Is someone in your life graduating this year? If so, here are some gift ideas.
1. For the technophile
If your graduate loves gadgets and gizmos of all kinds, you can’t go wrong with a smartwatch. These devices allow users to do everything from receiving texts and emails right away to playing music without having their phone nearby.
Alternatively, wireless earbuds or headphones are sure to keep those that rely on public transit entertained on their way to school or work. And, if they have trouble getting up in the morning, consider gifting them with an alarm clock that uses light as well as sound to help them wake up more easily.
2. For the fitness junkie
Swap out their old, stinky duffle bag for a luxurious leather model they’ll be proud to carry to and from the gym or anywhere else.
If they prefer to work out on their own, they’re sure to appreciate a new set of weights or running shoes. On the other hand, if they love taking part in group exercise classes, buy them a pass to a local gym, spinning club or yoga studio.
3. For the traveler
Is your graduate taking a year off to travel the world? If so, they’re definitely going to need a new travel backpack to carry all their stuff.
A water bottle with a built-in filter will enable them to have access to clean drinking water no matter where they are in the world. And earplugs or noise-canceling headphones will ensure they can get some rest on airplanes and in loud youth hostels.
4. For the music lover
Are they passionate about music? A Wi-Fi or Bluetooth speaker will let them share their favorite tunes with all their friends.
If they prefer more traditional ways of listening to music, a record player and a selection of their favorite albums is sure to be a hit. Alternatively, consider buying them passes to a music festival happening in your area.
5. For the academic
For those that are continuing on with their studies, a day planner will help them stay on top of their coursework and schedule.
An insulated travel mug will keep their coffee or tea warm during those late nights at the library. And what student wouldn’t love to receive a brand new laptop to do their work on? Or, give them a break from their studies with a novel or magazine subscription you think they’d enjoy.
If all else fails, most graduates will appreciate a gift card to their local big box or grocery store so they can stock up on essentials.
Hunting waterfowl: a brief guide to decoys
When it comes to hunting waterfowl, setting up the right decoy spread is crucial to your success. Here’s what you need to know about luring in snow geese, Canada geese, and ducks.
Since these birds tend to move in flocks of hundreds, you’ll need to set upward of 1,000 decoys to attract them. If you’re relying solely on full-body decoys, however, about 200 to 400 should suffice to create a realistic setup.
When you hunt ducks, the appropriate number of decoys depends on the body of water where you’re set up. A more expansive area will require a larger decoy spread to look realistic. For example, a dozen decoys will suffice for a pond, but you’ll need several dozen on a large lake.
Remember to check for changes to your regional hunting regulations before the start of each season.
4 tips for safe online shopping
Many people have turned to online shopping as a way to protect their health and respect social distancing regulations during the coronavirus pandemic. Here are four tips to ensure you’re doing it safely.
1. Learn how to spot a scam. Offers that sound too good to be true, websites that lack a professional design, and requests for banking information when your cart is still empty are all red flags.
2. Confirm the company is legitimate. Check the National Corporation Directory to find out if the company is listed, and visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection website to find out whether any complaints have been filed against it. If it’s not an American business, look for mention of it on other websites and confirm whether it has a good reputation by reading customer reviews.
3. Read the return policies beforehand. Find out whether the company offers exchanges, returns, or reimbursements and under what conditions. This will help you avoid unpleasant surprises if there’s an issue with your purchase. A lack of clearly stated policies is a sign you should shop elsewhere.
4. Double-check before you pay. Make sure the website’s URL begins with “https” and has a closed padlock or unbroken key icon beside it. Confirm the price of each item and the total cost (including taxes and shipping fees) before you enter your credit card information.
Finally, remember that you should never provide unnecessary personal details, such as your social security number when shopping online.
A look at orthopedic problems in dogs
Orthopedic conditions can affect your dog’s bones, muscles, and joints, and they can range from a minor annoyance to a debilitating injury. If you’re a dog owner, here’s what you need to know.
Among dogs, the four most common orthopedic problems are:
1. Hip or elbow dysplasia
2. Herniated or ruptured disc
3. Luxating (dislocated) patella
4. Cruciate ligament tears
While some breeds are genetically predisposed to them, orthopedic problems can affect any dog, regardless of their type, size, or age.
Bone, muscle, and joint issues can be congenital or idiopathic, meaning they can appear suddenly with no clear cause. In some cases, the problem is the result of a trauma or nutritional deficiency.
There are a number of signs that can indicate your dog has an orthopedic problem. Here are a few to watch for:
• Walking with one paw lifted
• Struggling to stand up or jump
• Difficulty going up stairs or getting into the car
• Limping or stiffness after exercise
• Moaning in pain when picked up or held
You might also notice that one or more of your dog’s paws appear to be paralyzed.
Medication and surgery are the most common treatments recommended by veterinarians to correct or minimize the effects of an orthopedic issue. Often, these interventions will considerably improve the dog’s quality of life.
If you suspect your pet has an orthopedic problem, speak with your veterinarian as soon as possible to prevent further injury and discomfort.
12 ways to winterproof your property
Winter weather can take a toll on your home’s exterior. However, if you take precautions, you can protect it from getting damaged. Here are 12 essential tasks to complete before the season’s first snowfall.
1. Inspect the roof. Clear off leaves and other debris so you can examine the shingles. Replace any that are damaged or worn out.
2. Clean the window wells. Remove all leaves, sticks, and other debris. Make sure the drains are clear to prevent water from pooling and possibly leaking into your basement.
3. Empty the gutters. Once the trees on your property have shed their leaves, remove all debris from your gutters. Clogs can lead to ice damming and even water damage.
4. Check the foundation. Look for cracks and repair them before winter. Otherwise, water can seep into the concrete and cause more extensive damage when it freezes.
5. Sweep the chimney. Hire a professional to remove soot and creosote from the flue to prevent a fire. Make sure the chimney cap is intact so critters can’t sneak in.
6. Install the vent covers. Keep out cold air and pests by installing covers over the exterior vents for your dryer and range hood. Otherwise, check that the existing ones are in good condition.
7. Close the pool. Clean out the filter, drain the pool about halfway, and disconnect the pump. Remember to remove the ladder before you install the winter cover.
8. Plant the bulbs. Get all your spring bulbs in the ground before it freezes. Remember to cut back perennials.
9. Tidy up the yard. Rake the leaves, clean out the gardens, aerate your lawn and add mulch or compost as needed.
10. Protect the shrubs. Wrap bushes and saplings in burlap or tree wrap, and bring potted plants inside.
11. Prune the trees and hedges. Cut away branches that are close to your home to avoid winter storm damage. This will also help prevent animals from climbing onto your roof.
12. Put away summer items. Clean the grill and disconnect the propane tank before you cover up the barbecue. Drain the sprinkler system and shut off the water supply. Wipe down and store the patio furniture.
Since fall is a busy time for arborists, pool technicians and other professionals, be sure to schedule your service calls sooner rather than later.
5 tips for eco-friendly grocery shopping
If you want to help protect the planet, there are a number of ways you can make your grocery runs more eco-friendly. For starters, stick to local stores and follow these five tips.
1. Bring your own containers
Consumers are increasingly getting into the habit of carrying their groceries in reusable bags. You can take this a step further by bringing along small reusable bags for your fruits and vegetables. Additionally, you could transport ready-to-eat meals and loose bulk items in jars and reusable containers.
2. Opt for local products
3. Choose older produce
If you eat it within a few days, there’s no harm in buying food that’s nearing its expiration date or starting to wilt. This will prevent it from being thrown out by the grocer. Plus, these items are often on sale, so you’ll save money too.
4. Avoid excess packaging
Steer clear of individually wrapped snacks and pre-cut fruits and vegetables. In general, you’ll generate less waste by purchasing large-format items or products in bulk — as long as you can finish the food before it goes bad.
5. Pick paper over plastic
Since paper products are safer for the environment than plastic ones, buy items like milk and juice in cardboard cartons rather than plastic jugs. Similarly, choose powdered laundry detergent over the liquid variety. Styrofoam packaging should be avoided altogether since it can’t be recycled.
Finally, if you plan your meals in advance and stick to your grocery list, it’ll be easier to buy only what you need and avoid wasting food.
The downsizing dilemma: retirement home or condo?
If you’re thinking about moving into a smaller space, you may be wondering whether a retirement home or condominium would be a good fit. Here are a few things to consider before you decide.
This type of residence offers a wide range of services to make your retirement years a breeze, from housekeeping to nursing care and cooked meals. Plus, you’ll be welcomed into a community and offered plenty of opportunities to socialize, build new friendships, and participate in a variety of activities.
If you’re still not sure which option is right for you, consult a housing advisor or real estate agent. These professionals can help you determine your priorities and find the perfect home for the next chapter of your life.