Auto Insurance: How Going Green Can Help

Even as recently as a few years ago, going green was viewed as a potentially expensive endeavor that was best left to those who had plenty of leisure time and expendable income to devote to the hobby of doing something good for the environment. But the green movement seems to have turned a corner over the course of the last decade, bringing with it a spate of innovations designed to reduce waste and pollution even while meeting the diverse needs of consumers. As a result, the marketplace has not only become flooded with eco-friendly products; the prices have also begun to come down. And the focus on greenhouse gases (not to mention the rising price of gas) has led to the mass production of hybrid and electric cars. But while you can certainly see how these automobiles save you money at the pump and even on taxes (with tax incentives and government rebates available), you might be a little uncertain as to how going green with your driving can save you on auto insurance.

To start with, there are more ways than one to go green. Purchasing a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or fully electric vehicle is a good start. All of these can help to cut back on the harmful emissions that cause global warming, even as they allow you to save money and reduce your dependence on petroleum products. But can buying this type of car help you save on insurance? It’s possible. Most insurance companies will charge you based largely on the value and perceived safety of your vehicle, so it really doesn’t matter if you buy a green car or not – it only matters how much you spend on it and whether or not is has two doors or four. However, eco-friendly cars thus far seem to be less sporty than their gas-guzzling brethren, so in that respect you may save over buying, say, a two-door convertible with a V8 and a turbo.

And some forward-thinking insurance companies have actually decided to reward those drivers that make a sound purchase on behalf of the environment. Farmers Insurance, for one, now offers an “alternative fuel discount” for members that drive cars using hybrid, electric, ethanol, methanol, compressed natural gas, or propane engines (depending on your state of residence). You should check in with your insurance company to see if they give such a discount, or shop around for another provider that shares your green sensibilities (and supports eco-friendly drivers with a rate reduction).

But that’s not the only way to save on auto insurance through greener driving practices. By simply cutting back on the amount you drive (or to be more specific, your mileage) you may also be able to lower your insurance rates. Many companies looking to keep business during these tough economic times have decided to offer a pay-as-you-go insurance model that rewards members that drive less by cutting insurance 10-15%. You will have to install a data logging device (DLD) in your car to calculate your mileage and earn you savings. But you could become eligible by joining a carpool for work or finding ways to mix in public transportation part of the time, saving the Earth and your budget.

About the Author

Sarah Danielson writes for Breakdown Cover where you can find Liverpool Victoria Car Insurance and other great providers, rates, and guides.

The name of this cake says it best – Strawberry Summer Cake! Yes, it is summer and a delicious cake made with the fruits of the season is a must!

Strawberry Summer Cake

Ingredients

• 6 tbsp Butter, Unsalted
• 3/4 cup Wheat Montana Whole Wheat Flour
• 5/6 cup Organic Barley Flour
• 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder Aluminum Free
• 2/5 tsp Salt
• 11 tbsp Agave Nectar
• 1 egg
• 218 3/4 ml 2% Milk
• 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
• 3 cups Fresh Strawberries

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10-inch pie pan or 9-inch deep-dish pie pan (what I used). I did not test this with a standard 9-inch pie plate but looking at the margin of space leftover in my deep-dish pan after baking the cake, I suspect you’d be safe. This cake would also work in a 9- or 10-inch springform or cake pan. The 10-inch would make a thinner cake than pictured.

Whisk flour or flours, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer (though you may have to overlap a few to get them all in). Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. (Gooey strawberries on the tester are a given.) Let cool in pan on a rack. Cut into wedges. Serve with lightly whipped cream.

Serves: 12
Yield 1 cake

*Recipe and image courtesy of LiveStrong.com.*

Mom” at Tiny Green Mom is excited to announce that the winner of the NutraSEA DHA Giveaway is Mary G! We hope that you enjoy this DHA supplement! Thanks to everyone who entered this eco-fabulous giveaway!

*Image provided by Ascenta.*

Lively and fresh, this summer-inspired salad includes apples, celery, grapes, blueberries and more to create a cool mix you can enjoy in the middle of the day! This is perfect picnic fare for any upcoming 4th of July celebration you may be attending.

Summer Apple Salad

Ingredients

• 3 cups Apples, chopped
• 3/4 cup Pineapple Tidbits in 100% Juice
• 1 1/2 cups Celery
• 1 cup Grapes
• 1/4 cup Shelled Almonds
• 3/4 cup Light Sour Cream
• 3/4 cup Sour Cream
• 1/2 tsp Lemon Juice
• 1/2 cup Organic Baby Carrots
• 1/2 cup Blueberries
• 1 Tbsp Sugar

Preparation

Drain the pineapple; set aside.
Shred the carrots; set aside.

In a large salad bowl, combine the apples, pineapple, celery, grapes, carrot, blueberries and almonds. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, sugar and lemon juice. Add to apple mixture and toss to coat. Chill.

Serves: 12

*Recipe and image courtesy of LiveStrong.com.*

5 Reasons to Teach Your Baby to Read

By J. Richard Gentry PhD

Infant and toddler brains appear to be well-suited for reading. Thousands of parents worldwide are having success teaching their babies to read using books and other fun literacy activities, games, and even multimedia reading programs. With 4 out of 10 American eight-year-olds unable to read proficiently, Dr. Gentry encourages parents, who are children’s first reading teachers, to get their young children off to a good start before they get to kindergarten.

Here are five reasons to teach your baby or toddler to read:

Zero to age six is when language proficiency develops in the brain.

Well before your child can speak or read, she is absorbing language at a phenomenal pace. In the first year of life, her brain will triple in size; by the time she enters kindergarten, it will be almost as big as yours. It is during this critical period that many of the neural pathways establishing language proficiency are formed. This is why, as your child’s first reading teacher, it is so crucial to make the most of these early years by introducing reading as joyful play.

Early literacy engagement gives your baby an enormous advantage.

Spending just a few minutes a day engaging your baby or toddler in literacy activities that include lots of speech and positive parent/child interaction, along with traditional techniques such as reading aloud, may give your baby a 32-million-word advantage by kindergarten over children who did not get this exposure; some neuroscientists even report that early intervention with appropriate literacy activity can make your child less likely to develop learning problems such as dyslexia.

For babies and toddlers, literacy activities are fun, not work.

Learning to read is work for the six-year-old beginner, but it’s play for babies and toddlers, and it’s amazing what they can pick up. Go to YouTube and search baby reading to see toddlers who can show you how well they read, not just words, but easy books and signs they haven’t seen before. In my book, I include age-appropriate games and activities very young children love to do with their favorite reading teacher — their parent — which develop reading and writing skills while your baby is having fun.

Babies’ brains are uniquely suited to early reading.

In my experience, all babies have special capacity for perceiving patterns and connecting symbols with meaning, which can begin as early as eight months of age. All babies have good recognition memory and novelty preference, so they enjoy looking at pictures and word cards with their parents. Perceiving patterns and connecting symbols with meaning is what reading is all about. When shown contrasting word patterns five minutes a day in a joint media engagement with their parents, two and three-year-olds can intuit phonics. This is true for parents who are using multimedia technology such as “Your Baby Can Read,” in addition to reading aloud and sharing books.

Babies’ right-brain learning gives them special capacities for reading.

Childhood education experts who have only studied school-aged children incorrectly assume that babies and toddlers must learn to read like six-year-olds, who develop left-brain reading systems through formal instruction. They are wrong. Babies and toddlers likely begin as right-brain readers who pick up reading as easily as they pick up three languages if all three languages are spoken by their caregivers between birth and age three. (If one waits until age six, it’s not so easy for the child to pick up three languages simultaneously. The baby brain, not the six-year-old brain, has special language and reading capacities.)

About the Author

J. Richard Gentry PhD is a nationally acclaimed expert on childhood literacy, reading, and spelling development, and the author of Raising Confident Readers: How to Teach Your Child to Read and Write — from Baby to Age 7 (Da Capo / Perseus). Find out more at www.jrichardgentry.com.

Mom” at Tiny Green Mom is pleased to announce that the Winner of the Hot Mom’s Handbook Giveaway is Summer! We hope that you feel fabulous in no time! Thanks to everyone who entered this exciting giveaway!

Get the Whole Neighborhood Involved: Start an Eco-Club

Most of us have at least started to look into the benefits of going green. Some states now mandate recycling, which is a great first step. For those that don’t, some concerned citizens collect and deposit cans, bottles, and other items at their local recycling center (often for cash back). There are people who plant trees, engage in highway trash pickup operations, and even find ways to cut back on energy and water consumption within the home. And while it’s great that individuals are trying to make a difference in their own lives, think how much communities could do if they banded together to make a group effort on behalf of the Earth? If you’re interested in doing more for the environment, then maybe you’ll want to talk to your neighbors and get them on board with an eco-club. Here are just a few things you might try together.

1. Community garden. You likely know of an empty lot somewhere in your area, so get your neighbors together and approach the city council about donating the lot for a community garden (you may even secure other donations from local businesses for seeds, tools, and so on). This will not only cut back on the amount you have to buy from the grocery store (saving money); it will also help kids to learn a valuable life skill and provide every family with fresh, organic produce.
2. Set up an order with a local farm. If nobody has the time or expertise to get a community garden off the ground, then perhaps you can approach a local farm or co-op as a group to set up weekly deliveries to your neighborhood. Some farms offer this service for individual houses, but if they don’t, they might be more likely to accede if a lot of people were buying together. Or you could find someone in the neighborhood with a truck and pitch in to cover gas for weekly trips to the farm.
3. School recycling program. There’s no better way to ensure a cleaner planet now and in the future than by teaching the youth to respect the Earth and cut back on pollution and waste. So get together with other parents in your neighborhood to brainstorm ways to install recycling bins in every area school as well as start after-school programs that will help kids to help the environment.
4. Carpool or walking club. Everyone has their own car, but that doesn’t mean you and your neighbors can’t find ways to cut down on carbon emissions. Get the whole neighborhood together to see if you can arrange a couple of carpools. And think about starting a walking club to take all the kids to the bus stop or deliver them directly to school. As a bonus, you’ll work in a little daily exercise with the latter!
5. Create a community Craigslist. There’s no doubt that we live in an era that thrives on disposable products, but you’ve probably heard the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Instead of sending items like furniture and housewares to the dump when you’re done with them, create a neighborhood blog to advertise freebies. Your neighbor might be keen to reupholster your old couch rather than buying a new one or you may have a use for the antique chandelier that your neighbor replaced.

About the Author

Sarah Danielson writes for The Guestlist Club where you can find info on Chinawhites, the hottest club in London.

Cool off on a hot day with this refreshing, family-friendly iced tea recipe that features both lime and mint! In lieu of sugar, you can substitute Stevia in the Raw as a natural sweetener. It also makes a wonderful beverage addition to any 4th of July party you may be throwing!

Mint & Lime Iced Tea

Ingredients

For the tea:
8 cups (2 quarts) water
8 green tea bags
1 bunch fresh mint
1 1/2 cups superfine or granulated sugar

To serve:
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 4 medium limes)
Ice
6 fresh mint sprigs, for garnish (optional)
1 medium lime, cut into sixths, for garnish (optional)

Preparation

For the tea: Place water in a medium pot and bring to a simmer over high heat. Remove from heat, add tea bags and mint, cover, and let steep for 10 minutes.

Once tea has steeped, discard tea bags, add sugar, and stir until sugar has completely dissolved. Let tea cool to room temperature, then place in the refrigerator to cool completely, about 2 hours.

To serve: Once tea is cold, remove mint and stir in lime juice. Taste and adjust with more lime juice or sugar as desired. Serve over ice with a sprig of mint and a wedge of lime (if using).

*Recipe and image courtesy of CHOW.com.*

What books are on “Mom’s” summer reading list this year? Below are this summer’s top picks for everyone in the family – perfect for rainy afternoons, long car trips, or just relaxing poolside.

To Market, To Market

by Nikki McClure

To Market, To Market is the perfect summer read to get young children excited about all the delicious fresh foods that are available this season, while offering awareness about how our food is brought from farm to table. Read this delightful tale with gorgeous, engaging illustrations by Nikki McClure the night before a trip to the farmer’s market to prepare your little one for the next day’s green shopping event!

Bindi Wildlife Adventures: Trouble at the Zoo

By Bindi Irwin

The first book in this new adventure series for kids ages 7-10 takes the reader on a wild journey through the Australian Zoo on Bindi’s 11th birthday, where Bindi, the Jungle Girl herself, celebrates with her mother, brother, best friend Rosie, and other guests. Trouble at the Zoo, a fast-paced story for young wildlife enthusiasts, teaches an appreciation for wildlife and shows children what they can do to help conserve and protect the world’s endangered animals. Based on Bindi’s own adventures and passion for animal conservation efforts, each book in the series features animal fact files at the end. The series continues, as well, with a second and third story in this adventure series for kids!

Pins on a Map: A Family’s Yearlong Journey Around the World

By David Boesch

A true page-turner and story for anyone who has traveled, wishes to travel, or has lived overseas (like “Mom!”). In May 2007, physician David Boesch and his family-five strong, with kids age 7, 10, and 13-embarked on a trip that would bring them to 6 continents and 17 countries in 345 days. Boesch depicts the adventure of parenting in constant motion in this riveting, honest, and heartwarming memoir. Definitely a fast-read – Pins on a Map makes you want to pack up your own family and start your own around the world adventure!

Dogphoria

By Jim Dratfield

For the dog lover in all of us – Dogphoria by Jim Dratfield is a 132-page collection of candid photos of dogs together with insightful quotes that illustrate the companionship and loyalty of dogs. The quotes are inspiring, and the images capture the spirit of man’s best friend in a variety of candid shots. A perfect coffee table book to have on display for guests (or for yourself!) at your summer cottage, Dogphoria is light and enjoyable.

*Companies generously provided book copies and images for this article. Top Image: Image: nuchylee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

TYPES OF FOOD YOU SHOULD EAT TO LOSE WEIGHT

You have probably dieted to lose weight, or tried a combination of diet and exercise to lose weight. Many of you probably also tried various forms of diets. But have you ever eaten food to lose weight? Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Eat to lose weight? That’s exactly what we’re trying to illustrate here. Here are several types of food that you can eat during the day to help you lose weight.

LOW-CALORIE VEGETABLES

• Spinach: 1 cup of spinach contains less than 20 calories. Steam your spinach, or stir fry it lightly with half a teaspoon of heart-healthy olive oil and spray pepper for taste. You can even layer steamed spinach over toast for a filling sandwich.
• Broccoli: Broccoli is very low calorie. You can have as much of this wonder vegetable as you want. It’s tasty eaten raw, steamed, grilled or stir-fried. Cook broccoli along with lentils and other vegetables and puree it. Go easy on salt and use sharp-tasting herbs such as thyme, lemon grass, rosemary, basil and marjoram to give your healthy soup taste. You will feel full and yet lose weight with this lightweight, high fiber, easy to digest meal.
• Sprouts: All kinds of sprouts are excellent for you, both in terms of managing weight and nutrition. Whip up a large bowl of salad with sprouts, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and other lightweight vegetables. Season with a light vinaigrette, or just use lemon juice, pepper, olive oil and a tiny pinch of salt. A filling salad such as this for lunch will keep you satiated for long and help you reduce weight.
• Lettuce: Lettuce is lightweight, packs in plenty of fiber and nutrients and makes for excellent salad filler. Use plenty of lettuce, especially the dark colored ones for losing weight and improving your immunity.
• Pumpkin: Pumpkin isn’t just for Halloween! This is a wonderful vegetable that can help you lose weight year-round. Pumpkin is low-calorie; it’s an excellent source of fiber and protein. Pumpkin soups, stews, baked and roasted pumpkins keep you full for a longer period of time.
• Zucchini: This tasty, water-filled soft vegetable can be had fried, grilled, steamed or cooked with other vegetables in stew. You can also throw some chopped zucchini in when you cook your pasta. Zucchini is low calorie, high fiber and high on essential nutrients. You can any amount of zucchini in a day and not put on weight.
• Beans: A great alternative to meat, beans, especially soybeans such as edamame offer you vast resources of protein at very less cost to your health. You can cook beans in a variety of interesting ways, using nonfat oils and ingredients. Beans are very high on fiber as well, which means using beans in your meals will keep you full longer and you won’t snack in the middle.

WHOLE GRAIN PRODUCTS

Replace all processed flour products with whole grain products. This includes bread, pasta, cookies and rolls. Oats, bulgur and wheat contain high fiber content, keeping you feeling full for longer. When you’re not tempted to overeat, you will lose weight. Eating whole grains will not only help you in weight loss, it’ll also help your body metabolize insulin better.
Say no to white pasta, white bread and cookies made of white flour. Switch to whole wheat or multi-grain bread for toast and sandwiches and see those inches melt away!

SEAFOOD

Seafood is an excellent choice for people wanting to lose weight. It’s high in lean protein and low on fat. Seafood helps boost your metabolism and also helps you body burn calories faster.
A single shrimp amounts only to 8 calories. A plate full of cooked or grilled shrimp with a basic nonfat dressing will leave you feeling while saving you from additional calories. Lean fish is high in unsaturated fat, which is fabulous for your heart. Eat fish two to three times a week to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

FRUITS

Fruits are packed with high quality nutrients and are naturally low in calories. The natural sugars contained in fruits will give you the energy boost you need without resorting to soda-based drinks. Eat at least 5 fresh fruits a day with the skin intact; this helps maximize your fiber intake and reduce weight naturally. Fruits keep you feeling full and also delight your palate. Shop for exotic fruits, make fruit salads, whip up smoothies using nonfat yoghurt, or even grill them for an additional flavor to keep your diet interesting.

LEAN CHICKEN

A skinless chicken breast can give you all the protein that you can get from red meat, minus the calories and the saturated fat. Eating skinless white-meat poultry helps you feel full longer and you’ll also have more energy. You can eat lean chicken in a number of ways.

BRAN AND WHEATGERM

Fill up a bowl with bran-based cereal and add two spoons of wheatgerm into it for your breakfast. This high fiber, high nutrient food will keep you very full for long and will also give you the necessary energy. For a sugar boost, throw in a handful of raisins or sultanas. You can try a spoonful or honey as well, though honey is high in calories. Avoid sugar in your breakfast cereal at all costs.

EGG WHITES

Throw away the egg yolks that are nothing but an invitation to heart issues. Spare yourself the cholesterol grief and scramble two or three egg whites for your breakfast. Try this variation of the usual scrambled eggs. Use fat free oil spray on your pan, throw in the egg whites and add some chopped up spinach and mushrooms to it. Fry the eggs until nearly dry. You can use egg whites instead of whole eggs to make omelets as well.

SALADS

Nothing is as filling as a good large bowl of salads made with low calorie and high nutrient content vegetables. Go liberal and throw in chopped tomatoes, carrots, beets of all colors, peppers of different colors, cabbage, cucumber and several others into your salad. No matter what vegetables you add to your salad, you won’t put on weight. The calories come in by way of the dressing you use. Throw away your heavy mayo, ranch and other cream based dressings. Use olive oil instead – olive oil contains omega 3 fatty acids that are extremely beneficial to your heart. Go easy on the olive oil, as it is high on calories. You can use a totally vegetable-based dressing for your salad as well, with tomato juice, yoghurt or lemon juice. Go easy on the salt and use pepper instead.

About the Author

This informative guest post was written by John of NursingUniforms.net. John runs an online scrub store called NursingUniforms.net where you can shop for discounted scrub sets and lab coats.