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ike anything else that is man-made, walls in your home lose their "brandnew" look over time. Some people have walls that hardly ever need to be cleaned, only to be dusted from time to time. While the rest of us have children, pets and clumsy adults with oily palms/muddy paws, and our painted walls show it! Adding to the junk, dust and dirt will stick more to those places we’ve touched because of the oils on our hands forming stains that are difficult to remove. Left uncared for, these problems only become worse and could eventually result in structural damage and expensive repairs. The good news is that the average homeowner with limited experience and expertise in this area can put the shine right back into that wall. Painted Walls The first step is to dust. Brush cobwebs and dust from the wall with a soft-bristled brush and remove any remaining dirt with a dry-sponge. Create a soap and water mixture in one bucket and clean water in another to rinse. Wipe the walls with a sponge, blotting along the way, rinse and pat dry, yes, pat dry! Glass Wall Tiles These are beautiful and fairly easy to maintain. Since glass doesn’t burn or absorb liquid, it won’t require a lot to keep them looking good. Soap and Water - that’s all. It may be tempting to use a glass cleaner on your tiles, it can damage the grout and adhesive

Maintaining That Wall used to place and hold the tile. Instead of using window cleaner try using just warm soapy water on the glass tiles. Glass streaks if left wet, so be sure to use a soft cloth to wipe the tiles completely dry after cleaning. For Excessive Dirt, if your tiles start to look really grimy, a general purpose cleaner on the tile can be used. Be sure you rinse the cleaning agent completely. Try to avoid this method unless it’s absolutely necessary as the cleaners can damage the grout. As long as you keep your glass dry, you won’t have a lot of problems keeping the tile looking great. Mosaic Tiled Walls Mosaic tiles have a tendency to trap dust particles near the voids between alternate tiles. Hence, you need to conduct frequent cleaning sessions to maintain the look. You can clean the tiles by creating a vac-

uum that will help in removing excess dust and debris. Later on, you can clean the tiles with help of a gentle detergent dissolved in water and a mop. Wallpaper Most modern wall coverings are labeled, non-washable, washable or scrub-able. Don’t let paper get too dirty before cleaning it. Non-washable Papers – Use Commercial wallpaper cleaner, (a dough like material). Rub over the wallpaper surface, following the directions on product exactly. Vacuum or brush off any bits of cleaner that stay on wall. Washable Papers - Washable papers usually have a plastic coating. Clean this type of wallpaper with a damp cloth or sponge. Scrub-able Wallpaper – These are vinyl or vinyl-impregnated paper. They can be w w w . a b s tr a c th o m e . c o m

scrubbed with a foam cleanser or all-purpose detergent, using a sponge or soft cloth, and rinsed with a clean sponge or cloth. Do not use any abrasive liquid cleaners such as scouring powder, as these could scratch the vinyl finish. Fabric Coverings Some fabric wallpapers are vinyl-coated and easy to wash. Others, like burlap or grass cloth, are a bit trickier when stained. Dust fabric wall coverings occasionally with a clean cloth or vacuum to remove loose dirt. Wash spots and stains with a sponge or soft bristle brush soaked in a mild detergent or soap solution, rinsing well. If you really have a trouble spot, add a bit of bleach, the non-chlorine type for delicate fabrics. Rinse with clean water and dry with an absorbent towel to prevent streaking.

MARCH 2014




Keep it Shiny - Maintaining Chrome


t's impossible to completely prevent the tarnishing of your metal door hardware; it's a natural process due to the chemical activity of most metals. So the great art of dealing with tarnish, is not to try to prevent it, but to manage it. Silver is one of the metals most easily affected by tarnish. If your silver plated hardware is suffering particularly badly, then remove the items from the door and place them in an aluminum tray. If you don't have an aluminum tray, use a glass one lined with aluminum foil. Place the silverware in the tray and sprinkle baking soda over it. Then pour in enough boiling water to completely cover the objects. The tarnish will soon disappear. Once it has, and the water has cooled, remove the items and buff them with a duster or any

soft cotton cloth. They should be shining like new. Brass and copper are traditional materials that are seeing more and more of a renaissance in popularity. Like silver, they're both highly susceptible to tarnish, but easy enough to manage if you're prepared to roll your sleeves up. To clean brass and copperware you're going to make a paste. Measure in one tablespoon of flour, one of salt,

and one of vinegar in a bowl. Mix until it turns to a paste, and then rub it on to the surface of the brass or copper. Leave it for a couple of minutes, and then wash it off with hot soapy water. Rinse and buff with a soft cloth… restored! There are metal polishes available but it is necessary to avoid abrasive cleaning liquids, chemicals or cleaning solvents, as these will damage metal that has a lacquer coating. Mechanical polishing with metal polish will remove any tarnishing but take care not to be too aggressive especially with fine or delicate brass. An alternative way to remove tarnishing and corrosion is to rub any affected areas with a slice of lemon. The lemon can be dipped in salt to assist the process by providing some gentle abrasion. Be sure to wash and

dry the item using warm soapy water afterwards or the acid in the lemon may continue to attack the brass after the corrosion has been removed. Wire brushes or scouring pads should be avoided. Brassware items that have been coated in lacquer must never be cleaned with metal polishes or aerosol spray polishes. The lacquer coating will be damaged and this will then cause early discoloration. The upshot of all this is - just stay on top of it and it won't be a problem. Clean regularly: dusting with a camel hair brush or soft cloth and washing with the occasional warm, mild, soapy water will keep your chrome shiny and new-looking. It’s much easier to manage tarnish as it appears than it is to remove years of pile up.

The Worst Household

Products For Your Home


hile we generally like having clean surroundings, there are some products which promise cleanliness, but are detrimental to your health. Here are five such products. Avoid them at all costs. Mop & Glo Multi-Surface Floor Cleaner A dose of methoxydiglycol (DEGME) with your shiny floor? DEGME is "suspected of damaging the unborn child" by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. DEGME levels in this product are up to 15 times higher than allowed in the European Union. Comet Disinfectant Cleanser Powder EWG found that this scouring powder emitted 146 di fferent chemicals, including


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some thought to cause cancer, asthma and reproductive disorders. The most toxic chemicals detected – formaldehyde, benzene, chloroform and toluene – are not listed on the label. Little is known about the health risks of most of the contaminants found. Simple Green Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner Marketing claims this to be “non-toxic,” but it contains 2-butoxyethanol, a solvent absorbed through the skin that irritates eyes and may damage red blood cells. It also contains a secret blend of alcohol ethoxylate surfactants; some members of this chemical family are banned in the European Union. This concentrated product is sold in a ready-to-use spray bottle despite instructions to dilute, even for heavy cleaning.

Scrubbing Bubbles Antibacterial Bathroom Cleaner & Extend-A-Clean Mega Shower Foamer These products contain up to 10% DEGBE, also called brotherliness, a solvent banned in the European Union at concentrations above 3% in aerosol cleaners. It can irritate and inflame the lungs. Dynamo and Fab Ultra liquid laundry detergents These contain formaldehyde, also known as formalin, classified as a known human carcinogen by the U.S. government and World Health Organization. Formaldehyde can cause asthma and allergies. The company divulges the presence of formaldehyde in the product only on technical disclosures for workers.



Top Green Gardening Tips

ardening is relaxing hard work. The benefits of the work you put in are so tremendous and the obvious effects of having a garden do not need to be stated. What must be stated is the manner in which you do your gardening. Go green in your garden. Keep it real You know what they say about Mother knowing best? Well, Mother Nature never needed to steal sips from a chemical cocktail of pesticides, weed killers, and chemical fertilizers to keep her act together. Nix the poisons and layer on some allnatural compost, instead. Call in beneficial insect reinforcements to wrestle pesky garden pests to the ground. Who needs to play Command & Conquer when you have battlefield drama unfolding before you in real time? Make compost from kitchen scraps Compost like a champ by throwing in your vegetable waste, instead of allowing it to


be trucked off to the landfill. Known as "gardener's gold," compost enriches soil fertility by giving it a shot of high-powered, plant-loving nutrients. Aside from stimulating healthy root development, the addition of rich and earthy compost also improves soil texture, aeration, and water retention. Why waste your hard-earned cash on commercial products when the real deal is free for the taking? Speed up the process with the help of earthworms or go wriggle-free (if you're the squeamish sort). Buy recycled If your delicate aesthetic sensibilities balk at the idea of reusing yogurt or takeout containers to house your hydrangeas, check out the myriad environmentally friendly planters and raised-garden kits now available. It takes less energy to recycle something than to mine virgin materials, so whether you choose recycled copper, plastic, or even rubber to anchor your tender shoots, it's all copacetic. Admire your handiwork and eco-smarts

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while lounging on recycled lawn furniture. Grow your own food Buying organic produce can admittedly get pricey, so how about growing your own food instead of painstakingly manicuring that lawn for the umpteenth time? It's time to return to the use of gardens as food sources--you won't find fresher (or cheaper) eating anywhere else. Join a community garden Urban dwellers bereft of a yard shouldn't fret: You can still get in on the hoeing and growing action by helping out at a church or local community garden. Community gardens typically have a communal composting area, as well, so if you don't have room for one of those triple-duty rotating barrel composters in your home, here's your hookup. Harvest rainwater Adding a rain barrel is an inexpensive and effortless way to capture mineral- and chlorinefree water for watering lawns,

yards, and gardens, as well as washing cars or rinsing windows. By harnessing what's literally raining from the sky, you'll not only notice a marked dip in water costs, but also a reduction in water runoff, which in turn helps prevent erosion and flooding. Pop a screen on top of your barrel to keep out insects, debris, and bird missiles, and make frequent use of your water supply to keep it moving and aerated. Water with care While we're on the subject of water, adopting a few smartwatering habits will do much to stretch out your supply, especially during dry, hot spells in the summer. Adding mulch and compost to your soil will retain water and cut down evaporation. Plus, soaker hoses or drip irrigation only use 50 percent of the water used by sprinklers. Water early in the day so you can avoid evaporation and winds. And the best place to drench your plants? Directly on those thirsty roots.



Marble Cleaning And Care

arble is a beautiful, but vulnerable natural stone surface. It is a soft stone susceptible to stains and damage. It is a beautiful investment that you should protect by carefully choosing your cleaning products and methods to make sure you do not cause any damage. Marble may be stone, but it is porous and stains easily. Wipe off anything spilled on marble immediately, just as you would from a wood surface. Use coasters under beverage glasses to avoid moisture rings. Regular Cleaning Occasionally wash marble surfaces with lukewarm water and wipe dry with a clean cloth. Wiping surface with a damp chamois will not leave streaks. Once or twice a year, depending on soil, wash with a mild detergent solution (hand or dishwashing detergent and warm water), rinse and wipe dry. A light coat of wax will protect the surface of marble but is not considered essential. Use colorless wax. Don't wax white 6

marble as it may tend to yellow it. A marble sealer can be applied to clean marble, which will protect from staining and allow soil to be wiped off with a damp cloth. Special Cleaning Marble, which has become dull can be livened up by using a commercial marble cleaner and polish. Buy from a company that sells marble. Putty powder (tin oxide) can be used to polish dulled or etched surfaces, rubbing on with a damp cloth, folding and refolding to clean damp areas, and preferably using an electric polisher for buffing. However it's very hard to find. Severely damaged surfaces that are scratched or etched, can be polished by someone with a business that makes and sells tombstones or other marble products. Stain Removal Make a poultice from white absorbent material such as a napkin, blotter, paper towel or facial tissue, dampened with the chemical recommended below

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to dissolve that stain; or mix whiting with that chemical to make a soft paste to cover the stain. The poultice should be left on the stain from 1 hour up to 48 hours, depending on the age and depth of the stain. Plastic wrap, held in place by masking tape, can be put over the poultice to keep it damp; otherwise it will have to be redampened with the chemical periodically. Mix only enough poultice for immediate use; mix a second batch later if another application is needed. Organic Stains: Tea, coffee, colors bleached from paper, textiles or soft drinks. Make poultice soaked with 20 percent peroxide (hair bleaching strength) and a few drops of ammonia. Oil Stains: Oil stains may include butter, hand cream or lotion. As soon as possible, spread surface with an absorbent fine powder such as whiting or even cornstarch. After a short time, brush to remove it and then reapply more powder. Let stand 24 hours. To remove: Scrub

with hot, sudsy (detergent) solution and stiff brush. Or wipe with ammonia-dampened cloth. In either case, rinse afterward and wipe dry. If these alkaline solutions don't remove all the oil, you can try a solvent. Make a poultice dampened with acetone or amyl acetate (available at drug stores), or with home dry cleaning fluid. Use good ventilation with windows open to remove fumes, do not use near spark or flame, and do not leave on too long. Rust Stains: Usually the result of metal items such as a lamp, a metal plant pot etc. Use a commercial rust stain remover. Follow directions exactly and do not leave on surface very long as the acid in many rust removers can etch the surface. Acids such as fruit juice, carbonated beverages or other acids will etch (remove the shiny surface) if allowed to remain on marble. Wipe up acid spills immediately, and wipe surface with wet cloth. If surfaced is etched, polishing may be required.

home office

Getting Assured With Insurance


ith annoying frequency, we’ve all witnessed the sadness that accompanies tragedy. Everywhere we go we see it. Omnipresent, deliberate, devastating in its effects. Mention the word stress to any body you meet and expect to be inundated with a barrage of horror stories that almost personify tragedy. Death, for instance, being no respecter of persons touches our lives in myriad ways. We may expect it after a long illness, or it may strike suddenly, arousing every emotion that we dare to carry. Life has the uncanny ability to throw us curve balls that knock the wind out of us. A quick visit to the doctor may reveal some sickness that has been hiding in your body; un-noticed and un-announced, that is going to send your medical bills through the roof. Unpleasant? Imagine coming home from work only to be stifled by the smoke from your burning house. All your sacrifice and hard work going up in embers that your tears can’t extinguish. Disastrous? What if your husband died and left you with the mortgage? You now owe for ashes. Anyone who is old enough and wise enough can tell you that nobody lives a perfect, fairytale life. With life there is no assurance, but there certainly is 8

insurance. Insurance does not fend off tragedy. It does not offer you the opportunity to whistle your way through life smiling at every sunrise because you never see the rain. It acts as a shield of comfort against unfortunate eventualities. The biggest benefit however, is peace of mind. The first step in obtaining insurance is a determination of your insurability. One overlooked aspect of applying for Insurance is the fact that the applicant must be insurable. For life insurance this simply means healthy or able to pass a medical examination. It is of course recommended that we capitalize on our present good health and obtain sufficient coverage for our present and future needs (Take inflation into consideration). Health plays a major role in acceptance, therefore this investment is not guaranteed to everyone. Life insurance should be considered if there are individuals who depend on you for financial support. It is payable when you die so that your surviving dependants would have the funds necessary to maintain their standard of living. It can help repay debt or mortgage or just extend that peace of mind to your loved ones when

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you’re gone. Insurance decisions should be based on your family, age, and economic situation. The amount you need depends on your individual situation. Find yourself a good agent with a reputable insurance company, and you’re ready to start. One common misconception about life insurance is that only your family benefits after your demise. There is a bit more to it than that! When an insurance policy reaches maturity, it simply means that you can in fact collect a lump sum which could aid your retirement at around sixty or sixty five years old. It can then actually be transferred into an annuity where you could get a guaranteed source of income for the rest of your life. Needless to say, that would eliminate a lot of stress, so you just might be living longer after all. Health insurance is now necessary simply because in this day and age, if you need the best health care, you have to buy it. Paying medical bills can place a significant drain on your resources. Health insurance keeps the “health” in your bank accounts. Most people enjoy health insurance as an employee benefit with their employers paying most or part of the payments, but it never hurts to get extra coverage.

Home-owner’s insurance can either cover just the house, or the house and its contents. In the event of a catastrophe, a good policy should cover at least eighty percent of the cost of your homes replacement value minus the value of the land and foundation. It may be necessary however for you to be covered separately for the cost of repairs. Regardless of the type of insurance you’re looking for, it’s readily available, sometimes all in one place. Shop around before you commit. Research the companies you’re interested in and find out how they do business. Learn from other people’s experiences and dealings with potential agents. Find out how long companies take to settle claims etc. Evaluate your criteria for choosing your agent. The fact that he is on the million dollar round table does not mean that he’ll be sensitive to you in your time of need. Choose an agent almost the same way you’d choose a friend. Can I depend on you? Good agents don’t just sell you insurance and then you never see them again. They stick with you, always offering financial information, seeking your best interests. They know your children’s names and your future goals.

elegant ideas

Fine Furniture Accents This patriotic furniture piece provides the colour to make this room stand out. The flowers add a soft touch

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elegant ideas

Unique lighting, ornate wrought iron furniture and flowers combine to make this simple powder room special


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elegant ideas

They don't make them like these any more. The curved wooden arms stand out

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elegant ideas

A mixture of light and dark furniture works well in this contemporary space 14

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elegant ideas

Colourful cushions are all that is needed to spruce up this outdoor space

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MARCH 2014





Choosing The Right Pans

ow do you go about choosing the right pot or pan for your dishes? If you are unsure about your cookware, these tips will guide you. Look for heavy-gauge materials Thinner-gauge materials spread and hold heat unevenly, and their bottoms are more likely to dent and warp. This means that food can scorch. Absolutely flat bottoms are particularly important if your stovetop element is electric. Heavy-gauge pans deliver heat more evenly To decide if a pan is heavy enough, lift it, look at the thickness of the walls and base, and rap it with your knuckles—do you hear a light ping or a dull thud? A thud is good in this case. The Right Lids and Handles are Important You'll want handles and a lid that are sturdy, heatproof, and secure. Handles come welded, riveted, or screwed. Some cooks 16

advise against welded handles because they can break off. As long as handles are welded in several spots, they can be preferable to riveted ones because residue is apt to collect around a rivet. Many pans have metal handles that stay relatively cool when the pan is on the stove because the handle is made of a metal that's a poor heat conductor and retainer, such as stainless steel. Plastic and wooden handles stay cool, too, but they're not ovenproof. Heat- or ovenproof handles mean that dishes started on the stovetop can be finished in the oven. All lids should fit tightly to keep in moisture. The lid, too, should have a heatproof handle. Glass lids, which you'll find on certain brands, are usually oven safe only up to 350°F. The Pan Should Match Its Usage For sautéing and other cooking that calls for quick temperature changes, a pan should

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be responsive. This means that the pan is doing what the heat source tells it to, and pronto. For example, if you sauté garlic just until fragrant and then turn down the flame, the pan should cool down quickly so the garlic doesn't burn. Responsiveness isn't as crucial for boiling, steaming, or the long, slow cooking that stocks and stews undergo. For sautéing and oven roasts, it helps if the pan heats evenly up the sides. When you've got a pan full of chicken breasts nestling against the pan sides, you want them all to cook quickly and evenly, so heat coming from the sides of the pan is important. For cooking acidic foods, such as tomato sauces, wine sauces, and fruit fillings, a pan's lining should be nonreactive. Stainless steel, enamel, and anodized aluminum won't react no matter what they touch, while plain aluminum can discolor white sauces and foods that are acidic, sulfurous, or alkaline. It can even make those foods taste

metallic. Eggs, vegetables in the cabbage family, and baking soda are some of the other foods vulnerable to aluminum's graying effect. In the past, there was concern about aluminum and Alzheimer's, but evidence has been far from conclusive. Are You Using Less Fat? If so, nonstick may be a good choice, and happily, nonstick technology has come a long way in the past few years. With the old-style, lighter-weight nonstick pans, it was hard to get the pan hot enough to sauté properly. Nonstick pans are now being made of harder, high-heat-tolerant metals, such as anodized aluminum and stainless steel, and the coatings themselves can withstand more heat and abrasion -- no more nonstick flakes in your food. Another potential disadvantage of sautéing in nonstick is the difficulty in deglazing. The nonstick surface can be so effective that you never get any good brown bits in the bottom of the pan.


Vegan Recipes


t’s Lent. This period is the ultimate period of fasting and reflection. The most common thing to abstain from is meat around this time. These vegan recipes are great options for anyone on that boat.

Marinated Vegetable Salad Ingredients 3/4 cup white sugar 1 teaspoon celery seed 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 1 cup distilled white vinegar 1/4 cup canola oil 1 teaspoon salt 2 cups cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced 1 onion, sliced into thin rings 2 cups thinly sliced carrots 1/2 cup chopped celery Directions Combine sugar, celery seeds, black pepper, vinegar, oil, and salt in a screw-top jar. Shake well to mix. Combine vegetables in large bowl. Pour dressing over vegetables, and stir gently. Cover, and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Garlic salt to taste Salt and pepper to taste 1 teaspoon white sugar 2 small zucchini, julienned 2 medium small yellow squash, julienned 1 large onion, sliced 1 green bell pepper, cut into thin strips 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 (8.75 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained

Directions In a large bowl combine olive oil, vinegar, oregano, chili powder, garlic salt, salt, pepper and sugar. To the marinade add the zucchini, yellow squash, onion, green pepper and red pepper. Marinate vegetables in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, but not more than 24 hours. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drain the vegetables and sautĂŠ until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the corn and beans; increase the heat to high for 5 minutes, to brown vegetables.

Greek Potato Salad

Vegan Fajitas Ingredients 1/4 cup olive oil 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon chili powder 18

Ingredients 6 red potatoes 2 tablespoons chopped green onion 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 3/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

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1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 1/4 teaspoon onion powder 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, or to taste 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano 1/8 teaspoon white sugar 1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled 1/2 pinch ground red pepper

Directions Place red potatoes into a large pot and cover with salted water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain and chill in freezer until cold, about 30 minutes. Slice potatoes and place into a large salad bowl; toss potatoes with green onion. Whisk olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, oregano, sugar, rosemary, and red pepper in a bowl. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and toss. Serve immediately or chill until serving time.

Vegan Banana Muffins Ingredients 3 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup white sugar 1/2 cup brown sugar 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt 2 cups mashed ripe bananas 1 cup canola oil 1 cup coconut milk

Directions Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper liners. Mix flour, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt together in a large bowl. Stir bananas, canola oil, and coconut milk together in a separate bowl; mix banana mixture into flour mixture until just combined. Fill muffin cups with batter. Bake in the preheated oven until a tooth pick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.

Melon Lime Cooler Ingredients 4 1/2 cups cubed honeydew melon 1 1/2 cups lime sherbet 2 tablespoons lime juice 4 fresh strawberries Directions Place honeydew melon in a single layer on a baking sheet. Cover and freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. Transfer frozen melon to a food processor with the sherbet and lime juice. Puree until smooth. Pour mixture evenly into 4 glasses, and garnish each glass with a strawberry. Serve immediately.



Divorce Prevention Strategies

hink your rocky relationship is coming to an end? While it may be better to part in some instances, a relationship does not have to end if both parties don’t wish for it to. Economic uncertainty, unemployment and fear about possible job-loss can, and often do, put stress on marriages. If a marriage is already experiencing problems, the stress of a poor economy can push a marriage into deeper trouble. It can cause new and unexpected problems to surface. Under such circumstances there is danger that troubled married couples will jump to the conclusion that divorce is the best solution to complex problems. The idea that divorce will solve financial and relationship problems is an illusion. The result is usually more problems and more hurt to more people than you can imagine. With this in mind, consider these suggestions on divorce prevention. One of the primary causes of divorce is loss of communication or miscommunication between two people. Silence in marriage is a deadly sound. Talk about your problems openly and honestly with your spouse. Hear each other out. This will at least save you from misunderstandings. No matter what the problem may be in your understanding of reality, tell your spouse what you think and how you feel. This should be done in a civil 20

manner, without exaggerations and crude language. Do not have "heated" discussions in the presence of small children. One of the earliest fears of a child is the loss of one or both parents. Do not use your children as weapons in a verbal battle or marital war. You will live to regret it. They will be damaged and your cause will not be helped. If you have money problems, sit down TOGETHER and draw up a budget based on your total income and your necessary expenditures. Find adjustments upon which you both agree. Do not make large and/or “undiscussed” purchases. Beware of credit cards. Pay off your credit card debt FIRST. The compounding interest will eat you up. You would be wise to stop using credit cards altogether if you cannot pay them off each month. Do not use alcohol or other drugs to deaden the pain of your problems. It will not work. Use only prescription drugs and follow your doctor's orders strictly in using any drug. Jealousy and possessiveness are dangerous ways of relating. When parading behind religious language, and offered in the name of love, they become insidious tools of manipulation that can finally destroy a marriage relationship. If you have suspicions about the behavior of

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your husband or wife, i.e., if you think they are cheating on you, address the problem openly, directly and quickly. You could be mistaken, but if you are not, the matter should not be allowed to continue. If you are having marriage problems you cannot resolve between the two of you, get help from an objective outside person who by reason of training and experience in the field of marriage and family counseling can help you or refer you for professional help. This may be your pastor. At least this is a good place to start. Do not discuss your marriage problems with relatives and casual friends. (The exception to that is if you need quick help and protection in the case of abuse.) Their advice is not likely to be helpful. It could be hurtful. The best advice is often the advice you do not want to hear at first. Friends and relatives often fail to tell you what you do not want to hear. Also, putting them in the situation of having to "choose sides" is not loving them, but using them. Remember what you agreed to in your marriage vows, especially that part about: "for better or worse; richer or poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish until death do us part". That was a contract you signed on to in the presence of God and other witnesses. Breaking it will be costly in many ways.

Remember the lasting damage that a divorce can do to children. It lasts a lifetime. If you do not understand the full implication of that damage, get someone to explain it to you. You really do not want to inflict a lifetime wound on your children! Spousal and child abuse is absolutely unacceptable!! Do not do it. Do not tolerate it. Physical abuse has legal consequences. Verbal and emotional abuse has serious moral consequences, and is often the prelude to physical abuse if it is tolerated. If you are in an abusive relationship, do not walk away - Run! Divorce is far more expensive than you ever thought possible. It will cost you in more ways than you can imagine, and leave you with regrets that will last a lifetime. If you are tempted to file for a divorce, ask your lawyer to show you the laundry list of bad things that will be said about your spouse in a divorce complaint. And remember that an equally ugly set of very bad things will be said about you in response. When you discuss problems with your spouse, fight fair. Do not use abusive accusations and language that you know to be untrue and which you may want to take back later in some possible reconciliation. Words CAN and DO wound. Sometimes these wounds never heal.



Parental Pointers

efining a good parent can be as difficult as thumbwrestling a man with ten inch fingers. This is because such definitions are based on subjectivity and not a standard set of parenting rules. The fact is each parent has to come up with a special way to deal with issues involving his or her children since all children are different. Therefore, being a ‘disciplinarian’ or a ‘buddy’ or simply a ‘nurturer’ to your children is not enough. What in effect represents good parenting is a mixture of the aforementioned as well as the ability to know your child. Knowing your child and yourself is important in shaping the decisions you will make regarding your child. These decisions should in essence promote responsibility and individuality in a child so that the parent is no longer needed. The road to becoming “not needed” is daunting, but if certain steps are followed better, although not perfect, parenting can be achieved. Here are some suggestions.

only parenting. You should not force your child to live a particular lifestyle, but watch them and guide them along the way. Do make sure that you instill your values and that your child knows and understands the bounds you have set.


Many parents get caught up in believing that their children belong to them. Yes, you created or at least played a part in creating the child, but you do not own them. Your role is to teach them to be their own boss and not to rule them. Leave the dictatorship to Castro. Instead, guide your kids in the proper direction and let them traverse the path on their own.

There is nothing wrong with saying "yes". Children love to hear “yes” and parents love to see their children happy. However, saying “yes” should not result in spoiling your kids. There must be limits each time you say the word yes to a child. “Yes” you can go play AFTER you complete your homework.


Controlling parents “suck” At least that’s what your kid will think if you are too over protective. The key is to hold on loosely, but at all costs do not let go. This piece of advice is applicable to most relationships, not 22


Parents must understand that their role differs from that of their children. The difference between a covenant and a contract has to be learned by parents more so than children. Covenants are agreements based upon one person and a contract is an agreement between two people. Parenting automatically forces you to make a covenant of unconditional love for your child. There must be no expense or effort made on a child’s part to receive that love from their parent. Contracts (though not legal ones) must also be made in the sense that you and your child must agree on certain things. One such contract can be “when you eat your vegetables, we will go for ice cream.”



Everybody has a life and everybody should try to live their own lives. Do not pressure children into thinking that they should live out their par-

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ent’s dreams for them. You may have already accomplished your dreams and because you are fulfilled you may want the same life for your child. However, your fulfillment is not your child’s fulfillment. Cheer on your kids when they attempt to do positive things and make their own decisions. Your kids are not there to struggle under your past no matter how glorious or pathetic.


Learn the truth and work off of it. Everything you say to your child must emanate from a truth. Do not discourage your child from doing something he/ she is genuinely good at because of some tiny innate fear you have. Similarly, do not encourage your child to pursue something which does not suit him/her because of your passion for it. Speak truth into their lives whenever possible. Sometimes your goals may sound impossible to achieve in the minds of your children. However, parenting is about creating opportunities for your children to overcome obstacles and see how dreams can more easily become realities.


Don’t be afraid to screw up sometimes. I believe that kids need guidance, not perfection. Parents need to be humble when dealing with their kids. In this way they will learn from their mistakes and will be better equipped to deal with other kids. The role of parenting is to create completion not perfection. Parenting, by design, is as much about parents’ formation as it is the kid’s. Parents form their roles during the parenting process just as kids form their understanding of life through



Admit to your wrongs and never think you know too much. Do not hesitate to say "I'm sorry" whenever you have to. When it is appropriate to do so let your kids know you have fallen short. It teaches them humility and it also makes you seem more human and less pressuring. Modern children know more. While it is humbling to realize that my kids already know more math skills than I ever will, it is also reassuring. No parent can know everything nor can any parent be everything for their child. A parent can, however, let their child know that they are cared for and that they are not alone.


It cannot be understated how much both parents are needed in a relationship. However, sometimes things just don’t work out and both parents are not there. It is important at these times to have a partner. Whether married or not, parents need support. Sometimes a mother may be more suited to handle a situation with a child and other times a father may be the right person for the job. It sound’s cliché, but two heads are better than one.


Last, but not least, in our list of parenting tips is understanding the power of prayer. Reliance on a higher power to get you through difficult times with your kids results in more than a placebo effect. Pray a lot and never forget that you may have brought them into the world, but you were only the delivery person..



Fragrance Application Tips


hile it may not be an art, there is some measure of skill required in applying perfume to your skin. Here are three ways to avoid fragrance mistakes. Less is more Less is more; when you are at a social event you will be competing with a number of different fragrances. You don’t want to choke one of your colleagues by drowning yourself in perfume – it’s not attractive, ladies. Applying a squirt of perfume using a cotton ball is another way to ooze sophistication and retain colleagues’ nose hair. When applying scent to your wrists, rubbing them together can significantly alter the scent so avoid this when getting ready. Avoid Your Hair Have you ever heard “spray perfume in your hair and it’ll last all day!” I was told this too and I made the mistake of listening and spent years damaging my hair with alcohol and oils. Never spray the perfume into your hair,

unless you’re anticipating catastrophic results. Temperature Changes The temperature can give you a good indication of how often you need to reapply your fragrance. In cooler climates you will need to reapply your perfume roughly every three hours or so, although, in warmer environments you can expect your scent to last a lot longer. You should be aware of the fact that as you age, your sense of smell may slowly begin to decline, so remember less is more.

Five Facets Of Good Ironing


roning is a chore that leaves most in a bore. While we may not like the preparatory work of ironing, this is integral to giving us the cleancut, streamlined look we desire. Without further ado, here are some tips for ironing that will help you through the dull process. Keep it Clean Clean your iron regularly to prevent deposits from ejecting and ruining your clothes. You can clean a warm iron plate with a cloth dipped in a water/ baking soda solution, and use Q-tips to remove deposits from the holes in the iron. Clear Water Even if the instruction manual states that you can use tap water, always use boiled (and cooled) or distilled water in your iron. This will keep deposits from clogging up the iron, and eventually, spewing out onto your clothes. Double the Heat Use aluminum foil under the ironing board cover. You’ll cut ironing time in half, because the w w w . a b s tr a c th o m e . c o m

aluminum reflects the heat of the iron, effectively smoothing the underside of your clothes as you run over the topside. Hang it Up Hang up your ironed clothes immediately after ironing to make sure all that hard work you just did sets in immediately and you don’t risk wrinkling the fabrics again. Get it Straight Always iron using straight, back and forth strokes; never use circular movements. This can stretch out your fabrics and will shorten the life of your clothes.

MARCH 2014





home gym

Facts About Fibromyalgia

ibromyalgia is a disorder that causes muscle pain and fatigue (feeling tired). People with fibromyalgia have “tender points” on the body. Tender points are specific places on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs. These points hurt when pressure is put on them.

Between 80 and 90 percent of people diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women. However, men and children also can have the disorder. Most people are diagnosed during middle age. People with certain other diseases may be more likely to have fibromyalgia. These diseases include:

What Are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia? People with fibromyalgia may also have other symptoms, such as:

• Rheumatoid arthritis • Systemic lupus erythematosus (commonly called lupus) • Ankylosing spondylitis (spinal arthritis).

Trouble sleeping Morning stiffness Headaches Painful menstrual periods Tingling or numbness in hands and feet • Problems with thinking and memory (sometimes called “fibro fog”).

Women who have a family member with fibromyalgia may be more likely to have fibromyalgia themselves.

• • • • •

What Causes Fibromyalgia? The causes of fibromyalgia are unknown. There may be a number of factors involved. Fibromyalgia has been linked to: • Stressful or traumatic events, such as car accidents • Repetitive injuries • Illness • Certain diseases Fibromyalgia can also occur on its own. Some scientists think that a gene or genes might be involved in fibromyalgia. The genes could make a person react strongly to things that other people would not find painful. Who Is Affected by Fibromyalgia? 24

How Is Fibromyalgia Treated? Fibromyalgia can be hard to treat. It's important to find a doctor who is familiar with the disorder and its treatment. Many family physicians, general internists, or rheumatologists can treat fibromyalgia. Rheumatologists are doctors who specialize in arthritis and other conditions that affect the joints or soft tissues. Fibromyalgia treatment often requires a team approach. The team may include your doctor, a physical therapist, and possibly other health care providers. A pain or rheumatology clinic can be a good place to get treatment. There are many things you can do to feel better, including: Taking medicines as prescribed, getting enough sleep, exercising, eating well and making work changes if necessary.

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Tips To Better Calves


etting the perfect sculpted legs takes work. While legs contain the most muscle mass, it is still hard to get the right definition without specifically targeting certain areas of the body. When it comes to your calves it takes especially specific training routines. Do your calf exercises without wearing highly supportive athletic shoes. When you train your calves wearing softer shoes or just wearing socks, your muscles have to do all the work without the aid of the springlike structure of athletic footwear. Mind-muscle connection is critical in helping maximize muscle growth, especially for small and stubborn muscles like calves. For each rep you do, keep mental connection and feeling with your calves and focus all your energy on that rep. By being mentally focused and connecting that mental energy to your muscles, you push the muscle to take in all the work.

In fact, studies have shown that a strong mind-muscle connection can help spur growth and strength gains. Mixing up your rep scheme within a workout is also a very effective strategy for targeting your calves. Start out with exercises performed with heavier weights in the beginning and progress toward lighter weights for the exercises at the end of the workout. You can also mix up your reps within an exercise by starting off heavier and lightening the load as the sets progress. Try to achieve the fullest range of motion possible. Stretch all the way down at the bottom, and come right up on your toes at the top. Calf muscles generally work mostly in the mid-range, so full range movements tend to create a very good response. Regardless of your rep range, be sure you can perform most reps with a full contraction by raising your heels as high as possible and squeezing the calf muscle



Four Signs Your Mechanic Is A Fraud


ar trouble is enough to send you crazy. However, an incompetent mechanic may take an even greater toll on your sanity. These tips will help you identify a bad mechanic. The shop requires you to pay before the work is done. Most reputable shops will give you an estimate, perform the work, and then charge you after you’re sure the problem is fixed. This is the only business practice that makes sense, because having you pay before you can be sure the problem will actually be fixed just screams shadiness. Your friends have had bad experiences at the shop. Okay so this may seem like a no-brainer, but in all seriousness when you need to choose a shop for work on your car, ask your friends. Let their experiences help you in finding a good quality place and a good price. The mechanic does not appear to have specific knowledge of your make and model. Some repair shops specialize in certain brands, while others attempt to do everything. Either


way, they hopefully see a large volume of customers, and because of this should have some knowledge of your car’s specifics without needing a manual or computer first. Simple things like a knowledge of engine size, which wheels drive the car, and approximate model year, among many others, can let you know that this mechanic has worked on cars like yours before and will most likely do a better job. The mechanic tries to suggest a myriad of other services for you at the time of your repair. Preventative maintenance may be the best way to avoid long-term hassle, but many times these offers of additional service (for a fee) are unwarranted and just attempts to get more of your money. Read your owner’s manual and know the timetable for services so that you can avoid being suckered in by a shop that is only out for your pocketbook. Shops that try to get you to purchase all sorts of extra services are not looking out for your best interests, and this applies to the quality of their repairs as well.

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The Benefits Of Spaying And Neutering Animals


paying or neutering your dog or cat can lead to a longer, healthier life for your pet. Yet, many Trinidad and Tobago pet owners have shied away from doing it. This article may convince you otherwise. • Spaying your female pet greatly reduces the risk of breast cancer and completely eliminates the threat of uterine and ovarian cancer. • Neutering your male pet prevents testicular cancer and prostate problems, and helps him avoid serious health problems like hernias and perianal tumors. • Males neutered at a young age are far less likely to develop dominance or aggression-related behavior problems, including possession and food guarding, territory marking (lifting his leg on everything in sight), aggression toward other dogs, and "humping" inappropriate objects. • Neutering your male pet relieves him of the constant

urge to go out in search of a female in heat. Ridding him of his urge to roam could very well save his life, and save you from a terrible broken heart. • Spaying your dog or cat eliminates her heat cycle and the mess that goes with it. Also, females in heat often cry and howl incessantly, develop nervous behavior, and attract every unaltered male dog in the neighborhood to your yard! • Altered animals are generally more docile and easier to train.


Travel Tips For Seniors


ravel can be a hassle (especially if you are traveling with an elderly person in your entourage). If you are making a trip with a senior citizen, try these tips to ensure things flow smoothly. Put things In Place Early The all-important first step is making sure your loved one is cleared for travel by his or her primary care doctor, especially if you’re accommodating a health condition such as Alzheimer’s disease. Make sure the chosen destination is appropriate to the senior’s limitations, and ask the doctor for specific travel tips as well as any necessary vaccinations or extra medications. Research medical facilities at your destination Especially if you’re traveling to an unfamiliar area, make sure you know where the nearest hospitals and care centers are in case of emergency. Bring contact details for your own doctors, too, and any necessary insurance information. 28

Pack essential items in a bag that’s easily accessible Make sure you have essentials close at hand: an ample supply of necessary medication, important documents and phone numbers, favorite snacks or drinks, a deck of cards or other entertainment, a light sweater, a hat, sunscreen, a travel pillow. These should be kept in a carryon bag, or a tote that’s readily available inside the car rather than locked away in the trunk.

steal from your parent or elderly loved one. Females should not carry a purse, but instead a money belt worn under a blouse or a neat Passage Wallet hidden under her coat by a neck cord. Even males should not carry a wallet in their back pockets but, instead, should carry the same Passage Wallet from the neck cord or as a hidden wallet tucked into their pants and secured by a cord to their belt. Advise the senior, if traveling alone, always to keep carryons between their feet when standing, or with the shoulder strap looped around the leg of a chair when seated. For comfort, consider the purchase of a travel pillow, a c-shaped balloon that supports the neck and head when resting aboard transportation.

Think about Safety, Security and Comfort There are thieves everywhere and, particularly, in high-traffic travel centers. Don't give the scalawags any opportunity to

Bathroom Breaks If you are traveling by bus or car, frequent stops may be necessary. Some travel with portable potties for those long stretches of road between towns. Another

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consideration would be incontinence products. If your loved one suffers from arthritis or leg cramps, you might want to consider leg wraps. To make unfastening the seat belt easier, make an easy reach seat belt handle. There are also car handy bars to make it easier to get in and out of the car. Arrange special services ahead of time If your loved one needs a wheelchair at the airport, advance boarding of the airplane or train, or special seating in a disabled row or near a restroom, get in touch with the airline personnel or travel company to make sure these are available upon arrival. Remember the TSA security checkpoints, too: be aware of any surgical implants that might set off metal detectors, and wear easy-to-remove shoes. Contact the airline in advance to arrange for special screening if your loved one has disabilities or special needs, and contact hotels to check on things such as shower bars and accessible rooms.

Abstract Home Is Published By Abstract Media Group, Premium Commercial Complex, San Juan, Trinidad, W.I. • Tel: (868) 638 1156/9 • Fax: (868) 638 1160. Printed By The Office Authority - Printing Division And Distributed By AMG

Abstract Home Volume 5 Issue 6 2014  
Abstract Home Volume 5 Issue 6 2014  

In this issue: Decorating Ideas: Fine Furniture Accents Vegan Recipes That Are Perfect For Lent Parenting Pointers and More Inside...