It’s getting colder outside, which means it’s getting colder inside, too. Even if you happen to enjoy the colder weather, chances are at some point you’ll finally decide that the sweatshirt is a little too bulky and the socks are getting too damp, and it’s time to get the furnace going.

Guess What? Air Conditioners Don’t Heat Your House. Technically, They Don’t Cool It, Either. Technically.

If you’ve thought about air conditioning units as “essentially refrigerators, but they’ve got tubes in the walls that push the coldness into different rooms of the house,” then you’ve been hoodwinked and bamboozled. It turns out that air conditioners don’t create cold. Instead, they take away heat.

What does that mean, exactly? Heat rises, and in an enclosed space, that means heat gathers around the ceiling, then extends down the more heat there is. But in an air-conditioned room, there’ll be a grate attached to the ceiling, and heat flows up into that. Inside that vent is a cold coil that sucks the heat out of the air, pushes that heat into the A/C unit outside the house, and then that unit vents that heat into the open air.

Kind of cool, right? Here’s the thing, though: With air conditioners, this only works one way. The heat from inside the house goes outside, but not the other way around. So the air conditioner can only make a place colder. This is why, for homes with an A/C unit, usually you’ll also find a furnace, some other external source of heating like a radiator, or even consumer-grade heat fans.

This might confuse you if you aren’t the one who installed such a thing into your house or otherwise aren’t familiar with any of this. You’re confused because you’re pretty sure your A/C unit can also heat your house. You’ve seen it happen before.

You’ve been hoodwinked once again: You don’t have an A/C unit. Instead, you have a heat pump.

The All-In-One Package

What if an A/C unit could just switch where the heat went? What if it could take the heat from outside and pump it into the house? That’s what a heat pump is!

This sounds like a pretty good deal, right? That’s because it is. Granted, the upfront cost of installing a heat pump versus an A/C unit might be a bit of a barrier for the more frugal-minded, but the cost balances out in the long run.

Both heat pumps and A/C units have relatively the same rating on the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) scale, which means they expend about as much energy as each other. Obviously, this point goes to heat pumps, as the multi-purpose nature of its design has little to no impact on your energy bill. So here, you get more for less.

Now, one could make the argument that, technically, the A/C would use less energy because, during the winter months, it won’t be in use. But consider this: How much energy do the other heating appliances use? And if it’s not a furnace, how many of those appliances are you running at any one time? More often than not, heat pumps are the safer bet if we’re talking about energy consumption.

Another obvious benefit is coverage. Since it’s the same system keeping everything cool during summer days, it does essentially the same thing for heat, in the same places, and with the same efficiency. If you know what A/C feels like, then you know what you’re getting with heat from a heat pump, making the decision that much easier.

In conclusion, you should probably get a heat pump. If you already have one (or just discovered that’s what you have,) congratulations! Take some time to cherish it, it’s doing a lot of work for you.

Halloween Cupcakes

So it’s getting close to Halloween, and you’re just starting to imagine all of the candy you’ll be collecting. Then it dawns on you that you’re not the one going out trick or treating: You’re the candy giver!

But there’s a problem. See, you’re not exactly the candy-giving type, are you? No, you’re the kind of person who would much rather these kids get a nutritional snack rather than something that’ll rot their teeth out. You’d rather give them strong bones and a functional stomach than anything kids would actually appreciate. We can respect that.

The good news is you don’t have to risk the ire of those costumed maniacs. Healthy snacks can taste good! And here are the top 11 safe and healthy snacks you can dish out that will leave your conscience and their teeth intact.

1: Popcorn Balls

These are simple and easy balls of popcorn. You can get bags of premade popcorn balls from most stores. However, if you’re the DIY type, here’s how to make them:

First, pop up 5 quarts of popcorn. Then, combine ¾ cup light corn syrup, ¼ cup margarine, two teaspoons cold water, and two ⅝ cups confectioners’ sugar in a large pot and heat until melted. Remove from heat and add the popcorn. Before the mixture completely cools, coat your hands with vegetable oil to help prevent sticking and roll the popcorn into balls.

2: Trail Mix

There are a number of different trail mixes that you can buy in bulk, or you can make your own. While most trail mixes use nuts, you may want to be careful as some kids are highly allergic to nuts.

3: Raisins

Some kids love them, some not so much, so it’s going to be a hard sell. But if you buy those little boxes of raisins, they kind of look like candy – or are at least transported like it. So double down on the candy likeness by adding a quarter cup of chocolate chips to a cup of raisins then portioning them out in appropriate serving sizes. That way, the kids get a taste of chocolate while still enjoying the nutrients.

4: Sweet Potato Fries

Now, this one’s fun because the kids will not know what this is, and you will not tell them. It’s a surprise! This idea is more suited for having kids over at a Halloween party than giving them out as treats.

Take some sweet potatoes, cut them up into wedge-like shapes, then toss them into a bowl along with salt, olive oil, and whatever spices you deem necessary. Place the tossed fries on a strong baking sheet that you’ve left in an oven set at 450 degrees, then put the baking sheet back into the oven for ten minutes. Flip the fries over, wait another ten minutes. Then, open the oven and retrieve your fries!

5: Baby Carrots

You don’t even have to do anything special with these. Carrots are a sweet snack great for most kids. However, they may not seem like a sweet treat — if you really want to brighten their day, why not try this carrot milkshake!

6: Caramel Apples

Regular old apples aren’t going to make the kids like you. They’re a staple in the “I can’t believe they gave me this” trick-or-treating lexicon. You have to dip these things in caramel if you’re going to hand them out to Darth Vader and Mabel Pines.

7: Yogurt Tubes

Now, this is something that is a treat. Gogurt was all the rage for a while, and on the whole, yogurt is one of the tastier snacks on the healthy spectrum. So your grocery should have a selection of yogurt either in fun tubes or convenient snack-sized tubs.

8: Granola Bars

By far the easiest and the most immediately appealing option. Nothing special with no work involved. You just purchase some bars from your local grocery store and hand them out. Solid choice.

9: Pretzels

Alright, so it’s not the healthiest option, but it’s also not candy. There are also whole wheat options for pretzels, and often you can find them in snack size packets, which is fun!

10: Smoothie Pouches

These are different from yogurt tubes because they are larger and filled with smoothies instead of yogurt. They’re also more freely available, and most stores have them in six-packs. In addition, a “smoothie” is often an easier sell to the little ones than “yogurt.”

11: Blueberries

They kind of look like candy, and some candy has blueberry flavor, so this is a good logical step, right? However, blueberries can be a bit squishy if mishandled. So you will probably have to invest in some small, cheap plastic containers if you are going to go this route.


The temperature is dropping, the air is fresh (well, most of it), and you’ve been in the house for a really, really long time (for a good reason, but still). So it seems to you that it’s time for some jogging!

Do you need a run-down of all the ways jogging is good for you? No, you don’t because you’re already decided to go jogging. You’ve got your shoes on and earbuds in, and you are ready. But hold your horses there! You can’t just go for a good exercise run right out the gate! I mean, you could. But if you’re just getting started on this whole “exercise” thing, starting with a mile run isn’t good for you in the long run (the pun wasn’t intended, but let’s just pretend it was because it was a good one).

So, how should you start? And just as importantly, how should you end?



Squats are perhaps one of the easier exercises to jump right into, and they’re important for stretching the thigh muscles and making sure your knees don’t give out. They are performed by attempting to sit in an imaginary chair, lowering yourself until the point where the seat would be (where the thighs are horizontal with the ground), realizing it isn’t there, and standing back up.

Keep doing this until your legs are good and warmed up, but stop before you want a real, physical chair. You still need to be able to jog after the warm-up.


Side lunges not only train those leg muscles, glutes, and whatnot, but they also focus your balance. You might see yourself as a champion of balance, as you’ve walked most of your life and have only fallen over a few times. But keeping your weight distributed evenly serves as a well-rounded exercise well.

Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Do a side-lunge by taking a wide step to one side and by leaning to that side while pushing your hips back. Bend that side’s knee until it gets to a 45-degree angle, hold it there for 3 to 5 seconds, then stand back up. Do the other side, and stand back up. We would say give it ten good reps on each side for a good warmup.

Leg Lifts

Make sure you remember to kickstart your cardio and run your leg muscles hot by doing some leg lifts! Imagine you’re jogging in slow motion. Take turns lifting each leg as high as you can while bending the knee and hold it a second or two before you bring it back down, taking deep breaths as you do. You don’t have to do it for long, maybe a minute or two.

So you’ve done your warmups, and you’ve run off into the wild green yonder with some upbeat tunes blasting in your head. Now you’re back home, and you’re dripping with sweat. How are you supposed to get anything done when you’re still in sweat mode? You cool off!



As a cool down to all that jogging movement, you need to keep the movement going before you can finally stop moving. So, on the final stretch home, it might be a good idea to slow it down to a walk and simply enjoy the atmosphere. You might want to shake out your arms to do some neck stretches as you do.


At this point, after a good jog, your muscles are tense because they’ve been doing a lot for you. Time to give them a massage, which is what stretching is to the thighs, in a sense. There are a few stretches you can do, but we’re going to focus on the quad stretch.

To do a quad stretch, lean against the wall on one side. From there, use the hand on your other side, and grab your ankle, bringing your foot up and behind you until your heel touches your backside. Hold that pose for 30 to 40 seconds, then do the other side. We also suggest doing this while you do some slow breathing, breathing in for four seconds and then exhaling for seven seconds.

Drink Lots of Water

Think of how much water you’re planning to drink, then drink more than that. Hydration is vital, literally. During warmups, at intervals while jogging, and during cooldowns, drink a lot of water because your body has been sweating and working hard. By sufficiently hydrating, you can help to prevent cramps and other issues that sometimes plague joggers.

Now go out and enjoy this beautiful weather with an energizing and revitalizing jog!

The school year fast approaches, and so too does the deadline for getting those school supplies for your school-going children. So here are a few of those much-needed supplies, in case this past year has made you or your child forget what normal school is supposed to look like.

1: Masks

There is still much debate and political wrangling over the requirement for masks in school this fall. Most common masks will protect those around the wearer, but not the wearer. If you are looking for a mask that is at least 95% effective in protecting your child, look for one rated KN95 and above. Be sure to do some shopping around, though. There tends to be a large variance in price on these.

2: Backpack

There will be many books, which need to be carried around easily and quickly. So there’s not a whole lot better answer than a good, sturdy backpack. If your kid complains about the straps digging into their shoulders, there are other backpacks out there with extra padding in the straps that should solve the problem. If they complain that the backpack is too heavy, there are backpacks available that come with a handle and rollers.

3: Notebooks

Typically, you’ll want to get ones that are ring-bound, with lined pages that are easy to tear away from the notebook. Notebooks like that are a little more multi-purpose and easier to use in more situations. Then, of course, there are the classic black-white glue-bound notebooks (they do come in different colors, by the way). The important thing here is that it serves as a notebook: a place for writing and storing written notes. As opposed to the bag of loose paper your child will bring home at the end of the year.

4: Pencils

But you can’t write anything in a notebook if you’ve got nothing to write with, right? The reminder to get No. 2 pencils almost goes without saying these days, as it’s so ingrained into everyone’s subconscious. However, it’s worth mentioning anyway: the lockdown made us forget about many basic things.

5: Student Planner

Speaking of forgetting basic things, you know what would cut down on the stress of remembering all the homework assignments that need doing and when they need to be done? Writing them down in a little calendar, with a little handy task list, of course. Not only does it help your child stay on top of things, but it’s also convenient for you if you need to check in on their progress and help them organize themselves. Good training for later in life!

6: Water Bottle

No, not the plastic ones that come in bundles. We’re talking about the reusable ones – the big ones you can keep refilling when necessary. Especially as the weather remains hot around this time of year, making sure that your kid can stay hydrated for long periods is important. Even with schools being mostly air-conditioned, hydration is important for brain function and especially during physical activity.

7: Lunch Box

Hardcover lunch boxes can get filthy if you don’t clean them or get new ones. Trust me. And you do not want your kids to go out with grimy lunch boxes for a fun and colorful variety of reasons. So, why not purchase a new lunch box? It’s also important for the simple fact that it’s getting hotter, and keeping the food cool will be a bonus. Besides, your child’s taste in design has probably changed since last year.


Now, those are the essentials that you’ll need to ensure that the school-going members of the family aren’t going ill-equipped. However, that doesn’t mean they have to go with just the bare necessities.

For example, if your child has certain learning or attention-related disabilities, there are a few things you can get for them that will help enable their concentration. Of course, we all have learned about fidget toys by now – spinners and cubes and the like – but there’s also squeeze balls, silly putty, gum, or if the school is particularly progressive, they can wear headphones and listen to music set at low volume. These items are tremendous tools in helping those with ADHD to concentrate.

One final note: Yes, the pandemic is still going. And while we put masks at the top of this list, it bears repeating. Make sure that your child is as safe as they can be. An additional idea to the masks is to arm your child with small bottles of hand sanitizer and remind them to wash or sanitize their hands frequently.

What is better than jumping into the water on a hot, sunny day? Going to the swimming pool with friends and family is a great way to spend quality time and let the kids exercise and play. The health and wellness of our loved ones will be improved all while having fun.

Here are some interesting benefits to spending time at the pool:

It’s great for your mental health.

Swimming allows you to detach from the modern technology-driven lifestyles we have. In addition, it releases feel-good hormones, which reduce stress and anxiety, and this means you would feel more relaxed.

It’s great for your body.

In addition to your mind, your body will be grateful for the time you spent in the water. It is a low-impact exercise that means your joints are not under so much strain as exercising outside of the pool. It’s a great aerobic exercise and will build strength and tone your muscles. Swimming also serves as an aide to recover after injury, and it’s a great exercise to maintain or boost your fitness levels.

You will sleep more soundly.

What a wonderful feeling it is when you drift off to sleep after a fun-filled day in the sun. Swimming helps your mind to shut off and increases both your quality and duration of sleep.

It increases your IQ

A recent study showed that children who began swimming at an early age were better with certain activities than the normal developmental curve. Additionally, they had an advantage at mastering language and math. It also helped improve motor skills and physical literacy.

Swimming enhances your social skills.

Whether you are in the water or reading a book on the pool deck, be sure to acknowledge the social benefits of a day at the pool. Swimming has amazing benefits in the social vertical like building confidence, enhancing skills needed for teamwork, the interaction between children and adults in and around the pool means better social skills. As a result, the bond between families and friends is stronger, resulting in better emotional security and a sense of belonging.

Learn how to reach goals in the pool.

Swimming and most of the games that go along with it have a very interesting benefit. It teaches individuals and groups how to set and reach goals. This life skill will be one to draw on throughout your entire life. The fact that you can teach your kids this necessary skill in a fun environment just makes it so much better.

Here are some interesting games to play:

Beach Ball Game

Super Simple — This is just a game from one side of the pool to the other, but there are beach balls. Each child receives a beach ball and pushes it to the other side. The first one there wins, or the silliest swim wins. It’s however you want to play the game.

Marco Polo animal noise

This classic is especially popular with young children. It’s like the Marco Polo game that you already like, but with the sound of animals, which makes it very stupid. A swimmer closed his eyes and said the name of an animal, namely “monkey.” Then all other swimmers must respond with the sound of a monkey to show their position. Use different animals in each round.

Table tennis ball game

Playing with ping pong balls in the pool is very interesting. Buy a large bag that is usually available for only a few dollars, and then throw them all in the pool at once. All the children jumped to pick them up. The child with the biggest collection wins.

Noodle Joust

Children love this game because it will never be allowed in the house. Two children sit on their parents’ shoulders or older children and compete with each other in the pool. The goal is to use the pool noodles to knock the other person off their parent’s shoulders.

Coin Dive

This game is like the ping pong ball game, but with coins. They will sink to the bottom of the pool instead of floating on the water. Just put a lot of change in the swimming pool and let your kids fetch it. The one who collects the most money wins.

Do not forget basic pool safety:

  • Wear sunscreen. It is important to take care of your skin.
  • Do not swim alone or without adult supervision. Accidents happen, and it’s just safer to know someone is there to keep an eye on you.

Always make sure there are floating devices nearby. Even strong swimmers can get into a difficult situation. Floating devices will help if someone is having trouble keeping their head above water.

Time marches ever onward. Popular music flows along with the rivers of change, and once-great bands soon find themselves in the annals of history – memories within the eras of the past. But when we look back upon these storied pasts, do we rediscover our favorite classics and find the youth of this new age lacking? Were bands from the 90’s better than the bands of today, or are our memories more intoxicating than the actual songs?

Let’s face it, the ‘90s had Vanilla Ice, and it still needs to apologize for that.

In all seriousness, the point of this article is both to look back and see what happened to those we used to love. For example, N’Sync — what happened to all those guys, anyway? Where are the people who crafted the music of our childhood, teendom, college years? Has Vanilla Ice learned the error of his ways and become a monk as atonement? Let’s find out, shall we?

Backstreet Boys

Backstreet’s back, alright. Around the ‘00s, they seemed to just disappear into the ether, never to be heard from again (until we heard from them again). They started releasing albums once more in 2007 with “Unbreakable.” Their most recent album came out in 2019, “DNA.” So, hey, those boys are still hanging around those backstreets!

Spice Girls

There was a moment in time when five young women set the pop music industry on fire. They educated the young lads on what they should do if they wished to be their lovers and prodded the deepest parts of our minds with the fundamental human question: “Who Do You Think You Are?” But alas, the spice, much like the hot kick it gives to a meal, was short-lived. In 2001 they disbanded, and they never really got back together again, not really. They would go on to collaborate on a few disparate projects, a tour or two, but that was about it. More or less, they went off to do their own successful things, like birds leaving the nest or the spice rack.

MC Hammer

Aaahhh yes, the untouchable man, the craftsman of rap, the wearer of the low-hanging pants. His days of making music were quite fruitful (it wasn’t just that one song: He’s released ten albums throughout the entirety of his career). But those days are presumably done. Now, he’s a spokesperson in ads for things like Command Strips.


Hey, if you’re looking for more N’Sync, at least one of those guys is still banging out the tunes. While the Backstreet Boys reunited and continued their fated journey across the streets, N’Sync has more or less said their final farewells, with the last major reunion being a one-off in 2018.

Destiny’s Child

Well, we know where Beyonce went. But what about the other two? How are Rowland and Williams? Though Beyonce obviously stole the world’s attention, the rest of this sparkling group have done pretty well for themselves as well. You might know Rowland from her role in “Empire,” and Williams got to be in “Chicago” in 2010.


Erm, yeah, Nirvana isn’t a thing anymore. So rest in peace, Kurt. However, that doesn’t mean that the rest of the band disappeared. Dave Grohl, the gentleman of rock, is still making music in Foo Fighters. It’s a good thing the drummer for Nirvana is still around! Still here, and still making music! Foo Fighters would be considered by most actually to be a 00’s band, but that’s because they rose to fame around that time. However, technically, they did start in the ‘90s.

Vanilla Ice

You knew this was coming. Alright, Ice, it’s time. Your hour of judgment is at hand. Where are you now, and what have you done?

Are you the host of a home improvement show called “The Vanilla Ice Project”?

Huh. Okay. Unexpected, but okay. Good for you, Ice.


Well, there you have it. We could’ve gone into more bands, but the line has to be drawn somewhere, or we’d be here all day. If you weren’t already aware, there were a ton of bands in the ’90s. We could’ve talked about how Boyz II Men is still around and kicking, how Lauryn Hill had a fling with tax evasion before going back to performing at small venues, or how 98 Degrees was the boy band who did “Because of You,” and we’d all go “oooohhhh okay I do know them.” But we won’t.

Summer is here, and everyone is invited. In this beautiful and warm summer weather, health and wellness are worth celebrating, so let us go out and explore the great opportunities. Always stay safe and responsible, and remember to respect the environment.

The following are summer activities you can do, regardless of whether you continue to maintain social distancing.

Chasing down an ice cream truck

There is nothing better than a cone of vanilla soft serve in hot weather except for maybe a waffle cone filled with pralines and cream. So this summer, chase the ice cream truck with your friends as it slowly drives through your neighborhood. This is easily one of the best memories of childhood which you can relive this year.


Hiking is a great way to stay active and spend quality time with your loved ones. However, depending on the popularity of the trail you choose, you may still be able to keep your distance from others. Exploring the wonderful outdoors is a great way to reconnect with nature and get lots of vitamin D from the sun.


Whether you are a veteran or camping for the first time, this is a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with a select group of people. However, it’s important to note that certain campsite reservation requirements and security arrangements may have changed. Unfortunately, this last year has left nothing untouched, and campsites may have different rules and regulations.


Fishing is unique because it is a versatile, enjoyable activity both in groups and alone, on the ocean or a river. If you are a newbie, go on down to the water under the guidance of a more experienced person. Remember to wear a life jacket if you’re going to be in water waist-deep or higher.

Picking Berries

Summer is the berry season. Picking locally grown produce is a great way to pass the time. Strawberries are pretty much always in season from late spring to early fall, but others have specific seasons. For example, in early summer, you have blackberries, boysenberries, blueberries, and elderberries. Those last through the summer, except boysenberries, and in late summer, huckleberries, cranberries, marionberries, mulberries, and raspberries are in season. Bonus: you can also get the deliciousness, antioxidants, and all the nutrients that fresh berries provide.

Visit your local Drive-in

The drive-in is a summer staple, relatively unaffected by the global pandemic. Some drive-ins have seen a resurgence in popularity with the recent lockdowns. Get your family in the car and go out to support your local business. If you are still uncomfortable going out and about, watching a movie at the drive-in is an easy place to start.


A picnic in the park, or even your own backyard, is a great way to take a day off and get some fresh air. Alternatively, a picnic is a great way to enjoy the warm weather with the family with the reopening of the parks. So take a blanket, put your food in a reusable glass or plastic container, choose a partly shaded or sunny place, and enjoy a good time in nature.

If you use disposable food containers for packaging food, be sure to dispose of them properly according to the regulations of your city, from black plastic containers, Styrofoam takeaways to milk and juice cartons.

Water Fights

In the hot summer, a water balloon fight is a great activity. However, while balloons may pose a risk to local flora and fauna, you can use alternatives. For example, a safer alternative you can use is to tie sponges together in the shape of crocheted balls or balloons to make them reusable.

Cup to the cup water race

This game requires two buckets, a player queue, a reusable cup, and some water. Players queue in a line, in front of the first player, is a water bucket. Behind the last player is an empty bucket.

The first player fetches water from the bucket. Then, they pass the cup to the player behind without turning their body. Next, the team hands the cup over their head to the person behind them until the last person can pour it all into the empty bucket behind them. The team that fills the first bucket of water first wins.

To increase the difficulty, for example, if an adult is playing this type of water game, the players can wear a blindfold.

Going to the Beach

On particularly hot days, going to the beach is a great way to cool off. Whether you’ve got the ocean on your doorstep or a local watering hole you love, playing in the surf and sand can be cooling and relaxing. There you can build a castle on the beach or swim in the ocean. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen and remember to stay hydrated.