Author Archives: Ramon.KGS

White Blood Cells

Apart from red cells, there are the white cells or leucocytes. Some are produced by the bone marrow and are called granulocytes, because they have varying coloured granules dotted throughout them when stained ready for examination under the microscope.

There are three kinds of granulocytes. One form, called the neutrophil, has the capacity of engulfing and devouring foreign particles in the blood. They are termed phagocytes, and this capacity is necessary to combat infections. The germs are simply gobbled up by the cell, digested and destroyed. Incidentally, the white cell dies also – a case of giving its life to help keep the owner alive. This is seen in the formation of pus.

There are two other types of granulocytes: the eosinophils (that stain a bright red) and the basophils (that turn blue on staining). The eosinophils are associated with allergic reactions, being present in higher numbers in patients with allergies (such as asthma and hay fever) and parasitic infections. Basophils are involved in inflammatory and allergic reactions.

So much for the red cells. They seem very important. Now what about the white cells you spoke of? These are also extremely important. They are really the fighting force of the body. Their task is essentially one of protection. In time of need they are mobilised, and they vigorously attack any unwanted foreign invaders that may harm the system. There are many different kinds, but they are essentially there for the same purpose.

If infection occurs at any part of the system, the white cells congregate, and actively attack the germs. They actually approach them, roll over them and totally encompass them in a weird process called phagocytosis. When this has happened, the cell usually dies, with the germ inside it. This is how pus forms – it’s really a collection of millions of dead white cells and dead germs.

In times of infection, huge numbers of white cells are manufactured rapidly by the system, and thus the “white cell count” of the blood increases, as the doctors say. This condition is called leucocytosis – the leucocyte being the official name of the white cells. Sometimes there is a swing in the opposite direction, and there are insufficient white cells. This is called leucopenia, and may be dangerous if an infection strikes.

Where do the cells come from?

There are many different places around the body where they are manufactured. The softish material in the centre of the large bones of the limbs called marrow is an important one. Others are made in the lymph glands, and two large organs located in the upper part of the abdomen called the liver and spleen are also associated with the cells. A gland in the upper part of the chest of children, called the thymus, also produces certain types of white cells. Another solid part of blood are the platelets, microscopic particles that play an important part in blood clotting

Vomiting


The forceful ejection of stomach content-through the mouth. Vomiting is not the same as spitting up or regurgitating, when a small amount of previously swallowed material (usually breast milk or formalin reenters an infant’s mouth without force. Spitting up is not uncommon during the first year of life because the sphincter (a ring like muscle) between the esophagus and the stomach does not always close tightly or may reopen much of the time at this age. During the first year, the sphincter gradually matures and tightens, reducing the number of spitting-up episodes.

Forceful vomiting is always a significant symptom in an infant younger than three months of age. It may be related to milk protein intolerance and could require formula substitution. It may also be a symptom of a partial or complete obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract. the most common such obstruction in infants is gastric stenosis, a condition in which the muscles of the segment of small intestine just beyond the stomach thicken and block the outlet of the stomach. The vomiting associated with this condition is so forceful that it called projectile vomiting. Additional symptoms will include failure to gain weight and a general look of undernourishment. This condition is most common for the firstborn children in their family.

The most common cause of vomiting in older children is infection. Vomiting of this type is frequently accompanied by nausea, abdominal cramps, and in some cases fever. The infection may be in the stomach (gastroenteritis, also called stomach flu which there can be both diarrhea and vomiting. Vomiting  is sometimes caused by stimulation of brain’s vomiting center by toxins that circulate as the resualt of infections elsewhere, such as in the throat.

Sometimes vomiting is so forceful it produces a tear in the esophagus. In such instances there may be some amount of blood in the vomited material. The presence of amounts of vomited blood is a serious concerts that should be evaluated by a physician immediately.

The danger of dehydration

The main concern with repeated vomiting, especially accompanied by diarrhea, is that the infant may be dehydrated from fluid loss. When these losses are increased thirst and a modest decrease in urine o(fewer wet diapers) will occur. If so, call your physician for advice, which may include a recommendation for foes direct evaluation.

The following symptoms indicate more severe dehydration and, with rare exception, call for immediate evaluation:

• Constant thirst (in an older child who can express this need)

• Dry mouth and lips

• Fewer tears when crying

• No urine production for 8 to 12 hours, indicating that the kidney is conserving fluids

• Sunken eyes

• A sunken fontanelle (the soft spot in the skull, most readily felt during the first six months of life)

• Skin texture that is no longer elastic but more like bread dough.

• Persistent fussing in an infant, especially if it is more of a whine than a vigorous cry

Even more serious dehydration (with fluid losses of more than 10 percent of the child’s normal body weight) will be suggested by the presence of these symptoms:

• Cool and/or mottled skin

• Rapid, thready pulse

• Rapid respirations

• Moaning or grunting, or a weak, feeble cry

• Marked listlessness with lack of interest in play or feeding, little response to being handled, and (in an infant) markedly reduced movements of arms and legs

A baby or young child with these symptoms is likely to be in trouble and should be evaluated immediately in an emergency-room setting.

Prevention and Treatment of Dehydration

Your child’s doctor will give specific advice for prevent-or correcting dehydration, which will depend to a degree on the age of your child and the severity of problem. Usually some effort will be made to rest for a day or two while the infection runs its course. Traditionally, this has involved giving the infant/child one or more forms of clear liquids-water, clear soup, clear juice-which are supposed to be absorbed more easily when the bowel is inflamed or enlarged by infection. However, research of the small intestine has led to the development of a variety of oral rehydrating solutions (ORS), which work more effectively with the body’s mechanisms absorbing fluid. These solutions contain specified amounts of sodium, potassium, and glucose mixed together, can be safely used by infants and children of all, and are effective in treating both mild and severe dehydration.

Premixed ORS is available at drugstores in products such as Pedialyte, Rehydralyte, and Infalyte. It is this type of solution, not the traditional clear liquids, that is best suited to treat acute gastroenteritis, especially in children under two years of age ORS may be given by bottle, spoon, or even dropper, usually in frequent small amounts. If the rehydrating solution isn’t flavored, its taste can be improved by adding one tablespoon of Jell-O powder to one tablespoon of boiling water, and then adding this mixture to an eight-ounce bottle of the solution.)Your doctor will specifically recommend the type and minimum quantity of solution you should give to your child. A typical routine is to give a teaspoon to a table-spoon (depending on the child’s size) every ten minutes for an hour and then doubling the amount each hour if vomiting does not occur.

Breast-fed infants can continue nursing but with frequent shorter feedings (for example, ten minutes every hour or two, using one side at a time). If vomiting persists in a nursing infant, the doctor may recommend using a rehydrating solution for a few hours.

In most cases of gastroenteritis, after eight hours without vomiting, foods such as rice cereal or applesauce for infants, or bread, rice, mashed potatoes, or crackers for older children can be eaten in small amounts. If vomiting recurs, oral intake should be ceased for an hour, and rehydrating fluid can be started again. Vomiting accompanied by significant pain in the abdomen, whether generalized or localized, may indicate the presence of an acute medical problem such as appendicitis. Vomiting accompanied by intermittent abdominal pain and blood in the stool may indicate an obstruction or a bacterial infection. If vomiting and abdominal pain persist for more than a few hours, the child should be examined by a physician.

Sesame Seed Bread

MAKES 1 LOAF

107g11/2 tsp active dry yeast

300ml/1/2 pint/11/4 cups lukewarm water

200g/7 oz1 13/4cups plain (all-purpose) flour

200g/7oz/1-3/4 cups whole-wheat flour

10m1/2 tsp salt

70g/21/2 oz/5 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Milk, for glazing

30ml/2 tbsp sesame seeds, for sprinkling

1 Combine the yeast and 75 m1/5 tbsp of the water and then leave to dissolve. Mix the flours and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast and water.

4 Grease a 23cm/9 in cake tin (pan). Punch down the dough and knead in the sesame seeds. Divide the dough into 16 halls and place in the tin. Cover with cling film (plastic wrap)and leave in a warm place until risen above the rim of the tin.

5 Preheat a 220°C/425°F/Gas 7 oven. Brush the loaf with milk and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake for 15minutes. Lower the heat to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5 and bake until the bottom sounds hollow when rapped, about 30minutes more.

Cool on a wire rack.

Ideas on How to Set Up Contract for Home Improvement

It is likely that you will want to have some professional help for many home improvement projects. The experts can help you solve design problems, make sure you satisfy the requirements of the building regulations and stop you falling foul of your local government planning committee. They can also organize and manage large scale projects in a way that no home owner with a frill-rime jog could hope to do. Which experts you call in and what you get them to do for you depends on the project concerned.

You are most likely to call on the services of an architect or a building surveyor if you are building a home extension, converting a loft (attic) or carrying out major internal alterations to your house. Apart from that, many jobs around the home, such as replacing tiles on the roof, can be done safely and thoroughly by the home owner. If major repairs or renovation work is needed however, it is always worth obtaining a quote train a contractor before starting the project yourself.

While waiting for government approval, get renders(bids) for the work from contractors, prepare contracts, devise work schedules and supervise work on site. Architects and surveyors will usually charge a percentage of the project cost as their fee.

If you are planning a loft (attic) conversion, a conservatory, replacement windows, or a kitchen or bathroom refit, you can call in firms who specialize in each of these areas. Since each may offer a complete package, from computer aided design to completion, they may be very tempting to employ. However, this area is very much one of ‘buyer beware’. If you decide to use this route, try to find a firm that either comes with a personal recommendation or is prepared to put you in touch with several satisfied customers. Read the contract offered by the firm in detail, querying any unclear terms and, above all, do not part with any money in advance.

Calling in professional help with your home improvements raises a few questions, since you are effectively handing over the work to a third party. You need to keep control over the job to ensure you get the results you want. If you need contractors to carry out the work for you, decide first of all whether you want a main contractor to run the entire project and bring in his or her own specialist subcontractors, rooters, plasterers, plumbers, electricians and so on, for individual parts of the job.

The alternative is to employ those sub-contractors yourself for the parts of the job that are beyond your abilities. As always, the best way of finding contractors and subcontractors is by personal recommendation. If you are employing an architect on your project, he or she may be able to recommend firms in your area.

Other ways of finding contractors include local newspaper advertisements, telephone directories and trade associations, which will send lists of their members working in your area. One last method involves looking round your area for houses where projects similar to yours are being carried out. Knock at the door and ask the owner how the work is going; people cannot resist discussing things if they are going well.

What a home improvement project will cost is of prime importance to every householder. If you are doing the job yourself, make contact with all the relevant local trade suppliers builders and other specialist merchants, plus second hand outlets such as salvage yards, and explain to them what you are doing and what your requirements are. Some projects will be easier to price than others, but suppliers will generally be eager to help you estimate costs if there is an order in it for them.

Don’t forget about hire (rental) shops for the equipment not included in your do-it-yourself toolkit. It is also worth hiring (or even better, buying) heavy duty versions of your existing power tools, which are likely to be burnt out by the sort of use they will get on a major improvement project. If you are employing an architect, he or she will be responsible for obtaining costs for the job. If you are putting the entire job in the hands of builders, they will be responsible for pricing the job and for buying all the materials.

Never employ any contractors on a home-improvement project without a contract, however simple. This will give both parties a clear description of what the job involves and who is responsible for what. Above all, it will give each party the protection of the law if the other breaks its terms. A simple job probably needs no more than a letter of agreement. This should include a description of the work to be done, the price, the agreed starting and finishing dates and details of how payments will be made. On more complex jobs, a contractor’s derailed quotation plus your signature will constitute a valid contract. A builder will save you the trouble of hiring specialist equipment unlikely to be found in many a home owner’s toolkit.

Undescended Testes


Undescended Testes happens fairly frequently. Normally the testes descend from the body to the scrotum shortly before birth. But occasionally they seem to get lost. They may partially descend, then return to the body. This may keep on occurring. Alternatively, the testes may have developed in an abnormal manner, and are situated in some different place. This is termed an ectopic testis.

The testes belong in the scrotum from birth onwards. If they remain in the body, as age progresses, the sperm-producing capacity is adversely affected and infertility may take place in later life.

The other may be very hazardous. Testes remaining in the body have a high risk of turning cancerous. What’s more, it may be a very serious, rapidly growing and spreading type.

Undescended Testes Treatment

If a parent notices the testes are missing or come and go, referral to the doctor is essential, and the sooner the better.

What treatment is carried out? This will vary with the patient and the exact diagnosis. Some doctors prefer to give hormonal treatment a trial run first. They administer the hormone chorionic gonadotrophin, and this is occasionally successful in bringing the testes into the scrotum.

What if this fails?

And fail it often does. Then a surgical approach is taken. This is invariably successful. The testes are found and anchored securely into the scrotum. The operation is quite straightforward; the patient rapidly recovers, and usually the beneficial effect is lifelong. It is a highly successful procedure. But as you said earlier, the sooner a parent takes action, the better. Never neglect any disorder in this region. It’s often quite obvious, and a check is very simple.

Preparing Surface for Covering

Once the previous wall and ceiling decorations have been removed the next task is to restore any defects in the surfaces to be covered, and then to prepare them so that they present the perfect substrate for successful paperhanging.

The first step is to put down some heavy-dory plastic sheeting on the floor to catch splashes, and then to wash down the hare wall and ceiling surfaces thoroughly with strong household detergent or sugar soap (all-purpose cleaner), working from the bottom upon walls, and then to rinse them off with clean water, working this time from top to bottom on walls. Turn off the electricity supply first in case water gets into light switches and socket outlets (receptacles). Leave the surfaces to dry out thoroughly.

Next, repair defects such as cracks, holes and other surface damage which may have been concealed by the previous decorations, or even caused by their removal.

Finally, treat the wall and ceiling surfaces with a coat of size or diluted wallpaper paste, and leave this to dry before starting paperhanging. Size seals porous plaster, providing a surface with absorption, and also makes it easier to slide the pasted lengths of wall covering into position on the wall.

Wash wall surfaces with sugar soap (all-purpose cleaner) or detergent, working from the bottom up , then rinse them with clean water, working from the top down

Wash ceilings with a floor mop or squeegee, after disconnecting and removing light fitting.. Again, rinse off with clean water.

Fill cracks, holes other detects in the wall and ceiling surfaces as appropriate, leave the filler to harden and then sand the repair down flush.

Apply a coat of size or diluted wallpaper paste to wall and ceiling surfaces that are to be papered, and leave them to dry before starting paperhanging.

CROSS-LINING

If the wall surface is in poor condition, has been previously decorated with gloss paint or is being decorated with a thin fabric wall covering, it is best to hang lining(liner) paper first. This is usually hung horizontally rather than vertically, with butt joints between lengths and with ends and edges trimmed just shun of adjacent ceiling and wall surfaces. Use the same type of paste for the lining paper as for the subsequent wall covering.

MEASURING AND CUTTING TO LENGTH

1. For quick and easy calculations, mark the length of the pasting table at 30 cm/12 in intervals using a pencil and metal straight edge.

2. Measure the length of wall covering needed for the drop, including trim allowances., and mark this on the paper. Cur the first piece to length.

PASTING WALL COVERINGS

1. Face the light to make it easy to spot any unpasted areas – they look dull, nor shiny. Apply a generous hand of pastedown the centre of the length.

2. Align one edge of the wall covering with the edge of the pasting table, then brush the paste out towards that edge from the centre band.

3. Draw the length across to the other edge of the table, and apply paste out to that edge Rio. Check that there are no dry or thinly pasted areas.

4. Continue pasting until the end of the table is reached. Then lift the pasted end of the wall covering and fold it over on itself, pasted side to pasted side.

5. Slide the paper along the table so the folded section hangs down. Paste the rest of the length and fold the opposite end over on itself.

How to Make Roman Blinds

Blinds are becoming a very popular alternative window dressing to a pair of curtains (drapes). The styles of blind described here, although made using very similar techniques, create very different effects. Choose the softly ruched Austrian blind for a pretty, feminine window treatment and the smartly pleated Roman blind for a room with a modern decor.

Use a light or medium weight fabric to make an Austrian blind, anything from lightweight voile or sheer to standard cotton curtain fabric will be suitable. Avoid heavy brocades and hand woven cottons, as these are too thick to drape well. You will need a special type of track to hang and mount the blind; this is known as Austrian blind track, and is widely available.

A Roman blind, on the other hand, will benefit from being made in a reasonably substantial fabric. You can line this type of blind if you wish, to add body to the pleats and also to retain the warmth of a room. You need a batten (furring strip) and angle irons to mount the blind. Use strips of touch and close fastener to hold the blind in place on the batten. An Austrian blinds are mounted in much the same way, with the cords threaded through rings attached to the track.

MAKING A ROMAN BLINDS

  1. Cut out the fabric. Turn, pin and stitch double 12 mm or 1/2 in side hems. Turn, pin and then machine stitch a double 2.5 cm/1 in hens along the top of the fabric. Press all the hems.
  2. Pin and stitch a strip of Roman blind tape close to the side edge, turning under 9 cm at the top. Stitch another strip along the remaining edge, then attach further strips at intervals across the blind, 25-30 cm/10-12 in apart.
  3. At the bottom of the blind, turn over 9mm or 1/8 in and press, then turn over a further 5 cm/2 in to enclose the ends of the tape. Pin and stitch the hem close to the inner fold, leaving the sides open.
  4. Stitch narrow tucks across the width of the blind to correspond with alternate rows of loops or rings on the tape. Make the first tuck level with the second row of loops or rings from the bottom of the blind. To make the tucks, fold the fabric with the wrong sides facing, and stitch 3mm or 1/8 in from the fold.

CALCULATING FABRIC REQUIREMENTS

Roman Blind

To calculate the length, measure the window drop, add 14 cm/ 4I/2 in for hem allowances and a little extra for the horizontal tucks. For the width, measure the window and add 6 cm/ 2 in for side hems. You will need sufficient strips of Roman blind strip to position at 25-30 cm/10-12 in intervals across the width of the blind. Each strip should be the length of the Hind plus 12/1/2 in; make sure there is a loop or ring12 mm/1/2 in up from the bottom of each strip so that they will match across the blind.

Attach the blind to the top of the batten with strips of touch and close fastener. Cut each length of cord to twice the length of the Hind plus the distance of the right-hand edge. Thread each cord through the loops in the tape. Knot each length securely on the bottom loop and thread the other end through the corresponding screw eyes on the batten, ending with all the cord ends on the right hand side of the blind. Knot the cords at the top, cut the ends off level and knot them again.

Ovarian Tumors

What is Ovarian Tumor?

The ovaries are a fairly common site for the development of tumors. They are most frequently detected in women aged 35 years or more. They tend to grow slowly, and are often not discovered until they have grown to a relatively large size.
Often a lump welling up from the pelvic cavity (sometimes believed to be a pregnancy, even though menstruation may still be occurring) is the first indication. But in an obese woman, it may just appear that she is putting on even more weight in the abdominal region, and may be overlooked for a long time.
Many are discovered in the course of a routine pelvic examination for some other reason. (This is another reason in favour of having regular pelvic checks when returning for a repeat prescription of the contraceptive pill. If this is not carried out routinely by your own doctor, it is well worth asking for.) Many tumors are discovered during a laparoscopic examination of the pelvis.
Fortunately, about 95 per cent of ovarian tumors are benign (ie noncancerous). Benign tumors are usually cystic, so that if a cystic swelling is discovered, it usually means that it is a simple, noncancerous one.
However, the remaining 5 per cent still equals a lot, and malignancy in this area is fraught with problems. For cancer tends to grow at a steady rate, silently, and almost symptom-free in the early stages. Often, by the time adequate symptoms have occurred to make the patient seek medical assistance, the cancer has advanced to an incurable state. Once more this indicates the supreme value of regular medical examinations and pelvic checks throughout life. Discovering these disorders early (before symptoms set in) offers about the only chance of a successful outcome.

Ovarian Tumor Symptoms

Benign tumors never cause pain, unless some sort of complication occurs, and rarely do they affect menstrual function. Symptoms can take place if the tumor is on a lengthy stalk (pedicle), and it becomes twisted on itself. If the cystic swelling suddenly bursts. symptoms may also take place.
Princess Anne of Britain was in the news some years ago when it appeared that she had an ovarian cyst that had suddenly developed this complication. Sometimes a surgical emergency may arise. But with small cysts, a slight discomfort may be all that a woman experiences.
Very large tumors may produce symptoms from pressure on surrounding structures. Abdominal discomfort, lack of appetite and/or nausea may occur when the abdominal contents are squeezed by mechanical pressure. Malignant tumors of the ovaries are often associated with pain, particularly in the later stages when surrounding structures have become involved. Fluid in the pelvic cavity and weight loss are also other ominous signs.
Diagnosis of ovarian tumors may be simple, or they may be extremely difficult. Sometimes radiology and ultrasound aids are needed to help in distinguishing it from other possible diagnoses.

Ovarian Tumor Treatment

The course of action depends on the nature and severity of the symptoms being produced. If severe bleeding is occurring, particularly in an older woman, surgical removal of the uterus is often undertaken. If troublesome pressure symptoms are encountered, a similar approach is frequently made.
In younger women (especially those under the age of 40), and those still desirous of maintaining their reproductive function, myomectomy may be advised. One important flow-on benefit is that a substantial number of women who appeared to be infertile (presumably due to the presence of the tumor) subsequently become pregnant after this operation.
Treatment of most ovarian tumors is surgical. In young women, every effort is made to preserve as much of the normal ovary (if there is any left) as possible. This help ensure continuation of the system’s hormonal supply, and so help maintain a feeling of normality.
As there is a risk of benign cysts turning cancerous, they are usually removed. Smaller ones are either ruptured or removed alone or with the ovary through the operating laparoscope. as seen in full colour by the doctor on a VDU screen, which sits next to the patient. It can sometimes be difficult to know if a tumor is in fact cancerous or not until it has been thoroughly examined by the pathologist under the microscope. Any parts that are removed must always be scrutinised by the experts for a full report.
In older women, frequently a greater amount of tissue is removed, for there is often an increased risk of cancer. Ovarian cancer is a serious disease and follow-up therapy is usually carried out. Development of Taxol, from the yew tree, holds hope for the future. Time will tell.
The main point in this section is the need to recognise that ovarian tumors are relatively common. While most are noncancerous, there is a real risk that malignancy may develop.
The sooner diagnosis is made and treatment undertaken, the better. There is also a case for regular pelvic examinations throughout life in order to detect any such abnormality as early as possible.

Endometrial Ablation

New technology continues to improve the lot of many women undergoing surgery. In many cases, in women with heavy bleeding for no obvious cause, the traditional D and C or hysterectomy (womb removal) is being replaced by endometrial ablation. This is carried out in hospital under a general anaesthetic. A camera looks inside the womb, and this is displayed on a VDU screen nearby, and the surgeon works from this, gently manipulating the instruments. A “rollerball” or laser beam then systematically removes the endometrial lining of the womb. This goes deeply, so that subsequent scar tissue will prevent new tissue lining from growing.
In most cases, bleeding is dramatically reduced. Pregnancy is usually no longer possible. The patient normally recovers quickly. It is a much lesser operation than womb removal, and the patient may return home and back to normal duties fairly quickly.

Laparoscopic Hysterectomy

The laparoscopic method is being used for an increasing range of surgical operations. Many gynaecologists use it for womb removal (hysterectomy) Tubes (one containing a camera and lights) are inserted via tiny 1 cm incisions called portals low down in the pelvis. This is shown up on the VDU screen, and the surgeon gently dissects away the unwanted parts.
Finally, the womb (and other organs if need be) is removed via an incision high up in the vaginal canal. Recovery is claimed to be quicker, although the operation still takes a considerable period of time, and specialised surgical skills and equipment are required.

Soft Furnishing

Most ready-made items of soft furnishing arc expensive, but you can make them just as well at home and much more cheaply. Curtains and drapes, Hinds and shades, cushion covers and bed linen require the minimum of sewing skills and little in the way of equipment beyond a sewing machine and an iron.

The choice of fabric plays a major part in setting the style of a room, creating accents of colour to enliven a neutral decor or coordinating different elements. Colour is an important consideration when furnishing a room light shades while dark and vivid shades will generally close it up. Many people play safe by choosing neutral shades which, although easy to live with, can look rather dull and impersonal.

The ideal colour scheme is usually basically harmonious one, with interest added by the judicious use of contrasting or complementary colours for some elements of the design. Soft furnishings, such as cushions or blinds and shades, chosen in fabrics to contrast with the overall colour scheme, can add just the right amount of colour to brighten up a room.

Making soft furnishings at home is the perfect way to experiment with colour and make a visual statement. Most items require a few metres (yards)of fabric at the most. A good point to bear in mind when selecting fabric is that there are no hard-and-fast rules, apart from trying not to mix too many different colours and patterns in one setting. Most good stores will supply swatches of furnishing fabrics without charge for colour matching at home.

Another consideration is that the chosen fabric should he suitable for the intended purpose – for example, heavyweight cloths will make up into good curtains and cushion covers, hilt will be too stiff and unyielding to make a successful bed valance.

Cotton is the fabric most commonly used for soft furnishings, often with small amounts of synthetic fibres added for strength and to improve crease resistance. Linen is extremely strong, although expensive and inclined to crease badly; the addition of both cotton for economy and synthetics to help prevent creasing is usual. Both cotton and linen shrink when laundered, and you should take this into account when estimating the amounts that you require. Some furnishing fabrics are pre-shrunk during manufacture, and you should also always check this when purchasing.

Man-made fibres have different properties, depending on their composition, but the majority resist creases and shrinking. Their most common use for soft furnishings, apart from being added to cotton and linen blends, is for making easy-care nets and sheer curtains (drapes) which are lightweight and launder well.

Fabrics suitable for making soft furnishings are as follows:

Brocade: cotton, cotton/synthetic blend or acetate with a woven self-pattern created by areas of different weaves. Used for making formal curtains and drapes and cushion covers. Calico: inexpensive, medium-weight woven cotton, either dyed or printed, or sold unbleached. Used for curtains and blinds (shades), in particular. Chintz: glazed, medium-weight furnishing cotton, traditionally printed with patterns of roses and other flowers, birds and animals.

Gingham: inexpensive checked fabric woven from cotton or cotton/polyester blends. Often used for making soft furnishings for kitchens.

Hand-woven fabric: heavyweight or medium-weight cotton with an irregular, rather rough weave. Used for curtains and drapes, cushion covers and bedspreads.

Linen union: hardwearing, heavyweight fabric made from linen with some added cotton, often printed with floral designs. Suitable for curtains and covering upholstery.

Bright, cheerful soft-furnishing fabrics make an excellent foil to a plain floor covering.

Madras: hand-woven pure cotton originating from Madras in India. Usually dyed in brilliant colours, often with a woven pattern of checks, plaids and stripes.

Poplin: a lightweight or medium-weight cotton, either plain or printed. Sateen: cotton or cotton/synthetic fabric with a slight sheen. Curtain lining is usually made of lightweight cotton sateen.

Sheeting: extra-wide fabric for making bed linen. Usually woven from a mixture of 50 per cent cotton and 50per cent polyester or other man-made fibre, making it easy-care.

Ticking: heavy woven cloth with narrow stripes. Originally used for covering pillows, mattresses and bolsters, but today used as a decorative fabric in its own right.

Velvet: heavy fabric made from cotton or cotton/synthetic blends with a cut pile, used for formal curtains and cushion covers. Corduroy (needle cord)is similar, but here the cut pile forms regular ridges down the cloth.

Voile: light, semi-transparent cotton or synthetic fabric. Used for sheer curtains and bed drapes.

Luxurious fabrics used for curtains or drapes, cushions and upholstery are often the ideal medium for adding patterned elements to a room’s decor.

Blues and greens are naturally cool, receding colours, ideal for well-lit south-facing rooms, but can be warmed by splashes of contrast in orange and yellow.

Storage Organize

Gardening brings with it an extraordinary amount of practical paraphernalia. Tools, pots, and planters, potting compost, raffia, string, seeds, and baskets are but a few of the sheds can become an attractive part of the garden architecture if decorated. For tools and equipment, garden sheds bulky and space-consuming examples are the classic solution that most gardens can accommodate, though smaller gardens may be restricted to a mini-shed or tool shed, which can be as small as 30 cm/12 in deep and so can be tucked into a corner. However,

Another solution is to put your goods on show. Garden pots can be very visual and, displayed on weatherproof shelves; can become part of the decorative appeal of the garden. This is an excellent solution for very small gardens and patios, which still need space for the practicals. Instead of buying ready-made garden shelving, you could build your own from timber and treat it with exterior-quality paint. Metal shelves can be given a new life using car spray paint or specially manufactured metal paint, which can even be sprayed straight over old rust.

All shelves should he attached firmly to the garden wall — avoid attaching to the house wall since this could lead to water damage. Once fitted, use the shelves for displays, to store tools, or for bringing on young seedlings, which can look delightful planted in ranks of terracotta pots.

Means of disguise

In an ideal world, garbage bins and recycling containers would be beautiful in themselves, but unfortunately, in reality they are seldom an attractive sight. They are necessary, however, and they do need to be accessible.

You can spend a little effort painting them, using a screen of plants to hide them or camouflaging them with a trellis with plants growing up it. Trellises have the advantage of being compact, long-lasting and attractive.

In spite of its utilitarian name, the potting shed is far more than a useful storage area and behind-the-scenes workroom for the gardener’s al fresco performance. For many gardeners, it is a rustic refuge from everyday concerns, a quiet and solitary place for contemplation and gentle activity, which may or may not be of a horticultural nature.

Potting sheds are seldom shared. In households of more than one individual, one person will generally claim territorial rights and others will trespass at their peril, for here the gardener’s true nature may flourish without interference. Tidiness is optional. Some people will hang meticulously cleaned tools in serried ranks, while others fling rusting relics in heaps on the floor. Pots may be carefully cleaned and sorted ready for use or left where last discarded, according to inclination. Compost (soil mix) is neatly sacked and stacked or thrown with abandon over every surface. Most of us come somewhere between the two extremes, for while we admire orderliness, a natural impatience engenders a tendency towards disorder, and in this one area of our lives, we feel completely free to be occasionally tidy and well organized, but rather more often not.