What is a smart plug and how does it work?

By Nicole Saunders, Shop TODAY

A smart plug is an easy way to get hands-free or app-enabled control of devices and appliances in your home — and installation is typically simple, to boot. The smart plug should fit most regular outlets, connects to your Wi-Fi network and then lets you plug your gadget of choice — whether smart or not — into it. That’s it: Now you can communicate with the smart plug to turn on or off anything, from sunrise clocks to fans or humidifiers, through smartphone apps or smart assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Smart plugs are readily available at Shopping reader-favorite retailers, including Wayfair, Walmart, Target, Amazon, Best Buy, Apple and Home Depot.

Best smart plugs

To help simplify your search for smart plugs in 2020, we rounded up six highly-rated bestsellers from reader-favorite retailers, all of them built by reputable brands.

1. Amazon Smart Plug

Amazon created its highly-rated smart plug — and the top selling option at Bed Bath & Beyond — to be compact enough so it won’t block a second wall outlet. You can toggle on your fans, coffee makers or schedule lighting fixtures to turn on and off when you’re traveling. There’s also no need to purchase a smart home hub if you own the Amazon smart plug, which is compatible with Amazon Alexa.

Amazon Smart Pluga close up of electronics: Amazon Smart Plug (Amazon / Amazon)© Amazon Amazon Smart Plug (Amazon / Amazon)

2. Kasa Smart (HS100) Plug

Kasa’s HS100 smart plug is an Amazon bestseller with a 4.5-star average rating from more than 45,200 reviews. Schedule your plugged-in devices and flip on away mode to help conserve energy or create the illusion that you’re home via the Kasa smartphone app, which is compatible with Android and iOS. You also have the flexibility to utilize Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or Microsoft Cortana for voice commands and can either grab a single or two-pack of HS 100 smart plugs.

Kasa Smart (HS100) Pluga close up of electronics: Kasa Smart (HS100) Plug (Amazon / Amazon)© Amazon Kasa Smart (HS100) Plug (Amazon / Amazon)

  • Kasa Smart (HS100) Plug $22.98 at Amazon
  • Kasa Smart (HS100) Plug $20.98 at Walmart
  • Kasa Smart (HS100) Plug $20.79 at Newegg

3. Wemo Wi-Fi Smart Plug 3-Pack

If you have a limited number of outlets in your space, opt for Belkin’s compact Wemo smart plug, a bestseller at Best Buy that is available in a three-pack or individually. You only need a steady Wi-Fi connection and the Wemo smartphone app to set up and control your plugged-in devices — no subscription nor hub required. It boasts integration with If This Then That (IFTT) alongside compatibility with the Apple Homekit, Google Nest and Amazon Alexa, too.

Wemo Wi-Fi Smart Plug 3-Packa close up of a speaker

Wemo Wi-Fi Smart Plug 3-Pack $49.99 at Best Buy

4. Philips Hue Smart Plug

If you’re not ready to invest in a high-end smart lamp such as the LED Dyson Lightcycle Morph, opt for the Philips Hue smart plug, which can transform any plugged-in lamp — yes, even those that don’t utilize a Phillips Smart Hue bulb — into a smart light via Bluetooth. ABT’s bestseller enables you to bring winter indoors and control your holiday lights or automatically turn on your bedroom lights as your morning alarm. It’s also compatible with the Philips Hue ecosystem — from lightbulbs to the Hue Bridge.

Philips Hue Smart PlugPhilips Hue Smart Plug ('Multiple' Murder Victims Found in Calif. Home / 'Multiple' Murder Victims Found in Calif. Home)

  • Philips Hue Smart Plug $39.99 at Abt
  • Philips Hue Smart Plug $39.99 at Amazon
  • Philips Hue Smart Plug $29.99 at Philips

5. Wyze Wi-Fi Smart Plug (2-Pack)

This Home Depot bestseller features grouping, enabling you to control multiple Wyze smart plugs in the same room via its smart app or Alexa and Google Assistant. You can set timers on your plugged-in devices, such as a 45-minute runtime on your air purifier or a 10-minute boil time on your kettle. Keep tabs on your plugged-in device’s activity by monitoring via the smart app, so you can save money by not burning too much electricity or air conditioning.

Wyze Wi-Fi Smart Plug (2-Pack)a close up of a plug in: Wyze Wi-Fi Smart Plug (2-Pack)-WLPP1 ('Multiple' Murder Victims Found in Calif. Home / 'Multiple' Murder Victims Found in Calif. Home)  Wi-Fi Wyze Wi-Fi Smart Plug (2-Pack)-WLPP1

  • Wyze Wi-Fi Smart Plug (2-Pack) $19.97 at Home Depot
  • Wyze Wi-Fi Smart Plug (2-Pack) $19.97 at Amazon
  • Wyze Wi-Fi Smart Plug (2-Pack) $19.98 at ebay

iHome control iSP6 Smart Plug6. (sold out)

text, whiteboard

iHome control iSP6 Smart Plug $39.95 at Apple

Source: What is a smart plug and how does it work? (msn.com)

What the Heck Does [Sic] Mean?

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If you are an avid reader or just a Sunday morning browser, I’m pretty sure you have seen this [sic] before. So what does it mean? Caution, you could offend someone by sicing (?) them.

For instance,

“If you’re reading an article (a great habit to keep, by the way) in which the author is quoting another writer or citing a title, you might see the word [sic] inserted somewhere in the text:

The cartoonist cast back to another strip he had drawn in 1972 as a contribution to a compendium called Funny Aminals (sic).
— David H. VanBiema, People, 27 Oct. 1986″

Note the spelling error, aminals. Sic usually , “appears in parentheses or brackets, sometimes with the letters in italics. In this context it means “intentionally so written.” On its own, sic means “so” or “thus” and can be found in phrases such as sic transit gloria mundi (“so passes away the glory of the world”) and sic semper tyrannis (“thus ever to tyrants,” the motto of the state of Virginia).

What is denoted by sic is that the word or phrase that precedes it occurs in the original passage being quoted or name being used and was not introduced by the writer doing the quoting. Sometimes the quoted text contains an error of grammar or spelling, but other times it might not contain an error at all, but some kind of language or phrasing that might be unexpected.

In the instance above, the comics collection is facetiously titled Funny Aminals, with the consonants of the familiar word animals transposed. The insertion of sic indicates that the title has not been altered or corrected for VanBiema’s article, nor was it an error introduced by VanBiema.”

So it was an intentional error after all. Did the writer quoting the reference know this, or was he just pointing out an “obvious” error. Caution. Some authors are quite protective of their essays and may take offense at some unappreciated correction. But now you know what [sic] means. Right?

Source: How to Use ‘Sic’ | Merriam-Webster (merriam-webster.com)

What Happens To Your Body When You Eat Almonds

By Rachel Linder for EatThis,NotThat!

Slide 1 of 7: Knowing what foods to snack on throughout the day can be tricky. There are so many options, and while some can fill you up, others can leave you feeling hungry right away. Almonds are one example that will not only make you feel full, but are also packed with tons of additional health benefits. One handful a day, which is the rough equivalent to one serving—23 almonds—is all you need to take full advantage of all that this nut has to offer. So what does happen to your body when you eat almonds on a daily basis?So next time you go looking in your pantry for a snack, you should definitely eat a handful of almonds. Here's why, and for more healthy eating tips, be sure to steer clear of these 100 Unhealthiest Foods on the Planet.Read the original article on Eat This, Not That!

What Happens To Your Body When You Eat Almonds

Knowing what foods to snack on throughout the day can be tricky. There are so many options, and while some can fill you up, others can leave you feeling hungry right away. Almonds are one example that will not only make you feel full, but are also packed with tons of additional health benefits. One handful a day, which is the rough equivalent to one serving—23 almonds—is all you need to take full advantage of all that this nut has to offer. So what does happen to your body when you eat almonds on a daily basis?

1. You’ll improve your mood.

The component in almonds that works to boost your mood is called tryptophan, an amino acid. When paired with Vitamin B6—so anything from a banana to oats—the tryptophan converts into serotonin in the body. Therefore, it’s the serotonin that works as an instant mood booster, making you feel happier and less anxious. So sprinkle a handful of almonds on that bowl of oatmeal, or a bowl of banana slices for an easy snack.

2. You’ll lower your risk disease.

You have abundant amounts of Vitamin E within almonds to thank for this one. One serving of almonds contains 48% of your daily value of Vitamin E. This makes almonds one of the foods highest in this vitamin in the world, according to Healthline. One study shows the direct impact of Vitamin E consumption on lowering the chances of an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis. While other studies highlight the ways in which heart disease and cancers can be less likely for those who contain high levels of Vitamin E.

3. You’ll boost bone health.

Strong bones are a crucial part of overall health and can often be overlooked when people think about vitamins and supplements their bodies need. According to Medical News Today, with a handful of almonds, you’re packing your body with calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, vitamin K, protein, and zinc, all of which contribute to boosting your overall bone health.

4. You’ll lower your cholesterol.

Almost 29 million American adults suffer from high cholesterol, which can only be seen through a blood test as there are no visible symptoms, according to the CDC. Once diagnosed, it can be difficult to begin to manage, as there is both “good” cholesterol (HDL) and “bad” cholesterol (LDL). Thanks to the fat content in our favorite nut, eating a handful of almonds helps to balance those cholesterol levels.

5. You’ll be managing your blood sugar levels.

Another medical diagnosis that is extremely prevalent in the United States is high blood sugar or diabetes. Medical News Today highlights the fact that oftentimes those with diabetes struggle with low levels of magnesium. One study found that those with Diabetes 2 who consumed 60 grams of almonds a day for 12 weeks saw significant improvements in blood sugar. Therefore, eating a serving of almonds a day and increasing magnesium levels can help to manage your blood sugar levels more effectively.

6. You’ll increase weight loss.

Now, this is probably the one we should’ve started with. That’s right—eating almonds each day can help you to increase your weight loss and finally reach your goals. Since almonds are packed with fiber and protein, snacking on these gems will likely keep you fuller for longer, meaning you’re less likely to go for the unhealthier options later. One study found that eating 1.5 ounces of almonds each day, so a little over one serving, reduced hunger and the desire to continue eating among participants. And though there are definitely other nuts that help with weight loss, almonds are one of the best.

Why turn that handful of almonds into dessert? Here’s a delicious Dark Chocolate-Covered Almond Clusters With Coconut-Matcha Sprinkle Recipe.

Source: What Happens To Your Body When You Eat Almonds (msn.com)

The 25 Best Pajamas to Buy This Holiday Season

By Anny Choi, Madeline Fass writing for Vogue©

Slide 1 of 26: With the holiday season just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to shop for a set of cozy pajamas for yourself or someone else. Whether it be a floral and polka-dot-print Tanya Taylor set made with upcycled fabrics or a feather-adorned Sleeper number chic enough for a Zoom cocktail party, you no longer have to sacrifice style for comfort when it comes to sleepwear.  Cuyana’s cami sleep set is bound to be a hit come gifting season, with its minimal silhouette and its knit packaging. Swimwear brand Summersalt’s pajamas are so soft, you will never want to get out of bed—and the same goes for Lake’s green-striped classic Weekend set. There are also classic pipe-lined and silk pajama sets to hide out in for the foreseeable future. Planning a cheeky holiday photo shoot? Brands like Primary offer matching options for the entire family.  Whether you’re looking for a new set to add to your personal rotation for the long winter ahead, or getting a head start on your holiday shopping list, below are 25 of the best pajamas for women to splurge on now.

With the holiday season just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to shop for a set of cozy pajamas for yourself or someone else. Whether it be a floral and polka-dot-print Tanya Taylor set made with upcycled fabrics or a feather-adorned Sleeper number chic enough for a Zoom cocktail party, you no longer have to sacrifice style for comfort when it comes to sleepwear. 

Cuyana’s cami sleep set is bound to be a hit come gifting season, with its minimal silhouette and its knit packaging. Swimwear brand Summersalt’s pajamas are so soft, you will never want to get out of bed—and the same goes for Lake’s green-striped classic Weekend set. There are also classic pipe-lined and silk pajama sets to hide out in for the foreseeable future. Planning a cheeky holiday photo shoot? Brands like Primary offer matching options for the entire family. 

Whether you’re looking for a new set to add to your personal rotation for the long winter ahead, or getting a head start on your holiday shopping list, below are 25 of the best pajamas for women to splurge on now.

Slide 2 of 26: $198, SHOPBOP. Get it now!

Sleepy Jones Marina pajama set

$198, SHOPBOP. Get it now!

Slide 3 of 26: $104, LAKE PAJAMAS. Get it now!

Lake pima short Long Weekend set in classic green

$104, LAKE PAJAMAS. Get it now!

Slide 4 of 26: $98, NET-A-PORTER. Get it now!

Erberjey Gisele piped modal pajama set

$98, NET-A-PORTER. Get it now!

Slide 5 of 26: $30, UNIQLO. Get it now!

Uniqlo flannel long-sleeve pajamas

$30, UNIQLO. Get it now!

Slide 6 of 26: $99, NORDSTROM. Get it now!

Papinelle Mia cotton silk pajamas

$99, NORDSTROM. Get it now!

Slide 7 of 26: $305, NET-A-PORTER. Get it now!

7/26 SLIDES © Vogue

The Great the ballet pointelle knit cotton-blend pajama set

$305, NET-A-PORTER. Get it now!

Slide 8 of 26: $275, NET-A-PORTER. Get it now!

Pour Les Femmes piped printed cotton pajamas set

$275, NET-A-PORTER. Get it now!

Slide 11 of 26: $95, SUMMERSALT. Get it now!

Summersalt the Cloud 9 pajama set

$95, SUMMERSALT. Get it now!

Slide 14 of 26: $198, LUNYA. Get it now!

Lunya washable silk tee set

$198, LUNYA. Get it now!

OK. My coffee cup needs a refill now so I’ll leave a link to the complete story. BTW, I left the “Get it now” link in this article for your convenience. Let me know if it works for you, or if you would rather not see that link. There are about 15 more jammies in the article if you’d like to see more. Enjoy!

Source: The 25 Best Pajamas to Buy This Holiday Season (msn.com)

Acai Berries: Here Are the Health Benefits

Written by Jessica Migala for The Healthy

a close up of an animal
© Beto_Junior/Getty Images

Are acai berries good for you?

The short answer is: Yes. Acai’s rich, purple hue is a sign that it contains anthocyanins, antioxidant compounds that may help protect against various diseases.

“Acai is rich in antioxidants, having [several times] the amount found in blueberries,” Dr. Naidoo says. The fruit also beats out cranberries, blackberries, and goji berries.

“What’s interesting about antioxidants is that not only do they help prevent free radical damage from pollution and other everyday stressors, they can also prevent free radicals from doing damage to DNA, which is what leads to cancer and causes aging,” says Emmaline Rasmussen, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Chicago.

Acai alone won’t prevent health problems—it’s only one fruit—but it can be part of a diet that keeps your cells healthy.

Potential health benefits of acai berries

Protects against heart disease and diabetes

Anthocyanins are antioxidant compounds responsible for the red, purple, and blue pigments in fruits and veggies like berries, currants, red cabbage, and grapes. Research, including a review of studies published in 2017 in Food & Nutrition Research, suggests these antioxidants may help prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.

The plant compounds in acai have also been shown to improve the production of nitric oxide, a molecule that helps blood vessels dilate and improve circulation, according to a study published in 2016 in Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology. Acai also supplies polyunsaturated fatty acids, including omega-3’s, which may also keep your heart healthy.

May help weight loss

While acai can fit into a weight loss plan, there is no research to substantiate claims that acai alone promotes rapid weight loss, according to the NCCIH. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission has flagged many acai supplements for deceptive marketing. Be wary of any supplement or powder making weight-loss claims.

On the upside, acai contains zero grams of sugar, which is remarkable for a fruit, says Rasmussen. That means that if you’re on a low-carb diet, acai is a good way to include fruit in your diet. To sweeten things up, add a sugar-free sweetener, like monk fruit or stevia, says Rasmussen.

Even if you’re on a keto diet, you can still fit acai into your meal plan, as it contains just one gram of net carbs, which allows you to get in much-needed fiber. (To figure out net carbs subtract the grams of fiber from the total carbs.)

One warning: Due to its lack of natural sweetness acai products can contain added sugar or are blended with fruit juices. For instance, Sambazon’s “Original” acai blend provides just 100 calories, but it also has 12 grams of added sugars (equal to three teaspoons).

Likewise, acai bowls are often loaded with higher calorie and sweet toppings like honey or granola. A fully loaded bowl could reach upwards of 800 or 900 calories, Rasmussen notes.

May support brain health

Need a brainpower pick-me-up? Start eating acai. “The antioxidants in acai counteract the damaging effects of inflammation and oxidation in brain cells, which can negatively affect memory and learning,” Dr. Naidoo says.

For safe consumption, the outer skin of an acai berry is first soaked to soften it and then mashed to make a paste.

You won’t find fresh acai berries in the produce section of your local grocery store. “The ‘berries’ are fragile and don’t last, so they are frequently exported as frozen fruit puree, powder, or juice,” says Dr. Naidoo.

Acai berry nutrition facts

According to Sambazon, a certified organic and fair trade acai company, a 100-gram serving of pure unsweetened acai puree contains the following:

Calories: 70

Fat: 5 g (6% DV)

Fiber: 3 g (11% DV)

Protein: 1 g

Carbs: 4 g (1% DV)

Calcium: 23 mg (2% DV)

Potassium: 121 mg (2% DV)

Vitamin A: 26 mcg (2% DV)

Risks of eating acai berries

Frozen, blended acai are safe to eat, says the NCCIH. However, if you are scheduled to get an MRI or are pregnant or nursing, talk to your doctor about whether acai is appropriate for you.

If you are planning on taking acai supplements, choose a reputable, high-quality brand. And discuss potential drug interactions with your doctor and whether a supplement is the best way to achieve your health goals.

Great ways to eat acai and quick recipes to try

Here are some delicious ways to eat acai:

  • Add acai powder to baked goods, Dr. Naidoo suggests.
  • Mix a packet or half packet into a smoothie with other fruits. Rasmussen particularly likes the taste of acai with frozen blueberries and bananas, along with a half scoop of protein powder. (Too much protein powder can taste chalky with acai, she explains.) Try this Simple Blueberry Acai Smoothie from Mindful Avocado.
  • Stir acai powder into plain dairy or non-dairy yogurt, Dr. Naidoo says.
  • Make an acai bowl by pouring a blended frozen packet into a bowl and topping with crushed walnuts, chia seeds, and sliced strawberries.

How much acai should you eat?

There is no recommended amount of acai. But many recipes for acai bowls or smoothies call for two packs of frozen, blended acai. It can be an expensive ingredient, so Rasmussen recommends using one pack only to stretch it further. What matters is that you enjoy eating it.

Source: Should You Eat Acai Berries? Here Are the Health Benefits (msn.com)

Holiday appetizers you can make for less than $5

By Tess Rose Lampert for Cheapism ©

Slide 1 of 26: 'Tis the season of holiday get-togethers and family gatherings — even if those are much smaller this year due to the pandemic — and it's always nice to offer something to nibble on. Bite-size appetizers are a great way to keep costs down and not everything needs to be made from scratch. These easy, inexpensive ideas serve about 10 to 15 people, from meat eaters to vegetarians to vegans. Prices are rough estimates based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data and an informal survey of grocery prices.Related: 50 Great-Tasting Red Wines Under $20

 © LauriPatterson/istockphoto

Finger Lickin’ Good

‘Tis the season of holiday get-togethers and family gatherings — even if those are much smaller this year due to the pandemic — and it’s always nice to offer something to nibble on. Bite-size appetizers are a great way to keep costs down and not everything needs to be made from scratch. These easy, inexpensive ideas serve about 10 to 15 people, from meat eaters to vegetarians to vegans. Prices are rough estimates based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data and an informal survey of grocery prices.

Slide 2 of 26: Deli ham and cheese get turned into a crowd pleasing combo with the help of store bought pizza dough. Roll out the pizza dough ($3) as thin as possible without tearing it and line it with a few thin slices of deli ham and cheese ($2). Roll up the dough with the ham and cheese inside and bake at 450 degrees until bubbly and golden brown. Once cool, slice into bite sized rounds.Related: 15 Simple, Tasty Sandwiches That Cost Less Than $1 to Make

 © ThitareeSarmkasat/istockphoto

Ham and Cheese Wheels ($5)

Deli ham and cheese get turned into a crowd pleasing combo with the help of store bought pizza dough. Roll out the pizza dough ($3) as thin as possible without tearing it and line it with a few thin slices of deli ham and cheese ($2). Roll up the dough with the ham and cheese inside and bake at 450 degrees until bubbly and golden brown. Once cool, slice into bite sized rounds.

Slide 3 of 26: At about 20 cents per piece, frozen ravioli make a great inexpensive appetizer when fried in oil ($1) until golden brown and served hot. Because they are so rich, figure only one or two ($4 worth) for each guest.Related: The Best Fried Foods Around the World

 © Brent Hofacker/shutterstock

Fried Ravioli ($5)

At about 20 cents per piece, frozen ravioli make a great inexpensive appetizer when fried in oil ($1) until golden brown and served hot. Because they are so rich, figure only one or two ($4 worth) for each guest.

Slide 4 of 26: Frozen meatballs cost about $3 a pound and offer large portions. Simply heat them up in the sauce of your choice ($2), such as barbecue or marinara, and serve with toothpicks for a fun and tasty party dish.Related: Delicious Foods Worth Buying at Ikea — and Some to Skip

 © Lauri Patterson/istockphoto

Meatballs ($5)

Frozen meatballs cost about $3 a pound and offer large portions. Simply heat them up in the sauce of your choice ($2), such as barbecue or marinara, and serve with toothpicks for a fun and tasty party dish.

Slide 5 of 26: Frozen spinach ($1) and a light sprinkling of feta ($1) in crispy phyllo dough ($3) is a classic flavor combination. To assemble, thaw and season the spinach and combine with feta. Put a spoonful into the phyllo of any shape and bake according to the instructions on the phyllo packet.Related: With These Healthy Recipes, You Won't Miss Packaged Snacks

 © bhofack2/istockphoto

Mini Spinach Pies ($5)

Frozen spinach ($1) and a light sprinkling of feta ($1) in crispy phyllo dough ($3) is a classic flavor combination. To assemble, thaw and season the spinach and combine with feta. Put a spoonful into the phyllo of any shape and bake according to the instructions on the phyllo packet.

Slide 6 of 26: Create this favorite using one package of break-and-bake croissant dough ($2) and a package of hot dogs ($3). Cut the hot dogs into bite-size pieces and wrap in a small piece of dough. Bake until the dough puffs up and starts to turn golden.Related: 25 Betty Crocker-Era Holiday Recipes That We Secretly Love

 © mphillips007/istockphoto

Pigs in a Blanket ($5)

Create this favorite using one package of break-and-bake croissant dough ($2) and a package of hot dogs ($3). Cut the hot dogs into bite-size pieces and wrap in a small piece of dough. Bake until the dough puffs up and starts to turn golden.

(OK, there are about 20 more appetizers for you to look at. Just click below and you will magically find the entire 26. So, excuse me while I taste-taste some of these apps.)

Source: Holiday appetizers you can make for less than $5 (msn.com)

How to make your poinsettias last through Christmas

By Meg Muckenhoupt for Reviewed.com

a person standing next to a vase of flowers: How to make your poinsettias last through Christmas
© Getty Images / svetikd

Poinsettias make any table bright. Just like Christmas cactus, they’re a staple of the holiday season. But no one wants to deal with wilting leaves before Christmas even arrives.

Here’s how to care for them to keep poinsettias looking healthy through the holidays and beyond.

What are poinsettias?

a vase of flowers on a table: Red poinsettias may be most popular at Christmas, but the plants actually grow in a rainbow of hues.© Getty Images / arlutz73  Red poinsettias may be most popular at Christmas, but the plants actually grow in a rainbow of hues.

It’s hard to believe, but poinsettia flowers are actually small, greenish nubbins. Poinsettias’ main attraction are the colorful bracts, leafy structures that grow around the flowers in shades of brilliant red, white, and pink, and sometimes even orange, yellow, and purple.

Because a poinsettia’s eye-popping color comes from bracts, not flowers, their displays last much longer than cut flowers—up to eight weeks with a little care.

How to care for your poinsettias

a woman standing in front of a flower: Foil can look festive, but poinsettias will survive better without (or if you add drainage holes).© Getty Images / aldomurillo Foil can look festive, but poinsettias will survive better without (or if you add drainage holes).

1. Take off its plastic wrapping

If your poinsettia comes wrapped in foil or plastic, either take the wrapping off or punch holes in the bottom so that water can drain out the bottom of the pot. Poor drainage can lead to root rot, which will make your poinsettia wilt and drop its colorful bracts before Santa even starts loading his sleigh.

2. Keep it warm

Although poinsettias are popular Christmas gifts, they’re descended from plants native to Mexico, where their ancestral Euphorbia plucherrima grew in mountains southwest of Mexico City. They’re adapted to moderate temperatures, not yuletide freezes.

Keep your poinsettia at room temperature (65°F-70°F) during the day, and slightly cooler at night (55°F-60°F). Try not to let your poinsettia get warmer than 79°F, and keep it away from drafts and places where temperatures are swinging widely, like fireplaces, heating ducts, and space heaters.

3. Let there be light, but not too much

For the holidays, keep your poinsettia next to a window that gets bright light during the day. If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where outdoor temperatures are around 70°F, you can keep your poinsettia outside, and make sure it gets at least part sun, or four to six hours of outdoor light a day.

4. Water it enough, and make sure it drains

Your poinsettias need water when the soil feels dry if you push down slightly on the surface. You can also just lift the pot and see if it feels light. Don’t wait until your poinsettia wilts to water it! Your poor plant will start dropping its bracts if it gets too dry.

Make sure that your plant has drainage holes at the bottom, and put it on top of a saucer to catch water as it drains. Water it enough to completely saturate the soil. If you’re nervous about overflows, take your poinsettia over to the sink to water it, and let it drain into your drain.

To avoid trips to the sink, put your poinsettia on top of a tray filled with pebbles to catch the drips. As a bonus, the evaporating water will make the air around the poinsettia more moist, and help keep the bracts from drying out and falling off.

5. Skip the fertilizer—for now

You don’t have to fertilize your poinsettia to keep it looking bright over the holidays. However, if you’d like to keep your poinsettia for the next holiday season, the University of Minnesota recommends feeding it with all-purpose fertilizer diluted to half strength once you see signs of new growth such as new green leaves, stems, or bracts.

Extending the life of your poinsettia

a close up of a flower: If you're planning on keeping your poinsettia through the new year, get ready for some more hands-on work.© Getty Images / Lutique  If you’re planning on keeping your poinsettia through the new year, get ready for some more hands-on work.

Do you love your poinsettia so much that you want to keep it for another year? That’s a great idea, but you’re going to need to do some work. In nature, your charming little poinsettia would grow to be a woody shrub.

If you’re serious about bringing back the Poinsettia of Christmas Past, you’re going to need to spend a year pruning your poinsettia back so that it doesn’t start becoming shrubby, and controlling its light levels to make it flower again (and regrow those stunning bracts!).

Poinsettias’ blooming period are spurred by having long nights (13 hours or more) and low night time temperatures around 55°F-60°F about two months before they bloom, so you’re either going to have to put your plant a cool room you don’t use at night, or move it into a closet or a box every night.

For complete details of how to make your poinsettia rebloom, check out these instructions from a University of Vermont horticulture professor. Your poinsettia may only bloom in December, but like a gift that keeps on giving, it will need your attention all year round.

Source: How to make your poinsettias last through Christmas (msn.com)

Which Americans will get the Covid vaccine first?

The Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine could be available to millions of Americans within weeks
© JOEL SAGET

The Pfizer and Moderna Covid vaccines could be approved in a matter of weeks, but who in the United States will get them first? 

Though nothing has yet been decided, US experts may differ from other countries in prioritizing “critical workers” who keep society running — potentially even before people at highest risk.

To be clear, there won’t be one single set of rules for the whole nation. 

At the risk of creating confusion, which was the case during the vaccine campaign against the H1N1 flu in 2009, the federal government only makes recommendations to states, who decide for themselves how to distribute the doses and who gets priority. 

Panels of top experts have already delivered their opinions, which diverge in certain key respects and reveal the tension at the center of the debate: vaccines should both protect the most vulnerable and help facilitate a return to normal. 

It’s on the question of jumpstarting the economy as quickly as possible that the US may set itself apart.

France’s top health authority recommended starting with retirement home residents and employees who work there, followed by the elderly and health care workers, then the over-50s, people whose jobs put them at risk, medically high-risk people, the poor, and finally the rest of the population.

That’s the approach recommended by the World Health Organization and adopted by a number of rich countries, Saad Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, told AFP.

In the US, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) compiled a more than 200-page report suggesting frontline health care workers are given the vaccine first, then first responders such as paramedics, police and firefighters.

Next would come people with two or more underlying conditions (including the likes of cancer, obesity and diabetes), whatever their age, then the two million people in nursing homes.

– Keeping the country running –

For the next phase, NASEM emphasizes less age and more profession, prioritizing “critical” workers who keep the country running.

These include teachers, workers from slaughterhouses to the supermarkets who keep Americans fed, and those who drive buses and trains, sell them their medicine, maintain order, or deliver mail and parcels.

People in these jobs are often minority Hispanics or Black, and have been hit disproportionately by the pandemic.

After these tens of millions of workers, the next on the list could be people who have one underlying condition, the homeless, prisoners, and people over 65 without comorbidities.

Younger adults and students, who are at lower risk of severe disease but have been major spreaders of the virus, would come next, ahead of the rest of the population.

This is only a proposal. The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) are awaiting the opinion of their own expert committee, which will vote on Tuesday. 

This committee has previously suggested that it could prioritize health care personnel and critical workers, because immunizing them will provide a “multiplier effect”: not only are they essential cogs in the health response and the economy, but they are in contact with a lot of people.  

In practice, these ethical, epidemiological and economic considerations may be ignored in the initial rush on doses. 

Problems remain to be solved: though it may be easy to target retirement homes and hospitals, how are pharmacists and doctors supposed to confirm that a person is indeed an essential worker, or that they have two underlying conditions?  

In addition, the Trump administration has said it will not be bound by the advice of its scientists and that retirement homes will receive Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines as early as mid-December in the event of a regulatory green light.

Source: Which Americans will get the Covid vaccine first? (msn.com)