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LIVING QUARTERS

The Top Holiday Fragrances

For Your Home

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mong my favorite things about Christmas are all the wonderful scents of the season. Pine, cookies & other sweets baking, oranges, eggnog, cinnamon & other spices. Mmmm... I love being transported back to a sweet Christmas past by catching the scent of cupcakes baking, peppermint or fresh Christmas trees. There are many ways to get your home smelling spiffy. Whether it’s potpourri, spray mists, electric diffusers, reed diffusers, scented candles or oils, there are some things to consider when choosing the right scent. Read on and then choose what’s best for you. Know the Two sides of scent. Fragrance products have two components: the fragrance itself, which varies in strength and quality; and the vehicle that

transports it, or its base, which could be wax, oil or crystal. Both have to be good. A good- quality fragrance in a poor- quality base will disappoint. Know the scents that polarize. Vanilla and musk are examples. Those scents can make people feel sick, while others can't get enough, she said. Be wary of warm. Heat changes scent. In the industry, they call the scent of an unlit candle the "cold throw" and that of the lit version the "hot throw." They can be very different. When in doubt, buy a small test amount first. Change smell with place. Try citrusy green scents in the kitchen, a light floral in the powder room, and something

a little sexier — in the woodsy or gourmand category — in the bedroom. Imitate nature. Strive to make your home smell like the outdoors. The best smells are ones you can't quite put your finger on, but they smell like nature. They're not overtly one scent, but a blend that makes you say, "That smells nice." "Strident lemon or pine can smell like a cleaning product so be careful.

Tips For Tree Decorating

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he most integral element to local Christmas décor is the Christmas tree. Some people go the extra distance with ornaments such as crèches and other put enough lights in their home that it can almost be seen from space with the curtains closed. However, it is essential that the tree is given the respect it deserves as the focal point. The right decorating measures must be used. Here are some guidelines. Tip 1: Always run your ribbons through the tree first! By doing so, there is much less risk of damaging any ornaments, because there won’t be anything on the tree yet. Always start running the ribbon through your tree at the top and work your way to the bottom in a zig zag. Start at the top and go as far to your left as you can reach,

ornaments to fit on the tree and it is just overall, more visually pleasing for the overall look of the tree.

then go the other direction. This is more time efficient, as well as, less stress on your body (especially if the tree is tall and involves use of a ladder). Tip 2: When hanging your ornaments, you want to hang them close to the branch to ensure that they will stay, and also for a more professional look! This method allows for more w w w . a b s tr a c th o m e . c o m

Tip 3: For more impact, make clusters of ornaments grouped together on your tree. Tuck these clusters inside the tree to give your tree more depth, so that not everything is just on the outer branches. The lights will reflect on these ornaments that are tucked inside and it gives the tree some background. Tip 4: Keep your tree fresh and green (unless it’s a white or coloured tree). This means cutting close to the stump if it is a real tree and misting the leaves so they don’t dry up. If the tree is artificial, make sure to store it well so that parts do not go missing or become damaged and the colour does not fade.

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LIVING QUARTERS

Power Washer Tips For The Home User

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power washer can have a lot of uses around your property. Some home owners insist on doing their own power washing projects. Here are some power washing tips to consider before cleaning up your property.

the trigger.

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Don't get too close to surfaces that may be damaged by too much pressure, such as vinyl siding or wood.

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Never point the wand tip at yourself or anyone else, even a few hundred PSI can cause injury.

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Always wear the proper personal protective gear (eye wear, gloves, and ventilation mask).

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Be sure to check the oil level in your power washers engine and pump before starting it.

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Make certain to hook up your garden hose and supply water to the power washer before starting it.

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Check all pressure hose connections to be sure they

are properly fitted and secure.

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Check to make sure the power washers exhaust is free of debris, not too close to any surface that could melt and that there is adequate ventilation.

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.After starting the pressure washer, don't allow the unit to run for more than a minute without circulating water through the pump, this is ac-

complished by pulling the trigger on the wand, not doing so can overheat the pump.

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When changing wand nozzles be sure the nozzle is fully seated in the quick connect, you should be able to spin the nozzle while not under pressure if its seated correctly.

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Always point the wand in a safe direction before pulling

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Change the power washer’s pump and engine oil at least once a season.

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Don't take on any projects you don't feel comfortable doing, it's better to leave some projects to an exterior cleaning company.

Following these power washer tips can help to assure your safety and years of trouble free power washing.

Liven Up Your Yard With These Landscaping Tips

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little green can do wonders for the overall appearance of your abode. That’s why more than just a little attention should be paid to landscaping and small scale gardening around the house. Here are some tips to help you along the way. Make Your Life Easier With a Low-Maintenance Yard You can follow all the above do-it-yourself landscaping tips and still not be happy with your yard. For, besides giving your yard a pleasing appearance, you must also be sensible in planning for its maintenance. Beautiful or not, you'll resent your yard if it causes you too much work. Unless you don't mind spending hours each weekend on upkeep, plan your design for low maintenance.

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Install Water Features: It's Easier Than You Think Good landscape designs are anchored by focal points. One of the hottest trends is to use water features as focal points. This is one trend with "sound" reasoning behind it: water features are not only visually appealing, but emit soothing sounds. Using pre-formed rigid plastic liners, durable pumps, flexible tubing and cheap fountains, they're also a lot easier to install than you think. Once you've experimented with ponds, you may even decide to advance to the next level: simple waterfalls. Use Annuals to Supplement Perennial Color Perennial flowers are wonderful for your planting beds, but they bloom for only so long. You may have perennials blooming

in your bed in May, then nothing until July. Incorporating annuals into a do-it-yourself landscaping plan will "plug the gaps," giving you continuous color in the yard. Use my picture gallery to find ideas for your color schemes. The gallery is preceded by an introduction to employing color in landscape design. Using Form and Texture to Your Advantage Flowers are great, but don't forget the characteristics of a plant's branching pattern and foliage. In landscape design, varying form and texture is one way to spice up a yard with diversity. Evergreen conifers, while lacking flowers altogether, nonetheless have foliage that offers a myriad of different forms and textures.


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LIVING QUARTERS

Three Tropical Christmas

Plants to Consider

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lants often play a pivotal part in sprucing up the look of various surroundings at Christmas. While fresh coats of paint and varying hanging light designs rule the roost of Christmas décor, there are three common tropical plants which can add a bit of holiday pizzazz to your décor.

Poinsettia Poinsettias' association with Christmas is widely known, so it's a surprise to some that these are actually tropical plants. The plant's flowers are located in the center of its bracts, which are often mistaken for the flowers due to their bright red coloring. The poinsettia plant originated in Mexico, and its primary use in contemporary society is as a holiday plant. According to the University of Illinois Extension, poinsettias make up more than

and February. Two other holiday cacti, the Thanksgiving and Easter cacti, are often mistaken for Christmas cacti, but the time of year in which the plant blooms is an effective indicator for which plant is which. Each plant blooms around its namesake holiday.

80 percent of holiday pottedplant sales. Christmas Cactus The Christmas cactus, which comes from tropical portions of South America, features a scalloped, rather than pointy, stem. It displays red and purple symmetrical blooms alongside its greenery between December

Norfolk pine Norfolk pine is one of the bestknown tropical pine trees. It can be found growing in the wild in tropical climates around the world. Widely used as a Christmas tree, the Norfolk pine is ideal for container planting and is often kept as an indoor house plant. Sand pine (Pinus clausa,) Slash pine (Pinus elliottii Engelm.,) Spruce pine (Pinus glabra Walt.) and Pond pine (Pinus serotina Michx.) are found in many warm climates and throughout the Caribbean.

Painting A Ceiling

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ou’ve painted the walls and some of you even got down and painted the floors and varnished the doors. Now, the ceiling looks a bit crusty next to all the newness. It’s time for a sprucing up and these tips will make sure you get the ceiling paint job done in the right way. Prepare the room. Sounds simple but many people do not take the time to do this and end up with a spill or accident to clean up. The ideal approach is to remove all of the furniture in the room and put a canvas drop cloth or high-grade plastic drop cloth over the floor. Low-grade or thin plastic drop cloths can get ripped or torn in the process of walking and moving things across them. This leaves your carpet or hard flooring open to an accident. Tack the drop cloth along the bottom

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of the base boards or floor so it stays in place while you move around on it. Remove all ceiling fixtures and any wall art or mirrors that might get splattered with paint. Sometimes you can lift a splatter off with a fingernail but if you are enamored with the piece and you can't remove the spill easily or at all then you will regret not having removed them. Prepare the surface. You will need to analyze the surface. Ceilings are not painted as often as

walls and probably not cleaned as often either. You want a clean surface to place the paint on otherwise you could end up with peeling. Take a broom and knock off any cobwebs or surface dirt. Wipe the surface lightly with a soft cloth. Now, what does the ceiling look like? Does it have water stains? Did a smoker use the room? Does it need patching? If so, patching must take place before painting occurs. Leave time for the patching compound to dry. Make sure you are not creating a rougher surface when you patch. Sand down what you can to keep the ceiling uniform or apply the same texture the rest of the ceiling has. In the case of not being able to find the existing texture, you may want to retexture the whole ceiling so it is uniform.


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The Rules Of Holiday Hosting

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f you're the Christmas host, then you will find you have a big juggling act on your hands. You may well be dealing with several different generations; as well as bringing together representatives of two entirely separate families (united by marriage). All that, and presents and food too!

These handy tips will make your life a little easier: • Difficulties frequently arise when two different families unite for Christmas celebrations. The tendency to ‘fetishize’ your own family's version of Christmas ("We always go to midnight mass, have a cooked breakfast, open our presents before lunch etc. etc.") can sit very uncomfortably with new arrivals, who feel forcibly dragooned into your own family mythology. If you are hosting inlaws (or other families) at Christmas, be aware of this tendency. Make tentative suggestions ("we normally open our presents before lunch - is that ok with you?") rather than confident pronouncements. Make your guests feel involved in planning the structure of the day. • If you are hosting a multi-generational family gathering it is your responsibility to ensure that everyone's tastes are catered for. Grandparents, however doting, will soon wilt if they are forced to spend hours in an overcrowded sitting 6

room watching increasingly raucous children play havoc with their Christmas booty. Never presume that other people will find the spectacle of your over-excited children as captivating as you do. Ensure that there is always a quiet zone where the older, less hyperactive, guests can retreat for drinks and civilised conversation. • Do your best to accommodate the excitement of the children. Inevitably, adults find the hyped-up excitement of small children at Christmas a little wearing. But grumpiness is not an option. Christmas is, after all, most children's favourite time of year. If you have room, try and herd the children off into a different part of the house. Try and get them out of the house at some point in the day. They could play in the garden, or be marched off on a brisk pre-lunch walk (all of these options are more popular if their presents include bikes, roller skates, skateboards etc.) • Don't inflict agonizingly long meals on small children. The adults may like nothing better than lingering over their port and stilton into the small hours, but most children will want to finish their turkey and get back to their presents. Let them. It's much better to enjoy adult company and conversation than to find yourself sitting at a table feeling frazzled by unhappy kids.

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• Christmas television is a mixed blessing. There is a surfeit of choice, and much potential for conflict of interest. Head off any disputes by planning ahead, recording as many programmes as possible, and ensuring that family viewing is not steam-rollered by one interest group (usually the kids). Never assume that your guests will want to see certain programmes; always ask beforehand, and provide alternative entertainment. • Ask for help when you need it. If you are in the panic-stricken last stages of preparation for the Christmas lunch, and desperate for someone to do some preemptive washing up, don't hesitate to ask. Guests will leap to their feet when help is solicited, because they feel guilty when they're lounging around not doing anything. • Finally, don't expect perfection. Certainly you should make every effort to ensure the day goes with a swing. Plan ahead meticulously, decorate your home beautifully, cook delicious food, buy well-chosen presents, stock up on excellent drink. But don't demand too much of yourself, your family or your guests. Building up your expectations for the day to dizzying heights will mean that mishaps and misunderstandings (however minor) are blown up out of all proportion - and that's not what Christmas is about.


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home office

Stocking Stuffers Salute: Holiday Gift Ideas

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he Christmas season is fast approaching and soon enough, those of us who celebrate it, will be consumed with trying to find the perfect holiday gifts for our loved ones. Christmas shopping is a daunting task for many, as finding quality, novel items is not only time consuming but down right difficult, especially for us ‘Trinis’, for whom the last minute rush has become part of our Christmas tradition. As a result, we often end up selecting the first thing we see on the shelf and hope that the ‘giftee’ likes it. Hey, it’s the thought that counts right? To help make your Christmas shopping a little easier this year, here are some excellent gift giving ideas that your friends and family will truly appreciate and enjoy and which will also give you the satisfaction of having everyone believe that you spent countless hours looking for the perfect gift for them. For the men in your life, the clichéd “socks and ties” just will not do this Christmas! There are so many gadgets and gizmos out there that any tech- savvy male would love to have, especially one that he can show off to his friends and boast about. The latest model Canon EOS-7D Digital SLR Camera will have him looking like a pro and he’ll be the envy of all his friends. The only problem is he’ll be following you around like the paparazzi with this one. Canon’s latest contribution to the HD(high definition) trend is its VIXIA HG20 Hard Disk Drive Camcorder, said to deliver optimal image quality, and one gift your dad, husband or brother is sure to love. This is a good gift, especially since, next Christmas or birthday; you can then get him the HD television or DVD player to complete the set, so your gift giving is covered for a while. Home theatre systems are always a safe buy, with Bose being the top rated on many tech sites; especially important if you are looking for the best quality. Be on the look out for other quirky but functional gadgets, such as one I happened upon while doing research for this article, called the ‘Constrained Ball.’ It's a small attachment with a very simple design and an attractive look that lets you draw straight 8

lines in any direction. You will never need a ruler again as it also gives the measurement on the tiny built- in LCD screen. Clearly an original and innovative find for the builder/ tool buff in your life. Clothing for men is still an option, just be original. A smart blazer or a pair of patent leather shoes are an improvement to any wardrobe; just ensure you know his correct size and colour preference. Classic belt buckles, tie clips and cuff links are great gifts for treasured employees/ers and Cartier has a great selection of all of these. For a more personal touch, you can have them engraved with his initials. Men love their whiskey, and a bottle of the finest will make a great gift when you are unsure of the man’s likes or dislikes. If he does not drink at least he will have it for entertaining purposes. Go with the timeless favourites like Johnnie Walker Black/Blue, Highland Park, Lagavulin, The Glenrothes and Auchentoshan. For the professional male or female, something functional that also enhances the aesthetics of their office would be appreciated. How about a staple free stapler, or a perpetual calendar that never needs replacing, or a world clock that gives the time in different time zones for the jet setting executive? All these items are functional and can serve as conversation pieces. Another great idea for professionals is a designer leather card holder or briefcase which gives a classy, stylish and professional look which you will be credited for creating. The internet facilitates finding such items easily and quickly and they can be ordered at the click of a mouse, so you can do your shopping on your lunch break without even leaving your desk. Christmas shopping for women is always seen as tricky territory, but it does not have to be. Women love clothing, shoes, jewellery, perfume and gift cards/certificates. Get any one of these and she’ll be happy. When choosing clothing, stick with the latest trends as you do not want her to look outdated, but remember the age bracket you are catering to; buying a mini-dress for your grandmother is not a good look by

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any standards. Tunics, rompers and skinny jeans are the latest trends and can be dressed up or down to suit the occasion, so stick to simple styles. The latest styles in shoes are gladiator type sandals and heels and most designers have options in these styles. Diamonds are definitely a girl’s best friend, and you can never go wrong with a gorgeous piece of jewellery for that special someone. Bangles are all the rage now and a diamond encrusted bangle would make her love you forever. Statement pieces such as large rings with semi precious stones and also chunky necklaces make a great gift for the fashion forward woman. You can also find unusual, funky and artistic rings and earrings in many boutiques that would make anyone stand out in a crowd. Today’s woman is always on the go and time is always of the essence, so why not get her an impressive watch; Fendi and Bulova have gorgeous options for exquisite tastes. Coco Chanel, Liz Taylor and Liz Clairborne are three names synonymous with class, poise and beauty and if any of the women in your life possess these characteristics, then a fragrance from any of these fragrance lines would suit her. A person’s fragrance preference is subjective however, and unless you know which scents they like, a better option would be to purchase a gift card or certificate so that they can choose their scents themselves. Gift cards and certificates take much of the guess work out of shopping as the ‘giftee’ can choose the gift they prefer at your expense. Spa certificates are always a hit, as what woman would not enjoy a day of pampering at the spa. Another thoughtful option is booking your loved ones a night or two at any of our local hotels, for a relaxing getaway. There are many options such as the Hyatt Regency, Carlton Savannah or the Marriot, just to name a few. Such a gesture would show you really care and definitely will be a difficult gift to top. Hopefully, these gift ideas will make your Christmas shopping a breeze this year and everyone will be pleased with your thoughtfulness. Happy shopping everyone!


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elegant ideas

Christmas Is All About Colour

Create a colourful balance in your growing kids’ room w w w . a b s tr a c th o m e . c o m

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elegant ideas

Boldly bright are the furniture and accessories in this room

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elegant ideas

Christmas is for the kids. Transform their room with colourful themes

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elegant ideas

A well-adorned Christmas tree is the perfect way to add immediate colour to a room this season

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elegant ideas

A colourful kitchen to create colourful holiday meals w w w . a b s tr a c th o m e . c o m

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KITCHEN

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y mother always said that her favourite room in the house was the kitchen. I guess that’s true because she spent most of her time there cooking, baking, steaming, even washing; vegetables that is. She approached cooking like it was her job and, as every worker needs their tools to produce the best in their field, so too did mother need her tools to ensure her cooking was finger licking. There are certain items that every kitchen must have

‘Tis The Season For Kitchen Necessities

and after careful research, we have been able to list the top five. A 4-inch utility knife. Similar to that of a paring knife (a small knife with a plain edge blade that is ideal for peeling and other small or intricate work) it minces garlic, slices mushrooms and peels the skin off fruits leaving a smooth texture. Depending on the brand, the type of steel used may vary but it is made to be very sharp and durable. This ensures that the job gets done with the least possible amount of exertion. By extension, and for professionals, a complete knife set should adorn any kitchen counter as best practice allows you to use the correct knife for each task. A measuring cup- With so many companies branding

these cups, it gets confusing sometimes trying to decide the ideal one for your kitchen. The secret? They all do the same thing just in different ways. Try purchasing one where the base twists, ensuring that you can move it up or down as you wish. They are measured in ounces and millimeters and will replace all other dry measuring cups and objects. Certain cups even carry tablespoon and teaspoon measurements to further help with baking. Kitchen shears. No, not the “all purpose” scissors that is used for various tasks in the household. This is solely for the purpose of cutting open packages and trimming vegetables in addition to other simple kitchen needs. Some have been re-designed to include bottle and box

openers. Silicone spoon spatula. Depending on the brand, the uses for this flexible yet strong tool are endless and may very well replace all other spoons and spatulas in the kitchen drawer. In addition to stirring, it can also be used to sauté, stir and scoop. Specially designed to withstand up to 600 F of heat, this is a must have tool for any baker. Heavy-duty Food processor. A good food processor can ensure that those “always on the go-ers” are fed something better than fast-food. With the ability to dice, shred or cut fruits and vegetables within seconds, these are a must-have especially for Christmas. Be sure to invest in a good one; cost should not be a factor.

Christmas Table Setting Tips

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ou clearly didn’t do all that Christmas grocery shopping for nothing. You are going to have guests at Christmas, but you can’t seat them informally all over the house for such an auspicious occasion. Nope! It’s time to bring out the fine china and gather around the table. No matter if your table is big or small, new or not-so-new, here are three table setting tips to make sure your dining experience at least looks the part. (Lord knows what you’ll be serving especially if you don’t follow our trusted recipes.) Decide on a theme or color to give to the room for a festive look. Chromatic coherence is the first step to beauty, so consider first the room you are setting the table in, how much direct sunlight you will have, and choose among the traditional combina16

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tions like white and blue, red and gold – or silver, or just go a bit crazy and simply pick your favorite colors. Detail is Important Remember: an elegant glass is good enough, but colored glasses are more festive. Use napkins rings and place them at the center of the plates. Provide enough space for a wine bucket to chill your wine if you are serving white and remember to decant your wine

in advance if you are serving an aged red. Place your guests neither too close to each other nor too far apart, and if you want to use candle holders remember to pick low ones: guests need to see each other while they talk. Don’t use perfumed items (candles or centerpieces) on the table or near it, as the scent will interfere with the flavor of the dishes. Natural Is Greater. It’s fun to shop for Christmas decorations, and sometimes you do need to refresh your eyes with something new, but you can easily find inexpensive and unique decorations in nature. Twigs, leaves, branches, pine cones can be as beautiful as the decorations you buy at the store and no one will have the same ones as you. Leave a little branch of a pine on the side of the glasses for each guest to make the table more festive. Oh, check for bugs before doing so.


KITCHEN

Kitchen Saftey Tips

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lot of time is spent in the kitchen cooking, eating and socializing (especially at Christmas). Family time spent preparing and sharing meals creates memories that last a lifetime. Research has shown that the family that eats at least one meal together each day has fewer problems communicating their feelings with each other. As wonderful a place as the kitchen is, it can also be a very dangerous place when things get especially busy during the holidays. Kitchen safety lies in the hand of the homeowner and terrible situations can be avoided by following a few simple steps. Don't leave cooking unattended. Stay in the kitchen when there is something cooking. Some people tend to go do other things like laundry and house cleaning. Other chores take your mind off of what’s going on in the kitchen. This can lead to the food being burnt or worse the kitchen being burnt. Also keep appliances clean as greasy stove tops catch fire easily. Clean as you go. Unplug your appliances and turn off the stove or

oven as soon as you are finished with them. Don't ever load outlets with too many appliances. They can short and cause a fire. If there are not enough circuits available, call in your electrician to have some more installed. Never touch anything electrical with wet hands and do not use electric appliances near or in a sink. Keep flammable objects clear of the stove. This includes towels, recipes or cook books, and dish cloths. When cooking wear short sleeves or close fitting clothes. Use oven mitts when removing hot things from microwaves, ovens and stove tops. Always turn your pot and pan handles inward. If they are leaning over the side of the stove people can bump into them and knock the pot or pan over maybe even seriously hurting someone. Sharp knives should be held by the handle with the cutting edge facing away from you. By following these steps you make it safe for you and your family to enjoy the joys of spending time in the kitchen.


RECIPES

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Christmas Baking Recipes

bstract Ho-Ho-Home is delivering its usual dose of tasty treats in this issue. However, since it’s the yuletide season, we’ve decided to provide recipes relevant to the occasion. By now, everyone has an eggnog, pastelle or glazed ham recipe, but not everyone can bake the hops to go with the ham or make good old fashioned country cornbread. Here are some recipes to help you out.

Fruit Cake

Ingredients 1/8 cup chopped dried cherries 1/8 cup chopped dried mango 1/4 cup dried cranberries 1/4 cup dried currants 2 tablespoons chopped candied citron 1/4 cup dark rum 1/2 cup butter 1/4 cup packed brown sugar 1 egg 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1/8 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses 2 tablespoons milk 1/4 cup chopped pecans 1/4 cup dark rum, divided Directions 1. Soak cherries, mango, cranberries, currants, and citron in 1/4 cup rum for at least 24 hours. Cover tightly, and store at room temperature. 2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Butter a 6x3-inch round pan or loaf pan and line it with parchment paper. 3. In a large bowl, cream to18

gether butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; mix into butter and sugar in three batches, alternating with molasses and milk. Stir in soaked fruit and chopped nuts. Scrape batter into prepared pan. 4. Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons rum. 5. Cut out one piece parchment paper and one piece cheesecloth, each large enough to wrap around the cake. Moisten cheesecloth with 1 tablespoon rum. Arrange cheesecloth on top of parchment paper, and unmold cake onto it. Sprinkle top and sides of cake with remaining rum. Wrap the cheesecloth closely to the surface of the cake, then wrap with paper. Place in an airtight tin, and age for at least 10 weeks. If storing longer, douse with additional rum for every 10 weeks of storage.

Homestyle Hops Ingredients 3 1/2 cups white flour ½ cup whole wheat 1 ½ tbsp. dry instant yeast 2 tsp sugar 1 ¼ cups water 1 tsp salt Directions 1. Sift flour in a medium sized bowl and add the dry ingredients (salt, sugar, yeast)

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2. Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly. 3. Form a well in the middle of the ingredients and add all the water at once. Mix with a fork before kneading. Knead for roughly 8 minutes and add water where necessary till you get a medium, stiff dough. 4. Grease the bowl and top of the dough and let it sit for half an hour. 5. Punch down the dough and form into balls. Place on a greased tray and allow to rise for an additional hour or until the balls double in size. During this process, cover with a damp cloth. 6. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 20 minutes.

Pumpkin Gingerbread Ingredients 3 cups sugar 1 cup vegetable oil 4 eggs 2/3 cup water 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree 2 teaspoons ground ginger 1 teaspoon ground allspice 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground cloves 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1/2 teaspoon baking powder Directions 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans. 2. In a large mixing, combine sugar, oil and eggs; beat un-

til smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin, ginger, allspice cinnamon, and clove. 3. In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Divide batter between prepared pans. 4. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Christmas Cornbread Ingredients 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 cup cornmeal 1/4 cup white sugar 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 egg, lightly beaten 1 cup sour cream 1/3 cup milk 1/4 cup butter, melted Directions 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking dish. 2. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Mix egg, sour cream, milk, and butter in a small bowl. Fold egg mixture into flour mixture until just moistened; pour into prepared baking dish. 3. Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm.


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BRIDAL

Makeup Tips For The Boxing Day Bride

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t’s easy to run off to the little girl’s room to touch up when you are on a date or just hanging out with friends. However, your wedding day affords none of that. Once you are prepped and dressed you have to stay that way pretty much until your wedding night or maybe even the morning after. On such an auspicious occasion it is important that your looks don’t fade away as fast as the bottles of champagne at the reception. The key in order to ensure this, is getting proper wedding makeup done – more importantly, makeup that lasts. The first part of getting your makeup to last is preparing the canvas. In this case the canvas is your skin. By taking care of your face, staying out of the sun and remaining properly hydrated you have won half the battle. Cleansing your face is the first step in the other half of the fight. Don't use harsh treatments on oily skin as you could actually increase the oil in your skin. Instead, create a skincare routine using cleansers and balancers that have been 20

customized for your skin type. If you are into facials, get your last regular facial a week before the wedding. Use the weeks before your wedding to experiment with your canvas. Find the right shades to match your colour and get accustomed to using lip balm or moisturizer. Color fades unevenly on dry, chapped lips. The next step in the quest for long-lasting makeup is laying a proper base. In order to make sure that the makeup stays on and to minimize slide, apply moisturizer twenty minutes before starting your makeup. Use concealer under your eyes. Oil-based concealers are the best choice for those inclined to be teary brides. Weddings are not the Olympics; there is no need for your makeup to run. A strange, but battle-tested formula for conquering foundation that wears away easily is trying a formula with a little oil. Complete your foundation with face powder. After the perfect base is applied the rest becomes easier. After all, a good foundation

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is the start of all good things. Now you can approach other areas such as the cheeks. Makeup applied to the cheeks gives structure to the face and has the power to define a look all by itself. When applying cheek makeup two techniques work best. The first technique involves using a powder-based blush, which lasts longer than a cream blush. Secondly, as an alternative to the first technique, try a cheek stain. Just be sure to blend fast. Once the stain sets, it stays put. One’s eyes can tell tales that would make even Paul-KeensDouglas blush. These windows to your soul are likely to get as wet as a windshield during Hurricane Katrina at the wedding. Here is how you make sure the tears don’t ruin your finish. Prep your eyelids with an eyeshadow base or a little face powder. Use waterproof mascara – waterproof means tear proof. Allow each coat to dry for a few seconds before applying the next layer. To avoid smudging leave your lower lashes clean. The French technique

of the eyelash perm can also be employed to keep your makeup intact. Results last for roughly two months. When you kiss the groom it should not look like there was a lip transplant between both of you. Your lip-makeup should stay on you and you only. Prep lips with a little foundation. Try to refrain from using moisturizer within one hour of application of makeup. Before filling out lips with colour outline them with lip liner. Lipstick should be applied with a lip brush. It is important to blot between layers when applying lipstick. Lip stains are also a good choice especially for those who choose to go with bright lip colours. However, make sure your lips go through a thorough moisturizing regimen leading up to the wedding day as stains dry out your lips. These tips go a long way toward ensuring your makeup stays on you for extended periods. There are a thousand things that can ruin a wedding. Don’t let your makeup be another.


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FAMILY

Finding Serenity During The Hectic Holidays

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ometimes on Monday morning you can barely recall the weekend, this supposed relaxation time. All remains is a sense of the peace that could ‘possibly’ come from an afternoon spent reading that new book on the porch or listening to a new CD while just drifting away with a glass of wine somewhere open and breezy. In the chaotic order of today, with technology streaming us content we’d be happy without 24/7- the kids, the office, deadlines, bills and what to wear tomorrow- always racing around frantic in our mind, even if we’re standing still there is great need for us to slow down, calm ourselves, and find some peace and quiet. There are ways to bring moments of peace into your everyday life that don't require totally checking out for two days. Now that the holidays are upon us, it doesn’t seem like things have slowed down, so peep this info. Lay awake. Before jumping into your day when you wake up, take a moment to stretch and take a few deep breaths. Get inspiring texts. Have reflective, meditative quotes sent directly to your phone that get you to pause. If you think something nice, say it. So often we don't tell someone how much we admire their haircut or that we love their handwriting – spread some joy. Use your nose. When you take that deep breath, notice the smells of your meal: coffee, fresh bread, the zing of vinegar in your salad. Go outside during lunch. Take a walk around the block or sit on a park bench for 15 minutes.

Physically connect. When you hug, kiss, or shake hands, really bring attention to the connection you’re making with that person. Have dinner by candlelight. Even if, particularly if, it’s dinner for one. This sets a slower mood perfect for unwinding and rounding off with a glance of wine is ideal. Create a noise-free zone – If possible, designate one room of your house as a noise-free zone where family members can go relax – no radios, televisions, laptops or telephones. A back porch or secluded upstairs room with a large window, is perfect Turn off the television/radio; we know it’s something of a tradition in the Trinidadian home to leave the radio or TV on as ‘background noise’. Get away from the kids, the pets. Ask a friend or family member to babysit for a couple hours as you take a drive and listen to, perhaps, a copy of your favorite song tracks you’ve compiled. Before you doze off, instead of adding to the list of thingsto-do the next day, think of the little things that made you smile today. A kid tugging his mother’s dress, puppies playing, birds chirping, a couple blushing in transit and maybe commit to be part of this tomorrow.


WARDROBE

POWDER ROOM

Finding A Suit To Suit You

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At Home Manicure Tips

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on't have time to run to a salon for a perfect manicure? Treat yourself to an at- home manicure and still look and feel great this season. Manicure Tools needed: Nail polish remover, cotton balls, nail clipper and nail scissors, nail file, bowl, nail brush, cuticle clipper, orange stick, cuticle oil, hand cream, nail strengthener, clear nail polish, colored nail polish

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Start by taking off any remaining nail polish. Use cotton balls and nail polish remover. Nail polish remover can be very damaging to your nails so try to use a nail polish remover that is acetone free. Another option would be to use a salon brand nail polish remover; they work a lot better and remove the polish very easily.

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The next step is to shape your nails. If your nails are weak or damaged it would be better to keep them short. Use a file for this step unless the nails are very short and you need to trim off a lot with scissors or clippers before. Remember to file your nails in one direction to prevent damage to your nails.

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Clean your nails with a nail brush and soak for a couple of minutes to soften your cuticles. Next take an orange stick with a tiny piece of cotton wrapped around it and push back cuticles. If you have hangnails or rugged cuticles, clip them with cuticle scissors. Massage cuticles with cuticle oil and apply hand cream.

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Use the nail polish remover one more time and remove any oil or lotion that may remain on your nails from the previous step. This will help your nail polish to stay longer and better.

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Apply a base coat or nail strengthener, depending on what you need. Never forget this step if you enjoy dark polishes as this will help prevent staining. For a simple look, you can stop now.

very man’s wardrobe must contain a good suit. After all, look at how many Christmas parties are around the corner. You never know when you will be required to click on your dapper switch so having a well tailored suit more than just comes in handy. It’s a much understated requirement. Since many of us tend to overlook this, here are some tips to assist you in getting suited up correctly. 1. Make sure it fits properly in the shoulders when you try it on. If it doesn't, the suit will never fit well — despite what the salesman tells you. 2. It pays to have your suit altered by a good tailor. After all, you're not a fitting mannequin — your suit needs to be tailored to your body. 3. At the least, have the sleeves shortened. They should end at the hinge of your wrist so a sliver of dress-shirt cuff peaks out. 4. Have the length of the pants altered. Most guys walk around with their pants too baggy, or as they say in the tailoring biz, with too much "break."

Pick out your favorite color of nail polish and apply two light coats.

5. If you're a slimmer guy, have the sides of the jacket taken in a bit, so the suit contours to your torso.

Last but not least, apply a clear nail polish or top coat to help make your at home manicure last longer.

Of course, no suit is complete with just a jacket and trousers. Other things should be considered as well. Accessories

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such as pocket squares, ties and bow ties can polish off the perfect look. If you're wearing a colored shirt, keep your accessories in the same color family and aim for a richer, more saturated hue. For example, a charcoal gray suit layered over a lavender dress shirt would look great with a deep, blue-based violet tie or pocket square. If you choose to wear a tie and pocket square together, they should not match exactly; rather, aim for less saturated hues of the same color or keep the pocket square white. If your shirt is already a bright, saturated color, it's a better idea to match your accessories to your suit. Imagine a black wool suit with a maroon dress shirt---a black silk tie would complement the look nicely. Also, your dress shirt can change the look of your suit, depending on the colour, collar and fabrication you choose. For a traditional look that exudes confidence (perfect for a job interview), stick with a crisp, classic point-collar dress shirt in white or soft blue. Stay away from glossy, casual fabric weaves like twill and choose sturdy cotton broadcloth or pinpoint fabric. Solid white or pale blue are can't-go-wrong choices for color, but if your suit is solid-colored, you can bring a little life to your suit with a pinstriped shirt. Keep the stripes small and evenly spaced---no variegated stripes for this traditional look. Hopefully, this article was tailor made for you and now you have what it takes to get dressed to suit the big occasion.

DECEMBER 2012

ABSTRACT HOME

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MEDICINE CABINET

home gym

Four Tips To Kidney Health

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our kidneys may be small, but they perform many vital functions that help maintain your overall health, including filtering wastes and excess fluids from your blood. Chronic kidney disease may lead to complete kidney failure and the need for dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant to sustain life. Nobody wants to go through that, so it is better to prevent than treat. Here are four tips to preserve your kidneys. Drink plenty of water. Your doctor may have told you this a thousand times, but, well, we'll just have to make it a thousand and one! Pushing fluids is good for your health in lots of little ways. It keeps you hydrated, helps your brain process hormones, maintains good circulation and, perhaps best of all, assists your kidneys. By drinking a small glass of water every hour or so, you help your body's filtration system eliminate toxins and regulate minerals in your blood. Maintain a slightly alkaline diet. Most processed foods leave the blood a little too acidic, which can slowly tax your kidneys. To eat a diet that swings the other way—that 24

is, one that is basic or "alkaline"—try loading your plate with leafy greens, dark-colored fruits, and low-sodium, highfiber breads and grains. Monitor Your Blood Pressure. High blood pressure is responsible for one out of four kidney failures and is the secondleading cause of chronic kidney disease. Monitor your blood pressure often and keep it lower than 130/80. Extra fluid raises your blood pressure, so if you have high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend a diuretic. Exercising regularly and avoiding tobacco and alcohol products also decreases your risk of hypertension. Get Your Vitamin D. It cannot be overemphasized how important vitamin D is to your general health including the kidneys. Vitamin D is not a vitamin at all but a steroid hormone that is probably the single most important factor in human health. The optimum level for good health is to be between 40 ng/ml and 100 ng/ ml and if you are not receiving sufficient sunlight exposure, the average adult needs to take a daily dose of 8000 IUs daily to elevate their levels above 40 ng/ml.

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Exercises That Are Bad For Weight Loss

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efore I continue, note that I’m not saying these exercises are bad. However, they may not be good for achieving your weight loss goals. Read on to find out why these exercises that are so good may be so bad for your specific plan. Keep squatting — minus the barbell Everyone hails the squat as a powerful exercise, and it certainly is. But when you're trying to lose weight, keeping the additional weights down is key. Some weightlifting is good, but anything heavy is unnecessary. Squats are a compound exercise, meaning they work multiple muscles, which can increase your weight — you definitely want to stay away from boosting muscle too much, especially if you are looking to lose weight. Lose the side bends These are not effective at slimming your waist; in fact, they are thought to build muscle and "push" body fat out

further so everyone can see your love handles even more! Instead, focus on cardio to burn off fat, then work on exercises that target the obliques directly, such as side planks. Pass on the presses Another exercise to avoid for weight loss includes the bench press and the shoulder press. Bench presses are performed lying on a bench and pressing a barbell up and down, creating a 90-degree angle with your arms and your body when arms are extended. But you work the pectoralis major muscle more when lowering the barbell to your chest. Shoulder presses follow the same motion and use the deltoid muscle more, and are just as counteractive if you are trying to exercise solely to lose weight. Anything that resembles a bodybuilder exercise is typically not great for losing weight, especially when done with a very heavy weight. While you can build muscle, which helps burn fat, there are better moves for weight loss.


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PETS

Buying a Good Bike for Your Kid

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o you plan on buying a bike for your kid? Here are some steps and tips on choosing the right bike. Fit is everything when getting a bike. If the bike is not properly fitted your kid will be uncomfortable and it can also be dangerous. Will the rider be too stretched out? Will they clear the top tube on the frame when off the seat and standing on the ground? Are the controls easy to use and reach? Keep in mind that there are many adjustments that can be made to accommodate the rider, but the frame size is fixed. With that said, if you are purchasing a bike for a child then a BMX is probably best. Though these bikes are used by some of the best and most crafty pros on the planet, their size and weight is ideal for children. If the bike is for a beginner, training wheels are a definite must. Road Bikes are designed for riding on paved streets and going fast. Featuring skinny tires, a lightweight frame and a riding position that puts you bent over the handlebars, you might choose this type of bike if your child wants to be the next Njisane Phillip. The frames of most road bikes are not particularly beefy in construction and generally won’t

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stand up well for extended periods under heavy loads or on really rough surfaces. They are about as well-suited for a path off-road or in the woods as you would be when wearing high heels. Note that these bikes are definitely not for beginners. Mountain bikes have wide tires, usually with knobby treads and a stout frame, and are designed to handle the rugged trails without disintegrating. Mountain bikes do not go as fast as road bikes, which is a trade-off for their durability along with a more comfortable riding position. You sit higher on these bikes, more upright with the straight handlebars, which is often a happier choice for developing proper posture. Cruisers are bikes that have wide tires, wide seats, upright handlebars and sometimes even just a single gear. These are the bikes that you’ll often see at the beach. More simple mechanically, they are easy to maintain, but work best with flat terrain and a rider whose main interest is more about being comfortable than with going fast. If you plan to get yourself or someone you know a bike this Christmas consider these tips to help you chose. Oh, and don’t forget to buy a helmet.

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How To Clean Up After Pets

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ets are fun to have around the around the house. Not only do they brighten your mood but if you live alone, who else will get excited when you walk through the door, even if it’s late at night? Probably the only downside to having a pet is having to clean up after them. Unlike humans and unless they are trained, pets tend to leave their droppings all over the house. These include urine and feces which, depending on the type of pets, give off an offensive smell. But with a few simple tips, the stains and scent can be removed.

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Prevention. Keep your pets clean with regular baths and checkups, in order to prevent fleas and ticks from roaming freely in the house. Keep a lint brush close so that you can pick up any loose pet hair and dander. To ensure a healthy and shiny coat, spray a mist of cooking oil onto your pet’s food.

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Removing pet hair. As mentioned above keep a lint brush or damp cloth around to get rid of pet hair that may become loose during playtime. For a thorough cleaning, use a vacuum with a good beater brush or brush roll that will pick up the fine pieces that may be left behind or a pet rake that is specially designed to re-

move pet hair.

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Removing stains. If it’s a newly formed urine stain, dilute the area with a mixture of one-quart water with one teaspoon of vinegar and leave to soak for approximately 5-10 minutes. Use a cloth and scrub the area, removing the stain. Allow to dry and then apply carpet cleaner or carper deodorizer to the area and the surrounding areas. There are also bacteria/enzyme digesters that can be purchased at any pet store; these are effective but need to be used as directed and the process to remove the stain can take longer.

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Vomit stains. The best way to treat these is by applying a trusted and professional carpet detergent. Apply it to the area and scrub until the stain is removed. (This is more effective if applied soon after your pet vomits). Rinse away with hot water and continue to scrub until the stain is removed.

Even if the stain has disappeared or our human noses can no longer smell anything, a pet will repeatedly return to the same spot if he can still smell his own odor. For this reason, you need to ensure that a stain is carefully removed and that the area is disinfected.


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TRAVEL

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The Best Countries For Holiday Shopping

here are myriad reasons why people travel. Family visits and business usually tend to top the list of reasons for this. However, those of us who can afford it go country hopping with one thing in mind – shopping. Sure, the streets of Port – of – Spain are rife with all sorts of products these days, but everyone knows there is only so much any shopper in any country can acquire in their home country at any particular time. The best bet is to shop online or go to the source. Going to the source is always recommended because you always know what you are getting and nothing beats the experience of shopping overseas – trust me. Here are some of the best Travel destinations in the World. Bangkok Bangkok is renowned as one of the best shopping cities in Asia and it’s surely worth the trip, if only for some superb retail therapy on the way to the beaches of Phuket or the cultural temples of Chiang Mai. High quality silk, jewelry, and traditional crafts – everything, really, from 28

sizeable bling to tailor-made suits – at a fraction of western prices draw millions to this Thai capital every year. The city’s several chaotic markets, and especially the 35-acre Chatuchak Market, are bona fide treasure troves, whether you’re scouting for clothing, home goods, or art, or live roosters, pythons, and even multi-colored chicks. London Whether you choose to shop the trendy boutiques of Covent Garden, follow in the steps of princesses by visiting Sloane Street, or pick up a bespoke suit on Saville Row or tailored shirt on Jermyn Street, you’re bound to shed a few pounds (of the monetary variety) when shopping in London. That said, you’ll save a few quid by visiting the stalls of Camden Market, the shops of Oxford Street, where Selfridges and Topshop maintain addresses, and Portobello Market, a haven for antiques and hand-me-down treasures. But also don’t forget to stock up on foodie treats at Fortnum and Mason, a veritable gourmand’s delight of beautifully presented

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teas, biscuits, cheeses, and more, and stop at the venerable Harrods – at least to buy a shopping tote to carry everything home in

New York, which houses the infamous urban shopping districts of Flatbush Avenue and Church Street (Land of the hustlers).

New York From high-priced designer fashions to discount chic, and from electronics to rare books, New York City has it all, from the exclusive boutiques of Madison Avenue to the knock-off stalls along Canal Street. Manhattan’s mega-stores, like Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Macy's (which bills itself as the world's largest department store) offer the utmost in one-stop shopping. But more personal shopping experiences await in NoLita and SoHo, where big-name boutiques mix with one-of-a-kind shops and high-end street vendors. Chelsea, meanwhile, is the go-to spot for original art works (at a hefty sum); the Lower East Side attracts fashionable young things to its exclusive shops; and bargain-hunters fight over cut-rate designer fashions at the discount mecca of Century 21. It would also be remiss not to mention that Brooklyn is part of

Paris The creativity that goes into Parisian window displays – whether to front a high-fashion house or a neighborhood chocolatier – is unmatched anywhere in the world, and reflects the locals’ philosophy that shopping should be seen as a pleasure, not a chore. One of the best neighborhoods to experience this attitude is the Marais, where a medieval maze of streets harbors trend-setting boutiques, shops, and galleries near the Place des Vosges. But you also shouldn’t miss the 8th arrondissement, and the international haute-couture labels along two streets in particular – the famed rue du Faubourg St-Honoré and avenue Montaigne – though you’ll spend fewer euros at the city’s grand magasins (department stores); two local favorites, the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, are found side by side on Boulevard Haussmann in the 9th.


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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

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Abstract Home Vol. 3 issue 21  

In this issue: Happy Holidays from Abstract Home Recipes: Oven Fresh Baked Delights Family, Food, Furniture and more...

Abstract Home Vol. 3 issue 21  

In this issue: Happy Holidays from Abstract Home Recipes: Oven Fresh Baked Delights Family, Food, Furniture and more...

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