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our home should not be a frustrating place. It should be your place for serenity, safety and solace. However, several issues related to poor design planning can come back to haunt you and make where you live a living nightmare. Here are four basic flaws to be wary of. Poor Space Planning Unless you have plans to build a very large home, space planning and design is crucial. Ample storage is necessary, but pay attention to where you place your storage space. Does the master bedroom really need an


4 Common Home Design Mistakes oversized walk-in closet when the space could potentially be added to your bedroom or master bath? Pay attention to where you place your closets. There should be one in each bedroom and in a main hallway. But too many and the storage space takes away from the living space. Locations of light switches This is one of those little mistakes that can be very irritating. A light switch that is located on the hinged side of a door can be difficult to find when the door is open. Do you have light switches at both the top and bottom of stairways? Think through these small issues carefully. Materials Cutting corners by spackling a cosmetic layer over low-grade

drywall or putting carpet over a too-thin concrete floor leads to surface failures and possibly bigger issues with the stability of the home itself. Taking a look at the areas where rooms come together, such as where the ceiling meets the wall and the walls meet the floor, can be very telling. Cracks, hairline fissures and gaps hint at the quality of the building materi-

als and the stress of the weightbearing areas on the very seams of the house. Untreated wood beams and plywood or particleboard shells underneath the siding and drywall can expand and contract, allowing water to damage the structure and pests to attack the wood itself. Checking the grade of roofing material and its suitability to the climate surrounding the house also is a good predictor of future problems. Sound proofing This is something that is difficult to remedy after the fact, so it is crucial to design it into the structure of your home to begin with. Placing insulation in the walls of bedrooms and bathrooms is very inexpensive and yet very effective in providing sound reduction within the home.

Garbage Disposal Maintenance


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ot that many homes in Trinidad and Tobago have garbage disposals in their kitchens. In fact, when the term “garbage disposal� comes up a roaring truck dripping unsanitary juices onto the street is probably the first thing that comes to the mind of many locals. Yet, the popularity of garbage disposals is growing in T&T and since a lot more people will have them in time to come, it is important to know exactly how to use them. Here are ten tips.

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Operate the garbage disposal every time food is put in it to prevent food buildup and bacteria growth. Use cold water when running the disposal to prevent the melting and hardening of oils that could

Avoid uncooked or liquid fat to prevent build up on drain pipes.

Avoid inserting a large quantity of food in to prevent jamming of the disposal. Grind a few ice cubes occasionally to knock off debris from the sharp blades and other hard to clean areas.

build up and clog the drain.


Let the cold water continue to run about 30 seconds after the garbage disposal is turned off to ensure all food particles have cleared the disposal.


Avoid gritty or fibrous items like coffee grounds (in large quantity), corn husks, potatoes, etc. Also avoid egg shells and onion skins since the membranes can stick to the sides of the disposal and wrap around the shredder ring. w w w . a b s tr a c th o m e . c o m

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Pour vinegar down the drain and let it sit for about an hour to remove scale. Follow with hot water. Combine the two and use vinegar ice cubes.

Grind citrus peels to remove odors and freshen the garbage disposal.





Home Colour Mistakes To Avoid


ou cannot Adobe Photoshop your home, so it is important to make sure that the colours you put on it are the right ones. This article helps you to identify several colour mistakes that can ruin the finished product of your home dÊcor. Failing to test first This seems obvious, but all of us need to be reminded never to get too sure that the color we have specified is correct. If you choose not to go through what it takes to test the color accurately, you need to know that a re-paint might be necessary in the end. You can't predict whether you'll actually like the color once you see it up and lighting can take what seems like the safest color and turn it into something that makes you want to cry. Keep in mind, testing a color in an empty room will not be that useful. Have an idea of which furniture/ fabrics are going into the room first. Choosing color without inspiration will just make it harder for you to decorate. Going Overboard Don’t get too tricksy and overuse colour. You may have seen 2

will never be able to "match" a color exactly from one surface to another.. When you have a piece of fabric and want to find a carpet to match the exact color, you will find it an impossible task. Instead, look for colors that complement your fabric or a similar color that is a couple shades lighter or darker.

people adding accent walls where one wouldn't be appropriate. Simple is quite often better. This goes for a kitchen backsplash as well. Paint is not the only thing that adds colour to a space. In terms of kitchens or entrys, continue with the same hardwood flooring, as the days of defining each room with different flooring is over. Trying to match colours No matter how hard you try, you

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Not taking expert advice A good interior decorator will stand firm with his/her color recommendations and compare and explaining to clients why it is the right choice. They know what they are doing. After all, that is why you requested their help. However, external influences such as television or opinionated neighbours tend to creep into your psyche and affect your dialogue with the decorator. Leave it to them. They can understand undertones and specify the right color. Plus they know that fixed and/or furnished elements often trump colors you might currently be in love with. Being Too Cautious This is especially true of exteriors. Not being adventurous enough with color can truly

zap the spice out of your home. We don't need any more brown homes. This is the Caribbean. Our designs should be as zesty as the people who inhabit the archipelago. Painting your house the current trendy neutral as much as you love it now, you'll likely be bored of it as soon as the trend changes again. Go for lots of heritage mid-toned greys for exteriors, but note that a dark grey or charcoal house will eventually look just as dated as a brown house currently does. Ignoring the lighting Lighting plays a huge part in your interior design. The exact same lighting design can enhance one space, while ruining another. The types and amount of lighting you need varies from one room to another. For example, one room might call for plenty of cool, bright, general lighting throughout the entire space, while another would benefit from softer, layered lighting with warm undertones. Your paint job will last longer than the life-span of a trend (10 years). Be sure to choose carefully and consider the right color!


Two Popular Pool Trends For 2013


spa may be elevated above the swimming pool to create a cascade feature from the spa to the pool.

ools have always been one of the most fun fixtures any home could have. However, just having a pool is not where it should all end. Pools can be modified to suit your home. Here are two of the major changes pools have seen in recent times. Size As efficiency has become more popular, private exterior spaces are becoming smaller and more people are expecting these areas to be utilized in many different ways, so plunge pools, lap pools and spas are being designed to allow more room for outdoor living areas. A plunge pool, spa or swim spa may be best suited to small external spaces. Plunge pools are typically smaller than 6m × 4m, may incorporate swim jets for exercise purposes (of-

ten called a swim spa) and often are designed to look like water features. Benches may be fitted to the entire internal perimeter of plunge pools for shallow-water use by younger children or socializing for teenagers. Spas may be incorporated into the swimming pool or constructed as stand-alone features. As a cost-efficient option, there are numerous

quality prefabricated fiberglass spas that can simply be placed to create a central entertaining area in a tropical atmosphere or dropped straight into a timber deck. Often, where a spa is incorporated into the swimming pool, the two can be designed at the same level so the pool and spa are visually read as one rather than two separate structures. Alternatively, the

Inside out Increasingly, there is integration of swimming pools with outdoor entertaining areas. This has led to the inclusion of outdoor living areas as alfresco settings, outdoor rooms and external kitchenettes, which are becoming a must-have feature. The gardens and pool areas of our homes are our own private spaces, so really any design may work — there are no rigid rules. Have fun with your pool design and remember that the pool is being built for your family, so if you want the silver interior lining, windows in the sides and a banana float, go for it.

Keep Your Flowers Fresh


beautiful bouquet of flowers can surely perk up the décor of a room. If you are lucky, the flowers may also add a lovely fragrance as well. However, cut flowers placed in vases need to be properly monitored and maintained in order to truly reap their benefits. Here are some tips to keeping your flowers fresh. Clean is Key The real key to keeping flowers fresh longer? Simply changing the water frequently. Use a very clean vase with no residual dish soap and room temperature water to provide the best conditions for most flowers. Change the water at least every other day. If you're worried about disturbing the flower arrangement, simply hold the vase under the faucet and let the water flush out. 4

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Aspirin Even though you may not have heard of this trick, it’s a triedand-true way to keep roses and other cut flowers fresh longer. Put a crushed aspirin in the water before adding your flowers. Similarly, a capful of Listerine added to the water will keep it fresh as it works as an antibacterial. Additional tips: • Using a sharp knife, cut flower stems at an angle

about 1 to 1.5 inches from the bottom under lukewarm water to prevent air bubbles from forming. Stems tend to seal up, so the cutting process will have to be repeated every couple days. Remove any leaves that fall below the level of the water, as foliage promotes bacteria and causes flowers to wilt or never open. Keep your fresh flowers away from any ripening fruit or vegetables, or dying flowers. These items give off ethylene gas which can damage fresh flowers. Keep flowers away from any draughts, direct heat or sunlight. Throughout the week, continuously remove any flowers or leaves that are wilting.



2013’s Top Patio Trends

ourtyard, quad, patio or piazza… whatever you call it this space is becoming a must for homeowners. No longer are people leaving their homes stock. Extensive renovations are being done and outdoor patios are one of the first additions that are made to the house. However, just having a patio is not enough. Your patio should speak volumes about what type of person you are and how you like to live. Therefore, the space should reflect a certain level of thought and effort. Many homeowners realize this and as such here are some of the more popular patio choices that have been made. Decorating A patio is no longer just a place for occasional eating or drinking. It’s an outdoor room and should be decorated as such. There’s now an emphasis on items that can survive the outdoors such as outdoor lights, accessories, beautiful furniture and outdoor fabrics.

without worrying that the furniture will rot. Hence, aluminum and outdoor fabrics are used extensively.

mixed with vibrant colours, taupe and grey. Bring out the colours with fabrics while keeping the frames more neutral and natural. Materials Exposed powder coated aluminum and stainless steel frames with outdoor cushions, as well as upholstered collections are becoming more and more noticeable on patios. Easy living Let’s face it – the outdoors is often a messy place. Dogs, kids running from the garden into the house, and wind carrying dust all amount to extra residues. It all results in a mess and you need furniture that can handle it and be easy to clean, easy to use. You should be able to use a hose pipe and wash away dirt

Colours These are becoming bolder and more fun. Simple brown, which was the most popular colour choice for ages, is now being ABSTRACT HOME SEPTEMBER 2013 6

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Illuminated accessories Multi-purpose illuminated tables, balls and squares are beginning to appear everywhere. At night, when the atmosphere is a bit more sublime, soft lights add an appealing element. Usually these lights are rechargeable and provide a nice comfortable light for entertaining. Wicker furniture Wicker furniture that can withstand the weather is still the rage. Did you know that cane is hardly suitable for outdoor living and yet when we picture outdoor furniture in our minds, we tend to see cane furniture? This is because technological advances allow HDPE wicker (plastic wicker) to look so close to the real thing. Traditional vintage looking cane is making a big splash right now, and this time it is here to stay. Glass and aluminum Glass and aluminum tables with extensions are becoming really hot. People like glass tops because they are not messy (no

food gets stuck in them) and they are ready for use within seconds (if they are dirty, just a wipe gets them ready in 15 seconds). It’s no wonder they are popular. They are easy to use, easy to maintain and they have a phenomenal look. Back to basics With outdoor living becoming all the rage, too many new untried and untested products are coming onto the market. Stick with basics until the new technology has proven itself. Use only proven materials that work for your area. In the Caribbean, with the harsh UV rays, most materials don’t last as long in direct sunlight and it is important to go back and use those materials that worked in the past, again and again. Gathering of people There is nothing like eating outside, whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner. Make sure that your seats are comfortable so that you can spend hours outside. Have tables that allow social interaction – round tables are becoming popular again with a Lazy Susan in the middle to allow access to everything in the table.

home office

Home Office Necessities That Every Entrepreneur Should Have


echnology has proven to be beneficial to many people, particularly the creative thinkers among us who have managed to use this innovative tool in their favour. Within recent times, especially since the recession, persons have had to seek alternative methods of employment; mainly starting a business from home. From Avon representatives to franchise owners, gone are the days when everyone has a steady 9-5 job. Because home offices present a certain level of comfort, there are specific ‘must haves’ that every home office needs. Select a specific work areaEnsure that only work is done in this area in order to maximize work space. One of the most important things to remember is to organize your space to complement the way you work. If the shredder needs to be kept closer to you than the decorative plant, ensure that it is, rather than having to walk across the room to carry out this task. Invest in file storage and keep all files and important documents organized, especially the ones you can pitch; tag files, brochures and reference


materials with coloured stickers. Post It notes are the least expensive and are very effective. The right chair- Comfort equals productivity, therefore choosing the right chair can make the job easier. Remember to choose a chair that fits the desk and one that gives extra back support: if choosing an ergonomic chair, ensure that it has lumbar support that molds to the curve of your lower back. The armrest height should allow your shoulders to relax without tension. Try to purchase a chair with upholstered breathable mesh fabric as the mesh will help get rid of excess heat and keep moisture away from your body. To reduce instances of neck strain, consider a chair with a tilt adjustment. Consider choosing a chair that sits on a five-wheel base as it will be more stable and have a longer useful life. Shredders- To protect your identity and any other confidential information (customer list and proprietary materials) from prying eyes, it is advisable to invest in a shredder. Shredders are sold by capacity and it can be

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very frustrating trying to shove 200 copies down an 8 copy capacity shredder. Know the amount of paper that your office produces daily so that the shredder purchased can perform at its maximum capacity. Shredding should also be a regular practice, if not daily, weekly or as suggested. Although these might be more expensive, choose a shredder that cuts the paper confetti style rather that ribbon style; ribbon style can be too easy to glue together if a person wishes to extract information from the document. The correct printer HubWhether inkjets, laser jets or four in ones, choosing the right printer to support your type of business is important. Though many of us are trying to go the eco-friendly route, we may still have to print paper for meetings, conferences and files. Chances are that all your important documents are not stored on your hard drive but in your filing cabinet. Inkjets, the least expensive of the three when purchasing, is very costly to maintain because of near constant cartridge changes, which

can cost businesses thousands each month. Laser jets, though the most expensive when purchasing, are easy to maintain. But, in addition to these, fax machines and scanners may need to be purchased separately. This is the advantage that the four-in-one printer possesses over the other two. Four is ones usually have scanner, printer, fax machine and photocopier in one; ideal for small businesses of home offices. Computer- In a world where smart phones (BlackBerry, IPhone) are the newest forms of communication, some business owners might not see it feasible to own a computer as long as they are in possession of a smart phone. But these devices should only be used as an aid when not at the office rather than the only source of virtual communication at the office. Even if using a laptop, every office should have a computer. Laptops are resourceful especially in a power outage; according to the specifications of each model, once the battery is fully charged, you should be able to get a maximum 4-6 hours of usage.

elegant ideas

Pretty Patios A colourful table setting can take your patio from quaint to quality

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elegant ideas

This extravagant patio provides an all-out dining experience 12

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Your courtyard couldn’t be more comfortable with a full sofa and dining space w w w . a b s tr a c th o m e . c o m




elegant ideas

Sit amid the relaxing rush of water from a well-placed fountain


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Matching furniture and awning adds to this lush outdoor experience w w w . a b s tr a c th o m e . c o m





The Wonders Of Foil


oil sure does come in handy from time to time. It is great for wrapping up leftovers and has even been used to generate extra power to old-school television antennae. However, the list of great things foil can do doesn’t stop there. Here are some additional tips you may or may not know. Soften brown sugar. Brown sugar. It tastes so good. But it's not always the easiest sugar to work with, because it gets clumpy and lumpy after a while. With some aluminum foil, however, you can soften brown sugar in the oven! Wrap your brick of brown sugar in aluminum foil, then pop it into the oven for five minutes at 300F. Soon you will have softened brown sugar for all of your sugary needs. (You could always just do this in the microwave, but maybe you don't have any microwave- or oven-safe flatware. Or a microwave.) Pie crust protector. Some aluminum foil folded over the crust of a pie will keep the crust from browning and blackening 16

and eventually falling off before the rest of the pie has cooked sufficiently. This use: useful but not unusual. Its usefulness far outweighs its ordinariness. Oven cleaner. You can protect your oven from thrills and spills by placing a few sections of aluminum foil beneath something that might bubble, bubble, toil, and trouble all over the floor of your oven. Don't foil the actual floor of the oven, as that could cause a build-up of heat to warp the bottom of your expensive appliance. Instead, lay some foil over the rack just beneath whatever it is that might erupt and create a mess. Instead of scrubbing until your elbows run out of grease, you can just ball up the soiled foil and recycle it.

fold an edge over the crust to protect it from the heat. Bake at 350F for five or so minutes (or broil in high for two) and bam! Fresh-ish pizza. This method has the added advantage of instilling false olfactory hope in a roommate.

Reheat crispy things. I enjoy the occasional pizza delivered to my door, but I can't always finish the pizza in one sitting, and I need to reheat the delicious cheesiness. I'll microwave when I'm in a rush, but if I want ideal flavor I go to the oven with some aluminum foil. I set the slice directly on the foil and

Scrubber: Ball up some aluminum foil and use it to scrub off the nasty, stuck-on messes that get left behind on your non-non-stick pots and pans. This is great for those times when you cook, say, a casserole with some foil on top. You can use the same foil for clean up and then recycle it.

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Protect soap bottoms: I haven't used bar soap in forever. Not because I'm averse to washing, but because my soap dissolves into a damp, squishy mess before I get the chance to use it all up. But with a little bit of aluminum foil, I might be able to keep my bars of soap alive long enough to actually use them. To protect your bars of Ivory, just put a layer of aluminum foil on the bottom of your soap. It will protect your soap from melting slowly like the Wicked Witch of the West getting waterboarded at Guantanamo. And it looks nice next to a stainless steel basin. Very modern. Scare birds. Some birds are scared of shiny things. If you dangle some aluminum foil from your fruit tree (especially with scary eyes drawn on), the more skittish marauders will move past your scrumptious feast that's festooned with terror in favor of someplace a little less dangerously delicious. Light-sensitive pests will stay away from your be-tinseled tree.


Time To Wok Up


ant food that is big on flavour, but short on work? Then it’s time to try our tantalizing wok recipes. Enjoy!

Sesame Beef Ingredients 1 pound round steak 4 tablespoons soy sauce 4 tablespoons white sugar 4 tablespoons vegetable oil 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 green onions, chopped 2 tablespoons sesame seeds Directions Mix soy sauce, sugar, oil, garlic, and onions in a large bowl. Set aside. Cut steak into strips and add to bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 30 minutes. Cook in wok or frying pan until brown, about 5 minutes. Add sesame seeds and cook for additional 2 minutes.

Thai Spicy Basil Chicken Fried Rice Ingredients 3 tablespoons oyster sauce 2 tablespoons fish sauce 1 teaspoon white sugar 1/2 cup peanut oil for frying 4 cups cooked jasmine rice, chilled 6 large cloves garlic clove, crushed 2 serrano peppers, crushed 1 pound boneless, skinless 18

chicken breast, cut into thin strips 1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced 1 onion, thinly sliced 2 cups sweet Thai basil 1 cucumber, sliced (optional) 1/2 cup cilantro sprigs (optional) Directions Whisk together the oyster sauce, fish sauce, and sugar in a bowl. Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat until the oil begins to smoke. Add the garlic and serrano peppers, stirring quickly. Stir in the chicken, bell pepper, onion and oyster sauce mixture; cook until the chicken is no longer pink. Raise heat to high and stir in the chilled rice; stir quickly until the sauce is blended with the rice. Use the back of a spoon to break up any rice sticking together. Remove from heat and mix in the basil leaves. Garnish with sliced cucumber and cilantro as desired.

4 packets dry chicken gravy mix, prepared according to package instructions salt and pepper to taste Directions In a large skillet or wok heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken and sautĂŠ for 15 to 20 minutes, or until cooked through (juices run clear and chicken meat is no longer pink inside). Add green bell pepper, red bell pepper, lemon pepper seasoning, prepared gravy, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir all together; reduce heat to medium low and let all simmer about 10 minutes, or until bell peppers are tender and gravy has thickened.

Seafood Stir Fry

Lemon Pepper Chicken and Gravy

Ingredients 4 c. cooked long grain rice 1/2 to 3/4 lb. fresh shrimp, cleaned 1/2 lb. large fresh scallops 1 med. green pepper, chopped 1 med. onion, chopped 15 or so fresh mushrooms, sliced 3 tbsp. soy sauce 1 tbsp. chopped garlic 2-3 tbsp. cooking oil

Ingredients 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast meat - cut into bite-size pieces 1 green bell pepper, sliced 1 red bell pepper, sliced 1 tablespoon lemon pepper

Directions In a wok over high flame heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce, green pepper, onion, mushrooms and garlic. Quickly stir fry vegetable until tender but crisp. Remove to side with slotted spoon.

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Heat a little more oil in wok and add shrimp and scallops. Stir fry for approximately 2-3 minutes until shrimp are pink. Remove to side. Again add a little more oil to wok and stir in cooked rice. Stir fry for a minute or two. Mix in vegetables, seafood and remainder of soy sauce.

Broccoli and Tofu Stir Fry Ingredients 1 tablespoon peanut oil 4 cloves garlic, minced 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips 2 crowns broccoli, cut into florets 1/3 cup chicken broth 3 tablespoons soy sauce 1 tablespoon dry sherry 2 teaspoons cornstarch 8 ounces extra firm tofu, diced 2 tablespoons cashew pieces Directions Heat peanut oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Stir in garlic and cook for a few seconds until it begins to brown. Add the bell pepper and broccoli; cook until the pepper begins to brown and soften, about 5 minutes. Stir together the chicken broth, soy sauce, sherry, and cornstarch until dissolved. Pour the sauce into the wok and bring to a boil. Stir in the tofu, and cook until hot, about 1 minute. Garnish with cashew pieces to serve.


Considering A Joint Account?


here is no right or wrong answer to this question and even if the couple receives financial advice on the issue, the final decision is left up to them. A number of factors should be considered before going into such an agreement such as the length of the relationship, the status of the relationship and the money that is to be contributed. Some say yes, while others say no and as with everything there will be certain benefits and drawbacks. If you and your partner are thinking about having a joint account, consider these points first. Advantages of having a joint account 1) Encourages regular communication about finances. If you’re not yet married or just planning a wedding, a joint account will help to foster discussions about money management and plans for your money. 2) Accountability for one’s actions. Not so much as in ‘keeping tabs’ but you will be able to track your spending and keep a closer eye on financial decisions, now that you are sharing the account 20

with someone else. 3) Promotes unity in money matters. Having a joint account can help you to make decisions as a team and can help you to achieve goals faster. 4) There is no ‘your’ or ‘mine’ bank account. It is clear that the account is to be used for all the needs of the couple and the household. Such as bills, groceries, miscellaneous items, forming a bond and togetherness within the union. 5) No conflict. Similar to number four, there will be no misunderstandings as to whose turn it was to pay, for example, the electricity bill, as the joint account takes care of all the couple’s and household needs. Advantages of having a separate account

1) Financial book-keeping depends on one person. It is your account and you will be able to manage your spending, making records of your deposits and expenditure. 2) You can spend the money as you please without consulting someone else. You can also

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place limits on your spending if need be and prioritize your spending in terms of importance. 3) You can create your own saving goals and identify ways on how to achieve these, often seeking advice from your spouse, but not awaiting his/ her approval 4) Gift-buying is easier especially if purchasing a gift for your spouse. Because there is no one else to track the activity on the account, your spouse won’t be aware of any deductions. 5) No need to discuss finance regularly. Each person is in charge of their own account and its spending patterns. Therefore they won’t need to constantly consult each other on money matters. 6) Each spouse can have an allocated amount for themselves. If each person has the responsibility to pay a certain number of bills or contribute a certain amount to grocery buying, the rest can be used at their disposal. 7) Having your own account generates independence and you would be able to have a certain level of privacy on what you purchase.

As mentioned above, the decision is based solely on you and your mate and the type of relationship that you enjoy. There is a difference between having a separate account and separate finances. Separate finances mean that you spend your income on what you want as an individual, while setting aside a certain amount to handle the needs of the house. A separate account can be had in connection with an individual account, but the finances in the joint account are spent on the home. The latter works well with most marriages as it gives each individual independence while still working as a team. The key is to maintain financial unity at all times, through constant communication and honesty. Some married couples have revealed that they have separate accounts that their spouses are unaware of; this is not recommended. Ultimately, although you have a separate account your partner should have access to that account as well to prevent too much independence. Remember a marriage is a union and as such all matters should be treated as a partnership.


Get Your Child An Educational Toy


hristmas is not the only time your kids should be treated to toys. In fact, I’m sure a lot of parents regret not having something to keep their children occupied over the recent July-August period. If you do plan on getting your child a toy, think about going with something they can learn something from. Here are some tips for choosing the right ones. The first thing to consider when picking the perfect educational toy is the first thing you consider when purchasing any gift – appeal. A gift should be appealing to the receiver first and foremost. There will be some toys which kids consider must-haves. Wait too long to get them and they’ll be out of stock before you can pronounce Rumplestiltskin’s name backwards (More than likely it’ll be way before that). Think about what makes the gift special and what your child will like about it. If you have found those things it’s a go. Second on the list of things 22

to consider is safety. This could have come first, but these tips aren’t being done in any particular order. There are guidelines for how age appropriate a toy is on most toy packaging. If it is not stated on the packaging what age group the toy is most suitable for, you should be very cautious and stay away from it. Toys like those probably never underwent the necessary safety checks during production. Also follow any other safety guidelines keenly. If you think your child may not be able to adhere to these guidelines do not get that particular toy. A deciding factor in choosing a toy should be what skills you would like your child to learn from the use of the toy. Educational toys offer a host of different experiences to a child. What do you want the toy to teach your child? Some teach how to read, write, or count. If your child is struggling with math, get a toy that teaches mathematical scenarios in a fun way.

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‘Playability’ is another factor which may influence which educational game is right for your kid. Some games are easily conquered or become monotonous for children. An educational game should be just as much of an investment as a regular PC. Make sure the game can be played in a manner that will allow your child to benefit. Check to see if the game has a good battery life and if it can be played in stretches long enough to facilitate learning. Any parent who is about to spend money on a toy should have their eyes on durability and quality. Children have a propensity for not taking care of things as much as they should. In a child’s excitement, that toy may be dropped, or knocked around. You have to know that the toy in question is ready for the kind of abuse your child is going to give to it. Durability is key as well because it keeps your child safer. If a toy is broken, sharp ends may pose a threat to your child. Apart from the aforemen-

tioned tips, there is of course the important aspect of budget. With the rising gas prices only a person riding on a sleigh could give a child everything they desire, (though it hardly ever happens). Whether the toy is actually educational or not, you cannot afford to spend all willy-nilly. Make sure you have an educational toy-buying budget so you won’t get burnt when you touch the receipt at the cash register. The educational toy should help your child to learn. You should not be getting burned to learn at this point. Now more than ever there is a need for a healthy avenue for children to express themselves. It is important for them to be able to have fun and more important that children learn something new each day. Making the choice to buy an educational toy as opposed to a water gun or something negative can be one of your most rewarding choices. Hopefully these tips can make that choice even easier for you.



Home Remedies That Can Be Used To Remove Pimples


imples: unsightly, raised bumps that appear on the skin’s surface and which are often times painful to the touch. While many spend thousands each year on facials, cleansers and moisturizers to ensure that their skin is free of them, hormonal imbalances and changes in diet can cause them to appear without notice. After they’ve been treated, some leave dark spots on the skin that can be removed over time. The good news is that several home remedies have been known to take down the swelling or soreness from pimples and can treat outbreaks in an effective manner. Try these home remedies below.

Garlic- To ensure that pimples leave no marks on the skin’s surface after they’ve been removed, rub raw garlic on the area. Do this gently as the affected area will burn if the pimple bursts and comes into contact with the fresh garlic juice. Lemon or Orange peel- Looking for an effective cleanser to rid face of dead skin cells or dirt? Pound lemon or garlic peel with water to form a paste and apply to face regularly. Flour and honey, in small does, can also be added to this paste to get rid of pimples and to thoroughly cleanse and nourish the face. Grated cucumber- The healing power of cucumbers knows no

end as cucumber slices can get rid of puffy eyes or dark circles around the eyes. But grated cucumber can be used to cool the area around the pimple to help with the pain that accompanies a raised one. Grated cucumber can also be used as a preventative measure if applied regularly to the skin; it can help ward off pimples, blackheads and dryness of the face as the natural cucumber juice helps moisturize and fortify the skin. Honey- When used alone, honey can keep skin looking young and supple, but when used in combination with a teaspoon of camphor lotion and tomato juice the result is a pimple-free face. Apply to face and leave on for fifteen minutes, then rinse off with lukewarm water followed by cold water. When applied regularly, this can also help remove marks that may have been left by previous pimples.

Remember that pimples, like blackheads can be caused by our diets. If your pimples have become unbearable seek the advice of a dermatologist as some snacks and foods that are high in sugar such as chocolates can have an adverse effect on the skin. Several greasy foods can also cause the skin to become oily which clogs the pores and encourages breakouts. Be mindful of your daily intake.


Fashion Fixes To Mend Your Mood

f you are feeling drab, a quick fashion fix is one way to get you into ‘Fab’ mode. Don’t be down; just try these quick tips to turn your mood around. Colour is a great way to enhance a person’s mood. Stay away from dark colours such as black and grey. Try going for the blues and warm cinnamon brown tones. These brighter colours help uplift the mood and take away from the fact that you may be a bit down. Darker colours tend to make you look a bit more depressed than you really are. So the best thing to do would be to stay away from them. If you must wear a dark outfit to work add some colour with your shoes. This lightens up the overall mood of your look. If you wear a standard uniform to work try perking it up with a broach or a scarf. These fashion accessories do a lot to improve the image of clothing. There are many different styles and colours available that you can chose from with these fashion accessories. Choose a style that works best for you and at the same time accentuates your clothing. Your can put away your ordinary pair of working shoes and bring out a differw w w . a b s tr a c th o m e . c o m

ent pair that is stylish and helps boost the outfit. Now that you have the correct clothing you would need to pay attention to your face. Spend a little extra time on your makeup today. The first thing to do would be to use a facial scrub to remove the dead skin cells. This would then reveal smoother glowing skin. Glowing skin looks fresh and healthy and sets the way for a good foundation. Pay special attention to the eyes. They may be puffy or have dark circles, apply the foundation to hide the dark circles. Use of a bronze or copper eye shadow helps lighten the eyes and makes a more profound impact. Now that you have the outfit, shoes and makeup intact you are already looking fabulous. There is still one thing that is missing and this is a fabulous hand bag. Now ladies you need to have put away your working handbag as it is so often called and bring out one of your diva numbers. A good handbag makes every outfit look its best. There are so many available on the market right now that it can be hard to choose just one. So I know that you have more than one available on hand. So pick one up and you are on your way.






Inside HPV

he direct cause of cervical cancer is usually a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is spread mainly through sexual contact. There are several types of HPV, some of which cause genital warts and some cause cancer. However, there are also other types which may not cause any symptoms. A person may have HPV for many years without knowing and the cancer may develop much later. This is why the aforementioned Pap smears are recommended. Though HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer, there are other contributors to this disease. Smoking, HIV infection, Chlamydia infection, dietary factors, hormonal contraception, multiple pregnancies, use of the hormonal drug diethylstilbestrol (DES) and a family history of cervical cancer are all factors. For those not fortunate enough to have received a Pap smear, there are symptoms which can lead you to believe you have cervical cancer. Some of these symptoms are as follows. • There may be unexplained changes to your menstrual cycle or abnormal bleeding from your vagina. • Contact bleeding may occur such as during sex or with the use of a diaphragm. 24

home gym

• Sex may become painful. • Mild or severe pelvic pain that is not related to the normal menstrual cycle can be a cervical cancer symptom. These pains range from dull aches to sharp pains. • In the more advanced stages of cervical cancer there may be bladder pain or pain during urination. • Vaginal discharge that is tinged with blood.

Cervical Cancer can be treated, but it is best done in its early stages. However, treatment comes with a cost. The cost is more than just financial as, once taken in the latter stages of the cancer, most procedures leave you unable to have children. One such procedure is the Hysterectomy where the uterus is removed. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are also used to eliminate traces of cancer. It is highly recommended that screening be done to eliminate cancer from developing out of abnormal cell growth. Pap smears should be had once a year to once every five years depending on the person. A doctor should let you know how regularly you should have your pap smear done. Also, widespread HPV vaccination is encouraged since a vaccine was developed in 2006 for at least four strains of HPV.

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2013 Fitness Trends

lot of people are into fitness these days. However, people who have been training for some time would have witnessed some differences across the exercise landscape. In 2013 people are using varying methods to get lean. Here are some of them. Dance Workouts With blasting music, highenergy routines, and non-stop movement, these classes are more than fun. They’re also a great cardiovascular workout. The average Zumba “fitness party” burns more than 300 calories. Plus, by engaging your entire body, dance workouts ranging from ballet to Bollywood can hit muscles traditional workouts miss. Bodyweight Training No disrespect to fancy equipment, but your body is a super-efficient exercise machine all on its own. You can easily tailor the intensity to fit your ability, and by allowing your body to exercise in its natural planes—rather than in stiff motions—these exercises relieve pressure on joints and reduce the risk of injury. While bodyweight workouts have been a pillar of at-home workouts for years, gyms are

now upping their no-gear game. More personal trainers and group fitness classes now integrate bodyweight training into their workouts. Workplace Fitness Programs In an effort to reduce healthcare costs and boost productivity, more and more companies are offering their employees a range of fitness programs and services. Employee incentive programs, for instance, offer workers cash prizes, gift certificates, extra vacation days, or other rewards for participating in the program. In corporate fitness challenges, different companies, or different departments within the same company, compete to lose the most weight, run the fastest, or complete the most pushups.



Get Rid Of The Gunk

Keeping Your Garage Floor Clean


epending on the type of floors in your home, it can often be very hard to maintain. Apart from inside the house, the driveway and garage floors to tend to look untidy if left dirty for too long. Compared to cleaning a dirty floor inside, where high-priced detergents are used, outside floors can be a bit more difficult to clean. See tips below on how to get and maintain clean, shiny garage and driveway floors. Concrete floors- When dealing with the garage floors, where oil and grease is frequently seen, muriatic acid is the ideal cleaner for this type of residue as it ‘eats up’ all the oil and grease from the floor. Be careful; always wear gloves when using this solution and keep the area well ventilated. It is said that the acid gives off a very foul odor so as soon as the liquid has been applied to the area, quickly use a broom to scrub away the dirt and quickly rinse the area. For better results, leave the acid for about 5 minutes, then scrub away the dirt or use a garden hose when rinsing off the acid so that the water pressure from the hose will help lift away any remaining residue. 26

Ceramic tiles- Some houses have ceramic tile floors along their driveways and these can get dirty easily and very quickly. Never use bleach; this tends to erode the tiles’ natural shine. Instead mix a solution of warm water with vinegar and mop from side to side, up and down in between gouts. Then rinse with water and allow the tiles to dry. If grout or anywhere on the tile has a stubborn stain, mix a solution of baking soda and warm water and, using a small brush, scrub until clean. Then rinse with water and allow to tiles to dry. Clay tiles- These often give a yard a very European feel but when it’s dirty the sophistication is gone. As with ceramic tiles, a solution of warm water and vinegar should be used, but baking soda and dish-washing liquid should also be added to the mix. Not much about a 1 cup of baking soda: this works as a nonabrasive cleaning agent that will clean and eliminate odours, and ¼ cup dishwashing liquid as this cleanses the area without harming the clays’ surface. Wring out excess water from the mop and apply to floors in a sweeping motion. Repeat as necessary.

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Cleaning Your Small Pet‘s Cage


t is easy to understand how your small pet's health is tied to the cleanliness of her cage. But what many people do not consider is how they clean their pet's environment and what potential toxins may be introduced to it, despite the best of intentions. Our world is filled with products designed to minimize the effort and time it takes to maximize our hectic lives. While many of these products are wonderful cleaning additions to our homes, most are not designed for use around animals, who use smell and taste to continually explore their world. But with a little common sense and an established cleaning routine, you can minimize the time and effort it takes to maintain a healthy environment for your pet, while offering her the safest of living conditions.

The following is a typical cleaning schedule: Daily: • Remove wet spots or waste in bedding/litter. • If necessary, change any bedding/litter that is too soiled. • Empty and wash her food bowl using warm water and

a small amount of mild soap. Thoroughly rinse and dry the bowl before returning it to your pet's environment and filling it with food. • Empty and wash her water bottle using warm water and a small amount of mild soap. To ease the cleaning of your pet's water bottle, use a bottle brush. Thoroughly rinse the water bottle before refilling it with clean, fresh water and returning it to your pet's environment. Weekly: • Remove and replace all bedding and/or litter. • Wash and disinfect the cage bottom and any toys. As with all cleaners, rinse thoroughly and dry well. • Wash and disinfect any cage accessories, such as climbing shelves, dens, or beds, per the manufacturer's cleaning instructions for each product. Rinse thoroughly and dry well.

While cleaning your pet's environment keep your small pet safely contained in an Exercise Pen or small traveling cage. An empty cage is much easier to clean.


Overcoming Your Fear Of Flying


ou’ve worked hard and acquired the necessary wealth, plus you have the time off, but you still can’t visit your dream destination because you’re a scaredy cat. Shame on you! There really is no reason to be afraid of flying. The rumors about it being 50,000 times safer than traveling by car are not just rumors. We know it’s not that easy to just take our word for it, so read on to learn methods of dealing with your fear of flying. Pick the right seat Unless you're one of the few lucky ones who can afford to fly business or first class, the seat you will be allocated will not offer you much legroom. For the folks who fear flying, being in an enclosed space makes matters worse for them. So always try to choose a front row or exit row seat- even if you have to pay a little extra for these seats, it's well worth it. An aisle seat is also highly recommended, as it gives you the feeling of extra space. Mute the engine noise I'm not suggesting you ask the 28

pilot to turn one of the engines off during your flight (not a smart safety move), but you can do something about not hearing it anymore. Many fearful flyers become hyper listeners during the flight, because their brain is programmed to believe there will be some sort of life-threatening problem and will try to prove it by listening for the faintest of sounds. The best solution for this problem is to use sound cancelling headphones. Once the pilot gives you permission to use electronic devices, crank up your favourite tunes loaded on your phone or MP player, and close your eyes. See No Evil, Hear No Evil. Pray You do not have to know who or what God is to pray. Imagine what you might like God to be—a friendly grandfather, a waterfall, or a wise Yodalike figure—and then pray to that. Simply think of Something that you believe is a positive, guiding force and ask for its comfort and guidance. Admit your fear. It’s surprising how immediate that source is when we are willing

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to reach for it. It is the paradox of prayer that when we admit our own limitations we become more powerful, as we are now willing to accept help. Try saying a prayer to yourself – say it in your mind, write it out, whisper it to the window – and imagine that your prayer has already been answered. Prepare for your trip When we take steps to organize our trip, we take steps to protect ourselves from extra or needless anxiety. Planning ahead gives us a sense of calm control. There are many ways we can plan ahead so that the “day of ” goes smoothly. For example: A few days before departure, make a list of everything you will pack: clothes, shoes, toiletries, medications, electronics (including chargers!), reading and writing material, passport or photo ID, gifts, etc. As things occur to you, add them to the list. Unhurried, you are less likely to forget something important. Know what to expect A large part of being scared is not knowing what will happen

next. Why is the plane going so fast? Why do my ears feel funny? Why does the wing look weird? Why are we hitting turbulence? Why are we being asked to keep our seat belts on? When presented with an unusual circumstance, your first instinct is to assume the worst. To minimize this, learn everything you can about flying. The plane needs to reach a certain speed so that it can take off, your ears are popping because of a change in pressure, certain parts of the wing are supposed to move, and so on: everything that is happening happens every time a plane goes into flight. Everything will be alright. Try to avoid those questions and think about how much fun you are going to have when you land. Find ways to make the trip seem shorter If you sit and worry, every minute of your flight will feel like an hour. Think of your favourite time-killing product - a fashion magazine; a portable video game; the latest electronic gadget, or a relaxing book - and go get it!

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

Abstract Home Vol. 4 issue 14  
Abstract Home Vol. 4 issue 14  

Abstract Home magazine espouses all things ‘Home.’ It is a twice-monthly publication centered on Home décor, cuisine and family life. It is...