3 Last Minute DIY Gift Ideas

The holiday season is a season of giving—but sometimes it can get a bit too hectic. With all the things that you need to keep track of, chances are you’re going to forget a gift for a friend of a friend. But don’t get your tinsel in a twist; here are four DIY gift ideas for your last-minute needs.

1. Personalized Mugs
Give your loved ones something that they can (and will) actually use, with the bonus of a creative, personal touch. Not only are personalized mugs cheap– requiring just an oven, a sharpie and, a mug– they are also very flexible.
To make your own personalized mugs, simply take an oil-based sharpie to a plain ceramic mug, and let sit for a few hours. Then place the mug in an oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes.

To make your mugs extra special, draw things that are special to the person you are giving the mugs to. If you’re not very confident with your illustration skills, you could write out a few lines of songs or poetry. You could even use their favorite book quotes, or lines from their favorite movies.

2. Teacup candles
Teacup candles are a bit more hands-on, but they’re cute and quite cheap. While they take a few hours to make, most of this is spent waiting for the wax to dry (which you can use to do other holiday stuff).

To make teacup candles, all you need to do is to melt candle wax in a pan over medium to high stove heat. Then add a bit of water, candle scent and dye. After the wax has melted, add a candle scent and color.

While the wax is melting, put a barbeque stick on top of the teacup. Tie a wick to the barbeque sticks, making sure that its end is flush with the bottom of the cup. When the wax dries, simply cut off the wax. Simply put your teacup in a box, and voila! You have the perfect holiday gift.

3. Potpourri
For particularly crafty givers, chances are you already have the materials you need to make potpourri. All you need are some dried flowers, an essential oil of your choice, herbs, and spices. Simply add all the dry materials inside a glass container, then add a few drops of essential oil.

For those who want to be extra crafty, try to create a theme to your container. You could make a rose-scented potpourri by using dried rose petals and rose essential oils. You could even make a lavender potpourri of lavender flowers and lavender oil. If it’s looking a little sparse, you could add other trinkets like stones or twine.

4 DIY Holiday Decors on a Budget

There’s nothing like putting up decorations to get into the holiday spirit. But the holidays mean a lot of spending; from gifts to dinners to parties, it’s sometimes hard to make sure that you have money left for decorations. However, with a bit of time and creativity, you could make your own decorations yourself. Here are a few ideas to help you create your own decors on a budget.

1. Use you’re the holiday cards you received as a décor
Putting holiday cards on display doesn’t just make for quick and easy festive decorations, they could also put a smile on the faces of the people who sent them to you. There are many ways for you to put holiday cards on display. One idea is to hang them on a chain, and displaying them on a wall or a door. You could also create a tree design and hang them on faux branches. Chances are, you don’t have to look far to find somewhere to hang them from; use your Christmas lights as a line and clip your cards on them.

2. Use your gifts as decors, too.
Using your gifts as decors can be a great idea as well. Arrange your gifts properly, so that it doesn’t look like they were just thrown under your tree. You could include festive items to display with your gifts. Small figurines like snowmen, deer, or cottages, can be placed on top or beside your gifts. You could even create your own tree skirt, to create a creatively decorative space for your gifts.

3. Create homemade luminaries.
While luminaries are festive and elegant, they can be very expensive and can put a hole in your pocket. Thankfully, it’s not hard to make your own. As long as you have a candle and something festive to put it in, you’re good to go. A few ideas include filling vases or glasses with water then putting candles in them. Another idea is decorating mason jars and putting votives inside. Another idea is to nail holes in a coffee can, forming festive patterns where candlelight can shine through.

If you’re scared about the risk of creating a fire, good alternatives to candles include battery-powered votive lights or bunched-up Christmas lights.

4. Create your own Christmas wreaths.
Wreathes can easily spark the holiday spirit, and with a bit of creativity, you can decorate them with pretty much anything. You can add ribbons, paint them gold, or add glitters. You could even create your own wreaths. You could bunch twigs together and form it into a circle. You could even use faux fur, leaves, or ribbons tied around a circular rod. If you want, you can add baubles or other festive details.

Furniture and Home Accessory Shops in Singapore

While IKEA’s presence here in Singapore is admittedly heaven-sent, sometimes we just want something different to spruce up our home and workspaces. If you’re in the mood for something different, and if your budget allows it, shopping at some of Singapore’s furniture stores can score you your next centerpiece; all you need to have is the right know-how and a keen eye for style. Here are some of the shops that can help you find the next perfect piece for your space.

1. HipVan
HipVan’s selection of laid-back contemporary styles is perfect for those who would like to imbue their home with a casual, easy-going atmosphere. At HipVan, you can choose from a variety of categories to find the perfect piece of your home; their categories include furniture, homeware, and lighting. HipVan even lists all their products online so that you could browse their extensive list of furniture and home accessories from the comfort of your home, which can also help you visualize how an object can fit in your space. They even have an app available for download on both the App Store and on Google Play, so that you can browse their selection on your phone.

2. Artful House
Artful House is the place to go for home accessories with interesting personality. At Artful House, individuality is given high regard; its founders believe that individuality is what makes a piece beautiful and important. Using recycled wood and stained in vibrant colors, you could find breath-taking vintage-style pieces, as well as various contemporary furniture. Artful House also does custom-made furniture, so that you could find the perfect piece completely tailored to your needs.

3. Crate and Barrel
From 1999, Crate and Barrel had been creating home furniture and accessories in the US. They eventually opened international outposts, with an impressive, five-storey outlet at Orchard Gateway. With so much experience behind them, including opening outlets in Canada and Dubai, Crate and Barrel promises great quality woodwork and home accessories. Because of their international presence, you could order their items online and have them shipped to your home if you don’t want to shop at their physical store. With their large collection, they’re bound to have something that will suit your style, from vases to pillowcases, rugs and indoor and outdoor furniture.

4. Departures & Arrivals
For those who like to travel to far-off lands, Departures & Arrivals is the shop for you. This shop sells items that aim to bring the spirit of wanderlust into your home. Departures & Arrivals sources from places all over the world, and is specially curated with a keen eye for detail. Items like the Pagode Lantern and Trivet Sika Tray Tables remind us of far-off places and satiate our wanderlust just until we can hit the road again.

4 of Singapore’s Child-Friendly Libraries

Fostering a love for books in children can be one of the best things that we can do as parents and guardians. Thankfully, there are many public libraries that cater to children, from the eco-friendly play area of the Central Public Library to the Early Literacy Libraries of the Jurong and Sembawang Public Libraries. In this list, we have gathered the four best libraries to take your children to foster in them a love for the written word.

1. Toa Payoh Public Library
From its recent renovation of some areas dedicated to younger readers, Toa Payoh Public Library returns with interesting designs for its renovated sections. The Toa Payoh Pubilc Library has a lot of spaces for younger readers including the Children’s Section, whose shelves are designed to look like a ship. Story sessions are also performed here, which are perfect for children aged one to three. In one corner, there is even a homage to the beloved dragon playground of Toa Payoh, as seats and shelves are shaped in a hexagon, reminiscent of the playground’s mosaic tiles.

2. Clementi Public Library
Home to about 67,000 volumes of children’s books, Clementi Public Library is the perfect library for children. Clementi is also the home for many events and activities aimed at inspiring the creative minds of children of all ages. This library even has an interactive wall located in their children’s corner, to stimulate little minds with kinesthetic learning.

3. Woodlands Regional Library
If you want to learn about Asian children’s literature throughout history, Woodlands is for you. Here at Woodlands Regional Library, you could find the Asian Children’s Literature Collection, a collection of about 8,000 items concerning Asian Children’s literature, including rare publications that date back to the 1900s. Even if you have already browsed through their collection, it is still worth visiting again as it is refreshed and updated regularly. This library also hosts a number of events that are perfect for kids no matter the age, including storytelling and art classes, as well as IT literacy and artist talks for adults and seniors.

4. Central Public Library
Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete with the Central Public Library. Considered to be the first green library for children in the world, the Central Public Library is home to their dedicated children’s play area called My Tree House, where children can sit under a tree made of dozens of recycled plastic bottles. There are also a number of interactive learning spaces where children can learn about the issues concerning the environment. One of these areas is called the Weather Stump, where children can look through weather data, as well as the Knowledge Tree, which aims to educate children through shadow play.

Is Motion Sickness an Illness?

Motion sickness is characterized by the feeling of dizziness, nausea, sweating, headache and sometimes even vomiting, pale skin, fatigue and an increase in saliva production. It’s a common condition that affects a lot of people especially when they travel or when they are on amusement park rides.

Common Causes of Motion Sickness
Motion sickness happens when the movement you see is different from the movement that you sense in your ears and eyes. This means that the signals that your brain receives from your eyes, skin pressure receptors, joint and muscle sensory receptors, and inner ears (the labyrinth) are not in sync. If your eyes see differently than your body feels, or vice versa, you will get the feeling of motion sickness. The inner ear senses the gravity, motion and acceleration, the deeper tissues of the body are the proprioceptors, while your eyes get the signal through the vision. In order not to feel sick, all four sources of the signals must be in coordination.

Motion sickness might also be affected by the levels of the neurotransmitters in the brain such as the norepinephrine, histamine, and acetylcholine. These neurotransmitters are substances that assist in the transmission of the signals in the nervous system.

You may have heard of the name sea sickness or mal de mer that refers to people getting sick from the repeated motion of the boat caused by the swell of water. Sea sickness is a form of motion sickness and is similar to the sick feeling you get when you’re on a roller coaster, elevator, plane or car.

Prevention and Treatment of Motion Sickness
Motion sickness isn’t fatal, but the affected person should watch out for dehydration caused by excessive vomiting. When motion sickness progressively worsens or happens more frequently, you will need to book an appointment with your doctor to check if you have problems in the inner ear or nervous system.

If you have car sickness, make sure that you check the proper ventilation and seating area in the vehicle, because poor ventilation and sitting in areas where you cannot see outside the window can trigger motion sickness. Make sure to observe the following as well so you don’t experience motion sickness: do not read while you’re traveling, do not smoke, avoid big meals before traveling, keep your eyes fixed on the horizon and rest your head properly, and avoid dairy products and salty food before traveling.

The following medications will also help alleviate the symptoms:
1. Meclizine. This should be taken an hour before travel, but it’s not suitable for children younger than 12 years.
2. Scopolamine. The most prescribed medication for motion sickness and can last for a maximum of three days.
3. Cyclizine. This should be taken 30 minutes before travel, but it’s not suitable for children younger than 6 years.
4. Promethazine. This should be taken 2 hours before travel so the effects can last for up to 8 hours.
5. Dimenhydrinate. This is taken every 4 to 8 hours depending on your travel time.

Ketchup or Catsup?

There is no difference between ketchup or catsup, because they both refer to the condiment that is always paired with French fries. But do you know what’s in your ketchup/catsup and why there are two spellings?

The Different Faces of Catsup
This condiment was introduced to Europe in the 17th century by the traders as “catchup” and was later spelled as “ketchup.” It comes from the Malay word “kehap” and the Cantonese name “k’e chap” that describe the fish sauce made from fish guts that were fermented or the brined/pickled shellfish or fish with herbs and spices. Others used to spell catsup as “ke-chiap,” “kecap,” and “ketjap.”

Tomatoes, which are now considered the main ingredient of catsup, was not added until the 19th century. There was a book published 1727 that included the following ingredients in ketchup: cloves, mace, ginger, pepper, lemon peel, nutmeg, white wine, vinegar, anchovies, and shallots. In the United States, tomato-based ketchup was introduced in the 1800s.

The Ingredients of a Ketchup
The kind of ketchup which we usually associate the word nowadays contains tomatoes, vinegar, salt, sweeteners, and flavorings. The tomatoes are washed and chopped before they are pre-cooked or scaled in vats to remove the bacteria. Then the tomatoes are pulped to separate the stem, skin and seeds. Next, the juice and pulp are filtered to create a paste. The paste is then cooked and the other ingredients are added. Finally, the ketchup is filtered and then milled to attain a smooth consistency.

The most commonly used vinegar is the white 100-grain distilled vinegar to make the ketchup last longer. Sweeteners are made from granulated cane sugar, beet sugar, and liquid sugar or dextrose from glucose or corn syrup. The flavorings are made of spices such as cassia, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, cayenne, pepper, mustard, ginger, and paprika.

The flavor will also vary based on the ratio of the tomato juice to the sugar and spices, as well as the variety of tomato used.

The Meal Condiment and Ingredient
Today, ketchup is used as a meal condiment or as an ingredient in different recipes. While the traditional recipe is made up of mushrooms, egg whites, mussels, oysters and walnuts, the most common ketchup, however, is tomato-based and includes other ingredients such as vinegar, sweetener and spices. There are also ketchups made from walnut, mushroom, mango, and banana. In some countries, tomato ketchup is considered tomato sauce, but that creates a confusion because tomato sauce in other countries in Asia is not used as a condiment.

Tomato ketchup tastes tangy and sweet because of the added vinegar, seasonings and sweetener. Some of the seasonings used are onion, coriander, allspice, cloves, garlic, cumin, celery, mustard, ginger, and cinnamon. It is used as a condiment to French fries, sandwiches, hotdogs, and hamburgers. It is also used for dressings, sauces, and as an additive flavoring.

Efficient Money-Saving Tips for College Students

Let’s face it, most college students live on a tight budget. While there is a temptation to splurge on outings (after class) and drinks (together with the rest of your block), you cannot always give in to these invitations especially with lots of book fees and other requirements.

Although this frugal lifestyle is nowhere near easy, there are tips as to how you can be smarter in spending your money. Being fully aware of where you spend every dollar is one key to attain financial success in the long run.
Buy/rent used text books

Textbooks in college are notorious for costing way too much or too expensive for your budget. That said, it is better for you to consider used text books instead. You can also opt to rent them since these books are generally good only for a brief period of time (a semester or so). You can definitely save a lot of money that way.

Sell last semester’s books
If you’ve come to a point where you already hoard a number of old books in your residence unit, you might as well consider selling them. Used books not only help other students, but it also helps you gain additional profit. You can use the extra budget to buy new books required for the brand new semester or add them to your personal savings.

Don’t make impulse purchases
Before you buy something, consider asking yourself if you really need it or not. Deliberate on it back and forth before you cash out. Only buy the things that are considered necessary, and only splurge on your purchases when you have the extra money to do so.

Limit the times you dine out
Eating in restaurants may be efficient and delicious, but the costs only add up over time. It is better to limit the times you decide to eat out – and learn how to cook meals at your residence unit instead. This allows you to develop your cooking skills, one of the most important life skills you must learn at your age.

Avoid falling into vices
You are at an age where you must take good care of your body (if you want to live long and healthy). It is then important to step away from the temptation of vices, since they’re both bad for your health and your personal budget. Vices such as drinking and smoking may be a relief from all the university stress, but it only deteriorates yourself after all that drunken haze and nicotine boost is gone!

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