poorly sealed food containers. There, they begin to feed.</p> <p>As they grow, caterpillars produce large amounts of silk webbing and faeces, both of which can contaminate food.</p> <p>Once a caterpillar reaches its full size, it leaves the food in search of a safe space to make a cocoon, usually a crack, container lid, crevice or corner. Sometimes they turn up in the hinges of a pantry door.</p> <p>A few weeks later, an adult moth emerges from the cocoon, ready to start the cycle again.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/428972/original/file-20211028-27-12glaz1.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/428972/original/file-20211028-27-12glaz1.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="A pile of almonds is seen with thin, silky webbing over it." /></a><em> <span class="caption">Have you found suspicious webbing on your dried foods?</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></em></p> <p><strong>How did pantry moths get in my house? And why are they more common lately?</strong></p> <p>Unfortunately, it’s likely you brought them home yourself. Although pantry moths can enter via doors and windows, most infestations probably start when we inadvertently bring home eggs and caterpillars in our dried foods.</p> <p>Kitchens full of unsealed containers and spilled food create an irresistible smorgasbord for female moths looking for the ideal place to lay eggs.</p> <p>Like many insects, pantry moths <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022474X99000399" target="_blank">develop more quickly</a> at warmer temperatures.</p> <p>At warmer temperatures, <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/international-journal-of-tropical-insect-science/article/abs/some-physical-and-biological-factors-affecting-oviposition-by-plodia-interpunctella-hubner-lepidoptera-phycitidae/788E52C0C484BFB79405594A85AF580B" target="_blank">females also lay more eggs</a> and caterpillars are more likely to survive to adulthood.</p> <p>But prolonged exposure to temperatures <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022474X97000568" target="_blank">above 40℃</a> are lethal to eggs and caterpillars.</p> <p>While pantry moths can be found at any time of the year, the warm temperatures of late spring and early summer are often perfect for supporting rapid population growth.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/428981/original/file-20211028-19-1apbci4.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/428981/original/file-20211028-19-1apbci4.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <em><span class="caption">Most infestations probably start when we inadvertently bring home eggs and caterpillars in our dried foods.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></em></p> <p><strong>How do I get rid of pantry moths?</strong></p> <p>First, eliminate their sources of food. Dry goods should be stored in sealed, airtight containers with tight-fitting lids.</p> <p>To prevent eggs and caterpillars from hitchhiking in on purchases, place dried foods in the freezer for three to four days; this should kill any eggs and caterpillars that may be present.</p> <p>If you already have an infestation, carefully inspect all potential food sources including spices, cereals, grains, dry pet foods, pasta, seeds, nuts, tea, dried flowers and dried fruit.</p> <p>Pantry moth caterpillars are hard to see; look for the silken webbing they produce, which can cause food grains to clump together. These webbed clumps are often more conspicuous than the caterpillars themselves.</p> <p>Infested foods should either be discarded or placed in the freezer for three to four days to kill eggs and caterpillars.</p> <p>Clean up and discard any spilled foods on shelves, under toasters or behind storage containers. Even small amounts of food can support thriving caterpillar populations.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/428984/original/file-20211028-23-16tobqx.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/428984/original/file-20211028-23-16tobqx.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="A man looks in his kitchen cupboards." /></a> <em><span class="caption">Moth cocoons can be removed from your kitchen cupboards by wiping with a damp cloth or with a vacuum cleaner.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></em></p> <p>Caterpillars can travel considerable distances to find a safe place to make a cocoon, so make sure to check shelves, walls, crevices and ceilings. Moth cocoons can be removed by wiping with a damp cloth or with a vacuum cleaner.</p> <p>Cleaning and proper food storage are the best ways to end a pantry moth outbreak. Sticky pantry moth traps are commercially available and can be used to monitor and reduce the moth population.</p> <p>Pantry moth traps – triangular cardboard covered with a thick sticky glue – are baited with a chemical that mimics the smell of a female pantry moth.</p> <p>Males are attracted to the trap and become hopelessly stuck to the glue. Since sticky traps only target males, traps are unlikely to stop an outbreak on their own; always use them with proper food storage and careful cleaning.</p> <p>Insecticide sprays are unlikely to be effective as pantry moth caterpillars and eggs are protected within food containers. Pantry moths are also resistant to a range of insecticides, rendering them ineffective. Insecticides should never be applied on or near food.</p> <p><strong>What if I ate some pantry moth eggs or larvae?</strong></p> <p>While it can be disconcerting to find tiny caterpillars in the cereal you’ve been enjoying all week, accidentally eating pantry moth caterpillars is unlikely to cause any health problems.</p> <p>Given how common they are in stored food, you’ve probably already unknowingly consumed many moth eggs and larvae.</p> <p>Thank goodness caterpillars are generally an <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-39480161" target="_blank">excellent source of</a> protein!<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/170274/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/tanya-latty-132">Tanya Latty</a>, Associate professor, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-has-my-home-been-overrun-by-pantry-moths-and-how-do-i-get-rid-of-them-an-expert-explains-170274">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

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Garden birds are struggling: four ways to help

<p>More than a quarter of Britain’s birds are now on the RSPB’s <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/uk-conservation-status-explained/" target="_blank">red list</a>, meaning that their numbers are in severe decline.</p> <p>Some of the recent additions to the red list are thought of as common garden birds, such as the greenfinch. Others, such as the swift and house martin, only spend spring and summer visiting the UK before migrating to warmer climes. But the environment they encounter in the UK, as well as along their migration routes, affects their survival significantly.</p> <p>Many of the species that we feed in our gardens and on balconies are under threat. Here are four ways to help them.</p> <p><strong>1. Clean your bird feeders and bird baths</strong></p> <p>In the wild, with a few exceptions such as starlings, birds don’t come into close contact with each other much. This lack of contact makes it harder for diseases to spread.</p> <p>Bird feeders change this dynamic. The presence of a bird feeder means that many individual birds from many different species feed in the same area. This leads to the <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.bto.org/community/news/201803-feed-birds-scientists-highlight-risks-disease-garden-bird-feeders" target="_blank">spread of disease</a>, because birds often poo where they eat, leaving pathogens to infect the next visitor.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/438076/original/file-20211216-23-13tbwiw.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Two birds on a house shaped feeder" /> <em><span class="caption">Greenfinches on a bird feeder.</span> <span class="attribution"><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/greenfinches-perching-on-bird-feeder-spring-1667803654" target="_blank" class="source">Chamois huntress/Shutterstock</a></span></em></p> <p>The greenfinch, a once common garden bird now added to the red list, has suffered because of this. The disease <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.bto.org/our-science/projects/gbw/gardens-wildlife/garden-birds/disease/trichomonosis" target="_blank">trichomonosis</a>, which used to just infect pigeons and doves, has spread to greenfinches with deadly consequences. Regular cleaning of your garden bird feeders and bird baths can reduce this risk.</p> <p><strong>2. Install bird nesting boxes</strong></p> <p>Many people help birds by putting up nest boxes in their gardens. But these boxes are mostly made for robins and tits who nest in open boxes, or ones with small holes. These nest boxes mimic the crevices and holes that would be available in mature trees.</p> <p>Swifts and house martins are new entrants to the red list, and both of these will readily use man-made nesting places if we provide them – with a few modifications for their needs.</p> <p>House martins will nest in a pre-made or home-made <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/how-you-can-help-birds/nestboxes/how-to-attract-house-martins/" target="_blank">nest cup</a> which mimics the mud nests house martins make for themselves.</p> <p>Swifts will <a rel="noopener" href="http://www.saveourswifts.co.uk/attractswifts.htm" target="_blank">nest in boxes</a>, but they take a bit more work to attract. The best way to do this is to play their screeching call from a speaker placed close to the nest box, to get them to investigate and hopefully nest.</p> <p>You can make nest boxes attractive to these species by installing them in the eaves of your home, as they need them to be up high so they can take flight from them easily.</p> <p><strong>3. Add some insect-friendly plants</strong></p> <p>Many of the species entering the red list, such as the house martin and house sparrow, feed on insects. Insects numbers have <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/news/2019/february/the-world-s-insect-populations-are-plummeting-everywhere-we-look.html" target="_blank">declined rapidly</a>, so it is no surprise that these avian predators are finding it hard to feed themselves and their chicks.</p> <p>You may love a neat and tidy garden or balcony, but set aside an area to be a bit messier and weedier to attract insects. Adding <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.rhs.org.uk/science/conservation-biodiversity/wildlife/plants-for-pollinators" target="_blank">pollinator-friendly plants</a>, such as lavender, foxglove and sedum, could really boost insect numbers – natural bird food – in your garden.</p> <p><strong>4. Reduce dangers to birds</strong></p> <p><a rel="noopener" href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0049369" target="_blank">Pet cats are predators</a> and can target species like house sparrows, which remain on the red list. Even the presence of cats could be enough to <a rel="noopener" href="https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2664.12025" target="_blank">scare birds</a>, reducing the number of young they may be able to have. This may have a more damaging impact on bird populations than the number of birds killed by cats.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/438077/original/file-20211216-17-10dzdgj.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Cat stalking along fence under roses" /> <em><span class="caption">Cats are predators and their presence affects bird populations.</span> <span class="attribution"><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/cat-burglar-front-roses-on-prowl-1503499694" target="_blank" class="source">Lilly P. Green/Shutterstock</a></span></em></p> <p>If you own a cat, there are ways for you to reduce its effect on bird numbers. A collar with a bell is an effective way to warn birds and other animals about a cat’s presence.</p> <p>In addition, you could consider restricting when cats are allowed outside to just the daytime, as birds can be more vulnerable in the very early morning when they wake and start to look for food. Alternatively, you could keep cats inside entirely. It is very common in Australia and the US for cats to remain indoors.</p> <p>These changes may seem small and your garden or outdoor space may not be big, but gardens in the UK <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/habitats/towns-and-gardens" target="_blank">cover more area</a> that all of our nature reserves put together. Encouraging wildlife in these garden habitats can make a big difference.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/173025/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/becky-thomas-506528" target="_blank">Becky Thomas</a>, Senior Teaching Fellow in Ecology, <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/royal-holloway-university-of-london-795" target="_blank">Royal Holloway University of London</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com" target="_blank">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/garden-birds-are-struggling-four-ways-to-help-173025" target="_blank">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

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Your backyard could reduce global warming

<p>Australian researchers found during an extreme heatwave that backyard gardens lowered land surface temperatures by five to six degrees Celsius more than similar non-vegetated areas.</p> <p>Hot summers can cause city temperatures to soar one to three degrees higher than surrounding areas, creating “<a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/city-hotter-countryside-urban-heat-island-science-180951985/" target="_blank" aria-label=" (opens in a new tab)">urban heat islands</a>” due to excess concrete, people, air conditioning, machinery and the resulting local climate.</p> <p>Not only can this be uncomfortable, and even unlivable, it can also place a significant burden on <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/heat-wave-health/" target="_blank" aria-label=" (opens in a new tab)">public health</a>.</p> <p>Green infrastructure and other nature-based solutions are proposed as cost-effective, sustainable approaches to mitigating the impacts of climate change. </p> <p>“Urban trees in particular are an effective tool for reducing land surface and air temperatures for entire suburbs, and even cities,” says researcher Alessandro Ossola from Macquarie University, Australia.</p> <p>“But as yet we don’t know much about their localised effects, particularly in the places where cooling is most important – our residential neighbourhoods – and when needed the most – during extreme heatwave events.”</p> <p>To investigate this, Ossola and colleagues from the university’s collaborative <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://www.mq.edu.au/research/research-centres-groups-and-facilities/secure-planet/centres/centre-for-green-cities" target="_blank" aria-label=" (opens in a new tab)">Smart Green Cities</a> hub analysed thermal mapping data collected from an aircraft in summer 2017 at the peak of a three-day long 40-degree heat wave in Adelaide.</p> <p>The results, <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://research-management.mq.edu.au/ws/portalfiles/portal/113138181/Urban_trees_and_peoples_yards_mitigate_extreme_heat_in_Western_Adelaide_28.01.2020.pdf" target="_blank" aria-label=" (opens in a new tab)">published </a>in an online report, were surprisingly positive. </p> <div class="newsletter-box"> <div id="wpcf7-f6-p35716-o1" class="wpcf7"> <p style="display: none !important;"> </p> <!-- Chimpmail extension by Renzo Johnson --></div> </div> <p>“We found that the humble home garden is more than pulling its weight when it comes down to urban cooling,” says Ossola. “Although they only cover about 20% of urban land, domestic yards account for more than 40% of tree cover and 30% of herbaceous cover, in the form of grass.” </p> <p>The tree canopy cover is notably more than typical parks or other urban green areas which tend to have more grass, and the cooler temperatures were particularly pronounced in the hottest suburbs that don’t enjoy cooling sea breezes.</p> <p>The researchers estimate that increasing green foliage in residential gardens could reduce local heat by several degrees Celsius. </p> <p>On the other hand, they calculated that removing existing vegetation through urbanisation, infill and densification could increase local land surface temperatures by three to four degrees, particularly during the day and for the most vulnerable communities.</p> <p>The considerable, localised cooling benefits of backyard gardens have important implications for policy, which needs to account for extreme temperatures in urban planning, Ossola says.</p> <p>“Our results clearly indicate that encouraging, protecting and expanding urban greening on private land is a simple, effective means of mitigating the negative effects of climate change on cities and people.</p> <p>“However this is a strategy that needs to begin now: urban forests don’t grow quickly, and we need to be encouraging low-water use herbaceous cover as a stopgap until a large array of shade trees can take over the job of green cooling.”</p> <p><strong><em>The Royal Institution of Australia has an education resource based on this article.</em></strong> You can access it <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://education.australiascience.tv/backyard-helps-reduce-global-warming/" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> <!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <p><img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=35716&amp;title=Your+backyard+could+reduce+global+warming" alt="" width="1" height="1" /></p> <!-- End of tracking content syndication --> <div id="contributors"> <p><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/earth/earth-sciences/your-backyard-could-reduce-global-warming/" target="_blank">This article</a> was originally published on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com" target="_blank">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/natalie-parletta" target="_blank">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.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p> </div>

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Real life Christmas Elves give the gift of life to pre-loved toys

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As Christmas rapidly approaches, one group of senior citizens is turning pre-loved toys into new Christmas gifts for kids in need.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to data released by eco-retailer Flora &amp; Fauna, Australians spend over $1 billion each Christmas on new toys for kids, but 26.8 million end up in the bin.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At the same time, 1.6 million Aussies can’t afford a Christmas gift for their children.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To help parents give their kids a surprise to enjoy this Christmas, </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://campaignlab-com-dot-yamm-track.appspot.com/Redirect?ukey=1XU4rvLerizKxe_lGiUvr5r2ctnSoVw7aT_RPCq5xeQM-1781001848&amp;key=YAMMID-1639349013238&amp;link=https://campaignlab-com-dot-yamm-track.appspot.com/Redirect?ukey=1XU4rvLerizKxe_lGiUvr5r2ctnSoVw7aT_RPCq5xeQM-1989833711&amp;key=YAMMID-1638849690411&amp;link=https://campaignlab-com-dot-yamm-track.appspot.com/Redirect?ukey=1XU4rvLerizKxe_lGiUvr5r2ctnSoVw7aT_RPCq5xeQM-1099927831&amp;key=YAMMID-1637189812910&amp;link=https://www.floraandfauna.com.au/" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Flora &amp; Fauna</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> has teamed up with The Peninsula Senior Citizens Toy Repair Group Inc and </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://campaignlab-com-dot-yamm-track.appspot.com/Redirect?ukey=1XU4rvLerizKxe_lGiUvr5r2ctnSoVw7aT_RPCq5xeQM-1781001848&amp;key=YAMMID-1639349013238&amp;link=https://campaignlab-com-dot-yamm-track.appspot.com/Redirect?ukey=1XU4rvLerizKxe_lGiUvr5r2ctnSoVw7aT_RPCq5xeQM-1989833711&amp;key=YAMMID-1638849690411&amp;link=https://campaignlab-com-dot-yamm-track.appspot.com/Redirect?ukey=1XU4rvLerizKxe_lGiUvr5r2ctnSoVw7aT_RPCq5xeQM-1099927831&amp;key=YAMMID-1637189812910&amp;link=https://wecareconnect.org.au/" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">We Care Connect</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> to transform donated toys into new Christmas gifts through its ‘Surprisingly Better Christmas’ initiative.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7846508/toy1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/b827242ad3754300b482726ed73ee8b0" /></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Pre-loved toys diverted from landfill are given a chance to be loved by someone new. Image: Supplied</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Our group has been around for 45 years and we have about 30 members at the moment from all walks of life,” says Terry Cook, President of The Peninsula Senior Citizens Toy Repairs Group Inc. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We have retired engineers, accountants, school secretaries, opera singers, producers and so on. Every week the volunteers come in for a few days to repair or clean damaged toys which we then donate to charity to help families and children in need.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This isn’t the first time members of the organisation have used their efforts for a good cause either, having sent toys to children in Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka and Fiji.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So when they were approached by Flora &amp; Fauna, Mr Cook said that it was a chance for the members to give “one of the best gifts we can provide to families and children in need this Christmas”.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7846507/toy2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/c976fa138ff04737ad5285f4b4aa0086" /></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Volunteers meet up weekly to repair and restore preloved toys. Image: Supplied</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Children generally have a short attention span, so they get bored with a toy very quickly, even though it may still be in a usable or brand new condition,” he explains.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Our job is simple - we save the toy from landfill and give the toys a new lease on life which will bring infinite joy each time it goes into a child’s hands.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For Mr Cook, volunteering his time is also a great motivator.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It gets me out of bed every morning and it’s also a great social activity for the members to look forward to - we always have a morning tea together,” he says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The upcycled toys will be donated to We Care Connect, a charity that supports vulnerable children in the Central Coast and Hunter regions of New South Wales.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Some of the toys will also be re-sold through the Flora &amp; Fauna website.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Helen Barker, a spokesperson at We Care Connect, says the initiative could benefit families who need it most this Christmas.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“A donated toy could help bring Christmas Joy to a mum who’s left a violent home with her two children and minimal belongings, a family experiencing unthinkable financial hardship, or a single parent with multiple children who might have a medical condition,” she says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The causes of poverty are complex, but helping a child in need is simple.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With the appeal of receiving something shiny and new being at an all-time high around Christmas, Flora &amp; Fauna’s CEO and founder Julie Mathers says it is just as important to consider the afterlife of toys we purchase.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The research revealed 45 percent of parents say their child gets bored of a new toy and discards it in just three months,” she explains.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“By taking in the discarded pre-loved toys and giving them a new purpose, not only are we saving them from landfill, but we’re also fulfilling the wishes of many children who simply want to wake up on Christmas Day to the teddy bear they’ve been dreaming of having.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For those looking to give their toys a new home, Mr Cook says the organisation takes in anything and everything.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We take all sorts of toys, be it a stuffed animal, puzzles, electric race car or a dollhouse. If you ever had a favourite toy from your childhood, chances are you’ll find it in our warehouse.”</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Supplied</span></em></p>

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What Darwin’s garden said about evolution

<p>Think of Darwin and most likely you think of his theories on the origin of animal species. It was his vignettes on apes, tortoises and finches that won the public over to his theory of evolution by natural selection.</p> <p>But behind the scenes, plants also played a major role. They helped unveil the subtle steps taken on the evolutionary path.</p> <div id="end-excerpt" data-offset="0"> <p>Darwin collected hundreds of botanical specimens during his five-year voyage on HMS Beagle. He marvelled at the elegant tree ferns in the tropical jungles of Brazil, the impenetrable thickets of thistle throughout southern South America and the “desolate and untidy” scrubby eucalypt forests of Australia. “A traveller should be a botanist,” he wrote in his diary, just days before the Beagle returned home to England in 1836.</p> <p>While many of Darwin’s dangerous ideas were born in exotic ports of call – most famously on the Galápagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador – they were put to the test over the next 40 years among the primroses and cowslips, orchids and beans, bees and earthworms in his back garden at Down House in Bromley, Kent. Every part of the seven-hectare estate served as Darwin’s living laboratory. As University College London geneticist Steve Jones told the BBC in 2009: “This isn’t just a vegetable garden. This is Bromley’s Galápagos.”</p> <p>Darwin published more than 20 books in his lifetime covering subjects as diverse as the geology of South America and of volcanic islands; the formation of coral reefs; taxonomic studies of barnacles; and on the role of earthworms in soil fertility. But he also published prolifically on plants, including books on the “contrivances” by which plants achieve cross-fertilisation, the habits of climbing plants, and the behaviours of insect‑eating plants. He also paid heed to the views of his botanical colleagues: “I scarcely ever like to trust any general remark in zoology, without I find that botanists concur,” he wrote to American botanist Asa Gray in 1856.</p> <p>Darwin was obsessed with providing an answer to a question that perplexed 19th-century scholars: Where did new species come from? The serious study of rocks, spurred by industrial England’s demand for coal, had shown that different rock layers contained different fossils. That meant species weren’t created in one fell swoop, as the Bible insisted, they were changing over time. But how?</p> <p>Darwin’s travels on the Beagle provided clues. In the Galápagos, species differed remarkably from island to island. On Pinta Island, for instance, giant tortoises had shells that rose in front like a saddle to let the tortoise crane its long neck upwards. Darwin surmised this was an adaptation to feed on the tall cacti growing on the island. By contrast, on Isabela Island with its low-growing shrubs, the tortoises had no such kink.</p> <p>Perhaps, Darwin speculated, such differences arose from slight variations within the population from which the tortoises descended. If individuals were swept onto different islands, the environments might favour different physical attributes, tipping the balance of who survived and reproduced on each island. Over time, new species would emerge. Perhaps this “descent with modification” was just a microcosm of what was happening on a far grander scale.</p> <p>The vast timescale available for these changes was becoming evident from geological studies, including observations by Darwin himself. Ashore in Concepción, Chile, during a massive earthquake in 1835, he noticed the sudden uplift of land by several metres. Travelling inland, he saw shell fragments embedded in the Andean mountainsides, evidence that earlier tremors had again and again stranded marine debris high above the coastline.</p> <p>These and other geological signs convinced Darwin that no single quake, however violent, could so dramatically alter the landscape. To build the Andes would take vast eons of time – enough time, perhaps, for the countless tiny, incremental changes needed to account for the diversity of all life on Earth.</p> <p>Darwin knew his ideas were dangerous. He spent more than 20 years building the case for evolution by natural selection before publishing his theory in his 1859 book, On the Origin of Species. It’s not a riveting read, but you can’t help but be impressed by the sheer mass of data. (I’m surprised Darwin’s opponents such as Bishop Samuel Wilberforce didn’t just say, “Enough already, I give in.”)</p> <p>At Down House, Darwin used plants to test his theories. One fertile area of experimentation was the kitchen garden, planted by his wife Emma. As Nick Biddle, curator of the garden at Down House told the BBC in 2009, “It was really Emma who looked after the garden; Darwin would potter about. One of his gardener’s described him as ‘mooning about the garden; I think it would be better if he had something to do’.”</p> <p>But Darwin was certainly doing something. When a May frost deposited itself on a row of beans, Darwin noted that a small percentage were able to survive. It’s just the kind of thing Darwin was looking for to demonstrate evolution at work – small variations could be critical. Another fertile thread of investigation began with an encounter with Maihueniopsis darwinii, a flowering cactus he collected in Patagonia. One of many plants that now carry Darwin’s name, it surprised him with its forwardness. When he inserted his finger into the flower, its pollen‑producing stamens closed on it, followed more slowly by the petals. This, he realised, was just one mechanism flowers had evolved to force their pollen upon visiting insects and thence to other flowers.</p> <p>This determination to cross-pollinate was an emerging theme Darwin would revisit at Down House with his orchids. Victorians were fascinated by these flamboyant plants. And so was Darwin.</p> <p>“I never was more interested in any subject in my life than this of orchids,” he wrote in a letter to Joseph Hooker, a close mentor and the director of the Kew Gardens in London. It was the frivolity of their vivid markings, voluptuous lips and dramatic horns that so entranced Victorians. But Darwin saw the rationale in every part. “Who has ever dreamed of finding a utilitarian purpose in the forms and colours of flowers?” quipped biologist Thomas Huxley, another of Darwin’s close allies.</p> <p>Darwin spent countless hours at Down House tracing the different strategies orchids had evolved for attracting insects to their nectar-secreting glands known as nectaries. The voluptuous lips – which resembled alluring female insects – were just the beginning. In some orchid species, the nectar pooled at the base of a narrow tube so that when an insect stuck its head inside searching for a meal, it would inevitably rub against the flower’s sticky pollen. Others had bucket-shaped flowers that trapped bees inside in such a way that they couldn’t climb out without crawling past the flower’s sticky pollen. Yet others had hair-trigger mechanisms that spewed pollen on to an insect’s back, and others that forcefully pushed pollen-carrying insects on to a flower’s receptive female parts.</p> <p>Orchids were a dramatic example of the extent plants were prepared to go to in order to cross‑breed. “It is hardly an exaggeration to say that Nature tells us, in the most emphatic manner, that she abhors perpetual self-fertilisation,” he wrote in his book which was initially titled, On the Various Contrivances by which British and Foreign Orchids are Fertilised by Insects.</p> <p>Cross-fertilisation mixed up the characteristics in each generation, ensuring each individual is slightly different. That natural variation, Darwin realised, was the raw material for evolution.</p> <p>In the best scientific tradition, Darwin used his theory of evolution by natural selection to make predictions. If correct they wouldn’t necessarily prove his theory, but if found wrong they could have fatally wounded it. One of my favourite plant evolution stories is how Darwin predicted the presence of an insect based on the structure of a flower. The Star of Bethlehem (Angraecum sesquipedale) was discovered in the 1860s in the lowland forests of eastern Madagascar. When Darwin saw this unusual orchid, he theorised that since the nectar was at the bottom of a very long (25-30 centimetre) nectar tube, a pollinator had to exist with a proboscis at least as long. In 1903, 21 years after Darwin had passed away, a hawk moth with a 30-centimetre proboscis was discovered, Xanthopan morganii praedicta – the subspecies name ‘praedicta’ being a nod to Darwin’s prediction.</p> <p>If you refer back to Darwin’s arguments about nectar, you can piece together the kind of  evolutionary arms race responsible for such an odd outcome. You might start with an orchid with a small nectar tube and a moth with a small proboscis. From the plant’s point of view, if the tube is just a bit longer than the proboscis, the insect will bump its head on the pollen packet as it squeezes in. So plants with longer tubes are likely to be pollinated more often. The insect wants to get as much of the nectar as it can. So moths with a proboscis slightly longer than the tube do better and produce more offspring. It ends up as a competition between the plant’s need to be pollinated and the insect’s need to feed.</p> <p>Over time pollen tubes and proboscises both grow longer and longer. At some point, a limit is reached when anything longer becomes energetically or structurally impossible. In this case 30 centimetres seems to be about it.</p> <p>For Darwin it wasn’t always about evolution, although one suspects every odd or unusual behaviour he noticed would have been carefully filed away into his mental war-chest to defend his theory. In later life he became interested in plant movement. His final book on plants, published in 1880, documented for the first time “plant hormones”, messenger chemicals that trigger growth and determine whether a bud becomes a shoot or a root.</p> <p>In The Power of Movement in Plants you can also read about gravity’s impact on germinating seeds and climbing plants, or a mini-treatise on circumnutation, the rotational movement of the growing tip of a plant. Today we study this with time-lapse photography. Darwin recorded it all himself with pen and paper.</p> <p>Darwin would be thrilled to hear the latest discoveries in pollination biology, ecology and my own field, systematics (tracing the family tree of plants). Darwin also understood, as is only becoming clear today, that plants have a kind of intelligence – they sense and respond to their environment, they send signals from one leaf to another, and they communicate with other members of their species.</p> <p>Indeed, as Darwin wrote in 1881, the year before he died, “it has always pleased me to exalt plants in the scale of organised beings”.</p> </div> <div class="newsletter-box"> <div id="wpcf7-f6-p9100-o1" class="wpcf7"> <p style="display: none !important;"> </p> <p><!-- Chimpmail extension by Renzo Johnson --></p> </div> </div> <p><!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --></p> <p><img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=9100&amp;title=What+Darwin%E2%80%99s+garden+said+about+evolution" alt="" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><!-- End of tracking content syndication --></p> <div id="contributors"> <p><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/science/biology/what-darwins-garden-taught-him-about-evolution/" target="_blank">This article</a> was originally published on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com" target="_blank">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/tim-entwisle" target="_blank">Tim Entwisle</a>. Tim Entwisle is director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Victoria, Australia.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p> </div>

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The festive foliage on the ‘naughty list’ this Christmas

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A team of British researchers have put together a guide of the potential dangers associated with popular Christmas plants.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The “unsystematic review”, published in the Christmas issue of </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.bmj.com/content/375/bmj-2021-066995" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The BMJ</span></a></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, saw the team immerse themselves in Christmas culture and conduct informal interviews with friends and colleagues to identify plants associated with the festive season, which they then examined against a database of toxic plants.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After conducting additional investigations, the team classified plants as low, moderate, or high risk, depending on whether they could be eaten.</span></p> <p><strong>Low risk</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Luckily for traditionalists, the iconic Christmas tree is considered safe to be around. The only hazards have been from a few cases of contact dermatitis from workers who had unusually high exposure to the plant.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ivy is also quite safe, with no recorded cases of people being poisoned by them, and winter plants such as poinsettia and Christmas cactus make the list too.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Even the plants featured on the Christmas dinner table have been investigated, with potatoes found to be safe as well.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brussels sprouts, sadly, are also safe to eat. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Looks like you’ll have to endure them after all,” the authors </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.scimex.org/newsfeed/what-of-your-festive-foliage-should-be-on-the-naughty-list" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">said</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 305.5878928987195px; height:500px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7846437/xmas-plants.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/00426e9ef6754246afc9662b6697d606" /></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: The British Medical Journal. DOI: </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj-2021-066995" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">10.1136/bmj-2021-066995</span></a></em></p> <p><strong>Moderate risk</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As for plants that require a bit more caution, the authors identified holly - with its berries that can cause stomach upset and drowsiness if eaten in large amounts - as well as rosemary - with reports that a twig perforated a person’s bowel.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The authors sounded a note of caution for cinnamon and nutmeg, often found in mulled wine, and discouraged people from taking up the cinnamon challenge (a viral challenge to eat a spoonful of ground cinnamon in under a minute without drinking anything). Nutmeg was noted for causing hallucinations in “remarkably low doses” (less than a tablespoon).</span></p> <p><strong>High risk</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Surprisingly, both Christmas wreaths and mistletoe made the team’s high-risk list, meaning that caution around them is advised and they shouldn’t be eaten.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mistletoe contains poisonous proteins called viscoproteins, which can lead to the destruction of cells, and eating it can cause gastrointestinal upset.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As for Christmas wreaths, those made with bittersweet (a member of the Nightshade family) and yew can cause abdominal cramps or cardiac dysrhythmia if eaten.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In summary, the team recommends taking sensible precautions while handling or consuming plants, both at Christmas time and throughout the year.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We hope that this piece has given you the information necessary to navigate holiday foliage more safely,” they conclude.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Getty Images</span></em></p>

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Hibbert’s flowers and Hitler’s beetle – what do we do when species are named after history’s monsters?

<p>“What’s in a name?”, <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.bartleby.com/70/3822.html" target="_blank">asked Juliet of Romeo</a>. “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”</p> <p>But, as with the Montagues and Capulets, names mean a lot, and can cause a great deal of heartache.</p> <p>My colleagues and I are <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/its-not-the-science-of-tax-and-five-other-things-you-should-know-about-taxonomy-78926" target="_blank">taxonomists</a>, which means we name living things. While we’ve never named a rose, we do discover and name new Australian species of plants and animals – and there are a lot of them!</p> <p>For each new species we discover, we create and publish a Latin scientific name, following a set of international rules and conventions. The name has two parts: the first part is the genus name (such as <em>Eucalyptus</em>), which describes the group of species to which the new species belongs, and the second part is a species name (such as <em>globulus</em>, thereby making the name <em>Eucalyptus globulus</em>) particular to the new species itself. New species are either added to an existing genus, or occasionally, if they’re sufficiently novel, are given their own new genus.</p> <p>Some scientific names are widely known – arguably none more so than our own, <em>Homo sapiens</em>. And gardeners or nature enthusiasts will be familiar with genus names such as <em>Acacia</em>, <em>Callistemon</em> or <em>Banksia</em>.</p> <p>This all sounds pretty uncontroversial. But as with Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers, history and tradition sometimes present problems.</p> <p><strong>What’s in a name?</strong></p> <p>Take the genus <em><a rel="noopener" href="http://www.flora.sa.gov.au/cgi-bin/speciesfacts_display.cgi?form=speciesfacts&amp;name=Hibbertia" target="_blank">Hibbertia</a></em>, the Australian guineaflowers. This is one of the largest genera of plants in Australia, and the one we study.</p> <p>There are many new and yet-unnamed species of <em>Hibbertia</em>, which means new species names are regularly added to this genus.</p> <p>Many scientific names are derived from a feature of the species or genus being named, such as <em>Eucalyptus</em>, from the Greek for “well-covered” (a reference to the operculum or bud-cap that covers unopened eucalypt flowers).</p> <p>Others <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/its-funny-to-name-species-after-celebrities-but-theres-a-serious-side-too-95513" target="_blank">honour significant people</a>, either living or dead. <em>Hibbertia</em> is named after a wealthy 19th-century English patron of botany, <a rel="noopener" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Hibbert" target="_blank">George Hibbert</a>.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437440/original/file-20211214-15-1u4xyy3.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="George Hibbert by Thomas Lawrence" /></p> <p><em><span class="caption">George Hibbert: big fan of flowers and slavery.</span> <span class="attribution"><a rel="noopener" href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:George_Hibbert_by_Thomas_Lawrence,_1811.JPG" target="_blank" class="source">Thomas Lawrence/Stephen C. Dickson/Wikimedia Commons</a>, <a rel="noopener" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/" target="_blank" class="license">CC BY-SA</a></span></em></p> <p>And here’s where things stop being straightforward, because Hibbert’s wealth came almost entirely from the transatlantic slave trade. He profited from taking slaves from Africa to the New World, selling some and using others on his family’s extensive plantations, then transporting slave-produced sugar and cotton back to England.</p> <p>Hibbert was also a prominent member of the British parliament and a <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/16791" target="_blank">staunch opponent of abolition</a>. He and his ilk argued that slavery was economically necessary for England, and even that slaves were better off on the plantations than in their homelands.</p> <p>Even at the time, his views were considered abhorrent by many critics. But despite this, he was handsomely recompensed for his “losses” when Britain finally abolished slavery in 1807.</p> <p>So, should Hibbert be honoured with the name of a genus of plants, to which new species are still being added today – effectively meaning he is honoured afresh with each new publication?</p> <p>We don’t believe so. Just like statues, buildings, and <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/was-first-governor-james-stirling-had-links-to-slavery-as-well-as-directing-a-massacre-should-he-be-honoured-162078" target="_blank">street or suburb names</a>, we think a reckoning is due for scientific species names that honour people who held views or acted in ways that are deeply dishonourable, highly problematic or truly egregious by modern standards.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437442/original/file-20211214-13-1yaho8u.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="Anophthalmus hitleri" /></p> <p><em><span class="caption">This beetle doesn’t deserve to be named after the most reviled figure of the 20th century.</span> <span class="attribution"><a rel="noopener" href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Anophthalmus_hitleri_HabitusDors.jpg" target="_blank" class="source">Michael Munich/Wikimedia Commons</a>, <a rel="noopener" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/" target="_blank" class="license">CC BY-SA</a></span></em></p> <p>Just as Western Australia’s King Leopold Range <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-03/wa-king-leopold-ranges-renamed-wunaamin-miliwundi-ranges/12416254" target="_blank">was recently renamed</a> to remove the link to the atrocious <a rel="noopener" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopold_II_of_Belgium" target="_blank">Leopold II of Belgium</a>, we would like <em>Hibbertia</em> to bear a more appropriate and less troubling name.</p> <p>The same goes for the Great Barrier Reef coral <em><a rel="noopener" href="http://www.edgeofexistence.org/species/elegance-coral/" target="_blank">Catalaphyllia jardinei</a></em>, named after Frank Jardine, a brutal dispossessor of Aboriginal people in North Queensland. And, perhaps most astoundingly, the rare Slovenian cave beetle <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/773804" target="_blank">Anophthalmus hitleri</a></em>, which was named in 1933 in honour of Adolf Hitler.</p> <p>This name is unfortunate for several reasons: despite being a small, somewhat nondescript, blind beetle, in recent years it has been reportedly <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/fans-exterminate-hitler-beetle-6232054.html" target="_blank">pushed to the brink of extinction</a> by Nazi memorabilia enthusiasts. Specimens are even being stolen from museum collections for sale into this lucrative market.</p> <p><strong>Aye, there’s the rub</strong></p> <p>Unfortunately, the official rules don’t allow us to rename <em>Hibbertia</em> or any other species that has a troubling or inappropriate name.</p> <p>To solve this, we propose a change to the international rules for naming species. Our <a rel="noopener" href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/tax.12620" target="_blank">proposal</a>, if adopted, would establish an international expert committee to decide what do about scientific names that honour inappropriate people or are based on culturally offensive words.</p> <p>An example of the latter is the <a rel="noopener" href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/tax.12622" target="_blank">many names of plants</a> based on the Latin <em>caffra</em>, the origin of which is a word so offensive to Black Africans that its use is <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.cfr.org/blog/k-word-south-africa-and-proposed-new-penalties-against-hate-speech" target="_blank">banned in South Africa</a>.</p> <p>Some may argue the scholarly naming of species should remain aloof from social change, and that Hibbert’s views on slavery are irrelevant to the classification of Australian flowers. We counter that, just like <a rel="noopener" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statue_of_Edward_Colston" target="_blank">toppling statues in Bristol Harbour</a> or <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/mar/18/goodbye-cecil-rhodes-house-renamed-to-lose-link-to-british-empire-builder-in-africa" target="_blank">removing Cecil Rhodes’ name from public buildings</a>, renaming things is important and necessary if we are to right history’s wrongs.</p> <p>We believe that science, including taxonomy, must be socially responsible and responsive. Science is embedded in culture rather than housed in ivory towers, and scientists should work for the common good rather than blindly follow tradition. Deeply problematic names pervade science just as they pervade our streets, cities and landscapes.</p> <p><em>Hibbertia</em> may be just a name, but we believe a different name for this lovely genus of Australian flowers would smell much sweeter.</p> <p><em>This article was co-authored by Tim Hammer, a postdoctoral research fellow at the State Herbarium of South Australia.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/172602/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kevin-thiele-136882" target="_blank">Kevin Thiele</a>, Adjunct Assoc. Professor, <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-western-australia-1067" target="_blank">The University of Western Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com" target="_blank">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/hibberts-flowers-and-hitlers-beetle-what-do-we-do-when-species-are-named-after-historys-monsters-172602" target="_blank">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em><span class="attribution">Image: <a rel="noopener" href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hibbertia_procumbens_(6691568261).jpg" target="_blank" class="source">John Tann/Wikimedia Commons</a>, <a rel="noopener" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/" target="_blank" class="license">CC BY-SA</a></span></em></p>

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10 things in your house that could be making you sick

<p><span>It's time for a thorough cleaning! Make sure to hit these notorious trouble spots in order to protect your health.</span></p> <p><strong>Your dirty bed sheets</strong></p> <p><span>There’s something delicious about falling into a cosy bed after a long day, but the icky details about dust mites dwelling in your bed sheets may leave you opting for the couch instead. According to refinery29.com, the average person sheds roughly 14g of dead skin every week, which stays in your sheets and becomes prime feeding material for dust mites. The faecal matter and other debris they leave behind can lead to some scary effects, exacerbating eczema, seasonal allergies, skin irritations and more. To keep these critters out of your snooze space, be sure to wash your bed sheets in hot water at least once a week.</span></p> <p><strong>Contaminated heating and cooling vents</strong></p> <p><span>If all of a sudden you begin feeling extra allergenic or sick for no apparent reason, contaminated heating and cool ducts may be to blame. A little bit of dust in these pipes is normal and largely harmless, but in some cases mould and other debris can build up, wreaking havoc on your health. Experts are still trying to determine whether or not cleaning the ducts prevents these health problems, but the majority agree that removing mould and other toxins from pipes that have become highly contaminated is a smart move.</span></p> <p><strong>Your old vacuum</strong></p> <p><span>You probably consider your vacuum to be a staple cleaning tool in your home, but as it turns out, it may be doing more harm than good. A study published in the journal </span><em>Environmental Science &amp; Technology</em><span> tested 21 different vacuums – varying in brand, price and age – and found that every single one released some dust, bacteria and allergies into the air. This pollution was much more severe with older vacuums, and those that were not equipped with appropriate filters. The best way to prevent dirt and dust from flying back into your indoor air is to buy a vacuum equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, and clean it regularly. If you live near a source of air pollution, such as an airport, a factory, or a busy highway, consider using an indoor air purifier to filter out chemicals as well as pollen that could otherwise trigger symptoms for people with allergies, asthma and conditions like COPD.</span></p> <p><strong>Your pet's fur</strong></p> <p><span>Furry friends can be as loved and valued as human family members, but unfortunately, the dander they leave behind has the potential to make you sick. Made up of microscopic bits of dead skin, pet dander is notorious for causing people to sneeze and sniffle, especially people with pet allergies. The best way to prevent your allergies from flaring up around your pet is to keep it off of your furniture, fabrics and carpets as much as possible. You should also be sure to dust and clean your home often, to stop dander from piling up.</span></p> <p><strong>Household cleaning products</strong></p> <p><span>The majority of household cleaning products are packed with loads of potentially harmful chemicals that can cause a slew of different problems to your health. The most concerning products are those that contain cancer-causing carcinogens, such as certain laundry detergents that contain formaldehyde, and jewellery cleaners, which often carry the toxic chemical perchloroethylene. Fortunately, there are plenty of natural, harm-free ways to keep your home clean and shiny. Natural ingredients like lemon, cooking oil, vinegar and baking soda will all get the job done, while keeping your health in check.</span></p> <p><strong>Secret strips of mould</strong></p> <p><span>Hidden patches of mould can lurk in all different areas of your home, from your shower head to your plasterboard to your fridge. According to ABC News, mould tends to build up in damp areas, especially if there’s not much airflow or room for the moisture to escape. The potential effects of these hidden stretches of mould are frightening, as exposure can lead to nausea, headaches, nasal congestion and more, and it can further exacerbate asthma symptoms. To rid your home of mould and protect yourself from its dangers, the EPA recommends using detergent and water to scrub the mould off of any hard surfaces, and increasing ventilation in the area as much as possible to prevent any further contamination.</span></p> <p><strong>Lead paint</strong></p> <p><span>If you have paint peeling off the walls, and your home was built any time before 1978, you should be wary of the dangers of lead paint. Prior to that time, many houses were coated with lead-based paint, as scientists were not yet aware of the harmful effects the chemical can cause. However, we know now that exposure can lead to damage to the brain, nervous system, kidneys, and more, according to WebMD. To make sure you’re safe from the hazards of lead paint, be sure to test your home for the chemical if it was built before 1978. Take-home tests made for this purpose are available at hardware stores and online. If you do discover that there is lead lurking in your home, you may want to look into hiring someone to remove it, as the process is quite complicated.</span></p> <p><strong>Filthy refridgerator drawers</strong></p> <p><span>Even if the fruit and vegetable drawers in your refrigerator appear to be clean and sterile, they could be hiding a mass of dangerous microorganisms, including E. coli, salmonella and more. According to </span><em>USA Today</em><span>, these bacteria can lead to symptoms of food poisoning, which can range from an upset stomach to something more severe, like kidney failure. To reduce your chances of developing any kind of food borne illness, be sure to wash your fruits and vegetables carefully before eating them, and disinfect the fridge drawers and shelves at least once a month.</span></p> <p><strong>Your bath mat</strong></p> <p><span>Rarely do we ever give our bath and shower mats a second thought, but as it turns out, they’re often breeding grounds loads of hazardous bacteria, mould and dust mites. When you step out of the showering dripping wet, your bath mat traps the moisture, allowing mould and harmful bacteria to thrive, according to the Huffington Post. To keep your bath mat germ-free, try drying off in the shower rather than on the mat to avoid getting it all wet. Additionally, be sure to wash it in hot water at least a couple of times a month.</span></p> <p><strong>Cigarette smoke</strong></p> <p><span>Even if you’re not smoking cigarettes yourself, simply being in close proximity to someone who is can have severe lasting effects on your health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoke contains more than 7000 chemicals, about 70 of which are known to cause cancer. Horrifyingly enough, the CDC also estimates that approximately 2,500,000 people have died from second-hand smoke since 1964. The best way to protect against this is to prohibit anyone from smoking inside your home, especially with all the windows and doors shut.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Abbey Schubert. This article first appeared in </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/10-things-in-your-house-that-could-be-making-you-sick" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Reader’s Digest</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </span><a rel="noopener" href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA87V" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">here’s our best subscription offer.</span></a></em></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Getty Images</span></em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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How to prepare your home for holiday guests

<p><strong>Are you ready to host overnight guests?</strong></p> <p><span>One of the most enjoyable things about the holiday season is spending extended time with family and friends. It’s especially great to welcome them into your home. But before you host overnight guests, you’ll need to make sure your house is ready for company.</span></p> <p><strong>Know your guests</strong></p> <p>Are your adult kids bringing their partners to stay? Will the in-laws be spending a few days? Chances are those guests will have different sets of needs and expectations, so it’s important to understand ahead of time what those will be.</p> <p>Consider everything from food allergies to sleeping accommodations. An air mattress might be fine for a twentysomething, but not for your mother-in-law.</p> <p>Fortunately, it’s easy to figure out — just ask them. Get answers for what kind of food they like, preferred sleeping arrangements, etc. It’s important that your guests feel comfortable. The first step is taking the time to show them you want their stay to be a pleasant one.</p> <p><strong>Clean the house</strong></p> <p>It should be obvious, but with company settling in for a few nights, definitely give your house a good cleaning from top to bottom. Pay extra attention to the rooms where your guests will be sleeping, and the bathrooms.</p> <p>This also is a good time to make some basic repairs, like touching up scratches in the paint or tightening up the grab bar in the shower. Think about safety, too. With more people in the house, it might be good to tie down Christmas lights or add a non-slip pad under your doormat.</p> <p><strong>Guest bedroom</strong></p> <p>Do you know where your guests will sleep? You need a plan for that as soon as you know who’s coming to stay. It’s probably better to nail down that detail even before inviting them, if possible.</p> <p>Are there enough beds for everyone? If not, think about getting an air mattress, hideaway bed or folding bed. You may need one if you’re asking the kids to bunk together to clear out an extra room for Grandma and Grandpa.</p> <p>Your company will appreciate clean, fresh bedding, so throw those extra sheets, pillowcases and comforters in the washing machine ahead of time. Stock extra pillows and blankets for your guests, too.</p> <p>Be sure to put a light next to the bed, too. That allows them to read or check their phone before settling in for the evening. It’s also a safety feature. Your guests are in an unfamiliar environment, so easy access to a light helps them move around safely at night.</p> <p>These days phone chargers are essential, so be sure there’s an easy way for company to plug in their electronic devices. Even with phones, a clock is still a nice touch and convenient addition to a guest room.</p> <p>Your guests will also appreciate a place to unpack their suitcase, especially if they’re staying for more than a couple nights. If there’s a dresser in the room, clear out a couple of drawers for them to use. Also, consider giving them some wardrobe space or an extra rod to hang clothes.</p> <p><strong>Prepare the bathroom</strong></p> <p>Before company shows up, know which bathroom to assign them. Ideally, they’ll have their own to use. If that’s not possible and they have to share, you can still take steps to make them feel comfortable.</p> <p>You can never have enough clean bath towels, hand towels and washcloths for company. Stock extra clean linens in the bathroom, and let your guests know where they can find them.</p> <p>Though most people will bring their own toiletries, you should provide them as well. Set out shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, an extra toothbrush or two (in the package), soap, lotion, etc. It’s worth having extra things like cotton swabs, clean nail clippers, tampons, contact solution and anything else your guests might need to make their stay more comfortable.</p> <p>Oh, and show them where the plunger and wastepaper basket are. That helps them avoid potentially embarrassing situations.</p> <p><strong>Stock the kitchen</strong></p> <p>Buy extra snacks and goodies for your pantry and refrigerator. This is also where it’s essential to know the needs of the people staying with you. Do they have special dietary concerns? If you know that ahead of time, you can stock up on the right food and beverages. It may sound obvious, but show them where everything is and make them feel comfortable accessing it when they want something to eat or drink.</p> <p>Coffee is always appreciated. So be sure to have extra on hand. Have everything out and ready to go so early risers in the group can help themselves.</p> <p>Table space is something to consider, too. If you don’t have enough seating for everyone at your holiday dinner, you can always pick up a folding table and extra chairs so everyone has a seat.</p> <p><strong>Plan and relax</strong></p> <p>Whoever comes to stay with you for the holidays, have a plan for things to do. Take them to the museum or go see a show. Find out what they like to do and make plans to do it. Conversely, don’t be afraid to give your guests their space. They might want to tour the city themselves or enjoy a dinner out on their own one night.</p> <p>Do your best to prepare your home for company, but it’s also important to accept that things may not be perfect. And they don’t have to be! Do your best to make everyone feel welcome, and they’ll appreciate it. It’s the holiday season and your friends and family are coming to stay with you, so enjoy it!</p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Ryan Van Bibber. This article first appeared in </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/how-to-prepare-your-home-for-holiday-guests" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Reader’s Digest</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </span><a rel="noopener" href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA87V" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">here’s our best subscription offer.</span></a></em></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Getty Images</span></em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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The do’s and don’ts of Christmas tree decorating

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With the festive season quickly approaching, more of us are putting up the Christmas tree and stringing up lights.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But, making your Christmas tree truly shine isn’t as easy as you might think, and there are some common </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.bhg.com.au/christmas-tree-decorating-mistakes" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">do’s and don’ts</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> to follow when hanging baubles and lights on your tree this year.</span></p> <p><strong>Don’t: Use too much tinsel</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As fun as it is to cover everything in tinsel of various colours, it can have a tendency to overwhelm whatever it’s draped over.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Instead, treat tinsel like a garnish and use it sparingly to have the best effect.</span></p> <p><strong>Do: Pick a colour theme</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For a more sophisticated-looking tree, choose a colour theme for your ornaments, tinsel and lights. Picking a pair of colours, such as white and gold, or silver with either red, green, blue or even purple, can help take your tree decorating to the next level.</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-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CW_uH5nlQuS/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CW_uH5nlQuS/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by J O R G E Z A P A T A (@jorgezapataev)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p><strong>Don’t: Use too few baubles</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To dress your trees to the nines, make sure you layer baubles on the inner and outer branches. This will help your decorating look more layered and intentional.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When it comes to buying baubles, opting for glass, fabric or timber rather than plastic can also add that air of sophistication. If you do go for plastic decorations, opt for those with a nice finish.</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-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CW_2CyMB8Da/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CW_2CyMB8Da/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Thenailbarbrisbane (@thenailbarbrisbane)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p><strong>Do: Match your lights to your tree </strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With Christmas lights now coming in every colour imaginable, it’s easy to choose colours that don’t stand out from your tree. </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-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CW_ZytKrTtE/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CW_ZytKrTtE/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by @caringtoshareyourfeed (@caringtoshareyourfeed)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To help them shine through, try white lights if your tree is white, or a warm light for green trees</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Getty Images</span></em></p>

Home & Garden

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Help insects flourish from your backyard

<p>As winter phases into spring across the U.S., gardeners are laying in supplies and making plans. Meanwhile, as the weather warms, common garden insects such as bees, beetles and butterflies will emerge from underground burrows or nests within or on plants.</p> <p>Most gardeners know how beneficial insects can be for their plots. <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/animals/flies.shtml" target="_blank">Flies pollinate flowers</a>. Predatory bugs, such as the <a rel="noopener" href="http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/beneficial/podisus_maculiventris.htm" target="_blank">spined shoulder bug</a>, eat pest insects that otherwise would tuck into garden plants.</p> <p>As a <a rel="noopener" href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=tzo9De0AAAAJ&amp;hl=en" target="_blank">scientist whose research involves insects</a> and as a gardener, I know that <a rel="noopener" href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2023989118" target="_blank">many beneficial insect species are declining</a> and <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/is-an-insect-apocalypse-happening-how-would-we-know-113170" target="_blank">need humans’ help</a>. If you’re a gardener looking for a new challenge this year, consider revamping all or part of your yard to support beneficial insects.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/H-iIgTNdmRo?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><em> <span class="caption">Ladybugs, lacewings, spiders, earthworms and honey bees are among the most beneficial common garden animals.</span></em></p> <p><strong>Lawns are insect food deserts</strong></p> <p>Some gardeners <a rel="noopener" href="https://plants.usda.gov/checklist.html" target="_blank">choose native plants</a> to attract and support helpful insects. Often, however, those native plants are surrounded by vast expanses of lawn.</p> <p>The vast majority of insect species find blades of grass as unappetizing as we do. Yet, lawns sprawl out across many public and private spaces. <a rel="noopener" href="https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/features/Lawn" target="_blank">NASA estimated in 2005</a> that lawns covered at least 50,000 square miles (128,000 square kilometers) of the U.S. – about the size of the entire state of Mississippi.</p> <p>A well-manicured lawn is a sure sign that humanity has imposed its will on nature. Lawns provide an accessible and familiar landscape, but they come at a cost for our six-legged neighbors. Grasses grown as turf provide very few places for insects to safely tuck themselves away, because homeowners and groundskeepers cut them short – before they send up flowering spikes – and apply fertilizers and pesticides to keep them green.</p> <p>Entomologists have a recomendation: Dig up some fraction of your lawn and convert it into a meadow by <a rel="noopener" href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2002547117" target="_blank">replacing grass with native wildflowers</a>. Wildflowers provide pollen and nectar that feed and attract a variety of insects like ants, native bees and butterflies. Just as you may have a favorite local restaurant, insects that live around you have a taste for the flowers that are native to their areas.</p> <p>This bold choice will not just benefit insects. Healthier insects support local birds, and meadows require fewer chemical inputs and less mowing than lawns. The amount of attention lawns demand from us, even if we outsource the work to a landscaping company, is a sign of their precarity.</p> <p>A meadow is a wilder, more resilient option. Resilient ecosystems are better able to respond to and recover from disturbances.</p> <p>Entomologist <a rel="noopener" href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=3EsB164AAAAJ&amp;hl=en" target="_blank">Ryan Gott</a>, integrated pest management and quality control specialist at Maitri Genetics in Pittsburgh, describes lawns and meadows as two opposite ends of a resiliency spectrum. “As far as basic ecological functions go, a lawn does not have many. A lawn mainly extracts nutrition and water, usually receiving outside inputs of fertilizer and irrigation to stay alive, and returns very little to the system,” he told me.</p> <p>Native flowers, by definition, will grow well in your climate, although some areas will have more choices than others and growing seasons vary. Native plants also provide a palette of colors and variety that lawns sorely lack. By planting them as a meadow, with many different flowers emerging throughout the growing season, you can provide for a diverse assortment of local insects. And mowing and fertilizing less will leave you more time to appreciate wildlife of all sizes.</p> <p>There are many different types of meadows, and every wildflower species has different preferences for soil type and conditions. Meadows thrive in full sunlight, which is also where lawns typically do well.</p> <p><strong>Making insects feel at home</strong></p> <p>Not every yard can support a meadow, but there are other ways to be a better, more considerate neighbor to insects. If you have a shady yard, consider modeling your garden after natural landscapes like woodlands that are shady and support insects.</p> <p>What’s important in landscaping with insects in mind, or “entoscaping,” is <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.amentsoc.org/insects/insects-and-man/gardening-for-insects.html" target="_blank">considering insects early and often</a> when you visit the garden store. With a few pots or window boxes, even a balcony can be converted into a cozy insect oasis.</p> <p>If you’re gardenless, you can still support insect health. Try replacing white outdoor lights, which <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/light-pollution-contributes-insect-apocalypse-180973642/" target="_blank">interfere with many insects’ feeding and breeding patterns</a>. White lights also lure insects into swarms, where they are vulnerable to predators. <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-have-figured-out-the-type-of-light-bulb-to-use-if-you-want-to-avoid-insects" target="_blank">Yellow bulbs or warm-hued LEDs</a> don’t have these effects.</p> <p>Another easy project is using scrap wood and packing materials to create simple “hotels” for <a rel="noopener" href="https://modernfarmer.com/2017/02/build-native-bee-hotel/" target="_blank">bees</a> or <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.hgtv.com/design/make-and-celebrate/handmade/craft-a-ladybug-hotel" target="_blank">ladybugs</a>, making sure to carefully sanitize them between seasons. Easiest of all, <a rel="noopener" href="https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=26345" target="_blank">provide water for insects to drink</a> – they’re adorable to watch as they sip. Replace standing water at least weekly to prevent mosquitoes from developing.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/390417/original/file-20210318-23-16piil9.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/390417/original/file-20210318-23-16piil9.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Butterflies on a pebbled pathway." /></a> <em><span class="caption">Giant swallowtail (left) and Palamedes swallowtail (right) drinking water from a puddle.</span> <span class="attribution"><a rel="noopener" href="https://flic.kr/p/PGuLZ" target="_blank" class="source">K. Draper/Flickr</a>, <a rel="noopener" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/4.0/" target="_blank" class="license">CC BY-ND</a></span></em></p> <p><strong>A refuge in every yard</strong></p> <p>Many resources across the U.S. offer advice on converting your lawn or making your yard more insect-friendly.</p> <p>The Xerces Society for Insect Conservation publishes a <a rel="noopener" href="https://xerces.org/publications/guidelines/establishing-pollinator-meadows-from-seed" target="_blank">guide to establishing meadows</a> to sustain insects. Local university extension offices <a rel="noopener" href="https://extension.unh.edu/resource/planting-pollinators-establishing-wildflower-meadow-seed-fact-sheet" target="_blank">post tips on growing meadows</a> with specific instructions and resources for their areas. Gardening stores often have experience and carry selections of local plants.</p> <p>You may find established communities of enthusiasts for local plants and seeds, or your journey could be the start of such a group. Part of the fun of gardening is learning what plants need to be healthy, and a new endeavor like entoscaping will provide fresh challenges.</p> <p>In my view, humans all too often see ourselves as separate from nature, which leads us to relegate biodiversity to designated parks. In fact, however, we are an important part of the natural world, and <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.si.edu/spotlight/buginfo/benefits" target="_blank">we need insects</a> just as much as they need us. As ecologist <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.udel.edu/canr/departments/entomology-and-wildlife-ecology/faculty-staff/doug-tallamy/" target="_blank">Douglas Tallamy</a> argues in his book, “<a rel="noopener" href="https://www.workman.com/products/natures-best-hope" target="_blank">Nature’s Best Hope</a>,” the best way to protect biodiversity is for people to plant native plants and promote conservation in every yard.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/153609/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brian-lovett-1032419" target="_blank">Brian Lovett</a>, Postdoctoral Researcher in Mycology, <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/west-virginia-university-1375" target="_blank">West Virginia University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com" target="_blank">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/to-help-insects-make-them-welcome-in-your-garden-heres-how-153609" target="_blank">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

Home & Garden

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Everyday items you’ve been using wrong this whole time

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

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Is housework good for you?

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

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

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

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5 spring cleaning mistakes that could make you sick

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

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Woman shares terrifying snaps of wasp infestation

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

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Meet the DIY blogger who thrives on aesthetically-pleasing organisation

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

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Maker George becomes Making It Australia’s first winner

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After a whole series of challenges, </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Making It Australia</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> has whittled it’s contestants down to just three: George, Rizaldy and Jack.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With the rest of the crafters returning for the final episode, the final three were pitted against each other and George was crowned Australia’s first winner of </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Making It</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</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/CV4McDHhTk6/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CV4McDHhTk6/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by George Roppingly-Goode (@george_can_create_it)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When asked about how it felt to be Australia’s first winner, George told </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">OverSixty</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that she “couldn’t believe it”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I didn’t think I’d make it past a few episodes,” she said, sharing how making it to the final and winning left her feeling stunned.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Walking away from the show, George said one of the things that surprised her most was the friendships she made with the rest of the Makers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I didn’t think I’d walk away with 12 new friends,” she said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">George explained that being on </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Making It</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> also proved to her that she could persevere and go out and achieve the things she wanted to, despite what she had been told over the years.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As for the future, George will continue creating on a personal and professional level, and sharing her work on </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/george_can_create_it/" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Instagram</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. She also hopes that her being on the show will inspire other women to pick up power tools and embrace more ‘masculine’ crafting techniques.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“If I can do it, so can others,” she said. “The university of YouTube is also a great resource. If you don’t know how to use a jigsaw, you can just find a video and learn.”</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/CUwjCkzB6px/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CUwjCkzB6px/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by George Roppingly-Goode (@george_can_create_it)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Fellow finalist Jack</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> was just as thrilled to make it to the end.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I was truly ecstatic and also very thankful to have made it that far in the competition among such talented and amazingly creative contestants,” Jack said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">”I was proud of my efforts and definitely inspired and invigorated by the other projects.”</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/CQA7HUeFhYf/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CQA7HUeFhYf/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Toy Architecture (@toyarchitecture)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Rizaldy shared the sentiment and added that getting through was a huge achievement.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“That sums up all our hard work, our skill set, stories behind the projects and most of all it is all about having fun and sharing what we can do with the world,” he said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It has never been a competition for me. I joined </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Making It Australia</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> to show the world that making things is a lot of fun and they can do it too.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">All three finalists agreed that the experience of being a Maker had been unforgettable, and that they had walked away with new friends from all over the country.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“If it wasn’t for lockdown we would all have gotten together,” George said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I have met amazing fellow Makers who are now my friends forever,'' Rizaldy added. “Spending time with the sensational judges and witty hosts is unforgettable.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I met some really incredible people along the way, including the hosts and judges,” Jack said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“TV is a hoot!"</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: george_can_create_it / Instagram</span></em></p>

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