Marvelous Girl Has Moved!

Archive for July 2009

average cost vacationWith the recession restricting budgets, families are trying to spend less while still enjoying a summer vacation. But what is the cost difference between getaways? Industry research firm IBISWorld investigated the average cost of roughing it outdoors versus a more luxurious alternative for a family of four vacationing:

Camping & Driving Your Own Car:  $158.33 per day

– Driving Your Car & Renting A Folding Travel Trailer:  $241.77 per day

– Rent A Type-C Motor Home:  $397.33 per day

– Drive Your Car & Stay At A Hotel:  $398.88 per day

– Air Travel, Car Rental & Hotel:  $575.11 per day

“Aside from wanting to save money, families are increasingly showing a desire to enjoy the simple pleasures of the great outdoors,” said George Van Horn, senior analyst at IBISWorld. With camping being the number one outdoor vacation activity, and with over 14,000 government and commercial campground and RV parks, families have an excess of destinations to choose from.”

The two major segments in the industry, RV parks and campgrounds, are getting the most hype lately.  The research shows the RV holiday to average in at $3,576, making it the third cheapest type of vacation. Although RV sales have expectedly gone down this year (to 155,000 – from a peak of 390,500 units in 2006), the RV rental and lease market, on the other hand, has gone up. The $2.14 billion dollar sector has increased by 3.3 percent this year.

With a growing number of franchised resort-type campgrounds sprouting across the nation, roughing it in the wilderness does not necessarily entail getting down and dirty. Operators of camping chains have been upgrading their facilities and amenities, such as introducing wireless Internet access, health and fitness centers, playgrounds, and even restaurants and cafes.

“Camping appeals to families of all income levels,” said Van Horn. “Whether it’s boating, fishing, or soaking in some fresh air with your laptop at hand, modernized campgrounds can accommodate just about every need.”

bottled water truth tapSure, bottled water is convenient, trendy, and may well be just as pure as what comes out of your tap. But it’s hardly a smart investment for your pocketbook, your body or our planet. Eat This, Not That! decided to take a closer look at what’s behind the pristine images and elegant-sounding names printed on those bottles.
 
You may actually be drinking tap water.
Case in point: Dasani, a Coca-Cola product. Despite its exotic-sounding name, Dasani is simply purified tap water that’s had minerals added back in. For example, if your Dasani water was bottled at the Coca-Cola Bottling Company in Philadelphia, you’re drinking Philly tap water. But it’s not the only brand of water that relies on city pipes to provide its product. About 25 percent of all bottled water is taken from municipal water sources, including Pepsi’s Aquafina.
 
Bottled water isn’t always pure.
Scan the labels of the leading brands and you see variations on the words “pure” and “natural” and “pristine” over and over again. And when a Cornell University marketing class studied consumer perceptions of bottled water, they found that people thought it was cleaner, with less bacteria. But that may not actually be true. For example, in a 4-year review that included the testing of 1,000 bottles of water, the Natural Resources Defense Council—one the country’s most ardent environmental crusaders—found that “about 22 percent of the brands we tested contained, in at least one sample, chemical contaminants at levels above strict state health limits.”
 
It’s not clear where the plastic container ends and the drink begins.
Turns out, when certain plastics are heated at a high temperature, chemicals from the plastics may leach into container’s contents. So there’s been a flurry of speculation recently as to whether the amounts of these chemicals are actually harmful, and whether this is even a concern when it comes to water bottles—which aren’t likely to be placed in boiling water or even a microwave. While the jury is still out on realistic health ramifications, it seems that, yes, small amounts of chemicals from PET water bottles such as antimony—a semi-metal that’s thought to be toxic in large doses—can accumulate the longer bottled water is stored in a hot environment. Which, of course, is probably a good reason to avoid storing bottled water in your garage for six months—or better yet, to just reach for tap instead.
 
Our country’s high demand for oil isn’t just due to long commutes.
Most water bottles are composed of a plastic called polyethylene terepthalate (PET). Now, to make PET, you need crude oil. Specifically, 17 million barrels of oil are used in the production of PET water bottles ever year, estimate University of Louisville scientists. No wonder the per ounce cost of bottled water rivals that of gasoline. What’s more, 86 percent of 30 billion PET water bottles sold annually are tossed in the trash, instead of being recycled, according to data from the Container Recycling Institute. That’s a lot of waste—waste that will outlive you, your children, and your children’s children. You see, PET bottles take 400 to 1000 years to degrade. Which begs the question: If our current rate of consumption continues, where will we put all of this discarded plastic?
 
To learn the truth about diet soda, energy drinks and discover the best no-diet weight loss solutions on the planet, check out all of the eye-popping lists at eatthis.com. Also, sign up for your FREE Eat This Not That! newsletter and stay informed about the best choices for you and your family.

Article by David Zinczenko, with Matt Goulding

heidi_klum_4kids busy momShe’s a supermodel that seems more like Superwoman, but Heidi Klum confessed in a recent interview that family life often keeps her too busy even for her own TV show, Project Runway.

“With three children and a hot husband, who has time to watch television?” she said. “I don’t even watch my own show to be honest with you. When I film it, I’m done with it.”

Klum is married to singer Seal and the couple are expecting a baby girl in October, making it Heidi’s fourth child!  The new season of Project Runway starts August 20 on Bravo.

To see Heidi’s baby bump, click here.

blackberry frozen yogurt recipe 2

2 (16-ounce) cartons vanilla low fat yogurt
2 ½ cups Driscoll’s Blackberries
½ cup light-colored corn syrup
¼ cup sugar
½ cup coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate (3 ounces)

In a blender container or food processor bowl, combine half of the yogurt, ½ cup of the berries, half of the corn syrup and half of the sugar.  Cover and blend or process until almost smooth. Pour mixture into ice cream freezer container.  Repeat.  Freeze mixture in an electric ice cream freezer according to manufacturer’s directions.  Remove dasher from freezer.  Add remaining 1½ cups berries and the chopped chocolate; stir to distribute. 

*Note:  To ripen frozen yogurt or ice cream, after stirring in berries and chocolate, cover top of freezer can with waxed paper or foil.  Plug hole in lid and replace lid. Pack outer freezer bucket with enough ice and rock salt to cover top of freezer can, using about 4 cups ice and 1 cup salt.  Ripen about 4 hours.

Nutritional Information Per ½ Cup Serving:  175 calories, 3g total fat (2g saturated fat), 5mg cholesterol, 70mg sodium, 32g carbohydrate, 3g dietary fiber, 4g protein.

chocolate study women heartDo you ever wish you could eat chocolate every single day? Well, some lucky women are getting the chance as scientists are looking for women willing to eat chocolate every day for a year — for medical science of course!

Researchers in England are trying to prove chocolate lowers the risk of heart disease and need 40 women to conduct their study.

The majority of the women must eat two bars of “super-strength chocolate specially formulated by Belgian chocolatiers” daily for one year while undergoing several tests on the health of their hearts. The remaining participants will eat regular chocolate as a placebo.

Volunteers for the research should be menopausal but aged under 75 and have type two diabetes. Peter Curtis, the study’s coordinator, said, “A successful outcome could be the first step in developing new ways to improve the lives of people at increased risk of heart disease.”

All new episode Monday at 9pm ET

Remember the movie The Holiday, where Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet swich lives…and cities?  Well, each week on SOAPnet’s new original reality series, Holidate, two women will switch cities and go on dates handpicked for them.  They may date each other’s friends, brothers, or coworkers in the hope of finding true love.  
 
The show premiers tonight, WEDNESDAY, JULY 29th AT 10PM/9c.

Also, check out the official Holidate Facebook page, for giveaways and you can take the Holidate “Where is the Perfect Guy For You?” Quiz to find out what city the perfect guy is waiting for you in!

tips expecting momElizabeth Stein, a leading midwife and women’s health expert with 25 years of experience in fields of obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health gave Marvelous Girl her Top Tips for Expectant Mothers.  And some of them might surprise you…

1.      Vitamins:  Take prenatal vitamins with folic acid and essential fatty acids, starting 2-3 months before conception (when you start having unprotected sex in order to get pregnant).  Take at least 800 micrograms of folic acid per day.  Folic acid prevents open neural tube defects such as spina bifida. The neural tube closes approximately day 24 of pregnancy.  Also take a supplement of essential fatty acids (omega-3, 6, & 9) each day.  Essential fatty acids can be found in many foods, but have been added to most prenatal vitamins. They have been shown to be good for babies’ brain and eye development, as well as moms. 
 
2.      Dental Health:  Have a dental check up prior to conception to make sure there are no infections in your mouth.  This is important because bacteria in your mouth may cause preterm labor and preterm delivery (premature baby).
 
3.      Clean Living:  Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or use street drugs.  Cigarettes expose the embryo/fetus to over 200 toxic chemicals which can interfere with the growth of the baby, causing the blood vessels to constrict. This constriction of the blood vessels causes as increase in blood pressure and a decrease in oxygen and nutrients going to the developing fetus.
 
4.      Sleep:  Once pregnant, rest as much as possible.  During pregnancy you should not take any sleeping medication, but you can have a glass of warm milk to help you relax. 7 to 8 hours of restful sleep every night is usually sufficient, although sometimes your body wants more sleep. A nap during the day or late afternoon will provide a wonderful “pick me up.”
 
5.      Stay Hydrated:  Drink lots of water.  At least two quarts of water a day is recommended. If dehydration occurs during pregnancy, it can cause your mouth to feel dry and your uterus may cramp, which is very concerning when pregnant. Also, avoid adding salt and sugar to anything you eat or drink. 
 
6.      Watch your weight:  A pregnant woman’s goal should be to gain no more than 25-35 lbs.  Being pregnant is not a license to pig out and gain 40-50lbs or more.  Nutrition during pregnancy is very important and a meeting with a nutritionist can be helpful. Try to eat three servings of protein a day (3 ounces each, about the size of a credit card).  All protein should be thoroughly cooked.  Also, eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Carbohydrates are important too since they are the energy food (bread, rice, potatoes, pasta). Average calories per day should be 1800-2000 and that includes the 300 extra for the pregnancy (per fetus). 

7.      Eat Small Regular Meals:  Eat and drink within a half hour of waking and then every three hours (5-6 small meals per day rather than three big meals). You need to have a continuous intake of food (known as grazing) so your body can break it down to provide glucose to your pregnancy on a continuous basis. If you don’t eat small, frequent meals you will feel very light headed (hypoglycemic). 
 
8.      Office Visits:  Find a midwife (or physician) you are comfortable with and keep your appointments. 
 
9.      Stay Informed:  Bring a written list of questions to every visit. Questions may be whatever concerns you.  Be sure to discuss your expectations for labor and delivery (natural, vaginal, epidural, cesarean delivery) and breastfeeding. 
 
10.  Know who will deliver you!  Ask who will be delivering your baby.  Will it be the midwife or physician you see every visit or someone else in the practice?  Sometimes midwives and physicians have cross coverage among practices, so it is important to ask these questions and not assume your midwife or physician will be there on delivery day.

To learn more about Elizabeth Stein and Ask Your Midwife, please visit www.AskYourMidwife.com

showerherwiththanks_maingraphic

From organizing your bridal shower, to reviewing 47 napkin choices, to dancing with that obnoxious groomsman, brides depend on a small army of friends and family to help keep their wedding together.  Here’s a chance to thank them.

The simplehuman “shower her with thanks” campaign will award five lovely and deserving wedding helpers with a shower makeover. They helped organize the bridal shower; now brides can thank them by organizing a shower of their own – literally! 

Brides-to-be can nominate their friends on simplehuman by Aug. 14 in hopes of winning a new shampoo and soap dispensers (pictured).

To enter the contest: http://tinyurl.com/kjuvg5.

groceriesAmericans have many choices when it comes to supermarket purchases: store brand, commercial brand, organic, etc. – but what is the cost difference and does it vary across the nation?  Industry research firm, IBISWorld, investigated grocery costs in Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago to gage consumer spending across the U.S.  Here are the findings for the average grocery cart:

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On average for all food-brand categories (store, commercial and organic), Chicago is the cheapest of the three analyzed regions, coming in at $115.73. Los Angeles was the most expensive at $124.43, while New York City was slightly cheaper at $122.66.

The consumers with the lowest grocery bill ($92.04) are those in Chicago purchasing store brand products. This compares with $104.54 and $110.64 for New York City and Los Angeles, respectively.

Chicago did however have the most expensive organic bill, coming in at $142.95, and Los Angeles had the cheapest at $137.52. This is due to Los Angeles’ proximity to Mexico as well the high volume of food production in California.   With the biggest selling area of organic groceries being fresh produce – expected to account for 42 percent of sales this year – and California accounting for 53.8 percent of the nation’s melon and vegetable production, it is no surprise Los Angeles shoppers have cheaper organics.

“Large supermarkets have bypassed wholesaling activities as much as possible, and by taking greater control of the entire supply chain they have been able to minimize the cost structure for store brands versus competing products,” said George Van Horn, senior analyst with IBISWorld.  “Organic markets still look to ‘own the supply chain’, but they operate on a much smaller scale, resulting in markups.” 

According to IBISWorld’s findings, the average organic grocery cart is about 18 percent more expensive than a grocery cart primarily filled with commercially branded products.  But the organic grocery cart is a staggering 37.6 percent more expensive than a basket primarily filled with store branded products.

“Despite the high price of organic products and the recession restricting budgets, the organic food market is still growing by four percent in 2009,” adds Van Horn.


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