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A simple guide to getting your home and garden ready for winter



Summer may be over, but don’t put away your gardening gloves just yet: your home and yard need to be prepared for the cold months ahead. Here’s a fall checklist to ensure you’re ready for winter.

1. Remove dead plants. Once the growing season is over, uproot plants that won’t grow back next year and compost them.

2. Prune large perennials. If a plant has grown too large for its allotted space, this is the perfect time to trim and/or divide it.

3. Prepare the soil for spring. Add mulch, manure or compost to your beds and turn the soil with a pitchfork. This will replenish nutrients that were depleted over the summer.

4. Bring potted plants indoors. Check them thoroughly for insects before bringing them into your home.

5. Prepare the lawn. Cut your grass short so that sunlight can reach as close to the roots as possible. Rake fallen leaves and use them as mulch for your flower or vegetable garden.

6. Protect trees and shrubs. Wrap them in burlap to protect them from the wind and cold.

7. Plant bulbs. Before the first frost, plant tulip, daffodil, crocus and other spring bulbs.

8. Trim branches. Prune trees and bushes that grow close to your home. This will prevent them from damaging your property.

9. Close the pool. Drain the water, empty the filter, remove the skimmer basket, detach the ladder, set up the winter cover and bring the pump indoors.

10. Winterize outdoor plumbing. Drain the hose and turn off the water supply to prevent pipes from bursting.

11. Prepare the sump pump. Disconnect and clean it. Afterwards, run a bucket of water through the sump pit to make sure the pump works.

12. Tidy the shed. Organize every¬thing and be sure to clean and sharpen your garden tools so they’re ready to use in the spring.

13. Store the patio furniture. Clean chairs and tables before putting them away for the winter. Make sure to bring your cushions indoors.

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How to choose the right air conditioner



If you need to buy a new air conditioning system, you have a number of options. Here are a few tips to help you decide how to best cool your home.

Determine your needs
The appropriate system for your home will largely depend on the type of dwelling you live in. If you have a house, you might want to invest in central air conditioning or a geothermal pump. If you own a unit in a multi-family building, consider installing a wall-mounted system. If you’re a tenant, opt for a portable air conditioner. Regardless of your choice, make sure the system you select adheres to building rules and municipal noise control regulations.

Establish a budget

In addition to calculating the short-term costs of purchasing and installing an air conditioning system, you should consider the associated long-term expenses. This includes the amount for all maintenance tasks and potential repairs. Determine an acceptable price range based on your current financial situation. If you need to make significant renovations to install a central system, look into available financing options.

Evaluate power requirements
The ideal cooling capacity for your air conditioner (measured in British thermal units or BTUs) will depend on the size of your dwelling, the quality of the building’s insulation, and the number of rooms and stories you want to cool. While you want a unit that’s powerful enough to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout your home, an oversized model tends to operate in short bursts and consume excess energy.

Consider location
You should determine in advance where your air conditioner will be installed, especially if you live in an apartment with limited space to accommodate a bulky unit. If you’d prefer to only cool certain rooms throughout the day, a portable model on wheels may be a convenient choice. If your home faces south or a majority of its windows are on the south side, your air conditioning system will need to work harder. However, blinds or thick curtains can help block the sun and thereby reduce your cooling costs.

Once you’ve selected an air conditioner, hire a professional to install it and make sure it works.

Regardless of the type of air conditioning system you need, look for a model with Energy Star certification. This will guarantee that the unit is energy efficient.

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What to do if you have a gap in your CV



There are many legitimate reasons to have a gap in your CV. But whether it was to recover from an illness, travel the world, or take care of your newborn, recruiters are unlikely to ignore the interlude. However, it won’t necessarily prevent you from getting a job. Here’s how to deal with a gap in your CV.

Be subtle
Avoid justifying an employment gap on your CV. The only reason to call attention to one is if doing so allows you to highlight relevant skills acquired during that time, such as through volunteer work. Remember, you have limited space to outline your qualifications on a CV so pertinent job experience should take priority.

Be honest

Never modify the start and end dates of your employment to eliminate a gap. However, if you were absent from the workforce for just a few months, you can choose to only indicate the years during which you held each position. Preferably, you should draw attention away from any gaps by making sure your CV thoroughly demonstrates your qualifications, skills, and attributes.

Be positive
Eventually, you’ll have to justify why there’s a gap in your CV. Make sure your explanation puts the situation in a good light. Emphasize that it was an opportunity for personal growth and assert that it won’t hinder your ability to carry out future responsibilities.

If you think an absence from the workforce will severely affect your candidacy, you can briefly justify it in a cover letter. Otherwise, wait to discuss it during an interview since it’ll likely be easier to explain in person.

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How to encourage kids to keep learning



It’s normal for children to be a little rusty when they head back to school. If you’d like to help them get ready beforehand, here are some ideas.

• Get them to read. This can include novels, comic books, magazines, and nonfiction books.

• Do math on the fly. Encourage kids to add, subtract, multiply, and solve other equations throughout the day. They can do this while you prepare dinner, go for a walk or wait in line at the grocery store.

• Create a vacation album. Put together a collection of pictures taken during the summer and get your child to write short descriptions under each one.

• Practice another language. Watch movies or television shows in their second language.

There are many ways to encourage children to keep learning, and even a small amount of time engaged in educational activities can motivate them.

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Beautify your balcony or deck



If you’d like to give your balcony or deck a makeover, here are some simple upgrades that will spruce up even the smallest of spaces.

Purchase outdoor furniture with clean lines, neutral tones, and natural fabrics. Add visual interest with bright-colored cushions and blankets. If you have space, hanging chairs, hammocks and swings are great options.


Use electric candles, paper lanterns or string lights to help set the right mood. Opt for multi-colored ones to create a festive vibe or white ones if you want something a little more romantic. Alternatively, install solar LED lights that will brighten up your whole balcony.

If you have space, install shelves to display your choice of outdoor decorations. You can also add a touch of color with an outdoor rug. An umbrella or curtains can be included to provide you with shelter from the sun.

If your balcony/deck has a roof or overhang, use it to display hanging plants. If not, let vines twist around the railings. For a rustic look, consider growing herbs and flowers in wooden crates.

It won’t take much to transform your balcony into an outdoor haven. With a little effort, you can create a beautiful space to enjoy all summer.

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What to expect from your child’s kindergarten orientation



The start of kindergarten is a big event in a child’s life. To make the transition easier, many schools organize an orientation or visit the school before the year starts. Here’s what you can expect.

For kids
New students typically visit their classrooms and teachers. They’ll get a tour of the school, meet their future classmates, and participate in activities like crafts or storytime. This positive first experience will set them up for success.

For parents

While the little ones have fun, parents will get to meet with the principal and school administrators to receive information about the following:

• Schedules
• Bus service
• Daycare service
• Supply lists

The kindergarten orientation ensures all students get off to a good start. If you have specific questions or concerns about your child, it’s best to schedule a private meeting. Most schools hold orientation in the spring. You’ll be informed of the date when you register your child.

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How to organize a home renovation project



Are you ready to take on a major home renovation but don’t know where to start? Here’s how to organize your tasks and ensure everything goes smoothly.

Make a list
Renovations should be done in a logical order to avoid wasting time and money. For example, you shouldn’t paint the walls before you open them up to install insulation. To ensure you have a clear idea of what’s involved and don’t miss a step, make an extensive list of all the tasks that need to be done.

Establish a schedule

Once you know what your project entails, you can determine a logical sequence in which to complete tasks. In general, you should start with any necessary demolition and tackle large structural projects first. This may include repairs to the foundation, support beams, and subfloor. After you’ve addressed all plumbing, electrical, and insulation concerns, you can hang the drywall and proceed to the finishing touches.

Depending on the scale of your renovation, you can more or less follow these 10 steps:

1. Demolish, starting with the upper floors
2. Make structural repairs
3. Install electrical wiring, plumbing, and HVAC ducts
4. Clean and upgrade the exterior
5. Add or replace insulation
6. Replace the windows
7. Close up the walls, ceilings, and floors
8. Paint the ceilings and walls
9. Install the flooring
10. Clean up and furnish

If you plan to live in the house while it’s being renovated, remember to update only one bathroom at a time. This way you’ll ensure you always have one that can be used.

Evaluate constraints
If you can’t afford to complete all of your renovations right away, determine the cost of each project, and identify your top priorities. You can either do one room at a time or start with small tasks throughout the house while you save up the money.

Additionally, be sure to schedule your timeline around seasonal weather that could affect your renovation projects. For example, it’s best to avoid upgrading the exterior during winter or painting the interior in the summer.

For optimal results, consider hiring a contractor who can ensure the work gets done to code.

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Wind: 4mph WSW
Humidity: 46%
Pressure: 30.06"Hg
UV index: 6
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