Abstract Home Vol. 5 Issue 4 2014

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BE INSPIRED with the very best in kitchen solutions only at Courts.


Disclaimer: The views or opinions presented in this publication are solely those of the writers and do not necessarily represent those of the company. Employees of ABSTRACT MEDIA GROUP COMPANY LIMITED are expressly required not to make defamatory statements and not to infringe or authorize any infringement of copyright or any other legal right. Any such article is contrary to company policy and is outside the scope of the employment of the individual writer concerned. The company will not accept any liability in respect of such article, and the employee responsible will be personally liable for any damages or other liability arising.

How To Arrange Furniture

In Your Living-Room


he living-room can serve many purposes: it can become an entertainment room to host guests or a family room used for fun activities. It is one of the most essential rooms in the home and for this reason, it is important to arrange the furniture to suit the needs of your family. Although you may have your unique style and dĂŠcor, there are a few general guidelines that can help you arrange your furniture, so that you can obtain the most from the space.


Sofas and Chairs. These are usually the biggest items in the room based on their size so you need to determine the size of the room and the amount of space each would need. Try placing them at different areas in the room, ensuring that there is enough room for foot-traffic and other accessories.


Rugs. Not a furniture piece, but still a very useful piece of furnishing to have in any living room. The ideal spot is at the centre of the room, big enough for the legs of the each chair to rest comfortably on it.


Coffee tables- An important piece when entertaining guests. They should be placed at the centre of the chairs and sofa and should be lower than the height of the chairs.


Side tables- They may seem unnecessary but if you entertain guests regularly, side tables are an absolute must. Your guest should be able to place drinks on the side tables without getting up to place them on the coffee-table. They should be placed on either side of the sofa unless there is not enough room to do so.


Living-room accessories- These include the television, hutch, surround-sound system and other items. The sofas and chairs should be laid out before arranging these and if you are unsure of where to place them, try different areas until you find one that suits your liking.

Quick And Easy Roof Repair

Equally frustrating are the fees that follow as contractors charge by the hundreds to repair a leaking roof. Some roof leaks are caused by aging, but others may be due to poor construction, such as poorly constructed valleys (in between shingles) and incorrect patched leaks made by previous tenants. If you happen to have a leaking roof, try these simple steps to repair them.


leaking roof can be very frustrating. When the rain falls, water can leak through the ceiling and wet the furniture, the carpet and basically everything in sight. What about those unsightly water marks that stains the walls?


Locate the leak- If there is a leak in your bedroom, find the exact spot. If the ceiling is too high, get a ladder and search the area. When you have found the crack or hole, determine which area of the roof is directly over the bedroom so that when you go up, you’ll know the exact area where the leak is located.


Prepare the materials- you will need a roof sealant, a ladder to get you on top of the roof and preferably rubber shoes to prevent you from slipping while moving about on the roof. The best roof sealant available is Tri- Polymer and can be sourced from any hardware.


Check the weatherthe ideal day to fix the roof is a dry and sunny day. The roof will be dry and there will be a decreased possibility of you slipping or falling off the roof.


Get up on the roof- Put all the tools in an easy to carry bag, preferably one with a strap that can easily fit over the shoulder. Ensure that

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the ladder is carefully situated and using both hands climb on top of the roof.


Get ready to repairremember the exact spot of the leak, locate it and start to repair the leak. Spread the tri-polymer sealant over the hole, making it as flat as possible. It usually takes two days to dry under hot sun.

When a leak is found, try ways to repair it as soon as possible. Negligence can lead to the hole becoming bigger and in this case, professionals would need to be called in. When purchasing a house, ensure that the roof is also checked for patches or holes so that repairs can be done before moving in.






Prime Patio Finishings

here are many aspects to consider when choosing outdoor furniture. This is because outdoor furniture needs to withstand not only weather but also sometimes mistreatment and neglect. The type of furniture you choose is dependent on your own personal sense of style and the location of the patio. You can also extend your inside décor to your patio. The most popular materials for patio furniture are wicker, wood, plastic, aluminum and wrought iron. What you choose will depend on your space and budget. Wood is believed to be the most expensive type of patio furniture, but it depends on the type of wood that is chosen. Cedar will last forever so it can be a good investment. Other types of wood however will need constant sealing and painting. Wood looks good in the outdoors because it is natural for that setting. I would recommend wood because of the way in which it fits into any décor. If you are looking for something that will last a long time, wrought iron is very good. It is 2

just as expensive as wood and lasts just as long. It comes in several colors to match your décor, and cushions can be easily made to mix and match according to the time of year. The furniture can also be made with attractive floral and garden designs. However if the wrought iron cracks it must be painted because it will rust. Are you the romantic type that loves to sit on the patio and enjoy an evening with your partner? If the answer is yes, then wicker patio furniture is for you. Wicker is cozy and bright and can lend an air of romance to a patio. It is made from rattan which is a vine that grows

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in south East Asia and is tightly woven to make wicker. This type of furniture has a very distinctive appearance. You however need to be very careful not to place it in direct sunlight because this will cause the color to fade. The biggest selling material for patio furniture is Aluminum. The appeal of aluminum is that it looks like wrought iron but it is less expensive. So if you are looking for a look without the expense aluminum furniture is for you. It comes in many colors, does not rust and is easy to maintain. However it absorbs heat and colors will fade if placed in direct sunlight. For the budget conscious

there is plastic patio furniture. Plastic has evolved into a lookalike for wood, wicker and wrought iron. So you can have the look without paying the price. However plastic furniture has its downfalls. Pieces of plastic furniture often need to be replaced. It is easily damaged and hard to repair. This means that you would either have to replace one piece of the set or replace the entire set should it be damaged. The main thing that must be kept in mind when purchasing patio furniture is that quality is more important than cost. When choosing patio furniture remember to check out and see how much maintenance needs to be done on each type of material. The size and location of the patio should be kept in mind. The color of the furniture must also fit into your décor. With these items in mind you would be able to make a purchase of a patio set that is right for you. Having set up your patio to your heart’s desire its time to call over some friends and family and enjoy.


Three Things To Consider When

Designing Your Home Office


etting your home office up and running does not have to be a ridiculously taxing task. Leave the tax issues to the accountant. Instead, focus on presenting a design that is functional and feng shui. Here are three musts of Home Office design. Safe storage is a must At the end of the day, your home office is a place that processes information—lots and lots of information contained in files,

documents, discs and sundry other media. Think ahead about where and how all that media will be stored, filed and managed. Does your vision of aesthetic excellence include a sixfoot-wide metal file cabinet? If not, you’ll need a plan. Maybe that cabinet can be stowed in a closet or other hidden space, or you could scan the bulk of your paper documents to digital format to minimize filing. Consider storage solutions and how they will fit in with your office layout. Be wary of the world of wires Every home office demands adequate phone, power and network access, and that means lots of cables and wires. Before you put down roots, make sure you have plenty of electrical outlets (you’ll need them!) and that the

wiring is up to the task of driving your equipment. Aesthetically, wires can pose a challenge. Consider stashing computer network gear in a closet or corner bureau, where it is out of sight yet accessible. Plan to run cable behind walls? Make sure your wiring plan affords you the flexibility to move things around. Also, consider wireless network gear to ease the cable crunch. Let your light shine Good lighting is essential in a workspace to prevent eyestrain and headaches. To adequately meet your lighting needs, a variety of sources should be used together. There are three types of lighting to consider for your home office: Ambient, Task and Accent. Ambient lighting provides a uniform level of light to a large

space. Several ambient lights are preferred to a single ambient light: Use recessed down-lights, flush-mounted pendants, large hanging pendants, or track lighting. A dimmer switch allows for easy variation of light level. Task lighting concentrates illumination over a specific area. Adjustable task lamps are a popular method of supplying task lighting. Halogen or fluorescent fixtures can be mounted beneath shelves or cabinets to provide task lighting over a work surface. A desk lamp should be positioned so as not to create a shadow on your work Accent lighting creates ambiance, not absolutely necessary for a workspace. However, it can add to presentations and more. Common types include wallwashers, hidden soffit tubes, and table lamps.

Try A Worm Farm For Your Garden


backyard worm farm may not be the first thing to spring to mind when you're thinking of new garden ideas, but it can be a fantastic addition to any household. Worm farms are kind to the environment and allow for easy disposal of household waste like food scraps, tea bags and even newspaper! Plus, new designs mean they don't have to be the cumbersome objects they once were. Follow these instructions to make your own this summer.

Stack it A stacked bin worm composter is a great option for red compost worms that migrate upwards. They crawl up toward food in rather than clearing the entire the top bin, leaving their cast- system. ings to fall into the bottom layer. This means the lower bin can be Which bins? emptied when it is full of cast- If you're only planning a smallings and then rotated to the top, scale operation, three stackABSTRACT HOME FEBRUARY 2014 w w w . a b st r a c th o m e . c o m 4

Make sure the bins can nest inside each other. You can use basic plastic storage bins found at supermarkets, however make sure you have a lid for the top bin. Start with the Sump The sump is the lower bin, and should be prepared first. Its main role is to collect excess fluid leachate and be able to drain this off. Achieve this by fitting the sump with a barrel tap in order to easily empty the fluid without disturbing the rest of the bin.

able bins should suffice for your backyard. Make sure these are black and opaque as worms hate light and will not thrive in areas where it permeates through their home.

Stack 'em up Drill small holes in the bottom and sides of the two upper bins to provide air for the worms. Set the sump on blocks in a shady location, then nest the upper bins within the sump with spaces in between to allow worms to work.


A Guide To Safe Home Construction


ome construction and renovation projects can be challenging for professionals – far more so for the Do-It-Yourselfers. Though knowledge and skill of the trade is important to success, general safety is also integral to completion of any project. Here are some home construction safety must haves. Gloves - There are different work-glove materials for different jobs. For example, latex, canvas and rubber gloves for working with chemicals and solvents. There are other work glove types for working with metals and woods which range from lightweight to heavy duty. Head Gear - Hard Hats are essential once your home converts into a construction site. They are also useful when assessing rooms with low ceilings during conversions - before the work even starts. Always protect your head. Consider getting a hard hat with full face mask once the job requires it. Respirators - Inhaling dust and particles is a real hazard 6

and wearing the right type of face mask or respirator is an important part of home renovation safety. As soon as you start to use the hammer and chisel or plug in electrical equipment - the first thing to rise is the dust. Basic disposable nose and mouth dust and mist masks are vital, but remember that they are only going to protect you against solid particles and those that are non-oil based. It is highly unlikely that you will need a full respirator mask. However, it is a necessity for hot and humid environments especially when using chemicals.

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Ear Plugs - if you subject your hearing to continued "unprotected" high decibel noise levels - there's a good chance that you are going to incur permanent damage and hearing loss. Wear good quality hearing protection.

you are in a hurry to forget vital steps, turning off valves, stabilizing equipment, wearing your home renovation equipment.

Body Wear - Don’t take the risk of getting burns and rashes when you could be wearing the right sort of protective clothing that is especially designed to protect you from chemicals and/or not get caught up in machinery.

First Aid Supplies - not only should you have a properly and fully stocked first aid supply box - but it should always be easily accessible. Imagine if something happened and noone on site could find the first aid supplies because they were buried under a pile of materials that had just arrived! Keep your first aid supplies well stocked and accessible at all times and tell everyone on site where it is located.

Work Boots - sometimes what really helps you get through a long day on site - safely - is wearing the right kind of work boots, and not just trainers etc. While personal protective equipment is a vital part of home renovation safety. Good project planning also plays the important role in knowing what you are doing before you start and giving yourself enough time so that you are not rushing to finish. More accidents happen when people are under the pressure of time; it's easier when

Unfortunately accidents do happen and that is why the following is so important:

An Extra Pair of Hands - It is important not to over extend yourself or go beyond the capabilities of what one person can do. An extra pair of hands is important when lifting heavy objects, helping you secure a ladder, reach difficult to get to areas, supporting materials while you bolt them together you get the idea.

home office


Give Your Home Office A Tech Overhaul

he technology boom of the past few decades has had enormous implications for the business world. On one hand, our capabilities have shot through the roof and we have power that was unimaginable just a few years ago. On the other hand, the growth of technology requires constant upgrading that can quickly get expensive. However, the benefits of upgrading your office technology are well worth the expense. It is important to be on the cusp of technology or several opportunities can pass you by. Here are some must-have technological upgrades. External Drives External hard drives for PC deliver easy-to-use, flexible protection for all your files -- including photos and videos from your social media accounts. Externals are great options for backing up data as they can be stored away from your office and are easy to manipulate. This is also key for anyone who travels with an iPad and wants to access music, movies and more


while on the road. An external hard drive is more durable and can hold more information than a flash drive. It is also harder to lose, which means your vital information will be safer.

ing for the cheapest USB flash drive, pay attention to the stated read/write speeds before buying. In any event, the best flash drives on the market last way longer than the cheap versions.

Improve Your Memory Stick Ever spot cheap USB flash drives at the flea market and wonder about the large price difference with those you saw elsewhere? Though part of the reason for the price disparity may be markups imposed by more established shops, the truth is that not all USB flash drives offer the same kind of performance. Not only are some faster than others, but they are more compatible with a wider range of computers. The speed at which you can write files to or copy data from a flash drive varies depending on the electronics under the hood. Raw access speeds are of little relevance for occasionally transporting small documents. Businesses that use them with large files such as high-resolution photographs and computer assisted drawing (CAD) plans will appreciate faster flash drives. Instead of go-

Spruce Up Your Software Antivirus and malware programs should be thoroughly monitored to make sure your growing business has the security it needs. Sensitive information can easily be exposed or stolen on the internet. Get a nice webcam and audio setup as well. Having physical meetings can be hard with all that is currently going on in this fast-paced world. Therefore, applications like Skype can help to facilitate online meetings. When it does come to traditional desktop software, a good rule of thumb is that you should only upgrade when you feel a new version is bringing something you really, really need. Most features are hardly ever used anyway. In any event, most software offers some way to accept automatic patching/updates of the software and that can save you a lot of time.

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Gigabit Networking How fast is your system? If you're still working on an Ethernet speed of 100 Mbps you should consider an upgrade. Gigabit Ethernet will improve your browsing and maneuvering speed 10-fold. The system is so fast that a large file transfer that took 15 minutes to complete before at 100 Mbps will take less than two minutes when transferred in a 1,000 Mbps system. However, improved file transfer speed is just one benefit. Having more network speed will increase your effectiveness at work, allow you to access files, view data stored in the cloud and enable you to increase productivity and decrease stress. Skip the hassle of waiting for a document to transfer or load and invest in the right network capabilities to better leverage every system. These tech upgrades are considered essential for any business that wants to reach new heights. There are more, even higher tech upgrades, but we’ll stick to these for now.

elegant ideas

Home Office Design

This airy , yet formal space is great for face to face business meetings w w w . a b s tr a c th o m e . c o m




elegant ideas

Part library, part office is this workspace where rich wooden accents abound


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elegant ideas

Simple and functional is this room that was built for work w w w . a b s tr a c th o m e . c o m




elegant ideas

Artistic and style savvy. This new age room thrives off of its funky design


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elegant ideas

A tiny work space is enhanced by the mirror feature. We guess it helps the worker to reflect on his/her tasks

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Save On Kitchen Fixtures


itchen fixtures have always been one of those accessories that can either emphasize the beauty of a room or make its appearance mundane. From faucets to sinks, care needs to be taken when choosing the right fixtures to adorn the kitchen. Price is always an issue when deciding which brands get top preference but, at times, price determines quality. Because the kitchen is one of the rooms that is always in constant use (especially for bakers and cooks) those items need to be durable. So, which brands can be trusted to get the work done? Faucets- The top brands that are fairly priced are Delta, Kohler, Moen and American Standard Faucets. They come in different varieties, including two handle models that allow you to adjust the temperature of the water, and single handle models. Which material best suits your home: chrome, stainless steel, 16

investment. These days, persons are more health conscious and query the purity of water sources. Whether hot, cold or both, top brands include Elements of Design, Newport and Waterstone. Island light fixtures- Adding an island to the kitchen adds personality to the room; so too must the lighting fixtures so that they complement the look. Brands such as Kichler, Crystorama, ET2 and Quorum are the top sellers in this market and are used because they present great price and quality. copper or granite? Do you prefer a pullout faucet or sprout height? Remember the idea is to get a faucet that is easy to clean and maintain. Sinks- Top sellers are Kraus, Kohler and Rohl, but the ones that are reasonably priced include Opella, Kindred and Kingston. If you have a big household,

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then Kindred’s double-basin sinks are ideal for the kitchen. That way, you can wash the dishes in one basin, rinse in the other and curb the unnecessary clutter of dishes found on top of the sink counter. Water dispensers- Though at first it may seem irrelevant, a water dispenser is a very good

Collections- Shopping by collection is a safe route as it is easier to decide on the right colours and textures to outfit the kitchen. Kohler, Delta, Danze and Moen are a few of the top sellers in the market and have proven to be the top choices that boast both quality and sophistication.


Cool Chinese Recipes


he Chinese influence in T&T is growing and nowhere is it more evident than in the cuisine. Asian restaurants are popping up everywhere, but if you prefer eating in, these recipes can help you achieve the authentic taste at home.

Pork Dumplings Ingredients 1/2 cup soy sauce 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar 1 tablespoon sesame seeds 1 teaspoon chile-garlic sauce (such as Sriracha速) 1 pound ground pork 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 egg, beaten 2 tablespoons finely chopped Chinese chives 2 tablespoons soy sauce 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger 50 dumpling wrappers 1 cup vegetable oil for frying 1 quart water, or more as needed Directions Combine 1/2 cup soy sauce, rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon chives, sesame seeds, and chile sauce in a small bowl. Set aside. Mix pork, garlic, egg, 2 tablespoons chives, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger in a large bowl until thoroughly combined. Place a dumpling wrapper on a lightly floured work surface and spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling in the middle. Wet the edge with a little water and crimp together forming small pleats to seal the 18

dumpling. Repeat with remaining dumpling wrappers and filling. Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place 8 to 10 dumplings in the pan and cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Pour in 1 cup of water, cover and cook until the dumplings are tender and the pork is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Repeat for remaining dumplings. Serve with soy sauce mixture for dipping.

Chinese Pepper Steak Ingredients 1 pound beef top sirloin steak 1/4 cup soy sauce 2 tablespoons white sugar 2 tablespoons cornstarch 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided 1 red onion, cut into 1-inch squares 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares 2 tomatoes, cut into wedges Directions Slice the steak into 1/2-inch thick slices across the grain. Whisk together soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, and ginger in a bowl until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Place the steak slices into the marinade, and stir until well-coated. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat, and place 1/3 of the steak strips into the hot

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oil. Cook and stir until the beef is well-browned, about 3 minutes, and remove the beef from the wok to a bowl. Repeat twice more, with the remaining beef, and set the cooked beef aside. Return all the cooked beef to the hot wok, and stir in the onion. Toss the beef and onion together until the onion begins to soften, about 2 minutes, then stir in the green pepper. Cook and stir the mixture until the pepper has turned bright green and started to become tender, about 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes, stir everything together, and serve.

Chinese Chicken Wings Ingredients 2 cups soy sauce 2 cups brown sugar 2 tablespoons garlic powder 5 pounds chicken wings, split and tips discarded Directions Stir the soy sauce, brown sugar, and garlic powder together in a saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir until the sugar melts completely. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Place the chicken wings in a large bowl. Pour the soy sauce mixture over the wings and toss to coat evenly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow chicken to marinate in refrigerator overnight or 8 hours. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Pour the chicken wings and

marinade into a 9x13-inch baking dish. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil. Bake in the preheated oven until thoroughly hot, about 45 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil from the baking dish and continue baking uncovered another 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Shrimp and Tofu Soup Ingredients 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 (1/2 inch) piece fresh ginger root, minced 6 ounces raw small shrimp, shelled and deveined 1 quart chicken stock 8 ounces tofu, diced small 1/3 cup frozen peas, thawed 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 1 tablespoon cornstarch Directions Heat the oil in a large saucepan or wok over high heat. Cook the garlic and ginger until fragrant and lightly browned. Stir in the shrimp, and stir fry until cooked, then remove and set aside. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, add the tofu and peas, season with salt and pepper, then return to a simmer. Mix the cornstarch with a little water to form a thin paste. Stir the cornstarch into the soup and continue to simmer until clear and thickened, about 1 minute. Stir the shrimp back into the soup and serve.


How to Keep Your Woman Happy Without Neglecting Your Friends


riends…where would we be without them? The majority of our most unforgettable memories are created with our close friends at hand. Your friends scarcely hesitate to embark on any journey with you. Some of the better friends even come back from that journey with you as well. Therefore, it is no wonder why many friends tend to feel slighted or even get angry when Ms. Right shows up from out of the blue and steals their spotlight. You fall in love and the whirlwind of stars circling your head leave you so dizzy you can barely remember your old friend’s names. They get on your case for it and you decide to show your woman who really wears the pants. Unfortunately, pencil jeans for women are in style and you are forced to simmer down or lose her completely. It’s a nowin situation. Choose your girl and lose your boys. Choose your boys and lose your girl (probably your sanity as well). How do we 20

overcome this all too common double bind? Abstract Home has a bit of information which may help you keep your woman happy without neglecting your friends. The first rule one should take into account is the old adage “honesty is the best policy”. Be open with both your friends and your girlfriends/spouse. We all tell what we perceive to be little white lies, but if you could do

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without the embarrassment of getting caught telling a fib, then be honest. True friends would feel hurt if you cannot tell them plain out that you are going out with your girl instead of them. Similarly, your girl would rather you tell her the truth about your whereabouts. Even the truth is liable to make your girlfriend mad since there are usually no bounds as to how much time is too much time with her. However, though she may get angry she does understand and she will get over it. It is also important that you divide your time wisely. Your boys do not want to be around you 24-7, but they do want to hang out with you. Women on the other hand, love attention. Even when you are sitting right next to your lady, you can never be too close. When you miss her she misses you ten times more (women are just that emotional). A good idea would be to allot half of your free time to your favourite female and split the

other half up between the rest of your friends. It may seem like an uneven split, but that is the way it should be. Another tip is to make sure that you understand clearly the difference between your friends and your mate. Yes the word “girlfriend” does contain the word “friend” in it, but do not feel for a second that she is simply a friend. Even your best friend does not require the type of attention the love of your life deserves. The way you speak to your woman should differ from the way you speak to your “partners”. Due respect should be given to everyone, but speak to your woman gently. Hug and kiss her. Show her affection and not just love. Develop special codes so that both of you can speak to each other in public without looking like morons. She’ll appreciate that you and her share something in secret and your male friends would appreciate not having to witness all the mushy stuff.


Hiring A Babysitter


f there is one thing you should be wary of trusting people with, it is the care of your kids. People would generally trust others with their money and even homes and cars, but family is very dear to us. That is why strict care should be taken in the hiring of a babysitter. Who do you trust your impressionable children with? This article helps you do the background research when finding an appropriate person. Consider the References Checking references and performing background checks are a must during any babysitting hiring process, but when narrowing down the top picks for your caregiver, consider the conversations you had with the families she listed as references. Are the families the sitter has cared for in the past similar to your family? Are the kids the same ages? Did she have duties and responsibilities similar (baths, cooking dinner, homework help) to what you'd like your babysitter 22

to do for your kids? As with any job, background is key, so if your prospective babysitter has had experience handling responsibilities that are similar to what she'll be doing with your family, it's likely to be an easy transition for all involved. Go Over the Interview Questions Consider the answers you liked best to the questions that matter most to you and your family. We all have standard interviewing questions (availability, experience, age, etc.), but every individual family has its own, unique set of needs, so what are yours? Is it imperative your kids have a ride to and from after-school activities? Go back to the answers your candidates gave you about driving history, punctuality and familiarity with car safety belts. Do you need someone to cook meals in your absence? Go over what your top choices said about being comfortable in the kitchen. While it's great if a babysitter gave a good interview,

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the one who stands out among the rest will be the caregiver who really shone when speaking to you about something near and dear to your heart. You know the one--you just love her story about how having the kids help her bake her famous chocolate chip cookies is a sure fire way to cheer the little ones up when they're having separation anxiety, or how she absolutely loved spending the afternoons playing soccer with the children she sat for last. Evaluate Your Kids' Strengths and Struggles If you know your child needs more swim time, don't be afraid to ask lifeguard-sitter to practice with him a couple of days a week. Science class posing a bit of a problem this year? Hire a Chem major to tutor-sit -- she can create science-based games while babysitting to get your child on the path to scientific success. Choosing a candidate with an academic background (like a teacher in the summer

or a tutor by trade), may be the perfect option for both you, your child and the babysitter. Do a Kid Test Watch her interact with your children. A good babysitter won't blink an eye at the request for a trial run. Do you like her style? How about her teaching skills; her playfulness? Are you comfortable with the way she disciplines? How do the kids connect with the candidate? After all, they're the ones who will be spending the most time with her, so seeing the child-sitter interaction first hand can be a big help when making your final decision. Trust Your Gut There might be a candidate who has a remarkable babysitter resume, fantastic references and perfect answers for all your interview questions -- but something just seems off. You might not be able to put a finger on it, but you don't need to explain it. Trust your instincts.



Sun Protection For Your Hair


t’s Carnival, so many of us will be out and about at various events and on the road. It is important not to let the gay abandon dictate our actions too much. We still have a responsibility to our health and appearance and we should not let the bacchanal make us forget that – especially when it comes to the overlooked aspect of hair care. We know now that sunscreen is our skin’s best friend, but what do we do to protect our hair from the sun?

to combat the sun especially wide-brim hats which would provide full coverage protection. Stay away from Peroxide, alcohol and lemon based products: Peroxide, alcohol and lemon based products will cause your strands to dry out at a much faster rate and trigger or aid in the oxidation of your strands at higher levels.

Moisture, Moisture and Moisture: The sun breaks down the hair’s protein (Keratin) therefore keeping hair well moisturized and placing conditioner in your hair without rinsing it out or using a leave-in conditioner will keep damage at a minimum or at a bay.

Wrap it Up: Protecting those strands by wearing a head wrap or updo style such as a bun can prevent major damage from the sun. Remember the ends of your hair are the oldest and weakest part of your strands and they are more susceptible to the process of oxidation, so don’t give the sun an excuse, tuck your hair away.

Hats Galore: Wearing hats when you plan to be out and about or lounging for long extended periods of time in the sun can be a great choice

These tips can help your hair stay in gear despite the sun. Remember to UV protect and enjoy your carnival as you enjoy your good hair days.

How Not To Wear Men’s Shorts


en’s shorts are quickly becoming a fashion staple in both young and mature circles. Since it is now so popular, there are some things you should know and avoid when it comes to shorts. Don't wear pleated shorts unless you are golfing. If you do decide to wear shorts with pleats you might as well put on some black socks and white shoes as well. Just add a walker and you've got the old man vibe down with this fashion choice. won't help the situation. Stick Don't wear gym/athletic with a nice pair of light weight shorts during a dinner out, a denim jeans, a nice summer day out around town, and es- shirt and leather flip flops if you pecially don’t wear them on a have the urge to wear denim in date. No matter how great your warm weather. You'll end up jump shot is or how fantastic looking handsome and put toyour toned legs look, it's just gether, not like a fashion victim. best to save gym shorts for the Don't forget "the ratio” of gym, otherwise you're scream- the cargo short pocket. There is ing "I've given up." Note: wear- a specific size of cargo pocket to ing them around the house and age of wearer ratio to be aware to and from the gym is okay. of--the older the wearer, the Don't wear cut-offs or jean smaller the pocket needs to be. shorts. Jean shorts or "jorts" as The larger size pockets should they are warmly referred to and peak in the teenage/college age cut-offs, their ugly step-sister, set, then grow smaller until they just don’t make fashion sense. disappear altogether by the age And putting on a belt, tucking of 50, generally speaking. It’s in your shirt and/or clipping sad but true. toe .your wyour w w . acell b s trphone a c th o m c o m waist FEBRUARY 2014 ABSTRACT HOME 23


home gym

Four Fine Herbs For Women


hile we are all human, men and women’s bodies operate differently and require different types of care. Herbal medicine has become increasingly popular again in recent times and with good reason. If you are a woman who is considering herbal treatment, here are four options for you. Dandelion helps eliminate excess water weight associated with PMS and relieves that uncomfortable bloated feeling. Due to its detoxifying effects on the liver, Dandelion can help treat the root cause of the bloating rather than just masking the symptoms. Red Clover helps promote fertility and aids in the treatment of hormonal imbalances, PMS, ovulation, lack of menstruation and painful menstruation. Women who are trying to conceive can utilize red clover for its alkalinizing effects, as it balances vaginal pH in favor of conception. 24

Licorice contains estrogenic compounds and is useful in the treatment of depression. Licorice also reduces stress levels by preventing the breakdown of adrenal hormones such as cortisol, the body’s main stressfighting hormone, making them more available to the body. Aloe Vera is a smooth muscle relaxant that specifically targets the pelvic area and Apana Vayu. It soothes cramps by relaxing muscle tension and spasms.

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Why Do Squats?


he better question is why not do squats? Squats are one of the best exercises around. It tones your legs and helps shape the perfect butt. No doubt, Carnival time would be the best time to show off your hot glutes. However, squats do much more than that. Here are some extra benefits. Squats maintain balance This not only increases balance, but mobility. Creating more balance in turn will help facilitate more strength helping you to develop more muscle mass on those wheels. This also translates to other compound lifts as well such as deadlifts, bent-over barbell rows, push presses, clean and presses for upper body and help provide a foundation of balance and function for other lower body lifts such as lunges, single-leg squats and leg presses. Increases Flexibility Doing squats increases joint flexibility. The ankles, knees, hips and lower back are all uti-

lized in the squatting motion. Be sure to maintain proper form to avoid injury. If you feel any pain in these areas, stop doing the exercises until the pain is gone. Squats build muscle all over Not only do they build muscle and strength in the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves, they also create the ideal environment throughout the entire body. Naturally releasing testosterone and growth hormone, squats provide a highly anabolic environment for all other areas to grow when trained. If you want to increase muscle mass and strength in all areas, squatting will help you get there. Squats Prevent Injuries Most athletic injuries involve weak stabilizer muscles, ligaments and connective tissues, which squats help strengthen. They also help prevent injury by improving your flexibility (squats improve the range of motion in your ankles and hips) and balance, as noted above.



Sedan Or Suv? That Is The Question


he debate of whether to buy a car or SUV is one that always comes up at dealerships and homes. But this question should not be taken lightly. Before you spend your back pay, there are options to weigh. A Case For Sedans Sedans are easy to drive on city roads. Since they have low ground clearance, they are easy to get in and out of. Moreover, sedans have a lower center of gravity and are at less risk of rolling over. They are thus safer than trucks or SUVs. The purchase price of sedans is much lower than that of SUVs along with the cost of insuring them. Apart from this, sedans can comfortably seat 4 to 5 passengers and are very fuel efficient when compared to SUVs. The disadvantages are that sedans are sober cars and don’t have a sporty image. They are less spacious than SUVs and have less cargo space. Since they are light and small, they aren’t very good for hauling or towing. In addition, due to their low ground clearance, they aren’t appropriate for off-road driving. Lastly, the lower seating position gives drivers less visibility. A Case For SUVs SUVs are flashy and stylish in addition to being flexible and reliable. They have many safety 26

features that make them safe vehicles to drive. In addition, most SUVs can comfortably seat 5 to 9 passengers and because of their larger size and weight they are capable of hauling and towing large loads. SUVs have a higher ground clearance that makes them a good option for off-road driving. Moreover, since they have higher seating they have increased visibility. They usually have standard or optional all wheel driving options and this makes them easy and safe to handle in adverse weather conditions. Overall, they are powerful vehicles and appeal to people who are adventurous and like going on outdoor trips. The disadvantages of SUVs are that the high ground clearance makes them difficult to get in and out of. Also, due to high ground clearance, these vehicles have a higher center of gravity that increases their chance of rolling over in a swerve, thus making them a safety hazard. Their large size makes it difficult to maneuver and park them in tight spots, and they also take up more garage space. They aren’t as smooth to ride when compared to sedans since they are higher above the ground. Most SUVs aren’t fuelefficient and also give out more CO2 emissions than the smaller sedans. Due to this they have been the target of many environmental groups.

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Don’t Poison Your Pet

our pets can fall victim to various dangers in your home if you are not careful. Pet poisoning is a common problem vets have to deal with. Many times the causes are accidental. For instance, your dog may have bitten a toad in the yard and started frothing. A dash of salt in the throat might help, but there are some other things that are equally or even more dangerous that you may not have considered. Acetaminophen human drugs – such as Tylenol and cough/cold medications Sizeable ingestions of acetaminophen can lead to severe liver failure and dry eye in dogs. However, it should be noted that it is a more significant threat to cats, as a single Tylenol tablet can be fatal. Mouse and rat poison – rodenticides There are many types of chemicals in mouse and rat poisons, all with different active ingredients and types of action, making all of them potentially poisonous to dogs. Depending on what type was ingested, poisoning can result in internal bleeding, brain swelling, kidney failure, or severe vomiting and bloat. Mouse and rat poisons

also pose the potential for relay toxicity, meaning pets – and even wildlife – can be poisoned by eating dead rodents poisoned by rodenticides. Foods – specifically chocolate, xylitol, and grapes/ raisins Certain types of chocolate are very toxic to dogs. The chemical-causing toxicity in chocolate is Theobromine (a relative of caffeine). The darker, more bitter, and more concentrated the chocolate is, the more dangerous it is. Many sugarless gums and candies contain xylitol, a sweetener that is dangerous to dogs. When ingested, even in small amounts, it can result in a life-threatening drop in blood sugar or even liver failure. Raisins and grapes are often overlooked as one of the most toxic foods to dogs, and can result in kidney failure.


How To Blend In When Traveling


title like this can lead to some Mr. Bean-esque behavior from many a traveler. However, not looking like a tourist is an important tool in helping you remain safe and satisfied on one of your sojourns. This is how you do it. Acquaint yourself with the customs Gestures and greetings can be easily misinterpreted overseas especially if you assume that all signs are universal; they definitely are not! As a result, it may be wise to acquaint yourself with the local ways to avoid trouble. For example, in the 1950s Richard Nixon visited Brazil and as he stepped off his airplane he flashed the A-OK sign to show the people his good intentions. Unbeknownst to him, that seemingly harmless gesture in the United States is also the equivalent of the middle finger in Brazil. In Italy, the sign of the horns (or as I like to call it the “RockOn” hand gesture) is one of the worst possible insults you can give to a man. Known as il comuto the gesture indicates that someone’s wife or girlfriend is being unfaithful and can initi-


ate a physical altercation. Other pertinent research topics could include body language etiquette, tipping customs for taxis and/or restaurants and proper manners when entering a house, visiting an ancient site and/or a place of worship. To top it all, always do your homework on important local laws so as to avoid some serious trouble. For example, eating in public during Ramadan in Saudi Arabia could actually land you in jail. Learn some key words Having even a handful of basic words, and especially numbers, changes the way you are treated, and reduces the sense of being a complete outsider. And even if the waiter replies in fluent English, at least you have shown a willingness to make an effort. Do not carry your valuables when sightseeing Leave your passport, laptop and VISA card safely locked in a locker at the hostel and only bring the basics when you are out and about in the city. For example, if you are heading off to a nightclub leave your passport and credit card locked up

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at the hostel. Bring only enough cash for the night, an ID card and a small camera. Adopt a minimalist mentality; the less you carry in your pocket, purse or backpack, the fewer valuables you have to worry about, allowing you to relax and have fun. Be sensitive with camera in hand While the country may look like a fairytale to you, this is other people’s home. If you take photos of people not in your group, be as inconspicuous and nonchalant as possible. If you sense someone is uncomfortable with your attention on them, take heed and respect their privacy.

Handle money matters smoothly Don’t fumble around with money or forget where you placed it and do the pocket pat. Organize your money and documents in private (hotel room, etc.) before you walk out in public. Buy a money pouch that can go around your waist and under clothing for your essentials such as passport, bulk of cash, cards, etc. Diversify with an ATM card, credit card, foreign currency, and a couple of travelers’ checks. You can keep each of these in different locations (suitcase, socks, money pouch) for security. Use local buses In Venice this advice doesn’t work very well, because so many tourists use the ‘vaporetti’. But in most cities, familiarizing yourself with the bus map is a big step towards living like a local. Pick the routes carefully and you can even use them as an alternative to a sightseeing tour. The number 100 in Berlin, the 40 in Rome and the M1 in New York, for example, all follow routes past many of the principal sights.

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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