Spring in to Spring


Freshen up with a new season’s colour

Spring is a time to throw back the curtains, freshen up and declutter. It’s an opportunity to bring new life and energy into your  home and one of the best ways to do this is with colour.

Creating a spring-inspired colour palette in your home isn’t necessarily about repainting. A better way to acknowledge the changing seasons is to dress interiors with accessories: a statement lamp or pendant light in a vibrant, on-trend shade, hang an oversized, colourful artwork on the wall, or simply introduce colour with flowering plants and greenery. Other great additions are smaller accessories such as terracotta planters and crisp linen throw rugs in deep blue, which can be draped over the bed or sofa.

A garden-fresh serving of greens is the perfect antidote to the winter doldrums: introduce it with opulently textured fabrics, botanical prints, and by filling your home with plants. A strategically placed mirror can also help up the green factor by reflecting the colours of your garden into your interior.

Introduce deeper tones such as emerald greens and deeper blues through smaller statement pieces such as an ottoman, cushion or smaller art piece, then blend with natural styling elements such as indoor greenery, natural stone, raw timbers and native flowers such as wattle or eucalyptus. Buying a new floor rug is a great way to give your living room a seasonal update. Style your bed to suit the warmer months by switching heavy bedlinen for lightweight, breezy fabrics. Beds will change dramatically in 2017, with upholstered bed heads set to replace the timber bed frames currently dominating the market. Whether you opt for the classic model in neutral colour with buttons, or a plush one in velvet, a bedhead is an easy way to update and add instant glamour to a bedroom.

Pink has been one of the most directional colours of the past couple of years, with everything from barely there blushing whites to deep crimsons brightening up our walls and homewares. Whether you go for pale and pretty, vibrant and playful, or a dusky, romantic shade, pink’s rosy charm makes it a winning choice for spring decor. Pink pairs well with a surprising number of  colours: teaming it with burnt orange will deliver a warm, earthier feel, or put a blue-based (cool-toned) pink with clear greens and sky-blue to evoke the crystalline beauty of a sunny spring day. Sweet florals and luscious decorative bird prints are irresistible. Or simply fill your vases with masses of pink flowers.

Hay fever’s not to be sneezed at

Spring heralds the arrival of the hay fever season – it’s uncomfortable and it’s  only natural to want to get better. Fortunately, there are a number of treatments on hand to relieve the symptoms of hay fever and your local pharmacy is the best source for these.

However, severe hay fever sufferers may have to be referred to a specialist (eg. Ear-Nose-Throat, allergist or immunologist) by their doctor to better ascertain/confirm the type of allergy causing your symptoms.

Hay fever can pose a serious threat to your health if you have asthma because it increases your chance of admission to hospital and the need for steroid medication. It can also have a negative impact on your quality of life. People with very bad hayfever often find that it can disrupt their productivity at school or work, they can be tired and run-down due to poor sleep quality and it can also be socially embarrassing.

The correct drugs and treatments can be effective in reducing your symptoms. You should seek advice from your doctor or a pharmacist about which medicines or treatments will relieve your particular symptoms based on their severity.

Nasal corticosteroid nasal sprays reduce inflammation in the lining of the nose and are the most effective treatment for hay fever. They will help to control itching, sneezing, runny and blocked nose and itchy eyes. You can buy nasal corticosteroids over the counter or your doctor can give you a prescription for a stronger version. You need to take this medicine regularly and long term for it to be effective.

Antihistamine tablets or syrup can help with sneezing, itches and irritated eyes, and can help with a runny nose but are not as good for controlling congestion. Antihistamine eye drops may help control watery eyes due to allergens. Antihistamines treat hayfever by blocking the action of the chemical histamine which the body releases when it thinks it’s under attack from an allergen. This prevents the symptoms of the allergic reaction from occurring.

Combination drugs, which contain an antihistamine and a decongestant, are available, but these must be used with caution. The decongestant can cause many side effects such as irritation of the lining of your nose, nausea or headaches. Decongestant sprays unblock and dry the nose, but they should not be used for more than a few days. This is because they can cause problems such as rebound congestion (when your symptoms become worse after you stop using the decongestant). Decongestant tablets also unblock and dry the nose but they can have ‘stimulant’ side effects such as tremors, difficulty sleeping, anxiety or increased blood pressure.

Natural products, such as saltwater nasal sprays or douches (a stream of water shot into the nose), can also help relieve symptoms.

Time to eat healthy

Spring and it’s time for a new you and eating a balanced diet and nutritious and healthy foods and to enjoy dining out.

Camjai is offering to cater for your barbecues and functions with a healthy range of salads and also has some healthy choices on their menu at their cafe in Bolton Street Narrandera. And the Lazy Lizard Restaurant in East Street has introduced a new menu with some healthy or just plain decadent dishes and is looking forward to catering for your functions, especially Christmas parties.

However, at a personal level as individuals the best way for us to eat for health is to choose a variety of foods from each of the five food groups every day.

These are:
• Vegetables and legumes (beans)
• Fruit
• Grains and cereals
• Lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes (beans) tofu, nuts, seeds
• Milk, cheese yoghurt or alternatives.

Each food group has important nutrients. The amount of each food you need will vary during your life, depending on factors such as how active you are and whether or not you are growing, pregnant, breastfeeding and more. Vegetables and legumes have hundreds of natural nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibre. Eating your vegetables raw is indeed sometimes the healthier option. However; there are also some vegetables which offer useful health benefits when they’re cooked. You can include vegetables at lunch (salads, raw vegies or soups) as well as dinner. Cherry tomatoes, snow peas, green beans, red capsicum, celery or carrot sticks with hummus makes a great snack.

Fresh fruit is a good source of vitamins and dietary fibre. It’s best to eat fresh fruit. If you want to have fruit juices, do it only occasionally. Half a cup is enough. Fruit juices lack fibre and they’re not filling. Their acidity can also damage tooth enamel. Commercial fruit juices are often high in sugars.

Children should have full-cream milk until aged two years. Reduced fat varieties may be suitable after that. Apart from milk, the ideal drink for children is tap water.

Did you know most people don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables? In fact fewer than 10% of Australians eat the recommended amount. Fruit and vegetables contain lots of fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. A diet full of a variety of fruits and vegetables can help protect against heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.

Add salad to your sandwich. Serve fruit for morning and afternoon tea, or try carrot or cucumber sticks. Plan your main meal around vegetables. Add an extra serve of vegetables to each main meal. Eating out? Choose vegetable based pasta sauces, vegetable toppings for pizzas or stir fries with lots of Asian greens. Make sure you order salad or vegetables with your meal.

Lush green lawns need water

Poorly designed and inefficient automatic irrigation systems may use more water than handheld hoses and sprinklers so you need to consult the experts before installing one.

Automatic systems set to turn on regardless of weather conditions and soil moisture content waste water. Systems not adjusted to seasonal needs may deliver water too fast, resulting in runoff, or supply more water than plants require.

Install soil moisture sensors that trigger cutoff switches when it rains and adjust watering duration according to soil moisture levels. Drip irrigation is the most efficient system. It delivers water to the roots of individual plants and minimises evaporation and wind drift. Reticulated drip systems are preferable.

Ideally watering of gardens and lawns should take place early morning. This especially applies to lawns as night waterings can cause fungal problems in certain varieties and most grasses don’t like to get what we call “wet feet”. However, common sense must prevail, if you can’t water in the morning of course water at night.

To check if your lawn needs to be watered, tread firmly on the grass. After removing your foot, if the grass doesn’t spring back and lays flat this is an indication your grass needs to be watered. If the grass springs back then it doesn’t need to be watered.

Watering once a week in summer is sufficient for most warm season lawns. For effective watering, water your lawns and gardens early morning and avoid when windy and hot. Deeply penetrating irrigations that wet the soil to a considerable depth encourage deep rooting and result in a more vigorous, higher quality turf.

Fertilise lawns three to four times a year, this will produce a strong, healthy root system which will enable lawns to survive under stressful conditions a lot longer than a lawn that is never fertilised. The same goes for garden plants. Keep these fertilised; particularly with organic type fertilisers and they too will respond. The use of wetting agents will also help your garden and lawn and reduce your current water bill. Eradicate weeds, as they soak up more water.

Spring heralds burst of colour in gardens

It’s Spring – buds are bursting and soil is warming and there are some essential gardening tasks to tackle:

• Plant seeds for flowers and veggies for summer. Mitre 10 Duffs Narrandera Hardware have a big range in stock.
• Fertilise all plants and lawns as growth resumes.
• Prune hibiscus and also prune plants that flowered in winter and early spring.
• Plant herbs.
• Weed and renew mulches on garden beds.
• Divide and repot cymbidium orchids after flowering.
• Watch for pests on new growth such as aphids and snails. Aphids can be squashed or treated. Snails and slugs can be trapped or deterred.
• Repot potted plants that are root bound.
• Divide herbaceous clumping plants as new growth resumes.
• Dead head spring annuals and bulbs.

Burying your nose into a scented rose bloom is one of life’s delights and smells even better when you have grown it yourself!

Keeping the soil nurtured and plants well fed is a key part of growing great roses at home. Follow these two simple steps to help get the best of out of your roses:
• Sprinkle fertiliser around each rose and then apply a layer of mulch (keep mulch a few centimetres away from the stem).
• Feed roses each week with a specially formulated rose food that’s fortified with additional potassium to encourage lots of flowers.

Caterpillars love roses. The gorgeous rose blooms that you’ve been waiting patiently for are also being eagerly anticipated by some very hungry caterpillars. Caterpillars can chew through and into rose buds as well as eating leaves. Control these destructive caterpillars by spraying roses thoroughly every two weeks, including the undersides of foliage where caterpillars often hide.

Keep feeding roses every week with liquid plant food. It’s a complete plant food that contains the additional potassium that roses need to help put on a fantastic flower show.

Mulching also has several benefits. It helps reduce the amount of water splashing up from the soil onto the leaves, which decreases the risk of leaf diseases. Mulch helps to keep the soil moist and protect the delicate top soil from baking sun. Organic mulches, such as bark chips and lucerne straw, will break down over time and add valuable organic matter to the soil.

Start from the floor up

New flooring is a great way to revitalise the interior design of your home this spring.

Non-traditional wood colouring ranging  from espresso browns to deep blacks, dark stained wood floors create a striking contrast against white walls or furnishings. While beautiful, this style can make rooms look smaller and is more likely to show dust, so it’s best suited to large spaces. Light blonde flooring is a potential classic in 2017. This clean approach can make any space seem bigger and brighter, particularly when subjected to natural light.

The neutral calming effect of grey floors continues to be a popular trend in modern households, particularly with homely, low-sheen finishes.

Bamboo continues to grow in popularity and presence, due to its strength and diverse colour range, which can range from the blonde look, through to shades of bronze, coffee, champagne, natural timber and much more.

Texture will be growing in importance, with a desire for hardwoods with distinct handcrafted looks, like handscraped or wire-brushed finishes. This trend is carrying through to laminate preferences, with many options mimicking the reclaimed wood look. This offers a unique, rustic, and textured look, while being a stain resistant and cost effective alternative to genuine hardwood flooring.

There is also a continued demand for wider, longer hardwood planks which are an ideal contribution to the texture trend, as wider planks create a unified canvas for the inherent aesthetic of the timber, such as knots and grain.

If you still prefer the comfort of carpet, you’ll love the trend for soft, rich, natural surfaces, such as wool carpet. There is also a growing interest in the juxtaposition of textual coverage (like carpet or rugs) against base flooring (like wood or laminate).

Vinyl floor coverings are durable and suitable for any room in the house. Vinyl is usually available as sheets or tiles and are a popular option among many home-owners, particularly in kitchens and bathrooms. A synthetic cousin of linoleum, vinyl flooring is water and stain resistant, versatile and provides good durability for the cost. It is also softer and warmer underfoot than tiles and is often preferred over tiles by people with small children due to safety reasons.

Cooling – consult the experts

Before you spend thousands of dollars to have a cooling system installed consider all cooling and heating options to make sure it’s worth it.

If you decide to install a central system, the right size and design depend on a range of parameters and have to be determined by the supplier to suit your individual situation.

So what does ‘reverse cycle’ actually mean? Air conditioners work on the heat pump principle. As the name suggests, they pump heat from one place to another. A fan draws hot air from your home over a cold liquid, called a refrigerant. Heat is absorbed from the air, cooling it. The air then flows back into your home. The refrigerant, warmed from the hot air, evaporates and flows into a compressor, which creates a high-pressure, high temperature gas. The gas is pumped through a heat exchanger outside your home, which allows heat to escape and the refrigerant to cool and liquefy again. The refrigerant flows through an expansion device that lowers its pressure, cooling it further, so it can absorb heat again.

Reverse-cycle air conditioners, as the name suggests, can reverse this process and be used for both cooling and heating. If you’re looking to put a brand new ducted system in an existing house (as opposed to incorporating it into a new build), you’ll need to take into account a whole lot of details about the structure, inside and out.

Before you start shopping around for quotes or designs you need the following details:
• Your home’s floor plan: How many levels are there? What are the dimensions of the rooms (including ceiling height)? Which direction do the rooms face?
• The size, position and orientation of windows and doors.
• The type of construction (for example, weatherboard or full brick).
• The level of insulation.
• The number of people living in your home.
• The main use of each area (for example, sleeping, living, cooking).
• The ceiling cavity space – slimline systems are available for homes with small ceiling spaces.
• The limitations of your outdoor spaces – just as with split system air conditioners, the outdoor compressor unit(s) needs to be installed somewhere where noise won’t be an issue (for you or your neighbours!).
• Large systems may require a three-phase power supply, which will be an extra installation cost if you don’t already have it.

There are several design features to consider. A supplier may be able to offer a range of options, depending on the design and requirements of your home.

Vents come in a variety of designs and can be installed in the ceiling or walls. Controls are usually hard-wired and mounted on a wall, unlike the remote controls used for single split-systems. You may have one controller for the entire system, but in a large house you might opt for extra controllers in other parts of the house for more convenience.

Sensors are used by the controller to keep the room at the targeted temperature. Large open-plan areas may need multiple  sensors.

Most systems allow for a home to be divided into zones for convenience and economy, so that you can turn on the air-con for only the part of the house you want cooled or heated (for example, living areas during the day and bedrooms after 10pm, or different floors) rather than the whole house. Or, you can set different climate levels for different areas as required.

The ducting is a key component of the system. Ducts need to be thermally efficient so that valuable cooling or heating isn’t lost travelling between the air conditioner unit and the target room. Modern air conditioners are very efficient – for every kW of electricity consumed, three or more kW of heating or cooling capacity can be produced.

Window and split-system models must carry an energy rating label (the star-rating system). Ducted systems have to meet minimum energy performance requirements, but don’t carry the energy rating label. See the government’s energy rating website for more info.

The installer should inspect your property thoroughly before giving you a quote. A ducted system is a huge investment. References from existing customers, word-of-mouth referrals, or online forums can also be good sources of recommendations.

The running costs mainly depend on:
• The type and size of your system
• The energy efficiency of your system
• The time you’re operating the system for
• The construction of your home (floor plan, level of insulation, size of windows, etc.)
• The electricity tariff you’re paying
• The temperature you choose on the thermostat – each degree Celsius lower/cooler you set it to in summer, and each degree higher/warmer in winter, will increase the running costs by 10-15%.

By following some easy rules you can further reduce running costs:
• Close all external windows and doors when your system is running.
• Shade your windows during hot summer days (to keep the heat out) and during cold nights (to keep the heat in).
• When you expect a hot day, turn on the air conditioner early, rather than waiting until your home is hot. Similarly, start heating early when expecting a cold day.

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