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Archive | June, 2013

Save time and money with easy DIY auto maintenance tips

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(BPT) – Vehicles are a big investment for families – usually the second highest valued item in a household after the home itself. While the purchase price for cars, trucks and SUVs keeps going up, the cost of maintenance is holding steady or even dropping for most vehicles. Better materials, sophisticated computers and other advances increase reliability and allow less frequent oil changes, tune-ups and other service.

Owners can do some of the work themselves to lower maintenance costs even further. Anyone interested in saving money and increasing pride of ownership by doing their own work can spend just a few minutes and accomplish the following four maintenance tasks easily, without any expensive tools or training.

* Cabin air filter replacement – The air conditioner is cranked up on those hot summer days. The cabin air filter keeps the air blowing through the heat and air conditioning ventilation system clean, and it should be replaced at least once a year. But in areas of the country where there is a lot of pollen or dust – from dirt roads, construction projects or even arid conditions – it’s a good idea to replace this filter more frequently.

“Cabin air filters are usually easy to install, but installation will vary between cars,” says Tom Taylor, engineer and vice president of RockAuto.com, an online auto parts retailer. “Some filters are behind the glove box, and others are accessed through the cowl panel below the windshield.”

Check your owner’s manual to see if there is information on replacing the cabin air filter, or visit RockAuto.com to find installation instructions provided by filter manufacturers.

* Headlamps and tail lights – When a headlamp or tail light burns out, you may be surprised to discover how easy it is to replace these bulbs. For most vehicles, installation of headlamps is from the engine compartment. Just unplug the electrical connector on the back of the bulb, unscrew the large plastic ring that holds the bulb in place and pull the bulb out. Because headlamps are usually halogen lights, be sure to wear gloves or use a cloth to avoid getting fingerprints on the bulb. Oils from your hands can shorten the life of the bulb.

Tail lights are similar – usually you can gain access through the trunk of the vehicle underneath the trim material.

CAR-DIY-Auto-maintenance2* Wiper blades – Trying to see the road through a streaky window is almost as bad as trying to see the road in a heavy rain shower. The quality of the blade purchased will determine how long the blade will last and how well it will perform in clearing the windshield of rain.

“It is now easy to choose wipers that are better than what originally came on the car,” Taylor says. “There are longer-lasting blades, winter blades that resist freezing to the windshield and beam-type wiper arms that hold the blade more firmly on the glass.”

Higher quality blades tend to cost more, but drivers will appreciate the durability and clarity they provide.-RockAuto.com is promoting a wiper wholesaler closeout for top-quality blades at extremely low prices. Once you have your blades purchased, just follow the included directions on how to install them.

* Engine air filter – These air filters keep the oxygen supplied to the engine’s combustion chambers free of dirt and other contaminants. Clean air is needed to optimize the engine’s performance and extend its life. Manufacturers recommend replacing an engine air filter every 12,000 miles driven.- However, it will also depend on the car’s model and how dusty the environment is. This filter is typically located under the hood in a large, rectangular, plastic air filter housing. Remove the four bolts or clips around the edges and then lift the dirty filter out.

These maintenance tasks are ongoing, but they become even easier with repetition. DIYers save money and time when they handle them at home.

 

 

 

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Simple ways older drivers can save money on auto insurance

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(BPT) – Are your auto insurance premiums too high? Maybe they are, but not for reasons you might think. Insurance companies aren’t charging you higher premiums because you’re in an over-50 age group. You may be paying too much because you haven’t done anything to lower the cost of your premiums. Check out these money-saving tips – they could be right up your alley.

* Comparison shop. You don’t need to stay with the same insurance company forever. Prices vary from company to company. Just be sure you discuss the identical coverage with each company representative. Also, don’t go by price alone. Consider the company’s reputation, customer service and available discounts. Look online at customer reviews to get a better picture.

* Combine policies with one carrier. You may save money if you insure all your vehicles on a single policy. Your premium may also go down if you have life or homeowners’ insurance with that company, too.

* Consider asking about higher deductibles. In some cases, if you increase your deductible, you could lower your premiums. Of course, that means you’ll have to pay more money out-of-pocket if you’re in an accident.

* Take an AARP Driver Safety course. Available both online and in the classroom – in English and Spanish – this course teaches valuable defensive driving techniques and provides a refresher about the rules of the road. When you complete the course, you could qualify for a multi-year discount from your auto insurance company (check with your insurance agent for more details). Visit www.aarp.org/drive to find a course in your area.

* Consider dropping collision and/or comprehensive coverage. It may not make financial sense to pay premiums over many years to maintain collision and comprehensive coverage. If your car is worth less than 10 times the premium, purchasing the coverage may not be cost effective, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). But don’t drop your liability coverage, which can help cover expenses for property or bodily damage you cause while driving your car.

* Take advantage of low-mileage discounts. Some carriers offer discounts to drivers who put less than a predetermined number of miles on their vehicles each year. If you’re only using your car to drive to your kids’ houses, the grocery store, the mall and the gym, this could be a money-saving opportunity.

* Ask about car-safety discounts. Some insurers give discounts for having certain safety devices in your car, such as air bags, automatic safety belts, anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights, or even an approved alarm system. In addition to lowering your premium, these features will help keep you safe on the road.

* If you’re in the market for a new car, consider purchasing a low-profile vehicle. It’s more expensive to insure a vehicle that’s expensive to repair, popular with thieves or known for not having a good safety record. To find out vehicles’ risk levels, visit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website.

Everyone’s trying to save money these days. By following these tips, you’ll be in the driver’s seat when it comes to auto insurance premiums.

 

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From your Mayor’s Desk

Like you, who have come to me, after your stop at City Hall I am also concerned about our blight in the city right of ways, especially West Muskegon Street, the gateway to our downtown merchants. I am referring to the weeds growing three inches above the curb and tree limbs from recent wind storms. I am told that this will not be picked up until late fall, so, please don’t feel bad folks, as even hound dog Bob can’t you any answers—other than we didn’t budget any monies for weed pulling. I am also told that running a city is nothing like running a business, and I guess I can see that. For, as a businessman, I buy the truck, I pay $75 to fill the gas tank and I pay wages to the driver, so it only makes sense to have my driver stop and correct the problem when driving by the blight. I also realize that in our present system of procedures that the few minutes of cleaning up the blight would need to be charged back to that city vehicle. It sure sounds like something that came out of Washington D.C.

My wife is convinced that with your help, we can change our city’s image on every front, so over the next few months she needs your help to find that proud city employee, including the police department, fire fighters, office personnel, DPW, etc. who goes the extra mile to make our city a nicer place to be. Register that person and the good deed, at the Amish Warehouse, 141 S. Main St. She will have a $50 gift certificate, to a restaurant of your choice, for the top entry. Thank you for your prayers and support. Stop by and see me on Mondays at Cedar Springs City Hall from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

 

Bob Truesdale, Mayor

Cedar Springs

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Love Michigan, love saving lives

HEA-Love-MichiganMichigan-based businesses join effort to encourage local summer blood donation

There is so much to love about Michigan in the summertime! It’s no surprise that as the weather warms up, the community blood supply experiences a “summer-slump” as many people are out and about enjoying all that Michigan has to offer. That’s why several Michigan based businesses are teaming up with Michigan Blood to give people a chance to show their state pride while boosting the local blood supply.

Anyone who attempts to donate during the annual Love Michigan blood drive at Michigan Blood donor centers throughout the Lower Peninsula will receive a thank-you gift bag with Michigan-made products. The reusable bag provided by Meijer will include a special-edition retro “Say Yes to Michigan” t-shirt (a $28 value from The Mitten State) along with other donated products from Old Orchard Juice, Better Made Potato Chips, and Country Fresh Ice Cream.

“We’re thrilled to be a part of the Michigan Blood summer blood drive for a third consecutive year,” says Will Bransdorfer, Co-Founder of The Mitten State. “It’s a pleasure to see the event grow in popularity each successive summer and to see our fans get excited to give back to the community. It’s an event that makes us proud to be from Michigan.”

“We know how much people treasure this state and the local communities,” said Jim Childress, Vice President of Community Relations at Michigan Blood. “Love Michigan is a fun way to bring people together for a common cause to support more than 40 Michigan hospitals, and all the patients who are counting on lifesaving blood donations.”

It takes more than 2000 donations to Michigan Blood every week to support local hospitals including Spectrum Health, Mercy Health St. Mary’s, and Metro. The Love Michigan event will help assure that those numbers stay strong even in the heart of the summer season. Dates and times vary by location. Appointments are strongly recommended.

 

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Stay safe in the summer heat

Hot, humid weather is in the forecast again today, with temperatures expected to reach highs in the upper eighties throughout most of this week. Children, the elderly, and pets are especially at risk of becoming ill in these temperatures. The Kent County Health Department wants everyone to take a few precautions to stay healthy during hot summer days.

Never leave children or animals in a parked vehicle unattended, even with windows cracked open. The temperature inside a parked car can reach 120 degrees or more in a matter of minutes. Heat stroke and death can occur in these dangerous situations. If you are leaving the car, take your children and/or pets with you. So far this year, 15 children have died after being left unattended in cars in the U.S., according to the San Francisco State University Department of Geosciences.

Elderly people have a much more difficult time dealing with heat. “People who are elderly may have trouble adjusting to changes in temperature,” says Adam London, Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. “Also, some medications can cause adverse reactions to heat. If you have elderly family members or friends, check on them twice a day during these hot days.” If they appear to be suffering from dizziness, muscle weakness, cramping, vomiting, heavy sweating, or paleness, they may be suffering from heat exhaustion. Get them to a cool area, and seek medical treatment.

If you wait until you’re thirsty to drink, you may already be dehydrated. (Some people may be limited in the amount of fluid they drink due to certain conditions or medications. Check with your doctor to see how much you should drink while the weather is hot.) Drink non-alcoholic fluids often, and avoid alcohol or sugary-drinks, as they can cause you to dehydrate faster.

Be sure pets have fresh, clean drinking water. Keep them indoors or provide a shady place for them to stay out of the sun. Don’t let them overheat: keep strenuous activity and playtime short.

If you are looking for additional resources to help you during hot weather, the Heart of West Michigan United Way may be able help. Call their free informational and referral service by dialing 211 for more information.

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Tips to get getter sleep and lower risk of stroke

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(NewsUSA) According to David H. Stone, M.D., a vascular surgeon at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and member of the Society for Vascular Surgery, poor sleep is one factor that can lead to stroke.

“Research says less than six hours a night increases the risk of stroke symptoms four-fold among middle-age to older adults who had a normal weight and low risk for obstructive sleep apnea,” said Dr. Stone. “Lack of sleep increases inflammation, blood pressure and the release of certain hormones, which create a greater stress response that increases stroke risk.”

Tips for good sleep: 

*Get a comfortable, firm bed for spine and body support and ease of movement. People with chronic pain can use a heated waterbed, airbed or foam mattress; an electric blanket, or mattress pad on low heat or a wool mattress pad that provides heat are useful for cool or damp nights.

*Temperatures higher than 75 degrees or less than 54 disrupt sleep. Researchers suggest cooler rather than hotter rooms; use a vaporizer or humidifier if needed as moist heat leads to better sleep. Clear space around the bed with only necessary items placed on a nightstand.

*Refrain from stimulants like cigarettes, diet pills and caffeine.

*Avoid electronic devices an hour before you go to bed; they disrupt sleep rhythms.

*Avoid diuretics before bedtime. Unless told to increase fluids by your doctor, reduce them prior to sleep. Eating before bed is not recommended; a glass of warm milk at bedtime is acceptable.

*To wind down, read a chapter of a book, or take a warm bath. To fall asleep, try distraction. Count backwards or try relaxation tapes.

*Go to bed and get up at the same time daily. Afternoon naps are allowed, but not after dinner.

*Get outside on sunny days to regulate your body’s internal clock. Exercise at the same time during the day but not before bed.

*Reset your sleep clock. Go to bed an hour earlier or later each day until you reach the hour you want to go to sleep.

To learn more about your vascular health, visit the Society for Vascular Surgery’s website at www.VascularWeb.org.

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Summer garden glory without the weeding and watering

Radically Reduce Garden Maintenance

(BPT) – Summer can be tough on gardens. In what should be their glory days, many gardens suffer from neglect. Long weekends and summer vacations leave yards untended, while summer heat is an excuse for putting off chores. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s possible to have both a glorious well-maintained garden and time for fun in the sun by taking some smart gardening steps now.

Here’s a quick list of pro-active steps from the experts at preen.com to transform a yard or garden from needy-and-greedy to lean-and-green by reducing watering and weeding needs all season.

* Choose better places for better plants – Many plant experts insist that 90 percent of garden problems would disappear if gardeners put the right plants in the right places. But, sometimes it’s the planting place itself that needs adjustment. For example, a hot, dry, exposed setting is brutal on most plant selections. Why not completely rethink a spot like this? To alter the heat-and-light dynamic, introduce a small shade tree to serve as the anchor of a new easy-care landscape bed. Add a supporting cast of drought-tolerant shrubs and perennials. With better places for better plants, long-term maintenance can be a breeze.

* Whack weeding – Weeding consumes more time in the garden than anything else, except watering, according to a National Gardening Association survey. Covering garden beds with a 3-inch layer of mulch will greatly reduce the need to weed and water, while making everything look tidy too. Mulch retains soil moisture and denies weed seeds the light they need to sprout. Top off mulch with a sprinkling of a pre-emergent such as Preen to stop weed seeds from growing in mulch and garden soil for up to three or four months. For a one-step solution that creates a six-month weed-fighting barrier, try Preen Mulch Plus, a natural shredded-wood mulch with added pre-emergent weed preventers already mixed in.

* Beef up the border patrol – Sharply-defined edges around garden beds add visual appeal to any property. They also make maintenance easier by creating a firm demarcation between beds and lawns to keep out invasive perennial weeds, including nasty creepers that can’t be prevented by other means. Dig a shallow 8-inch wide trench surrounding garden beds, then cover it with 3 inches of mulch; or install a barrier-style perimeter edging of metal, stone, rubber or wood.

* Banish fainting spells – When it comes to water-retentive container plantings, think fewer and bigger. Don’t dot decks, doorways and patios with fussy little pots. Small containers look insignificant and dry out fast, subjecting parched plants to repeated bouts of stress from fainting spells. Larger containers allow for more dramatic plant groupings and plenty of healthy root room, plus retain important soil moisture.

* Try tick-tock watering – Gardens need less water than many think, thriving on as little as 1 inch of water per week whether it’s delivered by rain, drip irrigation, sprinklers or a hand-held hose. To save time watering all season and prepare a garden to get through extended dry spells, add programmable water timers to water spigots and hose systems. Even inexpensive timers can deliver water to suit particular plant and climate needs. Early morning watering is best. Midday sun can burn wet leaves. Evening watering can lead to plant ailments and mildew.

Don’t spend the summer constantly weeding, watering and struggling to keep up with garden chores. Put your garden on a path to self-sufficiency. Then focus on fun in the sun, whether you’re on vacation or in your own backyard.

Posted in Bloomin' Summer, FeaturedComments Off

Fresh Market – Sugar snap peas

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Imagine a product with a satisfying crunch and a lovely flavor—and get this—you can eat as much as you want with no weight gain!  Enter the sugar pea.  Sugar peas are a free food to dieters, containing only 41 calories per cup. chopped raw.  They are believed to have originated in Europe where aristocrats in France began eating the immature peas, pods and all.  Sugar peas are very high in vitamins C and  A—one cup provides nearly 100% of your daily needs of vitamin C.  Rich in fiber , consumption of these treats helps reduce blood cholesterol levels, obesity, and constipation.

While sugar peas are a treat fresh picked from the garden, they also enhance any salad and are a great addition to stir fries.  The tender shoots can also be used in this capacity.  Sugar peas are planted early in the season as they cannot tolerate excessive heat.  There is also a second planting in August for a fall harvest.  This planting, however does not traditionally produce as well as Spring crops.  If you decide to plant your own, don’t forget that deer like them too!

 

Easy stir-fry

½ pound sugar peas, strings removed

1 T. olive oil

1 green onion, chopped (green parts also)

Toasted sesame seeds

In a heated stir fry pan toss sugar peas with olive oil—cook until tender crisp, about 3 minutes. Add green onion and stir fry until onion is tender. Toss with sesame seed.  Serve alone or with rice or as a side to pork or chicken dishes.

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue. For more information call 616-696-1718. Like them on facebook for updates.

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Solon Market giveaways this week

 

*ENT-Solon market giveawaysExciting things are happening with the Solon Market (formerly Solon Township Farmers Market), held every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the new Solon Township Hall, 15185 Algoma Ave.

Not only did they reorganize under a new name, they have a variety of events planned for the season, beginning this weekend. Check out their market giveaways this Saturday, June 29. There will be a multitude of drawings for market products donated by the vendors, as well as other giveaways. Future events include Concert in the Barn, Critter Barn Petting Zoo, Dog Days and a Fire event. Watch the Post for dates and times.

According to Vicky Babcock, spokesperson for the Solon Market, a group of vendors got together recently to talk about plans for the market. “The new name was chosen to reflect the variety of vendors in the market family—farm produce, crafts and other merchandise,” she explained. “We are focusing on obtaining more fresh produce, larger market and use of the Township’s large barn for sales and events. Stop in to see us on Saturday.  We’d love to tell you more!”

For more info, call 696-1718, or check them out on Facebook.

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Driving flash

 

A man was driving down the road. He passed a traffic camera and saw it flash.

Astounded that he had been caught speeding when he was doing the speed limit, he turned around and, going even slower, he passed by the camera.

Again, he saw it flash. He couldn’t believe it, so he turned and, going a snail’s pace, he passed the camera. Again, he saw the camera flash. He guessed it must have a fault, and home he went.

Four weeks later he received three traffic fines in the mail, all for not wearing a seatbelt.

 

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