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Royal residence! Rare look into Prince Charles’ and Duchess Camilla’s Clarence House

<p><em>Google Arts &amp; Culture</em> have teamed up with the royal family to give onlookers a virtual tour of Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla’s highly publicised, but rarely seen Clarence House in London.</p> <p>Royal life is often tightly guarded and kept between the select few. However, it has never been easier to see what it is like to live as a royal.</p> <p>The virtual tour of Prince Charles’ Clarence House only lets onlookers see into the ground floor of the house, but even that is enough to showcase just how family-oriented this royal family is.</p> <p>Littered among the walls and every sitting place is portraits of the Windsor family – from the Prince of Wales’ grandmother to his youngest son, Prince Harry.</p> <p>It is a stunning property that the Queen herself is privileged enough to say she once called home – and judging by the grandeur styling and opulent decor, it is no wonder how the royal would have fit right in.</p> <p>Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall have called the Clarence House their own since 2003 and was originally built for the Duke of Clarence who would go on to become King William IV in 1827.</p> <p>He and the Queen were not the only utmost senior royals to call the abode their own, as the Queen Mother once graced the halls of the four-story property between the years 1953 to 2002.</p> <p>For a short time, Queen Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh lived in the home after they were married in 1947.</p> <p>The most mystifying feature of the entire property is the lavish, stunning gardens which is what guests will first see when they enter upon the grounds of Clarence House.</p> <p>Prince Charles designed the gardens himself in 2005 in a bid to honour his grandmother, who he shared a very close relationship with while she was alive.</p> <p>The entrance hall of the home has its own unique and unbelievable features as portraits of great royalty line the walls along with treasured relics.</p> <p>Another intimate touch royal onlookers are given a rare insight to is the family photos on display in the Morning Room, where Prince Charles is said to entertain guests from all walks of life.</p> <p>The gorgeous and unique residence who is called home by Prince Charles and his wife has remained a treasure to the royal family for generations and will continue to do so even when he moves on to become King and is passed on to another royal family member.</p> <p>Scroll through the gallery to see Prince Charles’ Clarence House.</p>

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IKEA launches new homewares range for February 2020

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">IKEA is offering a range of practical and stylish homewares, including a range of baskets, armchairs, a hanging organiser and much more.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The latest product drop in February is focusing on a mindful lifestyle while bringing nature into the home through greenery. Natural colour palettes with fresh hues are contrasted sharply with accented colours.</span></p> <p><strong>TJILLEVIPS basket range</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This is a range of sustainable handmade baskets that are woven from six different types of plant fibres, which include bamboo, rattan, seagrass, banana fibre, poplar and jute.</span></p> <p><strong>BINGSTA armchair ($199)</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are low and high back versions of this chair on offer and are two colours available. The colours are subdued and elegant grey or a dark shade of yellow. </span></p> <p><strong>KORNSJÖ cabinet with mirror ($299)</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are plenty of storage options for bags, shoes and belongings that are unsightly. It comes in a nice dark shade of grey.</span></p> <p><strong>BORSTAD hanging organiser for accessories ($16.99)</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This hanging organiser boasts plenty of storage if there’s not a lot of space left in your cupboards.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Photo credits: </span><a href="https://www.bhg.com.au/ikea-borstad-homewares-range-february-2020"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Better Homes and Gardens</span></a></em></p>

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House of horrors: Dr. Phil's Beverly Hills mansion hits the market

<p>If there has ever been a house to cause such a wave of disbelief and shock, it is the Beverly Hills mansion of Dr. Phil McGraw which just hit the market for AUD $8.3 million.</p> <p>The star of the Dr. Phil Show has put his house up for sale and it quickly went viral for its quirky, and quite frankly strange, features.</p> <p>From the bejewelled bear and rabbit figurines beneath a wall of guns, to a purple egg chair draping from the ceiling directly across from a massive piece of artwork that reads “f*ck” on it, this home has every eccentric momentum that you could squeeze into a five bedroom, six bathroom house.</p> <p>The images of inside the uniquely designed mansion quickly spread quickly once a Los<em> Angeles Times</em> writer tweeted a collection of interior shots of the house in question.</p> <p>The interesting décor choices and eccentric, out-of-the-box quirks got the attention of over 26,000 people who liked the post.</p> <p>Records show Dr. Phil purchased the home in 2007 however it appears the TV star has never actually lived there.</p> <p>The insane décor choices seem to be the choice of his son, Jordan, who currently calls the place home.</p> <p>He went on to clarify the wall of guns is actually “an anti-gun art installation”.</p> <p>The mansion features five bedrooms and six bathrooms, and the master suite has a private balcony. In true Californian style, there also includes also a dining gazebo, outdoor fireplace, swimming pool, and jacuzzi.</p> <p>On top of that there is a dedicated billiards room and wine cellar. </p> <p>Scroll through the gallery to see the inside of the home up close.</p>

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6 things you never knew you could put in the washing machine

<p>Bring it on.</p> <p><strong>1. Stuffed animals</strong></p> <p>Place each stuffed animal in its own mesh laundry bag and set your machine to wash and rinse. Use cold water (warm or hot water could melt the toy’s glue) and half the regular amount of detergent. Run the animals through a second rinse cycle to remove all the soap, and allow them to air dry. Fluff fur as needed.</p> <p><strong>2. Sneakers</strong></p> <p>Remove the laces from canvas or nylon sneakers and slip them into a cotton pillowcase where they won’t get tangled. Take out any inner soles or padding from the sneakers and toss the shoes and pillowcase into your washer (if you’re concerned about the shoes causing a racket, throw in a few towels as well). Add the regular amount of detergent, plus a dash of vinegar to deodorise. Set your machine on a cold-wash delicate cycle. Allow the shoes and shoelaces to air dry.</p> <p><strong>3. Pillows</strong></p> <p>Wash pillows two at a time in a warm-water gentle cycle. To ensure you’re washing out all the soap, add an extra cold-water rinse and spin, advises Good Housekeeping. To fluff things up, dry the pillows on low heat, along with a few rubber dryer balls.</p> <p><strong>4. Backpacks and lunch boxes</strong></p> <p>Open all of your backpack’s pockets and check for any items that might be hidden. If there are large pieces of crumbs or debris, use your vacuum cleaner’s crevice attachment to do a thorough pre-cleaning. Put your backpack into a laundry bag or pillowcase and wash it on a gentle cycle in cold water with a small amount of gentle detergent. Allow to air dry.</p> <p><strong>5. Bath mats and small rugs</strong></p> <p>Take the mat outside and shake it to remove any loose dirt, and then load the rug into the washing machine with a few bath towels to balance the load. Set the machine on a cold-wash delicate cycle, and add half the regular amount of detergent. Allow the mat to air dry (never put a rubber-backed mat into the dryer).</p> <div id="page12" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/16-things-you-never-knew-you-could-put-in-the-washing-machine"><strong>6. Pet beds</strong></div> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/16-things-you-never-knew-you-could-put-in-the-washing-machine"> <p>Foam pet beds can be cleaned whenever you see fit. Remove the bed’s outside cover and place it in the washing machine with cold water and regular detergent. To clean the foam piece, fill your bathtub halfway with warm water. Add a scoop of laundry detergent and sink the bed into the soapy water. Empty the soap water from the tub and refill with clean water. Rinse the foam out and place it in the sun to air dry. Replace the foam cover and zip it up.</p> <div id="page16" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p><em>Source:<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.rd.com/home/cleaning-organizing/washing-machine-suprising-items/" target="_blank">RD.com</a></em></p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/16-things-you-never-knew-you-could-put-in-the-washing-machine"><em>Written by Juliana LaBianca. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/16-things-you-never-knew-you-could-put-in-the-washing-machine">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V">here’s our best subscription offer.</a></em></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div>

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Bruce Willis finally sells mega-mansion for $11 million

<p>Action star Bruce Willis has finally found a buyer for his Westchester County mansion. The home sold for $US 7.66 million ($AUD 11 million) according to<em> <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/bruce-willis-sells-bedford-corners-estate-for-7-66-million-11577208804" target="_blank">The Wall Street Journal.</a></em></p> <p>The home has been on the market for the year but has finally managed to be sold for 41 per cent less than the original asking price.</p> <p>The film star and his wife initially listed the home for $US 12.95 million ($AUD 18.7 million) but were unable to find anyone interested at this price. The couple kept reducing the price over the year until they settled on $USD 7.6 million and reduced the acreage of the original offer.</p> <p>The country house, built in 2009, offers panoramic views of the Croton Reservoir and beyond. It’s located just a 40-minute drive from midtown Manhattan and is a gated estate.</p> <p>The house features a 9,000 square foot main house with five bedrooms, a playroom, a media room and a spacious wine cellar.</p> <p>The estate itself also features formal landscaping, a vegetable garden, a saltwater pool, a pool house and a tennis court.</p> <p>Scroll through the gallery to see the luxury residence.</p> <p><em>Photo credits: <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.realtor.com/news/celebrity-real-estate/bruce-willis-finally-sells-his-new-york-country-estate-for-7-66m/" target="_blank">realtor.com</a></em></p>

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They paid WHAT? 5 most expensive celeb houses of 2019

<p>Celebrities live a life of luxury, so it makes sense that these luxuries would also extend to the places they call home. Here are the 5 most expensive real estate transactions done by celebrities for 2019.</p> <p><strong>5. Tommy Hilfiger</strong></p> <p>The 68-year-old fashion designer and founder of Tommy Hilfiger finally sold his Plaza Hotel penthouse after a shocking 11 years on the market. The home is 6,050 square feet and has just four bedrooms. There is a formal dining room that features mirrored walls and the penthouse features a grand salon with 10-foot high ceilings, according to<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/watch-tommy-and-dee-hilfiger-give-a-tour-of-their-stunning-plaza-hotel-apartment" target="_blank">Architectural Digest</a></em>.</p> <p>The penthouse sold for a shocking $USD 33.25 million ($AUD 48.4 million).</p> <p><strong>4. Mark Zuckerberg</strong></p> <p>The founder of Facebook kept the details of this sale very private as he purchased a home in Lake Tahoe for $USD 37 million ($AUD 54.19 million).</p> <p>The Brushwood Estate features a 5,322 square foot main house with six bedrooms as well as a separate guesthouse and a private dock, according to<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://variety.com/2019/dirt/news/mark-zuckerberg-lake-tahoe-houses-1203209603/" target="_blank">Variety</a></em>.</p> <p>The home was built in 1964 and also features rolling lawns as well as a lakeview jacuzzi.</p> <p>The home adds to the smaller property he purchased earlier for $USD 22 million ($AUD 32.02 million) and now has a compound of up to 10 acres with 600 feet of uninterrupted lake views.</p> <p><strong>3. Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo</strong></p> <p>The power couple were ready to say goodbye to their mansion in Beverly Hills, but it wouldn’t be an easy one as their mansion is a three-story Tudor-style home.</p> <p>The sprawling 10,376 foot mansion features five bedrooms, twelve bathrooms and features crown moulding in many of the common living areas on the first floor.</p> <p>The master suite of the mansion includes a lofted ceiling, a private terrace and an en suite bathroom that has a luxurious free-standing tub, according to<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/ellen-degeneres-buys-adam-levines-beverly-hills-mansion" target="_blank">Architectural Digest</a>.</em></p> <p>The home sold to another power couple Ellen DeGeneres and her wife Portia Di Rossi for $USD 45 million ($AUD 65.83 million).</p> <p><strong>2. Sting</strong></p> <p>The iconic musician bought a luxurious 5,807 square feet penthouse which has three bedrooms and five and a half bathrooms. Although it’s not as large as some of the other mansions, it appears that stars are paying for the location as it’s on Billionaire’s Row at 220 Central Park South, according to<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.realestate.com.au/news/sting-drops-nearly-96-million-on-penthouse-in-recordbreaking-new-york-building/" target="_blank">realestate.com.au.</a></p> <p>With few details being made public about the actual apartment, there are little to no photos of this listing that he bought for a shocking USD $66 million ($AUD 96 million)</p> <p><strong>1. Jeff Bezos</strong></p> <p>Last but not least, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos purchased a trio of Manhattan apartments for a combined whopping $USD 80 million ($AUD 116.52 million).</p> <p>The sizeable buy included a three-story five-bedroom penthouse apartment as well as the other two units he purchased which overlook Madison Square Park.</p> <p>The combined space of all three units create a massive 17,000 square foot, 12-bedroom estate.</p> <p>The penthouse alone has nearly 6,000 square feet of terraces and has four exposures facing the Madison Square Park. The penthouse also includes a private elevator, a grand ballroom and a library with a marble and glass fireplace, according to<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.businessinsider.com.au/amazon-ceo-jeff-bezos-buys-manhattan-penthouse-apartment-80-million-2019-6?r=US&amp;IR=T" target="_blank">Business Insider</a></em>.</p> <p><em>Photo credits:</em></p> <p><em>Tommy Hilfiger’s penthouse:<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/17/photos-tommy-hilfigers-nyc-penthouse-sold-for-millions.html" target="_blank">CNBC</a><span> </span>&amp; Sothesby’s International Realty | Travis Mark</em></p> <p><em>Mark Zuckerberg’s Lake Tahoe mansion:<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://variety.com/2019/dirt/news/mark-zuckerberg-lake-tahoe-houses-1203209603/" target="_blank">Variety</a><span> </span>&amp; Oliver Luxury Real Estate</em></p> <p><em>Adam Levine’s Tudor-style mansion:<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/ellen-degeneres-buys-adam-levines-beverly-hills-mansion" target="_blank">Architectural Digest</a><span> </span>&amp; Simon Berlyn / Berlyn Photography 2019</em></p> <p><em>Jeff Bezos’ trio of Manhattan apartments:<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://visualhouse.co/work/212-fifth-avenue/" target="_blank">Visual House</a>­  <span> </span><span> </span></em></p>

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10 things in your house that a professional organiser would throw out

<p>An expert organiser shares her list of the top 26 things she’d throw out without a second thought.</p> <p><strong>1. Flimsy kitchen utensils</strong></p> <p>The wine opener that never works well enough is just one of the tosses you can make from your utensil drawer. Professional organisers would also ditch the slotted spoons and pancake turners that bend under the weight of food. And add the garlic press that is too delicate to mince a clove of garlic to the toss pile.</p> <p><strong>2. Reference material</strong></p> <p>You’ll rarely find a space-hogging phone book in a professional organiser’s home. They also let go of encyclopaedia sets and textbooks; consider donating those. And unless you need the thesaurus and dictionary for playing Scrabble, pass those on, too.</p> <p><strong>3. Expired things</strong></p> <p>While frozen, fresh and canned foods come to mind, these are not the only things in your home that expire. Once they reach their best by date, it’s recommended to throw out medications, vitamins and supplements.</p> <p><strong>4. Storage solutions</strong></p> <p>Professional organisers love storage solutions but not every container works well. If the bin, basket or box didn’t solve your problem, then throw it out; otherwise, it just adds to your clutter. Consider passing along storage containers to a teacher who might need them.</p> <p><strong>5. Outdated technology</strong></p> <p>The VCR and boom box have been replaced with more up-to-date technology, so get rid of the old stuff. Recycle floppy disks and ancient laptops, obsolete phones, VHS tapes and more through an e-waste program.</p> <p><strong>6. Parts for discarded items</strong></p> <p>Toss the accessories and instruction booklets that go with things you no longer own, like the tiny bag with a spare button for the blouse you donated and the owner’s manual for the television you had ten years ago.</p> <p><strong>7. Secret stash</strong></p> <p>Even professional organisers keep odd things like those plastic clips from bags of bread or rinsed out glass jars. The key is to know when you are saving too many, and they are becoming clutter. For example, if you’ve kept every rubber band from every fresh produce purchase, then it is time to throw some away.</p> <p><strong>8. Awards and trophies</strong></p> <p>Just because it has your name engraved on it does not mean you have to keep it forever. Professional organisers preserve the memory by taking a photo of the accolade, then they donate the trophies, plaques, or awards of excellence through sports medal recycling programs.</p> <p><strong>9. Fad clutter</strong></p> <p>You could not resist that 2 a.m. infomercial and now you’re the owner of the latest craze in kitchen appliances, workshop tools, or some other must-have item that you never use. Professional organisers remind you that keeping the item won’t bring back the money you spent; so it’s best to pass it along to an organisation or friend that will accept it.</p> <p><strong>10. Clothes hangers</strong></p> <p>You’ll rarely find empty hangers taking up space in a professional organiser’s closet. Clear the clutter by returning the wire ones to the dry cleaners. Then let go of the other unused hangers like the ones with weak clips and the small hangers that don’t slide on the closet bar.</p> <p><em>Written by Handyman. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://www.handyman.net.au/26-things-your-house-professional-organiser-would-throw-out"><em>Handyman</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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​Disgraced ex-Masterchef judge George Calombaris puts home on the market

<p>Disgraced celebrity chef George Calombaris has put his beach house in the Mornington Peninsula on the market for a whopping $900,000 to $950,00.</p> <p>The four-bedroom residence that also features a well-equipped kitchen and outdoor entertaining area is ideal for any wannabe chefs who think they’ve got the same skills as Calombaris.</p> <p>The home is just one of many that the former TV chef and his wife Natalie Tricarico have bought in recent years.</p> <p>The couple also purchased two other homes in Arthurs Seat and Toorak, Melbourne. In 2013. The homes went for $580,000 and 2.2 million respectively, according to<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.domain.com.au/news/celebrity-chef-george-calombaris-beach-house-listed-for-sale-with-900000-to-950000-price-guide-918509/?utm_campaign=strap-masthead&amp;utm_source=smh&amp;utm_medium=link&amp;utm_content=pos5&amp;ref=pos1" target="_blank">Domain</a>.</em></p> <p>Calombaris made headlines this year after the hospitality group that he founded MAdE Establishment was ordered to backpay staff 7.83 million in unpaid wages and superannuation to a shocking 515 current and former employees.</p> <p>The staff were not paid at the correct classification, worked hours that were not adequately compensated by annualised salaries and were affected by the incorrect application of an award.</p> <p>The home is being marketed as an executive holiday residence or a family home.</p> <p>Set over two levels, the home offers open plan formal and informal living.</p> <p>There are four bedrooms and two bathrooms, as well as a walk-through dressing room and en suite in the master bedroom.</p> <p>The kitchen comes with a butler’s pantry, a large island store bench and a 900mm oven. The outside dining room is home to a pizza oven and a barbeque.</p> <p><em>Photo credits: <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.barryplant.com.au/for-sale/140-dromana-parade-safety-beach-vic-3936-82188/" target="_blank">BarryPlant.com.au</a> </em></p> <p>Scroll through the gallery to see the stunning home on Safety Beach.</p>

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How to increase the curb appeal of your home in a weekend

<p>Whether your goal is to add value to your home to sell, or you’re just looking to get your home entertainment-ready for summer, there are three DIY projects you can complete in a weekend that will greatly increase the curb appeal of your home.</p> <p><strong>1. Repaint concrete exteriors</strong></p> <p>Painting an unsightly or worn concrete pathway, landing or wall is one of the most dramatic (and easy) home improvements you can make. With a little prep and some specialty concrete paint you can avoid the pricey task of having to replace the concrete and have it looking like new again.</p> <p><strong>Remember</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong>PREPARATION IS KEY.</strong> Remove any lose concrete with a scraper, wire brush or sandpaper then scrub the surface clean with a strong detergent and stiff bristle broom and hose off with clean water. This will stop your paint from lifting and ensure long lasting results. Don’t skip this step! 
</li> <li><strong>ROUGHT IT UP.</strong> In order for your surface to really grip the paint, you need to make sure the surface is rough (it should feel like 180 grit sandpaper). If the surface is smooth, prep with White Knight Ultra Pave Concrete Etcher. If your surface is already fairly rough you can skip this step. 
</li> <li><strong>TIME TO PAINT.</strong> Using a roller and tray, first start on the large areas. Using White Knight Ultra Pave Quick Dry, start by painting the far corner and then work backwards so you don’t paint yourself into a corner. If you didn’t use a concrete etcher, I recommend thinning the first coat of paint with 20% water to help with adhesion. Your concrete area will be touch-dry in 30 minutes and ready to be recoated in two hours.</li> </ul> <p><strong>2. Paint the front door</strong></p> <p>Painting your front door and even your shutters is another easy way to improve the exterior of your home and help to leave a lasting impression.</p> <p><strong>Remember</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong>KNOW YOUR ENVIRONMENT.</strong> Select a hardwearing concrete paint such as Ultra Pave which is designed to withstand Australia’s harsh climate. 
</li> <li><strong>DARE TO BE DIFFERENT.</strong> Remember, paint isn’t permanent so have fun with it. Try a strong contrast colour for maximum visual impact. Think red against a white frame and brick wall, bright yellow against navy, or deep blue on white. 
</li> </ul> <p><strong>3. Landscape</strong></p> <p>Last but certainly not least, a little bit of landscaping can do wonders to improve the curb appeal of your home.</p> <p><strong>Remember</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong>ADD SOME COLOUR </strong>A vibrant flower bed can lift the feel of any home.</li> </ul> <p><em>This is a guest post by Dale Vine, former Block contestant and </em><a href="http://www.whiteknightpaints.com.au/"><em>White Knight </em></a><em>Ambassador. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://www.handyman.net.au/how-increase-curb-appeal-your-home-weekend"><em>Handyman</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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10 absolutely brilliant uses for old socks

<p>Here are ten absolutely brilliant uses for old socks.</p> <p><strong>1. Prevent floor scratches</strong></p> <p>When moving furniture at home, put socks on the feet of your chair or table legs to prevent scratching the floors.</p> <p><strong>2. Dust high places</strong></p> <p>To dust extra-tall (e.g., on ceilings) or extra-narrow (under appliances or radiators) spots, fasten a sock to the end of a yardstick or a broom, dampen, and clean (chenille socks are especially good at picking up dust).</p> <p><strong>3. Clean houseplants</strong></p> <p>Put your hand in a sock, dampen it, and use it as a mitt to clean houseplants of dust and other debris.</p> <p><strong>4. Soften laundry</strong></p> <p>To soften laundry without using fabric softener or dryer balls, take a couple of socks, put a tennis ball inside each, knot them, and throw into the dryer before running your next load of laundry.</p> <p><strong>5. Sleep mask</strong></p> <p>Fashion a sleep mask with an old sock, some flat backing fabric, and an elastic band.</p> <p><strong>6. Sticky jar cover</strong></p> <p>Keep your cupboard and refrigerator clean by deploying single socks to cover the bottoms of bottles or jars containing messy, sticky, drippy stuff like syrup, honey, molasses, and barbecue sauce.</p> <p><strong>7. Pan handle cover</strong></p> <p>Stash socks in the kitchen where they’re surprisingly useful. For starters, when cooking on the stove, slip one over the handle of your saucepan or frying pan; this will not only shield your hand from the heat but also prevent the handle from getting sticky.</p> <p><strong>8. Wrist rest</strong></p> <p>For an ergonomic wrist rest for your computer, take a sock, stuff it with filling, and sew it closed. Whether it resembles a ferret, cat, another mammal, or no animal at all is up to you and your preferences and skill.</p> <p><strong>9. Get rid of cramps</strong></p> <p>Combat aches and cramps with a DIY heating pad. Just fill a clean, dry sock (use one that’s all or mostly cotton or wool, with no embellishments) with white or brown rice (not the instant or quick-cooking kind), dried beans, flaxseed or barley. Either knot the sock or sew it shut with cotton thread, and microwave it for one minute. If it’s not hot enough, up the time in 15-second increments.</p> <p><strong>10. Stop the fog</strong></p> <p>Fill socks with silica kitty litter (which is extremely absorbent), and keep them on rear and/or front window ledge to stop windshields from fogging up.</p> <p><em>Source: <a href="https://www.rd.com/home/cleaning-organizing/uses-for-old-socks/">RD.com</a></em></p> <p><em>Written by Daryl Chen. This article first appeared in </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/65-absolutely-brilliant-uses-for-old-socks"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></p>

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4 things you're doing to your home that real estate agents wouldn't

<p>Every day, real estate agents come upon cringe-worthy things homeowners have done to their homes. Leopard-print fabric wallpaper in the bedroom – yep. DIY electrical repairs – shockingly true. Sure, it’s your castle, and you can decorate or DIY to your heart’s content, as well as skip certain projects you just don’t think are important. But there are some smart reasons why real estate agents wouldn’t do the following things to their own homes.</p> <p><strong>1. Ignoring kerb appeal</strong></p> <p>You worked for months on the interior of your home, and now that it’s Instagram-worthy, you’re too tired and uninspired to care about the shabby lawn and cracked walkway. Shake off the sawdust and swap out your tool belt for some gardening tools. “It pays to hire a professional to get some advice to ‘stage’ your yard, too,” says real estate broker Kelly Parks. “A bonus is that while you live there, you will also love it.”</p> <p><strong>2. Planting trees too close to the house</strong></p> <p>Leafy trees, flowering bushes and colourful perennials instantly add a welcoming and homey touch to that all-important kerb appeal, but if you plant trees too close to the house, you might regret it down the road. Trees with long root systems can uproot the ground and your budget, and large limbs can fall on the roof or damage siding. “Roots over time can damage underground plumbing, foundation and driveways,” explains realtor Maya Madison. “It may look nice at first, but when you go to sell it in a few years, those roots will cause very expensive damage.”</p> <p><strong>3. Over-customising</strong></p> <p>A house is transformed into a home-sweet-home when you add personal touches, but if you’re thinking about selling your house down the road, you might want to rethink going all-in with your favourite motif. Broker Melanie Everett loves animal prints, but she’s not going to wallpaper her house with it. “I opted to buy some beautiful pillows instead,” she says. “Plus, I can take these with me to my next home, and I don’t have to worry about overwhelming a potential buyer.”</p> <p><strong>4. Hiring non-licenced contractors</strong></p> <p>It’s probably not a big deal to DIY a loose floorboard or hire your cousin to install a ceiling fan, but when it comes to the major housing components like plumbing and electrical, you should hire licensed, bonded contractors and possibly get permits. “This is very important because real estate agents know the value of being able to say that a licensed contractor or expert did the work,” says Parks. “This gives a potential buyer peace of mind, knowing that things are right, and the same is true when they go to sell the house later.”</p> <p><em>Source: </em><a href="https://www.rd.com/home/things-real-estate-agents-wouldnt-do/"><em>RD.com</em></a></p> <p><em>Written by Lisa Marie Conklin. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/diy-tips/13-things-youre-doing-to-your-home-that-real-estate-agents-wouldnt">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V">here’s our best subscription offer.</a></em></p>

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How to give yourself a DIY pedicure at home

<p>Save both time and money by learning how to do your own pedicure at home. Taking extra special care of your feet will mean you can walk comfortably and with an extra spring in your step.</p> <p><strong>Feet first</strong><br />Our feet have been working hard for us for many years now and require regular servicing to keep them in good working order. Attend to your feet every two or three weeks.</p> <p>1. Use a corn plane on calluses and corns. Take care with the first few sweeps when the blade is new and very sharp. Feet must be dry and skin ‘crispy’. Use a new blade every time you perform this procedure.</p> <p>2. Corn and callus plasters are useful if the corn plane is difficult to use. Follow the instructions and repeat the process for stubborn corns and calluses.</p> <p>3. If your feet are aching or sore or tired, soak in hot water and a foot soak lotion for twenty or thirty minutes.</p> <p>4. Always take care each day to wash and dry thoroughly between your toes to prevent inflammation.</p> <p>5. Try arch supports or custom-made orthotics if you have flat feet.</p> <p>6. Visit the podiatrist if you have difficulty managing your feet yourself.</p> <p>7. The foot milk solution (available from pharmacies), which causes dry skin and callus to peel off, is effective and worth using.</p> <p><strong>Top tip:</strong> Try to arrange for your pharmacy to order 20 or 30 packets of corn plane blades for you to stockpile as they are not always easy to find.</p> <p><strong>Step-by-step home pedicure</strong></p> <p>1. Soak your feet in warm soapy water for about twenty minutes, topping up with extra hot water from a nearby jug. Bliss!</p> <p>2. Adjust a chair under your strong lamp to shine on your toes whilst performing the pedicure.</p> <p>3. Dry your feet quickly and whilst the nails are softened, trim and cut away any dry and dead skin, especially around the little toes. Expose all the little toenail. You may need a bandaid on your little toes for 24 hours or so.</p> <p>4. File down any thick toenails with a nail file, or take off a layer of thick toenail with your callus cutter. Be careful.</p> <p>5. Take off sharp, pointed edges of nails with scissors and pull off thick side cuticles with tweezers.</p> <p>6. Clean all around your nails with an orange stick.</p> <p>7. Apply a base coat of clear nail polish, then two coats of colour, counting to 60 between coats. Freeze-dry with baby oil. If you go over the edge onto your skin don’t worry, it will wear off quickly.</p> <p><strong>Top tip:</strong> Time your pedicure for evening so that you don’t have to put on shoes before the nail polish has cured. It is not necessary to paint your toenails during winter, but do have a pedicure either at home or in a salon every two or three weeks to keep your feet and nails in good shape.</p> <p><em>Written by Margaret Woodberry. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/lifestyle/wyza-life/how-to-give-yourself-a-pedicure-at-home.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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5 ways to outsmart a burglar

<p>From burglars’ mouths to your ears: Here are the vulnerabilities they look for when they’re deciding whether to rob you blind.</p> <p><strong>1. Keep a car parked in your driveway</strong></p> <p>The investigative team at the Portland 24-hour news station KGW conducted an anonymous survey of 86 inmates incarcerated for burglary in a state prison, and almost all of the burglars surveyed said they’d think twice if they saw a car in a driveway.</p> <p><strong>2. Keep your doors and windows locked</strong></p> <p>Yes, this seems obvious. Yet a lot of people actually forget to lock their doors and windows. Most burglars KGW surveyed said they tended to “break in” simply by walking through an unlocked door or climbing through an unlocked window.</p> <p><strong>3. Consider making your door kick-proof</strong></p> <p>Some of the burglars surveyed by KGW said they’d be willing to kick in a locked door. It’s actually not difficult to kick in a door.</p> <p><strong>4. Don’t ignore a knock on the door</strong></p> <p>Every burglar surveyed by KGW reports knocking on the front door before breaking into a home; if someone answers the door, the burglar makes up an excuse and moves on. You don’t have to open the door for the person, but definitely let the person know you’re home – you just might thwart a burglary.</p> <p><strong>5. Prune those shrubs</strong></p> <p>Burglars value their privacy while they’re breaking and entering. Theoretically, if every house on a particular block seemed empty, a burglar would still choose to target the house that offers the most privacy. To deter would-be burglars, keep the shrubs around your house well-trimmed.</p> <p><em>Written by Lauren Cahn. This article first appeared in </em><span><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/im-a-burglar-heres-how-to-outsmart-me"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></span></p>

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Why Australia’s building codes need to be rewritten

<p>A prestige apartment building in Sydney built by a well-known developer is undergoing a second replacement of a terrace waterproof membrane five years after replacement of the first one, which had leaked from completion. The second membrane almost certainly complied with the <a href="https://ncc.abcb.gov.au/ncc-online/About">National Construction Code</a> (NCC) and was certified as compliant; the first one might also have complied. Yet, for 15 years, owners and tenants living under the terraces have put up with mouldy walls, carpets and ceilings because the code does not adequately control waterproofing materials and methods.</p> <p>A key assumption made by governments and regulators has been that confidence will return to the market if apartments are built to meet National Construction Code requirements. As the story above shows, complying with the code alone will not be enough to fix many common defects. Public confidence will still be lacking.</p> <p>In 2017, the <a href="https://www.industry.gov.au/regulations-and-standards/building-and-construction/building-ministers-forum">Building Ministers’ Forum</a>, the group of federal, state and territory ministers responsible for building regulation in Australia, commissioned a report from Peter Shergold and Bronwyn Weir. Their <a href="https://www.industry.gov.au/sites/default/files/July%202018/document/pdf/building_ministers_forum_expert_assessment_-_building_confidence.pdf?acsf_files_redirect">report said</a> there was “… diminishing public confidence that the building and construction industry can deliver compliant, safe buildings which will perform to the expected standards over the long term”.</p> <p>Since then, the high-profile structural failure and <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-big-lesson-from-opal-tower-is-that-badly-built-apartments-arent-only-an-issue-for-residents-109722">evacuation of Opal Tower</a> on Christmas Eve 2018, the <a href="https://theconversation.com/cladding-fire-risks-have-been-known-for-years-lives-depend-on-acting-now-with-no-more-delays-111186">cladding fire at Neo200</a> in February 2019 and the structural failure and <a href="https://theconversation.com/buck-passing-on-apartment-building-safety-leaves-residents-at-risk-119000">evacuation of Mascot Towers</a> in June 2019 have kept this issue in the media spotlight. If anything, the public <a href="https://www.afr.com/news/politics/national/the-apartment-building-crisis-explained-20190716-p527k0">crisis of confidence</a> has deepened.</p> <h2>Part of the problem is the code itself</h2> <p>The National Construction Code originated as a minimum standard to deliver structural integrity and fire safety. It was never intended to provide effective control over all the aspects of building work that make houses or apartments liveable and durable. This might come as a surprise to many people, including those in government, but it is inherent to the “minimum standard” approach that underpins the structure and objectives of the code.</p> <p>The objectives on page 9 of volume 1 of the code, which covers apartments, are instructive:</p> <blockquote> <p>1) ensure requirements have a rigorously tested rationale; and</p> <p>2) effectively and proportionally address applicable issues; and</p> <p>3) create benefits to society that outweigh costs; and</p> <p>4) consider non-regulatory alternatives; and</p> <p>5) consider the competitive effects of regulation; and</p> <p>6) not be unnecessarily restrictive.</p> </blockquote> <p>In attempting to consider “competitive effects”, avoid being “restrictive” and by encouraging “non-regulatory alternatives”, including self-certification and self-regulation, the code has opened the door to an “anything goes” mentality on many fronts.</p> <p>Waterproofing requirements for houses and apartments under section F of the code are clearly ineffective, for a start.</p> <p>The relevant Australian Standards, <a href="https://infostore.saiglobal.com/preview/315369811573.pdf?sku=120285_SAIG_AS_AS_252122">AS 4654.1</a> and <a href="https://infostore.saiglobal.com/preview/315378204076.pdf?sku=120284_SAIG_AS_AS_252120">AS 4654.2</a>, were written with a lot of input from the building materials supply industry. The standards permit the use of unsuitable waterproofing membranes in many situations, particularly where ceramic tiles are directly bonded to an inappropriate liquid-applied membrane. As the example at the start of this article shows, this solution rarely lasts longer than four or five years and considerably less in some cases.</p> <p>Rectification is expensive and inconvenient. It involves hacking up and replacing all the tiles.</p> <p>In addition, every apartment building built without a step in the slab at the junction between walls and floors will probably develop leaks within a similar timeframe.</p> <p>These practices are driven by the desire to save a few dollars in construction cost, not by a commitment to deliver a required standard of durability. Durability is not part of the code objectives.</p> <h2>How can the code be fixed?</h2> <p>We could improve the code in a number of simple ways:</p> <ol> <li> <p>Class 1 (houses) and class 2 (apartments) buildings should both be in volume 2, which would be dedicated to housing intended for sale. Houses and apartments should be required to be “fit for purpose” with a clearly stated objective to provide protection to the buyer. These should include a mandatory minimum statutory warranty of seven to ten years, backed by government.</p> </li> <li> <p>The required durability of waterproofing membranes and details for all housing, and class 2 apartments in particular, must be clearly stated. Waterproofing should be required to last at least 25 years without significant maintenance, and perhaps 40 years for buildings where access to the waterproofing element requires demolition or is fundamentally difficult. Details that are not durable, including slabs without steps at wall junctions, or terrace and balcony tiles directly bonded to liquid-applied waterproof membranes, should be banned.</p> </li> <li> <p>The structure of an apartment should be required to last with no substantial maintenance for at least 50 to 60 years. The minimum expectation for durability for any envelope component and associated finishes on buildings over three storeys should be 25 years, and perhaps 40 years for taller buildings.</p> </li> <li> <p>The “performance requirements” of section F of the code, “Health and Amenity”, should be expanded to ensure apartments are comfortable, economical to maintain and <a href="https://theconversation.com/dont-forget-our-future-climate-when-tightening-up-building-codes-113365">sustainable</a>.</p> </li> </ol> <p>Some developers are already delivering well-designed apartment buildings that are durable and fit for purpose. They are to be commended. The <a href="https://theconversation.com/lack-of-information-on-apartment-defects-leaves-whole-market-on-shaky-footings-127007">problem for buyers is identifying these</a> amid a sea of dross.</p> <p>For new houses and apartments, we need to ensure the National Construction Code matches community expectations on fitness for purpose and durability. This requires a return to more active and interventionist regulatory framework, including putting independent “eyes on the site” to inspect work during construction.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/126678/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Geoff Hanmer, Adjunct Lecturer in Architecture, UNSW</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/to-restore-public-confidence-in-apartments-rewrite-australias-building-codes-126678" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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Mary Poppins author P.L Travers’ London home for sale

<p>“Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers lived in a charming four-bedroom house in London from 1962 until her passing in 1996.</p> <p>It’s since undergone renovations and is on the market for around USD $6.2 million (AUD $9.1 million).</p> <p>According to a press release issued to <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.today.com/home/mary-poppins-author-p-l-travers-london-home-sale-t168303" target="_blank">TODAY Home</a></em>, Travers purchased the home following the release of <em>Mary Poppins from A to Z</em> and continued to write additional books while living in the home.</p> <p>The home was also featured in the 2013 movie <em>Saving Mr. Banks</em> which starred Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson. The film focused on Walt Disney’s quest to obtain the rights to “Mary Poppins”.</p> <p>The home features a cinema room, wine cellar and garden as well as being spread out on four storeys.</p> <p>There are four bathrooms, three reception rooms and a roof terrace.</p> <p>There is a large sunny reception area when you first enter the home as well as a living area and an elegant kitchen and dining space.</p> <p>“It’s a real pleasure to market a home previously owned by one of the most influential authors of the 20th century,” Hugo Cordle, sales negotiator at specialist Chelsea estate agents Russell Simpson, said in a statement issued to <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.today.com/home/mary-poppins-author-p-l-travers-london-home-sale-t168303" target="_blank">TODAY Home</a></em>.</p> <p>“It’s hard to not imagine Mary Poppins and her famous umbrella swooping in to arrive on the roof terrace.”</p> <p>Scroll through the gallery to see the home where Mary Poppins author P.L Travers’ once lived.</p>

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Former Channel 7 newsreader goes from mansion to prison

<p>Former socialite and Channel 7 newsreader Simone Semmens who has livedn in some of Melbourne’s most expensive suburbs, will spend the next nine months in the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre after being charged for evading taxes of up to $1.73 million.</p> <p>The newsreader turned property developer, was given a 34-month sentence on Thursday after County Court judge Scott Johns said 58-year-old Semmens ignored advice from accountants and bank staff who repeatedly told her that GST was owed on the transfer of 10 properties between 2005 and 2011.</p> <p>"You have your dishonesty but also your stubbornness and intransigence to blame," Judge Johns began.</p> <p>"There were many stages over the past 15 plus years where you could have taken advice, acted reasonably, acted honestly, listened and negotiated your way through the issue of liability for taxation.</p> <p>“The evidence in the trial revealed you to be stubborn and steadfast in your insistence that you did know owe GST or any other form of tax."</p> <p>He further elaborated on Semmens’ “dramatic” fall from grace.</p> <p>"You've scaled heights you probably only dreamed of as a 16 or 17-year-old trying to make your way in the world.</p> <p>“No doubt the way down has not been easy. It's in no small part to your resilience and resourcefulness that I consider your prospects for rehabilitation to be excellent."</p> <p>Semmens will be released in August 2020 on a $1000 good behaviour bond since she has already served time and a non-parole period of 14 months.</p> <p>The former newsreader bought a Toorak, Melbourne home for $1.1 million.</p> <p>She also purchased the Portsea mansion Noorah for $7.5 million and paid $7.8 million for the historic Rosecraddock estate in Caulfield North.</p> <p>It was the house that had seen the horrific murder of former owner and eccentric millionaire Peter Shellard by his former girlfriend and two drug-addled accomplices.</p> <p>She had Rosecraddock subdivided into seven single properties, demolished the Toorak residence and built two apartments, and had two additional homes built on the Portsea cliff top.</p> <p>All 10 of the properties were sold for a combined profit of over $4 million, however no GST was paid by Semmens.</p> <p>She also reneged on payments to tradesmen, suppliers, solicitors and lenders.</p> <p>Australian Tax Office assistant commissioner Ian Read explained that the sentence handed to Semmens sent a clear message to anyone who try to cheat the system adding tax evasion is not a victimless crime.</p> <p>“This wasn’t a one-off property sale; this is a case of someone deliberately carrying on an enterprise without meeting their tax obligations.</p> <p>“There are many TV shows that make flipping properties look like a fun and lucrative thing todo. People also need to be aware of their tax obligations.”</p> <p>Semmens’ tax misconduct was first revealed in 2011 during an ATO audit.</p> <p>The Tax Office and Federal Police raided Semmens' Toorak home in 2013.</p> <p>She was arrested while trying to board a flight to the US in 2015.</p>

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How to know what weeds to pull and what to leave in the garden

<p>One of the least favourite but essential chores that must be performed regularly in the garden would have to be weeding.</p> <p>Because they are often attractive, easy-to-grow plants that thrive, weeds can quickly become invasive and destroy other less rigorous plants if they are left unchecked.</p> <p>The Australian government has produced a<span> </span><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive/weeds/weeds/lists/wons.html" target="_blank">national watchlist</a><span> </span>of plants that should be avoided in your garden at all costs.</p> <p>If allowed to take root and spread, they quickly turn the backyard into an unkempt mess.</p> <p>Manager of the government’s National Weeds Strategy Project John Thorp, says, ‘Weeds are any plants growing out of place, such as on paths, in lawns or in a home garden, that a person wishes to control.’</p> <div class="advertisements"><strong>State of origin</strong></div> <div class="advertisements"> <p>Location is key in weed warfare, as species that are classified as a dangerous weed in a particular state or territory may be seen as a welcome garden plant in another.</p> <p>“Australia is affected in most places by weeds, but they change because we go from the tropics to temperate climates,” says John.</p> <p>“What may be an indoor plant in Tasmania could easily be considered a weed in the tropics.</p> <p>“You also get subtropical vines which scramble over canopies.</p> <p>“They’re a problem, especially in the Macleay River area in New South Wales where they really damage the bushland,” says John.</p> <p><strong>Garden invaders</strong></p> <p>There are 32 weeds listed by the federal government as having national significance.</p> <p>Many, including the most common one, lantana, are referred to as garden escapes.</p> <p>“That is, they’ve literally escaped from the garden,” explains John.</p> <p>“Birds typically spread the plants by picking up the seeds and flying over the neighbour’s place, dropping a few along the way and eventually heading into bushland.</p> <p>“The culprits include a range of black birds like the currawongs, which are frugivores.”</p> <p>Some of the most common backyard plants that turn into weeds this way include the fast-growing asparagus weed, which the birds prey on for their berries.</p> <p>Other widespread garden weeds are brooms, which come in different coloured varieties but are most common with yellow flowers.</p> <p>All types of broom, regardless of colour, are prolific seed producers. Cat’s claw creeper, Madeira vine and cacti are also garden weeds.</p> <p>“Cacti are a major problem if you are in a dry place,” says John.</p> <p>“Australia was overrun at one time with a type of cactus, the prickly pear. The opuntioid cacti are a whole group of plants that could easily invade entire dry parts of Australia.”</p> <p><strong>Plant right</strong></p> <p>To ensure the plants that are stocked are not dangerous to the environment, every Bunnings store has a Greenlife Buyer.</p> <p>National Greenlife Buyer David Hardie says one of the key selection criteria is suitability for local climate and conditions.</p> <p>“Our team also works closely with regulators to ensure we are always stocking the right plants,” he said.</p> <p>“Bunnings is committed to not selling environmental weeds that may have a negative impact on the natural environment.”</p> <p>David adds there are now more non- or less-invasive plant cultivars than in the past and recommends the state and territory plant guide at,<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="http://www.growmeinstead.com.au/" target="_blank">Grow Me Instead</a>.</p> <p>To control weeds, there is a wide range of herbicides and weedmats available instore. Mulching is a good way to prevent them occurring in the first place, as is cutting spent flowerheads from plants.</p> <p><strong>Disposal methods</strong></p> <p>Once a plant becomes a concern, it needs to be eradicated completely by preventing seeding and reproduction.</p> <p>“But the real problem with weeds spreading and propagating isn’t the birds, it is humans incorrectly disposing of garden waste,” says John.</p> <p>“Many people dump waste in the bush or recycle clippings as mulch thinking they’re being green, but it’s really just spreading weeds further.</p> <p>“The correct disposal method for a large amount of material is using an enclosed system like a skip bin, or taking the waste to the tip, making sure that it is tied down securely in a trailer.</p> <p>“Otherwise, use the green bin and dispose of clippings, weeds and other waste material through your normal rubbish removal service.”</p> <p>John also gives the big thumbs down to the backyard burn-off.</p> <p>“It is illegal in many parts of Australia, especially in summer, and the heat from a burn-off opens seeds so they can germinate. Weed residue can also be carried in the smoke.”</p> <p>Weeds are also a major problem in waterways, as they damage and pollute delicate aqua ecosystems.</p> <p><strong>Water invaders</strong></p> <p>“Athel pine is a shade tree which people use in arid lands,” says John.</p> <p>“It becomes weedy and, like the water hyacinth, which was once an attractive pond plant with its blue flowers, it invades major watercourses.</p> <p>“They are presently trying to control 600km of it in the Finke River, which is the largest dry river in the world, running from above Alice Springs to below the South Australian border.</p> <p>“These trees are often found in recreation areas, caravan parks and the banks of rivers,” says John.</p> <p>Many of the 100 willow tree varieties pose a double threat as they grow on both land and water.</p> <p>“Willows have a very short seed life, from two to six weeks, and this very brief propagation period means they can cross-pollinate and produce seed rapidly, so they’re now threatening our waterways.”</p> <p><strong>Growth season</strong></p> <p>The vigour of a weed’s growth depends on which time of year the rainfall occurs.</p> <p>For most of southern Australia, this would be in spring and for the tropical north in summer.</p> <p>Regardless of location, rainfall and season, once any type of weed takes hold, it’s hard work getting rid of it.</p> <p>“If you are going to successfully keep weeds down, you can never take the pressure off, as it requires dedicated persistence to keep them under control,” says John.</p> <p><strong>Pulling weeds</strong></p> <p>The Sydney Weeds Committee offers advice on how to weed manually.</p> <p>Always wear gloves and use a hand trowel to remove the entire root so the plant can’t resprout from any remaining root system.</p> <p><strong>RAKE</strong><span> </span>background mulch.</p> <p><strong>INSERT</strong><span> </span>the trowel and carefully loosen the soil around the roots.</p> <p><strong>PULL</strong><span> </span>the plant free, grasping it by the stems or the leaves while freeing the roots with the trowel.</p> <p><strong>REMOVE</strong><span> </span>the plant and shake off the excess soil.</p> <p><strong>REPLACE</strong><span> </span>the disturbed soil and any ground mulch.</p> <p>Place the entire plant or any part capable of reproducing, such as tubers, rhizomes, berries, seeds or other propagules in a bag and remove from the site.</p> <p>Other debris material can be mulched on site.</p> <em>Written by Handyman. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.handyman.net.au/how-know-what-weeds-pull-and-what-leave-garden">Handyman</a>.</em></div>

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12 simple ways to reduce bushfire risk to older homes

<p>Seventy-five years of Australian research into how houses respond to bushfire has identified 21 main weak points in houses and the area immediately surrounding them.</p> <p>In recent decades this knowledge has been used to inform <a href="http://www.as3959.com.au/">new building construction</a>. But older houses are generally not built to the same standard, unless they have been significantly renovated.</p> <p>Older homes make up the majority of buildings in bushfire prone-areas. There are some simple things that can improve the performance of an older house in a bushfire. Here are 12 suggestions: six simple projects that could be done over a weekend or two, and six low-cost things you could do in a single afternoon.</p> <p><strong>Six weekend projects:</strong></p> <p><strong>1. Remove some garden beds next to the house</strong></p> <p>This is particularly true for garden beds near timber-framed windows and doors. For timber and fibro homes, garden beds adjacent to the house should be avoided entirely. At the very least prune dense bushes close to timber-framed windows back hard.</p> <p><strong>2. Sand and repaint weathered timber door and window frames</strong></p> <p>Over time, paint peels and cracks appear in the exposed and weathered timber. During a bushfire, embers can lodge in these cracks and ignite.</p> <p><strong>3. Enclose the subfloor with a metal mesh</strong></p> <p>Flammable items are often stored underneath the house. If this area is not enclosed these items will catch, often due to ember attack, and pose a threat to every room in the house. The exposed underside of timber floors can be protected with a lightweight, non-combustible layer.</p> <p><strong>4. Repair or replace weathered timber decking</strong></p> <p>Just as embers can land in cracks in door and window frames, the same can also happen to weathered timber decking. Most decks are right next to the house and if they go up fire easily spreads to the home.</p> <p><strong>5. Have a 1-2 metre non-flammable area immediately around your house</strong></p> <p>Think of it as an additional protective defence area. You could use gravel, paving tiles, bricks, concrete, or ground rock such as scoria.</p> <p><strong>6. Get a professional roof inspection</strong></p> <p>Roofs gradually weaken and require maintenance. A professional roof repairer can check that tiles are in place, repair damaged ridge tiles, and ensure that skylights, air vents, evaporative coolers, and solar panels are in good order and are free from gaps where embers could enter.</p> <p>The product specifications for timber door and window frames, metal mesh, and decking materials can be found in the relevant <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=AS+3959+(2018)&amp;oq=AS+3959+(2018)&amp;aqs=chrome..69i57&amp;sourceid=chrome&amp;ie=UTF-8">Australian Standard</a> and <a href="https://www.nash.asn.au/nash/publications/nash-standards">steel construction standard</a>. Actual requirements for houses vary according to the <a href="https://www.bushfireprone.com.au/what-is-a-bal/">bushfire attack level</a> associated with a specific block of land.</p> <p><strong>Six easy afternoon projects</strong></p> <p><strong>1. Replace natural coil doormats with synthetic</strong></p> <p>While they appear harmless, natural organic doormats can cause a fire to grow if they ignite. Due to their density they burn for a long time, and can spread flames to timber door frames. A synthetic mat will only flare up for a short time.</p> <p><strong>2. Remove organic mulch from garden beds next to the house</strong></p> <p>Burning embers can easily ignite dried-out organic mulch, setting fire to surrounding plants. If garden beds are near the house, particularly timber door and window frames, the danger is increased. Either remove mulch in garden beds next to the house or – if the mulch is suitable – dig it in deeply.</p> <p><strong>3. Store firewood in an enclosed metal container</strong></p> <p>It is best to store wood well away from the house, but no one wants to walk metres in cold winters to get that wood. So some firewood is often stored close to the house on a burnable deck, and often it’s left there over summer. Putting it into a large metal container can remove that fire risk.</p> <p><strong>4. Remove flammable material from the front porch, roof cavity, decking and underfloor area</strong></p> <p>When embers enter the roof cavity and underneath the house, flames can rapidly spread to every room. It is vital to keep these areas clear of flammable materials.</p> <p><strong>5. Replace timber benches on timber decks with synthetic ones</strong></p> <p>A timber bench on a timber deck next to a timber house is an unnecessary risk, similar to having a wood pile on a timber deck.</p> <p><strong>6. Turn pressure relief valves on outside gas bottles away from the house</strong></p> <p>Both the <a href="https://knowledge.aidr.org.au/resources/bushfire-canberra-2003/">2003 Canberra</a> and the <a href="https://knowledge.aidr.org.au/resources/bushfire-wye-river/">2016 Wye River</a> bushfires showed the danger of having gas bottle valves facing the house. In both fires, houses were destroyed when either the gas plume flamed or gas bottles exploded.</p> <p>While these projects will improve the bushfire protection of your home, they can’t guarantee your home will survive a bushfire, especially during catastrophic bushfire conditions. It is also crucial to upgrade your home insurance so you can meet the higher costs of <a href="http://www.as3959.com.au/">new building standards</a>, in the event you have to rebuild. And in all cases, act on warnings given by your state or territory fire authority.</p> <hr /> <p><em>The advice given in this article is general and may not suit every circumstance.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/122712/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/douglas-brown-106914">Douglas Brown</a>, Casual Academic, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/12-simple-ways-you-can-reduce-bushfire-risk-to-older-homes-122712">original article</a>.</em></p>

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“These are amazing": The $16.99 ALDI "house" selling for today only

<p>ALDI is well loved for their insane bargain deals, and this includes their Special Buys sales that has managed to gain a cult following on social media over the years. </p> <p>This week’s latest item calls on Animal and insect lovers and has gotten fans buzzing for the bee and insect houses.</p> <p>For just $16.99, the wooden bee-houses will be sold at this price as part of its Summer Gardening Special Buys range.</p> <p>It comes in three simple designs and also includes a hanging cord.</p> <p>Not only is it small and affordable, but it’s also kind to the environment.</p> <p>“With bees, insects and butterflies population in serious decline, the Gardenline Bee and Insect House provides a safe place for your Australian native bees and beneficial insects, to establish a home in your garden,” ALDI’s website read. </p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FALDI.Australia%2Fposts%2F2919409801449835%3A0&amp;width=500" width="500" height="633" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe></p> <p>ALDI customers took to Facebook to share their excitement over the adorable houses. </p> <p>“These are amazing, we got our cub scouts to make their own, but to have something like this on our den and watch nature would be great…” one user wrote. </p> <p>Another added: “These look like a fantastic idea!”</p> <p>“Great christmas idea,” another ALDI customer commented. </p> <p>These bee and insect houses won’t be available for long. </p>

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