Sunday, December 31, 2006

Finding Out You Are Trendy

When I went to the store with my son a few days ago, I was surprised to look around and notice that my personal style apparently is becoming more popular. Since the early days of college, I have been into the sort of hippie but academic look that worked for my research and writing lifestyle. My clothes never have been trendy with the mainstream, however, which is perfectly fine with me. Since I was in school and then in the beginnings of my freelance writing career, I have been relegated to purchasing most of my clothes from secondhand shops anyway.

Now, though, it looks as if the oversized sweaters and skirts are coming into style. I saw a number of outfits at a major department store that I definitely would buy were I into purchasing clothes. The best part about these clothes is that they are versatile and incredibly comfortable. I also noticed that the dressed up version of this trend was on a couple of the store displays as well. In college, I would get pinstriped pants or a suit and then dress it down with a white collared shirt and large over shirt. It still looked nice for when I needed to make class presentations, but it was not stuffy and too formal, which I hated.

The key to wearing these clothes and making them work is that you have to feel comfortable with yourself. They are not traditional dress clothes, which my mother loved to remind me constantly, and so you do not blend. The traditional, conservative black or gray suit looks great in part because it is so boring. People who wear these suits blend into corporate environments. The idea is that people see a worker and not the individual, but for people who are more individual and are not interested in being cogs in a work machine, something a little different can be a great way to make a different impression.

When I began my professional career, I worked as a reporter. One of the parts of the job that I really enjoyed was that I was not required to dress any differently. Now, technically I was not supposed to wear jeans (a rule I often broke for nighttime meetings), but I did not have to wear a suit or tailored dress. I always felt that since reporters are supposed to be a bit edgy, the attire fit.

These days I do not buy clothing in stores because of my pregnancy and weight issues. When I got pregnant with my first child, I went out and purchased a basic wardrobe. I got several button-down shirts, a few sweaters, and some pants and khakis. After my son was born, I ran into multiple health problems. My weight was fluctuating so much that I bought a bunch of oversized shirts and pants so that I could wear them whatever my weight was doing. Just when I had the medical problems under control and the weight going down, I found out I was pregnant again. At that point, I pulled out the old maternity clothes, added a few pieces, and here I remain.

After my daughter is born in January, I have every intention of losing all of this weight. The struggle will be a long one, I am sure, but I finally will be able to get into normal clothes. Plus, now I can buy them at regular stores, which will be an interesting change. My anticipation for that time is building now because I should be able to find the clothing I like in stores. I was afraid that I would be forever relegated to buying secondhand or in vintage shops because of my eclectic tastes. Now I am feeling much more excited about the weight changes I see coming.

I am sure these fashions are here for only a season or two. Then they will fade away to the next trend. Still I plan to stock up on what I can while these clothes are in fashion so that I can feel great and look trendy, too, even if it is only temporary and I keep the clothes long after they have gone out of style.

Five Ways to Create a Socially Conscious Wardrobe

Living a socially conscious life does not have to mean living without any sense of fashion. Nor does it have to mean looking like a hippie. I mean no offense to any hippie readers out there, of course, but some people are stuck between wanting to look trendy or fashionable (or thinking they need to for work or other purposes) and wanting to make good decisions that will have a positive impact (or at least lessen the negative one). The two are not mutually exclusive if you are willing to spend some time trying to find the right clothes and accessories.

The first step is to keep an eye on groups like Sweatshop Watch. This organization, and others like it, are very interested in the working conditions in places like the South Pacific where the lack of labor laws often mean that employees can be treated harshly. These employees are paid very little (though often it stretches farther than in the Western world), and they may be in unsanitary conditions or face fire hazards on a regular basis. Sweatshop Watch can keep you informed about these activities through their newsletters and action ideas. You will be able to make your decision on major retailers by using these websites.

A second way to make a difference through your buying is to look locally instead of globally. While we are living in an increasingly global world, supporting our own small business still has major importance. We should work to make sure that Susie who lives three streets over and makes jewelry in her spare time is well compensated. You should check out craft fairs and local boutiques. Ask specifically about the people who make and sell these items. Shopping at local retailers increases the chance that your money and taxes are staying in your community.

A third option is to seek out companies that explain upfront that they are using pieces made by artisans from around the world. A number of these companies have popped up in recent years. The basic concept is to go to a nation in a poor part of the world, such as Africa. The Westerner finds a fashion that she thinks people in the United States or Great Britain would love.

Perhaps she finds a type of dress that would be interesting for many women, or she may find indigenous bracelets that you cannot get anywhere else in the world. The Westerner then sets up an agreement with the native people to produce the items for sale in the West. A good portion of the money (check to be sure how much) goes back to the people who made the items. They get food, water, medical supplies, and other needed items while you get a cool new accessory or fashionable piece of clothing.

You also should shop secondhand whenever you can. While you may not be helping an individual retailer, you will be re-using, which is vital in a global environment with fewer and fewer resources available. Many people, particularly in affluent areas, do not wear clothing until it can no longer be used. Instead they wear it until the next season of fashion arrives or until they are tired of it. By rifling through their tossed out possessions, you can find something clothing at a bargain and still be fashionable yourself. If you stick to classic pieces, then you will find that you can put together an entire wardrobe for little money.

Finally, you can work to create your own fashions. Learn to sew or to make your own accessories. You can start small by getting a lap-friendly sewing machine and working on a few pieces here and there. Then you can try out creating beaded necklaces and bracelets to match. Beading is really in this year, so you should have no problem finding something that will work for little money.

People who are socially conscious can be fashionable as well as long as they are willing to hunt for clothes and occasionally to pay a higher price for them. If you want to help do your part in the world, or at least not make it worse, then you should try out these suggestions to create a fashionable wardrobe that did not harm anyone.

Represent Your Favorite City With Fashion

Perhaps you absolutely loved your trip to Paris, or you find that you would move to Miami in a second if you could. The only problem is that you cannot, but you are still left with the desire to share your love for this city. Many people feel bonded to certain cities for whatever reason. Their personalities often gel with the vibe of these cities. People who love Manhattan are on-the-go and always looking for something to do while people who are into San Francisco are more about enjoying their lives at a little eccentric, leisurely pace. So, what do you do about this dilemma? Well, you could make your fashion statements indicative of the city you love.

The easiest way to create city-centric fashions is to make earrings. Making earrings is one of the easier do-it-yourself fashions out there, so there is no big worry that you are not crafty enough or creative enough to make the earrings. You will need to get blank earring loops at craft stores. They are pretty inexpensive, and you may only find them in larger quantities.

Then you will need to get something that represents the city you love. Perhaps you bought some cool Eiffel tower souvenirs in Paris or you got tiny trains in Chattanooga. If all else fails, look online for something you can order or pick up something the next time you visit your favorite city. Then you will find a way to loop the souvenir pieces onto the earring loops. One of the best ways to do that is to buy matching key chains. Because the pieces already are on a loop, you can turn them into earrings easily.

Another cool idea is to create a t-shirt with something to represent your favorite city. You may have noticed that most cities have mottos. An easy way to create a cool t-shirt is to stencil the motto onto a t-shirt. You will need a t-shirt and stencils as well as fabric paint and a pencil. If you are using a darker t-shirt, you can try the chalk that tailors use as it will be easier to see and is made to come off clothes. Then you will need to sit down and do the layout, measuring to make sure you are putting the letters where they go. Transfer them from the layout you created on your floor to the t-shirt. Attach the stencils or be prepared to hold them steady. Paint inside the stencils, allow to dry, and you have a fashion statement about a city you love.

Another way to create a cool t-shirt for your city is to get one screen-printed. Now, unless you or your family happens to own a print shop, you will need to get this one done by someone else, but you will be the fashion guru in charge of the design idea. You should go through your photographs or even postcards of the place you visited. Then you will select a couple that will look great on a t-shirt and show you having fun or some of the best monuments in the city. Choose fairly close up shots (unless you are going with something very tall, such as the Washington Monument) with clear color and take the shots to a printer. You will select a matching t-shirt, and the printer will transfer the image in the photograph onto the t-shirt for you to wear.

A last option is to create a bag associated with the city. You simply purchase little craft pieces that remind you of the city or pick up tiny souvenirs while you are there. Then you will come home and craft them onto a bag with craft or fabric glue, needle and thread, or whatever you need to adhere them. When you carry the bag with you, everyone will know that you love the city represented on your bag. It is a great way to go around town running errands, or you can use the bag as a purse. The best part is that it is a one-of-a-kind design, so you know no one else will have it.

So, just because you do not live in a cool city does not mean that you cannot look like you do!

Making Fashion Bracelets and Belts

The essence of fashion should be about expressing individuality although for most people it is more about dressing like everyone else. If you interested in fashion but want to stand out or you just cannot find anything that fits your style in the stores, then you should think about creating your own fashions. There are simple ways that you can make your own designs that will show that you have some individuality when it comes to the fashion world.

An easy way to start is to make a fabric bracelet. You can make these bracelets in one of two ways. You can get a scrap of fabric (check fabric stores for returned items at a great discount), or you can use an old shirt and cut off the cuffs. Be sure that the cuffs will fit your wrists fairly well. If you are using a piece of fabric, cut it a little longer than your wrist. If you are using a sleeve cuff, then you are set to go, but you will need to remove any buttons already there.

The only real piece of equipment you will need is a snapping tool, which you can get from the fabric sections of most craft stores. These fabric tools will allow you to snap beads and other items into place. You should select three to four snaps that complement the piece of fabric or cuff you have selected. Then you will want to insert the snaps into the fabric (lining up each side of the snap) on either end of the cuff to create a one-of-a-kind fabric bracelet. You can dress up the bracelet by adding fabric paint or other adornments on it.

The second piece you can create fairly easily (without a lot of crafting skill) is a belt. In stores, belts are pretty pricy items. A basic fabric belt at a boutique can run you $40 easily, but you can make one for about $5 if you are creative. First you will need to pick a fairly wide piece of fabric. Make sure that it is wide enough that it will be seen but not too wide to fit into the belt loops of most pants.

Then you will need to purchase some type of belt end. You probably will have to purchase a pack of three or more, but that is fine if you enjoy creating your own fashions. You will need anything you plan to use to decorate the belt. You may not need much if you got a pretty decorative ribbon. If you got some a little more plain, then you may want to try beads or other pieces that you can attach to the belt. Then you will be able to create a beautiful belt by adhering the decorations with craft glue or some other type of basic adhesive. (Make sure that it will be washable in case the belt needs to be tossed into the wash at some point.)

Another way to make the belt if you do not want to use a store-bought looping mechanism is simply to tie the belt when you fasten it. You will need to lay the belt flat to decorate it. Then you will want to allow all of the decorative pieces to dry before trying to put together the fastener. You will need a needle and some type of complementary thread. You can try clear thread to save money if you will make lots of belts. Then you will need to sew very small stitches into the end of the belt if you are planning to tie it together. The sewing will keep the belt ends from fraying. If you are using the loop, you will want to sew the end of the belt around the loop. Now you have a beautiful belt that will match your tastes perfectly.

Creating your own fashion statement can be fun, especially for people who want to stand out. It also is a frugal way to fit the trends if you want to buy more trendy stuff but cannot afford it. Either way you will take pride in what you have created and make sure that you are enjoying the pieces that hang in your closet.

Fashion at Wal-Mart: A Failed Experiment

Wal-Mart recently tried a new line of fashion merchandise. In a rare turn, this decision was not a success for Wal-Mart. If you shop at the mass merchandise giant (and most of you do, after all, looking at their sales figures), then you probably have noticed these new clothes. They are from designers who specialize in trendy clothing that is not very expensive.

In many ways, this decision seemed to fit Wal-Mart well. They sell to people who do not want to spend a lot on their clothes, food, and other items but still want something decent. So Wal-Mart tried out these new clothing lines for six months. Then they discovered that their sales figures dropped in clothing. Why?

Well, for starters, Target, which is one the biggest competitors in the retail giant world, already markets these types of clothes. Wal-Mart was not offering something that could not be purchased elsewhere. Unlike in other areas, such as moving to sell groceries in the same store as non-food items, Wal-Mart was not the first to do so and thus did not capture the initial market.

The other reason, though, and the one most interesting to fashion people, is that Wal-Mart discovered its customers did not like the clothes. Wal-Mart sells mostly to moms, especially those with small children. These are women who are trying to make ends meet, often on one income, and who are trying to provide for their children. These women want clothes they can wear again next year without thinking about it. Thus, they like the basic jeans, solid tank tops, and occasional traditional suit that Wal-Mart offers. These women were not interested in purchasing clothes that grace (or emulate the ones that grace) the pages of fashion magazines. They are into practical, not trendy.

The experiment Wal-Mart has conducted with fashion and the women who shop at Wal-Mart says something very interesting about fashion, which is that not all fashion is created equal, especially for different groups of women. While moms do not have to look old-fashioned or prudish, most of them do value comfort more than trendy. As the mother of a toddler, I can tell you that while I adore some of the low-cut shirts out there, they are not practical for spending time with a child who thinks nothing of grabbing hold of my shirt to keep himself up. Those shirts just do not work for my lifestyle, and apparently many moms agree.

Wal-Mart also caters to a slightly older crowd. In many rural areas, couples still begin having children in their early 20s though the trend in other parts of the country is to wait until the mid-30s or even early 40s to begin childbearing. In those rural areas, where Wal-Mart is most prevalent, a 35-year-old woman has different priorities from a 35-year-old career woman who is just thinking about settling down. The 35-year-old mom of middle school children has soccer matches, PTO meetings, and other family-related events to attend, which makes her fashion choices very different from that urbanite woman of the same age.

The failure of the new clothing lines at Wal-Mart should not be construed as reason to believe that Wal-Mart consumers are completely unconcerned with how they look, which often is the reputation these moms get. Instead it should be a revelation that fashion is not the same for everyone. We can see this distinction everywhere, as evidenced by different fashions for men of leisure versus corporate ladder climbers. Still when it comes to women, there has been this idea that all women want to be in with the current trends. Not coincidentally, the current trends mean that women will need to buy new clothes every year. In the end, I am happy that the little experiment did not work out, not because I am concerned with how Wal-Mart stock fares but because it shows that there are groups of women who will stand up and not be taken in by the advertising arm of the fashion industry. Instead Wal-Mart shoppers, who have the reputations for being cheap and unsophisticated, have far more self-esteem (or at least esteem that is unattached to their clothing choices) than their more worldly counterparts.

Buying Picture Frames

Picture frames are an interest purchase for most people. We see frames that we deem cute, and we pick them up. Then we come home to find out that we have nowhere to put a picture frame with turquoise flowers on it. While it was cute in the store, it is destined for either an obscure shelf or our next yard sale.

You can avoid this scenario if you pay more attention while you are out buying picture frames. First you should stick to buying frames that you planned to get. The cute frame rarely works. Unless you have a spot just begging for the exact frame you see, you should hold off on picture frame purchases until you know exactly what it is you will need.

Take a few minutes to look at the places you have frames where you would like to put a frame or replace the one you currently have. Write down the picture in the frame. If you do not have a frame in a spot currently, you need to select a picture before you try to pick out a frame. That way you will know what will work with the picture.

When you are considering the picture and frame, think about how they will complement each other in several ways. You may want to think about the theme of the picture. A picture of a birthday party can have a picture frame with a hat and candles on it, for example. Other pictures look more like spring or winter, and you should select a frame accordingly.

Think about how the frame will match the room where you plan to use it. When you are out looking, try to imagine the frame in the room. Someone once bought for us a very ornate gold and cream frame. While it is beautiful and was a fairly expensive frame, it does not match with our expectations at all. Instead the frame has no home because it just does not fit our decorating style.

When you are shopping for picture frames, you also should consider the amount of flexibility you have in using the frame. While it may be perfect on that short coffee table now, when your infant is walking around, she will want to grab it. You need to know whether or not you can put the frame elsewhere. Try to think of at least two other places where you will put the frame. If you are not concerned about the temporary setback, then make sure you will have a place to store the frame while it is not in use.

Some people want to move their frames around often. If you are one of those people (or even if you have not been), you should look at the versatility in the frame. The best choices you can find are ones that will work sitting on your shelves or tables or hanging on the wall. I have purchased frames only to find that they had no way to hang them although I had intended to put them on my walls. Then you have to decide whether you want to go to the trouble to put picture hangers on them or not get them in the first place.

Also check the orientation of the frame versus the orientation of the picture you intend to put in the frame. This is another good reason for having a list of the pictures you need to frame when you go out. Putting up candid shots means that you probably will need most of your pictures to be wider than they are tall. Keep this in mind when you are buying your frames.

Finally as with any purchase, the price should be a consideration. Frames can get surprisingly expensive even for ones that are not very big. You should set a budget for yourself before you head out to buy because otherwise, you could end up spending far more money than you had hoped on the frames. Patience also is important because chances are that you will need to visit a number of stores before you get the right frames. Do not settle. Look around until you find what you want in a picture frame.

The Three Big Decisions When Buying A Crib

Well, the baby is on the way, and you are overwhelmed with everything you have to purchase. Never fear, for you are not alone. Many expectant parents find themselves confused by all of the options available to them and by all of the things that they need to do and get. Still a crib is on the list for most parents, and it is one of the major purchases that parents make.

When you are looking for a crib, the color will be the first issue you will encounter. For safety, you should look only at new cribs or very newly used cribs. Do not take the crib your aunt offers. While she certainly means well, the crib probably does not fit current safety standards, especially if her children are your age. The slats in the older cribs were the biggest problem. They were too far apart, and babies could get their heads lodged between them.

So, let us return to the issue of color. Cribs come in very few colors although a few companies are starting to branch out and offer pink and blue. Still your basic options are cherry (or some other dark wood), white, and natural. A natural crib may be oak, pine, or another light-colored wood, and it may be rough hewn or finished.

The crib will be the centerpiece of the room right now, but you should decide if you will get a convertible crib. Some cribs now will change to a toddler bed, which is about the width of a twin bed but much shorter, and then to the headboard of a full-sized bed. These convertible beds will be around with your child for a while. If you are getting only the crib, then you should look at other furniture first and match the crib to the rest of the room. If you plan for your baby to use the crib in some form for years to come, then select its color first.

The convertible crib option is one of the major decisions of buying a crib once you have the color and finish nailed down. The less expensive cribs are cribs only or convert just to a toddler bed. That is because the conversion to a toddler bed really is nothing more than taking off one of the rails. At any rate, the toddler bed is wonderful for people who do not plan to have more children soon. Otherwise you probably will want to move any future babies into the crib and not use it for the current little one. Convertible cribs also work well for parents who know that they will stay in one place for a while and that their tastes are unlikely to change much.

Anyone who plans to move often would be better off selecting a crib only because you cannot move many times with the cribs. If you plan to pick out other beds for your children when they are preschool aged, then you probably want the non-convertible crib as well just because it is not as expensive. You will not be using it long enough to make a the price worth it.

The final of the three big decisions is the design you want for the ends of the crib. Think of the ends as a headboard and footboard. You can get cribs in most of the designs of adult beds, such as sleigh cribs, rounded headboards, or square. This decision is the biggest difference you will find in the cribs you see because cribs all are designed to look alike since they have the same purpose, which is to keep the baby in them.

When you are picking your crib, these three choices are the biggest ones you will make. Most of the other decisions are small, and the difference in features is slight. You will find cribs that come with trundle drawers, dressers, and other add-ons, and those can be great if they work for you. The basic crib, however, remains the same regardless of what extras you get to come along with it. The most important thing is to get the color that you will want as each has pros and cons and to get the headboard and footboard designs that work the best for you.

Buying A Cat

Though animal enthusiasts often cringe at the idea of purchasing a pet, many families do just that. Whether you are looking to spend $1,000 on a German shepherd with excellent genes or you are paying $25 to the local animal shelter for a stray who will be put to sleep soon if not taken home, you likely will spend some money on your pet. It is important then to know what you want and whether you are getting the right pet for your family.

Cats are wonderful creatures. I should know; I share my home with six of them. They do, however, have some personality quirks that make them a bad pet choice for some people. Let us begin by looking at the people who should not own cats but should look for other pets to have. People who will want every single hair out of their clothing or furniture should not have cats. Nor should people who think cats can be contained easily into one section of the house. They are sneaky and do not give themselves over to training in the way dogs do. Cats are by nature as rebellious as dogs are submissive, so you should be prepared for an animal who knows what you are saying but frankly does not care.

Now, if you have gotten past the basics and know you want a cat, then the first pertinent question is whether you want a short or long-haired cat. If you are going to the pound, you probably will have a choice only of short-hairs as they are the most common to be found as strays. Short-haired cats do not shed less; some people even think they seem to shed more. Instead they do not require the maintenance that long-haired cats need. Long-hairs will need to be brushed often. Most need at least a weekly brushing, depending on how long their hair grows. If you are not up to the task yourself (they can be ornery while being brushed), then you should check with local grooming shops to see how much it will cost to have the service done professionally.

Next you should look at the temperament of the cats. What you see is what you get with them. Most of them are themselves all the time, even when strangers are around. (The biggest exception is that if you have the smell of other animals on you, the cat may seem more aggressive than she really is as a defense mechanism.) If you walk near a cat and he runs and hides, you can expect to see little of him at home. He will keep his distance from you most of the time. Playful cats when you are visiting probably will remain so, which means you should make sure you can keep up with these little ones. They can be a handful.

Before you agree to get a cat to live with you, spend some time observing him or her. If you are purchasing from an individual, ask about past veterinary visits. Be sure that you get the records or the name of the vet so that you can check what the owner is saying. Beware of owners who seem to be pushing a certain cat in a litter on you. Chances are that either that cat is not friendly or has a medical problem.

Ask about any known medical conditions and look for any signs of problems. Cats should not lose their fur when you pick them up, for example, although thin fur around the eyes is pretty normal. Ask about cats who seem to weigh a lot or who are very lethargic. Diabetes is fairly common in cats, and that is something you may or may not be willing to deal with on a daily basis. Of course, some cats are just big, so do not be too quick to judge.

After checking the cat out for a few minutes, step away. You should not decide immediately or you could end up with a cat because she is cute and not because she will work best for your family. Making sure that you get the right pet is important for you and the pet because you do not want to be one of those owners who tosses out the pet when he does not fit the family.

Buying Basic Scrapbook Supplies

Scrap booking is a fairly simple to start hobby. Although some scrap bookers are more experienced and creative than others, you can still scrapbook well with only a minimal amount of creative talent. I know this because I love to scrapbook, but I find myself in awe of the ideas that other scrap bookers have. I cannot see some of the designs they create, much less go about making them on my own. Still, I am a memories addict, so I love the idea of creating books about my life.

The first thing you will need to do to get started is to go into a scrapbook store and just look around. You may get overwhelmed. Okay, you likely will get overwhelmed but see what is out there. You will find stickers, ribbon, adhesive, books, pages, and all sort of things to interest you. Chances are that you will not even know what some of the things you see are, and you certainly will not know how you would use them.

Next you will need to pick a beginning scrapbook project. I will warn you now that it is harder to pick a project than you may imagine. You may find yourself wanting to pick every photo you have of your five children. Avoid the urge! Simply pick enough pictures and mementos to do no more than 10 pages. You should not put more than three to four photographs on each page.

Once you have picked everything, begin to sort them out. Which ones will go together? Some people prefer to use themed photographs, but I am of the color-theme scrap bookers. That means that I look for colors in common. For example, when I was doing scrapbooks of our family trips last summer, I noticed that my son was wearing the same shade of aqua blue in many of the photographs or that I could find that color elsewhere. Those pictures all went together.

Once you have sorted your photos and other items into groups, then you can begin to look for paper and other accoutrements for them. Take the photos with you and head back to the scrapbook shop. Doing so will allow you to match the colors instead of just guessing at which shade is right. Hold various papers up to the pictures you have and see if the colors match. You may need to try tons of papers before you find the right one, which is why you should set aside a good block of time for the scrap booking shopping.

Next you will need a book. You can pick a book that matches the theme, such as birthdays, or you can go with something plain that you can decorate yourself or even stick with a basic book. You also should get a good photographic adhesive at this point. Do not spare money on this one because a bad choice could damage your pictures. Ask a salesperson for help explaining the different types and how they work. Another item that they will try to sell you that really is worth it is a cutter. You can use scissors, but the cutter makes it all the more fun.

Then you will want to select any additions to your pages. You may pick ribbons, stickers, or other items that will add to what is on your page. You also should get a couple of scrapbook pens. You can start with basic colors and then branch out once you have done more scrap booking. You will need to create titles and may want to write interesting notes about photos, and these pens are the best for using on scrapbook paper. While they are a bit expensive, they last a long time and are well worth the cost.

Now that you have all of your supplies, you can take everything home to get started. Set aside some quiet time to scrapbook, especially if you have small children. You will need time alone to concentrate and see where everything will look best. If you have the time, patience, and energy, then you will find that scrap booking can be a very relaxing way to spend your time. Getting started is the toughest step.

Buying Books At Bargain Stores

Many people feel that buying books is too expensive of an endeavor. That is unfortunate because buying books can be such an exciting experience. The fun of shopping for a great find amid bargain bins or in the midst of a yard sale is like looking for a lost treasure for a bibliophile. While buying new books is exciting as well, learning how to shop well for used or discarded books requires a bit more research and planning.

If you are like me, you get pumped and screech tires when you see large signs advertising huge bargain book sales. Okay, chances are that you are not like me, but you still may want to increase your book collection. If you are like most book consumers, then you are unwilling or unable to purchase all of your books for the cover price. In fact, online retailers like Amazon and huge retail outlets, such as Barnes and Noble have made paying full price for any book almost anathema to most book buyers.

First you should know what you are looking for and getting when you are looking for books in offbeat places. The book industry is one of the least successful industries out there, which is sad but true. More than half of their stock goes unsold every year. The basic process is that a publishing house accepts an author and tries to push the book that the author will produce. The company publishes a certain number of books, usually between 5,000 and 10,000, and they do so en masse to save money. Once the publishing company believes that they have sold as many retail books as possible, they begin pushing those books to bargain or discount stores where the discerning consumer can find them for under $5.

The key is to check the basic information about books you find in the bookstores. Sometimes, for example, you will see bestselling books. These books likely are a few years old, but they also may be first editions. That means that particularly if they are non-fiction, you should be aware of whether there were significant changes later on in the book. The book may not be updated to deal with audience questions. Now, in most cases, that will work out fine for you. In one book I read recently, the second edition added a chapter about websites because the author received so many questions regarding this issue. The chapter was not necessary to the flow of the first edition, and I was fine with not reading it.

Second, you should make sure that you are actually getting a book new. While you may not care that the $.99 book is secondhand (even if it is not advertised as such), you may want a little more from the books on the high end of the bargain bookstore range. Check the spine to see if it has been cracked and looked as if the book may have been read.

Even if the book genuinely is new, it may be in the bargain store because it is damaged. Look closely at the book to see if it has any damage to it. You may see stickers from others stores, for example. Those stores probably dumped the inventory because it had been sitting too long on their shelves, and the bargain store just picked up the title. Also check for any marks on the cover or tears on the pages. Chances are that you can rummage around and find a close to pristine copy of the book, so you should not settle for the first copy you pick up if it has imperfections.

Be sure to check with information about the publisher and author if you are buying an unknown book that looks fairly new. Some publishing houses sell more through discount stores, and their authors may or may not be qualified to write the books. They probably have some qualifications, but be sure that you believe you can trust the information the author is giving, particularly in technical, medical, and legal areas.

Buying books in bargain stores is a blast, and if you know what you are doing, then you can make the experience fun while building a quality home library.

Three Basic Stroller Types

Purchasing a stroller is one of the bigger purchases you will make when you are expecting a baby. The odd part is that if you are like many parents, you will not use your stroller that much. You think that you will. After all, they are a staple of the baby world, but the reality is that you may not live in a place where strollers are very useful.

First consider how often you go to malls and similar places. If you do not go very often, then you may not even need a stroller. You probably go occasionally, however, so you may want to get a smaller stroller. You should consider your needs and how you will use the equipment before you buy. The best thing to do is to narrow down the basic decision to type of stroller before you head out.

There are three basic types of strollers on the market today. There are jogging strollers, umbrella strollers, and deluxe strollers. The jogging strollers are made for moms and dads who are very active. If you run and think that you will want to take the baby along, for example, then you should look into a jogging stroller. They also work well for parents who will want to have one hand free because they are easier for one-handed steering. If you walk your dog often, for instance, then these strollers are a good choice for you. The downsides are the cost and the cargo room in them. These strollers are the most expensive on the market for single births because they are intended for a specialty purpose. They also do not have the room to hold bags or other items, so if you plan to use them, you will need to get a wipe and diaper holder or something similar to keep anything your baby may need while you are out.

The second stroller is the umbrella stroller. While these strollers are less expensive, they are much easier to use. We have one for quick trips where we will need the stroller, and they come in handy. You can buy them for $10-15 at most stores that carry baby supplies. Like the jogging stroller, they do not have anywhere to hold your bags, but they are intended for short uses only. If you will need to walk 10 blocks to an event, you can pull this stroller out and zip along with the baby without any problems. They fold up pretty easily and can fit in umbrella stands or under your chair at restaurants.

The third and most popular type of stroller is the deluxe stroller. These tend to have all types of special features, such as cup holders, steering wheels, and lap arms for the baby. These strollers are the giants ones you see moms with at the mall. They hold a lot of bags and other items so that you can use the stroller to hold everything even if your baby has decided to try walking around. These strollers are the most convenient for mom as far as carrying things goes, and they are definitely more comfortable for baby. You can find them in any price range, going from $50 up to several hundred. The biggest downside is that they are bulkier than the other two types of strollers. They do not work well in crowded areas and can be a pain to move in and out of tight spaces. They also are not intended to be used with other children running around as they require full attention and strength from whoever is doing the pushing.

Beyond these three basic types, strollers have a number of features, such as snack compartments, diaper holders, and even MP3 players. You can get a stroller that will do just about anything for your baby, and if you are more traditional, English prams and other models are out there. They just require more looking around. Still think about how often you will be using your stroller and why you will be using it before you decide on the model that will work best for you. We opted for a deluxe and an umbrella, which is what many parents do, and it works great.

Buying A Slow Cooker

A few weeks ago, I heard an interesting conversation between a number of women. One of them was complaining about the slow cooker she purchased. She said that it burned her food. I have never have this problem (and trust me, I love my slow cooker), but I was intrigued to find that other women all reported this problem as well. In listening to the conversation, I realized that several of the women had purchased the wrong kind of slow cooker or were using it incorrectly, which is why I do not think that they appreciate the wonders of slow cooker meals.

When you are buying a slow cooker, or Crock-Pot as that is the most popular brand, you should think first about the size you need. If you have a large family of seven or more people, then you probably need the six-quart slow cooker. Also you may have a smaller family but plan to make huge batches of stew or large roasts or meatloaf in the slow cooker. You also could benefit from the six-quart version.

Most people use the four- or five-quart slow cooker, and that solves most needs. You can make beef stew, tacos, chili, and tons of other dishes in this medium-sized version. Finally, you will see small, 2-quart slow cookers. We have one of these that we break out when we are making soup that needs to simmer for lunch or for dips. They are for smaller batches of cooking. If you have only one or two people in your household, then this slow cooker may work for all of your needs.

Once you have picked out the size you need, check out the options. When slow cookers first came out, you had little in the way of choices. You could turn them on or off. Some even turned on automatically when you plugged them in. Now you can get them with temperature settings, warm, heat, hold, high, low, and time delay settings. The time delay setting is one of the most beneficial settings you will find because it will allow you to put food in the slow cooker and let it start while you are away, which is great if you work and need to put something in during the morning hours.

Other than that, you should keep in mind that a high and low option will be very helpful. We have the basic small model that comes with only on and off. Since we tend to use it only when we need to simmer something for a couple of hours, that works for us. Our larger one, however, has high and low, which is better. High usually cooks a meal in three to four hours while low takes six to eight. Having these choices lets you set the slow cooker based on how long you have before a meal.

You also should consider any accessories that come with the slow cooker. While I was shopping a few months ago, I noticed an interesting six-quart model that I would love to have. First, it came with a main dish area and then two one-quart side dish compartments. If you are interested in cooking larger meals in your slow cooker, you should check out these models as they permit you to make a rice or potato dish, a veggie, and a meat dish all at once.

Another interesting feature many have is that the ceramic centers have locking lids. You do not use them while you are cooking, but when you are done cooking the meal, you simply pull the pot out, put the lid on, and go. That works really well if you will be taking the dish with you somewhere. It also is great for people who want to put their leftovers in the fridge without any hassle. There is no need to dirty another dish. Put the ceramic part in the refrigerator, wipe down the outside, and put it back in the cabinet. It is a perfect solution for busy families! Just remember that while you are out looking for slow cookers, take into account the size of your family, the types of meals you cook, and how complex an appliance you want.

Buying A Set Of Pots

Buying new pots and pans, especially for the first time, can be a daunting task. You think it will be easy and that you will just head to the store and pick up a set of pots. Then you get there and decide that the ones available are so varied that you have no idea what you will need. What are the criteria for buying good pots and pans? Well, that depends in part on your needs and of course on your budget.

You can buy sets of pots in pretty much any price range. Inexpensive ones will go for about $20, and the expensive variety can be several hundred. Most people will opt for sets in the $75-100 range. Determine your budget before you head out and know how much flexibility you have. When I shop, I like to have a range. I know what I would like to spend on the low end but how high I can go if needed. You should do the same so that you can get a good deal but allow yourself some wiggle room.

Now, the most important question for you is how much you cook. If you cook once a week, then you can get a less expensive set of pots and pans because they will have less wear and tear on them. You may be able to go to the basic aluminum pans. One of the first things you will notice when you select different pots is how different the weights are. Some pots are simple to pick up and weigh no more than a pound or two while others may be several pounds and require two hands to lift.

In general, the heavier pots will last longer although they will sustain more chips and other imperfections over their lives. The heavier pots also will need to be hand-washed at some point even if they say that they are dishwasher safe. If you get the old cast iron skillets, for example, you will have to hand wash them after using, and it can be a chore. If you plan to cook a lot of bacon and other fried foods, however, these skillets are the best for the job.

Infrequent cooks can get light pots as can people who do more lightweight cooking. For example, frying foods in a layer of oil is harder on the pots than pan-frying some veggies or doing a quick sautee job on a cubed chicken breast. Think about how you will use the pots and pans before you buy so that you can get the right weight for your needs.

Another big question is whether or not you need lids. While I do not understand why lids are not standard, they are not. Many pot sets come without lids or at least without lids that fit every pot in the set. If your most complex meal will be a can of green beans that you toss on the stove to warm, then no lids are necessary. If you will cook rice dishes or other more complicated fare, however, you should invest in the lids. If you find a great set without lids, look around in the store. The lids may be sold separately, or you may be able to find the right size in another style of pot. You can get complementary lids and still be okay there.

How do the pots stack? Do not underestimate the importance of this question. Most kitchens have a premium on space, and you want to be able to store your pots easily but to access them easily as well. Stackable pots are the best choice for most cooks as they want to be able to use one space to hold all of the pots. While the sizes probably stack okay, the biggest question when buying pots is whether or not the handles will allow them to stack easily. Check that out before you buy.

Getting the right pots is simple if you take the time to look at your choices. Whether you plan to keep the ones you select for one year or five years, be sure that you get something that will work with your kitchen and your cooking style.

Guide to Sucralose

Considerations in the purchase and use of sucralose (Splenda).


There are side effects resulting in some individuals from using sucralose, or Splenda. These include, but are not limited to, skin rashes, flushing, red and irritated eyes, swollen eyes and lips, itch, fever blisters, panicky agitation, dizziness and numbness, disorientation, nightmares, sudden fatigue, diarrhea, acid reflux, muscle aches, headaches, migraine, chest pain, shortness of breath, joint swelling, intestinal cramping, bladder issues, stomach pain, and in worst cases, anaphylactic shock. Almost all of these observations and symptoms have been found medically in people it is believed by scientists and physicians to have an allergy or a sensitivity to sucralose.

Not everyone is allergic to sucralose, but it is something to think about.

I did not experience any such symptoms of sucralose sensitivity or allergy for the first 4 months of use. Then symptoms seem to explode out of nowhere. I had 75% of the symptoms listed above. I have one friend who when into shock and another one only the experienced headache and digestive problems. Use of sucralose should be a highly individualized decision, and I cannot use it at all.

Artificial sweeteners overall are a new invention of the late 20th century, and that there is no data on their interact with each other, or even singly in long term use. Not only are we unaware of the long term affects of artificial sweeteners, research in animals have shown that sucralose can cause problems. These include an enlarged liver and kidneys, reduced growth rate, decreased red blood cell count and low birth weights. There have been no long term human toxicity studies released until after the FDA approved sucralose. Following approval, a human toxicity trial was conducted, but lasted only three months and was of questionable value; and no studies have been conducted with children or pregnant women.

Splenda is well known for its marketing logo: made from sugar so it tastes like sugar, and has taken the sweetener industry over. Splenda has become the American number one selling artificial sweetener very quickly, and may be on its way to number one.

Between 2000 and 2004, the percentage of US households using Splenda products jumped from 3 to 20 percent. In a one year period, Splenda sales topped $177 million compared with $62 million spent on aspartame-based Equal and $52 million on saccharin-based Sweet 'N Low.

Splenda is the brand name for sucralose. It is produced through a complicated process that begins with sugar and converts it to a calorie-free, no-carbohydrate sweetener. The process replaces three hydrogen-oxygen groups on the sugar molecule itself with three chlorine, which is bleach, atoms. In the case of sucralose, the addition of chlorine converts sucrose to sucralose, essentially inert.

So, this is really sugar plus bleach.

It makes a stable sweetener that tastes like sugar, but with no calories. After consumption, sucralose passes through the body without being broken down for energy, therefore it has no calories, and the body does not recognize it as a carbohydrate. However, up to 15% of sucralose in some people is stored in the body tissues and is not excreted, but builds up over time. It is not known what the effects of this will buildup will be over time. Many have stated that sucralose made from sugar is like removing the round wheels from a car and putting on square wheels. Is it still a car? Yes. But can it still perform like a car? Sucralose actually bears more of a chemical similarity to DDT, than it does to sugar.

The chemical process to make sucralose alters the chemical composition of the sugar so much that it is converted to a fructogalactose molecule. This type of sugar molecule does not occur in nature and therefore, the human body does not possess the ability to metabolize it. It is not that Splenda is naturally zero calories. If the human body could metabolize it, then it would no longer have zero calories.

While complex chemical processes may not matter much to your taste buds, scientists and physicians say it takes on a new and vitally important meaning, as Splenda will begin to be included in many different products besides diet soda and various baked goods. An agreement between McNeil Nutritionals, which makes Splenda and PTO Today, which provides marketing and fund raising to parent associations, American elementary schools will be using more and more Splenda.

Here are just some of the products and manufacturers that use or have used sucralose s far If you have a Splenda or sucralose allergy or sensitivity, read all your product labels for ingredients. Also, ask for your doctor's advice


Boylan's Diet Birch Beer, Root Beer
Briar's Diet Birch Beer Root Beer
Diet Clearly Canadian: Blackberry, Cherry, Tre Lemone
Classic Selection , the 7-Eleven Private Label: Sugar Free Sparkling Water - Black Cherry, Key Lime, Kiwi, Strawberry, Peach, Tangerine-Lime, Tropical White Grape

Crystal Clear Sugar Free Sparkling Water: Lemon Lime, Mixed Berry, Peach, Raspberry

Family Dollar Diet Cola
Kroger Light Cranberry Grape Juice Cocktail, Light Cranberry Juice Cocktail
Monarch Diet Cola
Diet Star Cola, Grape, Lemon, Lime, Orange, Root Beer
Diet Rite Colas
Stewart's Sparkling Diet Black Raspberry, Orchard Peach, Ruby Red, Vanilla Cream, Wild Cherry
Slim Jones Diet Soda: Black, Cherry Cream, Fufu Berry, Lime, Cola, Orange
Upstate Diet Cola
Waist Watcher Diet Carbonated Soft Drinks: Diet Black, Cherry Diet Cola, Diet Ginger Ale, Diet Orange, Diet Vanilla Cream
White Rock Diet Cola, Diet Ginger Ale, Diet Lemon Lime

Musselman No Sugar Added Applesauce

Arizona Iced Coffee Latte Supreme Mocha Latte
AriZona Net No-Carb Green TeasCampbell SoupDiet V8 Splash
Daily's Diet Margarita Mix
Blue Luna Cafe drinks
Gatorades
Propel water
WestSoy Soy Slender soymilk in Vanilla, Chocolate and Cappucino
Hansen's Smoothie Cranberry Raspberry Lite
Kool-Aid Jammers Ocean Spray
Floridagold Light N Tasty juices and drinks
South Beach Beverages, or SoBe
Swiss Natural Diet drinks
Tropicana Twister
VeryFine
Fruit20

Maple Grove Farms Sugar Free Syrup
Sorbee: Blueberry, Chocolate, Maple, Strawberry
Vermont Sugar Free Syrup
Walden Farms Calorie Free Salad Dressings 6 flavors
Log Cabin Sugar Free
DaVinci Gourmet products
Arm & Hammer Dental Gum for Kids

Trident for Kids Sugarless Gum Berry Bubble Gum
Hunt-Wesson, Inc.
Swiss Miss No Sugar Added Hot Cocoa Mix
Atkins Nutritionals, Inc.
Beverly International Nutrition
Biochem
Bioplex Nutrition
CytoSport, Inc.
Davedraper.com
Keto Low Carb Ice Cream
Life Services Supplements Low Carb/High Protein Bar Meal
Fitness Labs Whey Protein 80
Fitness Labs Whey Protein 90

Gerber Oral Electrolyte Solution Apple Unflavored
Naturlyte Oral Electrolyte Solution Apple Bubble Gum Fruit Grape Unflavored

Maximum Human Performance TRAC Powder Supplement
Methoxy - Pro Protein Drink Mix Chocolate, Vanilla
Met-Rx Anabolic Drive Series Pro50 Meal Supplement: Just Vanilla, Strawberry Surge, Triple Shot Chocolate
Ketopro
Glycemet
MuscleLink Pro Fusion: Tropical Vanilla
MuscleMeals
Nature's Best VHT Totally Ripped Dietary Supplement: Fruit Punch, Grape, Orange
VHT Extreme Smoothie: Chocolate, Vanilla
Perfect Zero Carb Isopure Protein Mix: Strawberry, Vanilla
PowerBar
Nutra Force, Inc.
Pinnacle Products
ProLab
PTS Labs R
exall Sundown Soy Protein Shake Powder: Natural Chocolate
Protein Revolution
Ross Products: Pedialyte Oral Electrolyte Solution Fruit Punch Grape Unflavored Pedialyte Pops
SportPharma Promax Protein Powder Dutch Chocolate French Vanilla
Sportron InternationalRiteway Diet Soda
Sundown Pokemon Vitamins Complete Extra C With Iron
TKE, Inc. Twin Lab Fuel Plex
Metabolift
Heavenly Cheesecakes, Inc.
Smokey Mountain Cerry Snuff, non-tobacco
Breyers CarbSmart Ice Cream
Klondike CarbSmart
Orville Redenbacher Microwave Kettlecorn

Crocs

If you have seen an increasing amount of brightly colored plastic shoes everywhere you go, you are witnessing the land invasion of Crocs. Crocs have been spotted on nurses in the hospital and mothers at the grocery store. Teenagers are often spotted with these clog like plastic shoes but this is no teen trend. Crocs can be found on all types of individuals and at all types of events. The Crocs have moved onto the land and it does not look like they are going back to the water anytime soon.

Crocs are plastic clog like shoes with a heel strap. They have openings throughout the toe of the shoe which makes them perfect for boating or other water activities. In fact Crocs shoes were first introduced at the 2002 Fort Lauderdale boat show where they were a hit. Crocs are not selling because of their style. They are in no way sleek or attractive. They bring to mind garden clogs, but in brighter colors. What makes Crocs so popular is that they are extremely comfortable and reasonably priced. Comfort, not style is once again proving to be the key element for success in the footwear industry. Hopefully the industry is paying attention.


Crocs are made from a molded foam resin, Croslite. The shoes are slip and smell resistant. They are lightweight, dry quickly and have a non-marking sole. Created by a Canadian company called Foam Creations, these shoes were marketed by a group of Boulder, Colorado men who struck a licensing agreement with the Canadian company and renamed the shoes, Crocs. By 2003, Crocs had moved beyond the boating crowd and had become popular throughout the shoe marketplace. Analysts expect over twenty million pairs of Crocs to be sold this year in the United States and foreign markets.

Comfort is the key to these shoes and it is comfort that is selling this product to men, women and children. The wide toe box does not contort the foot as many shoes do and the heel provides for a more natural step. The American Podiatric Medical Association has called them a healthy alternative to flip flops and has given its' Seal of Acceptance for two of the Crocs' models in the Croc Rx line. Yes Crocs has a line of shoes geared toward diabetics and those with foot ailments. This line of Crocs looks like the regular line of Crocs but are slightly modified to accommodate the foot problems of a Croc Rx buyer.

Doctors also approve of the holes in the shoes since they create a anti-bacterial and anti-fungal environment for the foot. In fact the Croslite does not even allow bacteria or fungus to grow due to the "closed cell " nature of the material. This clean environment is a plus for all those who wear Crocs, not just those with specific foot ailments. I have to wonder if the Doctors know of the increasing use of socks with the Crocs. See Crocs can get a little chilly in the colder regions of the world and socks make those Crocs usable all year round. I am sure if you wear the right type of socks with your Crocs, your foot will still be safe from fungus and bacteria. If not, the other medicinal pluses of Crocs make the shoes attractive to those with foot problems and those buyers seeking to prevent foot problems.

Luckily, Crocs has expanded their product line to include an ankle boot called the " all terrains" that is perfect for cold and wet weather. This is a manly boot though it does come in a variety of colors. The " endeavor" an enclosed toe Croc is also targeted to cold weather wear. A full sized boot, the " georgie" is also available though only for women and children. Made from the same material as the original Crocs, this boot is currently only available in black, red, and blue.

As the Crocs continue to invade, more styles and imitations become available. A visit to Croc.com will allow you to view the different styles and other products available from the company that has put Crocs on the feet of millions around the world. Crocs are carried at a variety of retail outlets including sporting good stores, shoe stores and department stores. For many, these shoes may need to be tried on to be believed. The style alone will not sell many shoe buyers unless you revel in unattractive shoes. It is the comfort level of these shoes that have resulted in the explosion of sales. Comfort is the new buzz word in shoes and these shoes are gaining new converts every day.

It is an interesting fashion phenomena that comfort is winning over beauty. This is particularly interesting in the female shoe market where shoes are coveted for their beauty and style, not comfort. While I appreciate a well crafted stylish pair of shoes, I look at them as an art form, not a foot covering. I have come to this viewpoint because I physically cannot wear high heels or anything but extremely soft, flat shoes. I read about women who wear heels in spite of pain and I marvel at their devotion to fashion. I personally know of a woman who has had foot surgery due to her devotion to heels, yet she continues to wear them inspite of the continuing damage she is causing her feet. I love looking at her shoes but I am certainly not going to follow her lead. I have heard the saying, beauty is pain, but I have to wonder if beautiful footwear is worth the long lasting permanent pain it causes.

We know women have disfigured themselves for the sake of fashion. Chinese women used to bind their feet because small feet were beautiful. These women lost the ability to walk. I wonder if the modern woman is not pulling away from the pain of beauty and trading style for mobility. It may not even be that conscious of a decision. It may be an increasing number of women can no longer physically withstand the pain that beauty demands we endure to wear stylish shoes. The modern woman cannot spend her life in a chair, displaying her perfect small feet. She needs to be able to walk and in today's fast paced world, even run. Running in strappy high heels can get a little difficult.

Crocs allow today's women to live in today's busy world. Crocs, along with several other brands, are selling comfort not style. It could be the increasing consumer demand for comfort in footwear is evidence of a large scale movement of women rejecting the pain that most experience when wearing beautiful shoes. It may just be a short lived trend. Whatever the cause and effect, more and more comfortable shoes are on the market. I for one, am excited about the shopping possibilities

Watching The 24 TV Series In The African Bush

This is probably the most powerful TV series that has ever been produced and this was confirmed when the nail biting 24 TV series won an Oscar award this year as best TV program at the annual awards that honors cinema along with movie stars, producers and directors.

There is no secret agent like Jack Bauer who uses all methods including the unorthodox to bring down terrorists who are constantly threatening the security of the United States without knowing that there exists an efficient counter terrorism unit popularly known as CTU.

It all started with an Arab terrorist plot to smuggle a nuke into the states and at the same time assassinate the president with the help of rogue agents at the CTU including one Linda Myer.

As usual Jack whose real name is Kieffer Sutherland was to get to the bottom of it and manages to save the United States from radiation emitted by the nuke by flying the plane into the dessert where it detonated but not before he parachutes to safety and lets his boss fly the remaining distance since he was going to die anyway from a terminal illness.

Fortunately again Jack manages to save the presidents' life but not before killing some of the terrorists who had infiltrated CTU where all employees at one point turned paranoid and could not trust each other.

The series also threw in a lot of action and suspense especially involving the glamorous daughter of Jack, Kim Bauer who seemed to be in danger at every turn let alone the bad company she usually came across.

Then came the second season where Jack was back at what he does best but this time it was a British terrorist formerly with the special forces who had got hold of a deadly biological weapon which he intended to unleash in California .

The terrorists plans were going on well till the master minders' daughter was kidnapped in a bid to force him out which worked but not before the terrorists divided the bio weapon among several of their agents in different places.

Again it was Jacks ingenuity that made the master mind reveal where the rest of the vials were when he threatened to expose the villains' daughter to the virus which had been unleashed at a local hotel in California.

This episodes exposed the cruelty of the terrorists who went as far as kidnapping the wife of the CTU boss in a bid to arm twist him so he could issue orders that could facilitate his escape from a building that he had been cornered.

Then the Arab terrorists returned in the next season this time kidnapping the united states secretary of defense who was to be tried and executed for alleged crimes he had committed against the Arabs.

It was just when the government was about to bomb the area where the trial was to take place when jack appeared at the scene and staged a daring rescue mission and saved the defense secretary to the chagrin of the Arabs who were killed in the ensuing fire fight.
24 has proved to be a winner the world over and in Kenya where it appears every Monday at 8 pm on the Kenya television network (KTN), thousands of people get home early to catch up with the latest developments.

For the privileged in Africa who can afford pay TV, they are one season ahead on the digital satellite TV channel that covers the whole of Africa, popularly known as DSTV which is based in South Africa but is available in most parts of the continent and has became extremely popular over the years due to its exciting programming including the 24 series.

On DSTV, the plot is even thicker, this time round as it involves Russian terrorists who are in procession of nerve gas and at the same time want to assassinate their president before he signs an agreement with his American counterpart.

The start is even more dramatic with the assassination of president Palmer by a sniper who is across the building. This happens at a time when the whereabouts of Jack Bauer are not clear not to mention that most of his friends and professional colleagues believe that he is dead.

It is also re-assuring to the viewers that Mr Bauer (Kieffer Sutherland) has started directing the series of late and he is doing an excellent job so far.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Drying Hair into Style

Drying wet hair into desired styles needs bit of attention. Properly using a hair dryer with a brush and hands is simple to learn and important as well since the time your hair start losing the moisture, they show greater flexibility to be styled into your choice look. After washing your hair, or taking a shower, follow these simple methods of drying hair well for shaping into styles with greater ease.

Drying Until Damp

Dry the hair with a towel to remove the excess moisture. If you are using hair cream or gel, work a dime-size amount (use more if you have got curly or thick hair) into the roots of hair. Comb through the hair to the ends. Now hold a dryer, with its nozzle attached, angled down so that the heated air is concentrated at the roots. Keep the dryer's nozzle some three to four inches from the scalp. Comb through our hair with fingers while using the dryer until most of it, say 80 %, becomes dry.

Dividing the Hair

Comb your hair into place. Then divide it into sections. First, separate the top layer from the bottom one, pulling hair back on the sides, and then up and away from the hair underneath. This will help the dryer getting to the roots, where volume is created. Separate hair just above the ear, lifting the top layer off the bottom one.

Sectioning the Hair

Making separate sections of hair facilitates it to dry well. Divide the upper half of hair into as many sections as needed. This depends on the thickness of hair or on the volume of the hair a clip can hold. You should divide the hair into at least four sections. Thicker hair will need more sections. After making sections, take each section, twist it, and secure in place with a clip. Repeat the same with the bottom layer until just one section of about 2 inches thick at the nape of the neck is left to work on.

Drying the Bottom of the Hair

With a medium to large barrel round brush, wrap the free section at the neck, and dry from the root along the length of the hair. For long hair, bring hair round to the face (in the manner of making C motion), moving the brush towards the end. Work on one section of 2 inches thickness at a time until the bottom layer becomes dry.

Tip: To save time, dry the bottom quickly, and then concentrate on more visible top sections.

Starting at the Roots

Wrap a round brush under a section of hair that is 2 inches thick so that the bristles are at the scalp. Heat the brush while it is at the root. Hold the dryer at roots for a few seconds. Then lift the hair up and away from the root and stroke down to the end.

Tip: For volume, spritz roots with a volumizer or hair spray, position brush, then blast with hot air.

Move to the Ends

For getting the hair sleek and straight, pull it taut while drying. Keep the dryer pointed down the hair shaft so that the dryer and the brush move together. Take the brush past the ends for a perfectly straight hair style. To give the hair extra shine, go back over sections with the dryer and a flat boar-bristle brush (round or flat).

Styling Tips

The ease of choice hair styling depends mainly on a good haircut. If you let a lot of time pass between cuts i.e. six to eight weeks, your hair is likely to get unruly and difficult to style well.

Using too much conditioner or a heavy conditioner will weigh down fine hair. Rinse the conditioner out well. Women with very thick hair, especially curly hair, may leave a little conditioner in to help straighten the hair.

Do not overdo styling products. It is enough to apply a little gel, spray, or lotion for quite some time. Overdoing the product will flatten the hair.

For attaining a sleek look, the hair cuticle must lie flat. If you aim the dryer up the hair shaft (from end toward the root), the hair is likely to look frayed and frizzy.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Guide to Antacids and Possible Hip Fracture

Thoroughly investigate the long-term affects and side affects of any antacid medications you are considering purchasing, and ask your doctor about them. Prescription medications that fight stomach acid overproduction, acid indigestion, and heartburn can be dangerous to your skeletal system. This is because they can prevent the body from absorbing and using enough calcium to build and maintain strong bones, especially as the body ages and in women.

Nexium, Prevacid, and Prilosec in one group; and Tagamet and Pepcid in a second group, when used consistently for heartburn for a year or longer can significantly increase the risk of suffering a hip fracture among men and women over the age of 50. This is according to a large study recently concluded in Great Britain, suing large databases of health related information. The National Institutes of Health and the American Gastroenterological Association/
GlaxoSmithKline Glaxo Institute funded this study for Digestive Health.

The study examined questions about the safety of the most widely used and advertised prescription drugs on the market today, taken by millions of people globally. The researchers thought that when the drugs reduce stomach acid, they also make it more difficult for the body to absorb calcium that goes into bone production. This loss of calcium would then result in increasing numbers of fractures, especially among seniors.

Hip fractures in the elderly often lead to life-threatening complications, so patients need to have very good reasons to keep using heartburn drugs long-term, according to Dr. Yu-Xiao Yang of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Yang and study co-authors worked as consultants and received speaking fees from companies that make acid-fighting drugs

The background research for the study found that some individuals find relief from heartburn with antacids such as Tums, Rolaids, and Maalox, available without a prescription. However, heartburn can be more than simple discomfort and individuals with chronic heartburn can develop painful ulcers in the esophagus, some of which can lead to esophageal cancer. Dr. Sandra Dial of McGill University in Montreal, who has done similar research, said that patients should discuss the risks and benefits of antacids with their physicians.

Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec are members of a class of drugs called proton pump inhibitors. The recent study found a similar but smaller risk of hip fractures for the use of yet another class of antacids called H2 blockers. H2 blockers include Tagamet and Pepcid.

The heartburn and antacid study was published in the December 27, 2006, edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, or JAMA, and looked at medical records of over 145,000 individuals in England. The average age of the patients was 77 years. In this study, the patients who used proton pump inhibitors for over a year had a 44 percent greater risk of suffering a hip fracture than those who did not use a proton pump inhibitor.

In addition, the longer-term a patient took a proton pump inhibitor drug, the higher was their risk of hip fracture. Thus, the longer one takes a proton pump inhibitor, the more likely one will be to a break a hip. Men in the study were found to have a higher drug-associated risk of hip fracture than did the women, possibly because women are more aware of osteoporosis and intake more calcium to fight it, Yang said. He plans more research on whether calcium-rich diets or calcium supplements can prevent the problem associated with hip fractures connected to heartburn drug use.

The biggest risk for hip fracture connected with heartburn medications is among individuals who take high doses of the drugs for over a year, and they have a 250% greater risk of hip fractures than non-users of these prescription medications.

Dr. Doug Levine, representing the company AstraZeneca PLC, makers of Nexium and Prilosec, said the study does not prove that proton pump inhibitors cause hip fractures, but suggests only a potential association. Interestingly, Nexium is the second-largest selling drug in the world, just after the cholesterol medicine Lipitor, with worldwide sales totaling $4.6 billion in 2005 (from IMS Health, a tracker of drug sales). The findings of the Yang study could hurt sales of Nexium.

Julia Ellwanger, a representative for TAP Pharmaceutical Products Inc., marketers of Prevacid, said proton pump inhibitors are safe, and that the new study does not prove or disprove a connection to hip fractures.

Dr. Alan Buchman of Northwestern University, was not involved in the research, but said the study should not change medical practice, since doctors should be monitoring the bone density and calcium intake of elderly people.

The best course to take is a consultation with your personal physician if you have concerns about prescription medications for heartburn, or about any medication. Always find out everything you can about your medications so that you can understand their benefits and adverse effects.



My Review Of My Children's Toys

Children's Toys: A Personal Review


I'm one of those people who see something really cool out on the market, and I just know my child is going to love it. Yet, I get home, and after just a short period of time, the toy ends up cast away, never to be used again. Some things are very expensive, and then you have the more inexpensive side, which seems to get used the most. We want all of these items to be appreciated, but let me tell you what I have experienced with each of the toys and items I have purchased for my children.


First of all, my children range in age from six months to fourteen years. So I have a wide variety of items to judge in this situation. Let me begin with the most recent additions to our children's items.


My son is eight months old now, and I have a selection of toys I thought would be really cool. The first one I'm going to discuss are these cool alphabet blocks, constructed out of material, and each having a unique item on it that makes noise or does something when it is used. Now, my son seems to think these are okay, and does like the noisiest ones best. I know he will like them even more as time goes on. I like the fact that there are different learning tools on each side, which are specific to his age bracket. Children learn a lot through touch and feel, and these are great items, which are okay to put in the mouth. The great news about these blocks, is you get three of them, with 18 different sides and textures, and they only cost four dollars. I recommmend every child has some of these.


The next toy is called the "First Bank Of Oink", and I thought it was cool when I got it, and seems to be what intrigues my son the most. This toy has a pig with a basket on it, and has cloth items which serve as money. The nose on the pig makes the familiar pig sound, and each of the items that gets put in and pulled out of the basket either crinkles or jingles. He has been intrigued with peeping in the container when he notices something is in it, and makes him content. At the moment, he enjoys shaking his pig, and hearing the sounds all of it makes, but I am sure he will be even more interested as he grows even more. The cost of this item was twelve dollars.


Leap Frog is a personal favorite of mine, and when I am making a purchase to keep their minds in shape, it usually comes from these designers. I purchased several of these educational, electronic items for my son. One is a ball that rolls around by itself, and each button it does something different. I really enjoyed this purchase, and my son does like it, but it still doesn't keep him entertained for very long! That's most likely due to the age, and he will grow out of it. I recommend this item at an early stage so the child has long enough to grow with it.


I will do more reviews of items I have purchased for children, in my sons age bracket, in the future. Now I'm going to step to the next level. I have a daughter that is four years old, and I am working with her at home this year with schooling. So most of what she owns are toys with creativity and intelligence. My personal favorite, and one of hers is the wooden blocks you can stack. She really loves using her creativity and creating towers. Her goal is to create bigger towers than the ones before without spilling it over. She has already spent many hours in the short time of owning them creating these structures. She is learning how to balance everything, and actually is the start of a great architect. These blocks were ten dollars for quite a few of them, and was well worth the venture. To add to the building blocks, I also bought her the wooden alphabet blocks. These wooden alphabet blocks are a teaching mechanism in themselves, and are well worth the additional ten dollars spent for them too! Not to mention, the wooden alphabet blocks have also been used as a tool to go with the "Word Whammer"I got her by Leap Frog.


If you are teaching your child to learn the alphabet, I strongly suggest getting the "Word Whammer". This toy costs thirty dollars, but is well worth the money. The child begins by placing the main box on the refrigerator like a magnet. Then each of the alphabet pieces also have magnets and go on the fridge. This is an easy way not to lose everything. She then places letters into the box, and it will tell her what they are, what sound they make and will even teach her to make words by using her own mind. To keep her spirits up about creating words, I have had her count and find the three letter words on the wooden alphabet blocks. She then goes to her word whammer, and puts the three letters into it, pushes each letter (which tells her the letter it is with each push), and then it tells her what the three letters spell. My daughter has learned more quickly the letters of the alphabet using this system, than any other way I have chosen to teach her. This item I am proud to have purchased.

Due to the length of this article, I will also do a few more articles to express some of the current children's toys. The toys mentioned, are so far my favorite.

Are You Apple Shaped or Pear Shaped?- Dress for Your Body Type

Body shape is for all intents and purposes not something that anyone has control over. It is determined according to what area of the body fat is stored and this is not the same for every person. The human body can be broken down into two basis types of shapes for women. These have come to be compared to fruits- there are apple shaped people and pear shaped people. What this refers to is the different ways that fat distributes itself on a body frame. For example women who are apple shaped have a tendency to develop body fat in their midsections, which is predominantly the abdominal area and the waist whereas pear shaped women develop fat lower on their bodies which includes their buttocks, hips and thigh areas. This also has an effect on the way fat is metabolized and therefore the overall health of a person. Some women are not strictly apple or pear shaped but fall somewhere in between. These women are sometimes referred to as being avocado shaped.

Genetics plays a role in which body shape a person will develop but so do other factors such as age and gender. To use an example, plenty of females put on fat in their buttocks and hips which give them a pear shaped figure. After a woman has gone through menopause her body has less of the hormone estrogen and therefore it is common for her to put fat on around her middle, which would cause her to become more apple shaped in form.

Researchers have long wondered if there is a difference in apple shaped versus pear shaped when it comes to a risk of heart problems. More and more studies are ongoing but it has been discovered that those with apple shapes due to the fat accumulated around their middle section are more likely to become obese than pear-shaped people who put on weight lower on their bodies. Heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer are also more common in apple shaped women whereas pear shaped females are more likely to develop varicose veins, cellulite, osteoporosis and a variety of eating disorders. Apple shaped women are also more inclined to develop depression and anxiety disorders, irregularities in their menstrual cycles and problems conceiving. Pear shaped women tend to have lower levels of self-esteem and view their bodies in a more negative manner than do apple shaped women. Menopause tends to affect pear shaped women worse than their apple counterparts.

To determine your waist-to-hip ratio and decide if you are an apple or a pear in shape, simply take your waist measurement and divide it by your hip measurement. Women who have waist-to-hip ratios of 0.8 or higher are apple shaped and those lower are pear shaped. The waist-to-hip ratio (or hip-waist ratio) is sometimes also called trunk fatness.

The fat stored in the abdomen and waist area of an apple shaped woman is known as visceral fat or intra-abdominal fat (IAF) and this fat is stored deep in the body and it surrounds many organs. Fat in this area contributes to such problems as an increase in the level of blood sugar as well as inflammation. Pear shaped women on the other hand have what is known as subcutaneous fat which is more passive fat and this fat is immediately stored as energy that is released only in the case of childbearing or breastfeeding. Be aware that no one can alter their body shape but they can strive to be as healthy as possible. In other words, an apple shape cannot become a pear shape and vice versa.

Women who are apple shaped should reach for skirts and pants that are straight cut and should steer clear of any clothing that is extremely fitted or tailored. In particular this means staying away from anything that draws attention to the midsection of the body such as very wide and/or well defined waist bands.

Monochromatic outfits are best which means all one color, as opposed to mixing and matching a variety of colors. Monochromatic helps to decrease the look of width and emphasizes the length of the body instead. Apple shaped women should always wear tops that serve to cover their hips and their tops should be worn over pants that are tapered and that flatter the look of slimmer legs which is common in apple shaped women. Shorter skirts are more appealing on apple shapes than are longer skirts as they draw attention to the lower body and the slimmer parts of the body. Opt for light colored pantyhose such as the color nude which will help to keep the focus on your legs. Apple shaped women should not wear clothing with pockets, especially when it comes to their tops because pockets can have an unflattering look that draws attention to the top heavy portion of a female body. Two famous apple shaped bodies are Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones and the lovely Elizabeth Hurley.

Pear shaped women should choose both pants and skirts that feature flat fronts or are softly pleated as these kind of garments place emphasis on waist areas that are well defined and this is what you want. Hipster trousers are an excellent choice as these types of pants will do away with the problem of a gaping waist that is very common to women who have the pear shape. The most flattering styles for pear shaped women are A-line skirts and A-line wraps as these type of clothing call attention to a small waist while also slimming the hip area. Skirts that are short or tight are not recommended for pear shaped women as they will bring focus to the top portion of the thighs and will also divert attention to the area you do not want, which is below the waist.

Pear shaped women should avoid pants or skirts that are light in color and instead stick with the color black, as well as darker shades of browns and blues that will help to adequately absorb the light. Make an effort to accentuate the top half of your body by wearing tops that draw the eye upward such as fitted garments that have nice colors and patterns. As well choose tops with beautiful and very becoming necklines. Do not opt for baggy tops that fall well below the waist and hips but choose tops that at the top parts of the hip area so the waist will stand out.

Pear shaped women can do a lot with accessories. They should choose both scarves and jewellery that keep the attention away from their buttocks, hips and thighs and bring the attention upward. Two famous pear shaped women are English actress Kate Winslet and Emma Bunton (better known as Baby Spice, the youngest member of the band the Spice Girls).

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Super Sweet Sixteen

Sweet sixteen has taken on new meaning in no small part due to the cable television show, " My Super Sweet Sixteen". If you have not had the privilege of watching this televised show of affluence, it may be worth your while to tune in. If you have a teenage daughter who is approaching the sweet age of sixteen, it may be in your best interest to spend an hour watching this teen age television hit. It will bring new meaning to your daughters announcement that it is time to start planning her sweet sixteen birthday party.

"My Super Sweet Sixteen" is a teenage version of " Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" without even the veneer of class. Each episode focuses on the sixteenth birthday party of a young girl whose parents have more money than sense. It is not just the elaborate nature of the parties these girls are throwing, it is the fact that the parents are allowing the true nature of their social circles' mores to be televised. Greed, extravagance, sexuality and social cruelty is the basis for these girls social experience and one can only wonder what the social circles of the parents are really like. After watching this show, one yearns for the innocence and beauty of formal debuts with their white gowns and strict social rules. This show really needs to be experienced to be understood. What is has done for the average family is breath new life into the sweet sixteen birthday party. While most people on earth cannot duplicate what is shown on this television show ( and most of us do not want to, though it would be nice to have that kind of money) a wonderful sweet sixteen party can be thrown for any girl turning sixteen.

If your daughter's birthday is during the warm months or you live in a temperate zone, I congratulate your superior planning skills. One of the most popular party places in our community for those young girls born during the summer months is the local pool. Most local pools are available for private parties after regular pool hours. Whether your daughter's crowd actually wants to swim ( ours do) or you merely use the pool as a backdrop for dancing or socializing, the community pool is a great location for a sixteenth birthday party.

If your teens crowd are not swimmers or your daughter wishes for more formal attire, decorating the pool becomes one of your challenges. Simple and easy is tossing balloons or flotation devices into the pool. The pool lights will reflect off these decorations and bring a festive atmosphere to the party. Putting decorations in the pool will also send the message to your party goers that this is not a swim party. But beware, mix teens and a pool and someone will enter the water before the evenings end. For safety purposes, make sure your pool decorations can accommodate a guest or two without significant harm.

Alcohol is not needed and in many areas will subject the parents to criminal and civil liability. In our area of the country, the parent who allows alcohol at underage parties can be arrested and criminally charged. If anyone is injured as a result of the parent allowing alcohol, the party throwing parents better hope their homeowners insurance covers the costs associated with any injuries. In our community, schools are increasingly penalizing students who are caught drinking even at non school events. If your child participates in any activity, from band to cheerleading, you may be endangering their ability to participate in these activities if you serve alcohol at your child's party.

Many parents often think, " We did it, so can they". The problem is the world has changed. The laws are different and the penalties more severe. Even if you do not think underage drinking is a problem, and you view it as a rite of passage, the rules have changed and you put yourself and your child at risk by providing alcohol. It is easier to just say no.

Other venues for warm weather parties include public parks. Many municipal parks have shelter houses that can be reserved for a fee. Make to actually visit the facility you are renting and do not rely on web site pictures of printed brochures. Make sure the facility is in an area that is accessible to your party goers and is located in a safe area. This is particularly important if you live in an urban area. The city's web site may show a wonderful facility, but you do not want to find out at the last minute it is located in an area that even the adults are afraid to frequent at night. Check the place out, before you put down a deposit.

Backyard parties can be as formal or as casual as the hostess desires. Tiki torches and a fire pit, both available at your local home improvement store, can turn a back yard into a tropical paradise. The only limits to a home based party is your imagination and your budget.

If your daughter's birthday falls in the winter months and you do not live in a temperate zone, well, I understand your pain. A party in your home can be lovely, but if for some reason your home is not suitable the options become more expensive. There are still the options of an ice skating or rollerskating party if your teens are the more active types. Bowling is always fun as is a gathering at your local pizza place. While these are all fun party ideas, they are not even close to the type of events MTV has been showing. Upscaling the sweet sixteen party during the winter months is more difficult and definitely more expensive.

If your church, school, or local community center rents out their facilities for private parties you may be in luck. Make sure you make reservations because corporate and adult groups often reserve these facilities months in advance. The true savings of these types of facilities is you arrange the food and beverages. If you do utilize this option, make sure you have access to the facility for decorations and clean up. Some facilities, such as heated shelter houses, rent by time blocks. If you reserve a facility for four hours, you are going to have a problem decorating, throwing the party, and cleaning up in your time period. Think about these issues and plan accordingly.

Hotels and event centers do have facilities available. Restaurants also often have private rooms for private parties. Many of these options require food purchase and that is where the cost factor kicks in. Buffets may be less expensive, but you will still be charged per guest. Costs vary, so check with your facility for their requirements to get an accurate price.

Throwing a party with another family can allow a more lavish event than one thrown by yourself. Unless you are close the parents of the second sweet sixteen, make sure obligations, such as finances and responsibilities are clearly spelled out. Most parties run into some type of budget buster and you need to deal with this from the beginning, or your party may turn into a parental war zone.

I personally am thinking of Chucky Cheese. I know, they are more for the preschool set, but my daughter acts like she is in preschool sometimes. They provide entertainment, food and a birthday cake. I think teenagers dancing with giant cartoon characters may add that something special to the sweet sixteen celebration. I think I will run it by my daughter. All I know is in my next life I am making sure my children's birthdays are during the warm summer months. Entertainment options are a little easier if you can use the outdoors. Have a super sweet sixteen I know we will.

Embellishing Chanel Jackets with Decorative Trims

The ever popular buzz of Chanel Jackets keeps reverberating in the fashionable circles. You can have a chance to brag about your way of beautifying your Chanel Jacket by different ways of creating decorative trims. While it is common for many women to think of decorative braids as the only or most commonly used Chanel trims, a variety of other trims are also used for decorating Chanel suits. These include bindings, top stitching, ribbons, pipings, selvedges, linings, contrast fabric, and self-fabric bands. All these go into making a classic Chanel suit. More interesting is the fact that many decorative braids are actually several different trims that are sewn together. Braids and ribbons are used to construct some of the most elegant trims for Chanel Jackets. The following tips will tell you how to catch the eyes with decorative trims on your Chanel Jacket.

Selecting and Experimenting

While you start selecting trims, do consider those that were originally designed for home furnishing. In creating the trims, do not suppress your adventurous spirit from experimenting. Try different color combinations to come up with the best one. You will see that more often your favorites will turn out some of the unusual color combinations.

Pinning

When you are thinking of trying several combinations, pin a piece of the jacket fabric to a bulletin board. This will allow you to view the trims as they will be worn. Also, pin several different combinations; stand back and cast a glance from a distance for comparison. Now start removing the combinations that you like the least. Leave the right ones for making the final choice. In case you do not have a bulletin board, use a coat-hanger for pinning the fabrics.

Ribbons and Braids

It is more convenient to apply a combination of several ribbons and braids rather than using one wide trim. Use a base of a ribbon or solid fabric for showcasing a narrow braid and making a wider trim. You can center braids on a ribbon base, set off-center to one side, or just set on each side to frame the ribbon in the center.

Trimming the Edges

Many women of style dote on creating an illusion of height and slimness. The simplest way to do this is by not trimming the lower edge of the jacket. For the other edge, decide on the braid/ribbon trim combination. Measure the edges and sleeve vents. Add about 30 cm (12 inches) to determine the total length required. Now you can apply trims in three ways: (1) aligning the finished trim with the edge, (2) lapping the edge a greater amount, or (3) setting back from the edge. In case you lap the edge, the trim can extend 2 mm to 1 cm (up to 3/8 inches). Shape the ribbon to fit curved edges before sewing it in place.

Pinning and Basting

When you come to pin and baste the trim to the jacket, lay the jacket flat on the table. Take care that the trim taken for pinning and basting is exactly the same length as the jacket's edge.

Handling the Folds

You can make the folds of pleats and miters less noticeable when the garment is worn. For this, turn folds on the neckline toward the center back. At the corners of the neckline, turn the folds so that the visible edges are folded downward.

Avoiding Miters at Corners

To avoid miters at corners, round the corners at the neckline. Trace around the rim of a glass so that all curves are the same.

Thread and Stitch

When you baste the trims in place, it is best to use matching thread and a short running stitch. By doing this you will not need to remove it.

Folding for Miters

When both the braid and ribbon have miters, try to fold them in opposite directions.

Pressing

For pressing the trimmed jacket, place it, lining side up, on a softly padded pressing board. Now press lightly.

Pinning Darts

If you pinned small darts at the neck edge, machine-stitch them permanently and press well. If the darts are bulky, slash them open and overcast the edges.

Braids that Flare

If you are working with a braid that flares after trimming, machine-stitch across the end edge cutting it so it will maintain the desired width. It is recommended to stitch two rows about 6 mm (1/4 inch) apart and then cut between the rows.

Patterning the Ribbon

Press and shape the ribbon with steam and it will follow the neckline pattern.