What to Do About Aphids in Plants

What do you do if your plants still have yellowed and distorted leaves even if you’ve taken good care of them? Try checking the plant for tiny sap-sucking insects called aphids.

What are Aphids?

There are at least 6 types of aphids that differ in color and vary slightly in size, but they are all members of the superfamily Aphidoidea. Colors range from black to colorless, and are mostly wingless although there are winged aphids, too. Some aphids feed on specific plants only, but others can colonize several plants over time. A few aphids will feed on different plants in different times of a year.

They can be as destructive as other plant pests because they reproduce very fast and in high numbers, so it is possible to affect the rest of your garden with just one plant. They are also vectors for viruses, mold, and eventually leave plants disfigured. It is known to gardeners that aphids can form a mutual relationship with some ant species, and in fact, some of them are farmed by ants.

What Do they Do to Plants?

To determine if your garden is infested with aphids, you will only need to look for clues in your plants. The aphids usually feed on the roots, stems, leaves, buds, fruits, or flowers of the plant but this depends on the species. They usually prefer succulents if they are the type that feed on a variety of plants.

Look for stems or leaves covered with a sticky substance that looks like strings of white cotton, mishappen/curling/yellowing leaves, fungal growth, blackened branches and leaves, deformed and distorted fruits, galls on leaves or roots, and other insect infestation on the plants (aphids can attract predators). Lastly, look at the underside of the leaves if there are tiny insects because the aphids usually hide there.

How are Aphids Removed?

Aphids can be difficult to control, so make sure you take note of all the signs of infestation. If the infestation is only limited to specific parts of the plant, just physically remove the affected leaves and stems. Drop these cuttings into a bucket of soapy water then discard.

If there are ants in the garden that might be helping increase the population, trim the lower parts of the plants so that they don’t touch the lower ground. Some gardeners even coat the lower stems with sticky substances, so the ants can’t have access. Some people also spray soapy water or neem oil to remove both the aphids and ants. Most soaps, however, can also kill beneficial insects, so neem oil is usually more preferable because it can also eliminate other pests and fungi.

Some gardeners choose a natural approach by introducing the natural aphid predators such as the ladybug beetle. If you have fragrant herbs, you can also introduce green lacewings. Another way is to introduce plants to attract the aphids away from the other. These include aster, zinnia, cosmos, verbena, and dahlia.

What You Need to Know Before Buying Xbox 360

Xbox 360 has been famous for its several outstanding games, but it was also infamous for the red ring of death. However, if you want to complete your gaming collection, it is still a worthy console to invest in because of the selection of games.

Console Specifications

The Xbox 360 has a 3.2 Ghz PowerPC tri-core Xenon CPU and 500 MHz ATI/AMD Xenos graphics. It has a memory of 512 MB GDDR3 RAM which clocks at 700 MHz. The original models had 3 USB slots, the slim has five, and the elite has four. It is also compatible with 461 Xbox games so if you already have an extensive library of the previous generation, this is a good investment.

There were several iterations of the console released over the years, mostly to improve issues that have plagued the older models. Perhaps you have heard about the red ring of death, so if you are worried about that, you should look for Xbox 360 S (slim) and Xbox 360 E (elite) models instead of the original.

Console Variations

At the launch of the console, there were two versions to choose from such as the morning Xbox 360 and the Xbox 360 Core. Later, other versions such as the Elite package, Xbox 360 Arcade, Xbox 360 Super Elite and Xbox 360 Pro or Premium were also released. If you are looking for a used model in game shops, it is important to be able to distinguish between the different models and their slightly confusing names.

The most common models you might find (and are probably cheap) are the Xbox 360 S and Xbox 360 E. Xbox 360 S also comes in 4 Gb, 250 GB, and 320 GB models. Just remember the highlights for the following versions:

  • Xbox 360 sometimes have no HDMI outputs especially in the earliest versions and its Arcade model does not have a hard drive
  • Xbox 360 S has a built-in Wi-Fi and is better at addressing overheating issues
  • Xbox 360 E has to AV port and audio digital optical connection but only has HDMI

Basic Accessories

When it comes to accessories for the Xbox 360, basic necessities should include at least two controllers, charger, battery cover, memory card, and a hard drive. However, you can also look for other accessories to complete your Xbox 360 experience such as network adapter, Xbox 360 Kinect motion sensor, and USB microphone.

You may also need wireless remote, HD component cable, extra AV cable, a quick charging kit, breakaway cable, keyboard chat pad, speed wheel, Xbox communicator adapter module card, aviator stick, Xbox 360 intercooler, arcade stick, skateboard controller, fishing rod controller, draw tablet, turntable, shot rifle, and other special controllers for specific games.

Best Xbox 360 Games

You can find tons of first-party and third-party titles for the Xbox 360, so if you are in luck, look for these amazing games to add to your collection: Crackdown, Gears of War, Lost Odyssey, Blue Dragon, Infinite Undiscovery, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2, Dance Central, Mass Effect Series, Halo 3 and Halo: Reach, Tenchu Z, Forza Motorsport 3 and Forza Horizon, Otomedius Excellent, Beautiful Katamari, Alan Wake, Fable 2, Left 4 Dead, Import Tuner Challenge, Over G Fighters, Brutal Legend, Red Faction: Guerilla, Shadow Complex, The Orange Box, Portal 2, Super Meat Boy, Mark of the Ninja, Ninja Gaiden II, The Outfit, and Perfect Dark Zero.

No Nonsense Diet Guide for Losing Weight

Diet fads and meal plans for people trying to lose weight are usually filled with information and advertisements that do not help. Often, people are given promises of fast results that are unhealthy and unrealistic. Below is a guide to creating a diet plan without having to resort to fancy tricks and diet supplements.

Watch What You Eat

Unlike people trying to gain weight, you’ll have to avoid some types of food to lose weight. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but if you get used to a healthy meal plan, then you won’t be craving for most of these. Generally, you should avoid desserts after every meal to lessen the unwanted calories. Avoid soda, fruit juices brought at shops, white bread, fast food, frozen meals, cereal, hydrogenated oils, corn syrup, and alcoholic beverages.

Stave Off Hunger

The first few days of your new diet will be the most difficult because your body is still getting used to the new routine. It could be more tempting to eat especially during evenings, and you will always feel hungry and deprived, but don’t give up. If you feel like having three complete meals a day isn’t enough, drink water or unsweetened tea in between meals or eat fruits.

Practice eating smaller portions of what you used to eat and try to eat them slowly, like literally chew the food slowly. An alternative is to eat six small meals per day consisting of one source of protein, one source of fibrous carbohydrates, and one source of complex carbohydrates. You can get these from brown rice, broccoli, chicken, green beans, tuna, baked potatoes, lean beef, salad, sweet potatoes, asparagus, quinoa, and salmon.

Watch Your Insulin Levels

However, for those who already have problems with their insulin levels or insulin production, a different diet is required. Most doctors in Singapore will advise you to eat every three hours to keep the insulin levels stable and to control any urge to eat unhealthy food.

But you’re supposed to eat less, right? Not exactly. If your metabolism is slow, then your body needs to eat more healthy food to burn calories, because skipping or missing meals can trigger the starvation process in your body, making you crave for more food.

More Healthy Food

Admit it, you’ve probably gained your weight from eating more than what your body can burn, that is why you should re-examine the types of food you usually eat and pick out the ones that are nutritious and contain less carbohydrates and fat. Stick to vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, but avoid cookies, deep fried food, soft drinks, chips, and any food with refined sugar, fruit juice or honey.

The healthier option come from brown rice, wild rice, oats, barley, spelt, quinoa, sweet potatoes, and legumes. Eat more dietary fat from salmon, trout, olive oil, nuts, mackerel, avocado, seeds, and peanut butter. Be warned, however, that some of these are going to be hard to find, especially if you’re planning to go organic.

How to Find Clothes if You Have Bow Legs or Knock Knees

Some fashion-conscious individuals consider it a fashion crime to wear tight-fitting trousers when you have bow legs or knock knees. These conditions refer to the odd leg curvature at an upright position that are either one of the following: O-shaped legs, X-shaped legs, and odd shin curvature.

Unfortunately, correcting your leg’s odd curvature is not going to be easy, that is why the most you can do is to minimize their appearance by picking the right clothes.

To determine if you have knock knees, examine your legs in front of a mirror while standing up with your thighs together. If your calves look like they are bending outwards and there is an obvious inward curve below your knees, then you have knock knees.

Bow legs or genu varum is a condition where the curvature of the tibia or the femur makes the legs appear bent when your feet are placed together. This means that if you try to stand with your feet together, your thighs, knees, and calves will not meet.

Trousers or Jeans

To minimize its appearance, you should stick to straight leg trousers, most straight leg jeans, boot cut jeans, flared jeans, and wide leg trousers. Avoid skinny jeans that will make the gap between your calves appear wider. Boyfriend jeans are fine if you have long legs, but the cut will highlight your calves. You should also stay away from capri pants, stretch jeans, and trousers with patterns and stripes.

A-Line Dresses and Skirts

Would you rather wear dresses and skirts than jeans? No problem. You can still look stylish in A-line skirts and dresses that will work on any body type and height. A-line means that the skirt ends just below the knees or in mid-calf to hide the unsightly leg curves. Trumpet skirts are also a good choice because they flare out at the hem and give a nice, flowing look. The former is recommended only if you want to hide your thigh gap.

Avoid straight, tight-fitted skirts and mini skirts in general, and instead, go for long skirts, flowing skirts, and mid-calf skirts.

Colors, Patterns, and Contrast

Ideally, you would want to draw away the attention on your legs by wearing colored and/or patterned tops complemented by dark-colored or solid-colored trousers. Focus on accentuating the upper half of your body with various accessories, makeup, and hairstyle. But you could also buy shoes that will make your legs appear straighter, such as knee-high boots.

Shoes and Correction Insoles

Matching the color of your shoes to your pants will also do wonders for your bow legs, especially if you pick monochromatic colors that never go out of style. It’s also a good idea to invest in corrective shoes for bow legs or heel pads that you can insert in your shoes to avoid wearing down the soles. It can provide additional support for your walking posture without having to rely on unfashionable knock knee braces.

Teaching Kids How to Cook

Encouraging your children to practice cooking at an early age can help them become responsible eaters and independent individuals because they know what happens from purchasing to preparation and serving.

After all, it’s a basic survival skill that they will have to learn sooner or later. What can you do as a parent to teach your kids to love cooking? Here are some tips.

Cooking Activities by Age

Some psychologists recommend that you should expose your kids to certain preparation techniques appropriate for their skills to avoid accidents in the kitchen. For example, at age 3 or below, you can start by letting the child wash vegetables, stir room-temperature ingredients, place ingredients on scales, or mash ingredients with a fork.

By 5 years, the child should be able to knead, sieve, weigh, wash fruits and vegetables, roll the dough, hand-mix, and use the mortar and pestle. At age 7, your child can be taught to handle small knives and scissors and set the table. Eleven-year-old should be able to identify most ingredients, make simple salads, open cans or use peelers, and operate the oven and microwave.

Assign Chores in the Kitchen

To avoid accidents, your child should be assigned to help in smaller and easier tasks that don’t involve carrying or touching sharp, pointed, and breakable objects. Toddlers should be encouraged to watch you prepare while older kids younger than 12 should be able to identify the various fruits, vegetables, and meat.

Do not be afraid to relinquish control or worry that your child will get dirty. As long as they are not playing with open fire and are safe from dangerous objects and substances, let them help if they want.

Master Simple Recipes and Learn Responsibility

Snacks, simple breakfast, smoothies, and salads are the easiest recipes kids can learn on their own. It could be as simple as scooping and spreading ready-made ingredients on bread, peel fruits, and make toast.

Not only will you encourage them to love cooking, but they will also become aware of the effort it takes to prepare food. Next time that they go to a restaurant or a street food stall, they will have more respect towards people in the food business and will hesitate to waste leftover food.

Safety First

Some kids will ask that they be allowed to cook on the stove, but if you think they are not yet ready to handle open fire, you can let them watch you cook instead. That would be the perfect time to teach them about safety and responsibility. Point out which items they are allowed to use and why they are not yet allowed to handle knives.

Explain that they will one day be able to cook for themselves once they have mastered the basic preparation techniques. These include washing hands before handling food, keeping the kitchen and utensils clean, which food must be refrigerated, how to determine which are raw or ready-to-eat, and when to taste food.

What is Beer Crafting?

If you love beer, then you will know there are thousands of beer styles and brands all over the world, some of these include craft beer including those made in Singapore bars and restaurants.

Unlike wine and other alcoholic drinks, you can make your own beer with minimal equipment and training, but making a great beer requires practice and knowledge of the key beer ingredients.

Here are the basics of beer crafting for beginners.

Brewing Materials

You might want to invest in home brewing-designed materials for beer crafting such as the following:

  1. Airlock, which is used to prevent contamination of the ingredients. This comes in many styles but the most common are the three-piece and bubbler types.
  2. Boiling pot that can hold 3 gallons or more. Pick models that are made from durable but affordable materials such as stainless steel or ceramic.
  3. Fermenter, specifically the food-grade types made of plastic which can hold at least 6 gallons. Once you are used to the beer brewing process, you can invest in more expensive fermenters.
  4. Racking cane used for siphoning which leaves the trub.
  5. Siphon, usually made of plastic and connected to a racking cane and bottle filler.
  6. Bottle filler is a tube used to fill up beer bottles.
  7. Bottle capper for sealing the beer bottles.
  8. Measuring cup, specifically those made from heat-resistant glass for measuring the ingredients.
  9. Thermometer for getting the temperature of the wort.
  10. Stirring paddle made from food-grade plastic to stir the wort.

Additionally, you will also need a supply of bottles and bottle caps if you want to sell or give samples of your beer.

Brewing Ingredients

Most beer, those made commercially by large brewers and craft beer made by small brewers, are made with barley or other grain, hops, water, and yeast. The differences in the amount of ingredients and the type of grain creates different flavors. Additionally, you can include sugars, spices and flavorings, salts and treatments, and beer finings.

Brewing Process

The homebrewing process is almost similar to commercial beer brewing and follows the basic steps of malting, mashing, boiling, fermenting, bottling, and aging.

  • MaltingFirst, the grains are processed by heating them and then drying out and cracking to isolate the enzymes.
  • MashingOnce the malting is done, the grains are steeped in hot water for an hour. Do not boil the grains so that the sugars can be released and broken down. After about an hour, the water is drained. This liquid is called the wort.
  • BoilingThe wort or the sticky fluid is boiled again for an hour. The other ingredients such as hops and spices are mixed to preserve and add flavor to the wort.
  • FermentationAfter boiling the wort, it is set aside and cooled before it is strained and filtered. Next, it is placed in a fermenter and the yeast us added. The wort and yeast are left in the fermenter for weeks in room or cold temperature.
  • Bottling and AgingFinally, the beer is carbonated then bottled.
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Simple Healthy Habits for Your Body and Mind

You’ll be surprised at how a lot of people don’t actually pay enough attention to their own well-being. Fortunately though, there are a lot of habits we can do to keep our mind and body healthy. Here are only some of them.

Stay well-hydrated

Drinking enough water each day will benefit our overall health. It keeps our organs functioning at their best, it keeps mind sharp, it keeps your skin healthy, and many more. That’s why it is important not to neglect your water intake. Especially in Singapore where it gets hot often and you might sweat a lot. So, remember to drink enough water throughout the day!

Eat healthier food

Another pretty obvious habit you should have is to eat more healthy food. Fruits and vegetables are just as important because they also provide the necessary vitamins and nutrients we need daily. In addition to that, they are also low in fat helping us prevent the unhealthy build-up of plaque in the arteries or the blood as a whole.

Don’t follow fitness trends

If someone claims that they have the key to quick weight loss using a certain diet, don’t believe them. Unless that topic is actually well-researched, don’t assume anything from different fitness trends. Of course, there are some who trends that can be effective. But most trends are fads and still stem from poorly-researched endeavors.

Exercise regularly

Regular exercise is also very important for the body and mind. For one, it helps us maintain our weight. Losing fat and gaining muscle to achieve your ideal weight can have many benefits you don’t even know about. It keeps our heart and lungs healthy, it keeps our blood flowing efficiently, and it also boosts brain function.

Walk more often

You might not notice it but people actually walk less and less in today’s time. This may be because of a sedentary job or maybe the person is just lounging around and scrolling on his phone. Because walking is a natural part of our life, we need to start doing it again more often. Try to get at least 30 minutes of walking each day.

Have enough sleep

Another important practice to keep our brain and body healthy is to get enough sleep. It’s already known that Singaporeans lack sleep. But getting enough shut-eye is really more important to your well-being than you think. It gives your mind some much-needed time to rest and take a break and it also allows your body to recover muscles tissues just as well.

Have a hobby

Have a hobby that you’re sure you can have fun with. Having a hobby is a great way to relieve stress. Of course, de-stressing is very important and beneficial not only to our mind but also our body. If you’re stressed too often, your blood pressure will rise and your immune functions will also weaken. So, find a way to relieve stress!