Newborn essentials – things you need to buy as a first-time parent

When you’re preparing to become a parent for the first time, shopping lists and checklists can seem so tangled they become a total blur. This is why it’s best to set your mind for a minimal list comprised of absolutely essential items that will give you a starting point. We will try and draw one for you, leaving the diapering, clothing and feeding items aside, because of their obviousness.

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First things first, the baby will need a place to sleep. You can choose between a cradle, a bassinet, or a full-on crib. They will keep your baby safe and sound during sleeping sessions, and ensure you some rest as well. While bassinets usually come with integrated towelling, cribs and cradles require separately purchasing mattresses, covers and linen. This gets us to the second and the third items on our list. The mattress must fit well inside the crib/cradle, and it can be either out of foam, or a innerspring model, the latter being preferred for its extra support. A waterproof mattress cover will keep the spills and usual bodily fluids off the mattress, making it easy to clean up quickly. Sheets and blankets must be sized to match the crib, and you should have several of each at hand.

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A nursery will also need a nightlight and a changing table in order to keep your baby as comfortable as possible. 
In the first few weeks, when you’re outside the nursery with her, it’s mostly because it’s time for bathing, so make sure you have a plastic infant tub to keep your newborn in a safe amount of water. Car rides to the doctor’s and back are inevitable, so you must be well prepared for them. An infant car seat is a must-have as even the law requires for vehicle child transportation, but if you’re short on the budget, a convertible car seat will be a more economical investment.

 

The list can go on, of course, and you can narrow it down according to your financial situation and maybe hand-down items. However, remember that some objects such as cribs or car seats don’t have the guarantee of safety unless they’re new, so a bit of a sacrifice will still be needed at first.

How often should you use a flat iron

 

Finding the right flat iron is the first step to a quality straightening in-house session, but how often can you operate without putting your hair in danger? First of all, there is no universally acknowledged treatment that can cover all types of hair. Therefore, one straightening routine might work damage-free on some tresses, but might cause others to burn or become very weak and unhealthy.  

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As many stylists recommend, you should only use a flat iron at the end of a preparation routine that consists of shampooing, conditioning and drying your hair really well. If you hair is dirty, flat ironing it will only lead to burying the dirt deeper into the fibers. Applying sufficient conditioner is crucial before plugging the flat iron, as the hair needs to be as hydrated as possible in order to withstand the action of the heat.

Now that we’ve gone through the basic preparation stage, be sure to use the flat iron once a week at most. Using it more often than that will lead to gradual degradation, weakness and will impair it more and more from resisting to overheating.

cy4As life is never about control, there may be times when a second or third intervention with the flat iron might be needed. In this case, you have to be even more careful about applying the best methods of protecting your hair. After you’ve followed the steps we mentioned above, what you need to do is apply a thermal protectant substance, that you can find as a spray or balm, and don’t use it scarcely. This will guard your hair from the excessive heat action and help maintain a certain level of moisture.

Secondly, if you are using the flat iron for the second time in a small period, make it short and make it count. Set your temperature to medium or higher, depending on your type of hair, and try not to repeat the movements on the same segment of hair.

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They say that sometimes, if you do it correctly, using the flat iron can be less damaging for the hair than a blow dryer used wrongly. Make sure you keep in mind our advice and take all the measures to protect your hair.

Using an action camcorder to capture your outdoor adventures

If you’re tired of silently breaking world records in sports because you have no witnesses, maybe it’s time to consider recording your adventures, and there’s no better way to do it than bringing an action camcorder with you. Action cameras have become the favorite accessory of sportsmen all over the world because of their ease of use and quality of the recordings. While some manufacturers have raised the bar to 4K resolution and Wi-Fi connectivity, we advise you to take a few factors into consideration before deciding to purchase a high-end model, because what really matters is how you are going to use it.

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The first thing you should consider is the type of protective housing and mounts you can accessorize it with, based on the environment you usually venture in. Waterproof cases will help you record your surfing and scuba-diving activities, while chest and helmet mounts will make sure your camera shoots from the right angle. Depending on your sport of choice, you can get creative, and try combining different angles to get a more complex video.

Another important aspect of using an action camcorder is to adjust the settings in order to get the most out of your camera. Naturally, the first concern is the frame rate of the camera, and while it is a known fact that a higher frame rate will give you a better video quality, in low light conditions, it is just the opposite. Resolution is also very important, since it is what ultimately decides the richness of the image. However, make sure you remember filming in high resolution and high frame rates will eat away your battery and take up a lot of space on your card. This is why it is recommended to use a card that can house the maximum amount of data your camcorder allows.

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If you’re looking for a complete filming experience, consider attaching an external microphone to your action camera, since it will minimize wind noise and generally improve the audio quality of your videos. Also, there are several models that allow thorough editing to your videos, making it possible for you to add real-time information or manipulate sound and effects to create a more dramatic footage.

As you see, action camcorders have developed in a way that they are now capable of reproducing your adventures in an identical fashion, so that you can relive and share their exhilaration with your friends and fans anytime you want.

Why I am a fan of Sony point and shoot cameras

I come from a family that embraced the tradition of family photos with open arms. Every gathering we had over the past three decades has been like a long photo shoot, and it’s through this that I developed a special liking towards compact cameras, and especially for the Sony Cyber-shot line of point and shoot cameras.

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I have to confess I only had the opportunity to test their high-end, newer RX series once, and it was an exhilarating experience, but what I really like about the Sony cameras is the fact that you can find a whole range of surprisingly good quality features in models that are very affordable, and you can pick one that matches your needs and preferences without having to pay extra.

Another thing that I really appreciate, as one who hates complications, is the ease-of-use and the care-free portability of these devices. All of them fit into a pocket, so you’ll never have to worry about buying it special carrying cases or carrying at all – since they weigh so little.

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I and other Sony compact cameras fans also agree on the fact that they can cover a lot of work on a single battery charge. However, users of the more complex models have stated that the battery life hasn’t sustained the same quality increase, but I only find it natural. If you want a camera to be just as light and small and perform twice more tasks at the same time, you should be prepared for a shorter run-time.

And now let’s talk about image quality. In good lighting, Sony point and shoot cameras give exceptional results. The smallest sensor in the series is 18.2 MP, but you can get a 24.3 MP sensor on the more professional models. In any case, the sensor is large enough to produce quality  images even in low-light conditions – although the general opinion is that this still leaves a lot of room for improvement.

I’m going to leave out all other technical details, since everyone can easily find them on specialized forums and platforms, all I can say in the end is that I’m a photographer with simple needs, and I’ve found a good companion in Sony compact cameras, as they’re up to standard and even offer the possibility to put your imagination to work when you’re using their integrated features.

Robotic vacuum cleaners – do they really work

Is the era of Wall-E here yet? Our busy lives and full schedules make us desire more and more fully automated help, even inside our houses. This is one desire that seems to be fulfilled by the arrival of robotic vacuum cleaners on the market, but skeptical as we habitually are, we can’t help but wonder if this novelty is for real.

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If we take a look at user reviews, these little minions seem to be not only real, but even very efficacious. What’s more, they integrate a bunch of helpful features to make them easy to control – by programming, remote control and even Wi-Fi connectivity. Virtual walls can be included in their memory in order to limit their activity range, and if the battery runs out, the device will return and plug itself to the charger. All these information might seem too good to be true, but let’s not forget the actual purpose of owning such an appliance: to pick up dirt, dust and hair from your carpets and floors. So do robotic vacuums do that as they should?

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There’s no need to go through entire pages of reviews and product specs to understand that manufacturers still have a lot of improvements to do in this area.


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First of all, the suction power of a robotic vacuum cleaner is nowhere near that of a regular machine. While some models work perfectly for hard surfaces such as wooden floors, tiles and linoleum, the carpet is a true enemy of these small sweepers. That’s because hair and dirt tend to settle deep into and among the fibers of the carpet, and applying weak suction just can’t get it all out. Remember that most of the times when we’re dealing with this type of debris, we tend to walk even with the most powerful vacuum two or three times over the same place to have it completely cleaned. Whereas a robotic vacuum might just pass over it once, and not with much success.

Secondly, and this is rather a question of worth than of function, let’s assume you’ve programmed your device to vacuum every four hours during an entire day, in hope this will compensate for its weak suction power. How much energy power are you willing to pay for in order to make this work?

In my opinion, robotic vacuum cleaners would really work if their price would get low enough to say that they are accessories in a household cleaning department, and not tools by themselves.

Traveling through Europe – essential gadgets

Going on a vacation to Europe can mean a romantic getaway to the most romantic cities of the old continent, or an adventurous search for the unknown in the middle of the wild, but in all cases, it means leaving the comfort of your home, with just a few of your belongings. While you’re having the time of your life exploring new cities and sleeping in different places every night, there are a few gadgets that you need to always have a hand, for emergencies or just to kill the boring hours in between flights, or while driving on a rainy weather.

 

A GPS unit

 

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The first item on our list is a life saver whether you’re behind the wheel, or backpacking on Alpine trails. A GPS navigator will let you know exactly where you are at all times, and can be of help not only if you’re lost, but in any situation of establishing a route or “keeping an eye” on your children or your luggage. The best quality of this gadget is that it’s versatile, so you can find it as a unit designed for cars, as an app on your smartphone, and even integrated in a sports watch, so you can have it guide you no matter what sort of activity you’re engaging in.

 

Power bank

 

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Running out of battery on your phone or laptop can be a real problem if you’re in a remote location, or in case of an emergency. This is why having a power bank with a full load on you will allow you to make that urgent call or finish your work even while waiting in an airport terminal. Simply make sure it suits your devices and have it recharged each chance you get, and power loss will not be amongst your most feared problems.

 

Portable WiFi router

 

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Traveling, whether it’s in Europe or elsewhere, means you will spend a lot of time in places that don’t offer an internet connection. To make sure you can hit Google or your favorite websites at all times, try a portable router. Most of them are so small and slim that they can be carried in the back pocket, and they’re usually designed to run for a few whole hours before the battery runs out.

 

Before you start packing your gadgets, make sure you are aware of their compatibility with the charging options: for instance, most European power outlets offer 220volts, and their shape is very different, consisting of two round prongs. An electrical adapter will help you with that matter.