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How to Wear Cloth Face Coverings

In an effort to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where it can be difficult to maintain social distancing measures. That means people are advised to wear cloth face coverings while shopping for groceries or in any other settings where it might be difficult to stay at least six feet away from other people. In recognition that the notion of wearing face coverings while in public is foreign to many people, the CDC issued instructions on how to wear such coverings to ensure they provide as much protection as possible.

How to wear cloth face coverings

The CDC notes that cloth face coverings should:

• fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face

• be secured with ties or ear loops • include multiple layers of fabric

• allow for breathing without restriction

Additional guidelines

The CDC says face coverings should be avoided by certain people. Such coverings should not be placed on children under age two. In addition, people who have trouble breathing, those who are incapacitated and people who cannot remove coverings without assistance should not wear them.

The CDC also notes that cloth face coverings does not refer to surgical masks or N-95 respirators. The CDC urges everyone to reserve such supplies for health care workers and other medical first responders. Cloth face coverings should be routinely washed. A washing machine should be enough to clean these coverings.

When removing cloth face coverings, do so carefully. The CDC urges people to avoid touching their eyes, nose and/or mouth when removing their face coverings. Once the coverings are removed, people should wash their hands immediately. Cloth face coverings can help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. While wearing such coverings is a simple gesture, it’s also one that can save lives. More information is available at www.cdc.gov.

Pollinators are an Important Part of Gardens

A thriving backyard garden requires homeowners to take steps to ensure the garden has the best environment in which to grow and thrive. The right tools and components, including trowels, rakes, soil, amendments, and fertilizer, can help gardeners create beautiful spaces. It’s also important that pollinators are made to feel welcome in the garden. The United States Department of Agriculture reports that one-third of all agricultural output depends on pollinators. The USDA notes that insects and other animal pollinators are vital to the production of healthy crops for food, fibers, edible oils, medicines, and other products. Pollinators also are essential for maintaining habitats and ecosystems that many wild animals rely on for food and shelter. The U.S. Forest Service says that, without pollinators, the human race and all of the earth’s terrestrial ecosystems would not survive. Pollination done the natural way often yields large, flavorful fruits.

Pollinators are make-or-break components of large-scale agriculture, and they’re just as important in private home gardens. The Pollinator Partnership, an organization that works to protect pollinators and their habitats across North America, says pollinators include bees, butterflies, beetles, birds, and bats. These animals travel from plant to plant carrying pollen on their bodies. The following are some ways to maintain healthy pollinator habitats.

• Consider the soil and types of plants that will thrive in it before choosing what to plant. Fix drainage issues and plant with sunlight in mind.

• Vary the colors and shapes of plants to attract a greater array of pollinators. Plant flowers close to vegetable gardens to attract pollinators. • Group plants together when planting to more effectively attract pollinators.

• Select plants that flower at different times of the year so that nectar and pollen sources are available year-round.

• Whenever possible, choose native plants.

• Avoid the use of pesticides.

• Provide a water source for pollinators, such as a shallow dish with stones half-submerged for perching.

Pollinators are important for gardens, whether those gardens are commercial operations or small backyard plots. Allow pollinators to share spaces and be mindful of behaviors that can threaten their survival.

A Guide to Buying and Setting Up a Bird Bath

Warm weather means more opportunities to spend time outdoors while at home. Whether your favorite form of outdoor recreation includes sitting on the patio reading or digging in the garden, there’s a good chance that you will be sharing the space with local wildlife. Optimizing opportunities to view and interact with backyard wildlife can make the great outdoors even more enjoyable.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology indicates that there are around 2,059 bird species on the continent of North America. Red-winged blackbirds, yellow-rumped warblers, American robins, and chipping sparrows are among the most commonly seen birds in North America. Making a backyard hospitable to birds can increase the chances for sightings and hearing their sweet songs. Installing a bird bath can be a step in the right direction. Bird baths can make yards more attractive to birds. Birds require a supply of fresh, clean water for drinking and bathing. By setting up a bath, homeowners can attract not only seed-loving birds, but those that don’t eat seeds and wouldn’t normally congregate around feeders, indicates All About Birds. Experts surmise that birds may bathe to maintain their feathers.

Not all bird baths are constructed the in the same fashion. Many bird baths sold in stores are better suited for decoration than for serving as functional baths. There are four general types of bird bath: standing pedestal, hanging bath, deck-mounted, and ground-level. In general, the lower a bird bath is to the ground, the more likely birds are to use it. Most natural sources of water birds use are on or near the ground. Therefore, ground-level bird baths may be the best investments. It is important to keep the water in a bird bath shallow (around two inches of water or less). This enables birds to splash around safely and wade in. Birds do not want to slide around, so a material that is coated and slippery, like glazed ceramic or glass, may not be too popular. Rough stone or a bird bath modified with pea gravel or rocks can give birds steady footing.

Place the bird bath in the shade if possible to ensure the water is cool and fresh. Locate it by a tree so the birds can hop up to a branch and preen afterwards. All About Birds also says that a bird bath is more attractive if it has a dripping or moving water feature, as this is often irresistible to birds.

Another way to ensure the bath will be used is to keep it clean and maintained. Change the water every day or two. Rinse off the bath to remove droppings, bugs and other debris. Once birds learn there is a comfortable bath nearby, they may be more apt to visit a yard and may even become frequent guests.

Clever Ways to Use Leftovers

The spread of COVID-19 has upended many people’s lives. As with other virulent health crises, the practice of social distancing has been recommended to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 outbreak. One way to socially distance oneself is to avoid unnecessary trips to places where the public may congregate, such as grocery stores. Some people visit supermarkets and other food stores every day, especially if they don’t meal plan or shop for the week. According to the Time Use Institute, the average shopping trip takes 41 minutes and people go food shopping an average of 1.5 times per week. Any additional time spent at the grocery store increase the likelihood of contact with others, potentially increasing shoppers’ risk of contracting coronavirus as well. Therefore, people taking steps to stay at home may have to rethink the way they purchase and use food.

Being more mindful of food waste and putting leftovers and ingredients to use in new ways can help stretch food further and reduce the need to make frequent trips to the grocery store. Consider these ideas to make use of leftovers:

• Save those vegetables. It’s easy to scrape a half-portion of uneaten vegetables into the trash thinking it can’t be used. Instead, combine it with other vegetables accumulated throughout the week. Many play well together and can be mixed into casseroles, omelets, soups, and stir-fry recipes.

• Create new meals. Using leftovers does not mean eating the same exact meal a second time. Ingredients can be utilized in new ways. For example, a roast chicken can be broken down and the meat can be used for fajitas on another night. Leftover tomato sauce and meatballs from a Sunday dinner can be turned into an impromptu chili with the addition of beans and peppers.

• Think beyond dinner. Leftovers can be collected at any time of day and used later on. Cold cuts can be chopped and used to make a stromboli with some refrigerated pizza dough. Save Belgian waffles from breakfast and top with breaded chicken fingers for a delicious chicken-and-waffles meal for lunch or dinner. Leftover roasted potatoes and scraps of ham can be used in a breakfast hash.

• Stuck on starches. Turn extra rice from dinner into arancini (rice balls) for a snack on another day. A leftover sweet potato or two can be mixed with butternut squash to make a sweet and healthy mashed side dish. Mashed potatoes can be transformed into potato croquettes or potato pancakes.

Finding new ways to use leftovers means minimal waste and fewer trips to the supermarket.

3 Tips to Planning Efficient Home-Cooked Meals

A few generations ago, dining out was an experience reserved for special occasions. However, until recently, when restaurants were shuttered in the wake of the public health crisis prompted by the spread of COVID-19, many people were dining out multiple times a week.

Hospitality solutions provider Fourth surveyed 1,000 American adults in 2019 and 56 percent reported dining out at least two to three times per week. Ten percent said they ate out four to six times each week, while 6 percent said they dined out everyday. People accustomed to relying on restaurant for meals multiple times per week may be unaccustomed to cooking many meals at home, which has become the norm thanks to restrictions placed on restaurants and other food-related businesses as part of COVID-19 social distancing precautions. Learning how to shop for food and prepare items by maximizing available ingredients can reduce trips to the store and help people reduce food waste at a time when food is not as readily available as it once was.

1. Plan meals/browse circulars

Meal planning and shopping lists are vital tools for people preparing meals at home. Without doing so, individuals can be left floundering in the supermarket, spending more money than necessary and making impulse purchases (all the while forgetting items they truly need). Use sales circulars to browse weekly discounted items at stores. Build a week’s worth of meals off of these sale items — going so far as to write out a cursory menu — then fill in any extra ingredients or staples needed on a shopping list. Leave a day or two for leftovers. Try organizing the list to follow the natural layout where items are arranged in the store.

2. Shop smart

With paper and pen in hand or a digital list compiled on your phone, go aisle by aisle and check off items as they are added to the cart. If you are shopping for food you hope will last a week or more, consider substituting canned and frozen foods and other nonperishables for fresh items because they can be stored for longer periods of time. “Club size” or “family size” packages of foods may cost less per volume and can be sub-divided and stored for later use.

3. Minimize waste

Cook only as much as is needed for the household. Generally speaking, a meat or poultry serving of three to four ounces per person is adequate. That means a roast or steak of 11⁄2 to two pounds is fine for a family of four. Use up older frozen or perishable foods first. Store foods properly and use them before the use-by date. Wrap up leftovers and turn them into new meals.

With proper planning and smart thinking, homecooking can be more efficient and less wasteful.

4 Ideas for Family Game Night

Family game nights can be a great way for families to disconnect from their devices and spend quality time together. Much in the way that family dinners can facilitate conversation and closeness, game nights can spark companionship and hours of fun. Game nights are easy to organize and are particularly handy on those nights when there’s not much to do or when the weather makes outside activities implausible.

To get started, use these game ideas as a catalyst for fun.

1. Stick to the classics. Certain games remain tried and true family favorites. These include Monopoly, Trouble, Risk, Clue, and Scrabble. Adults who had a favorite game growing can play it with their own children and see who outsmarts who.

2. Learn card games. From “War” to “Spades” to “Gin” to “Uno,” many card games have withstood the test of time. This is a great way to bridge gaps between grandparents and grandchildren. The older generation can teach these familiar games to children, and everyone can join in the fun.

3. Strengthen drama skills. Charades is a game in which teams must act out a word or phrase based on certain categories and have others on their side guess what is being mimed. Charades often leads to lots of laughs and stumped participants.

4. Shop for new fun. Take a family trip to a toy store or another retailer and browse the games aisle. Let each family member pick out a game that appeals to them and then include them in your family game night rotation.

Families can engage and converse over entertaining games that bridge generations.

Preventive Care Involves Safeguarding Mental Health

Preventive care is often looked at through the needs people need to do to protect their physical well-being. For example, a healthy diet and routine exercise, while beneficial to mental health, are often viewed as lifestyle choices that can make people feel better physically. But taking steps to protect one’s mental health also is vital to a long, productive life.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that positive mental health and mental wellness can have a profoundly positive impact on a person’s life. Positive mental health can help people realize their full potential, cope with the stresses of life and make meaningful contributions to their communities.

What can I do to protect my mental health?

Learning to recognize the early warning signs of mental health problems can help prevent such problems from escalating and compel people to seek help. The DHHS advises anyone feeling these signs or recognizing these signs in others to seek help for themselves or their loved ones:

• Eating or sleeping too much or too little

• Pulling away from people and usual activities

• Having low or no energy

• Feeling numb or as if nothing matters

• Unexplained aches and pains

• Feeling helpless or hopeless

• Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual

• Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared

• Yelling or fighting with family and friends

• Severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships

• Persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head

• Hearing voices or believing things that are not true

• Thinking of harming yourself or others

• An inability to perform daily tasks, such as taking care of your children or getting to work or school

Taking steps to protect one’s mental wellness is a vital component of preventive care. More information about mental health is available at www.mentalhealth.gov.

How Hand Washing Helps Fight Infection

There are many ways to avoid infection, but few might be as simultaneously simple and effective as hand washing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps a person can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. While skeptics might question just how big an impact hand washing can have, the science behind washing hands paints a pretty strong picture of just how beneficial this particular component of personal hygiene can be.

How germs get you sick

The CDC notes that feces from people and animals are considerable sources of germs, including salmonella and E. coli. These germs can get onto people’s hands after they use the toilet or change a diaper. People who handle raw meats also be exposed to such germs, as these foods can contain invisible amounts of animal feces on them. The amount of germs contained in small amounts of feces may come as a shock. Research published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology found that a single gram of human feces weighing about as much as a paper clip can contain one trillion germs.

What does hand washing do?

With so many germs floating around, it may seem as though something as simple as hand washing couldn’t be nearly as effective as it’s said to be. But the CDC notes that hand washing removes germs from hands, thereby removing an easy way for germs to enter the body and be passed on to others. For instance, many people habitually touch their eyes, nose and mouth without thinking twice, and doing so provides an easy way for germs to enter the body via the hands. By washing their hands, people can cut off this easy entryway for germs.

Hand washing also presents germs from entering the body while eating. Germs from unwashed hands can get into people’s food and drinks, and can even multiply in some foods and beverages, potentially contributing to illness. Washing hands also prevents the spread of germs by preventing them from being transferred from hands to handrails, table tops or toys, where they can then spread to other people’s hands.

Hand washing is a simple yet effective way to stop the spread of germs. And it just might be the simplest way to avoid illnesses.

Affordable Features to Consider When Revamping Your Kitchen

Kitchens are popular gathering spots in many homes. That popularity is reflected in various ways, including how many homeowners choose to remodel their kitchens. A 2019 report from the home renovation and design resource Houzz found that kitchens were the most popular room to renovate in 2018. Homeowners considering kitchen remodels should know that the Houzz report also indicated that spending on kitchen remodels increased by 27 percent in 2018.

Homeowners concerned by the cost of remodeling a kitchen should know that there are ways to give kitchens a whole new feel without breaking the bank.

Appliances

Consumer Reports notes that luxury home buyers expect high-end features, including professional ranges and built-in refrigerators that match the surrounding cabinetry. However, many mainstream brands offer “faux pro” features that can equal more expensive alternatives. Consumer Reports even notes that many budget-friendly faux pro appliances outperformed their high-end counterparts in terms of reliability.

Countertops

Countertops tend to capture the eye’s attention when walking into a kitchen. Outdated and/or damaged countertops grab that attention for all the wrong reasons, while updated countertops made from today’s most popular materials provide that wow factor homeowners seek. If granite is a must-have, Consumer Reports notes that homeowners can save substantial amounts of money by choosing granite from remnants at the stone yard. If marble is your ideal countertop, save money by choosing a domestic product as opposed to one imported from overseas.

Cabinets

Custom-built cabinets may be a dream, but they tend to be a very expensive one. Such cabinets are designed to adhere to the dimensions of the kitchen, and Consumer Reports notes that they can cost tens of thousands of dollars. If that estimate would bust your budget, examine the current layout of the existing cabinets. If the layout is fine but the cabinets need work, you can give them a whole new look by refinishing them. If the cabinets must go, stock units or semi-custom cabinets can provide a new look without busting the budget.

Kitchen remodels can be expensive. But there are many affordable ways to revamp a kitchen.

Tips for Relieving Joint Pain in the New Year

The health benefits of regular exercise are undeniable, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends 30 minutes of exercise at least five times per week. However, high-impact exercises like running and weight training can lead to joint pain, especially if you have a joint condition. The good news is that smart exercises with low impact can alleviate joint pain and deliver the same health benefits.

Here are a few tips to consider for a healthy start to 2020:

Keep Moving

Trying to protect your joints by not moving actually does more harm than good. Regular exercise can actually help joint pain and ease symptoms of chronic joint conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just be sure to talk to your doctor about your exercise plan before you get started.

Go Low Impact

You don’t need to put tremendous weight on your joints or jump up and down in order to break a sweat or elevate your heartrate. When you’re already in pain, this type of exercise can actually make things worse. Instead, opt for high-quality, low-impact workouts.

There are now exercise machines available for home use that provide the same quality low-impact workout you’d get in physical therapy. Consider the Teeter FreeStep Recumbent Cross Trainer, a seated exercise machine that takes the weight off the joints while torching calories.

Unlike other recumbent machines which can be bad for the knees, the FreeStep mimics a natural stepping motion that prevents knees from traveling over the toes, as well as stabilizes the back and hips. And you don’t have to sacrifice workout quality – in fact, research shows that FreeStep users burn 17.4 percent more calories than when using a recumbent bike at the same level of effort. Beyond calorie burn, it also offers full-body resistance training, which is especially important, as weak muscles can be a root cause of pain.

Hydrate

It may seem obvious, but ensuring that you drink the recommended daily intake of water is vital to reducing pain in your joints.

Proper hydration helps your body eliminate wastes and toxins that can lead to painful joint conditions. Plus, it helps to keep the joints lubricated and flexible, reducing friction and inflammation and helping to maintain healthy tissue.

Stretch Daily

Stretching increases flexibility and range of motion, improves movement and function, reduces pain and stiffness and prevents further injury. Just remember to move slowly and keep it gentle.

At the very least, spend a good five to 10 minutes in the morning stretching your hamstrings, quadriceps, calf muscles and hip flexors.

For a free photo guide to “5 Daily Stretches to Relieve Knee & Joint Pain,” plus a code for $75 off the FreeStep (good through January 31, 2020), visit teeter.com/freestep-guide.

With the right exercises and maintenance program, you can improve your health and get a stronger body, without pain.