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Your winter coat and boots are essential for keeping you warm, but don’t underestimate your less visible winter gear: your accessories. These items may be less noticeable, but they go a LONG way toward keeping you warm and comfortable. Choose your winter accessories carefully, and you’ll be cozy from head to toe.

Here’s a thorough list of tips for buying every winter accessory you’ll need this season.

Buy both a base layer and an outer layer.
You need two types of winter accessories.

• Base layer: Long underwear, leggings, and socks that will keep your skin dry as well as trap your body heat.
• Outer layer: A scarf, hat, earmuffs, and gloves to keep your extremities from losing heat in the cold.

Choose the right materials.

There are two basic categories for materials: synthetics and naturals. Each one is appropriate for different situations.

For your base layer, you may want to go for a synthetic fiber like polyester. Synthetics can effectively wick moisture away from the body, so your clothes won’t become soaked with sweat – a bad idea if you want to stay warm. Some natural fibers, like merino wool, are also useful for this purpose. Thermal underwear, for example, is often made of wool and/or synthetic fibers.

For outer-layer items, you want to go with a well-insulated, midweight material. Natural materials like wool, leather, and fur are all wonderful options, and synthetics such as polyester fleece, woven acrylic, or faux fur also work well.

For gloves, leather and fleece are especially good because they can be easily wiped clean or machine-washed. For hats, you can’t go wrong with a high-quality wool, fleece, or fur.

Aim for full coverage.

Ideally you don’t want much, if any, of your skin to be exposed to the cold air. This is important for every layer – your long undies should go all the way to your ankles, your gloves should actually cover your wrists, and so on.

Headgear is especially important in this respect. Your head needs to be completely covered in order to stay warm in the cold! If your hat doesn’t cover your ears, then invest in some earmuffs.

But look for a dexterous fit.

While you do need the material to be thick enough to keep you warm, you also don’t want bulky, puffy accessories that will prevent you from being able to walk, bend your knees, reach with your arms, and use your fingers.

You especially need your gloves to be slim and dexterous so that they don’t restrict movement. Look for a stretchy but warm fabric, and of course, go with gloves instead of mittens.

Consider special features.

Lastly, consider which special features you’d appreciate in your accessories. For example, some gloves have touchscreen capability on the fingertips. Some can be converted into mittens as needed for extra warmth. For scarves, you might want to buy an infinity scarf that can also double as a shawl. The sky’s the limit, and your winter accessories should be useful for your personal needs.

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Basic Toolkits for Household, Garden and Workshop

The house-proud home owner needs more than one toolkit to keep up with odd jobs around the house and yard. These are the basics you will need to have handy in tool kits ready for jobs in the home, workshop and garden.

Household Toolkit

Your household toolkit should be kept in an easily accessible spot in the kitchen or den. It’s handy for making quick repairs around the home, hanging curtains, fixing loose doors and so on.

    • Retractable tape measure: You will use this a lot, so get a strong, well made tape measure about 25 ft in length. Retractable makes it easy to wind up and store.
    • Screwdrivers: You will need both flathead (straight edge) and Phillips (cross head). You will have both types of screws in your home. Get them in the most common sizes around your home and an assortment of replacement screws as well.
    • Utility knife: A good strong metal one with a retractable blade.

  • Duct and masking tape: One large roll of each.
  • Hammer: Get a good quality claw hammer, you don’t want the head flying off while you are working and causing damage or injury. Add an assortment of nails.
  • Pliers: Handy for a number of small jobs, including holding nails in place while you hammer (saves your thumbs!) Get a blunt nosed pair and a needle nosed pair. One pair should have a cutter.
  • Optional extras: A cordless electric drill, all purpose glue and small saw or hacksaw. A stud finder is a handy thing to have if you are putting up shelves.
Workshop Toolkit

Your workshop toolkit will be better equipped than your household toolkit, so you can get started on projects to improve your home and garden. Consider hiring extra tools that you may not use on a regular basis to help you finish a job. Also consider the nature of your projects – if you work mainly with wood, a welder may be an occasional hire item. If you work mainly with metal, a welder will be a necessity.

  • Variable speed corded drill: Able to cope with bigger jobs than your household cordless, also used for sanding and grinding.
  • Saw: What type of saw you have depends on what you will be doing with it. If it’s just for odd jobs, a hand saw will do. If you cut timber or fire wood on a regular basis, consider a circular saw.
  • Spirit level: Let’s get this straight – you will need this! You can get a spirit level built into a T square, combining two handy items.
  • Adjustable wrenches: For removing and tightening bolts and gripping anything that needs to stay still.
  • Assorted screwdrivers – Phillips and flathead: These you will tend to gather as you go along, in a variety of sizes.
  • Nails and screws in assorted sizes.
  • Wire cutter: Scissors do not do a good job. Have the right tool.
  • A good quality claw hammer: Always keep one in your workshop because it’s guaranteed you won’t be able to find the one you keep in the house.
  • Metal files: For coarse and fine work.
  • Ladder or stepladder: Make sure it is sturdy and firm. Safety first!
  • Goggles and masks: Again, safety first.
  • Optional or hire extras: Electric sander, welder, generator for stand by power.

Gardening Toolkit

There are a few standard items that are essential for good gardening. You gardening toolkit need never be any bigger than this.

  • Shovel or spade: Usually the first thing to buy and use. `Test drive’ a shovel before you buy. Make sure you are comfortable with its weight and height. Buy a good quality shovel with a good metal scoop. Anything else just won’t last.
  • Hoe: Again, test it to make sure the handle isn’t too long, or that it isn’t too heavy to be comfortable.
  • Rake: Metal lasts longer although cheap plastic rakes do the job. Bamboo or wooden rakes generally fall apart quickly.
  • Small garden set: A hand trowel, fork and weeder for planting out, removing weeds and aerating the soil around a plant.
  • Garden snippers: For pruning small branches, rose bushes and dead heading spent flowers.
  • Watering can: For spot watering and when water use is restricted.

by Gail Kavanagh

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