Clematis Is Not a Sexually Transmitted Disease

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At some point during college, I walked into a Planned Parenthood, signed in, sat down, and looked around. My eyes came to rest on a booklet that said in ominous all-caps: CHLAMYDIA IS NOT A FLOWER.

I began to giggle inside. That’s a great title for a pamphlet about venereal disease, because I never forgot it. Whoever thought of that, I owe you a lifetime of high-fives. To this day, if STDs are mentioned in a conversation, I am forced by the power of that Planned Parenthood pamphlet to say, “Hey! Did you know that chlamydia is not a flower?”

I have to say it, you see. Even when it’s insensitive and tacky of me. I can’t help it. Because over the course of my life, “chlamydia is not a flower” has become a verbal tic of sorts, one of those odd personal jokes between me, myself, and I. So be forewarned: if you mention chlamydia in my presence, I’m gonna have to remind you that chlamydia isn’t a flower, and there’s not a damned thing you can do about it except roll your eyes and wait for me to stop snickering like a thirteen-year-old boy.

Cut to: ten years later (*cough*Fifteen! Liar!*cough*), and I’m no longer a young college girl on the go. I’m a wife and mother. Now, rather than getting drunk at keggers and puking into my own shoes for a good time, I like to plant flowers and garden. My life is different now. (Well, okay, except for the getting drunk part. I still do that occasionally. But my shoes are totally puke-free, I swear.)

One of my favorite flowers to plant, in this brave new world called adulthood, is clematis. Clematis is an easy to grow, beautiful flowering vine. But best part of all: “clematis” kind of sounds like “chlamydia.” And clematis IS a flower.

So if, like me, you decide to share your personal inside joke with your dear husband… you remember the joke, right? The one in which you ask, “Did you know that chlamydia is not a flower?” That joke? Well, the good man you married will quite possibly run with your not-really-that-funny chlamydia/clematis joke. Pretty soon he might call the clematis you’ve planted all over your yard “chlamydia,” and you will gleefully join him.

This sounds entertaining, yes? But be forewarned, it may get so bad that you will actually find yourself calling it only chlamydia because you’ve forgotten the actual name of the plant. You may even accidentally call it “chlamydia” when discussing it with employees in your local nursery or gardening center, and you will blush hot in the face with shame and embarrassment. So if, in your mushy mommy brain, you have started to lose your words and are now resorting to describing things with adjective-riddled paragraphs like I often do, you may want to skip the funny nickname for this plant, because soon, chlamydia is all you will have.

Yes, you, too, will have chlamydia.

I have chlamydia-clematis plants all over my yard. I love them because they are hardy, which in my part of the world (Tulsa, Oklahoma) means they can tolerate soil that contains so much clay I get to recreate that cheesy scene from the movie Ghost every time I plant something. (Except there’s no hunky Patrick Swayze-type hugging me from behind while I work the clay, and instead of throwing a sexy new pot on that cool spinny thing, I’m throwing out my tired old back.) Clematis is also a perennial vine, which means that once you plant it, it will grow back every year, even after a cold winter, saving you money (and future back strain).

I have clematis in five different areas of my yard, both front and back. This is because the Lowe’s home and garden store down the road from my house had them on clearance a few years ago. It was early summer and the planting season for these lovelies was over, so they were selling them at $2 a pop. I bought 12 clematis vines and hurried home to get them into the ground before the storm presently brewing in the skies above opened up full throttle.

With thunder rumbling over me, I hurried to get these babies planted:

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The raindrops had just started to speckle my face while I frantically got them into the earth, and within minutes of finishing, I watched from inside as the summer thunderstorm gave my new clematis a free post-planting soaking. Perfect.

I have done nothing for the clematis since planting them, and they have continued to thrive. Every spring, they come back bigger and stronger, with more blooms than the year before. It took me thirty hurried-by-threat-of-lightning minutes to slam them into the ground, and these selfless little flowers reward me every year for my haphazard gardening approach with so much purple goodness. I can even call them a name reserved for a ghastly disease, and they still come back pretty for me.

Contrary to some of the things you’ll read about clematis, they do not need full sun. I have clematis planted in partial, and even full shade (I have a north-facing front yard), and they do fine. The only thing I’ve noticed about my shady clematis is that they bloom later than the sunnier placements, but I like the staggering of the flowers. It gives me the bright colors I love for a longer time, rather than all at once.

Another thing I’ve noticed about my clematis plants is that they are not an aggressively clingy, vining plant, in that they don’t necessarily stick to everything I plant them under. I’ve had to use jute/garden rope, and even twisty-ties to hold the plants onto the trellises and drain spouts to encourage clinging. Once they’re growing where you want them, you’re golden, but they may need a little help getting there. (You can do it. You’re supportive, nurturing, and helpful, I can just feel it.)

Different types of clematis bloom at different times, so if you buy and plant them appropriately, you can have constant blooms in your yard. Or you can be like me and buy a bunch of clearance plants that are $2 each because they don’t have labels, put them in the ground, and enjoy the surprise of seeing what pops up. It’s your decision. I would recommend with all new plantings that you amend the dirt in your planting holes by mixing a bit of good store-bought potting soil in with the present soil as you plant. This will raise the nutrient content of your soil, and increase the drainage for the roots of the plant, which are both good things.

Remember to mulch your clematis after planting to hold moisture in, and water them once a week for the first year, or until they seem well-established. Pruning schedules for clematis are different depending on which type you have, but in general, clematis that blooms on this year’s growth should be pruned in the early spring, and clematis that blooms on last year’s growth should be pruned back after blooming.

More than anything, don’t stress out. Just give it a try: flowers are tougher than you think. Remember what we learned from Jurassic Park – nature finds a way – so put it in the ground, water it, and get ready for some pretty.

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5 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love

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Got a finicky eater? Or maybe your kids are just getting a little bored with the same old sandwiches? Here are some fun twists on snacks to get healthy fruits and vegetables into your children while having some good creative fun in the kitchen.

 

  1. Shish Kabobs

You know how cute food on skewers can be, whether they’re in the shape of those little plastic swords, or simple swizzle sticks, they all suddenly become tiny little shish kabobs when you slide pieces of fruits or vegetables onto them. You can turn snack time into a kiddie cookout with these adorable treats, making them a fun choice for birthday parties and sleepovers.

Some recommended fruits for skewers would be: strawberries cut into bite-sized chunks, pineapple pieces, Clementine orange slices, pitted cherries, grapes, kiwi rounds, banana slices, apple pieces, raspberries and blueberries.

Bonus: Give the kids small dipping bowls full of yogurt. Kids love to dip!

 

  1. Mini-Pizzas

When I was a child, my mom would make the most delicious fruit pizza by using sugar cookie dough as “pizza dough,” baking it into a giant pizza-sized cookie, and then covering it with cream cheese and pieces of fruit. It was an absolutely delicious dessert.

Now you can make a healthier, mini-version of this treat by using whole grain English muffins instead of the sugar cookie. Just toast an the muffin, spread cream cheese on it, and place cut up pieces of fruit into the cream cheese to make it look like a tiny, fruity pizza. Kids will love the novelty of having a mini-pizza for breakfast, and you can feel good about getting some healthy fruit and whole grains into them.

These also double as an afternoon snack or dinner if you use marinara or pizza sauce instead of the cream cheese, and a sprinkle of shredded mozzarella. If you can get some mushrooms and green peppers on them as well, even better!

 

  1. Pinwheels

Wraps cut into pinwheels are an adorable and easy-to-eat alternative to the daily lunchbox sandwich. Just spread hummus or cream cheese across a tortilla, then layer on fresh baby spinach, thinly-sliced tomato, and ham or turkey deli meat (or cheese if you have a vegetarian). After rolling your tortilla into a tight burrito shape, slice it into circles or pinwheels, and place them into your child’s plastic sandwich box for a fun surprise.

 

  1. Rainbow Pasta Salad

Children love rainbows and bright colors. It’s all about presentation with kids, and if you can serve them something happy and cheerful, you have a much better chance of getting them to eat it. This is where the rainbow pasta salad comes in. You know the spiral-shaped noodles that come in spinach green, carrot orange and beet red? So pretty.

These noodles can be cooked and served warm in a kid-friendly butter sauce, with fresh tomatoes, peas or carrots. It can also be served as a cold pasta salad if you prefer. Rather than mixing in vinaigrette dressing as you might for an adult’s cold pasta salad, mix in a light amount of ranch dressing, or any other dressing your child likes.

 

  1. Toothpick Party

It’s hors d’oeuvres for little people who can’t spell “hors d’oeuvres,” and somehow that just makes it really cute. Cube cheese, fruit, meats and vegetables, stick toothpicks into everything, and voila! Now it’s a party. The novelty of being able to grab a variety of different foods and the instant gratification of “toothpick nibbling” will entice the pickiest eater into trying new foods, and give any occasion a fun, celebratory feel.

 

Sometimes all it takes to get hesitant children to try new foods is a fresh perspective and a little creative fun. Give these funky, fresh ideas a try, and maybe your kids will find a new favorite snack today.

5 Fabulous Reasons for Dental Implants

 

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We all experience bone loss as we get older, but unfortunately when we lose a tooth, bone loss occurs much more rapidly if we don’t replace the missing tissue. In the same way that weight-bearing exercises stimulate bone growth and increase bone mineral density in our other bones, the pressure applied to teeth when we chew stimulates the jawbone and keeps it strong.

In the empty space where a tooth used to be, the jaw receives no stimulation, and bone resorption will soon begin, essentially dissolving the solid matter below the gap in the gum line. The good news is that this disuse atrophy can be easily prevented with a bone graft or dental implant.

With that most important dental implant benefit in mind, here are 5 more great reasons dental implants are important:

 

  1. Preserved Self-Esteem—

Dental implants can maintain your face shape by keeping your jaw in solid condition, helping you look younger in the process.

Having a missing tooth can also undermine your self-confidence, making you feel less attractive than when you had a full mouth of teeth. A dental implant can give you back your confident smile and make you feel better about yourself.

 

  1. Increased Comfort—

When you remove a tooth and don’t hold the space with a dental implant or bone graft, the other teeth in your mouth may start to move out of place, giving you an improper or crooked bite. This can make chewing and eating uncomfortable, and can even affect your speech.

A proper bite is also important for muscle tone and alignment, making dental implants necessary for maintaining your facial muscles after the loss of a tooth.

 

  1. Maximum Durability—

Once you start losing teeth, if you don’t replace them with dental implants or bone grafts, you have officially started down the treacherous path to jawbone loss and possibly dentures.

A dental implant can halt this process before it even begins, preserving your jaw and the rest of your teeth with a replacement that will most likely last more than 20 years.

Many people lose a tooth and skip the replacement dental implant to save money without realizing they are actually costing themselves money in the long run after bone resorption and further tooth loss inevitably follow. And unlike dentures, bone implants are permanent, minimizing maintenance trips to and from your dentist.

 

  1. Gastrointestinal Benefits—

The mouth is where the lengthy process of food digestion begins, starting with the enzyme production that helps us digest our food and remove valuable nutrients when we chew.

When you remove one piece of the puzzle by not replacing a missing tooth, you make chewing more difficult, which in turn makes it harder for your body to process the food you eat. This poor digestion can affect the sufferer in different ways, such as malnutrition, indigestion, constipation, bloating, gas and heartburn.

 

  1. Oral Health Maintenance—

Having a missing tooth makes a person more prone to gum disease, in addition to causing the other teeth in the mouth to shift and move out of place.

But if you fill the missing spot with a dental implant, the enamel and structural integrity of the surrounding teeth is completely maintained. This is because a dental implant stands alone and doesn’t require the grinding or alteration of other teeth to support it.

 

Your dentist will do everything possible to save your teeth, but sometimes tooth loss is an unfortunate fact of life. Thanks to dental implants, tooth loss no longer has to mean jawbone resorption, and the inevitable negative side-effects it can cause.

So if you happen to lose a tooth, don’t worry; just be sure to preserve your self-esteem and health by getting a dental implant.

 

7 Super iPhone Apps for Wine Lovers

 

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You don’t have to be an expert to appreciate a good wine. In fact, with research showing that red wine can improve heart health, longevity, prevent Alzheimer’s and fight certain types of cancer, a glass of red wine a day seems like a pretty smart idea for everyone. Plus, it tastes good.

Below is a list of 7 popular wine-related apps available for iPhone to help you discover new labels to love:

 

  1. Hello Vino (Free)

If you’ve ever found yourself standing frightened and confused in the wine aisle, trying to choose an appropriate bottle for a dinner party, this app promises to hold your hand and walk you through the process of picking the perfect wine. Hello Vino wants to be your personal sommelier, while giving you wine ratings and compatible food pairings.

 

  1. Cellar ($4.99)

The Cellar app allows you to manage and keep track of your wine collection, so you can remember which ones you like and which ones you’d rather not drink again. Consider this app a wine library tailored especially to your taste preferences that you can conveniently hold in the palm of your hand.

 

  1. Drync Wine Pro ($4.99)

Do you want to learn more about wines? Well look no further, because Drync Wine Pro allows you to search for and place wines in your virtual cellar, add photos and take notes. With a database featuring 1.2 million wines, user ratings, 270,000 expert reviews and current prices, this is the go-to app for anyone seeking wide-ranging wine knowledge. And we all know that knowledge is power. Or it will at least get you a nice glass of wine.

 

  1. AG Wine ($3.99)

The Approach Guides Wine app is great for beginners because it allows the user to search for wines by style, and learn about different types. If delving deeper into the world of wines and learning about regions, vintages, grape varieties and food pairings is desired, this app will facilitate that as well.

 

  1. Wine Events (Free)

This handy app works by telling you where and when wine tastings and other food and drink-related events are happening in your area. It allows the user to select a city to search, and even maps out events for the navigationally-impaired among us. Wine Events also allows the user to post events to Facebook so friends can join in on the fun.

 

  1. Snooth Wine Pro ($4.99)

The Snooth Wine Pro app is like something we would’ve seen in an old movie about the future and laughed at, because we’d never be able to take a picture of a wine bottle and instantly know everything about it, right? Guess again. It’s called image recognition technology, and Snooth Wine Pro has it. Once you take a photo of the wine, the comprehensive catalog gives you a description, user reviews, and a geographic search of nearby stores at which you might find the wine so you can strap on your jet pack and go get it.

 

  1. Wine Notes (Free)

This is a great app for anyone wanting to keep track of wines they’ve tried and take notes about the different flavors for easy reference. Wine Notes has a visual guide that allows users to choose flavor notes they detect, and to share reviews of wines they’ve tried on Facebook and Twitter. It also allows the user to add wines to their personal library and features barcode scanning technology.

 

With all the great wine apps available today, anyone can become more well-informed about the wines they like and find new favorites.

Whether you’re drinking for your health, for fun or because you appreciate the finer things in life, there is a perfect wine for you out there waiting to be discovered.

 

Terrific Types of Storage Tanks

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Whether you’re using water storage tanks to store water for your landscaping, personal backyard garden or large agricultural business, there are many benefits to keeping your precious water sources enclosed and safe.

Open water sources, such as ponds and livestock water troughs can be vulnerable to contamination from pesticides and fertilizers, as well as breeding mosquitoes, algae and mold.

Storing water in a closed-top tank can also prevent evaporation, saving you money in the long run.

Below are some varieties of water storage tanks and descriptions that might help you decide which type is right for your home, farm or business needs.

 

Vertical tanks are a simply-designed and popular storage tank for keeping water clean and pure, but can also be used to store pesticides, fertilizer and other liquids used in the agricultural business. Available in a vast range of sizes, depending on your needs, vertical tanks range from as small as 25 gallon storage to as large as 20,000 gallon storage!

 

Plastic cone bottom tanks have a raised bottom base and come to a point underneath, allowing for maximum speed and efficiency of drainage. Because of their convenient shape, plastic cone bottom tanks are popular for water storage, wine making, agricultural grain storage, paper mills, fertilizer, and any industry in which mixing and rinsing of a stored product is necessary. The sharp angle at the base of a plastic cone bottom tank is easier to empty and clean than a flat-bottomed tank, making it a favorite among business owners.

 

Elliptical and horizontal leg tanks are primarily used for the transport of stored water, featuring a long, rounded caterpillar-like shape with “legs” to increase stability and reduce water sloshing during transport. With a low center of gravity, elliptical and horizontal leg tanks are built to ride on the back of a truck or trailer in a flat, stable manner, allowing the owner to move a water source freely about the ranch or business as needed. Need to drive clean water across the ranch to your herd of cattle? This might be the right water storage tank choice for you.

 

Elliptical tanks are basically elliptical leg tanks without the legs used for transportation, making them better suited to stationary situations. Because of their low center of gravity, and plastic cradle for stabilization, elliptical tanks make for a very sturdy and stable water storage system that can also be easily transported if necessary, unlike the more permanent types of tanks, such as vertical or plastic cone bottom tanks.

 

PCO tanks are commonly used by nurseries, as well as in landscaping and agriculture for water storage. Often featuring a rounded bottom to help with drainage, these tanks are built short and squat, with wide little legs to keep them stable. Available with or without steel bands, PCO tanks are a smart option for anyone with light irrigation needs.

 

Pick-up truck tanks are exactly what they sound like: tanks that fit neatly into the back of a pick-up truck. Convenience of transport and stability are offered by this particular tank, as well as an outward-facing drain that faces off of the opened tailgate. This would be an ideal water storage tank for a rancher or a farmer needing to water crops or livestock located inconveniently away from permanent water storage tanks.

 

Water storage tanks can enable you to maintain your business, farm, or home and help it succeed with the proper water storage system, saving you money and time spent on less efficient methods.

No matter what your water storage needs are, there is a plastic water storage tank out there that is exactly right for you.

 

Cool Gemstone Apps for the iPhone

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We often wear beautiful jewelry, usually chosen to match an outfit, or to suit a mood. But have you ever wondered what the gemstones in your accessories might emotionally mean to you?

Aware of our fascination with gemstones and spirituality, app-makers have created apps for the iPhone and iPad. With these apps, you can browse the meanings of the gemstones with your phone while you browse for new jewelry, and find the perfect gemstones for you.

 

Gemstones by DWS

With this app, you can look up any gemstone, including your birthstone—which is purported to bring you good luck—and gather detailed information about its properties. The app also gives you a brief history of each gemstone, and a list of the ways in which it can improve the life of one who wears it.

The Gemstones by DWS app also tells you which month, zodiac sign, and day of the week are associated with the gemstone.

 

Crystal and Gemstone Healing 2.1—

Crystal and Gemstone Healing 2.1 contains detailed information of over 200 kinds of crystals and gemstones, explaining the healing powers associated with each gemstone. If you are shopping for new jewelry, or are interested in learning more about them, this is a wonderful tool for any gemstone enthusiast.

According to the website for this app, it offers these features:

  • Views with a thumbnail preview of each item
  • Ability to bookmark any selected item for easier reference
  • Ability to add a custom note to each item
  • iCloud synchronized bookmarks and custom notes
  • Ability to email any item to yourself and friends
  • Cross-referencing links to other items
  • A gemstone name search engine
  • Ability to enter a fun random entry when shaking the device
  • Offline browsing

 

Gemstone Powers Bible— 

Gemstone Powers Bible gives you detailed information of over 200 gemstones, their possible powers and descriptions of how they might help you. This app also focuses on the astrological powers of gemstones, and how their ruling planets can influence these strengths.

Each gemstone referenced includes in its description a color photo, the stone’s properties, energies, elements and chakra power. A description of the gemstone and how it may be used with other stones to compliment its powers and qualities is also included with this app.

Other features offered include:

  • User-friendly interface to preview all gemstones in one view
  • Ability to bookmark one stone for easier reference
  • Cross-referencing links to other stones
  • A stone name search engine
  • Offline browsing
  • Both iPhone and iPad version of this app included in a single purchase

 

Gemstones by Cut 1.0— 

Gemstones by Cut 1.0 is the app for you if you aren’t interested in the potential metaphysical or spiritual properties of gemstones, and are seeking a more geography-friendly app.

With a pictorial database of over 2000 gemstones, making this one of the most comprehensive gemstone apps available, this app also includes gemstone location found, habit, shape, and tone.

This app is for you if you are a hobbyist or professional interested in the geosciences who would like to learn more about gemstones, or be able to quickly identify them in the field.

Some benefits of Gemstones by Cut 1.0 include:

  • Advanced search for all gems
  • Ability to mark your favorite gemstones and view them in favorites
  • Ability to email gemstone to a friend
  • Shake your mobile device for a random gemstone
  • Insert a textual comment about the gemstone

 

Many fans of the mystical believe that different gemstones can give us different emotional qualities, or possibly even heal. Such claims can be impossible to prove, and we’re all aware of the power of the placebo effect; but you have to admit, sometimes it’s fun to think about how the gemstones in jewelry might affect one’s reality. And sometimes we want to learn more about gemstones because, well, look at them. They’re so pretty.

No matter what your motivation may be for learning more about gemstones, there is definitely an app that’s right for you.

Picking the Perfect Paint Color

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One of the easiest ways to transform the feel and mood of a room is to change the color of the walls. But a different color can be a major commitment, so you want to be sure of the shade you choose before you waste time and money on something that doesn’t suit your style.

Here are a few tips to help you pick the perfect paint color:

 

Lovely-Up with Lighting—

Does the room you’re painting have natural lighting, or do you depend on artificial sources to brighten the room? And if so, do you use gentle lamps, or do you prefer a radiant overhead light?

  • If the room is naturally dark, you may want to choose a paler wall color to help reflect light. And if the room is naturally too bright, dark wall colors can make it easier on the eyes.
  • Also: If you prefer a darker color, you can use man-made lighting to brighten the room, and paint any color you prefer. Everything is possible. Just be aware that paint can have a drastic effect on the lighting factor in a room, and adjust either your tone or light fixtures accordingly.

 

Magnify with Mood—

Before you choose a color palette for your room, consider what kind of a mood you want to create, because every color comes with a feeling. Psychologists have long studied colors, proving time and time again that color can absolutely shape the way we feel.

  • Shades of cream, yellow and pale melon can create a cheerful atmosphere, for example, while an intense shade like red or dark purple can come across as intense or dramatic.
  • Blues and greens are known for giving a soothing sense of ethereal tranquility, while shades of brown can create an earthy, grounding, natural vibe in a home. Use your favorite colors to convey exactly what you wish.

 

Tantalize with Textures—

If you want to add interest to a room, don’t forget that paint is more than one-dimensional and comes in many different finishes.

  • If you want to increase the brightness of a room, use a satin or gloss finish to increase reflectivity.
  • If it’s too bright, try a flat paint to mellow it out.
  • If the room feels boring, add a metallic or mineral finish or a color glaze to increase interest.

 

Start Small with Samples—

Scared of commitment? Never fear. There are baby steps you can take to build up to the big day.

  • Paint sellers offer small samples of their colors so painters can affordably test a shade to see how it will look in real life.
  • Another good way to start small if you are a tentative, beginning painter is to start with a smaller room, like a half bath or laundry room. This will be less overwhelming, allow you to practice your painting, and bolster your confidence to move up to bigger and better rooms.

 

Attract with Opposites—

Pay attention to the color wheel when painting, or anytime you’re decorating.

  • Sometimes you can use colors from the same family for a marvelously monochromatic scheme, like a room with varying shades of purple, from dark plum to pale lilac, for example.
  • If you want to spice things up, add a pop of color from the other side of the color wheel. Got a placid sky blue room that needs a spark? Add a bright orange decorating highlight, like a fiery orange vase.

 

Don’t be afraid to try new things. Test a color you wouldn’t have thought would work: that unusual hue might surprise you by being exactly the shade you wanted. If you keep the above tips in mind, you can choose your new wall colors with confidence, and be on your way to making the interior decorating statement that best represents you.

5 Top Fuel-Efficient Non-Hybrid Cars

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Hybrid cars are a wonderful, eco-friendly way to save money on fuel costs and reduce your carbon footprint by using less gasoline. But hybrids can be more expensive than non-hybrids, and not everybody wants one. Fortunately automotive engineers have been working hard to design standard cars with fuel efficiency that rivals many hybrids.

Here is a list of 5 of the top fuel-efficient non-hybrid cars currently available:

 

  1. Smart Fortwo—

As one of the smallest cars with a standard gasoline engine on the market, the Smart Fortwo obviously gets much of its efficiency from its small size. As the name suggests, it offers seating for only two people, getting 34 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway.

Despite the minuscule size of this vehicle, it has scored surprisingly well on safety tests, and if you live in a crowded city, it is a dream to park. If you’re looking for power—look elsewhere—but if you’re seeking steering precision and ease-of-parking, this might be the perfect car for you.

 

  1. Nissan Versa—

Known for being one of the least expensive cars in its class, the Nissan Versa is extremely fuel-efficient, offering 31 mpg city and 40 mpg highway. An interesting quality this car has to offer is legroom, which can be hard to find in a smaller vehicle, but test drivers of this car often praise the fact that they don’t feel cramped.

With a relatively quiet engine, the Nissan Versa goes from zero to 60 mph in a little over 10 seconds, so while it won’t win many races, it does get points for stealth.

 

  1. Volkswagen Passat—

With 31 mpg city and an impressive 43 mpg highway, the Volkswagen Passat is a great car for those seeking good gas mileage combined with the power not usually found in a fuel-efficient vehicle. As a sedan, this car works great as a family car, and test drivers seem to truly appreciate its stability, linear steering and straight suspension.

If you have been trying to find the size and steadiness of a larger family vehicle combined with the fuel-efficiency of a smaller car, look no further than the Volkswagen Passat.

 

  1. Audi A3 TDI—

The Audi A3 TDI offers a bit of luxury with its 30 mpg in the city and 42 mpg on the highway, with cutting-edge technology like an on-board Internet connection and a premium sound system. Going from zero to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, this car offers a bit more power than many fuel-efficient cars.

Later in the year, the company has promised to deliver a 1.6 liter TDI that will get a whopping 61 mpg on the highway (for the European market).

 

  1. Scion iQ—

Another car useful for fuel economy with seating only for two, this car offers excellent efficiency, getting 36 mpg city and 37mpg highway. What the Scion iQ lacks in size and power, it makes up for in fuel savings and convenient maneuverability.

Because of the lack of power, this car may not be ideal for anyone with a daily highway commute, but if your main vehicular priority is to own something to drive around a crowded city with limited parking, consider the Scion iQ.

 

According to the EPA, the ten most fuel-efficient cars currently on the market are electric or hybrid vehicles. If you’re hoping to find a standard gasoline engine that gets great gas mileage, however, you can still go green by purchasing one of the smart choices on the above list.

 

5 Tools Every Home Should Have

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There are certain commonly-used and practical tools that no household should ever be without. Male or female, renter or homeowner, things will occasionally break that you can easily fix with the right tools. Calling an expensive professional every time is unnecessary if you have a good selection of tools to help you do the job yourself.

Assembling a proper tool kit can take time and money, but if you take it slowly, one quality piece at a time, you can build a collection of which you can be proud.

The following 5 tools form the solid backbone of any good tool box, and are great starter pieces for a beginning handy-person.

 

  1. Hammer—

The hammer is the arguably the most essential tool in anyone’s assortment, and can be used to hammer and remove nails, or for adjusting anything around the house that requires force beyond what the human hand can withstand. Great for hanging pictures, building and repairing structures, or even demolition, the hammer is a necessary part of any tool box.

Most experts recommend a 16-ounce hammer with a steel or fiberglass shaft, because wooden handles tend to break more easily. A smooth head is also recommended because one with texture can damage a flat surface.

 

  1. Crescent Wrench—

Any smart do-it-your-selfer knows that you need the right tool for the job, which is why pliers should never be used when a wrench is required. Pliers can strip nuts and bolts with too much pressure, but a crescent wrench is designed to hold them in place without stripping.

An adjustable crescent wrench with a sliding jaw is recommended for maximum versatility and strength.

 

  1. Pliers—

This is a tool that can help you with more than home repairs, and that makes it a great one to have in your cache. Anytime you’re having difficulty pulling something out, pliers can provide you with a way to tightly grip anything without hurting your hands. If you’re crafty, they’re also great for jewelry making, or anything electrical that involves the twisting of wire.

Needle-nose pliers are the most often recommended because they can fit into smaller spaces than regular pliers and often come with a wire cutter built into the base.

 

  1. Flathead and Phillips Screwdriver—

You will use both types of screwdrivers because there are no universal screws, so you’ll need to be prepared for all kinds. Whether you are putting together furniture, taking light switch and electrical cover plates off to paint, or hanging towel bars, chances are good that you will frequently need these screwdrivers.

While the Phillips screwdriver is most commonly used because it allows for more pressure to be applied without damage, the flathead screw is still sometimes needed, so you’ll want a set with different sizes of each screwdriver type, if possible.

 

  1. Tape Measure—

The tape measure will enhance the use of every other tool you own. Before you hammer a nail into your wall, use screwdrivers to mount a bracket, or even if you just need to know if that new couch you love will fit in your living room, you will find yourself getting out the tape measure before nearly everything you do that involves building or fixing.

Investing in a first-rate tape measure with both locking and retractable functions is money well spent for any household.

 

If you need a full selection now, and can’t afford to buy top-of-the-line products individually, many tool companies sell affordable, good-quality tool kits, with some even offering lifetime warranties.

Whether you’re using a hammer to put a nail in your wall to hang a picture, using your measuring tape and screwdrivers to mount shelving or tightening a dripping faucet with your crescent wrench or pliers, these five tools can help you accomplish almost any simple do-it-yourself project around your home.

5 Tips to Keep Pets Fit and Healthy

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We all love to spoil our beloved pets with toys and snacks, but sometimes we need to remember that too many treats can be detrimental to their health. If you’ve noticed your dog has developed a bit of a waddle when they walk, or that you can no longer feel ribs when you pet your cat’s sides, your furry little pal may have a weight problem.

And yes, it is a problem. Extra weight on pets is unhealthy, and can lead to joint problems, arthritis, respiratory issues, back and hip pain, cancer and even diabetes. Just as with people, it’s important for pets to exercise regularly and control their caloric intake to stay fit.

 

To help you keep your puppy or kitty healthy and happy from the very start, or to help an older pet find their way back to fitness, we’ve compiled a list of 5 useful tips for you.

 

  1. Start Young—

Watch your pet’s food intake and weigh them regularly from an early age. If you notice a weight problem early, it’s much easier to adjust diet and exercise to halt the progression of weight gain before it becomes a problem than it is to lose weight after the pet is already obese.

Read the labels on your pet’s food and do your research so you can give your particular size, age and breed of animal the correct amount.

 

  1. Watch the Treats—

They love the treats and you love to make them happy, so it feels like a win-win for everybody. But too much of this seemingly win-win situation can very quickly turn into the need to lose-lose for your pet.

Experts recommend that if you must give treats, pay attention to the amount of calories you’re giving, and remove that amount from your pet’s other food sources.

 

  1. People Food is for People—

Only humans should be eating human food: no exceptions. Giving pets people food will only cause obesity and bad manners for them.

Once they develop a taste for it, and realize they can get it from you, your very smart animals will plead, whine and intently stare every time you eat. What was once cute quickly becomes annoying, and you have nobody to blame but yourself for reinforcing the bad habit of begging.

It’s best to avoid this unhealthy headache from the beginning by never feeding them anything but pet food.

 

  1. Exercise is Excellent—

If you’ve adjusted your pet’s diet and want to speed up the weight loss process, or simply want to keep them glowing with good health, finding ways to get them more exercise will help them, and will be great for you as well. Bonus!

If you have a dog, this can mean taking them on extra walks, throwing a ball or chew toy, or finding a safely fenced-in dog park where they can run freely and be stimulated by others of their kind.

To get a cat more exercise, laser pointers can entice them to chase the red dot around, feathers dangling from a stick can stir them up, and adding a cat condo can entice them to climb around more.

 

  1. Utilize Your Veterinarian—

Veterinarians generally do what they do because they love animals, and are more than happy to help you figure out a plan to maximize the health of your pet.

Consult with your vet to determine your pet’s fitness level and figure out a weight management plan specific to your pet’s particular needs. An expert can evaluate exactly where your pet should be physically, and the best way to get there.

 

Studies estimate that 40-50% of pets in the United States are overweight, and this obesity puts them at risk for many health problems, as well as reducing the length and quality of their life.

Do your pets a favor by keeping them on a smart diet and exercise plan so they can feel good and be with you for a long, long time.