Happy Healthy Pets

petsToday’s pet owners consider their pet as part of the family, yet, veterinary visits are on the decline. The American Veterinary Medical Association reported that vet visits for cats have dropped thirty percent since 2001, and twenty-one percent for dogs. Even if nothing is visibly wrong with your pet, experts recommend a veterinary visit at least twice a year. Skipping a trip to the vet may save money, but regular check-ups for your pet can prevent serious health problems and extend your pet’s life. But how do you recognize a good veterinarian and veterinary clinic?

Training Background: Check if the veterinarian and the clinic are accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA); accreditation ensures a higher level of medical care for your pet. You can also research your potential veterinarian’s educational background to learn more about their experience level, and whether the vet specializes in a particular area like geriatrics. Furthermore, consider the training background of the other veterinarians and staff members at the clinic since they will also interact with your pet. Are the vet techs licensed? What’s the training background of the other staff members?

Veterinary Facilities: Visit the clinic and speak with the vet and their staff before bringing your pet for a check-up. Ask for a tour and prepare questions for the veterinarian. What are the policies concerning appointments and emergency care? Who else is on staff? What medical equipment does the staff use, and are medical tests performed at the clinic or referred to an outside specialist? How are overnight patients cared for? You should check that the clinic is clean and well organized, and that their hours work well for your schedule.

Your Vet and Your Pet: After visiting the facility, bring your pet in to see how he interacts with the veterinarian. You should also feel comfortable with the veterinarian and the staff. Your pet’s veterinarian and the other clinic staff should be effective communicators, and be competent, compassionate, and willing to address your questions and concerns.

Find a good veterinarian before your pet needs one. Search Real Local Pages (RLP), an online directory of businesses, to find essential services in your area. Go onto the RLP website, http://www.reallocalpages.com, and search by choosing a term from the popular categories list, or by using the search box at the top of the main page. Each business listing includes an address and phone so that you can easily contact the business.

Home Away From Home

hotelGoing on a trip can be exciting, rejuvenating, and give you a new perspective. Finding a place to stay however, can be stressful, especially with countless hotels and motels to choose from. Keeping the following things in mind when booking a place can help you make a decision:

Priorities: Narrow down your hotel choices by deciding what’s most important to you when you travel. Are luxurious accommodations your main concern? Are you searching for a hotel with family-friendly amenities? Do you need a place close to the airport or another destination? Is price your biggest concern? Once you decide what is most important, finding the right hotel is much easier.

Affordability: Hotels and motels are usually rated on a scale of one to five stars; the more stars a hotel has, the more luxurious, and oftentimes, the more expensive a hotel is going to be. You can usually use the star rating to gauge how pricey a room will be, but also consider the time that you travel; rooms are more expensive during holidays and weekends. Also, factor in any surcharges or additional fees a hotel may add on to your room fee.

Your Room: Ensure that your stay is as pleasant as possible by checking that everything in your room works properly, and then communicating with the front desk staff about any problems. Check that your room key works and that the door closes and locks properly. Try the settings on the air conditioner to be sure that the heat and cooling functions work well. Test the lights, alarm clock, toilet, and shower to ensure that everything is in working order. It’s easier to alert the front desk about problems as soon as you check in rather than finding an issue later when repair staff may be off-duty.

Search for local hotel accommodations through Real Local Pages (RLP), an online directory of various businesses throughout the nation. RLP’s directory has listings for thousands of businesses, from hotels and restaurants, to electrician companies and auto repair shops. Search the website, http://www.reallocalpages.com, by choosing a search term on the main page, or, use the search box. Each business listing includes the address and phone number of the business for your convenience.

Finding a Reputable Electrician

electric outlet2Finding a reliable electrician for electrical repairs is essential to home safety and efficient energy usage. Although it’s tempting to try repairing an electrical problem yourself, it’s better to rely on a professional electrician who understands how to safely and correctly deal with electrical wiring. Search for an electrician before you need one so that you have ample time to locate a reputable electrician.

Specialization: When considering an electrician, ask him or her about their expertise. Electrician companies often specialize in different types of electrical work so you need to check whether the potential hire has the necessary experience for the job.

Licenses: Make sure the electrician you work with is a licensed professional since not every state requires active electricians to hold a license. Although the company may have a license, it does not mean that every electrician on staff is licensed so asking about the potential electrician’s training and qualifications is important. A licensed professional usually oversees the work of unlicensed employees but be sure that the electrician working on your home has the proper qualifications or that the licensed electrician monitors the job.

Insurance: Your electrician should have liability insurance in the event of an accident or damage to your home. A company with multiple electricians should also carry workmen’s compensation insurance on each of their employees. Check that the electrician and their company have insurance and verify with their insurance provider that the electrician’s policies are current.

Reputation: Request references, consult online reviews, and check your city’s Better Business Bureau to ensure the electrician’s reputability.

Cost: Figure out what electrical work you need done in your home and ask at least three different electricians for bids before you settle on an electrician. Be wary of cost estimates that are too low or too high.

Customer Service:  A good electrician is always willing to answer your questions and address your concerns. Your electrician should also be transparent, and considerate towards you and your home.

Search for a reputable electrician through Real Local Pages (RLP), an online directory of businesses throughout the United States. RLP contains listings for many different types of businesses, from restaurants to electrician companies. Begin searching RLP by visiting the website, http://www.reallocalpages.com, and choosing your location. Find local businesses by selecting a search category on the main page, or by using the search box at the top of the main page. Each listing will include the business’s phone number and address; users can also leave comments on the business by clicking the “add review” button next to the listing.

 

 

Safe Travels

Driving_in_the_rainPreparing for late summer storms involves more than just stocking up on water and flashlights. Protecting your vehicle and driving safely during stormy weather is also essential for personal safety. When possible, keep your car under a covering during a storm. Clear away plant debris and outdoor items from around your home to minimize the chance of something falling on your car. Remember to follow these safety tips if you drive during rainy weather.

Driving: Drive below the speed limit during and after a rainstorm. Car oil on the road mixed with rainwater can cause cars to hydroplane, so drive slowly. If your vehicle starts to hydroplane, remove your foot from the gas pedal and tap the brakes to slow your car down. Drive in the center lane of the road when possible since the middle is slightly elevated, giving you better visibility. Using the center lane also keeps your vehicle away from the deep water that runs off into the roadsides.

Focus: Driving while distracted—whether the distraction is the radio, the phone, or another passenger, is even more dangerous during storms. Turn down the music and stay off the phone so as to give the road your full attention. Heavy rain will cause drivers to stop or move unexpectedly and there may be debris or deep puddles in the road. Leave extra space between your vehicle and other cars in order to give yourself time to react to other drivers and poor road conditions.

Deep Waters: Puddles on the road pose a serious hazard for cars. Always drive slowly through puddles, even if you think your car can handle the water. Puddles may turn out to be deeper than expected and splashing water can damage the engine. Avoid standing water, and never drive through moving water. Two feet of running water can sweep a car away; choose another route to avoid it.

Prepare your vehicle for stormy weather by visiting an auto repair shop in your area. Search for reputable auto repair shops through Real Local Pages (RLP), an online directory of businesses with listings for thousands of businesses across the United States. Visit the website, http://www.reallocalpages.com, to begin searching. Enter your location, then choose a search category on the main page, or enter your own search terms like “auto repair” into the search box on the main page. Each listing on the results page will display the address and phone number of the business for your convenience. Use the RLP site to find a variety of businesses and services, from auto repair shops and movie theaters, to electricians.

 

Just Desserts

sugarAmerica’s got a serious sweet tooth. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average American consumes over one hundred and fifty pounds of sugar each year. Most of this sugar intake is from foods and drinks; many people would be surprised at what favorite food items include sugar—from soft drinks and crackers, to bread and even sauces, much of what we eat today contains sugar in some form. Before sugar cultivation began in the Caribbean and South America in the 16th and 17th centuries, sugar was an extremely rare and expensive item in Europe. Merchants imported the precious item from the Middle East and Mediterranean islands where it was warm enough to grow sugarcane. Until sugar became more widely available, it was rarely used as a sweetener; cooks typically sweetened food with fruit or honey. As sugar became more accessible however, people found new ways to incorporate sugar into their food; dessert recipes in American cookbooks became more common as sugar became a commonplace kitchen item.

Search for dessert recipes online and you’ll find hundreds of different types of desserts with endless variations to satisfy a sweet tooth. Although sugary desserts are practically a staple of modern American life, some desserts are go-to favorites. Cheesecake, cupcakes, brownies, ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, and carrot cake are some of the most popular desserts. Apple pie is a particular favorite because of its patriotic associations. Apple pie is not an American creation, but the classic apple pie à la Mode, pie topped with vanilla ice cream, originated in New York City at the end of the nineteenth century. Whatever dessert you favor, the prevalence of sugar is responsible for the plethora of sweet treats enjoyed today.

Enjoy a delicious dessert at a local restaurant this week. Find great restaurants in your area by searching Real Local Pages (RLP), an online directory containing listing for thousands of businesses across the United States. Real Local Pages is useful for finding a wide variety of businesses, from restaurants to roofing contractors. Visit the RLP website, http://www.reallocalpages.com, and enter your location to begin searching. Choose a search term from the popular categories list to search for businesses, or, use the search box on the main page. The results page will display listings that match your search terms and each business listing includes the address and phone number of the location.

Stress Free

plant_growing_through_concreteStress is a healthy and normal part of daily life. The National Institute of Mental Health defines stress as the brain’s response to a challenge, and in moderate amounts, stress keeps one alert to danger and motivated to achieve. Stress in larger doses however, is dangerous to health and mental well-being; many people experience physical aches, insomnia, and negative emotional side effects from stress. Although we cannot always avoid stressors, managing stress and our reaction to it can keep us healthy and positive.

Staying Active: Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and maintain health. Physical activity improves mood, promotes healthy habits, and can even help you sleep better. Exercising outside is an especially good stress reliever; research shows that viewing nature—even something as simple as a potted plant, helps alleviate tension.

Sleep: Most adults need between seven and nine hours of rest each night to function at an optimal level. Good sleep makes you more mentally alert and better able to deal with the day’s challenges. Sleep however is often the first thing to suffer when someone is under stress. Make sleep a priority; avoid staring at computer, television, or cell phone screens before bed, and create a relaxing bedtime routine to prepare yourself to rest.

Perspective: Studies shows that taking time to appreciate what you already have is a good way to stay positive. Focusing on what is going well in your life and noting all the good things that happen each day—no matter how mundane, helps to relieve tension. Getting perspective on a situation by talking with a trusted friend or family member can also reduce worry over a stressful situation and provide emotional support when stress gets overwhelming.

Relax and take a break from your stressful schedule at a spa, salon, or hotel in your area. Search Real Local Pages (RLP), an online directory of businesses, to find anything from spas and restaurants, to auto repair shops and landscapers. Visit the website, http://www.reallocalpages.com, and choose your location. Use the search box to find local businesses, or, choose a search term from the popular categories list at the bottom of the main page. A list of businesses matching your search term will appear on the results page; each listing will include the phone number and address of the business.

 

Summer in Bloom

blanket_flower_arizona_sun_600Warm summer weather is a great excuse to spend time outdoors. Picnics, beach trips, and outdoor games are favorite summertime activities, but planting a garden is especially rewarding. Gardening is a good way to exercise and improve mental health. When planting flowers in the summer, prepare your yard and choose plants that thrive in summer sunlight.

Sunny Spots: Before deciding on what flowers to plant, determine the sun conditions of your garden space. Plants’ sun requirements fall into three categories: full sun, partial sun/partial shade, or full shade. Plants that need full sun require six or more hours of direct sunlight; plants labeled as “heat/drought tolerant” fall into this category and can endure the strong afternoon sun. Flowers and plants needing partial sun/shade prefer four to six hours of light, and typically thrive in morning and early evening sunlight, versus hot afternoon light. Full shade plants thrive in shaded areas and endure very little direct light. Monitor the amount of sunlight in your garden space and choose plants appropriate for your yard’s sun conditions.

Preparing the Soil: Prep the soil before planting anything. Use fertilizer and organic material to enrich the soil (particularly in areas with thin, poor soil, or sandy soil). Organic material and mulch helps the dirt retain moisture, mulch is also good for keeping the soil cool—a must during high-temperature summer weather.

Choosing your Plants: Choose plants and flowers that thrive in your climate region; the best flowers to plant however are those native to your area. Purchase healthy-looking plants from a local nursery; wilted and stressed plants are less likely to survive in a new environment. If you want plants that thrive in summer temperatures and sunlight, look for flowers that are high heat or drought tolerant, such as Blanket Flowers or Globe Amaranths.

Find plant nurseries or florists in your area through Real Local Pages (RLP), an online directory of business listings. Users can find a large variety of businesses on RLP, from hotels and electricians, to florist shops and restaurants. Search by visiting the website, http://www.reallocalpages.com, and enter your city and state. Find businesses by choosing a search term on the main page, or enter your own terms into the search box. Each listing on the results page shows the contact information for the business. Users can also leave reviews of the business through the RLP website.

Stormy Summer Skies

0001ab67_mediumSummertime is a popular season for its beautiful weather; sunny days, long nights, and warm temperatures make summer an ideal time for outdoor activities. Although sunny weather is a hallmark of the season, storms are common in parts of the country where summer is the rainy season. Summer downpours provide temporary relief from the hot sun, but stormy weather can be detrimental to personal safety and property. Strong winds and heavy rains could lead to flooding, downed trees, and structural damage to homes. The best way to prevent (or at least limit) storm damage and protect you and your family is to prepare ahead of time.

Before the storm, assess your property for structural problems, making sure that there are no leaks and that doors and windows seal properly. Prune trees and hedges to limit damage during a storm. Take photos of your home and vehicle for insurance purposes and document valuables. Make copies of insurance policies, identification, and other important papers to keep in a safe, waterproof place. Keep a list of contact information (electronic and hard copy) for emergency services, hospitals, insurance agents, family, and friends.

Prepare for severe storms by making an emergency supply kit. Pack your supply kit with a battery-operated radio, flashlights, batteries, local maps (physical maps), blankets, and a first aid kit with instructions. Store canned goods, a manual can opener, drinking water (a person needs up to one gallon per day), and prescription medication. An emergency kit should also include personal hygiene products, toothpaste, soap, hand sanitizer, and wet cleaning cloths.

After a storm, stay away from standing water in case of downed power lines, and take precautions when moving debris. Check your home for damage or contact an expert for help. Search Real Local Pages (RLP) for home repair experts like roof contractors and electricians to help you prepare for summer storms. RLP’s online directory contains listings for thousands of businesses across the country. Users can find many different types of businesses through RLP, from clothing stores and gas stations to florists and flooring services. Visit http://www.reallocalpages.com to get started. Include your location, then search by entering terms into the search box on the main page, or, choose a term from the popular categories list. Each listing includes the business’s contact information for your convenience.

Father’s Day

fathers-day-blogAlmost fifty years ago in 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson  designated the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. In 1972, President Nixon signed a law proclaiming the day a national holiday. The day celebrating fathers became a popular holiday, and today, Americans spend over one billion dollars on Father’s Day gifts. Unlike Mother’s Day however, it took decades for Father’s Day to really catch on with the public.

A woman in Washington state named Sonora Smart Dodd envisioned a day for fathers while listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909. Dodd wanted to honor her father, William Smart, a Civil War veteran who had raised her and her five siblings alone after her mother died. Dodd’s campaign to create Father’s Day paid off, and the first Father’s Day took place in 1910 in Spokane, Washington. The holiday spread slowly to other states, President Coolidge endorsed the holiday in 1924, but many people disliked the holiday. It took WWII for Father’s Day to become a more popular holiday. Businesses marketed the holiday as a way to honor the troops fighting overseas, by the end of the war, Americans in almost every state celebrated Father’s Day.

This year’s Father’s Day is June 21st. In the early decades of the holiday, businesses promoted ties, tobacco, clothing, and sporting equipment as great Father’s Day gifts, but a gift should be as unique as the dad who receives it. Search Real Local Pages (RLP) for stores in your area to find great Father’s Day gifts. Real Local Pages is an online directory of businesses; with thousands of listings, you can find a wide range of businesses, from restaurants and hardware stores, to services like electricians and physicians. Search http://www.reallocalpages.com by entering your city and state, then choose terms from the popular categories list, or, use the search box on the main page. Each listing will display the contact information for the business and users can leave reviews of the business on RLP.

Lawn Care

Green_GrassCaring for your own yard can be a rewarding way to spend your afternoon. Raking leaves, pulling weeds, watering  plants, and adding new plants to the yard is a good source of exercise and a healthy way to lower stress. When you don’t have time to work on your yard, or when you want an expert’s advice, you can turn to professional landscapers. Finding a trustworthy company to work on your yard isn’t easy, but following a few simple principles can help you find quality, reliable service.

Landscape Work: The company you work with should understand the weather and climate of your area and suggest plants that thrive in that environment. Lawn care professionals should also take note of the particular conditions in your yard, such as sun and shade coverage, soil type, drainage, moisture, trees, and terrain. Your landscape expert should make a plan that works well for your particular yard and communicate with you about conditions so that you can make informed decisions.

Pricing: Compare prices by investigating different lawn care companies and keep a record of how much each company charges for particular lawn care jobs. Ask friends and consult consumer websites to learn more about the typical cost of lawn-related jobs. Make sure you receive confirmation about the price before agreeing to a job.

Reliability: Ask friends and acquaintances for leads on reliable lawn care experts. You can also ask the company for references and look up a company’s past work by reading online reviews left by customers. Once you hire a company, keep a record of the work they perform for you. The company’s workers should be open about their pricing and work, and be considerate with your yard.

Look for lawn care experts on Real Local Pages (RLP), an online directory of businesses. You can find a wide variety of businesses on RLP, from auto repair shops, to local restaurants. Begin searching by entering your city and state on the website, http://www.reallocalpages.com. Find businesses by entering key terms into the search box. You can also search by choosing a term from the popular categories list. Each business listing on the results page will display the phone number and address of the business; users can also leave reviews of the business on the RLP website.