Home Spa Basics: How to Pamper Yourself Without Leaving the House

Home Spa Basics: How to Pamper Yourself Without Leaving the House

If there’s one thing we could all use right about now, it’s a good rest — and nothing says relaxation more than a spa session. However, with your next trip to the spa postponed until further notice, why not take matters into your own hands?

A little pampering session can do wonders — not only for your body, but also for your mind’s wellbeing, with stress relief being the ultimate goal. The good news is that you don’t need to book a session at an expensive resort. Instead, you can transform your comfy apartment into a personal self-care sanctuary. Whether you’re thinking of a long, warm bath or a quick face mask to take the edge off, we have just the tips to create the perfect spa ambiance — within the comfort and safety of your own home.

So, get your cucumber slices ready and let’s start with the basics:

1. Make Room

Set aside a specific area in your home for your pampering ritual. The easiest space to convert into a relaxation pod is the bathroom because it already has many of your spa essentials, such as warm water and fluffy towels. Or, maybe you’re a stay-in-bed type of person who likes to slap on a 30-minute face mask and a cooling eye pack while taking a power nap. If so, then the bedroom is the perfect space to take your mind off things and focus on yourself.

2. Set the Mood

If you’ve ever been to a spa, you know that certain stimuli are a must. In particular, scent and sound play a crucial role in setting the relaxed vibe you desire.

To begin, stock up on your favorite fragrances in the form of oils, candles, reed diffusers, sprays and anything in between. Then, pay attention to how you react to certain smells. As a general rule, choose lavender or ylang-ylang for their calming properties, or eucalyptus, mint or citrus for a boost of energy.

Then, select the right background noise. You don’t have to have meditation music and Tibetan singing bowls if that’s not your thing. Whatever sounds are calming to you are the right ones to use. That could mean a soothing acoustic mix, your favorite Top 40 playlist or even white noise.

3. Pick Pampering Products

Oils, cremes, masks, serums, bath salts, lotions, essences, bath bombs, body scrubs and calming pillow sprays — just to name a few — are part of any spa’s arsenal. However, you don’t have to go overboard with products — you won’t be able to use them all before their expiration dates, anyway. Rather, just make sure you have the basics, and keep in mind that hydration is the foundation of a good spa session. If you’re not sure where to begin, simply focus on a nice aromatherapy bath and lotion quickly afterward. Take a peek at Aura Cacia for some inspiration for your next bath.

Now, get your fluffy robe and let’s find out more about what makes an at-home spa session:

1. A Nice Bath

A good soak is essential to wash away the day and clear your mind. But, there are different types of baths you can take for the true spa experience at home:

Entire-body baths ease muscle tightness. Go beyond bubble baths and use bath salts, flower petals, essential oils or Rocky Mountain Soap bath bombs for a more colorful and relaxing session.

Lower-body baths stimulate circulation due to the temperature difference in your dry, upper body and your lower body that’s soaked in hot water.

Soaking your feet fights accumulated tiredness. Pair it with a nice foot massager from Homedics and you’ve got yourself the perfect remedy for swollen feet and painful soles at the end of a long day.

Steam baths offer a sauna experience you can easily recreate. Use either the steam setting on your shower or turn the water on the highest temperature to fill your bathroom with steam. Then, breathe in, close your eyes and empty your mind.

2. A Good Scrub

Scrubbing removes dead skin cells and leaves your skin fresh and ready to absorb the nutrients that follow in the next products in your routine. This means that, after a good prep with a scrub, skincare products like toners, serums and face oils will be more likely to work properly and benefit your skin.

Similarly, if you’re planning a full-body scrub, check your pantry because ground coffee and brown sugar are your best allies. Follow with a hydrating body lotion and feel the weariness leave your body.

3. A Soothing Mask

Masks are a staple of any spa trip. Whether you’re a fan of full-body packs or a trusty mud mask, chances are that you already know about the benefits of masks — as opposed to just lathering a product and going about your day. Certain ingredients take longer to activate, which is why you need to give them a few minutes.

In particular, face masks complement a good skin routine and help prevent breaking, blemishes and dullness. Plus, it’s easy to make your own with all-natural ingredients or choose your favorite from the endless supply currently on the market.

But, your skin isn’t the only thing that can benefit from masks. Your hair often reacts to how stressed and tired you are, too. As a result, you might find yourself needing to fight breakage and dehydration. Depending on your hair’s needs, give yourself a good scalp massage, put on a DIY or store-bought hair mask and let it work its magic while you relax.

4. Some Well-Deserved Sleep

It’s not news that sleep comes easier after a warm bath. But, what you may not know is that a self-care routine can continue even while you’re asleep. Creating a soothing ambiance is as crucial to a successful spa session as it is for a good night’s sleep.

So, turn to fragrances that are known to help people drift off and incorporate them into your sleep routine by spraying them onto your pillow. Alternatively, you could also invest in an oil diffuser like the ones from Vitruvi and use essential oils designed to comfort you and put you into sleep mode, such as lavender or chamomile.

Having a beauty routine is great for your skin. Plus, with everything going right now, having a routine of any kind is something you can control. However, a spa session is more than just sticking to your regular beauty routine as the focus is more on your mental wellbeing. So, keep in mind that the products you use are less important than remembering to breathe, clearing your mind and patting yourself on the back because you conquered yet another day.

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Published at Fri, 31 Jul 2020 07:00:28 +0000

14 Upgrades for Your Favorite Summer Cookout Classics

14 Upgrades for Your Favorite Summer Cookout Classics

Is your mouth watering yet?

Summer is the best season to spend time outdoors. Sure, it can get a little hot, but the best part of an afternoon by the pool is getting to enjoy a summer cookout. Barbecues have existed since before summer break, but they didn’t turn social until the early 1920s when politicians would use them for campaign events.

The backyard barbecue, as we know it today, had its start in the post-World War II era, when the patio grill came onto the scene. From then on, Americans have used their backyards to grill different foods and enjoy the company of friends, family and neighbors. Here are some ways to upgrade the summertime classics!

hamburgers

Hamburgers

The hamburger is quintessential to the American BBQ experience. While you’ve probably been using the same recipe your Dad passed on to you, sometimes, you just want to try something new. Here are some ideas to take your classic hamburger to the next level.

Create a sauce

Get inventive with your hamburger sauce by finding ways to incorporate condiments and spices into a delicious sauce. You can even create your own herb mayo, mixing in soft herbs such as parsley, tarragon and basil to create a new twist on a classic.

Make sure you protect your clothes from getting splashed as you mix the condiments by wearing a fun personalized apron!

Try a new meat

Not everyone can eat beef, so consider some alternative burger options, such as veggie burgers, ground chicken burgers or even lamb burgers. It’s important to remain respectful of others’ dietary needs when hosting a backyard barbecue, so to ensure your burger alternatives hit the mark, try them out with the family at home before serving them to guests.

Build the burger right

Most people don’t think about how the burger is layered. Make sure you place the sauce on the bottom bun, then lettuce and then the meat. By having the lettuce between the bun and the meat, it prevents the bun from getting soggy.

Use different cheeses

Pick pepper jack if you want a kick, mozzarella if you want stringy or even feta if you’re doing a twist on a lamb Greek burger. Cover the sizzling burgers on the grill with a lid to make sure the cheese melts evenly and around the meat, ensuring every bite is filled with cheesy goodness!

hot dogs

Hot dogs

The hot dog has been a favorite of kids and adults for decades. Their simplicity makes them super easy to upgrade — go big or go home with these ideas! Plate any of them on a unique personalized cutting board for your guests to admire for an extra special touch.

Mac ‘n’ cheese dog

Make a bowl of mac and cheese the way you like and then top your hot dog with it! It’s a unique twist on the classic cheese dog. Plus, it combines two of everyone’s favorite barbecue foods!

Nacho dogs

Cover your hot dog with melted queso, salsa, a dollop of sour cream and chopped jalapenos. Don’t forget to crunch up some tortilla chips to add some crunch and garnish! The kids will go crazy for them.

Tropical hot dog

If you’re hosting a luau-themed BBQ, a tropical hot dog is the way to go. Grill up some pineapple, make some sweet teriyaki mayo and then, add some sliced red onions to make it a full Hawaiian experience. Bonus points if you boil some chicken, shred it and mix in some BBQ sauce with it!

deviled eggs

Other upgrades

You can also upgrade other classic barbecue foods. Here are some ideas!

  • Spicy deviled eggs: Switch up your deviled egg game by using buffalo sauce and blue cheese in your deviled egg filling. It’ll definitely kick up the heat in your backyard party!
  • Avocado deviled eggs: Make your deviled egg filling creamy and cool this summer by incorporating avocado and lemon juice. You’ll love how soft and light it feels when you bite into it–perfect for summer!
  • Greek potato salad: Even if your Aunt typically brings the potato salad, try out a different version this summer! Consider making something like a Greek potato salad, which uses lemon juice and olive oil to turn the potato salad into a whole different experience.
  • Serbian coleslaw: Keep the European vibes going by using a Serbian coleslaw instead of a dairy-based slaw. Since it doesn’t use mayo or cream, you run less of a risk of the slaw going bad in the heat.

summer cookout cocktails

Cocktails

Since it’s typically very warm out during barbecue season, you’ll want to make sure your drink selection is supreme. Encourage your guests to hydrate using water, but don’t be afraid to serve some cocktails or smoothies as part of your summer cookout!

Make sure you serve them in a pitcher or beverage server so you don’t have to man the drink table all night. Also, try to avoid using glasses to minimize the risk of having to clean up broken glass. Instead, use durable, clear plastic cups.

  • Sea breeze: A classic, blend together grapefruit and cranberry juices with vodka. Add a dish of sliced oranges or grapefruits for guests to use as a garnish on their cups or let steep in their drink.
  • Rum screwdriver: While traditional screwdrivers are made with vodka and orange juice, upgrade it by using rum in place of the vodka. Consider using a flavored rum, such as coconut or mango. You could even add ice and blend it all together for a different texture.
  • White sangria: Use peaches, plums and strawberries (all perfect summer fruits) to create a white sangria. Consider using a sweeter white wine, such as moscato, and blending it all together with ice to make a sweet, fun and unique frozen beverage.

Grill it up a notch for your summer cookout

Take your summer cookout to the next level by upgrading your burgers, hot dogs, side dishes and even your drinks! Your outdoor party will be the talk of the neighborhood for the rest of the summer — and it’s sure to be tough to beat for the rest of the season.

Published at Thu, 30 Jul 2020 12:00:53 +0000

Survey: Pandemic Hinders Plans for 43% of Renters Ready to Buy a Home

Survey: Pandemic Hinders Plans for 43% of Renters Ready to Buy a Home

COVID-19 continues to impact the U.S., affecting not only our health, but also our financial and life decisions. For those who wanted to take the leap from renting to buying this year, their hopeful plans are quickly changing. At the start of 2020, 11% of renters said they were ready and planning to buy a home this year, according to a recent survey conducted on RENTCafe.com. Conditions were looking up for Gen X renters, 15% of whom were making plans to buy a home this year, as well as for 14% of Older Millennials.

However, the pandemic has obstructed the path to homeownership for 43% of renters ready to buy, our survey results revealed. On top of high home prices, this is yet another deterrent forcing many renters to further delay or give up on the most important archetype of the American Dream. The survey, which ran at the end of May 2020, asked 7,000 renters about their housing plans before and after the coronavirus hit.

Of those who decided to continue renting, the largest share had plans to downgrade to a smaller apartment, driven by Gen Z-ers and Baby Boomers. However, Millennials and Gen Xers had bolder plans, a high percentage of whom expressed a wish to upgrade to a larger apartment in 2020.

Economic uncertainty causes 43% of would-be home buyers to change plans

Meanwhile, 43% of prospective home buyers who said they changed their plans quoted economic uncertainty as the top reason for doing so, followed by loss of income as the second most cited reason. Given the unprecedented times we’re living in, even the few renters who were determined to make the commitment to buy a home this year are now getting cold feet. Moreover, as many as 50% of Older Millennials, the most likely demographic to become homeowners, were forced by the pandemic to let go of their dream.

The least concerned were Baby Boomers, of whom only 37% reconsidered buying a home. As a generation that has already weathered financial uncertainty with previous economic crises, a considerable percentage of them are decided to find their footing amid financial uncertainty and not let current events stop them from owning a home.

Nearly one-quarter of renters now believe they will never buy a home

As part of the survey, we also asked renters about when they planned to buy a home. While most respondents, 56%, were optimistic about buying in the next 5 years, as many as 23% said that they’re never buying. Considering the current market conditions, renting appears to remain the lifestyle of choice for many. Half of Baby Boomer renters expressed no intention of ever buying again. The less costly, more convenient renting lifestyle may play a role. With renter households over 60 increasing considerably in the past decade, Boomers seem to be getting more and more comfortable with renting.

On the flip side, Millennials are most eager to buy a home in the near future, particularly the older cohort, with as many as 68%, or two-thirds of Older Millennials planning to become homeowners in the next 5 years. Long-considered renters-at-heart, Millennials have reached a point when they are set on making the transition.

Considering the survey results, it’s safe to say that the pandemic has had a real effect on the housing plans of most people. The general tendency is to avoid taking many risks during this period of uncertainty and to choose a more economically safer approach. This is clear across all generations, despite some of them showing more stoicism than others.

To get an expert’s opinion on important issues related to renters’ housing choices, we spoke with Doug Ressler, manager of business intelligence at Yardi Matrix:

Q: What one piece of advice would you give to Gen Zers and Younger Millennials who want to become homeowners sooner?

A: The buy vs. rent analysis is partially financial and partially emotional. The financial part of the analysis is difficult to work out because of future assumptions. However, one also needs to understand the level of risk and flexibility that come with each option as well as individual desires before making a purchase versus rental decision.

Q: There’s a large share of renters who think they’ll never become homeowners. Why is that?

A: When it comes to the complexities of real estate investment, personal finances, and future economic time horizons, the conventional wisdom of buying being better than renting does not always hold true.

Many renters don’t think that they’ll ever own a home because they might not afford additional expenses that come with this decision, such as interest, property taxes, insurance, and maintenance for the entire ownership period. On the other hand, renting consists only of monthly rent and a possible one-time deposit, therefore economically, renting might make more sense than buying a home.

Q: In your opinion, what is the number one reason Millennials, Gen Xers, and Boomers do not purchase a home and rent instead?

A: As more Millennials are moving up the earnings ladder, get married, and start families, housing is increasingly taking center stage. Although they have a higher number of graduates than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, they are less likely to own a home. Some of the barriers to homeownership could be delayed marriage, student debt, and choosing to live in high-cost cities.

Q: Is it a good idea to buy a home now? In which cities?

A: This would depend on financial considerations and the targeted area of purchase. In more than half (59%) of housing markets nationwide — 442 of 755 U.S. counties — renting a three-bedroom property is now more affordable than buying a median-priced home.

The lowest median home prices would be in the Houston metro area, Orlando metro area, or Chicago metro area, all three boasting a high percentage of Millennials.

Doug Ressler is the director of business intelligence at Yardi Matrix, where he is responsible for the creation of business and statistical research models for the commercial real estate industry. Previously, he was an analyst at the multifamily market research company Pierce-Eislen. He holds a master’s degree in business administration from Arizona State University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Pennsylvania State University.

Methodology:

RENTCafé is a nationwide apartment search website that enables renters to easily find apartments and houses for rent throughout the United States.

The survey data was collected through an online questionnaire posted on our website between May 20 and May 27, among a total number of 6,963 U.S. respondents. 

The respondents were asked individual questions about their housing choices and some demographic data such as age.

We used the following age ranges for each generation: Gen Zers: 18-25, Younger Millennials: 26-30, Older Millennials: 31-40, Gen Xers: 41-55, Baby Boomers: 56-75.

For customized data and other requests, please contact us at media@rentcafe.com.

Fair use and redistribution

We encourage you and freely grant you permission to reuse, host, or repost the images in this article. When doing so, we only ask that you kindly attribute the authors by linking to RENTCafe.com or this page, so that your readers can learn more about this project, the research behind it and its methodology. For more in-depth, customized data, please contact us at media@rentcafe.com.

Published at Thu, 23 Jul 2020 07:00:17 +0000

Climate-Controlled Storage Considerations for Your Extra Stuff

Climate-Controlled Storage Considerations for Your Extra Stuff

It’s smart to think about where you store your belongings and how the heat affects them.

Some apartment communities offer climate-controlled storage to residents, and some don’t. You might be one of the many renters that use an off-site unit to keep large or seasonal belongings safe when you don’t need them. Those closed-off areas heat up quickly, which could make your possessions break down.

Check out a few climate control considerations you can take this summer with your storage unit. These tips anyone can use to protect their belongings until the first fall breeze cools everything down.

climate controlled storage

1. Review your storage items

Most of the people who rent an apartment or condo live in a small space. They won’t always have room in closets for things like their annual Christmas tree or Halloween decorations. They may need to store furniture that’s been passed down from a relative or has been broken.

The majority of household goods will maintain their quality even if they aren’t in climate-controlled storage. Take care to check on anything vintage, though, as age may make them more susceptible to extreme temperatures.

2. Remove any alcohol

It’s tempting to store alcohol in your storage unit, but that could ruin it before you get the chance to enjoy it. Wine is especially vulnerable to fluctuating temperatures, which is why it should stay somewhere cool and reliable like a wine cellar. Hot air causes corks to expand and contract, allowing air to seep into wine bottles and ruin the contents with excess oxygen.

3. Check for photographs

Photographs are some of the most common items found in storage units. You may have some in old shoeboxes from generations past, but humidity caused by summer weather will destroy them.

If you know you need extra room for photos, climate-controlled storage will moderate and minimize the moisture in your unit. Pictures wouldn’t be at risk of cracking and deterioration in any season.

collectibles

4. Evaluate all collectibles

Many people collect things like coins. You may think they’re safe in your storage unit over the summer, but even something made of metal could be in danger. Extreme heat and summer humidity trigger the oxidation process that ruins metals, like coins, bikes or vintage belongings.

The best thing to do may be to focus on air conditioning your collections. Bringing down the temperature could solve your preservation issues, which doesn’t always come with climate-controlled storage. Some units only control humidity, and others focus on temperature. See what the best options are closest to where you live.

5. Move medical supplies

It’s smarter than ever to store medical supplies and medications in case you need them in the future. You might want to put these in your storage units but take some precautions. If it isn’t climate-controlled, humidity could ruin bandages and heat can make medicine ineffective. Talk with your doctor if you think any current prescriptions have been affected by the temperature of your storage unit, as the weather has changed over the last few weeks.

Research your climate-controlled storage options

Climate-controlled storage is an excellent way to keep everything you love safe during the summer. Research what you have in your unit to discover if it can deal with the heat or if it needs air conditioning and humidity monitoring.

Once you learn about your storage needs, you can find the best unit and enjoy your summer without worrying about what you’ve put away.

Published at Tue, 21 Jul 2020 04:58:33 +0000

5 Tropical Fruits You Can Grow in Your Apartment 

5 Tropical Fruits You Can Grow in Your Apartment 

Apartment gardening is a fun and delicious hobby, and you can actually grow a lot of different plants in a small space  from herbs and spices to vegetables and micro-greens. But, did you know you can also grow more exotic plants, such as tropical fruits? Plus, some of them even make gorgeous houseplants outside of their fruit season, so it’s always nice to have them around.  

If you want to add something new and exciting to your apartment garden, take a look at some of the tropical fruits you can actually grow indoors. 

Avocados 

avocado fruit pit and plant

An avocado tree is easy to re-grow from scraps. Its also been growing in popularity, so you may have already seen this technique on the internet.

First, take the pit from an avocado and place it on top of a wide-neck water bottle, or prop it with some toothpicks on top of a glass filled with water. The important part is that the bottom of the seed touches the water. Then, in about five or six weeks, the pit will develop roots and you can transfer it to soil and wait for the plant to grow. After you move it to the soil, remember to water it well until the transition is complete (since you’ve taken it out of plain water and put it in something dry). Finally, place the pot in a location where it can get indirect sunlight. Too much direct sunshine is harmful to the avocado plant. 

Lemons 

tiny lemon tree

Lemon trees are perfect indoor plants because theyre sensitive to cold or extreme temperatures, so the stability of the indoor space has beneficial effects on the growth of the fruits. A great variety for apartment gardening, in particular, is the Meyer lemon, which grows in smaller trees that are easily kept in an apartment. Just make sure to transfer it to a large pot with good drainage so it can develop a good root system 

The lemon tree needs to be watered about once a week. Keep it next to a window or on your balcony (if youre in a warm climate and your balcony has southern exposure) for plenty of sunlight. At the same time, give it plenty of space as it will still need to grow and develop, despite being a smaller variety.  

Pineapples 

potted pineapple plant

Surprisingly enough, pineapples don’t need that much space. They can actually serve as a houseplant and even bear fruit indoors. You will need a little patience, though. It can take up to a year and a half for a pineapple plant to produce fruit. But, in the meantime, it will sprout dark green leaves, which can look great in your apartment. 

Pineapples can be grown from scraps. So, if you have a leftover fruit, cut off the top where the leaves are and let it dry. Next, put it in water and set it somewhere with stable temperatures. Then, change the water weekly or every few days until it develops roots. After that, transfer it to soil and it will start to grow. Keep the pineapple plant in a pot with good drainage, water it regularly and place it in a sunny spot. Eventually, it will produce flowerswhich then give fruit, and you’ll have fresh pineapple in your apartment.

Papayas 

papaya fruit

Although the papaya plant can be grown from the seeds of a store-bought fruit, that would take longer and you might not get the two varieties — male and female — that you need for the plant to bear fruitSo, as an alternative, look for plants that are already grown and select a variety that produces both types of flowers so you don’t have to harvest multiple plants.  

If you do decide to grow papaya plant from seed, transfer the papaya plant only once into a larger pot with good drainage. Meanwhile, keep in mind that the plant needs a lot of sun, so place it near a large window, and use natural fertilizer to help the plant develop as it consumes a lot of nutrients. Then, when the papaya plant grows, it will need to be watered daily. Even if it doesn’t produce fruit in the first year, it is still a gorgeous addition to your apartment, and its large, tropical leaves are perfect for a jungle-themed room. 

Nectarines 

nectarines with leaves

The dwarf variety of nectarine is an easy plant to grow indoors because it won’t grow into a full-fledged tree. Instead, it will remain manageable as a houseplant.  

You can start a nectarine tree from seed — which will take a few years to develop and produce fruit — or you can buy a tree that is pre-grownIf you use a seed, get the pit from a nectarine and scrub the remaining fruit off it. Then, place it in a glass of water to see if it sinks or floats. If it sinks, that means it will be good to plant.  

Next, open the pit to retrieve the seed from inside, put it in a damp paper towel in a plastic bag and place it in a warm spotOnce the seed starts to germinate and develop roots, you’ll be able to plant it in soil. Place the pot where it can get a lot of sunlight and keep it in a warmer area so it develops properly. Also, make sure to use a pot with good drainage — nectarine trees like water, but they dont do well when the soil is too damp.  

To enhance the plants you grow indoors — especially tropical fruits — use natural fertilizer to give them a necessary boost of nutrients. How often you fertilize will depend on the type of fruit you’re growing, so research the appropriate methods for fertilizing your plant 

Living in an apartment doesnt mean you cant have a garden — and a tropical one at that! While it will require some dedication and lots of patience, indoor gardening can be your new passion. Bonus — you get to eat what you grow and that will feel like quite the accomplishment.

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Published at Wed, 15 Jul 2020 10:01:46 +0000

The Best Workouts to Do at Home

The Best Workouts to Do at Home

Get swole without a gym membership.

Getting to the gym can be a challenge (and the coronavirus pandemic has made it impossible for many), so more people than ever are looking for the best workouts to do at home. You don’t need a lot of space or fancy equipment to get the physical and mental benefits of regular exercise and stay healthy at home.

We asked trainers and gym owners to share good at-home workouts and practical advice about establishing the best home workout routine for you. These gym alternatives will have you in shape in no time.

Set your workout goals

The best workouts to do at home are the ones that you actually do. If you haven’t exercised in months, be realistic when starting up an at-home fitness routine.

“First, give yourself some grace,” advises Kayla Goebel, owner of Strong Roots. “The recent situation has thrown so much out of whack. Second, set yourself small, attainable goals. Is it realistic to ask yourself for 10 minutes of movement today? Be honest with yourself and give yourself something to reach for that is reasonable.”

The best workouts to do at home don’t require equipment

It’s easy to convince ourselves that we have to buy special equipment to have the best home workout routine. But we already have everything we need.

“While staying at home, our body weight is the best exercise tool that we have, as it is convenient and great for developing relative strength,” explains strength and conditioning coach Mickey Nol Allapach Na Pombhejara, who created virtual workouts for AvaniFit at Home on Instagram. “There are many types of exercise you can do with just bodyweight, such as resistance training, cardio and mobility/flexibility.”

Sample workout routines for each exercise goal are included below, so pick what you want to focus on and get started. If you can’t decide, just figure it out as you go. “Movement is movement,” Goebel says. “Maybe right now you need something a little different than you normally do. It’s OK to assess and adjust.”

1. Circuit training

circuit training

“One of the best workout routines is a circuit: a series of exercises that you repeat three to five times through,” explains Kathryn Rand, who teaches free online fitness classes through the Virtual Achievers Facebook group.

Rand’s sample workout will increase muscle strength and endurance, using only your bodyweight. The stronger you get, the more reps you’ll do.

Bodyweight resistance circuit

  • Exercise duration: 60 seconds
  • Rest time: 15 to 30 seconds
  • Reps: 3-5

Exercises:

  1. Jog in place
  2. High-knees jog
  3. Push-ups
  4. Jump squats
  5. Plank (Hold the push-up position with arms and back straight)

2. Cardio

step ups

If you want to kick it up a notch, try a cardio circuit. It’ll get your heart pumping.

“Movement is key,” says Mariah Prussia, professional trainer, women’s self-defense instructor and owner of MPX Fitness. “Individuals can also increase the increments of time and transition the workout into HIIT.”

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) features short bursts of intense exercise to burn calories. Because the movements are focused, you can fit a productive workout into just a few minutes.

As you get stronger, you can increase the duration of each exercise and add resistance. Household items can stand in for more expensive exercise equipment in the cardio circuit Prussia recommends.

Upper body cardio workout

  • Exercise duration: 20 seconds (increase time for greater cardiovascular benefit)
  • Recovery time: 10 seconds
  • Reps: 4-8

Exercises:

  1. Push-ups
  2. Burpees with or without a jump
  3. Band bicep curls (Loop an exercise band, belt, scarf or fabric under both feet or a bent knee. Tuck arms to sides, contract biceps and bring forearms up.)
  4. Step-ups (Use a step or stable surface.)
  5. Superman (Lie on your stomach with arms overhead, then raise and lower arms and legs.)
  6. Front raise (Hold a soup can or water bottle in each hand. Raise to shoulder level, keeping palms down.)
  7. Plank

3. Flexibility and mobility

flexibility workout

Focusing on flexibility can protect against injuries and increase your range of motion. Long holds require both physical and mental stamina. Ayurvedic yoga specialist Andrea Krejci Paradis explains that focusing on the breath will help you go deeper into a pose.

“The most important part of each pose is to be mindful of your breath and create a sense of steadiness and ease in the body,” she says. “If your mind begins to wander away from the present moment, notice where it wandered to (without judgment!) and bring it back to the present by reconnecting to your breath.”

Flexibility and mobility sequence

  • Exercise duration: 10-20 breaths
  • Recovery time: The breath between poses
  • Reps: 1-2

Exercises:

  1. Right leg crescent lunge (Right leg lunges forward, left leg reaches behind, with the knee touching the ground.)
  2. Left leg crescent lunge
  3. Wide leg forward folds with arm variation (Step feet out wide, interlace fingers down your back and bend forward at the waist.)
  4. Cobbler’s pose (Sit on the floor with bottoms of feet together, knees open. Fold forward.)

Respect your neighbors

The best at-home workouts don’t need to bother the neighbors. Avoid working out during quiet hours. If you have downstairs neighbors, adjust the intensity of your workouts so you’re not jumping or running above them.

“Wireless earbuds are a necessity for working out at home,” says Rand. “That way, your music (or podcasts) can motivate you without disturbing your roomies or neighbors.”

Schedule your home workouts and make them a habit

When you find the best home workout routine for you, make it a priority. It can help to schedule workout sessions like you would an appointment. Or get friends involved.

“Reach out to a friend and commit to doing the same workout at the same time,” suggests Clare Lynch, who teaches virtual XABeat Dance classes. “At a time when people are feeling isolated, fitness to bond over gives you one more shared experience that helps you feel connected.”

Published at Thu, 16 Jul 2020 16:54:46 +0000

Ask an Expert: Q&A with Suze Orman on Renting, Saving and Investing

Ask an Expert: Q&A with Suze Orman on Renting, Saving and Investing

We’re all living through a surreal time right now, and many of us are wondering — what’s next?

So far, the majority of U.S. renters are paying their rent despite the job losses brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. According to the National Family Housing Council’s Rent Payment Tracker, 95.9 percent of apartment households have made a full or partial rent payment for June — just a 0.1 percent decrease year-over-year.

Expanded unemployment benefits, stimulus checks and efforts made by apartment owners and management companies have been a boon for many American households. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the country’s personal savings rate surged to a record high of 32 percent in April and remained strong at 23 percent in May.

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However, with relief efforts related to eviction, utilities and credit card payments coming to an end, now is the time to be thinking about what’s next.

Expert advice from Suze Orman

We recently spoke with personal finance expert Suze Orman — author of the new book “The Ultimate Retirement Guide for 50+” and host of the well-known financial podcast Women & Money — about the advantages of renting, especially right now. We also discussed the process of planning a home purchase, how to best manage our money right now and what she hopes we’ve all learned from this pandemic.

Here are excerpts from our conversation.

looking at house

Tip #1: It’s not about buying vs. renting

Apartment Guide:

In your new book, you emphasize that if you own a home, you should aim to pay it off by the time you retire. If that goal isn’t going to be within reach for a renter who’s thinking about buying a home, would you say they should focus on renting the most affordable home possible and put their full efforts toward eliminating debt and adding savings?

Suze Orman:

Homeownership is not the lock and key to financial freedom. I know some seriously wealthy people who have never owned a home in their lives. Because with homeownership also comes tremendous costs of replacement — roof, windows, air conditioning, plumbing, refrigerators, dryers and all of these things. And plus you have the risk of devastation from a natural disaster — from hurricanes, to tornadoes, to floods, to earthquakes, to mudslides and so on.

So there’s a lot of downside to homeownership, along with upside. The true financial dream isn’t about owning a home; it’s about being secure with whatever you’re doing with the money that you have. A lot of people find it fabulous to just simply rent a condo or an apartment, or something — if there was ever a time to be a renter, it’s right now. And the reason is if you look at the statistics on it, rents are going down by 11-15 percent in many cities across the United States. Because when the virus hit, a lot of people just got up and they walked out — and they moved in with a friend, which left a lot of places available to be rented. So it’s important that you understand — if you can’t afford to buy a home, that’s ok, there’s nothing wrong with that — as long as if you’re renting, you’re also using any money you possibly can to do what? To invest. To make it grow. You can live in a home, or your money can live in investments.

I know you’re under the theory that “Well, I’m just paying somebody else’s mortgage. That’s why I want to own a home.” It’s not that simple. You’re not just paying their mortgage, because most landlords are running at a break-even point, if not a loss — because they had to make a down payment to buy the piece of property that isn’t making money, and all the other things I just said. So I don’t think that anybody should ever say, I can’t buy a house so, therefore, I’m never going to be ok. If you want to rent, and you want to rent for the rest of your life, I personally do not have a problem with that on any level.

Tip #2: The true cost of homeownership = Mortgage payment + 40 percent

Apartment Guide:

So, if a renter doesn’t see a way to own a home and have it paid off by retirement, you would say no harm done, just keep your rental smart and invest your money?

Suze Orman:

Yes, invest your money.

A lot of you are under the fallacy that if you’re paying, let’s just say, $2,000 a month for rent, then you could afford a $2,000 mortgage — and that isn’t how it works. It’s not just the mortgage payment; it’s the property tax, it’s the property insurance and it’s maintenance. Plus, it’s the loss of growth on the 20 percent down payment that most of you should make if you’re buying a piece of property. Therefore, it’s usually at least 40 percent more than your mortgage payment, is what it typically costs you to own a home.

So if your mortgage payment is $2,000, then really when it’s all said and done, you’re looking at about $2,800 a month to really own that home because you have to put a few hundred dollars a month away in a maintenance fund, and then you have upkeep. So if you think you can afford a $2,000 mortgage payment, equal to your rent, you must have at least an additional $800 free that you would pay to own a home. That $800 should go into a savings account every single month. If you have an eight-month emergency fund, then that $800 should go into Roth IRAs and investment accounts.

You just have to be smart with the money that you’re making, and you can’t look at it so simplistically — well, I’m paying $1,200 a month, and I’m paying my landlord’s mortgage payment. Let’s say you own a home, you lose your job — now you can’t make your mortgage payment, now what are you going to do? You are in real danger of possibly losing your 20 percent down payment as well.

And think back to 2007 and 2008, when there were people feeling happy that they didn’t own homes. Don’t think something like that can’t happen again — it absolutely can. So don’t look at what you want to have; look at what you do have. And if what you have is a rental apartment and you like living there, then stay there — but take the extra money that it would cost you to buy something and invest it.

budgeting

Tip #3: Your housing payment should fit your circumstances

Apartment Guide:

One longtime standard about the cost of housing is that consumers should keep rent or mortgage payments at no more than 30 percent of their gross income. Do you think that guidance needs to change, given the financial stress that many people find themselves in right now during the coronavirus pandemic?

Suze Orman:

I think anybody who makes it that simplistic doesn’t understand finance on any level. Because what if you’re somebody who makes money, but yet you leased a car for $600-$700 a month? You have a child who has autism and maybe needs certain educators — which is more expensive than having a child who doesn’t need that. What if you’re not healthy? What if you are responsible for taking care of your parents, financially speaking? What if in your area, the price of real estate is just so over-the-top but yet your income isn’t anywhere near what it needed to be for that? And so you may have to spend 60 percent of your income just to buy a property.

So it’s not just 30 percent of your income should go to buy a property. All of you need to do what I call “play house.” For six months, if you’re renting and your rent is $2,000 a month, and I said it might be $800 more for property taxes, insurance, maintenance and other things, then for six months, I would pay my rent and then put that extra $800 away in a savings account so I knew if I could easily afford to own a home that was going to cost me $2,800 a month. If I paid that on time at the first of every month, if I didn’t feel like I was house rich and cash poor — then after six months you have an additional $4,800 to put toward closing costs or whatever it may be. If you find that it was a struggle and that you were late on making that payment, you didn’t like the fact that you couldn’t go out to eat because of it, then you were about to buy a house that you can’t afford. So play house, and you’ll know how much of a home you can afford.

Tip #4: Keep your debt for now and build your cash cushion

Apartment Guide:

I think there’s a lot of uncertainty right now about whether to prioritize getting rid of debt or building up a cash cushion. I know you advocate for eight months of cushion.

Suze Orman:

Without a shadow of a doubt, you best prioritize your eight-month emergency fund. And the reason is this — we’re at the end of the 90-day moratorium during which many credit card companies have allowed people to go without paying their credit cards. Now you have thousands of people calling up these credit card companies, and the credit card companies are not extending them to a further 90 days. So you’re going to have thousands of credit card companies not getting paid, and that’s going to hurt them tremendously. And then what happens is that they’re going to get afraid and possibly going to do again what they did in 2007 and 2008 — they closed down people’s credit limits and they also closed down their credit cards.

So the last thing you want to do is to use your money to pay off your credit card and then all of the sudden the credit card companies get scared again because nobody’s paying their bills, and they close down anybody’s credit cards that have an available credit limit on it. Now you don’t have any cash, you don’t have the ability to use credit cards, and now you’re screwed. And so you need an eight-month emergency fund — so above all else, put as much cash as you can away from unemployment, the stimulus check, whatever it is, and build up an eight-month emergency fund. Keep building it and pay the minimum amount due on your credit card. If you’re still working, then you should absolutely try to do a balance transfer to a 0 percent interest rate on a credit card. And you should put all of your charges on a credit card and pay the minimum payment due right now. As time goes on, if the virus subsides, if they come up with a vaccine, if everything becomes normal again — and now you have an eight-month emergency fund or even more — if you want to take some of the money out at that time and pay off your credit card debt, if you are at a high interest rate, ok, no problem. But until things calm down, you better have an eight-month emergency fund or be building your way to it.

Tip #5: If you’re comfortable investing, do it

Apartment Guide:

For people who have money to invest, how do you feel about making investments right now?

Suze Orman:

Fabulous. I think that by February of next year, you’ll see a pretty solid stock market. You’re going to see ups and downs between now and then but if you just dollar cost average every single month into the stock market — and if you don’t know what to buy, simply buy the Vanguard Total Market Index Fund, symbol VTI — buy it at a discount brokerage firm such as Charles Schwab, or TD Ameritrade or Fidelity, where you can buy that ETF free of commission, especially if you buy it online. I would absolutely be doing that if I were you. The market will have rough days and good days, but over the long run, you’ll be fine. Every time there’s a down day, and certain stocks I want to own, I buy more. I’m not afraid of this market at all.

Certain stocks are on highs — and maybe they hold, maybe they don’t, but what else are you going to do with money? Are you going to put it in a bank with half a percent interest, maybe one-and-a-half percent in a high-yield checking account online? So as long as you have at least five, 10, or 15 years until you need this money, then you should absolutely be dollar-cost averaging monthly into the stock market. If however, you need money within a year or so, then that is money that does not belong in the stock market — it never has, and it never will.

With that said, if you are scared to death, and investing makes you afraid, don’t do it because the goal of money is for you to be secure. And if investing is going to make you insecure, just don’t do it because once you’re afraid, you buy at the wrong time, you sell at the wrong time and you’ll blow it.

money jar

Tip #6: Learn to love saving more than spending

Apartment Guide:

Your new book focuses on people age 50 and older — but what advice would you give to people right now, across generations?

Suze Orman:

I think that all of us, regardless of the generation that you happen to be in, the main thing is, the goal of money is for you to be secure. The way to be secure no matter what happens is to have at least an eight-month emergency fund. As you get older and you enter retirement, you want a three-year cash cushion, not an eight-month one.

Beyond that, here’s what I would say to everybody — I hope we’ve all learned, over the past three months, the real importance of getting pleasure out of saving vs. getting pleasure out of spending. I think that it’s been obvious how much money you’ve been able to save over these past three months. And what are you doing to do with that now?

Did you just learn that rather than spending $3,000 to go on vacation when you didn’t have an eight-month emergency fund — if you could turn back the hands of time, don’t you wish that instead of having gone on that vacation every year for five years, which is $15,000, that you’d put that into an emergency fund? Don’t you wish, rather than eating out every single night and going to bars and doing things on weekends, that you would have taken that money and put it in an emergency fund?

Hopefully, you’ve learned the lesson that just because you make money, doesn’t mean you should spend it. The more money you make, the more money you should save. So I hope you’ve learned that lesson about what you wish you hadn’t done, and what you wish you had done.

You better start doing those things right now — because if you think this is the last time that something like this is going to happen, I have a bridge to sell you.

Making Suze Orman’s financial advice work for you

In turbulent times like these, understanding what you can influence is a powerful way to cope. Suze Orman’s question — now that we’re saving more, what will we do with that money? — is an invitation to think about the elements of our financial lives that we can have a say in right now.

Whether you negotiate better lease terms with your landlord or property manager, “play house” to see if you can afford that home you want to buy or find ways to save more and invest that money, Suze’s guidance is to think about the ways that you can leave this pandemic better than you entered into it.

Header photo courtesy of Marc Royce

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Published at Tue, 14 Jul 2020 17:20:34 +0000

How To Plan (And Stick To) A Food Budget

How To Plan (And Stick To) A Food Budget

Life without food wouldn’t just be literally impossible – it would be really boring. Three good meals a day aren’t just vital to your health, but a good meal can also be a highlight of your day. Not everyone, though, can easily afford the groceries involved in making an extravagant dish – or buying one from a nearby delivery or takeout spot – for every meal. That’s why it’s so important to plan a food budget: You can’t forgo food, so you need to know your limits for preparing it or ordering it. Here’s how to plan a food budget and stick to it.

plan food budget

Set an income-based limit

Experts recommend capping your food budget at about 10 percent of your disposable income. This budget includes not just grocery purchases but dining out: According to one study, the average American spends six percent of their budget on groceries and another five percent on dining out. Although the total of these two percentages is 11 percent, many experts recommend using 10 percent for food budget calculations since this number is far easier to work with, not to mention a tad bit more conservative.

That said, calculating your 10 percent monthly food budget isn’t as simple as just taking your monthly income and moving the decimal point one digit to the left. Instead, to plan your food budget, you’ll need to first subtract your other monthly expenses – rent, utilities, health insurance, student loans, and any other bills you know you need to pay – from your monthly income. The difference between your monthly income and expenses is your disposable income, from which you can then calculate your food budget.

Plan your food budget based on previous spending

After you calculate 10 percent of your disposable income, you can compare it to your previous food spending. If you realize that, in previous months, you’ve spent only eight percent of your disposable income on food, then you can easily stick to the recommended 10 percent. However, if you find that you’ve previously spent 12 percent of your disposable income on food, you have two options. 

The first option is to commit to your new lower 10 percent budget, which you should divide into six percent for groceries and four percent for dining out. Alternatively, if your finances haven’t been strained by your previous levels of spending, you can keep going at your 12 percent food budget. The main point to keep in mind is that, though 10 percent is a widely recommended suggestion, you can be flexible with it. 

Plan your food budget by week

Although you’ll plan your food budget based on your monthly income, you may find it easier to determine what food you’ll need for meal prep (or how many meals per week you expect to dine out for) on a weekly basis. Consider setting up weekly allotments for specific groceries and meals, and be sure to indicate the quantity and price of each item you expect to buy. A spreadsheet may be helpful for ensuring that your weekly purchasing plan keeps you within your budget.

Be smart at the supermarket

An easy way to overspend beyond your grocery budget is to go to the supermarket without a plan. Experts recommend showing up at the supermarket with a grocery list that you’ll strictly adhere to instead of just impulsively grabbing items you think you need. Additionally, a grocery list that prioritizes healthy foods, individual ingredients used to cook whole meals, and a variety of tastes and styles may feel more satisfying, in turn preventing you from overspending on items not on your list. 

You should also be sure to take advantage of sales and coupons, though be careful not to overstock. You may also save money by knowing when to buy store-brand versus name-brand. While at the supermarket, don’t be afraid to spend ample time comparing prices – especially two items’ unit prices instead of their total prices – to get the best deal possible. You have all the time in the world to find the best deals – it’s your wallet where you might be limited.

Published at Mon, 13 Jul 2020 13:13:09 +0000

How to Change Your Address with the USPS

How to Change Your Address with the USPS

Don’t forget to do this when you move!

Moving can be time-consuming and complicated. But filing a USPS change of address is quick and easy. It just might be the easiest part of your moving to-do list.

There are two different ways to complete your USPS change of address form. One is extremely affordable, and the other is free, so don’t let scammers convince you that you need to pay them a lot to handle this simple service for you.

You can fill out a USPS change of address form yourself in just a few minutes. Here’s how to do it.

USPS change of address form online

The quickest and easiest way to change your address is to file a USPS change of address form online. It takes just a few minutes and goes into effect almost immediately. All you need is a credit or debit card and a valid email address.

Once on the U.S. Postal Service website, filling out the USPS change of address form online is easy:

  • Choose whether your move affects you as an individual, your entire family or your business. You will also need to indicate if your move is temporary or permanent.
  • Enter your old and new address in their respective fields. If you have a P.O. Box, enter it in the street address field.
  • Then, select a mail forwarding date. It can’t be more than three months from your filing date, so plan accordingly.

You’ll begin to receive mail at your new address seven to 10 postal business days from your filing date or the moving date you indicated on your USPS change of address form, whichever comes first.

Note: Requests to change an address and forward mail from a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency (CMRA) to a new address cannot be processed, because these are private companies that operate outside of the Postal Service. You will have to go to the CMRA itself to file a change of address. You can, however, file a USPS Change of Address form to forward mail to one of these entities.

Does USPS charge for change of address?

There will be a one-time charge of $1.05 on your credit or debit card for filing a USPS change of address online. This charge is to verify your identity and ensure that you are the person instigating the change. Pre-paid cards and gift cards are not accepted.

If you prefer not to use a credit or debit card, you can file a paper USPS change of address request for free. Everything you need can be found at any post office and on the Postal Service website.

filling out document

Fill out a paper USPS change of address form

You can also go to any post office and request a Mover’s Guide packet, instead. Fill out PS Form 3575 inside the packet with your old and new address, type of move and mail forwarding date.

Hand it to the postal worker at the counter, or drop it into the mail slot before you leave. You can also fill it out at home, and send it out with your outgoing mail. No postage is required if the form is mailed within the United States.

Other mail forwarding options

If you’re moving out of the country, you’ll have to go to a post office to pick up a paper USPS change of address form. International mail forwarding can’t be requested online.

For short-term travel and business that requires trips to several different locations, Premium Forwarding Service Residential might be a better (but more expensive) choice. If your move falls somewhere in between temporary and permanent, learning how mail forwarding works can help you select the best option for your situation.

USPS address change confirmation

If you filed your USPS address change online, you’ll receive confirmation via email as soon as your request is processed. Make sure that you provide an accurate email address so you can check for the confirmation.

If you’ve filled out a paper copy of the USPS address change form at a post office, you will receive a Move Validation Letter (MVL) at your new address. This document confirms your move.

Welcome kit is on the way

The Postal Service will also mail a welcome kit to your new address. It includes helpful information for new residents, including contacts at the local Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and voter registration office. It will also include a community guide featuring neighborhood facts, offers and coupons.

If you’ve filed your USPS address change online, you can access the coupons and information included in the paper version of the Mover’s Guide, as well. You can print the information, or opt to have the offers and updates sent to you via text message.

USPS truck

How long does USPS forward mail after a change of address?

Once you’ve filed your change of address request, the Postal Service will forward your mail to your new address after the moving date you indicated when you filled out the form. The length of this service depends on whether your address change was temporary or permanent. It also depends on the type of mail.

If you filed a temporary address change, your mail will be forwarded for a minimum of 15 days and a maximum of 364 days. Mail forwarding will cease on the date you specified on your USPS change of address form.

If you filed for permanent change of address, most mail will be forwarded to new addresses in the United States for 12 months. Periodicals like magazines and newsletters will only be forwarded for 60 days. Marketing mail will not be forwarded unless the mailer has requested it.

So, you’ll need to change your address with your contacts before the 60-day and 12-month forwarding periods expire. Make a list of the contacts to alert about your address change, and cross them out as you go.

Make your new address official

Moving can be hard. But filing a USPS change of address is easy. It’s a simple step that provides peace of mind throughout the moving process and ensures you get all your important mail.

Published at Thu, 09 Jul 2020 12:00:07 +0000

Tour the New Home of Ferm Living

Tour the New Home of Ferm Living

I’ve made no secret of my love for Scandinavian design. My trips to Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Gothenburg last year only cemented my obsession. While the “Scandi” look has had a hold on interior design in U.S. (and particularly on Pinterest!) for a while now, I think there’s more nuisance then the look often gets credit for.

Scandi-modern isn’t just about minimalism, white walls, or bleached oak furniture. A line that embodies that nuisance, and that has also been one of my long-time favorites, is FermLIVING. Their mix of furniture, lighting, and accessories offers a mix of minimalism but also artful sophistication that really adds interest to a space. These pieces aren’t generic. Each one feels considered.

Tour the New Home of Ferm Living on Apartment34

And now FermLiving has opened its first-ever store in Copenhagen. Situated on the ground floor of a restored 18th-century building, the sprawling shop and showroom feature the FermLiving collection in context for the first time. From living and dining spaces to the kitchen, home office, and even the backyard, there is something special for every corner of your home. I regularly scroll the FermLIVING website, but seeing their collection in context makes it so much easier to discover things you love.

The shop is also offering a collection of curated vintage curio and home decor books that is really really making me wish plane flights were safe right now. Scroll down for a virtual tour of the brand new Home of FermLIVING.

Tour the New Home of Ferm Living on Apartment34Tour the New Home of Ferm Living on Apartment34 Tour the New Home of Ferm Living on Apartment34 Tour the New Home of Ferm Living on Apartment34 Tour the New Home of Ferm Living on Apartment34 Tour the New Home of Ferm Living on Apartment34 Tour the New Home of Ferm Living on Apartment34 Tour the New Home of Ferm Living on Apartment34 Tour the New Home of Ferm Living on Apartment34 Tour the New Home of Ferm Living on Apartment34

For details about my travels to Scandinavia, CLICK HERE.

images courtesy of fermLIVING

Published at Mon, 29 Jun 2020 19:36:39 +0000