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Strawberry Shortcake

October 7th, 2011 | Posted in Lifestyle

Strawberry shortcake is the new It dessert, as FC’s Evan Barbour discovered; inspired iterations are all over the web. Check out recipes from a few favorite bloggers and visit their blogs for more inspiration. (Images: courtesy of the respective bloggers).

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

Tracey from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures says she’s not sure she should call these “cookies” because their tender, fluffy texture is more like a scone. Whatever she calls them, we want some.

Get the recipe

Strawberry Shortcake Pancakes

What could be better than waking up to a tall stack of Angela’s (from Oh She Glows) strawberry shortcake pancakes? Nothing.

Get the recipe

Balsamic Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberries with balsamic vinegar is one of those underappreciated flavor combinations; that’s why we love Culinary Cory’s simple recipe.

Get the recipe

Strawberry and Cream Cake Kebabs

When Jessica from How Sweet It Is wanted to add some fun to her strawberry loaf cake, she put it on skewers and poured on the strawberry glaze. Genius.

Get the recipe

Strawberry Chocolate Shortcake

Karly from Buns In My Oven actually uses her double-chocolate bread for the base in this tasty improvised dessert.

Get the recipe

Strawberry Shortcake Popsicles

Naomi from Bakers Royale notes that her popciles are fast, easy, and low-cal, but we love them because they’re so darn cute!

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Chocolate Doughnuts with Strawberry Glaze

Jodie from Eat on the Cheap’s delicious-looking doughnuts with fresh strawberry glaze have ruined bakery doughnuts for us forever. We think that was the idea!

Get the recipe

Red Velvet Strawberry Shortcake

Amanda at I am Baker brings strawberry shortcake to new heights with a four-layer cake: two layers of white cake, two layers of red velvet decadence, and four layers of strawberries and airy whipped cream.

Get the recipe

Coconut Strawberry Shortcake with Cashew Cream

Healthier than your average shortcake, these little gems are nutritionist-approved, and Emily from A Nutritionist Eats guarantees they’re delicious, too.

Get the recipe

Strawberry Shortcake Trifles

It’s a sweet life for Grace, who hides a layer of strawberry jelly in her trifle, along with a sweet, decadent layer of sponge cake.

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Raw Strawberry Dreamcake

A Dash of Compassion’s Nicole doesn’t only offer up a dreamy “cheesecake” recipe, she also gives a lesson in how this raw-ingredient dessert comes together—and stays together.

Get the recipe

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The Green Thing

October 7th, 2011 | Posted in Lifestyle

In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bag because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. The woman apologized to him and explained, “We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.”

The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. The former generation did not care enough to save our environment.”

He was right, that generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Back then, they returned their milk bottle, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But they didn’t have the green thing back in that customer’s day.

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into  a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks.

But she was right. They didn’t have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby’s diapers because they didn’t have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts – wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that old lady is right; they didn’t have the green thing back in her day.

Back then they had one TV, or radio, in the house – not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief, not a screen they size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn’t have electric machines to do everything for you. When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.



Tornado Preparedness

June 16th, 2011 | Posted in Lifestyle

pic1Although tornadoes occur in many parts of the world, these destructive forces of nature are found most frequently in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains during the spring and summer months. In an average year, 800 tornadoes are reported nationwide, resulting in 80 deaths and over 1,500 injuries. A tornado is defined as a violently rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground. The most violent tornadoes are capable of tremendous destruction with wind speeds of 250 mph or more. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Once a tornado in Broken Bow, Oklahoma, carried a motel sign 30 miles and dropped it in Arkansas!

What causes tornadoes?

Thunderstorms develop in warm, moist air in advance of eastward-moving cold fronts. These thunderstorms often produce large hail, strong winds, and tornadoes. Tornadoes in the winter and early spring are often associated with strong, frontal systems that form in the Central States and move east. Occasionally, large outbreaks of tornadoes occur with this type of weather pattern. Several states may be affected by numerous severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.

During the spring in the Central Plains, thunderstorms frequently develop along a “dryline,” which separates very warm, moist air to the east from hot, dry air to the west. Tornado-producing thunderstorms may form as the dryline moves east during the afternoon hours.

Along the front range of the Rocky Mountains, in the Texas panhandle, and in the southern High Plains, thunderstorms frequently form as air near the ground flows “upslope” toward higher terrain. If other favorable conditions exist, these thunderstorms can produce tornadoes.

Tornadoes occasionally accompany tropical storms and hurricanes that move over land. Tornadoes are most common to the right and ahead of the path of the storm center as it comes onshore.

Tornado Variations

pic2   • Some tornadoes may form during the early stages of
     rapidly developing thunderstorms. This type of tornado is
     tmost common along the front range of the Rocky
     Mountains, the Plains, and the Western States.

   • Tornadoes may appear nearly transparent until dust
     tand debris are picked up.

   • Occasionally, two or more tornadoes may occur at the
     same time.

Waterspout

pic3

   • Waterspouts are weak tornadoes that form over warm water.

   • Waterspouts are most common along the Gulf Coast and
     southeastern states. In the western United States, they occur with
     cold late fall or late winter storms, during a time when you least
     expect tornado development.

   • Waterspouts occasionally move inland becoming tornadoes causing
     damage and injuries.

How Do Tornadoes Form?

pic4-6
   • Before thunderstorms develop, a change in wind direction and an increase in wind speed with
     increasing height creates an invisible, horizontal spinning effect in the lower atmosphere.

   • Rising air within the thunderstorm updraft tilts the rotating air from horizontal to vertical.

   • An area of rotation, 2-6 miles wide, now extends through much of the storm. Most strong and
     violent tornadoes form within this area of strong rotation.

   • A lower cloud base in the center of the photograph identifies an area of rotation known as a
     rotating wall cloud. This area is often nearly rain-free. Note rain in the background.

   • Moments later a strong tornado develops in this area. Softball-size hail and damaging
     “straight-line” winds also occurred with this storm.

pic7pic8

Tornadoes Take Many Shapes and Sizes

Weak Tornadoes

pic9a
   • 69% of all tornadoes
   • Less than 5% of tornado deaths
   • Lifetime 1-10+ minutes
   • Winds less than 110 mph

Strong Tornadoes

pic9b
   • 29% of all tornadoes
   • Nearly 30% of all tornado deaths
   • May last 20 minutes or longer
   • Winds 110-205 mph

Violent Tornadoes

pic9c
   • Only 2% of all tornadoes
   • 70% of all tornado deaths
   • Lifetime can exceed 1 hour
   • Lifetime can exceed 1 hour

Tornado Myths:

MYTH: Areas near rivers, lakes, and mountains are safe from tornadoes.
FACT: No place is safe from tornadoes. In the late 1980’s, a tornado swept through Yellowstone National Park leaving a path of destruction up and down a 10,000 ft. mountain.

MYTH: The low pressure with a tornado causes buildings to “explode” as the tornado passes overhead.
FACT: Violent winds and debris slamming into buildings cause most structural damage.

MYTH: Windows should be opened before a tornado approaches to equalize pressure and minimize damage.
FACT: Opening windows allows damaging winds to enter the structure. Leave the windows alone; instead, immediately go to a safe place.

Tornadoes Occur Anywhere

Carolinas Outbreak:

pic10a
   • March 28, 1984, afternoon-evening
   • 22 tornadoes
   • 57 deaths
   • 1,248 injuries
   • damage $200 million
   • 37% of fatalities in mobile homes

Pennsylvania-Ohio Outbreak:

pic10b
   • May 31, 1985, late afternoon-evening
   • 41 tornadoes, including 27 in PA and OH
   • 75 deaths in U.S.
   • 1,025 injuries
   • damage $450 million

Plains Outbreak:

pic10c
   • April 26-27, 1991, afternoon of 26th through early morning 27th
   • 54 tornadoes
   • 21 deaths
   • 308 injuries
   • damage $277+ million
   • 15 deaths in/near mobile homes, 2 deaths in vehicles

Weather Radar Watches the Sky

Meteorologists rely on weather radar to provide information on developing storms. The National Weather Service is strategically locating Doppler radars across the country which can detect air movement toward or away from the radar. Early detection of increasing rotation aloft within a thunderstorm can allow life-saving warnings to be issued before the tornado forms.

pic11apic11b

Frequency of Tornadoes

Tornadoes can occur at any time of the year.

   • In the southern states, peak tornado occurrence is in March through May, while peak months
     in the northern states are during the summer.

   • Note, in some states, a secondary tornado maximum occurs in the fall.

   • Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 and 9 p.m. but have been known to occur at all
     hours of the day or night.

   • The average tornado moves from southwest to northeast, but tornadoes have been known to
     move in any direction. The average forward speed is 30 mph but may vary from nearly stationary
     to 70 mph.

   • The total number of tornadoes is probably higher than indicated in the western states. Sparce
     population reduces the number reported.

STAY INFORMED ABOUT THE STORM

by listening to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, and television for the latest tornado WATCHES and WARNINGS.

pic15When conditions are favorable for severe weather to develop, a severe thunderstorm or tornado WATCH is issued

Weather Service personnel use information from weather radar, spotters, and other sources to issue severe thunderstorm and tornado WARNINGS for areas where severe weather is imminent.

Severe thunderstorm warnings are passed to local radio and television stations and are broadcast over local NOAA Weather Radio stations serving the warned areas. These warnings are also relayed to local emergency management and public safety officials who can activate local warning systems to alert communities.

NOAA WEATHER RADIO IS THE BEST MEANS TO RECEIVE WARNINGS FROM THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE

The National Weather Service continuously broadcasts updated weather warnings and forecasts that can be received by NOAA Weather Radios sold in many stores. The average range is 40 miles, depending on topography. Your National Weather Service recommends purchasing a radio that has both a battery backup and a tone-alert feature which automatically alerts you when a watch or warning is issued.

What To Listen For…

TORNADO WATCH: Tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms.
TORNADO WARNING: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. If a tornado warning is issued for your area and the sky becomes threatening, move to your pre-designated place of safety.
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH: Severe thunderstorms are possible in your area.
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING: Severe thunderstorms are occurring.

Remember, tornadoes occasionally develop in areas in which a severe thunderstorm watch or warning is in effect. Remain alert to signs of an approaching tornado and seek shelter if threatening conditions exist.

Environmental Clues

Look out for:

   • Dark, often greenish sky
   • Wall cloud
   • Large hail
   • Loud roar; similar to a freight train

Caution:

pic16
Some tornadoes appear as a visible funnel extending only partially to the ground. Look for signs of debris below the visible funnel.

pic17
Some tornadoes are clearly visible while others are obscured by rain or nearby low-hanging clouds.

Other Thunderstorm Hazards

These dangers often accompany thunderstorms:

pic18
   • Flash Floods: Number ONE weather killer – 146 deaths
     annually
   • Lightning: Kills 75-100 people each year
   • Damaging Straight-line Winds: Can reach 140 mph
   • Large Hail: Can reach the size of a grapefruit – causes several      hundred million dollars in damage annually to property and
     crops

Contact your local National Weather Service office, American Red Cross chapter, or Federal Emergency Management Agency office for a copy of the “Thunderstorms and Lightning…The Underrated Killers” brochure (NOAA PA 92053) and the “Flash Floods and Floods…The Awesome Power” brochure (NOAA PA 92050).

Tornado Safety – What YOU Can Do

Before the Storm:

pic19   • Develop a plan for you and your family for home, work,
     school and when outdoors.

   • Have frequent drills.

   • Know the county/parish in which you live, and keep a
     highway map nearby to follow storm movement from
     weather bulletins.

   • Have a NOAA Weather Radio with a warning alarm tone
     and battery back-up to receive warnings.

   • Listen to radio and television for information.

   • If planning a trip outdoors, listen to the latest forecasts
     and take necessary action if threatening weather is
     possible.

If a Warning is issued or if threatening weather approaches:

   • In a home or building, move to a pre-designated shelter, such as a basement.

   • If an underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor
     and get under a sturdy piece of furniture.

   • Stay away from windows.

   • Get out of automobiles.

   • Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car; instead, leave it immediately.

   • Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be
     abandoned.

Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that advance warning is not possible. Remain alert for signs of an approaching tornado. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most deaths and injuries.

It’s Up To YOU!

Each year, many people are killed or seriously injured by tornadoes despite advance warning. Some did not hear the warning while others received the warning but did not believe a tornado would actually affect them. The preparedness information in this brochure, combined with timely severe weather watches and warnings, could save your life in the event a tornado threatens your area. After you have received the warning or observed threatening skies, YOU must make the decision to seek shelter before the storm arrives. It could be the most important decision you will ever make.

Who’s Most At Risk?

   • People in automobiles
   • The elderly, very young, and the physically or mentally impaired
   • People in mobile homes
   • People who may not understand the warning due to a language barrier

Tornado Safety in Schools

EVERY School Should Have A Plan!

pic21pic20

   • Develop a severe weather action plan and have frequent drills.

   • Each school should be inspected and tornado shelter areas designated by a registered
     engineer or architect. Basements offer the best protection. Schools without basements should
     use interior rooms and hallways on the lowest floor and away from windows.

   • Those responsible for activating the plan should monitor weather information from
     NOAA Weather Radio and local radio/television.

   • If the school’s alarm system relies on electricity, have a compressed air horn or megaphone to
     activate the alarm in case of power failure.

   • Make special provisions for disabled students and those in portable classrooms.

   • Make sure someone knows how to turn off electricity and gas in the event the school is
     damaged.

   • Keep children at school beyond regular hours if threatening weather is expected. Children are
     safer at school than in a bus or car. Students should not be sent home early if severe weather is
     approaching.

   • Lunches or assemblies in large rooms should be delayed if severe weather is anticipated.
     Gymnasiums, cafeterias, and auditoriums offer no protection from tornado-strength winds.

   • Move students quickly into interior rooms or hallways on the lowest floor. Have them assume the
     tornado protection position (shown at right).

Hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutions should develop a similar plan

pic22Your National Weather Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and American Red Cross educate community officials and the public concerning the dangers posed by tornadoes. YOU can prepare for the possibility of a tornado by learning the safest places to seek shelter when at home, work, school, or outdoors. You should also understand basic weather terms and danger signs related to tornadoes. Your chances of staying safe during a tornado are greater if you have a plan for you and your family, and practice the plan frequently.

FAMILY DISASTER PLAN

Families should be prepared for all hazards that affect their area. NOAA’s National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the American Red Cross urge each family to develop a family disaster plan.

Where will your family be when disaster strikes? They could be anywhere – at work, at school, or in the car. How will you find each other? Will you know if your children are safe? Disasters may force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. What would you do if basic services – water, gas, electricity or telephones – were cut off?

Follow these basic steps to develop a family disaster plan…

I. Gather information about hazards.

Contact your local National Weather Service office, emergency management or civil defense office, and American Red Cross chapter. Find out what type of disasters could occur and how you should respond. Learn your community’s warning signals and evacuation plans.

II. Meet with your family to create a plan.

Discuss the information you have gathered. Pick two places to meet: a spot outside your home for an emergency, such as fire, and a place away from your neighborhood in case you can’t return home. Choose an out-of-state friend as your “family check-in contact” for everyone to call if the family gets separated. Discuss what you would do if advised to evacuate.

III. Implement your plan.

(1) Post emergency telephone numbers by phones; (2) Install safety features in your house, such as smoke detectors and fire extinguishers; (3) Inspect your home for potential hazards (such as items that can move, fall, break, or catch fire) and correct them; (4) Have your family learn basic safety measures, such as CPR and first aid; how to use a fire extinguisher; and how and when to turn off water, gas, and electricity in your home; (5) Teach children how and when to call 911 or your local Emergency Medical Services number; (6) Keep enough supplies in your home to meet your needs for at least three days. Assemble a disaster supplies kit with items you may need in case of an evacuation. Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers, such as backpacks or duffle bags. Keep important family documents in a waterproof container. Keep a smaller disaster supplies kit in the trunk of your car.

A DISASTER SUPPLIES KIT SHOULD INCLUDE:
A 3-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and food that won’t spoilitem one change of clothing and footwear per personitem one blanket or sleeping bag per personitem a first-aid kit, including prescription medicinesitem emergency tools, including a battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio and a portable radio, flashlight, and plenty of extra batteriesitem an extra set of car keys and a credit card or cashitem special items for infant, elderly, or disabled family members.

IV. Practice and maintain your plan.

Ask questions to make sure your family remembers meeting places, phone numbers, and safety rules. Conduct drills. Test your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturer’s instructions. Replace stored water and food every six months.

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Hot Weather, Cool Flicks

June 16th, 2011 | Posted in Lifestyle

Summer movie previews

When it comes to summer movies, just one word comes to mind – BIG. Big blockbusters, big laughs, big budgets and big stars, all coming together to make this summer movie season bigger than ever. Here is a sneak peek at what’s going to be cool in the theaters when the weather gets hot.

The summer starts early with sequels to some popular favorites. The fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean films is set for release at the end of May. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides sees Johnny Depp back as Captain Jack Sparrow in a new 3D adventure based on the popular Disney attraction. Go along for the ride of your life as Jack and company search for the Fountain of Youth. (Rated PG-13)

If you don’t quite have your sea legs and would prefer to drive your way to adventure, you’re in luck because Cars 2 is also hitting theaters. In this animated comedy from Pixar Studios and Walt Disney, Lightning McQueen and Mater venture overseas to compete in the World Grand Prix. Chaos ensues when the two unknowingly get themselves caught up in a little international espionage along the way. (Not Yet Rated)

What about a little 80s nostalgia, via a big-screen adaptation of a classic kid’s cartoon? In The Smurfs, How I Met Your Mother’s Neil Patrick Harris and Glee’s Jayma Mays make the move from TV stars to movie stars as a New York City couple whose lives are turned upside down by the arrival of the little blue creatures with the big hearts. It’s Hanna Barbera meets Pixar and oh-so-much-fun. (Not Yet Rated)

Of course, for many kids (and quite a few parents), summer 2011 belongs to one film alone – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II. Harry, Ron and Hermione have one last shot to defeat the evil Voldemort. Will they succeed? If you have read the books, you probably already know the answer, but somehow seeing it play out on a big screen is still an adventure unlike any other. (Not Yet Rated)

Speaking of action, if thrilling theater is what you seek, then X-Men: First Class might be the first-class choice for you. A prequel to the Hugh Jackman movies of recent years, First Class chronicles the early days of Professor X and the gang. Up-and-comers like Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult and recent Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence shine as the young would-be superheroes in this action flick with heart. (Not Yet Rated)

If that’s still not enough comic book action for you, you can always check out Ryan Reynolds in Green Lantern. Not to be mistaken with Seth Rogen’s recent action caper Green Hornet, Green Lantern is all action, all the time. Based on the DC Comic of the same name, a sequel has already been commissioned before the first film is even released, so you know it’s going to be good. (Not Yet Rated)

J.J. Abrams, the man behind Lost,is back again with Super 8. A first-person-style film in the vein of his 2008 hit Cloverfield, the plot of Super 8 revolves around a group of kids who catch some alien activity on their cameras. Further details are being kept under close wraps, but early buzz leads to this being the sleeper hit of the summer. (Not Yet Rated)

Last, what do you get when you combine Academy Award-nominated actor Ryan Gosling, Grammy Award-winning opera singer Josh Groban and a former America’s Next Top Model contestant? Why, the cast of Steve Carell’s new comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love, of course. Carell plays a man whose seemingly perfect life comes crashing down around him, forcing him back out into the dating world. Out of practice and seemingly befuddled by the process, he is taken under the wing of a 30-something playboy, played by Gosling, who is appearing in his first comedic role since his pre-fame turn on a late 90s Canadian teen comedy Breaker High. A heartwarming comedy about family and starting over, it’s the flat-out hilarious, feel-good comedic romp of the summer. (Rated PG-13)

This summer is shaping up to be a great one for movies. So, when the days get too hot, slip into a cool theater for summer fun playing at a theater near you.

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The 10 Best Deli Restaurants in America

June 16th, 2011 | Posted in Lifestyle


Amighetti’s Bakery & Cafe
BEST SUBS/HOAGIES/PO-BOYS
Top 100 Selections
5141 Wilson Ave
St Louis, MO 63110-3109
(314) 776-2855
Categories: Cafe, Deli, Subs/Hoagies/Po-boys



Barney Greengrass
541 Amsterdam Ave (near 86th St)
New York, NY 10024
(212) 724-4707
Categories: Bagels, Breakfast, Deli, Sandwiches, Seafood


Central Grocery Company
BEST MUFFULETTA
Top 100 Selections
923 Decatur St
New Orleans, LA 70116
(504) 523-1620
Categories: Deli, Muffuletta, Sandwiches, Takeout/Gourmet Takeout


Corti Brothers
BEST DELI
Top 100 Selections
5810 Folsom Blvd
Sacramento, CA 95819
(916) 736-3800
Categories: Deli, Sandwiches, Takeout/Gourmet Takeout


Katzinger’s Delicatessen
BEST DELI
Top 100 Selections
475 S Third St
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 228-3354
Categories: Breakfast, Deli, Sandwiches


Langer’s Delicatessen
BEST DELI
Top 100 Selections
704 S Alvarado St
Los Angeles, CA 90057
(213) 483-8050
Categories: Breakfast, Deli, Sandwiches


Manny’s Coffee Shop & Deli
BEST DELI
Top 100 Selections
1141 S Jefferson St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 939-2855
Categories: Breakfast, Deli, Home-style, Sandwiches


Primanti Bros
BEST SANDWICHES
Top 100 Selections
46 18th St
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
(412) 263-2142
Categories: Breakfast, Late-Night Dining, Sandwiches


Sarcone’s Deli
BEST SUBS/HOAGIES/PO-BOYS
Top 100 Selections
734 S Ninth St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 922-1717
Categories: Cheese Steaks, Deli, Sandwiches, Subs/Hoagies/Po-boys


Shapiro’s Delicatessen
BEST DELI
Top 100 Selections
808 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
(317) 631-4041
Categories: Bagels, Breakfast, Deli, Dessert, Sandwiches

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Grosslight favors Langer’s Deli and encourage you to support them as well. http://www.langersdeli.com/



Tips for Saving Fuel

June 16th, 2011 | Posted in Lifestyle

If you’re not ready to buy a more fuel-efficient car, you can still save money in a number of ways in whatever vehicle you drive. Cars.com provides the tips and dispels the myths.

Revive the Classics

The biggest fuel savings comes not from hybrid technology but from the old standards: car pooling and public transportation. If you and just one friend or neighbor trade off commuting to and from work, you cut your fuel usage by about 50 percent. No other step will save you as much money. Also, if you have two vehicles in the family motor pool, leave the thirstier one in the garage as often as possible.

Public transportation saves fuel, and possibly money. It also decreases congestion, which saves everyone fuel. Help yourself and everyone else; be part of the solution.

Get the Lead Out

Weight is fuel economy’s natural enemy, so removing unnecessary items — or people — from your car can translate to real fuel savings.

Get the Leadfoot Out

You can save fuel immediately in whatever you drive by going easy on the accelerator. Jack rabbit starts and full-throttle acceleration boost fuel consumption dramatically. It’s all a matter of degree: Light acceleration saves more than moderate acceleration.

Top speed also plays a part. Most vehicles are most efficient when cruising in their top gear at a relatively low speed. For example, a car with a five-speed transmission would be most efficient in 5th gear at 40 to 55 mph. Wind resistance increases exponentially with speed, so as your pace increases from this point, fuel economy drops dramatically. Onboard trip computers that show instantaneous and average fuel economy are remarkably accurate. Keep an eye on this and you’ll learn how to drive in a miserly fashion.

An Ounce of Prevention

Keeping your tires inflated properly and your engine running right is critical to efficient motoring. Underinflated tires can lower your fuel economy by full miles per gallon. (Get the proper inflation pressure from the sticker on your car’s doorjamb or the owner’s manual, and not the tire’s sidewall.) Even if your car seems to be running well, that perplexing Check Engine light could represent a dead oxygen sensor or some other emissions control problem that causes the vehicle to waste several miles per gallon.

Open Windows or Air Conditioning?

This is an age-old conundrum. (Unlike a car’s heater, which uses free engine heat to warm the cabin, the air conditioner robs engine power and lowers fuel economy.) So which approach is better? Sorry, but it’s not as simple as one or the other.

If your car has been sitting in the sun and is hotter than the outside air, drive for a few minutes with the windows open to cool it off. Then, if you’re hitting the highway, close ’em up and turn on the A/C. Aerodynamics are more important at high speeds, so if you’re not exceeding 35 or 40 mph, open windows won’t make as much difference. It also depends on the vehicle. The detriment from driving with the windows down is greater, say, in a Chevy Corvette, which has excellent aerodynamics, than in a Hummer, which has … none. The same applies to convertibles; you’ll burn less fuel with the top up.

Keep It Sleek

Speaking of aerodynamics, roof-top carriers and bike and ski racks don’t do you any favors — even when they’re empty. If you keep all your cargo inside the car, you’ll slip through the wind better. Also, strip off any aftermarket add-ons such as bug deflectors and window and sunroof wind deflectors. By design, these items work by wrecking your aerodynamics. Sure, bug entrails on your windshield are gross, but they aren’t known to cost you any fuel.

Premium or Regular?

Lower octane costs less, but should you use it? Most modern cars that call for premium fuel can run on regular gasoline without knocking or any long-term penalty. Technically, this makes the car less efficient, but not to a degree that negates the cost savings from the cheaper fuel grade. NOTE: This is true of cars for which premium is recommended, not required. If in doubt, look for terms such as “for best performance” and “recommended” as opposed to “only” or “required.” If your car has a turbocharger or supercharger, you probably should stick with premium fuel. Of course, if your car calls for regular gasoline, there’s no reason to run it on anything higher in octane.

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