When hosting a big family function like Christmas dinner, etiquette experts suggest making a seating chart to help you determine where your guests should sit. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you put together your seating arrangements.
• Seat the cook closest to the kitchen: if you’re doing the majority of the cooking, put yourself in the seat closest to the kitchen so you can easily go back and forth.
• Separate long-time couples: seat them apart from one another so they can talk to new people.
• Seat troublemakers near the host: if you have a relative who tends to drink too much or enjoys bringing up controversial subjects, seat them near you so you can keep them in line.
• Keep children together: consider giving children their own table so they can talk among themselves and get up to play when they’re done eating.
• Seat extroverts and introverts beside each other: it’s a good idea to put quiet guests next to talkative ones to limit awkward silences and make introverts feel more at ease.
• Consider guests with disabilities: assign guests with physical disabilities a place at the table that’s easy for them to access. Seat hard-of-hearing guests near the end of the table where it’ll be quieter and easier for them to focus on nearby conversations.
• Separate people who don’t get along: if you have relatives who can’t be civil to each other or who have radically opposing political beliefs, seat them at opposite ends of the table.
Almost all families comprise a dynamic mix of personalities. Thankfully, a seating chart will help ensure a harmonious holiday dinner where conversations keep rolling and conflict is kept at bay.
How to make buying local a part of your daily life
Do you want to help support the local economy and members of your community by buying from growers, producers, and merchants in your area? If so, here are some tips to help you integrate this habit into your daily life.
• Choose items made in the area. Whenever possible, select artisanal food, clothing, furnishings, and other products made by local craftspeople. You should also look for goods made with ingredients or materials sourced from nearby regions.
• Visit stores owned by locals. Rather than shop at large retail chains, opt to buy what you need at stores owned by people who live in your community. You can also check out local farmers markets, U-pick farms, and agritourism operations.
• Keep an eye out for labels. It’s increasingly common for food and other products that are made regionally to have an identifying label. If you want to ensure you make the right choice, don’t hesitate to ask a sales clerk for more information.
Once you make the effort to change your shopping habits, you’ll find yourself with a host of local products that you can’t live without.
5 questions to ask before adopting a pet
Are you thinking about adopting an animal? A pet can be a welcome addition to your home. Plus, it can improve your well-being and reduce stress. However, before you do, you should ask yourself the following five questions.
1. Do you have time for it?
Pets require lots of love and attention. They need to be fed and played with. If you get a dog, you’ll need to take it for walks several times a day, rain or shine. Are you ready for the added responsibility?
2. Can you afford it?
Pets can be expensive. On top of adoption fees, be prepared to pay for vaccines, food, toys and annual visits to the vet.
3. Do you have space for it?
Whether you live in a house, apartment or condominium, it’s important to consider the amount of indoor and outdoor space your desired pet will need. Also, some rental properties have rules about owning pets, so do your research before you bring one home.
4. Can you commit to it?
Consider the animal’s life expectancy. While some pets only live for a few years, others, like cats, can live for more than 20 years. Can you see yourself taking care of an animal in 10 or 15 years?
5. Does it suit your lifestyle?
If you’re going to adopt a pet, it’s important to get one that aligns with your personality and lifestyle. Consider the animal’s temperament, and don’t make a decision based on looks alone.
If you’re ready to adopt a pet, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local shelter or pet rescue organization.
Kids’ Corner: Why is the sky blue?
The sky is blue because of the way sunlight interacts with the atmosphere. Light is actually made up of all the colors of the rainbow. Once combined, these colors are transformed into white light, which travels in a straight line through the atmosphere until it hits an obstacle.
There are billions of tiny molecules floating around in the atmosphere. When white light hits them, it splits into different colors. However, instead of appearing orange, green, or purple, the sky looks blue. This is because the oxygen molecules in the sky only absorb and diffuse blue light, making the sky appear blue to the human eye.
3 reasons to choose local shops over e-commerce giants
Massive online retailers like Amazon have become a top choice for many shoppers because of their low prices and speedy deliveries. However, there are important advantages to supporting local businesses when you shop online. Here are three reasons to champion the merchants in your area when you want to buy something on the internet.
1. Shorter delivery routes
When you buy products from an international e-commerce company, your package may need to travel thousands of miles to reach you. This emits significantly more greenhouse gases than if you select items from stores that are closer to home.
2. Better use of resources
Small, local businesses typically make it a high priority to use renewable energy sources and eco-friendly materials when designing their products. In many cases, this means the item will be made better and last longer.
3. Personalized services
Even if you shop from their online store, you can still speak with the local merchants you buy from over the phone or via a live chat platform. This gives you access to personalized advice and recommendations about your purchase that you likely won’t get from an e-commerce giant. Additionally, you’ll have the option to visit their store and see the products in person before you make a selection.
Next time you want to buy something online, be sure to reflect on these points before you check out your order.
Kids’ Corner: How to make an herbarium
Do you like to collect beautiful flowers and unique-looking leaves? If so, a herbarium is a perfect way to preserve these finds and learn more about them. Here’s how to create a scrapbook for your plant specimens.
• Collect a variety of flowers and leaves on your walk. Avoid doing this on a rainy day, otherwise, the wet plants might rot while they dry.
• Place your finds between two pieces of newspaper, paper towel, or blotting paper to absorb any moisture and help them dry out.
• Stack a few large, heavy books on top of the plants. Leave them like this to flatten for at least a week.
• Arrange the dried flowers and leaves on the pages of a notebook or in a binder. Use clear glue or transparent tape to stick them in place.
• Write the name of each plant next to it. You can also include interesting details like its smell and where you found it.
Feel free to add more plants over time. If you want ideas about how to design your herbarium, there are plenty of tutorials online.
Choices (and prices) abound with vacuums
If you’re thinking about replacing your old, broken-down vacuum cleaner, get ready for a dizzying array of options at a huge variety of price points.
Budget or high-end models, bagless, cordless, robotic, allergy-friendly — today’s vacuum cleaners aren’t like your grandmother’s heavy old upright model.
Cordless vacuums offer a lightweight, versatile alternative to the bulky corded appliances of the past, and the newer models can handle all types of flooring and other cleaning projects with the same power as a corded vacuum. The lighter weight and maneuverability are great for homes with lots of stairs. But buyers should be aware — these vacuums often have lower debris collection capacity than their corded counterparts, and without regular charging, a low battery could interrupt your housecleaning.
A high-end model like a Dyson V15 is priced around $700, while a more affordable cordless vacuum like the Moosoo M X6 still offers great cleaning power for a much more affordable $90.
Bagless vacuums substitute the traditional vacuum bag with a clear chamber where debris collects. When the chamber is full, simply dump it in the trash. They’re a lower waste and less expensive to operate than vacuums that require bags, but for allergy sufferers, the increased exposure to allergens — especially when emptying the chamber — might make this a non-starter. A higher-end model like the Sharp APEX costs around $390, while the Bissell Cleanview will run you about $80.
Robot vacuums, unlike humans, never forget to vacuum the carpet and can usually be relied upon to find hidden crumbs behind the sofa and those pesky clumps of pet hair. Some of the latest models can even mop and empty themselves. But the dust collection bins have limited capacity and the robots aren’t ideal for multi-level homes with lots of steps. If you’ve got deep pockets and want a robot that empties itself, try the iRobot Roomba s9+, which retails for about $950. The iLife A9, however, still does a good job on the low-pile carpet for a more affordable $220.
If you have asthma or allergies, you may want to purchase a vacuum with a HEPA filter to keep the air around the vacuum free of flying dust, dirt, pet hair, dander and other indoor air pollutants that might go airborne while you’re sweeping. The Miele Complete C3 canister vacuum offers HEPA filtration and a sealed air system to avoid kicking up extra dust particles and runs about $1,100. The Hoover WindTunnel 3 High-Performance Pet upright vacuum also offers HEPA filtration, as well as extra features to get pet hair off the floor — all for about $200.