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Benefits of Reading Out Loud to Your Kids

In our time today, you’ll see more and more parents use phones, tablets, and TVs to entertain their children. For one, this sets the children up for eye damage at such an early age. And for another, they’ll turn to their gadgets for fun instead of interacting with other children. We may not like to admit it, but this will have a profound effect on their mental and emotional growth. The classic and better way to entertain your child is to use books! Here are some reasons why.

Great way to spend some quality time together

First and most importantly, you get to spend more quality time with them. Having time to interact with their parents intimately is very important for a child’s growth. If you spend more time at work then at home, reading to your kids when they go to bed is a great way to make up for lost time. It can give them great memories as they grow up and it will surely strengthen your bond as a family.

It instills a love for reading

As said earlier, your kids can make great memories when you read to them. This is why reading out loud can be a great way to instill in them a love for reading. Because they understand how entertaining books can be at a young age, they’ll learn to pick books up as they grow older as well. Of course, this is important because books are the most common learning tools. So, when they go to school, they already understand the importance of reading!

It improves their vocabulary

Children learn by imitating others around them. That is why it’s usually better to read books aloud yourself instead of letting your kids do all the reading. In this sense, you have a better grasp of grammar and pronunciation, so your children will learn about those aspects better as well. Sure, it would be great if they learned on their own, but if you expose them early to vocabulary, they’ll have an easier time learning.

It teaches lessons and values

The truth of the matter is, you can dictate moral lessons or values to children. Rather, you can, but they might not understand it instantly. A better way for them to learn about values is through books. Children are more likely to learn their values because they imitate their favorite characters. They’ll have a hard time following and understanding constantly say, “Don’t do this.” or “This is what you should do.” Also, since they’ve already heard about the bad guys in books, they should also have a better understanding of what’s good and what’s not.

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Here’s Why More Women Should Lift Weights

You’ve been doing a lot of exercise lately and finally, you see some visible changes! As the days go by that you stop exercising, you notice that you’re starting to gain weight again. “I’ve done a lot of cardio already, why am I still gaining fat?” If you’re running out of options and your daily morning jog isn’t cutting it anymore, weight training should be your best bet. But then again, most women would turn away from the dumbbells and it is pretty understandable. But there really are a lot of benefits and this article will hopefully convince you so.

You really won’t bulk up

The biggest assumption women make when it comes to lifting weights is that they’ll look too big and muscular when they lift weights. This is actually a grave misconception only brought about by the sight of actual men lifting weights. But actually, women won’t bulk up like men simply because they don’t have as much testosterone which is one of the main factors for muscular growth. That means you’ll have muscles that look toned but not big and bulging. And this, of course, can help you achieve a slimmer look.

Strength training can improve your weight loss efforts

Although cardio is still the superior calorie-burning exercise, lifting weights also has it’s own advantages when it comes to fat-loss. For one, while you burn calories, you also build muscle. Earlier we used an example of how when you stop exercising, you start to gain weight again. The simple answer to this is gaining more muscle through weightlifting. If you have more muscles than fat, your body will adjust accordingly so even if you do stop exercising, you won’t gain unnecessary weight easily.

It can also help protect your bones

If you don’t already know, osteoporosis affects about 80% of women mainly as a result of postmenopause. This is because the body will no longer produce estrogen after menopause which leads to loss of bone minerals and weaker bones overall. Lifting weights, in this case, is said to be the best defense against osteoporosis. This is because one of the known benefits of weight training is that it increases bone density. Of course, along with a healthy diet, you can fight and eliminate any chances of such bone disease.

It’s also a great way to fight stress hormones

One of the biggest reasons you lose motivation to exercise is because of stress. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress, don’t get this wrong, but doing too much in one session can actually increase your stress hormones. This is especially true when doing cardio or endurance training. The longer you run or stay on a bike, the faster your stress levels may rise. This is something you’ll rarely get when you lift weights though. You can do it for 45-60 minutes and you can already consider it a great workout. You burn calories, gain muscle, and don’t even have to do it too long!

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5 Ways to Eat Healthy Even on Budget

Most people see healthy eating as an expensive habit to maintain. Healthier food options tend to cost more and if you’re struggling to make the ends meet, even a single dollar can already make a huge difference. Still, the cost of eating healthy meals shouldn’t come in between you and your health. With that in mind, we listed some of the best ways on how you could eat healthy while saving your hard-earned money.

Create a Weekly Meal Plan and Grocery List

After knowing what items are on sale or in season, schedule a time each week to create your grocery list and meal plan. Doing this will help in ensuring that you’ll only purchase what you need, as well as in keeping you from spending money on things that’ll just go to waste.

Know What Foods are in Season

Visit the website of your favourite grocery store to see what foods are on sale and are in season so you could plan your meals accordingly. Also, check goods that are in season, and if possible, purchase local produce to cut back on your expenses.

Opt for Marked Down Goods

Most grocery stores in Singapore have a dedicated area for marked down goods that are closing in with their expiration date. Don’t be afraid to purchase and consume these products though. If you’re going to freeze the products within the next few days, check out this deal the next time you visit your local grocery store.

Choose Plant-Based Protein Sources

Meat is the number one source of protein, but it can get really expensive. So rather than having meat as your primary source of protein, opt for non-animal sources like lentils, chickpeas and beans instead. They can be cooked in different, delicious ways and are very affordable. With this, you’ll be able to get your daily dose of protein sans spending too much.

Repurpose Your Leftovers

Avoid throwing your leftovers in the garbage. Instead, store them in a clean container and eat them the next day. If you have the skills, repurpose your leftovers into a salad, a soup or a wrap. Just make sure that you use proper storage containers so your repurposed dish will last longer.

Healthy eating doesn’t always have to be expensive. All you need to do is be smart in purchasing your groceries and in planning your meals, and you’ll definitely be able to enjoy affordable and healthy meals.

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The Secrets to Achieving an Effective Beauty Sleep

If you’re young and working in the city, then chances are, you like talking about how much sleep you’re not getting because of your weekday drinks. But come weekend, isn’t it great to just wakeup fresh and well-rested? Or have better-looking skin because you rested early for three consecutive days? Well, that’s all because of good sleep. So if you ever decide to start hitting the sack early one of these nights, here are several ways on how you could possibly make the most out of your beauty sleep.

Keep Your Hands Off Your Gadgets

Perhaps you already heard about it, but that little white and blue lights on your phone will only disrupt your sleep. You could turn on the night mode on your gadgets but it won’t only keep you up, it’ll also wear your eyes out. Instead of spending more time on your phone at night, just set your alarm and snuggle with your partner or your favourite pillow – this will definitely help in relaxing you more.

Start a Night-Time Beauty Routine

Sitting down and paying extra attention to your skin can be a good me-time ritual. Start with the thinnest formula to the thickest, then the most concentrated to the least. Go straight for the eye cream and apply it directly on the under eye area so it could refresh your sleep-deprived skin. Once you’re done, pat on some night serum and let it sink in. After that, seal in the hydration using a night-time moisturizer so you’ll wake up to a softer and glowing skin.

Read Novels Before Hitting the Sack

If surfing the net or reading online is your way to wind down at night, then choose to go back to reading a good old novel. With this, you keep reading until you fall asleep but ditch those murder mysteries though, as they might keep your mind from relaxing.

Invest in Quality Sheets and Blankets

That’s no surprise here. It’s the reason why most hotel blankets are so comfortable and so good to sink into. To recreate the same feeling on your bedroom, make sure that you invest in quality blankets and sheets.

Enjoy a Luxurious Warm Bath

Enjoying a warm bath and shower is a guaranteed way to calm you down. Plus, it’s more comfortable to hit the sack when you’re all clean and scrubbed.

Getting a quality beauty sleep is the key to looking fresh even after a hard day at work or a night full of partying. So be sure to put these sleep-friendly tips to use so you could maximize your beauty rest, and enjoy a youthful-looking skin.

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Five Important Things You Need to Know About Sunscreen

Sunny days in Singapore may come and go, but UV damage can stick around and leave its mark on your skin for a long time, and that’s why picking the right sunscreen matters a lot. However, you don’t always get the sun protection you wanted even if you do apply it, and there are many reasons why: it could be that you’re not applying enough, or that it’s not actually good sunscreen.

Here are five things you need to know before choosing one for the next time you need or want to spend time outdoors:

Expired sunscreen does nothing

You might still believe that that bottle might still be good even though you haven’t used it in a long time, but that’s really not the case. In fact, keeping it in your car or in areas with high temperatures can make it clump faster, which makes it less effective.

Watch out for Vitamin A

Some sunscreens have added vitamin A, which does have its benefits – it’s a moisturizing antioxidant with great anti-aging properties – but it increases the risk of skin lesions when it interacts with sunlight.

Another think you should be looking out for is the SPF rating. While higher numbers give better coverage, keep in mind that the best rating is actually 50, which is all that anyone could ever need. SPF ratings higher than 50 do nothing against sunburn.

Not all sunscreen is water-resistant

Swimmers are especially prone to getting a bad case of sunburn, so if you love to take a dip to cool down in the summer heat, be warned that there is a limit to how long sunscreen can stay “water-resistant”. To be safe, be sure to re-apply your sunscreen as soon you get out of the water and dry off, or after every two hours.

Good sunscreen protects you from TWO types of radiation

Ultraviolet light from the sun comes in two types: UVA, which penetrates even the thickest layer of your skin, and UVB, which only stops at the skin. The latter is responsible for sunburns, but it’s the former that can do much more damage.

And because most sunscreen only protects against UVB, you want to look for sunscreens that contain ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which help protect againt UVA.

Sunscreen can’t prevent skin cancer

There’s simply no proof that sunscreen is guaranteed protection against sunscreen, so it wouldn’t be a smart move to count on that alone. Taking other steps like staying in the shade, and wearing a wide-brimmed hat along with applying sunscreen is the best way to stay protected against the sun.

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How to Care for Peace Lily Plant

Whether grown outdoors or indoors, the peace lily is a popular houseplant because of its simple but elegant blooms. They are also a popular ornament in minimalist-themed homes because of the white lily and green foliage. If you are planning to grow a peace lily, here are important things to keep in mind.

Choose the right size for your home. Indoor peace lily should be about 16 inches tall, but if you want to grow one outdoors you can find a variety that can grow up to 6 feet. They are perfect for the tropics and require minimal care, so you only need to worry about the moisture and how much sunlight it gets.

Use a peat-based mix. You need to re-pot the peace lily after you purchase it to a peat mixed with perlite. Alternatively, you can use other peat-based mixes. You can also divide the plant to grow several peace lilies.

Fertilize every two weeks. If the plant looks like it is thriving, it will not need regular fertilizing. But if you just re-potted it, fertilize the peace lily once every two weeks with a diluted liquid plant food. Then, fertilize only after every six weeks if it looks healthy.

Do not place in a cold room. Keep the temperature above 16°C all the time because they are not cold tolerant. Do not place directly in front of the air conditioner or sources of draught.

Avoid direct sunlight. Although the peace lily plant needs sunlight, remember that in its natural habitat it grows on the forest floor where it is exposed only to dappled sunlight. Direct sunlight can damage the leaves causing it to turn yellow, so place it near a window where it can still get some sunlight but is shaded from intense heat especially during the hottest times of the day.

Water frequently. The peace lily plant needs a lot of moisture but do not drown it in water. Wait for the top inch of the soil to dry slightly before watering again to keep the moisture. You can also keep the leaves moist by misting regularly to improve the humidity. Use filtered water if possible because the chemicals in tap water can cause browned leaves.

Peace lily does not need pruning. Pruning is only necessary if you want to reduce the size of the plant. Just cut the flowers and leaves that do not look healthy, but you should probably just leave it as it is.

Watch out for pests. The peace lily might have brown leaf tips if you are over-watering or over-fertilizing it. Yellowed leaves can be caused by either under-watering or overwatering. It is also prone to mealybugs and scale infestation if not cared for. Use insecticidal soap or soapy water if you see signs of pests.

Do not handle the plant unnecessarily. All the parts of the peace lily are poisonous so do not handle them when unnecessary. Keep them away from children and pets, too.

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Popular Materials for Cosplay Armor

Cosplaying is a serious business to a lot of hobbyists nowadays, and creating an outfit from scratch is no joking matter. In fact, you can become an instant celebrity if you’re good at the craft. These are the most common materials used by cosplayers for creating armor.

Foam

There are two popular types of beginner materials commonly used to create armor; craft foam and floormat foam. Each one requires different techniques and your preference will depend on the size, function, and design of the armor you’re cosplaying.

Craft Foam can be bought cheaply in rolls or sheets and is common in most hobby shops in Singapore. What makes them ideal for most cosplayers who need a full armor is that they are easy to carry around because they’re light. They’re also easy to shape and manipulate using heat, but they are not ideal for creating round pieces. It’s a flimsy material and needs resin or glue and fabric to make it last longer and to seal its porous surface.

Floormat Foam, also called EVA foam, is also cheap and is much lighter than craft foam. However, it might be challenging for beginner cosplayers because it’s more difficult to work with. It can be sanded, but you will need a respirator. It will also leave a lot of mess and it needs to be sealed before it can be painted. You’ll also need a lot of practice when cutting the floormat foam because it’s thick. Most of the seasoned cosplayers will opt for thermoplastic and PVC foam once they are more confident with their crafting skills.

Cardboard

Cardboard is used for papier mache and paper clay armor. Some cosplayers find these materials much easier to work with than the others, although they need the same level of skills to create a cosplay-worthy piece. For a cardboard armor, you will need the following additional items: newspaper, glue, papier mache paste or mix, paper tape or masking tape, gesso, and sand paper.

Casting and Molding

Casting and molding is an advanced armor-creation technique that will require knowledge of how to work with materials such as, plastic, resin, and rubber compounds. The most common resins used by cosplayers are polyester, urethane, and epoxy. The molds are usually made from scratch using either a putty or a paste, but the material will also depend on the type of resin you’re going to use to hold it in.

Advanced armor cosplayers go the extra mile by learning how to craft leather, chainmail, fiberglass, and other advanced materials. Even your skills at other crafts, such as dressmaking and sculpting, will also be a bonus when creating armor.

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Get to Know the Good Bacteria in Your Food

You might have heard of the name good bacteria in advertisements of probiotic or super food, but do you know which microorganisms are considered beneficial and what they can do for our health?

Not all the germs we come in contact with or live in our body can cause diseases. In fact, a lot of bacteria help keep our bodies function properly, particularly by breaking down our food.

Probiotics

The word probiotic refers to both the method of preparation of a food or ingredient and the act of introducing good microorganisms into the body. Probiotic food often comes from fermented food, but fermentation has been overtaken by other methods of food preparation, that is why most of us don’t get the good bacteria in our food.

By adding probiotic food in your diet, you will improve not just your digestion, but your overall health because of the efficiency in nutrient absorption and conversion. The best probiotic food are yogurt, fermented milk like kefir, fermented soy like miso, fermented tea like kombucha, green pickle, and pickled sauerkraut like kimchi.

The Good Bacteria

These are the good bacteria you might find in your probiotic food.

Bacillus coagulans

This good bacterium is used to treat various gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease. It’s even useful while recovering from respiratory diseases and immune response diseases. Bacillus coagulans is recommended as a dietary supplement besides the medication for treatment of these diseases.

Lactobacillus acidophilus

The most well-known good bacterium is the Lactobacillus acidophilus, but other lactobacilli (more than 80 species to date are considered probiotic) are also used in probiotic food and supplements to help in the digestion of food. L. acidophilus is naturally found in our intestines and is responsible for the production of hydrogen peroxide and lactic acid, which can create an unsafe environment for possibly harmful bacteria in our body. It’s not that hard to repopulate your L. acidophilus because they’re quite common in yogurt.

Streptoccocus thermophilus and S. salivarius

S. thermophilus is also used to treat diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramps, other digestion problems, and most importantly, lactose intolerance problems. They’re quite common in probiotic products such as mozzarella cheese, yogurt, and other fermented dairy food. Meanwhile, S. salivarius has been found to help improve the symptoms of bad breath, which is probably why its genus refers to the saliva.

Bifidobacterium bifidum and B. breve

Bifidobacterium bifidum is known to help people with stomach ulcers, because they can repair the damage caused by a harmful bacterium called Helicobacter pylori. On the other hand, Bifidobacterium breve is known to help improve the symptoms of childhood constipation according to several studies.

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12 Best Western-Themed Video Games

With Red Dead Redemption 2 already out, you might be wondering what other Western-themed titles you can play when you have finally exhausted all the possible activities in the game. Here are some of the best in the genre.

Red Dead Redemption (2010)

If you haven’t played this game, you do not need to catch up on the story to understand RRDR2. The new game is a prequel to this title which follows a former outlaw who is hunting for the people responsible for the murder of his wife and his son.

Gun (2005)

This open world game follows Colton White, an Apache marksman. It is set in 1880 and includes areas in New Mexico, Arizona, Kansas, and Colorado.

Sunset Riders (1991)

This side-scrolling game introduces Billy, Bob, Cormano, and Steve who are bounty hunters looking for the most wanted criminals in the American Old West. The game is divided into several stages each ending with the primary target outlaw.

Outlaws (1997)

One of the first-person shooters in the Western genre, it was also the first game to introduce the sniper zoom detail. The player follows the story of a retired marshal who is looking for his kidnapped daughter.

Westerado: Double Barreled (2015)

This open world game has the similar storyline for most of the Western games on this list: you control a character looking for criminals responsible for the murder of your family.

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood (2009)

If you enjoyed the first game in this series, this sequel focuses on the events two decades after the first. It is set in the American Civil War and follows the adventures of Ray and Thomas McCall, deserters who fled to save their home.

Wild Arms (1996)

Although set on an alien planet and has several fantasy elements, it takes all the important points in the Western genre for an interesting merging of concepts.

Darkwatch: Curse of the West (2005)

This one combines the elements of Western with steampunk and horror. Players control a vampire and gunfighter named Jericho Cross who is out to defeat a secret organization.

Hard West (2015)

Set in a fictionalized American Old West, players get to fight not just outlaws but metaphysical enemies such as ghosts and demons as well. It also has a turn-based tactical mode besides the strategic exploration.

Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive (2001)

This real-time tactics game allows for control of six characters, with the leader taking the role of John Cooper. The goal is to find and defeat El Diablo with the help of his friends.

Red Dead Revolver (2004)

This is actually the first game in the Red Dead series and follows the story of two friends Nate and Griff.

The Oregon Trail (1985)

One of the most iconic video games ever, you should at least have played this game if you are a fan of the western genre. Players control a wagon of settlers on their way to Willamette Valley in Oregon.

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Sleepless Singapore

They say the more money you make, the less you sleep. Well, with that analogy, poverty in Singapore is hardly critical, which might make it safe to say that Singaporeans sleep less. At three in the morning, you will find healthy and active Singaporean citizens going for a run in the park or around the condos. Does the city ever sleep?

Sleep vs. productivity

There are two major questions we can ask concerning this topic: Namely, what keeps us awake and is our lack of sleep destructive for them? The usual working hours for everyone in the world is around eight to five but normally for Singaporeans, this could go up to nine or ten. How do they survive with limited sleep and what do you think keeps them awake at night?

One of the laws in Singapore is that you cannot drink in public places from 10:30pm-7am in the morning. Unless you want to spend hour nights in a bar that usually closes around 2 AM, you won’t be able to use alcohol and going out at night as an excuse for you lacking sleep. Well, the real problem here is actually not concerning the locations in which Singaporeans spend their time on but rather the hobbies that Singaporeans spend their time with.

Are we using our time correctly?

Social media in Singapore is very strong and eats up approximately 3 hours of every Singaporeans day just to scroll down or communicate with others. This is usually the reason why most people are not able to sleep very well very often. Now, is lacking sleep usually a bad thing? Well, this answer totally depends, if you are over stressed and not taking care of your fitness, then the lack of sleep is definitely bad for you.

But as most Singaporeans tend to take care of their health by keeping up a regular cardio, watching what they eat, handling stress, or train themselves to function efficiently, the results of getting the minimum amount of sleep isn’t so bad. Singapore may be a land of opportunity but does that mean sleep has to be sacrificed?

Finding the right balance

Well, it all depends on the lifestyle you live and how you balance it. Too much of anything isn’t good and you have to know yourself well enough to resist the things that aren’t good for you. Self-discipline may be a dreadful word for most but once you learn more about self-discipline and time management, you’ll realize that it’s definitely possible to fit more amazing three things into your life.

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