Health Lifestyle

Study Suggests Diet Soda Can Cause Weight Gain

A recent study published in the journal Pediatric Obesity, presents new evidence which suggests that children who drink diet soda are consuming 200 extra calories each day.  The study suggests that opting for the low-calorie option in an attempt to lose weight can actually cause weight gain.

The scientists compared teens who consumed diet soda to those that drank water.    A surprising finding was that those drinking diet soda were still receiving the same total dietary intake of calories as those drinking the regular sugary version.

Water is the best choice

The study, which took place at the George Washington University, was headed by Dr. Allison Sylvetsky.  The findings recommend water as the best option and confirms that the results of the study challenge the commonly accepted opinion that low-calorie or diet drinks were useful in weight management.

Dr. Syletsky’s team have conducted may studies on drinks over the years, and have found that as well as low-calorie sweeteners in drinks, children and young adults also eat these sweeteners in other food and drinks.  In fact, during the period between 1999 and 2012 their consumption in this age group leapt by a massive 200%.

Despite the growing popularity of low-calorie sweeteners, there is still no concrete knowledge as to how this affects a child’s calorie intake, and there is no guarantee that the sweeteners contribute to weight loss.

Diet drinks don’t reduce calorie intake

Between 2011 and 2016 Dr. Sylvetsky and her team examined the dietary records of 7,026 children and teens who had been enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.  In the survey, the participants self-reported everything they ate and dank within a 24-hour period.

The research was focused on those who were drinking sodas – either with low-calorie sweeteners or regular sugar.  The team compared those drinking the soda with water drinkers and discovered that those having diet drinks were consuming extra calories and they were taking in more sugar from other types of food and drink.

Accounting for body weight, the researchers compared the results for soda drinkers and water drinkers and found that:

  • Those children who consumed diet sodas increased their daily intake by 196 additional calories.
  • Drinking regular soda (sugar-based) led to an intake of an extra 312 calories each day.
  • Drinking both the diet and regular versions of drinks resulted in an additional 450 calories being consumed each day.

Weight gain can kill

The findings of Dr. Sylvetsky and her team are important because of the health effects of weight gain.

At present, the figures for American children state that 1 in 3 is overweight or diagnosed as obese.  Weight gain is a key factor for increased risk of type II diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and other health issues.

The data suggests that there is a link between drinking low-calorie drinks and consuming more calories and sugar throughout the day.  They are skeptical about claims that diet drinks help in weight loss.

Experts continue to give advice to parents with organizations like The American Heart Association advising against long term consumption of these low-calorie drinks.  Dr. Sylvestky confirms that this is good advice.  Children, teens, and adults drink should drink more water and add whole grains, fruit and vegetables to their diet.

A good alternative to diet sodas, she suggests, is to add some 100% fruit juice to some sparkling water.

A recent study published in the journal Pediatric Obesity, presents new evidence which suggests that children who drink diet soda are consuming 200...

Entertainment Lifestyle

Violent ‘Fortnite’ Made Me the World’s Meanest Mom and I’m Fine with It

If you know anything about the recent trending game “Fortnite Battle Royale,” you’d probably say I’m the meanest mom in the world for banning it in my house.

It’s amazing how popular the game has become. Over 200 million are registered as users, making it even more popular than porn. Some might say, “Wouldn’t you rather your son be playing a video game than watching porn?” But I think I’d prefer to go with neither!

I know all the pros of the game and have wrestled with them, too. It’s social; it’s a great way for sons to bond with dads; its only cartoon violence – etc.

But I have my reasons for not allowing my kid to play it, and here are seven of them.

Reasons Are:

The alarming weapons roster. I know the violence is bloodless, but those weapons are pretty real and pretty scary. From shotguns to semi-automatic sniper rifles to pistols and more, it certainly makes guns seem more like toys rather than a dangerous weapon – a fact that we are trying to instill in our son. Letting him play around with one like this certainly sends a confusing message.

It’s cartoon violence. And along those lines, I’d almost rather my kid being seeing the horrific results of violence they’ve inflicted rather than it seeming inconsequential and bloodless. If they can’t handle blood, guts, victims screaming, and heartbroken families, then they’re not ready to be playing around with this stuff either.

The do-or-die premise. If you aren’t already familiar with the game, one hundred wannabe-killers are dropped on an island, and the point is to be the last man standing. Research is still being done on how violent entertainment impacts kids, and the findings have been conflicting, but I seriously doubt letting your child regularly identify with a murdering machine is beneficial.

It’s costing me money. I remember the good old days when we’d cut grass and clean to earn pennies for the bike we were saving up to purchase. Now, money is being wasted on “Fortnite” extras. Epic Games has made over $2.4 billion from “Fortnite” — an otherwise free game — in 2018, according to Nielsen’s SuperData! Money from my wallet sure isn’t going towards this!

It’s interfering with school.  Twenty-seven percent of teens surveyed by Common Sense Media in 2018 reported playing “Fortnite” in class. It’s not helping them get somewhere in life, that’s for sure.

It’s killing IRL playdates. My son used to invite friends over to play outside or to build a fort – or even to play Wii. Now, playdates consist of hanging out online playing “Fortnite.” If that were occasional, it wouldn’t be so bad, but it’s shouldn’t replace in-person interaction.

It’s like kid crack. Much research has concluded that video games flood our brains with dopamine, a happy chemical that floods in when you do something like winning a poker game, eat chocolate, or shoot heroin. Games like “Fortnite” are intentionally designed to do this, delivering small rewards that cause your brain pleasure and make it come back for more – again and again, and again.

Honestly, there are times I feel badly for my son, especially when everyone else is doing it. All his friends talk about it just about 24/7, so am I his worst enemy? There’s still a lot I allow, like FIFA 19. How mean of a mom am I, really? I decided to ask a leading national expert in video game research.

“Older adults tend to freak out about any youth trend. The data do not support that there’s any epidemic of game addiction,” says Chris Ferguson, a psychology professor at Stetson University in DeLand, Fla. “You’re thinking about this and looking for data. That certainly doesn’t make you the worst mom ever. I’m sure your son doesn’t really think so either!”

Let’s hope he’s thanking me when he grows up!

If you know anything about the recent trending game “Fortnite Battle Royale,” you’d probably say I’m the meanest mom in the world for banning...

Cool Stories Lifestyle

Unfold Your Getaway: Canoe for City Dwellers Packs Down to a Suitcase

For those who live in a big city, canoes are just things you associate with getaways or, at the very least, an expensive rental at a nearby body of water. People who live in suburbia barely have room to store them, much less those of us who live in apartment buildings.

Imagine trying to lug a massive canoe up your narrow staircase or trying to fit it in your overhead storage space – not possible!

But Ghent-based designer Otto Van De Steene found the solution one day while he was fiddling around with an origami canoe. It made him think: could this be replicated in a real-life canoe? Steene has proved that it can with the ‘ONAK,’ a portable canoe that folds down to the size of a suitcase.

Steene had seen numerous other models that just didn’t measure up at outdoor recreation stores. “You have the canoes that have really good performance on the water – they’re fast, but they’re quite heavy and take an hour to assemble. Nothing to do in an evening after work.”

Trial and Error

One that was recently released was the Oru folding kayak which had the potential to be successful, but the plastic construction didn’t lend itself to durability. Steene tried making his out of a custom-made polypropylene for his own design, as it’s lighter and stiffer, improving the boat’s performance.

With its honeycomb-core composite material, it’s ten times as strong as standard polypropylene, making it highly durable and fully recyclable.“By making hundreds of paper models and fifteen real prototypes, we also refined the design of our patent pending hull.

This was a huge challenge due to the limitations of origami. We opted for a narrow and fast canoe design that keeps its momentum very well, while still being delightfully easy and stable to maneuver for beginners.

”The process of assembling or packing up the portable canoe takes about ten minutes. The size is a bit bigger than the Oru – 47”x15.7”x10” as a roller case, expanding to 183” long by 33.5” wide –, but the fact that it’s on wheels makes it more conducive to transporting from place to place.

It can also carry about 440 pounds with enough room for two adults, a child, and gear.

The Okak has met its goal after just a couple days left on its Kickstarter campaign, but if you back the project in time, you can still get a pretty good price. Once it hits the market, it will sell for about $1450 with two paddles.

For those who live in a big city, canoes are just things you associate with getaways or, at the very least, an expensive rental at a nearby body of...

Category - Lifestyle

Fashion Lifestyle Tech News

UK Using Smart Billboards to Secretly Ad-target Shoppers

Many shopping centers in the UK have adopted a new kind of ad technique that involves surveillance cameras in shopping center billboards. These cameras are used to spy on you in order to show you the “correct” advertisement. The new technology has the ability to identify your age, gender, and even mood.

The smart boards detect how long certain customers look at advertisements and then change what they display depending on who is walking past.

So far, The Sunday Times has happened upon 50 of these screens in the UK; several of them can be found at Westfield shopping center in Shepherd’s Bush, London.

Apparently, companies utilizing this equipment don’t legally need to inform their shoppers that they are being filmed because the system complies with the UK’s data protection laws. Since no individually identifying information is being collected or stored, no laws are being broken.

First Company to Try This

One of the first companies to try this system out is Ocean Outdoor. The LookOut system is found in multiple tracking billboards throughout the UK.

Tim Bleakley, the company’s chief executive, told The Sunday Times: “We pioneered a facial detection technology which identifies the characteristics of the face to allow you to talk to advertisers about mood, gender, emotion and those kinds of things. We can measure the level of happiness or sadness. We can measure the dwell time.”

Bleakley told of how satisfied the supermarket executives of Waitrose were when they sprayed fake snow into the store and saw how evidently ‘customer happiness levels’ rose.

The cameras installed into the billboards spend every hour analyzing the shoppers to see what kind of people shopped and when they shopped. At times, shoppers are even inserted into adverts, a feature called ‘interactive advertising.’ One promotional video from Ocean Outdoor implied that the technology can determine how many ‘affluent’ people are in the area.

One of the billboards at Canary Wharf stated that 49 percent of people walking past that day were “affluent” and earned “over £100,000 ($129,000).”

The technology of Ocean Outdoor can be used on roadside billboards to figure the price of passing cars and advertise expensive things to those it thinks have lots of money.

Quividi is a French firm that also sells the facial detection technology and says that it collects and processes images of people in milliseconds but then deletes them forever once their basic profile information has been taken. Determining someone’s gender can be done with 90 percent accuracy within a five-year age bracket.

Many shopping centers in the UK have adopted a new kind of ad technique that involves surveillance cameras in shopping center billboards. These cameras are used to spy on you in order to show you the “correct” advertisement. The new technology has the...

Humans Are Awesome Inspiring Stories Lifestyle

How Tinder Had A Hand in The New Diverse Couple Emoji Selection

Emojis have become crucial in the way we communicate. More and more, these pictographs are used to depict what we’re feeling, what we’re saying, and even who we are. This being the case, it’s of utmost importance that emojis are relevant and inclusive.

Tinder has been a force behind the creation of new interracial couples emojis. They formed a petition with over 50,000 supporters which pushed Unicode to make these emojis a reality this year.

In the Name of Love

Emojis representing people of color and people with disabilities were first released to the public in 2015. In later years, Unicode responded to the call for emojis representing non-heterosexual couples.

It was interesting that this hadn’t been done before, considering how excellent a form of communication and what a statement emojis had come to be.

Making the First Move

Tinder conducted a study that connected online dating with the increase of interracial couples and saw the necessity for improved visibility for its users. They first attempted to make a change in February 2018 when they kicked off the #represent campaign, which successfully petitioned the Unicode Consortium to be more inclusive.

 Tinder’s CMO, Jenny Campbell made a statement, “Tinder advocates for the freedom of people to live how they want to live and love who they want to love.” People from all over the world joined Tinder in their petition, resulting in over 50,000 signatures in order to have all loves represented.

Coupling Celebrated

We’ve had a small taste of what to expect once all 230 emojis are released for public use. They display a wide range of skin tone and gender. The release showed all sorts of couples smiling and holding hands, of all sorts of gender and color combinations. The new emojis are full of happy diversity.

Emojis have become crucial in the way we communicate. More and more, these pictographs are used to depict what we’re feeling, what we’re saying, and even who we are. This being the case, it’s of utmost importance that emojis are relevant and...

Celebs Cool Stories Humans Are Awesome Lifestyle

Mark Zuckerberg Innovates New Sleeping Aid for Mothers

While Mark Zuckerberg might not be seen as the savior of humanity as he once was, the Facebook guru is still a hugely respected name in innovation. Known for Facebook primarily, he’s enjoyed a massive and stellar rise to the very top of the tech industry.

However, clearly still burning bright with ideas and innovations, Zuckerberg has been working on a very cool, very considerate product – a sleeping aid for mothers.

With two young kids at home, the Facebook supremo is someone who understands the value of caring for his kids. So, after seeing how exhausted everyone was at home, he decided to act. To do that, he came up with the aptly named Sleep Box. He gave it to his wife, Priscilla Chan, who immediately found it useful to get her to sleep at night.

Speaking about the invention, Zuckerberg was clear about why he made it:

“Being a mom is hard, and since we’ve had kids Priscilla has had a hard time sleeping through the night,”“She’ll wake up and check the time on her phone to see if the kids might wake up soon, but then knowing the time stresses her out and she can’t fall back asleep.”

It’s a confusing process, but it is part of being a parent. Therefore, this new invention might go some way to overcoming this problem and helping Chan get to sleep a whole lot easier than she is at the moment.

This simple but effective little tool works by putting on a dim light from 6-7AM. It might seem simple, but it does a lot for improving quality of sleep for the duo.

Smart but Simple

The light is good enough that it will wake one of us to get the kids without it being too early. However, it’s also dull enough that, if they wish to keep on sleeping, the light is not going to wake them up too early.

It’s a simple but smart little invention and one that a lot of parents would like having around the house. Now, waking up in the middle of the night is not going to feel like such a stressful experience.

Indeed, Zuckerberg himself noted that even he was impressed at just how well the product had done at improving sleeping quality, saying: “As an engineer, building a device to help my partner sleep better is one of the best ways I can think of to express my love and gratitude,

“A bunch of my friends have told me they’d want something like this, so I’m putting this out there in case another entrepreneur wants to run with this and build sleep boxes for more people!”

What a cool little product. Be sure to keep an eye out for this, as it is very much likely to be made by someone else who can see the potential in this small but simple little box. Who knew the genius behind Facebook would also be the genius behind saving mothers from restless nights!?

While Mark Zuckerberg might not be seen as the savior of humanity as he once was, the Facebook guru is still a hugely respected name in innovation. Known for Facebook primarily, he’s enjoyed a massive and stellar rise to the very top of the tech...

Vacation

Visiting Italy? Here’s Some Places to Look At Outside of the Eternal City

When it comes to visiting the continental delight of Italy, there’s a lot to enjoy. Many people, though, keep it simple; they go to Rome.

While a stunning city, and a true capital of the country, it’s not all there is to Italy. From trips to Florence and Turin to Milan and Genoa, there’s a hell of a lot to see in this beautiful country. It’s a nation steeped in history and culture, and one of the most amazing places on the planet to visit.

Where else, though, might you find some inspirational places to see outside of the capital?

Piedmont

First on our list is a trip to the beautiful and irreplaceable Piedmont. This amazing place is one of the most impressive in the country. Sitting on the border between France and Switzerland, it’s home to many amazing ski resorts and amazing vies of the Alps. You’ll find many amazing places to visit here – not least Turin, the city mentioned above.

It’s a fine place to visit for those who like stunning views, serene sports and tremendous food.

Puglia

We’d recommend that anyone with some time on their hands make the opportunity to go and see Puglia a priority. It’s become a major part of the Italian cultural scene outside of its big cities. A great place for foodies in particular, you’ll find the whole place awash with foods that you have never tried before.

It’s also a place where you can find some great cities and sights to enjoy, not least in the city of Lecce.

Palermo

If we wanted to find a place that sells a vintage and romanticized idea of Italy, we would pick Palermo. It’s the Sicilian capital and the kind of city that makes it easy to see why life here is so special. From the amazing cathedral to the Palatine Chapel, there is much to enjoy about a trip to this city.

Also, you’ll also get amazing views of some natural sights, including Mount Pellegrino. If you like sport and happen to arrive in the city, try and pick up tickets for the Palermo football team: their pink and black kits are striking, and the fans are some of the most raucous in Italy.

Matera

Last by but no means least, a trip to the stunning Matera is a must-see for many people. It’s listed by many top locations as a ‘must-see place to travel’ to and has won numerous awards for its beauty from the likes of National Geographic.

Here, you’ll find one of the most stunning selections of natural cave structures anywhere in the world. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site; one that makes it exceptionally easy to see why.

So there you go! With the above list, you can see why Italy has so much hidden beauty. We even mentioned a few cities at the top of the article who are more than worth your time. This makes it easy for you to engage with the whole country, not just the capital. On your next trip through Italy, then, remember there is more to enjoy here than just the capital!

When it comes to visiting the continental delight of Italy, there’s a lot to enjoy. Many people, though, keep it simple; they go to Rome.

While a stunning city, and a true capital of the country, it’s not all there is to Italy. From trips to Florence and...

Lifestyle

Hitting the Snooze Button Might Make You More Tired (Sadly)

How often do you wake up in the morning and hear the alarm going off, and just think “Eugh….”?

Every morning? Most mornings? We know how you feel. We all do it to an extent. We do this crazy thing where we set our alarm 30-minutes early, so that we can enjoy half an hour of in/out sleep prior to having to get up.

It’s quite an interesting, if rather odd, tactic. However, sadly, it’s now been shown that this might be pretty bad for us. Why? Because hitting snooze makes it much harder to actually wake up.

Unfortunately, our brains are not able to just wake-up as soon as we open our eyes. Often, it can take as long as an hour before we are actually awake, alert and ready to go. Therefore, when you keep on going to bed and enjoying this little 5-10 minute recesses, you are merely putting yourself back to square one with regards to waking up and feeling good about doing so.

You are reversing any benefits that you get from waking up by going for that quick second nap. However, you might disagree. You feel better, right? That’s the serotonin talking. Your body produces serotonin by going to sleep, but it’s not actually going to help you wake up. You are merely just putting the process back to square one if you do this.

So, the medical advice goes against the ritual that many of us live with. Instead of setting your alarm early and enjoying the pleasure of going back to sleep briefly, set your alarm as late as you can. Then, get up as soon as it goes off. Yes, it’s hard to do, of course. But it’s what is recommended.

What if I can’t do this?

Then you should probably look to go to bed a bit earlier. If you find it too hard to wake up in one sitting when your alarm goes off, you are not suitably rested. That is as clear a sign as there is to show that you are in need of an extra hour or two in bed every night.

Instead of setting your alarm from when you do, set your bedtime alarm for a bit earlier. Then, set your alarm for waking up a bit later.

This should help you to get the sleep that you need. Now, when you wake up, you should be able to resist the temptation to go for another 5-minute sleeping session. Yes, the temptation to do so is real. It merely sets you back, though, and does little for us in terms of improving our quality of life.

So, instead of falling for this old trap, why not make your life a bit easier and start paying more attention to how you sleep?

With a bit of change to when you go to bed and when you get up, you could create a meaningful change to your mind-set. Trust us, the benefits far outweigh the perceived benefits of another 5-minutes in bed!

How often do you wake up in the morning and hear the alarm going off, and just think “Eugh….”?

Every morning? Most mornings? We know how you feel. We all do it to an extent. We do this crazy thing where we set our alarm 30-minutes early, so that we can...

Vacation

New ‘Visa’ Process for Americans Traveling to Europe

What Need to Know:

The freedom of hopping on a plane and arriving in Europe at any time with just a passport and a ticket is coming to an end. With the world as it is and security becoming more and more of an issue, many European countries are heightening their security system.

Don’t panic, however. All they’re requiring as of 2021 is a little extra paperwork and a small fee before you travel. The European Travel Information and Authorisation System will charge €7 (about $8) potential travelers from “visa-free” countries to complete the required application online, and once you are approved, it lasts for three years.

The application is expected to only take up to 10 minutes, and 95 percent of the applicants should be approved within minutes, according to the European Commission.

Which Countries?

The countries adopting this new security regulation are those in the Schengen Area, named such after a treaty made in 1985 allowing for easier travel between countries.

The area contains the following countries: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

If you’ll notice, Britain is not included in this list, so traveling to and from the U.K. should stay much the same as it has been.

Over 60 countries including the U.S. have not needed a visa to visit the EU, but once the ETIAS is set in place, they will need to apply before traveling anywhere in the Schengen Area. However, ETIAS has been very clear that this is not a visa.

While there has been some confusion, the European Commission states firmly in a fact sheet on its website that “the ETIAS authorization is not a visa” (emphasis theirs). Americans will still not need to apply for visas to go to Europe.

There has been one site, so far, that has become misleading ― ETIASVisa.com. This so-called travel agency refers to the process as a “visa” application, but again, it is not.

The ETIAS does not require biometric data or any of the complex information required to apply for a Visa. The whole process was approved in 2018.

All-in-all, the change is not so drastic. The EU only hopes to set in place a new security measure to conduct “pre-travel screening for security and migration risks of travelers benefiting from visa-free access to the Schengen area,” as two European Commission leaders said in a statement last year about the proposed change.

This process is much like an existing U.S. system called the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, which requires people from any of 38 other countries to seek approval prior to arrival in the U.S. and to pay a $14 fee.

What Need to Know:

The freedom of hopping on a plane and arriving in Europe at any time with just a passport and a ticket is coming to an end. With the world as it is and security becoming more and more of an issue, many European countries are heightening...

Lifestyle Tech News

Canon Takes on Fuji with New Instant-Print CLIQ Cameras

The trend of instant print cameras has been storming the market in the last five or so years, and of course, Fujifilm has been at the forefront. In an age so accustomed to everything being on their phones, what was normal for the generations previous is novel to this generation – physical photos.

As companies begin to realize this, they’re wanting in. Fujifilm shouldn’t be the only one to profit, so Canon is one of the first to successfully – well, possibly, anyway – create their own instant print camera.

Their new cameras have just debuted and should be available for purchase in a month or two, but for starters, don’t even consider buying the cheaper one which they’re calling the IVY CLIQ. It has a horrible flash – which you’ll absolutely need with these cameras – and no access to the associated app, but more on that later. The CLIQ+, in Europe it’s the Zoemini S, is the more advanced version.

Unfortunately, Canon’s dependence on digital printing keeps them from surpassing Fujifilm, but their device is actually quite simple and easy to use. It contains 8 megapixels in the small sensor – more than enough to send the 2×3” Zink printer holding up to ten sheets of paper they’ve built into the camera.

If you’re in a hurry and want to keep it simple, it can spit them out in a matter of seconds, but you also have the option to edit them, add borders, crop, make duplicates, and more! This is where the app comes in.

Companion App

The more advanced camera comes with a companion app which you can download on your phone. While this sounds novel, it may also be one of the downfalls of Canon’s latest product. The current market is thriving off of people that are tired of taking hundreds of photos on their phones just to never look at them again.

The concept of having a handheld photo keepsake without ever having to pull out your phone is exciting. So, having to mess around with an app on your phone doesn’t really capitalize on the current trend.

But who knows? Maybe the younger generation who could care less about quality and just like adding captions or funny edits to their photos and handing them out to friends will love these cute, colorful Canon cameras.

The other downfall is that Zink prints just aren’t good. They’re much cheaper than Instax Minis – less than half the price –, but they are for a reason. The resolution and color reproduction aren’t worth comparing with instant film standards. Instax, on the other hand, can capture color and detail quite well for an instant print camera.

The CLIQ+, or Zoemini S, will be sold for $160 while the IVY CLIQ with fewer megapixels, no app, and worse quality will cost just $100. However, the one pro of the IVY CLIQ is the happy yellow color it comes in!

The trend of instant print cameras has been storming the market in the last five or so years, and of course, Fujifilm has been at the forefront. In an age so accustomed to everything being on their phones, what was normal for the generations previous is novel...

Animals City Life

A Spring-Cleaning Guide for Cat Parents

Spring is here, and we all know what that means – spring cleaning!

It’s time to move the couches, see what’s growing behind the dresser, and get into every nook and cranny of your house. It’s also a great time to get into all your cat’s toys, beds, carriers, and more, and here are some tips to help you start!

Deep Clean Everything

First off, you definitely need to get in the habit of washing your cat’s bedding regularly – every week, even, if you can. Just as we should be washing our sheets weekly, cats need a clean place to lay as well!

You’ll want to make sure that the cat bed you have is easy to remove and wash. It’s even better if you use blankets and pads and such so that you have somewhere for your cat to sleep while its bed is being washed. Be sure you use unscented detergent as cats are averse to scented laundry soap.

We also often never think to wash our cat’s toys, but these also could use a deep cleaning this spring. You can place plastic ones on the top rack of your dishwasher or hand wash them with mild soap. If they’re catnip toys, it’s probably time to throw them out anyway, so you’d be wise to replace them with refillable catnip toys that last much longer – you’ll be able to wash and refill them!

And then there are the carriers. I know we usually don’t pull these out very often – maybe just to take a trip once a year and then those visits to the vet. So, it’s not very dirty, right? But think – when is the last time that you washed it? Have you ever washed it?

This spring, it’s probably about time you took it outside and scrubbed it down with warm, soapy water. If you want to really disinfect it with bleach, dilute one ounce of bleach in a quart of water, and be sure to wash it off thoroughly.

Of course, if you have carriers with fabric or cushions, it’s a bit more complicated, but usually, you can place those in the washing machine or wash them by hand. Remember, only unscented detergent!

Get Organized

Now you’re ready to enter spring with all of your cat belongings fresh and clean. It’s time to get organized:

  • If you live in a warm climate, this should already be taken care of, but if not, spring is the time to get your cat ready for flea and tick season with some prevention.
  • When is the last time your cat had a check-up? Make sure you are up-to-date on your vet visits and vaccines.
  • Maybe you’ve never thought to check the expiration dates on your cat food, but their food expires too. Look through your pantry, and toss any expired items.
  • Does your cat have a microchip implant? Is the ID up-to-date? Or is the number and address on its collar correct?

Spring Saftey

Last but not least, if you love your cat, you won’t want it to be able to get itself into any dangerous situations.

This means checking your windows and screens and repairing any holes or damage, paring your cleaning products down to just what is safe for cats, and perusing your yard to make sure that all of the plants you have are safe for cats. And be sure you don’t track any of the insecticides inside. Safety first, and happy spring!

Spring is here, and we all know what that means – spring cleaning!

It’s time to move the couches, see what’s growing behind the dresser, and get into every nook and cranny of your house. It’s also a great time to get into all your cat’s toys, beds...

Vacation

5 Beach Hacks to Prepare You for an Awesome Spring Break Trip

Going to the beach is one of the most relaxing experiences, but sometimes those small annoyances or extra items you need to bring along can entirely ruin the experience. Or maybe you love the beach but hate how the sand spreads – all over you and in your phone. With spring break upon us, here are five simple, cheap hacks to keep your beach time worry-free.

Cell Phone Tip

Leaving your cell phone behind is basically not an option – it’s communication, entertainment, music, etc. But what about all the sand that gets stuck in the crevices? And the possibility of water damage? All you need is a plastic sandwich bag. The touchscreen still works through the plastic, you’ll find that it stays untouched by water and sand!

 A Useful Beach Towel

You might be saying, “Duh, who wouldn’t bring a beach towel?” But we’re not talking about just any beach towel. This is something you can create on your own or buy ready-made, but a towel with pockets does wonders. First of all, it’s great storage space for things like your phone, books, glasses, etc., and second, the filled pockets weigh it down so that it doesn’t blow away!

 Take Baby Powder

Sand gets everywhere, and it’s pretty determined to stay everywhere, too. Most often, we rinse off one last time in the ocean before we leave the beach, but by the time you’ve gotten off the beach, you’re basically covered again. Two words: baby powder. It’s almost magical in its ability to remove the sand from your body!

Extra Storage

Once you’ve gone through the pills in a pill bottle, hold onto that bottle. It’s the perfect little container for rings, earrings, bracelets, hair ties, and other small trinkets you don’t want to expose to the sand and water. And it barely takes up any space in your beach bag.

Emergency Sunburn Relief

If you’re like me, sunburn is almost inevitable at the beach. And if you’re like me, you don’t always remember to take aloe vera with you on your trip. Well, this is just the trick for you. Spread plain cold yogurt on your sunburn, and let it sit for ten or so minutes. It will bring huge relief!

Going to the beach is one of the most relaxing experiences, but sometimes those small annoyances or extra items you need to bring along can entirely ruin the experience. Or maybe you love the beach but hate how the sand spreads – all over you and in your...

Lifestyle

Are Shipping Containers Really A Good Material For Constructing A Home?

If you are a huge fan of these home buying channels such as HGTV’s House Hunters, you have probably seen a few episodes featuring the newest trend of tiny houses.  These tiny houses have become the rage because they are low in maintenance, affordable, come in a wide range of décor options, and many other pluses even if the houses are really, really small in size.

Are You Ready For Shipping Container Homes?

Well, it seems there is a new trend emerging, people constructing homes from upcycled shipping containers!  That said, this might not be exactly what you think.  You probably think that shipping containers would make for a very unstable, rather cheap looking home.  In reality, they are quite the opposite. These homes look sleek, modern, and come with two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a really spacious kitchen.  These tiny homes also have an outside deck that’s perfect for entertaining.

You Might Be Surprised How Big They Really Are:

Contrary to popular rumor, these tiny homes are not really that small.  You will discover plenty of space to make yourself feel right at home.  You will discover plenty of storage space as most owners store items under the sofa or under the floorboards.  These homes have windows and bright light so you will never feel claustrophobic.

They Are Eco-friendly:

If eco-friendly is important to you and you are on board to save the planet, you are in luck.  These tiny homes are great places to call home.  The shipping container home runs on solar energy and is a wonderful eco-friendly alternative to the traditional tiny home.  You might just discover that these homes will offer you more possibilities than you would think.

You Can Add Some Exciting Features:

These shipping container homes are deliberately designed for entertaining.  Even though inside the home is somewhat crowded, your rooftop patio is a major selling point. Invite your friends over on a summer’s evening and have a great time while building wonderful memories.  You know what that they say, quality over quantity.  Well, these homes might just become the most popular spot in town!

So Very Affordable:

Let’s face it, the housing market is super expensive and it’s really difficult to find a home that is within your budget.  Tiny homes are constructed from shipping containers and are very affordable.  These homes usually run between $50,000 and $100, 000, depending on the extra features and size.  You will be able to do most of the interior decorating yourself, matching your specific taste.  How about a sliding barn door as an entry into your bath?

Before saying nix to tiny homes, why not look around and see what you think before saying thumbs down?

If you are a huge fan of these home buying channels such as HGTV’s House Hunters, you have probably seen a few episodes featuring the newest trend of tiny houses.  These tiny houses have become the rage because they are low in maintenance, affordable...

City Life

Alibaba And Meituan Racing for The Food Delivery Service Industry

As of late, fast, affordable delivery of food has become a life-changing event for many working people in China, although there are plenty of others who prefer to prepare their own food.  Many people in the working class do not have time to pick up fresh ingredients from their local stores.

This has brought about many startup companies as well as larger companies trying to create home-cooked meals that are easy to prepare and very affordable for those with very busy lifestyles by sending fresh vegetables and meats directly to their doors.

Huge Market Growing

According to the fresh grocery sector in China, there was a total of 4.93 trillion yuan or $730 billion, total sales last year alone.  The growth has steadily grown from 3.37 trillion yuan in 2012 according to the data collected by Euromonitor and Hua Chuang Securities.

Most of these transactions are taking place inside the wet markets and supermarkets.  Online retail has only accounted for 3% of the total sales in 2016 and shows there is plenty of room for growth.

Alibaba and JD.com who are e-commerce leaders have already incorporated groceries to their online shopping malls, along with established markets that are focused on players like Tencent-backed MissFresh, which has raised $1.4 billion to date.

Adding to these numbers, the field has become even more crowded with the entrance of Meituan which is a Tencent-backed food delivery service and hotel booking mega giant that has raised $4.2 billion in the Hong Kong listing last year.

Meituan Maicai is a new app along with Meituan grocery shopping which are both separated from the company’s all-in-one app.  They entered Shanghai in January and then pushed their way into Beijing last week.  This move followed Maicai’s announcement back in mid-2028 to get a strong hold on the market of grocery delivery.

According to TechCrunch, Meituan has a plan for taking the grocery delivery market to a much higher level which is very much like the other players in this field.

Users can choose from 1,500 items in stock ranging from yogurt to pork loin. They can fill their in-app shopping carts and pay using their phones.  Then, the company will dispatch their delivery fleets to people’s doors within as little as 30 minutes.

Intricate Infrastructure

The fast delivery is possible using satellites of physical service stations stretching across neighborhoods that serve warehousing, packaging, and delivery purposes.  Placing offline hubs along with customers, allows data-driven internet firms to increase warehouse stocking, based on local user’s preferences.  In other words, those who are living in an upscale area probably eat and shop differently from those in other areas of the city.

Meituan’s incursion into the grocery shopping world has intensified its battle with Alibaba to have control over how people in China eat.  Alibaba’s Hema Supermarket has a similar setup that uses neighborhood stores as warehouses and fulfillment centers to be able to delivery within 30 minutes within a set radius.

For many years now, Meituan’s food delivery has been battling neck and neck with Ele.me which Alibaba purchased last year.  Both Alibaba and Meituan are now focusing on restaurants to get them to sign up for their proprietary software which could give owners more insight into diners and increase customer awareness.

Although Meituan wants to be the “everything” app, it has tried several new initiatives that will lead to public offerings but has been known to put them on hold in a short period of time.  This firm acquired the bike-sharing service Mobike last April but in under a year, they shut it down, due to costs.  They also placed a hold on their much-anticipated ride-hailing business.

Putting it in their word words, Meituarn’s eating business seems to be at the heart of this company.  It seems they are tapping their existing infrastructure by reaching their goals summoning its food delivery drivers to serve groceries during peak hours.  As of last year, the company noted their earnings and the grocery field could leverage its massive user base creating the largest intra-city on-demand delivery network.

As of late, fast, affordable delivery of food has become a life-changing event for many working people in China, although there are plenty of others who prefer to prepare their own food.  Many people in the working class do not have time to pick up fresh...

Lifestyle

Wrinkle Treatment at Home: 8 Natural Remedies

Many people simply choose Botox as the solution to aging skin, but there are remedies that are much cheaper and all-natural that you can do at home, and most of these treatments involve things you’d find around your house already. There are also common practices that should be avoided. Read on to learn these eight tips on having naturally, wrinkle-free skin.

Essential Oils

Essential oils heal your skin naturally and without irritation; they work best when they are diluted with argon, geranium, jojoba, lavender, pomegranate, rosemary, sandalwood, and clary sage. Applying essential oils to your face help significantly with lessening and protecting from wrinkles.

Be careful what essential oils you apply to your skin, however, as everyone’s genetic makeup is unique and responds differently. Health Line advises that you test some on your wrist, watching what it does over the following 24 hours before you begin applying it regularly to your face. If your wrist shows no sign of irritation, you’re good to go!

Avoid Soap

Companies are always attempting to sell us their latest soap formula, but what few people know is that manufactured soap is actually worsening your skin’s condition. Our skin’s natural barrier is composed of an acid mantle which has a normal pH level of seven.

According to Natural Living Ideas, the alkaline in manufactured soap increases the pH level as it’s regularly used, and the results are detrimental. It’s best if you avoid soap and stick to all-natural methods.

High-Quality Protein Diet

Your body requires protein to grow and maintain the skin’s natural glow and health. Amino acids like L-proline and L-lysine are responsible for the healthy structure of your skin tissues, so without it, your skin will inevitably grow dull, lifeless, and more wrinkled.

The denser your skin, the more strength it has to protect itself from wearing down, and keeping protein in your diet makes your skin thicker and stronger.

Banana Mask

This remedy is cheap and simple as bananas possess natural oils and vitamins that help your skin to hydrate itself. Mash up a banana, cover your face with the paste, and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing it off to lessen the appearance of wrinkles.

Massage

Stress is one of the largest causes of wrinkles, so if you are aware of when you are feeling stressed, simply massage your skin by pressing your fingers against the wrinkled area and moving them in gentle, circular motions.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera, like protein, is excellent for increasing collagen levels. Apply the gel from its leaves every day and you’ll see significant improvement on wrinkles in 90 days.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamin C has been proven to improve skin elasticity which prevents it from sagging. Tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, and oranges are some fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C. The recommended daily dosage for men is 90 mg while women should take 75 mg. If you are a smoker, you would need to increase that by 35 mg a day.

Egg Whites

Finally, the thin membrane you find between an egg white and its shell is full of collagen, as well, and as we know already, collagens are excellent for the strength and durability of your skin, lessening the appearance of wrinkles.

Many people simply choose Botox as the solution to aging skin, but there are remedies that are much cheaper and all-natural that you can do at home, and most of these treatments involve things you’d find around your house already. There are also common...