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Solo Living Features

Here we offer in-depth ways to embrace living on your own.

Scroll down to read all, or click on ... Weight Watching for the Holidays ... 10 Ways to Search for Love ... Female Heart Attacks ... At-Home Manicure ... Foods That Fight Wrinkles ... Tips for Dining Alone ... Break Ups -Not So Hard ... How to End an Office Affair ... Dozens of Great Spas and Theme Vacations ... Find Things! ... Have a (Healthy!) Heart -- And Avoid Strokes ... Spring Cleaning, Post-Divorce ... About 'Domestic Violence' ... Guys Tell Us About Dating ... Women & Retirement ... How Much Do Looks Count?. ... Don't Clean These! ... What Older Men Want in Bed ... 10 Tips for Internet Job Hunting ... Never Too Late For Love ... Clean in Minutes ... Choosing the Right Roommate ... 10 Ways to Spot a Loser ... Night Driving Tips ... Great Sex! ... Staving Off Food Cravings ... 8 Salary Boosters ... The Perfect Personal Ad ... Finding a Good Mechanic ... Casual Flings? ... He's Not the Marrying Type ... Eat Healthy ... Fun Solo Experiences! ... 10 Reasons Men Leave ... (Happy) Truths About Singles ... Avoiding Solo Hassles

For past entries, please click here for Solo Living Features archives

 

Holiday Weight-Watching Tips

With all the added stress, dietary temptations and even the comforts of home, sticking to a diet while visiting your family requires a renewed sense of willpower. Here are some tips to get you solo women through, from Joanne V. Lichten, PhD, RD and author of How to Stay Healthy & Fit on the Road (Nutrifit Publishing, 2001).

1) Before you leave home...
Write down your on-the-road goals, such as eating seven servings of fruit and veggies a day or eating small meals every four hours. Reread them each morning for inspiration.

2) Bring some healthly snacks.
You don't want to get to your cousin Phil's only to find out that your favorite reduced-fat, whole-grain cracker isn't sold within a 100-mile radius of his house.

3) Offer to do the shopping.
Or cook some of the meals. Not only can you introduce your family to your favorite low-fat recipes, but you'll be an appreciated houseguest as well.

4) Eat only when you're sitting down.
It's tempting to nibble while cooking with a big group in the kitchen, or to grab a handful of M&M's or peanuts out of Grandma's candy dish, but both are surefire diet destroyers.

5) Know how to graciously refuse extra food.
Prepared to handle those second helpings or decadent desserts well in advance. Instead of saying you're on a diet, try, "Your barbecued chicken was so satisfying, I just don't have any room left for your lemon meringue pie."

6) Plan ahead.
If you can't resist the potato salad, take a small portion, but then forgo the pat of butter on your corn on the cob.

7) Ask for second helpings to go.
You'll make Mom happy and have dinner for another day.

8) Have a positive self-affirmation prepared.
When a well-meaning relative starts in on you about when you're going to settle down and have kids or finally find a "real" job, remind yourself of your past accomplishments. Be proud of your hard work towards a healthier lifestyle.

9) Move away from the food.
Should you get so stressed out that you start to reach for a chocolate chip cookie, even though you're not hungry, go for a walk—a long one. Or grab your nieces and nephews and play a rousing game of tag or hide-and-seek.

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Ten Places to Begin Your Search for Love

To find a partner and create a lasting relationship, we need to look in the right places. We don't have to wait for a chance or accidental meeting. We can begin looking for our soul mate by putting ourselves in places where the odds are in our favor. Here are --from cupid's corner:

  1. A friendly introduction. Attend a friend's party, give a party yourself, or go dancing with friends. There is still no better way to meet someone than being introduced by a friend.
  2. Your friend's ex. Call up a friend's date if and when they stop seeing each other. Be certain your friend is no longer seeing the person.
  3. An old friend. Get involved with an old friend whose spouse has died or who is now divorced. Even if there was no attraction in the past, it may spring up now that your friend is available.  
  4. Married couples. Join the Adopt-a-Single program. Ask a couple to adopt you for a three-month period and introduce you to their friends. Ask them how they met and then try going to similar places.
  5. Community service. Join a community cause or participate in a service activity like feeding the poor or helping children without parents.
  6. Expert in the room. Go to places where you have a lot of expertise and people feel comfortable coming up to you for support or advice.
  7. Continuing education. Take a class that is particularly popular because the professor or teacher is so interesting and stimulating.
  8. Back to school. Go to school reunions. So many people meet again and fall in love.
  9. Rookie in the room. Go to places where you don't have any expertise so that you feel comfortable going up to someone and getting to know him or her by asking for help.
  10. Friend of friends. Become friends with the friends of someone you would really like to meet. Be up-front in your friendship by asking questions about their friend.

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Heart Attacks: Women vs Men

by Dr. Linda Posh

Men and women often experience markedly different symptoms in response to the same disease conditions; this is no different when it comes to the symptoms of a Myocardial Infarction, otherwise known as a heart attack.

Typically, when a male is experiencing a heart attack there is the “classic” chest pain followed by pain radiating down the arm, into the shoulder and finally to the jaw. Quite often, women experience a very different set of symptoms which can actually be a sign that an MI is indeed occurring.  And solo women, on our own, need to know.

Research conducted by the “Circulation Study on Early Female Heart Attack Symptoms” found that of the 515 women studied, 43% of them had NO acute chest pain during their MI. Therefore, it is important for women to learn to identify the classic female heart attack symptoms rather than identifying with the classic symptoms of a male MI.

One of the difficulties that pose a problem with the early identification of a female heart attack is the pain level. For a large majority of women, if measured on a scale of 1 to 10, the pain level in a female MI has a tendency to be somewhat miniscule. Most women who have experienced a “classic female heart attack” have reported that they merely had some level of discomfort, but nothing to warrant any concern.

The symptoms of a female MI are sneaky and usually masquerade as a gastrointestinal disturbance … heartburn, indigestion, nausea, vomiting and so on. While a man experiencing a heart attack may also have some indigestion, males generally have the classic accompanying chest pain. Cardiologists are now recommending that women should pay close attention to normal digestive disturbances in order to be able to identify when these feelings may not be so normal. 

The classic male chest pain symptom is said to be felt in the upper chest, around the area of the heart. However, when a female experiences chest pain associated with a heart attack it is usually felt in the lower chest area, which again can be mistaken for a bad case of indigestion.   Both men and women may experience the associated shortness of breath that typically, but not always, occurs with an MI. When experiencing shortness of breath, both sexes may also feel fatigued and dizzy. It is during this time that the individual experiencing these symptoms may begin sweating, become weak and possibly pass out.

A common yet unique symptom shared by many women, other than the severe indigestion sensation, is back pain. Many women have described the first symptom they experienced as a tightening in the esophagus (often thought to be indigestion) followed by a spasm or contracting feeling in the back that pulsates up to the chest. From the chest it is common for the pain to shoot to the jaw.

Keep in mind, your body has never read nor written a text book.  Your body will not “follow the rules” so to speak, it will simply do as it pleases. The above mentioned symptoms may or may not occur in this order and you may not experience but one or two of them. Should you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, dial 911. A heart attack can strike anyone at anytime. Normal cholesterol levels do not mean that one is free and clear of the risks of a heart attack. 

A heart attack can be caused by a number of issues, including long term inflammation and stress. More women die as a result of their first heart attack verses men because of the unique and varied symptoms experienced by women. Know your body and become familiar with the symptoms of a female heart attack. It very well may save a life.

Dr. Linda Posh MS SLP ND. brings a fresh perspective to natural nutrition and health.

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Save $$ With a “Professional” At-Home Manicure

Why is it that days after a professional manicure, the nails still look divine? And why is the life of a home manicure so pitifully short in comparison? If you don’t have the time for a weekly trip to the salon, CND’s Jan Arnold gives us civilians the lowdown on all those sneaky professional tricks that will prolong manicure life. 

· Remove old enamel with an acetone-based remover and a fiber-free cosmetic pad.  Acetone-based remover works most efficiently and speeds up the job of getting old polish off without leaving residue and removing yellow stains. Avoid using polish remover more than once per week to avoid drying effects. 

· Soften and exfoliate the cuticles and then gently remove any non-living tissue that may be clinging to the nail plate with a cuticle pusher or washcloth. Never cut living tissue – it serves to prevent against infection. A time-saving trick is to massage hair conditioner into your cuticles in the shower and then push them back with a washcloth. 

· File nails into your favorite shape. We like short squares or longer ovals, making sure the sides of the nail are parallel to maintain strength. Filing back and forth is OK as long as you are using a gentle-grit (240 by industry terms) nail file – no sandpaper required. 

· Wash nails with a pure, lanolin-free soap. Work up suds using a soft toothbrush or nailbrush, making sure all dust, residue and dead skin are cleansed away. Towel dry. 

· For maximum results: Apply an acetone-based remover and nail prep, using a lint-free pad. Rub the nails with the pad, concentrating on the nail plate including the edges of the nail, and surrounding cuticle area, to remove all oil, moisture and germs. 

· The nails should now look dry and chalky white.  This temporary dehydration period is the optimum time to apply polish – before the body has a chance to re-moisturize and oil the nail, which happens within 30 minutes.  

· Apply products in this order, letting each dry between applications for approximately 60 seconds:  an adhesive base coat, a very thin layer of color; one more layer of color for coverage; a high gloss top coat, to quicken the drying process and add more shine while forming a protective water-resistant barrier. Dual-purpose base and top coats don’t work as well for long-lasting manicures. 

· Apply each coat of enamel thinly and evenly using only 3 to 5 strokes per application. Too much polish and too much brushing can cause streaking and bubbles in the manicure. Be sure to roll the enamel vigorously between both hands to warm and thin the polish for a smooth and even flow. Don’t shake the bottle – this causes bubbles.  

·  Massage oil into nails and cuticles nightly to keep the manicure tough and flexible. 

·  Add another top coat, a super fast-drying top coat that adds shine without softening the other layers of the manicure – on day 3 to rejuvenate the manicure.

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Foods That Fight Wrinkles 

Doctors, beauty experts, and nutritionists all agree that eating more fruit, whole grains, and healthy fats can keep our bodies, and our skin in great shape. And as solo women, that can't hurt.

The following are specific foods that can improve the texture and tone of your skin:

Olive Oil: full of anti-oxidants and heart protecting properties, it can be used to treat inflammation and keeps skin feeling smooth and soft. Blueberries: also full of anti-oxidants, blueberries have a high concentration of Vitamin C. You should always go for the darkest ones, which are full of manganese and also contain anti-inflammatory properties to protect the skin. Salmon: not only a healthy source of lean protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, but also improves the resilience of your skin. The Omega-3 fatty acids help to improve skin texture and can reduce the risk of eczema, dry skin, and acne. Green Tea: full of phytochemicals and polyphenols, green tea helps eliminate toxins from the body and reduces the risk of infection. Green tea is also believed to slow the development of wrinkles. Garlic: a powerful anti-oxidant. Broccoli: detoxifies skin. The sprouts have higher levels of phytochemicals than the stalks. Prunes: named one of the top 10 most powerful anti-oxidants on the USDA list. Helps to keep skin healthy and free of toxin build-up. Cashews: contain high levels of magnesium, iron, and fiber and help strengthen skin's resiliency. Tomatoes: contain lycopene which protects skin from aging and helps maintain collagen levels. 

Also, kale, cinnamon, sardines, pumpkin, tumeric, ginger, and beets are super-healthy. Keep all of these on hand.

The anti-oxidants and vitamins in these power foods should be an essential part of your anti-aging regimen. Not only will you be lowering your chances of developing wrinkles but you will be strengthening your skin and your body at the same time.

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Tips to Make Dining Alone a Piece of Cake

by Lea Lane

I like sharing meals with others, but we all find ourselves with the option of eating solo at some time or other. In my book, Solo Traveler: Tales and Tips for Great Trips, I devote a whole chapter to the topic, and I've come up with some snappy suggestions to make the most of dining alone, including these:

Do lunch. Many great restaurants are open midday. Besides being less expensive, eating solo in the daytime is no big deal. You look like you're on business. Many others will be solo too. Daylight is just less daunting.

Book right. Use a title if you have one, mention that this meal is a special occasion and ask for a specific table. This might not get you the best seating, but it might keep you from the worst.

Look good. I feel better about most things when I know I'm looking my best. And when you dine alone at a fine restaurant, if you're noticed you might as well be admired.

Come early. For me, it's easier to be seated already than to walk into a room full of couples. Entering a festive room alone can be a Moment, whether all eyes are on me or not. I'm working on this, because it's fun to be a minor star, even for that moment.

Get comfy. It's easy grabbing a burger when the décor is red and yellow and the host is a clown. But when I want to eat a fine meal, eating outside or facing into the room, for some reason, makes me more comfy. Find your comfort zone.

Don't accept a lousy table. I've sat near busboy stations, swinging doors, and toilets too many times. Now I politely hold out. I was once told that a choice table by the window was a "romantic" table and I said that I was a romantic person and wanted to let the manager know. I got the table.

Sit at the bar. Sushi is easy: I kibbutz with the sushimeisters, or the people at my elbows. If you don't like raw fish, choose a restaurant with bar seating or a communal table.

Offer to share a table. This is commonplace in some foreign countries. I once sat at a small table with an elderly couple at Fortnum and Mason tea room in London. The man fell asleep in his scones and clotted cream and started snoring. I could barely contain my giggles.

Have something to do. If service is leisurely it can feel awkward between courses. (I do tune in to others' conversations and enjoy the surroundings, but that can become boring when it's hours.) When I travel to other countries I carry a language book and use alone dining moments to learn new words. Other options besides reading: pen and paper, techie gadgets, even a small laptop. I don't talk loudly on a cell. (I do sometimes check my calls, or even pretend to). I wouldn't knit or file my nails. Or sing. I sometimes do kegels and smile.

Time it right. Fine dining can take an entire evening, but you can finesse that if you prefer. Cutting back a course means a less costly meal and fewer calories. Two courses or several starters might be a compromise. I've even ordered dessert to go (skip the sorbets) so I don't miss a thing except the overpriced coffee.

Connect with your server. The waitstaff at good restaurants is especially attentive to solo diners, especially if you smile and chat a bit. I've conversed better and laughed more with some servers than most of my dinner companions.

Wear my favorite prop: sunglasses. When I'm behind cool shades I figure people wonder who I am, not why I'm by myself. Plus, I'm able to watch things without others realizing it. I have several pairs.

Dining solo is not just about the eating. It's a head game. You can focus on all senses without distraction. You have the freedom to appreciate the polished silver, flirt with the server, plan a new business, or make eye contact with a stranger across the room. You have the time to imagine, and the power to make others imagine about you.

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Breaking Up is (Not) Hard to Do

by Jeana Bryner

Breaking up is hard to do for solos, but not as hard as we think. New research suggests we overestimate the heart-crushing blow from a romantic split, and some of us make particularly inaccurate forecasts.

"We're not saying breakup is a good time. We're not recommending it," said lead researcher Paul Eastwick, a psychologist at Northwestern University in Illinois. "But it's less bad than people think."

In the moments following the breakup phone call (or text message), life can seem like a cruel joke that will never end. The new study, detailed in the May issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, shows that not only does life snap back to pre-breakup mode twice as fast as one would predict, that initial split is not nearly as crushing as expected. Several heartbreak helpers — unbeknownst to us at the time — apparently kick in to counter the blow.

The results shed light on a general human phenomenon — we are bad at predicting the distress of emotional events, ranging from disappointing election results to lost football games.

Hookups and breakups

For nine months, the researchers monitored nearly 70 freshmen at Northwestern University who had been dating someone for at least two months at the study start.

Every other week, participants completed a quick online survey, indicating levels of distress and happiness, how in love he or she was and whether he or she could imagine being in another relationship. Students also reported when their relationships had ended, if that were the case, and who initiated the split.

If participants still were in a relationship, they answered some forecasting questions: "If your relationship were to end some time within the next two weeks, to what degree will you agree with this statement in two [four, eight, twelve] weeks:"

  • "In general, I am pretty happy these days."
  • "I am extremely upset my relationship ended."

If participants reported a breakup, they indicated their level of distress and happiness.

Within six months, 26 students reported their romantic relationships had ended. Overall, the participants recovered emotionally in about 10 weeks. While the students did indicate their distress would decline over time, they way overshot the level of initial angst. "It would've taken about double that amount if you'd gone by their predictions," Eastwick said.

Individuals who reported being in love with a partner and those who were on the receiving end of a breakup showed the poorest insight, forecasting an unrealistic level of love-lost sickness.

Faulty forecasts

Several psychological factors could explain these faulty forecasts.

"One explanation is this idea that people are really resilient," Eastwick told LiveScience. "They often don't realize the kinds of psychological defense mechanisms they'll use at the drop of a hat."

For instance, you might focus on the ex's obnoxious habits or other annoying quirks (even ones that may have been cute in the moment).

Often during a breakup, people sort of equip themselves with blinders to anything non-breakup related. "Life goes on in the wake of a breakup," Eastwick said. "And when you're making your predictions, you aren't thinking about all the things that could be positive that might happen in the next week or two."

Another contributor: our stubborn beliefs. "If you have a belief or theory that breakup is 'X' amount bad, it's hard to change that," Eastwick said. "It requires people to really sit down and analyze their own emotions over time. And people typically don't do that kind of thing."

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation.

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How to End an Office Affair

You've been sleeping with a co-worker (married or not). You know it’s time to end what has become a very intense and very difficult situation. You don’t want to quit work, you don’t want to be fired and you just don’t know what to do.

1. Keep it short and simple. “To end a workplace affair, be direct." Suggests Tina B. Tessina, a psychotherapist.  Here are the exact words to use:

 
2. Do it on your own time, not office time. “Tell them in person and in public area where a scene is less likely to take place. Do not break off the affair at the office,” explains Stephany Alexander, CEO of, a Web site devoted to research on men and relationships.


3. Make it final. “When you end an affair, make it clear to your affair partner that you are ending it completely,” notes Mona Barbera, relationships author, “with no more friendship, e-mails, or lunches. Be consistent. If you waver, look inside yourself and find out why."

4. Be kind. “Office affairs and romantic relationships at work must be handled delicately and on a case by case basis. Ask the person to respect your privacy and interact only for work related purposes,” said Paul F. Davis, relationships author.

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Dozens of Great Spas and Theme Vacations

by Dian Larkin

Solo women need to get refreshed, and here are some ways to do it!

Get pampered from head to toe and return refreshed. Escape to a day spa regularly. Visit www.dayspafyi.com, www.dayspaassociation.com, for direction. Specific recommendations include Gurney's Inn, Montauk, New York (The Hamptons), www.gurneys-inn.com; The Inn Spa at Poplar Springs, Casanova, Virginia (D.C.), http://poplarsprings.com; The Spa at Four Seasons, Chicago, Illinois, www.fourseasons.com. For therapeutic massage, a discipline gaining popular followings everywhere, visit http://a-zhealingmassage.com.

Specialty Spas

Many spas do double duty as neo-boot camps, getting us on the right mind, body and spirit track. Specific ideas include: Green Mountain at Fox Run, Ludlow, Vermont, www.fitwoman.com; Green Valley Fitness Resort & Spa, St. George, Utah, www.greenvalleyspa.com; Hilton Head Health Institute, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, www.hhhealth.com; CalAVie, Vista, California, www.cal-a-vie.com; Canyon Ranch, Tuscon, Arizona, www.canyonranch.com; Miraval, Southern Arizona, www.miravalresort.com; Chiva-Som, Thailand, www.chivasom.com. Also visit www.destinationspas.com, www.spafinder.com, www.spaindex.com, www.hiking.com, and www.realadventures.com.  

Holistic Spas

Other spas offer holistic, semi-medical treatments to rejuvenate, including popular Ayurevdic practices. Take a look at: Elemental Embrace, Ontario, Canada, www.elementalembrace.com; Delphi Mountain Resort & Spa, Galway, Ireland, www.delphiescape.com; The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa, Fairfield, Iowa, www.theraj.com; the annual Women's Wellness Retreat at the Cliff House Resort & Spa, Ogunquit, Maine, www.cliffhousemaine.com.

For something completely different, consider Iceland's renowned geo-thermal spas: www.tourist.reykjavik.is.   

Learning Vacations

Learning vacations and tours offer travel, new people with shared interests, learning, and fun. Visit www.shawguides.com, www.learningvacations.com, and www.greatlearningvacations.com. Consider: The Chopra Center for Well Being, La Jolla, California, www.chopra.com; and The Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, Hudson Valley, New York, www.eomega.org. Over 50? Check out Elder Hostel learning, travel, new people and new experiences never stop! www.elderhostel.org.

For specific learning vacations consider golf, sailing, cooking, and more. Cooking: www.adadianfarm.com/cookingschool.html, www.foodvacation.com, www.azoreswalks.com, www.troutpoint.com, www.theinternationalkitchen.com, www.cookingshoolofaspen.com. Sailing, www.sailingschool.com. Golf, tennis, languages, www.learningvacations.com. You get the idea!   

Adventure Vacations

Combine adventure with relaxation, luxury and spa services,  personal challenge and spiritual connection. Some ideas include: River Odysseys West and Adventure Travel primarily singles, primarily women, www.rowinc.com and www.adventuretravelworldwide.com. Singles adventure tour operators include: www.trekamerica.com, www.meetmarketadventures.com and http://gorptravel.away.com. Ask the following adventure tours and resorts about singles specials: The Lodge at Chaa Creek, Belize, www.chaacreek.com; Northern Lights Expeditions, www.seakayaking.com; Clayquot Wilderness Resorts, www.wildretreat.com.

Party Vacations

High-tail it to the high seas and a better climate on  these lines which cater to solos: CruiseOne, www.YourOwnCabin.com; Cruise West, www.cruisewest.com, www.singles-cruises-tours.com, www.singlescruise.com, www.singlestravelintl.com, www.windjammer.com, www.allsinglestravel.com, Carnival Cruise Lines offer singles deals from time to time as well, www.carnival.com. Also, Peter Deilmann River Cruises, www.deilman-cruises.com. Also, Norwegian Coastal Voyage, www.norwegiancoastalvoyage.com or Intrav European Riverboat Cruises, www.intrav.com, and http://rivers.affordabletours.com, www.smallshipcruises.com.

How about a singles-welcoming resort in a sunny locale? Top singles recommendation: The BodyHoliday at LeSport, St. Lucia, www.lesport.com.lc or http://thebodyholiday.com (give us your body for a week and we'll give you back your mind) offers singles rates and solo rooms.

Take a girls-only trip, and consider New York City, London, Paris, Honolulu, Puerto Valharta, Los Vegas, or Victoria British Columbia. Review Getaways for the Girls at www.expedia.com.

Check out dude ranches (you never know when a cowpoke might come in handy!) Visit www.roadandtravel.com and www.cstn.org for specifically singles dude ranch vacations. General dude ranch directories are www.duderanch.org and www.duderanches.com.  

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Sock it to Me (and Other Ways to Find Things)

When you're on your own, you'll especially appreciate these ideas!

When doing the laundry, put all the socks into a lingerie bag to keep them neatly contained, says Kathy Webb, a mother of three from Sterling, Virginia. You could also try Sock Locks ($3 for a pack of 20, www.sock-locks.com), plastic disks that firmly grip the tops or toes of a pair of socks.

Keep a bag in your drawer for singletons, so if a missing sock resurfaces, you know right where to find its mate.When kids remove their socks, always have them stuff them into their shoes, where they’ll stay put.

Other ideas, for pets, remotes, eyeglasses, credit cards, phones, bills, keys from Real Simple magazine:

  • Make sure your pet is properly tagged and licensed. And consider an ID microchip, suggests Ruth Goldstein of the ASPCA. This tiny metal chip is injected between your pet’s shoulder blades. Animal-control authorities routinely scan lost animals for chips.

  • “Use a standard leash, not a retractable one,” says Seth Edelstein, owner of New York City dog-walking service Walkee Doggie. The small plastic handle of a retractable leash is harder to hold on to if your dog bolts

  • Clip the leash to your dog’s collar or harness and to a nylon safety choke collar ($3 to $6, www.bowwowshop.com). If the regular collar breaks, the safety collar will save the day.

  • Use Velcro to attach the remote to the side of the TV when it's not in use.

  • Use an electronic finder system, such as the Smart Find Remote Control Key Locator ($60, www.brookstone.com

  • If you primarily use your sunglasses for driving, "leave them in the car," says James O'Connor, president of Clutter Control, a home-organization service in Lake Forest, Illinois. "Or designate a place for them near the front or back door. Don't bring them any further into your home, where they may be misplaced."

  • Designate a fabric-lined tray for your reading glasses next to your chair or nightstand. Don't set them down anywhere else.

  • Use an eyeglass chain to keep your specs securely on your neck ($18, www.snootyjewelry.com)

  • Get eyeglass cases in bright colors to make locating them easier ($3 to $20 for various models, www.debspecs.com)

  • Keep all your credit cards in the same wallet.
  • When making a purchase, keep your card in view at all times, and ask for it back as soon as the cashier has completed the transaction.
  • Photocopy your credit cards, front and back, making sure the customer-service phone numbers are legible. Put the copies in your filing cabinet under C. If you lose a card and need to cancel it, you’ll have all the necessary numbers ready.
  • Always store your phone in the same pocket of your purse.
  • Keep your phone in a case and “use the clip on the case to attach it to the pocket,” says Nokia’s Keith Nowak. “If the purse tips over, the phone won’t go flying out.”
  • If your phone has a strap, make a habit of wearing it on your wrist. Or wear it like a necklace on a chain or a lanyard around your neck.
  • Always keep your charger plugged into the same outlet, preferably one in plain view.
  • Create one convenient spot for all bills, ideally a separate basket alongside your other mail, and keep all your bill-paying needs -- checkbook, calculator, stamps, return-address labels -- nearby.
  • Always keep keys in the exact same place: Hang them on a hook on your doorjamb (be sure it’s out of reach of kids or pets), or put them in a designated basket near the door. “Being organized is really not rocket science,” says Barry Izsak, president of the National Association of Professional Organizers. “It’s about doing something in a systematic way and sticking to it.” Make not one but two backup sets of your keys, says real estate broker Tom Polley of the Corcoran Group, in Brooklyn, whose job requires handling dozens of sets of keys at a time. “Keep one set in your desk drawer,” he says, “and give a set to a friend who lives nearby.”
  • The Smart Find Remote Control Key Locator ($60, www.brookstone.com) comes with two color-coded key rings, two slim receivers you can stick to a TV remote or cell phone, and a wireless transmitter. Press the button on the transmitter that corresponds to the missing object and follow the loud (85 decibel) alarm to its hiding place. The Sound Activated Key Finder with Microlight ($14, www.gadgetbargains.com) attaches to your keys; it beeps and flashes when you clap, whistle, or shout.

  • Instead of attaching your phone number or address to your key ring -- a bad idea, for obvious reasons -- try Codetag (individual labels, $2 to $3; variety packs, $15 to $45: www.codetag.com). This service provides labels or metal tags bearing an anonymous code number and the company’s toll-free number or e-mail address. Anyone who finds your keys can contact the company with the anonymous code, and the operator will then contact you with the finder’s name and number. You can also use Codetags on your cell phone, PDA, or camera. (The service is included in the price of the tag.)

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Have a (Healthy!) Heart

Heart disease kills more women than men in the U.S., and has for 20 years. How could we possibly lose almost half a million women each year in the U.S. to cardiovascular diseases (heart disease and stroke) and not hear more about it? The American Heart Association also reports that heart disease and stroke account for 40% of women’s deaths. And as a solo woman, you especially need to take care of yourself!

That’s almost 1,400 women every day—one every minute—10 times as many as we lose to breast cancer, and five times as many as to all cancers combined.  Forty percent of us – two of every five women – will get, and die from, cardiovascular disease. If you have a family history of heart disease, your risk is even higher.And if you are living alone, the risk is highest.

A new ad for the American Heart Association puts it simply: "go red. anyway you want...eat red -- apples, cherries, tomatoes. leave red kisses on someone's cheek. laugh so hard your face turns red. but whatever you do, do it for your heart ... make your own promise to be heart healthy."

Check with the American Heart Association (www.americanheart.org) for "The Learn and Live Quiz." Also, check out A Woman’s Guide to Saving Her Own Life, Mellanie Hills’ story and workbook designed to guide readers through the process of making permanent and life-saving changes after a heart attack. www.mellaniehills.com

And...

Stroke Symptoms? Call 911

1. Sudden weakness or numbness of the arms, legs or face, especially on one side
2. Sudden vision problems in one or both eyes
3. Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, or difficulty walking
4. Sudden confusion or trouble speaking]
5. Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

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Spring Cleaning, Post Divorce: Ten Tips for New Beginnings

He got the dog and the CD collection. You got the china and the house.  How do you re-do your marital home into a newly single home post divorce? According to the GfK Roper poll commissioned by divorce360.com, 28% of divorcees buy new furniture and 25% buy a new house or apartment.  

The psychological power of stuff often goes unnoticed until it's time to let it go. It hurts to watch the dissolution of a home as represented by the division of household goods. At the same time, decorating a new space, or redecorating space you shared as a couple, can be a powerful exercise in moving on and reasserting your sense of self. A divorce represents an opportunity to redefine one's individuality in a area that is most reflective of self: the home. So, where do you start?

1. In general, if you’re staying in the connubial home, change it.
If you’re moving some place new, add stuff you really like it from your old home and to new things you've purchased for your new life to make your new home your own, advises Lauri Ward, founder of Use-What-You-Have Interiors, a company that teaches clients to rearrange their belongings more attractively.

2. Don’t take things you don’t use.
It sounds obvious, but a lot of people spend time and money lugging around furniture they don’t really like. If there’s a wagon wheel coffee table in your home, metaphorically or God forbid, literally, don’t take it with you – not for continuity, not for revenge, not to fill space.

3. Do research to develop a concept for how you want your space to look.
Do you prefer contemporary styles or something more traditional? What colors do you favor? Look for ideas in design and fashion magazines, says Peter Klick, an interior designer based in Barrington, Ill. and program coordinator at Harrington Institute of Interior Design in Chicago. Men, in particular, should spend some time considering their personal tastes, since during a marriage their decorating preferences often are overshadowed by their wives.

4. Buy new bedding for the master bedroom.
Enough said. 

5. Don’t be afraid to separate furniture and move it into a new room,
Bought something for the living room? Well, so what? Put it in the bedroom. 

6. Clean and reduce clutter.
Visual chaos adds to stress, and the newly single have enough stress. Bonus: If you clean immediately, you’re less likely in three months to find a stray button from your ex’s shirt that prompts a crying jag that makes you late for work.

7. Painting a room can transform it immediately.
Designers don't always agree on how color choices can affect your mood, so choose a color scheme that makes you feel good, regardless of how others interpret it. 

8. Light affects people psychologically, so if you’re searching for a new apartment, look for apartments with western exposure.
Good lighting, both natural and artificial, makes a space more cheerful, and literal brightness can help sidestep mental gloom. 

9. Show your personality by displaying collectibles or objects related to your interests.
If your spouse banished a ceramic poodle or your owl collection to the basement, now is the time to bring it out and show it off with pride.

10. Surround yourself with memorabilia that makes you feel good.
Display photos of your family or from your childhood. And it should go without saying, but … no photos of the ex. Not even ones with the head cut off.

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Domestic Violence --A Dirty Secret

Domestic violence is a dirty secret that many people like to ignore. They convince themselves it only happens to strangers, but the truth is that three women a day are killed by the hands of their husband or boyfriends.  Nearly one-third of American women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives according to the Family Violence Prevention Fund.

So why would a single woman stay with a man who is hurting her?

Aurea McGarry, successful entrepreneur and author of the new book I Won’t Survive...I’ll Thrive, believes that many women become stuck in physically and verbally abusive relationships because they don’t immediately recognize what’s happening.

“The first thing an abusive man does is separate his spouse from her friends and family and keep her isolated,” says McGarry.  “By the time you begin to understand that you’re in an abusive relationship, he’s cut out the legs of your support system.”

McGarry speaks from experience. Her first marriage to a pastor’s son ended badly. She says her ex-husband was physically and verbally abusive. Prior to their wedding when they were just dating, she misinterpreted his jealousy for attentiveness.

That naiveté is a contributing factor to the current epidemic of teen dating violence. Often, teenage girls don’t realize that their boyfriend’s behavior is abusive; they believe it is normal or a part of being in love.

Health experts point to the growing problem of teen domestic violence as a link in a vicious cycle.  An estimated three million American women are abused each year. Because children are witnessing verbal or physical abuse in their homes, they begin to believe it is acceptable.  Once they begin dating, many of them emulate the relationships they saw as kids.  

“I think we need to begin as early as elementary school, teaching children what is acceptable and unacceptable treatment of their fellow humans,” says McGarry.  “It should be instilled in young girls that violence is not acceptable and love is not supposed to hurt you.”

Another factor that often keeps women trapped—aside from fear—is a lack of self-esteem. Many may believe they deserve this type of treatment; that if they only did things better, the abuse would stop. McGarry says starting her own business gave her a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. The recognition she received from colleagues boosted her self-esteem and helped push her in a different direction; away from her husband. She says after leaving him, she came to an amazing realization: no matter what she tried doing to please him, it wouldn’t change his abusive ways.

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Hear it From the Guys: Post-Divorce Dating Tales

compiled by Chelsea Kaplan, courtesy of Happen Magazine

Single women know that it's scary getting out there again after divorce … but, according to these guys, once you summon your courage, you can learn some valuable lessons -- and enjoy the process even more than before.


It's Fun!
"I was surprised to find that dating in my 40s is actually a lot of fun. My theory is that it feels like I have been given a new lease on life, and I really appreciate having that second chance. I thought dating when I was a divorced 40something would be really boring -- like the 20 year-old singles are the ones who are supposed to have all the fun and the new experiences, but I now know I was wrong. Dating after divorce when you are older is like having the fun of your 20s, but the knowledge and maturity of your 40s, which is a great combo."
-- Steve, 45, Roslyn, N.Y.

Being Upfront About Your Needs Isn't a Deal-Breaker
"I've realized that being honest about what you are looking for in a mate is OK -- and even necessary. I think when I was single I was reluctant to express what I was really looking for when I went out on a date, because when I did, it sometimes would turn off a potential girlfriend. Now, however, I freely I express that I am looking to get married again because I know that a woman who doesn't want that isn't the one for me. Instead of being turned off by that honesty, I think women -- especially those who have been divorced before -- find it refreshing."
-- Charlie, 42, Westborough, Mass.

Hitting the Sheets Can Happen Fast
"I was sort of surprised to find out that getting physical with someone usually happens sooner than it did when I was dating the first time around. Before I got married, I found that most women would want to date for at least a month before we slept together. Now, I find it happens much sooner -- say, after a few dates. I've found that sex is much less of a big deal when you're older and dating the second time around."
-- Bradley, 40, Ellisville, Mo.

The Dates Are More Interesting
"When I was single, I remember all of my dates somehow involving alcohol and, to some degree, getting drunk. Most of my former dates involved going to bars or a friend's party. I find that now that I am older and the women I date are older too, we are more into doing things that are really interesting, like trying a cool new restaurant, going to an art gallery opening or seeing a play. The focus is so much less on alcohol, which really allows you to get to know a person better, I think. I think this new way of dating is much more appealing."
-- Richard, 37, Cincinnati, Ohio

The Ex Is a Factor
"I realized that unlike when you’re a non-married single, chances are that your date's ex continues to play a really big factor in her life, especially if she has kids. Sometimes she's still 'involved' with her ex in terms of caring for the kids or even financially in terms of expenses or because she's still settling things after a divorce. As a result, the ex often comes into the conversation -- or even comes over when you’re at her house! This isn't necessarily a bad thing, just something you'll have to sort of get used to. Most likely, there will be some 'baggage' -- on both of your ends, and it just takes getting used to."
-- Sean. 36, Racine, Wisc.

The Check Isn't Always the Man's
"Now that I'm back dating again, I am always pretty surprised to find out how many women these days offer to pay for dates -- or at least split the check. That never used to be the case; it was pretty much understood that the guy would pay and that a woman would rarely offer. Now, however, I find that a lot of women pick up the tab or at least offer to. I always like it when a woman offers to pay (even though I always like to pick up the check). It’s a nice expression of equality."
-- Elliot, 40, Fort Wayne, Ind.

You Have to Make Time For Dating
"I didn't know mow much effort I'd have to put into scheduling time for dating. I am a lot busier with my career than I was in my early 20s before I got married. Back then I had all sorts of time to meet women and go out. Now that I have a job that requires a lot of my time, not to mention the fact that I want to spend a lot of time with my kids, I really have to make sure I budget time for dating. It's really just like a lot of things in life -- if you want it to happen, you have to make the time for it to happen."
-- Don, 51, Sioux City, Iowa

The Games Aren't the Same
"I soon realized that the game-playing I remember from my earlier single days isn't as pronounced when dating after divorce. I've found that when I like a woman, I tell her, and I don’t wait three days or so just to call her … you know, to play hard to get or something like that. There's just less drama, which is nice. Who has time to deal with that kind of stuff?"
-- Carlos, 37, Midland, Texas

Chelsea Kaplan is deputy editor of www.thefamilygroove.com. Her blog, “I’m Somebody’s Mother?” can be found at www.rumymother.blogspot.com.

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What All Solo Women Should Know About Retirement

by Terry Savage, thestreet.com

It's a fear that lurks in the back of every solo woman's mind -- the fear of being a bag lady. It doesn't take the sight of an older woman pushing a shopping cart with all her belongings to summon up the worry about being older, alone and without enough money to stay in control of our own life.

Women worry with good reason: They outlive men. At age 60, a man has a life expectancy of 18.9 years. But a woman at age 60 now has a life expectancy of 23.1 years. Those four extra years of life will be expensive. And they'll come when you may have the least ability to make good decisions.

That's why it's important to start planning while you're in good health and when time is on your side. Here's what women must do as they approach retirement.

Take a Reality Check
Go to livingto100.com. Answer the questions about your eating and exercising habits, as well as genetic factors such as your parents' longevity. They even ask whether you floss your teeth every day! Then, with a click of your mouse, they'll predict how long you're likely to live -- and give you some advice for living longer. That's a great place to start your reality check.

Get a Good Financial Adviser (or Two)
You need a professional adviser you can trust. Or perhaps you need a team of advisers to do checks and balances on each other.

You'll also need an attorney who specializes in estate planning or elder law to create a will and revocable living trust, as well as a health care power of attorney and living will. Also, ask your own trusted tax preparer or accountant to review these decisions.

Ask questions. And don't fear getting different answers from your experts. We never fear asking two friends about whether a dress or shoes look good on us. It's really the same process with personal finances. So start asking questions about any advice you don't understand and trust your own good judgment as well as your advisers.

Consider Insurance and Tax Issues
I'm continually astounded and impressed that seniors can understand all the rules and regulations of Social Security and Medicare. It's worth spending some time at the Social Security and Medicare Web sites to learn about the system.

You should automatically receive information about Medicare enrollment about 90 days before your 65th birthday.

You'll also need a Medicare supplement program to cover expenses that Medicare doesn't pay for in full. Search for those at Web sites for the American Association of Retired Persons or Medicare. It's important to sign up for a supplement within the first six months of becoming eligible so you can't be turned down for the best and most inclusive Medigap supplement.

At the same time, sign up for Medicare Part D, the prescription drug program, which you'll need unless you're covered by a retiree prescription plan. Sign up immediately, even if you're not currently taking expensive prescriptions, by using the Web sites's "plan finder" tool. Doing so will help you avoid expensive monthly penalties later.

Just because you no longer work full time work doesn't mean you've retired from the income tax system. Check with your accountant to see whether you must file quarterly estimated tax forms and make deposits to cover taxes owed on your retirement income, and possibly on your Social Security income. And don't forget to check with retirement plan custodians for minimum withdrawal requirements which start at age 70-1/2.

Finally, consider long-term care insurance, because you don't want to be at the mercy of state Medicaid programs, which only provide services in nursing homes. LTC insurance gives you the choice of home health care or assisted living if you need it, as well as providing a care coordinator who can help you make decisions.

Planning for retirement is scary -- especially for a woman who expects to live out her final years alone. The only thing scarier than planning is the consequence of not planning while you can. And that's The Savage Truth.

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Surprise? Men Prize Good Looks in Mate

by Randolph E. Schmid, AP

Science is confirming what most solo women know: When given the choice for a mate, men go for good looks.

And guys won't be surprised to learn that women are much choosier about partners than they are.

"Just because people say they're looking for a particular set of characteristics in a mate, someone like themselves, doesn't mean that is what they'll end up choosing," Peter M. Todd, of the cognitive science program at Indiana University, Bloomington, said in a telephone interview.

Researchers led by Todd report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that their study found humans were similar to most other mammals, "following Darwin's principle of choosy females and competitive males, even if humans say something different."

Their study involved 26 men and 20 women in Munich, Germany.

Participants ranged in age from 26 to their early 40s and took part in "speed dating," short meetings of three to seven minutes in which people chat, then move on to meet another dater. Afterward, participants check off the people they'd like to meet again, and dates can be arranged between pairs who select one another.

Speed dating let researchers look at a lot of mate choices in a short time, Todd said.

In the study, participants were asked before the session to fill out a questionnaire about what they were looking for in a mate, listing such categories as wealth and status, family commitment, physical appearance, healthiness and attractiveness.

After the session, the researchers compared what the participants said they were looking for with the people they actually chose to ask for another date.

Men's choices did not reflect their stated preferences, the researchers concluded. Instead, men appeared to base their decisions mostly on the women's physical attractiveness.

The men also appeared to be much less choosy. Men tended to select nearly every woman above a certain minimum attractiveness threshold, Todd said.

Women's actual choices, like men's, did not reflect their stated preferences, but they made more discriminating choices, the researchers found.

The scientists said women were aware of the importance of their own attractiveness to men, and adjusted their expectations to select the more desirable guys.

"Women made offers to men who had overall qualities that were on a par with the women's self-rated attractiveness. They didn't greatly overshoot their attractiveness," Todd said, "because part of the goal for women is to choose men who would stay with them"

But, he added, "they didn't go lower. They knew what they could get and aimed for that level."

So, it turns out, the women's attractiveness influenced the choices of the men and the women.

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Love & Sex: Are We Ever Too Old?

Just spend five minutes thumbing through a magazine or flipping through TV channels and you'll pick up on a running theme: sex and love are only for the young.  Most of us, at least until we reach our golden years, find it hard to believe that our parents and grandparents actually have sex. We shudder to think that the wizened and sometimes frail elderly people in our lives might actually think about sex, let alone engage in sexual activities.  But according to the National Center on Longevity, 39% of seniors would like more sex than they’re getting.And that includes solo women!

On movies or television, passionate love scenes are typically played out between young and ‘sexy’ actors.  Onscreen, sex between seniors is often fodder for comedy—we're conditioned to believe that as we age, our interest in sex wanes.  But wrinkles and gray hair don’t cause sexual desires to come to a screeching halt according to gerontology expert and author Nieli Langer. 

“Just because we get older our desire for intimacy doesn’t disappear,” says Langer.  “We have a real stumbling block in our country when it comes to recognizing that sexuality is a fundamental dimension of all human beings; whether you are 25 or 65, the need for love, sex and belonging are normal, natural and vital for life.” 

Iin her new book, Love & Sex: Are We Ever Too Old, she discusses hot-button issues such as why sexual relationships between residents of assisted living facilities or nursing homes can be a source of controversy, the hostility grown children may feel towards a parent’s paramour, and the need to recognize the significance of the bond between aging gay and lesbian couples. 

  “Sexuality is one of the least understood aspects of aging,” says Langer.  “Collectively, our religious backgrounds, family beliefs and sense of self contribute to the tendency to cloak our sexuality in secrecy.  The time has come to educate the general public about the sexual needs and feelings of older adults.”

With 78 million Boomers marching towards retirement, Langer believes they will play a pivotal role in changing attitudes about late-life love and relationships.  “When you look at their influence on civil rights, women’s rights and the Vietnam War, you can see how the Baby Boomers have shaped so many areas of life in America as we know it,” says Langer.  “Now, they are the best educated and largest cohort of older adults the world has ever seen.  They will be a driving force in liberating sexuality and showing the world that your love life doesn’t have to slow down as you get older."

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Clean Your Place in 19 Minutes

Living life on your own usually own means less time to clean. These room-by-room to-do lists from Real Simple magazine will help you get the work done quickly so you can put your feet up sooner rather than later. Perfect for a solo woman!

Kitchen, 4 1/2 minutes daily
Always start with the sink. "Keep it empty and shining," says Marla Cilley, author of Sink Reflections (Bantam, $15) and creator of www.FlyLady.net, a housekeeping website. A sparkling sink becomes your kitchen's benchmark for hygiene and tidiness, inspiring you to load the dishwasher immediately and keep counters, refrigerator doors, and the stove top spick-and-span, too.
  • Wipe down the sink after doing the dishes or loading the dishwasher (30 seconds).
  • Wipe down the stove top (one minute).
  • Wipe down the counters (one minute).
  • Sweep, Swiffer, or vacuum the floor (two minutes).

    Bathroom, 2 minutes daily
    Make cleaning the basin as routine as washing your hands. But don't stop there. Get the most out of your premoistened wipe by using it to clean around the edges of the tub and then the toilet before tossing it
  • Wipe out the sink (30 seconds). Wipe the toilet seat and rim (15 seconds).
  • Swoosh the toilet bowl with a brush (15 seconds).
  • Wipe the mirror and faucet (15 seconds).
  • Squeegee the shower door (30 seconds).
  • Spray the entire shower and the curtain liner with shower mist after every use (15 seconds).

    Bedroom, 6 1/2 minutes daily
    Make your bed right before or after your morning shower. A neat bed with inspire you to deal with other messes immediately. Although smoothing sheets and plumping pillows might not seen like a high priority as you're rushing to work, the payoff comes at the end of the day, when you slip back under the unruffled cov
  • Make the bed (two minutes).
  • Fold or hang clothing and put away jewelry (four minutes).
  • Straighten out the night-table surface (30 seconds).

    Family Room, Living Room, Foyer, 6 minutes daily
    Start with the sofa — as long as it's in disarray, your living room will never look tidy. Once you've fluffed the pillows and folded the throws, you're halfway home. If you pop in a CD while you dust, you should be able cover the whole room by the end of the third track.
  • Pick up crumbs and dust bunnies with a handheld vacuum (one minute).
  • Fluff the cushions and fold throws after use (two minutes).
  • Wipe tabletops and spot-clean cabinets when you see fingerprints (one minute).
  • Straighten coffee-table books and magazines. Throw out newspapers. Put away CDs and videos. (Two minutes.)

    For weekly and seasonal to-do lists, see
  • How to Speed-Clean Your Kitchen
  • Clean Your Bathroom, Fast
  • A Guide to Cleaning the Bedroom
  • A Guide to Cleaning Your Living Room
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    Finding the Right Roommate

    Tired of living single? Considering a roommate to share costs and maybe have some company? Finding a roommate can be a frustrating and overwhelming task. The key to success is to be proactive, prepared and aware of available resources.

    Determine What You Want
    Do you want to share a home with a person of the opposite gender? Can you tolerate living with a messy person? Do you mind if your roommate smokes in the apartment/house? Can you live with someone who has a pet? Make a list of wants in a roommate and identify the important qualities. Evaluating your needs should make your roommate search easier.

    Be Thorough
    Begin looking for a roommate as soon as you decide you need one. The more potential roommates you meet and apartments you see, the more likely you'll find a happy home.

    Ask your friends if they have friends that are moving, read the classifieds, and explore online roommate-matching services. For a small fee, these online services allow users to browse profiles from a large database as well as create their own profiles. The more thorough your search, the more likely you'll make a good roommate match.

    As you meet with potential roommates, be aware of your personal safety. If you feel uncomfortable, ask a friend to go with you, or ask to meet the person in a public place such as a coffee shop.

    Be Honest
    When meeting with potential roommates, don't try to pass yourself off as a non-smoker if you smoke, or a tidy person if your concept of neatness doesn’t involve cleaning. The person you end sharing a home with will inevitably find out about your habits so you might as well be upfront about them.

    Look for Similar Likes and Dislikes
    Living solo makes us set in our ways, so it's especially important to determine the lifestyle and personality you think you'd both want. Also, start thinking about how you want important household chores to be handled, such as cleaning the bathroom or other common areas. Try and take into account the variables that go along with having a roommate; these will inevitably affect your roommate experience and your overall happiness.

    Don’t Prioritize Less-Important Variables
    Don't go overboard trying to find someone exactly like you. Although demographic criteria such as age, gender, sexual preference are important, it may be less important to you (or vice versa) than behavioral variables such as cleanliness, partying habits, guest policies, etc. The bottom line is: Evaluate your personal preferences, but be realistic.

    Reply Quickly
    If you meet a potential roommate, be proactive. Don’t rush into anything before learning all the facts, but also don’t let a great opportunity pass you by.

    Do Your Research
    Before signing a lease with a new roommate, get some basic background information. Try to speak with a former roommate, landlord, and such

    Being prepared, knowing what you are looking for, and exploring your options will help ease the frustration of your search process. Try to have an open mind but be realistic. And don’t rush into a situation you're not certain about; too much is at stake! Living solo has it's own rewards, after all.

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    10 Warning Signs That He's a Loser

    Solos Take Note!

    He's never available when you call. If you've only gotten the machine whenever you call him, you gotta wonder what's going on. Sure, voicemail is there for when folks are too busy to pick up the phone, but come on, he's always too busy to answer?

    That's a warning sign that this guy is not interested, especially if you're calling in the later hours. Believe us, no self-respecting single man is going to let a potential booty call go to voicemail.

    He asks a lot of questions about past relationships and male friends.Beware of the interrogator. A guy who wants to know all about your dating past is either insecure, or he's looking for a reason not to date you.

    Either way, all that prodding is going to make your early dating life way too stressful. It's totally up to you when you share the secrets of your dating past -- don't let anybody pressure you into revealing everything too soon.

    Whenever he plans a date, it's always with you and the guys. Dates, unless they are pre-planned double dates, should only be you and the guy. Even Webster's dictionary says so, so that makes it official.

    You need as much one-on-one time as possible when you're trying to get to know someone, so you should never get stuck entertaining him and his friends in the early stages. If it's not all about you in the beginning, then sadly, you will never be the center of his attention.

    He only calls you pet names. Most men think this is a cute, endearing way to show affection for someone, but honestly, when you're dating, it's just a way to make sure he doesn't accidentally call you by the wrong name.

    Single guys probably have a few women they're juggling, but if he can't take the time to get your name straight, then there are definitely too many cooks in the kitchen. Get out before things get too hot.

    He's always on his cell phone. There is nothing more irritating than trying to get to know somebody who is on and off the phone during a date. Barring an emergency, the time you spend together should be spent uninterrupted.

    Being connected to the cell phone may mean he's a little too busy to date you, so you should leave him alone with his busy schedule. Oh, but before you do, be sure and listen to the conversation if you want to learn things about him he'd never tell you.

    He Complains About Finances. While money isn't everything, it is important. If a $60 dinner date sets your date back so much that he never lets you forget about it, then drop him.

    There are much better ways to handle a low dating budget than to spend money and then be resentful. If he can't come up with creative, low-cost ways to spend time together, or at least a better way to deal with his lack of funds, you're seriously better off without him.

    He's rude to waiters and waitresses. Being nasty to anybody is unattractive, no matter what the reason. It could be just the window you need to look into how he deals with disappointment, anger or frustration, and can let you know what a disagreement with him would feel like.

    If he can't handle a situation that can be easily fixed with tact, how will he handle the big problems that are sure to come with relationships?

    He's chronically late for dates. Not only is this rude, but this says that you're not important enough for him to make the effort to be on time for your get-togethers.

    Sure, we're all busy, but you know what they say; we always make time to do the things we really want to do. Now five or 10 minutes is nothing to get upset about. But if the guy is consistently a half-hour, 45 minutes late? Time to get rid of him.

    You're always making excuses for him. "Oh, he's just tired," only works once, maybe even twice if he's a firefighter or emergency room doctor. While it's true that we're all prone to bad days at work, it's not a pass to behave any way we want to.

    If you find yourself constantly coming up with reasons for why he's acting like a jerk, you're in denial. He is a jerk. Treat him like one.

    He happens to show up in places that you don't expect him. You've only been out a couple of times, and suddenly you see him at your neighborhood coffee shop, your favorite book store, and the mall all in the same week? Can you say stalker?

    Some men think that being with you every minute is the way to show their interest, but that can be scary and it's a sure way for him to wear out his welcome in a little less than a month. Just one word of advice, end your relationship with care.

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    Night Driving Tips

    Especially important when you're on your own

    by Bengt Halvorson
    TheCarConnection.com

    Night Driving Tips

    Between midnight and 6AM is the riskiest time for crashes, because there are fewer drivers yet more accidents than any other time of the day. Holidays and vacations may put you in situations where you want to drive through the night to get somewhere, but if you do intend to drive at night, there are some important considerations to keep in mind. Safe night driving requires preparation, alertness and a heavy dose of common sense.

    Make sure your headlights are properly aimed. Check with your car's service manual or a professional for the proper procedure. Also make sure all other lights work.

    Keep your headlights and windshield clean. Being able to see other cars and be seen by other drivers helps a lot! If it's bug season, stop and wipe them off at each break.

    Don't overdrive your headlights. Especially when driving on smaller roads without reflector strips, follow a four-second rule. Take note of where the far reach of your low beams are, then count four seconds. If you pass that original place in less than four seconds, then you are going too fast. Two to three seconds may be an acceptable range for major highways with reflector strips. Remember that posted speed limits are for driving in daylight with dry road conditions.

    Use high beams wisely. The use of high-beam headlights when there isn't oncoming traffic can extend the time that you have to react to hazards. Never use your high beams because the high beams of the oncoming car stay on. This will only increase the chances of a head-on collision.

    Don't look at oncoming headlights. Focus on the edges of oncoming traffic and bright objects, as staring directly into headlights can blind you for up to five seconds until your eyes adjust.

    Look around. Keep your eyes moving from side to side, rather than focusing only on the centerline and the road ahead, to help your eyes stay adjusted to the dark and avoid falling victim to "highway hypnosis," a state in which reaction time is greatly impaired.

    Wear sunglasses during the day. Wearing sunglasses during bright days helps keep your eyes more sensitive for driving in the dark.

    Always carry flares or reflectors for a breakdown. Keep them in a place where they can be easily accessed in an emergency.

    If you're tired, get off the road and sleep.
    If you feel sleepy, caffeine can never be a substitute for sleep, nor is loud music or rolling down the windows. Pull over and rest, and stop every two hours for a break out of the car even if you're not feeling sleepy. Don't set out on a trip tired. Change your schedule and get some rest first.

    Another important reminder: During the time of the year, when days suddenly get much shorter due to the end of daylight-saving time, more pedestrians are out walking in the dark during peak evening traffic hours. "Drivers have to be especially careful now, because pedestrian fatalities have been shown each year to quadruple during the period just after daylight-saving time ends," said Jim Rink of AAA Michigan, citing an American Journal of Public Health report. Remember to turn your headlights on by dusk and slow down!

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    What Makes You Good in Bed?

    by Elise Nersesian

    Pretty much everyone -- single or taken, straight or gay, rich or poor -- sure wouldn't mind being good in bed. But what does that mean, exactly? Is it a gift you're born with or something anyone can learn? Does it boil down to technical skills or just a super-confident or sensual vibe? To find out, we asked single people to pinpoint what makes for an unforgettable night. And guess what? None of these principles involve contorting yourself into pretzel-like positions.

    Personals AOL

    Go ahead and get personal
    "One girl I dated did one simple thing that made sex so amazing, I still think of her to this day. Whenever she got really into it, she'd softly whisper my name. It was incredibly hot -- it brought a whole new element of intimacy to our sex. We had just started dating, and things were moving pretty fast. When she said my name in the heat of the moment, I felt really connected to her ... It made me feel like a king!"
    -- Len, Washington, DC

    Have a laugh
    "Sex can be an awkward experience: When two people are naked and sweaty, strange things are bound to happen. So, in my mind, the ability to laugh at yourself is crucial. It makes things so much more comfortable and intimate."
    -- Cate, Providence, R.I.

    Stop obsessing about your flaws
    "A woman can make sex unbelievably hot if she exudes confidence. It doesn't matter if you don't have a perfect body. The sexiest woman I knew had what most people would consider a less-than-perfect figure. But when she stood in front of me and slowly took off her clothes --without worrying about whether the lights were off or she was hidden under the covers -- she convinced me that she was the hottest woman on the planet. I wish more women were like that."
    -- Brendan, Boston

    Speak up if something's not working
    "I love when a woman lets me know what does -- or doesn't -- feel good; to me, that makes a woman good in bed. If she doesn't speak up, how else will I know? I love hearing that I'm making her feel good, and there are also nice ways to say something isn’t working. One girl I was with flat-out said, 'It's just not happening right now. Let's try again later.' We took a break and just cuddled, then started kissing, and she guided my hands to where she wanted them. I was so impressed that she wouldn't fake her pleasure for a guy's ego."
    -- Michael, New York

    Add some spontaneity
    "Being spontaneous adds tons of excitement to sex. The last guy I dated was so creative in bed that everything seemed brand new every time we slept together. For example, he would jump in the shower with me, when I had ten minutes to get ready. Or when we would be sitting at a restaurant, he'd sit right next to me and rub my leg and give me a light kiss on my neck. I never knew what he was going to do next, which heightened all my senses. It was great!"
    -- Rebecca, Oak Park, Ill.

    Personals AOL

    Don't be too goal-oriented
    "Being good in bed means being free of pressure. I appreciate it when a guy cares about my pleasure, but sometimes it's not going to happen, and guys should learn to live with that and just enjoy sex and getting to know each other's bodies."
    -- Eliza, Spokane, Wash.

    Tap into your sensual side
    "Being great in bed means taking your time. To keep things interesting, my fiancé and I will occasionally abstain from sex from time to time: We'll make out for an hour with all our clothes on, but we won't go all the way. We'll focus on our breathing, and how our skin feels against each other, and we get totally into the moment. That sensual approach takes sex to another level for me."
    -- Corey, Boston

    Ask for feedback
    "To me, great sex means great communication, and my girlfriend definitely has that down. She always asks me what feels good, and what I'd like her to do. When we first started dating, it felt a little strange, but now it's totally natural for me to say, "Yes, do it like that." I love that she's so open to hearing what I like."
    -- Ben, Elmira, N.Y.

    Try something new
    "I think being open to new ideas is crucial to being good in bed. It's important to want to explore new experiences and sensations. Instead of zeroing in on the typical hot spots, I love it when a woman turns her attention on ground that's rarely covered. I love having my ears, nape of my neck, even the backs of my knees kissed. My last girlfriend had me close my eyes while she kissed me on every inch of my body. It gave me chills in places I didn't think were possible."
    -- Tim, Fairfax, Va.

    Elise Nersesian is a New York-based writer who covers love, sex, and relationships

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    Staving Off Food Cravings

    by Amy Lippman

    My clients often come to me with cravings for sugar.  The cravings hit them in the afternoon or the evening (or both), and once they hit, they're almost impossible to ignore.  Does this sound familiar?

    When we "give in" to cravings we often feel that we have failed because we did not have the willpower to say "no." Are cravings due to lack of willpower or discipline? I’d like to suggest that cravings are not a problem. They are critical pieces of information that tell you what your body needs.

    The body is an amazing source of intelligence. It is always there for you, pumping blood, never skipping a heartbeat, digesting whatever food you put in it, and maintaining homeostasis. Is this reliable, intelligent bio-computer making a mistake by craving ice cream or a hamburger or chocolate?

    The important thing is to understand why you crave what you crave. Perhaps your diet is too strict, devoid of essential nutrients. Perhaps you are living a lifestyle that's too boring or stressful. Your body tries to correct the imbalance by sending you a message: a craving. The key to stopping the craving is to understand what your body really needs.

    The next time you have a craving, treat it as a loving message from your body instead of as a weakness. Try these steps to respond to your body:

    • Drink a glass of water and wait ten minutes.
    • Eat a healthier version of what you crave. For example, if you crave sweets, try eating more fruit and sweet or root vegetables.
    • What's out of balance in you life? What happened just before you had this craving?
    • When you eat the food you crave, enjoy it, taste it, savor it; notice its effects. Then you can be more aware, and free to decide if you really want it next time

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    Eight Ways to Boost Your Salary

     

    If you're looking to punch up that paycheck, there are eight simple yet effective ways to boost your salary. Our career experts and real-life stories will show you how to prosper by speaking up for what you really want and actually getting it.

    1. Ask for a raise: Do your homework by asking your HR compensation department for salary ranges within your position. Of course, you can't just trust their word on it. Check external sources as well such as salary.com

    Sharon Winston, senior vice president and managing director of the San Jose, Calif., office of Lee Hecht Harrison, a global career services firm, notes you should be prepared for the talk with your boss. "Identify three of your strongest accomplishments within the organization or areas in which you took on extra responsibility," she says. "If you are still turned down, ask how you might improve in asking for a raise in the future."

    2. Enhance your credentials with an advanced degree: According to Frank Mayadas, program director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a consortium of institutions and organizations committed to quality online education, higher education gives you the opportunity to fine-tune your skills or explore different professional paths, making you more marketable for higher paychecks in the future.

    "Furthering education helps people further their careers." [With online learning] you don't have to be in a traditional classroom setting. With time and geographic constraints of juggling work and family, you can receive a quality education on your own terms."

    3. Take advantage of tuition reimbursement: Instead of thinking of a pay increase as money in your pocket, think of the alternative: tuition money you're not paying out of pocket. For instance, Debra Wall-Czech made a breakthrough with her company's reimbursement policy by asking it to reimburse online classes.

    "The company paid for campus classes, but initially was not willing to pay for them online. It changed the policy to include online after realizing the real difference is whether or not the classes are from an accredited university -- not if they were online or on campus."

    4. Network: According to Deborah Brown-Volkman, president of Surpass Your Dreams, a career and mentor coaching company based in East Moriches, N.Y., and author of Coach Yourself to a New Career: A Guide for Discovering Your Ultimate Profession (iUniverse, 2003), networking is vital to increasing your intellectual capital.

    The key to networking through associations, business groups or your local Chamber of Commerce is having a plan. "Know your 30-second introduction well, speak passionately about what you do, and don't spend too much time talking with one person," she advises. The intent is to meet as many people as possible and initiate correspondence with them soon after the event.

    5. Move laterally: Alexandra Levit, author of They Don't Teach Corporate in College (Career Press, 2004) and founder of Inspiration@Work, a marketing communications consultancy firm based in Chicago, experienced this firsthand. Early in her public relations career, she explored internal opportunities and moved into another department, resulting in a bigger paycheck.

    "If you're not moving up, it's probably in your best interest to leave." Alexandra also points out that even if your supervisor is supportive of a raise or increased responsibilities, there may be roadblocks. "Your boss might not have the power or authority even if he or she wants to."

    6. Inquire about flextime: Flexible work arrangements allow you time to explore other options, perfect for helping your career both professionally and financially. When Alexandra transitioned from full-time public relations manager to strategic PR consultant and author, her amended work hours enabled her to push into a field that's made her much happier and thereby, more effective.

    "I managed to achieve the flexible schedule I required while still generating a substantial income." She needed to devote time and energy to focus on her new business and budding writing career, so she approached the PR firm about working 25 hours per week. They obliged.

    7. Think out of the box: "When Jane Smith resigned, she was surprised when her managing director made a counteroffer and asked her to put something on the table. Jane came back with her request: "I would consider staying with the company if I can move to the London office with a U.K. salary for at least six months," she told her.

    Much to her surprise, leadership gave its blessing. Now she's ready to pack her bags. Lesson learned: Don't be afraid to ask for what you really want. As in Jane's case, you may very well get it.

    8. Demonstrate consistent performance: Alexandra and Jane both ended up getting what they wanted because they had demonstrated excellent performance at their companies. Jane indicates she was prepared to share examples of her work to gain leverage, essentially proving hard work is mutually beneficial to both the employee and employer. Her philosophy? It's in the company's best interests to keep good people. "No one wants to train someone new," she explains. "The knowledge base and ramping-up time take away from productivity."

    Above all, before jump-starting your negotiating power, you'll need to exude confidence to show you deserve what you're asking for in the first place. As per executive coach Dr. Ted Sun, professor at University of Phoenix, "The first thing you have to do is believe in yourself and your worth before you can convince someone else to believe in you."

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    Writing a Perfect Personal Ad: Basics Every Single Needs

    By Randy B. Hecht
    Courtesy of Match.com's Happen magazine

    Your Headline
    Browsing through your matches is like being in a room full of potential mates; with so many to choose from, you have to depend on first impressions. Your headline is one of the first impressions you make, so it had better be good!

    1. Make it unique
    "Looking For Love" or "Seeking My Match" is too generic and won’t set you apart from the crowd. Remember that your headline is one of the first things other members will see; set aside a few minutes to make it special or try these suggestions.

    2. Be clever but clear
    Don’t assume strangers will understand your sense of humor. "Clever Headline TBD" doesn’t give anyone a reason to read your profile. "Fat, Ugly And Stupid Seeks Thin, Gorgeous And Brilliant" doesn’t work either (would that make you want to click or move on?).

    3. Be realistic
    "Looking To Live The Fairy Tale Life" suggests that you need to get your feet back on the ground. Try not to set yourself up as an object of pity by using the words "lonely" or "desperate," as in "Lonely Lady Seeks LTR" or "Desperately Seeking Soulmate." Are you looking for someone who is lonely or desperate? Neither is anyone else. And surely there are more enticing ways to describe yourself!

    Your Profile
    Once your headline makes someone want to learn more about you, the trick is to keep his attention. Don’t feel like you have to sell yourself; just be open and honest. Ask a friend to help you write your profile, and have another friend read it afterwards. Keep the following advice in mind to help you create a winning profile.

    4. Get to the point
    Avoid beginning by complaining about how hard it is to write a profile or find a quality mate; everyone here has to do just that. Dive right into describing yourself and what makes you tick. If you get stuck, use these questions to get you started.

    http://webcenter.match.love.aol.com/qsearch/qsearchdl.aspx?GenderCode=1&ThemRelationship=2&LAge=40&UAge=75&gc=1&TR=2&HC=1&Distance=1000&POSTALCODE=10045&TrackingID=523324&bannerid=566349

    5. Focus on your strengths
    Write about your hobbies, involvement in your community, interesting work or travels -- whatever it is that makes you special. Think about your ideal match, and write as though you’re talking specifically to that person.

    6. Be realistic
    The words you choose can alienate potential matches, so go easy on phrases like "drop-dead gorgeous" and "looking for the perfect mate." Set your expectations high, but keep them real too. Having trouble describing your ideal match? Try these suggestions.

    7. Be open and conversational
    How many times have you read a profile that tries to impress by using vocabulary-busting words -- words that inevitably are misspelled? It ruins the effect. Or maybe you’ve come across profiles that say too little, leaving you wondering why anyone would want to contact this person. Write enough to get your message across, but use words that would come out of your mouth normally. In short, just be yourself on a particularly good day.

    8. Describe what’s important to you
    Don’t be afraid to mention qualities that are important to you in a relationship; loyalty, the ability to communicate and listen, intelligence and humor are good examples. Put those qualities front and center, and avoid emphasizing characteristics that are less important to you. Give some thought to why your best relationships have worked well and why the worst worked so badly; maybe you’ll discover a pattern there.

    9. Check your spelling and grammar
    Your profile tells your potential matches what to expect from you in an offline conversation; it’s all anyone really has to determine your personality and your ability to communicate. Although it might be completely unfair to assume, misspelled words can make people judge you as being uneducated or illiterate. Take a few extra minutes to check your spelling. Try writing your profile in a word processing application first; run spell check, make corrections and copy the text into your profile.

    10. Your Photo
    Did you know that profiles with photos get up to 15 times more attention? And as with all other aspects of your profile, the photo you choose says something about you; make sure you’re delivering the message you intended.

    11. Keep it real
    Don’t be deceptive with your photo choice. That means not posting a photo from two years ago, right after you lost all the weight that you’ve since regained. And please, whatever you do, don’t use someone else’s photo instead of your own. Remember that you’re going to have to live up to the image you present, so make sure it resembles the real you.

    12. It’s all about you
    Choose a photo that features you by yourself. A group doesn’t make you the center of attention; in fact, it may even make it difficult for your match to determine who you are. Would you want to make it all the way to a first date only to find that your match actually was interested in your friend, the one who was third from the left?

    13. Go in for your close up
    Photos taken from a distance end up stealing the focus away from you. Even though you’re proud of your new car or boat or your recently acquired ability to hang glide, keep in mind that your matches want to see your face; they want to be able to associate what you look like with how you describe yourself in your profile.

    14. Focus on quality
    The attention your photo gets should be positive. Choose a good, clear, current close-up of your face as your primary photo; additional photos can include full body shots or pictures of you with your pet. Make sure the photo is well-cropped and doesn’t cut off the top of your head. And remember to smile!

    More info: love@aol

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    Looking for Mr. Goodwrench? Vital for Solos on the Go!

    by Bengt Halvorson
    TheCarConnection

    Find a Mechanic
    Finding a good repair shop is one of the toughest tasks of car ownership, because there often isn't a good, clear choice. The key is, of course, to find a good, trustworthy mechanic before things go wrong. If you've already found a competent, honest mechanic, good for you. For the rest of us, here's how you might try:

    Check your warranty
    First, if your vehicle is newer and under warranty, you'll probably need the dealership to perform the repair if you want to make a warranty claim and have it performed at the expense of the manufacturer. Many new vehicles now come with comprehensive, three-year warranties that cover just about everything but routine oil-change servicing (some even cover that), and powertrain warranties now go as long as 10 years, so check with the warranty information that came with your vehicle.

    Ask for recommendations
    Ask friends, family, co-workers or acquaintances for recommendations. "One of the best ways to find a good repair shop is through word of mouth, just as you would find a good family doctor by asking around," says Pat Lampel of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

    Check for accreditation
    Look for accreditation from ASE, and an endorsement by the American Automobile Association (AAA). Up-to-date certification should be in clear display. Also check for individual mechanics' certification on display.

    Look for cars similar to yours
    Check which types of cars are parked outside for servicing. Are there any cars of your model and vintage? If your car is an older car, look for a shop that specializes in your make. If the shop isn't used to repairing your model vehicle, your repair may have to wait for special-order parts, and the mechanic may not know about common problems.

    Test the shop with a minor repair
    Test a potential repair shop by having them perform an oil change or other minor repair. If you're not satisfied with how they handle your minor repair, you shouldn't trust them for a breakdown or a major one. Remember, it's best to have a good mechanic chosen before you really need it.

    Good service writers are important
    A good service writer will patiently listen to your description of the problem, and ask you questions as you're explaining it (and take a drive out with you if necessary), then he or she will effectively communicate the problem to mechanics and technicians, provide an accurate, written estimate before the repair, and follow up with a talk-through on what was done. A good service writer will also always ask for your consent if the cost of the repairs goes beyond the predetermined amount. In fact, in most states, it's the law. Make sure you give the service writer, and the mechanic, if possible, the most information you can about the problem. Details such as when the car was last serviced and when a noise happens are important.

    Ask about the warranty
    Make sure there is a warranty on all repairs done by the shop, and make sure the shop's warranty covers parts and labor. Thirty days is the industry standard and the absolute minimum to accept; ninety days is good; and six months is a rare surprise. A good, reputable shop will stand behind the parts they install and will put in extra, free labor if you bring it back to make sure the job's done right.

    Never choose a repair shop based on price
    Many repair shops, including some with big national names, are infamous for using the bait-and-switch technique, advertising a $99 brake job that quickly becomes a $799 brake job once your car is on the rack and the estimate is written. It may cost less in the long run to bring your car to a mechanic who charges more but is honest and knowledgeable.

    Take it to the right type of shop
    Choose a good, independent repair shop that is accustomed to performing repairs to cars such as yours. Check that the shop normally performs the repairs you need. We-fix-everything, national-franchise repair shops usually aren't the best choice for specialized repairs, older cars or lesser-known foreign models. Look for a tidy appearance to the shop, clean, well-kept tools, and modern diagnostic equipment.

    Is the shop busy?
    Does it have steady business? Do other customers look satisfied with their work? What's your gut feeling about the way the place does business? These are good indicators that may help you choose. An out-of-the-way shop with a steady flow of business is a positive indicator.

    Meet the mechanic
    Get to know the actual mechanic, or technician, who works on your car. Establishing a dialogue with the mechanic will allow him or her to understand what kind of driving you do, your car's repair record, and what your expectations are.

    Another helpful auto article: Choosing the Right Gas

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    Casual Flings: Are They for You?

    by Kimberley Dawn Neumann

    To many solo women, "casual sex" may seem like a contradiction in terms: How can anyone stay laid-back about such an intimate act? Even so, a no-strings-attached fling (or "booty call" as some call it) is exactly the situation some people find themselves in at certain points in their life. If the opportunity presents itself, should you go for it? What's the best way to handle it without risking heartbreak?

    "It would be silly to think that casual sex has no repercussions because this is going to impact you somehow," says Lou Paget, certified sex educator and author of The Great Lover Playbook. Luckily, though, there are things you can do to help keep that impact well within your comfort zone if you do decide to forge ahead. If you're thinking of exploring this romantic realm, consider this your primer.

    Step #1: Make sure you're doing it for the right reasons
    The first step, of course, is to gauge whether you can emotionally handle this sexual scenario. One easy way to do this is to imagine the aftermath. For example, if you sleep with someone and then the phone doesn't ring again, will you be shattered? "People sometimes believe they'll be fine with it, but then after the fact they think, 'Well, he should be calling me.' I say, 'Have a coffee, and wake up!'" says Paget. "If the only thing that is being presented is casual, that's what you're going to get." People who are generally impulsive might also want to hit pause and think about it before jumping in. "If you have a tendency towards falling quickly in love or experiencing post-fling guilt, it probably isn't for you," says Steve, 44.

    Timing should also be a big factor in your decision-making, and many experts and single folk agree that people who've recently emerged from a breakup and who aren't ready for a commitment are prime candidates for casual encounters. As Deanne, 30, puts it, "Sometimes you want to be alone mentally, but with someone physically."

    Step #2: Pick an appropriate partner
    After you've taken measure of your own emotions, next up is to do the same for any potential partners: What makes someone an appropriate fling? "I see a tremendous amount of hooking up between friends or just people who like each other and got horny or drunk at a party together," says Joann Magdoff, a clinical psychologist in private practice in New York City. "The thing to keep in mind is that whatever the relationship looks like when you say 'Hello,' it's not going to look like that in twelve hours or even in two weeks if you sleep together, so you have to be prepared for it to change."

    One rule many experts and daters agree on is that you should steer clear of people you actually pine for. If you want to date this person, then do that--and if he or she isn't into dating you , settling for no-strings-attached sex is dangerous territory. On the other hand, complete strangers aren't ideal since they can be hard to trust. "I would find casual sex with a total stranger practically impossible," says Steve. "Although the idea is exciting, the reality is that the very best sparks can only occur when both parties feel safe and cared for." If you are going to have a casual encounter, most people we spoke to say that the best candidates are people you know and are attracted to but can't see leading to anything long-term, whether that's due to different personalities or life goals. "A good partner," says Deanne, "is someone who is excited to see you but then is just as happy to leave in the morning and you're OK if this person doesn't call again for a week or a month."

    Step #3: Keep it safe--and communicate the rules
    It's absolutely of paramount importance to keep a fling safe. "If you're adult enough to be having sex, you're adult enough to take responsibility for it--and that means protection," says Paget. "I listen to too many people tell me, 'Well, he was a nice guy and he had a great job, so I slept with him.' Seriously, what does that tell you?" So, make sure you have condoms handy (that goes for women as well as men). "Just because you have a condom in your wallet doesn't mean you have to have sex," cautions Magdoff. "However, you have no excuse for not having a condom with you because you don't know what might happen."

    Protection from STDs and unwanted pregnancy shouldn't be your only concern. Since sex and emotional intimacy can easily get entwined, make sure both you and your partner are clear on your expectations. Magdoff suggests saying something along these lines: "I think you're cute, you think I'm cute... let's have a nice time and assume that's just what this is going to be." If you're definitely not open to having a relationship with this person, say so. "You don't have to marry them, you don't have to date them, you don't even have to call them if it's clear going in what you're doing... but you should be kind to them," points out Magdoff. In other words, if you're intimate with someone, there needs to be mutual courtesy before, during and after the encounter (yes, that even includes when you run into each other weeks later unexpectedly at a bar). If anything makes you think that respect won't be there, it's probably not a good idea to follow through.

    Step #4: Know what to do if stronger feelings develop
    So what happens if you suddenly start to feel a little more strongly toward this person? "Feelings always develop because sex is an intimate act and you become more attached to the person one way or another," says Padraic, 37. "At the very least, if the sex is good, you become attached to that." Samara, 26, agrees with this theory: "At first my casual relationship with this guy seemed perfect, but after a while I did want more... not a relationship per se, but I just wanted to feel like we were dating, where we'd do the holding-hands thing and fall asleep in each other's arms," she says. "I eventually interpreted my wanting this from him as the onset of stronger emotions, so I decided to send him an email saying my feelings were headed in another direction, and he probably didn't reciprocate, so this was a good time to end it--and that was that."

    But what about the possibility of shifting from fling to real thing? There are exceptions to every rule, but in most cases, it's really difficult to go from a purely physical relationship to an emotionally committed one. But if you think there's potential, there's no harm in saying so with a simple "Hey, I know we agreed to keep things casual, but I'm starting to develop feelings for you and would like to try dating. What do you think?" After all, you have little to lose--and plenty to gain.

    Kimberly Dawn Neumann is a New York City-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in such publications as Cosmopolitan, Fitness, and Marie Claire, and she frequently contributes to Happen.

    _____.

    Why He’s Not the Marrying Type

    by Jim Sulski


    Brendan and Sharon have been dating since the late 1980s, when they met in college. Friends began to scoff at her and her family reminded her that her biological clock was clicking away.

    On a cold winter morning, Sharon came to a harsh but honest realization. Brendan just wasn’t the marrying kind. She got the courage to ask him why. “It turns out he still had deep emotional scars from his parents’ divorce when he was a child,” she says. “He felt that marriage was too risky, too painful -- so why bother?”

    Sharon suggested counseling and even a trial period of living together, but Brendan wouldn’t budge. After more than a decade of dating, Sharon broke it off with Brendan. “I realized he truly wasn’t the marrying type and that wasn't going to change,” she says. “I just wish I’d known sooner.”

    In addition to coming from divorced parents, there are others reasons why some guys aren’t cut out for marriage. Consider these other signs that a man is a confirmed bachelor… and if you’re dating a fella whose description follows, you might want to pack up your tent the way Sharon finally did:


    He needs his space
    Some men aren’t comfortable sharing their space and possessions with a woman, let alone the sticky, smelly children that may come along. Here are a few signs that he prefers to be isolated: He’s a perfectionist, he’s extremely well-organized and his place is cleaner and better decorated than yours is. He needs lots of time to read. He doesn’t want to be disturbed at all when watching the History Channel or the playoffs. You get the picture.
    AOL Personals - Newly Single & DatingHe’s married to his work
    Some guys live to work, not work to live. If his job is ever present, whether it’s frequent business trips or constant shop talk, chances are the job will take priority over a marriage.

    “Bill made it clear that if we even talked about marrying, the relationship would be built around his work,” says Barb, an accountant. “That was ironic, in that I made more money than he did.” For some men, though, the relationship has to wrap itself around the job. They cancel dinner plans with another couple when work beckons and just can’t make it out of town on Labor Day because they need to catch up on paperwork. If that’s how he approaches his life, do you really want to buy into that?


    He’s been married before and got burned
    Some guys refuse to look at their failed marriage as a “starter marriage” and instead are reluctant to saddle up again. A trial period together may help, but he’ll need a lot of pampering and therapy to get over his shell shock. And some men embody the “once burned, twice shy” saying. If he’s always referring to his ex with a variety of put-downs and expletives, you are probably with a guy who’s too angry to move forward.

    Also, a guy who’s paying alimony may be feeling as if he never again wants to be financially vulnerable in that way. “I once got serious with a guy who was previously married and his big fear was being driven into bankruptcy again,” recalls Marcia. “That’s what kept him away from the altar.”


    He has gray hair, but he’s still a 22-year-old emotionally
    Some guys never get past the incredible feeling of independence that comes with being able to stay up as late as they would like to, eat whatever they want, drop their dirty laundry wherever they want and not get yelled at. That’s a hard pattern to break. If his “boys” call the shots on the weekend, if being hung-over many mornings is fine with him, and if paying his taxes is something you have to orchestrate for him, well, your bachelor may be destined to stay that way.


    Jim Sulski is a Chicago-based freelance writer. More info: love@aol.

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    Healthy Cooking, Solo or Not

    by Amy Lippmann

    You may often feel you’re the only one eating the food, so why bother? But eating home-cooked meals is one sure way to stay healthy and save money. And if you find easy, delicious recipes, then cooking can be fun, rewarding, and a great way to unwind at the end of the day.  Here are some tips to that will make solo healthy cooking fun and easy:

    Prepare a menu and shopping list.  I usually sit down on Saturday or Sunday morning and think about what I want to eat the following week. I’ll look through recipes or just think about the types of food I’m craving.  Think about how many meals you will need for the week.  If you have a work-related dinner one night, factor that into your menu planning.  Then, make a list of everything you need for the week. This will save you time because you won’t have to make multiple trips to the grocery store. If you buy enough food to cook most of your meals, you'll be more likely to cook than go out to eat. You won’t want to waste the food in your refrigerator. 

    Shop at a grocery store you love. Treat yourself and shop at the best quality grocery store in your area. For me, it’s Whole Foods Market.  I am much more likely to go grocery shopping, and enjoy it, if I am in a nice environment with high quality food. You may pay a little more, but think about what you’ll save by not eating out! I also recommend that you shop during off-hours if you want to save time and hassle. The stores are usually very quiet in the morning on the weekend or during the week day (if you can get away). 

    Cook once, eat twice. We're all busy and don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen every night. Cook enough food to eat two or three meals. You can have leftovers for lunch or dinner the following night. You can also freeze leftovers to have during a hectic week. This same concept can be applied to chopping and preparing grains. While you’re chopping up ingredients for today’s meal, chop extra to use tomorrow. You can keep chopped vegetables in a Ziploc bag or Tupperware container; the veggies will stay good for up to four days. With grains, make a big pot of brown rice and use for three or four days. Vary your meals by adding different vegetables and protein to your grains.

    Invite a friend over for dinner. You'll be more inspired to cook if you invite a friend over for dinner. This way, it’s really not more work than cooking for myself. I also find sharing a meal with a friend at my home is much more intimate than going to a restaurant. You can share the work by asking your friend to bring something, or cook together, and you’ll probably have leftovers. You might want toinvite a friend over for dinner once a week..

    Keep frozen food on hand.  Frozen produce is usually just as healthy as fresh produce, and sometimes it has even more nutrients than fresh stuff. Frozen vegetables are picked at the height of the season and frozen immediately. Keeping some frozen produce on-hand can help you make a healthy meal in a pinch. Some items to have on hand: corn, spinach, edamame, chicken, and ground turkey breast.

    Have fun. The only way you’ll cook regularly is if it’s fun, easy, and tastes good. Pick recipes that are easy, don’t take a lot of time to prepare, and that taste good. Keep a file of recipes you enjoy, and throw out the ones you don’t. Put on some music, comfortable clothes, and perhaps pour yourself a glass of wine. Enjoy!

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    Try These (At Least Once) While You're Solo

    by Amy Spencer


    Here, a checklist of experiences to try before settling down:

    Travel alone
    Whether you're trying to find your way through the Paris Metro or the London Underground, haggling over a painting in Mexico or choosing where to bed down in the Badlands, traveling by yourself builds a confidence you simply can't get any other way. In an unfamiliar place, you have to make decisions by yourself, for yourself every day, which will build a self-reliance you’ll always treasure -- even when you become part of a twosome.

    Wallow in the ache of a broken heart
    Oh, the pain. The agony. The pints of Ben & Jerry's in front of the cable TV. Yep, getting dumped is beyond awful, but guess what? It's the only way that you’ll develop the empathy you'll need to be a better partner in a relationship. Because if you're sensitive to the grief someone else has caused you, you're less likely to do the same to anyone else. So, consider this painful milestone a lesson in karma that'll serve you well as you travel through your dating days.

    Spend a weekend with a married couple your age
    On lonely nights, it's common for single folk to envision marriage as a cozy scene from a J. Crew catalog. But spend 48 hours with a real couple and you'll learn that in between the snuggling and pet names comes growling, bickering, silent treatments and maybe even a slammed door or two before they ultimately compromise. It will show you what married life is like, warts and all, so you won't over-idealize the two-becomes-one phenomenon again.


    Don't come home all night
    That's right, wild thing. Crash on a friend's couch, take your friends up on that offer of a last-minute trip ... Once you have a mate, you can't just take off on your own without explanation. And, truthfully, you won't want to. So if you don't have someone you have to call and check in with every few hours, take this opportunity to check out!

    Stand up for a cause you care about
    Whether you volunteer to help register voters for the next election (why not start early?) or convince your neighborhood or apartment complex to start recycling, get fired up over an issue when you have the time to devote to it. It will remind you that while, yes, finding your soul mate is pretty darn important, there are other issues at stake in the world that could use your help. And besides, the big-heartedness you'll be cultivating is very attractive.

    Have a real adventure
    Learn to fly a plane, surf some big waves, or start your own business. Give yourself a high by doing something just for you, just for the experience -- without having someone at home worrying about you or nagging you not to. Oh, and one more gift with purchase: Think about how much fun you'll have telling your next date about your daring experience.

    Learn how to take care of yourself
    Being solo shouldn't keep you from cooking for yourself, so learn how to make an impressive meal for one (even if it's mac and cheese with your own three-cheese spin.) While you're at it, learn how to back up your computer hard drive and sew on replacement buttons. You'll feel strong and self-sufficient -- and you'll be well armed with skills to share when you are in a relationship.


    Buy something hugely impractical just because you love it
    Once you're in a relationship, you'll start thinking about your partner before you purchase pricey items -- not just "Will he or she hate it?" but "Is this where I want to be putting my money if we're saving for a wedding?" The single life means a single bank account and an excuse to blow a wad of cash without (some of the) guilt. So, make yourself happy and buy something you crave, whether it's an expensive vintage movie poster or a macked-out mountain bike.

    Develop a hobby
    Learn to woodwork, play acoustic guitar, speak French, DJ on turntables, or make digital short films for fun. Of course you can (and should) still have hobbies when you're dating someone, but your solo time is prime time to devote yourself to something that makes life more interesting for you -- and makes you more interesting to others.


    Be completely, utterly, wholly single for at least three months Hop-scotching from one relationship to the next can do you a disservice. Why? Because you're never more ripe for self-reflection than when you're on your own -- and the more you know yourself, the more likely you are to find someone who's right for the real you.

    Amy Spencer writes for Glamour, Maxim, Real Simple and Cosmopolitan magazines. She personally swears by all of the above -- though she admits being too chummy with buying impractical things.

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    Ten Reasons Men Leave Relationships!

    After a relationship ends, whether it's a 20-year marriage or a promising romance, single women ask themselves over and over: Why did he leave? What went wrong?

    Marriage and family therapist, Brenda Shoshanna, Ph.D. shares her research with hundreds of men in her new book, Why Men Leave. Here are the top 10 reasons she finds:

    10- Waiting for the Perfect Partner:

    This perfect partner will not only accept him as he is fully, but he'll finally be able to express the hidden parts. She'll bring out the best in him. Rather than criticize and make demands, the perfect partner will give unconditionally and fulfill his every need. This fantasy should not be discounted, as it fuels much of this man's inner life.

    9- Call to Adventure:

    As soon as some men see a relationship as stifling their basic need for adventure, they'll feel trapped. Many men live in this kind of situation, blaming a relationship for the dilemma. They don't realize that their true need is to learn how to listen to and respond to the call of adventure from within. A woman who does best in this kind of relationship is one who provides a challenge.

    8- Fear of Commitment:


    Commitment is a natural outcome of being in touch with the best in oneself. When a man, however, is in a relationship out of obligation, guilt, or to fulfill a false sense of self-esteem, no real commitment is possible. If he's not committing, it may be because he doesn't feel things are right for him.

    7- Fear They Can't Satisfy:


    Some women can never be satisfied no matter how much a man tries to please. Men in these relationships start to feel terrible about themselves. No matter how hard they try, they can't get the approval they are hungry for. They live for those rare moments when they are acknowledged and thanked.

    6- Father Hunger:

    This is the deep longing for a male role model a man can look up to, absorb, and be acknowledged and valued by. As well as constituting a crucial part of his identity, this primary father relationship is crucial for his initiation from boyhood into manhood. When this has been missing from a man's life, it's often difficult for him to take the male role successfully in his relationships.

    5- The Peter Pan Complex:

    Some men will never grow up -- they refuse to. These Peter Pans can be enormously seductive, charming and fun to be with. However, for them, responsibility is seen as such a radical loss of freedom that they live their lives in perpetual adolescence, playing and rebelling against the demands of an adult life.

    4- The Fantasy Lover:

    Relationships and women exist to prop up and confirm sense of himself. These men acquire trophy wives, and crave being continually seen in the right places and admired by all. The relationship becomes a tonic for their ego, a way to look in the mirror and love themselves. When relationship problems start to emerge these men become shaky and have little ability or desire to sty put and work things out.

    3- Repetition Compulsion:

    This is the unconscious compulsion to repeat a painful situation or relationship over and over, in the hopes it will turn out differently. Usually each time is worse, and brings more pain and disappointment. Even in the rare instances when the man gets what he wants, it does not satisfy the compulsion, but still starts over again. The solution is to go back to the original trauma, face it fully and work it out.

    2- Ghost of a Past Relationship:


    These are memories, dreams and longings that linger from past relationships which are finished but are not over. A man can hold onto the memory of a former wife or lover and idealize her, preventing him from being available to anyone in the present. These memories can also be fraught with guilt, anger, resentment and blame, which often become projected on the current relationship. These men must learn to forgive the past, say good-bye, and develop the courage to love again.

    And, the #1 Reason Men Leave:

    Men fear they can't satisfy the woman, no matter how much they give. Men need lots of positive feedback and often it's hard to get. It's seems so much easier for some women to say what's wrong than to say what's right.

    What Women Can Do About It:

    ** Realize that the turbulence a man goes through often has nothing to do with you -- and sometimes can't be avoided.

    ** Give him space to discover himself, with an absence of guilt. His changes and dissatisfaction do not necessarily mean he doesn't love you. Allow him to be all that he is. Acceptance is love.

    ** Get busy becoming all the person you can be too. Nothing is worse for a relationship than a man feeling you are clinging to him for your life.

    ** Keep the mystery of who you are alive for both of you. Nothing kills a relationship like routine. Discover all parts of yourself and share them with him.


    Brenda Shoshanna, Ph.D. specializes in marriage, family and relationships. She is author of Why Men Leave, and has been in private practice for 30 years, currently in NYC.

    _____


    Major Myth Busting About Over-45 Solo Women

    According to Singled Out (St. Martin's Press, 2006), college students in a recent poll described older people as "lonely, shy, unhappy, insecure, inflexible and stubborn."

    So AARPThe Magazine, did a poll of its own, of over 2,500 single women over 45. (Nearly half of the 57 million American women over 45 is single; that's larger than the population of Australia!) Because of later marriages, divorce and outliving loved ones, American women are now more likely to spend more years on their own then with a significant other.

    And guess what AARP found from their huge sampling? Things have changed! Myths are dashed. Many older single women are living lives of secret contentment, embracing challenges and opportunities. For example:

    Myth 1: Single women are desperate to find a mate. Reality: Relationships are fine, but far from an obsession. About one in 10 of us over 45 have no desire to date; the rest are looking for the right guy, if he comes along, and he's worth it. But if we don't find him, we're fine as well.

    Myth 2: Solo ladies are lonely. Reality: Everybody is lonely now and then. But most women enjoy their solitude.

    Myth 3: Older women don't know much about investing. Reality: Women may be timid, but make fewer mistakes than men, and are more willing to listen to financial advisors..

    Myth 4: Baby-boomer women are well-off. Reality: Many women under 60 are in debt. One reason: They work hard and feel entitled to play hard.

    Myth 5: Retirement is filled with more time on your hands -- and more cats. Reality: Retirement is most often exciting, with the freedom to pursue dreams, and to reinvent yourself. (And yes, maybe more kitties!)

    Myth 6: Older women give up on their appearance. Reality: No way. Think Botox! Solo ladies pay more attention to their appearance than marrieds.

    Myth 7: A single woman's worst fear is being old and sick alone. Reality: Most women will probably end up alone; solo ladies worry more about being dependent.

    Myth 8: Older women regret the lack of close ties. Reality: Many solo women have greater social support than married women, including extended families, close friends, and communities such as sololady.com.

    Myth 9: Older single women are sex-starved. Reality: Only about a quarter were active in the last six months, and about that many would be satisfied without any more sex, ever. But only two percent date to satisfy their needs.

    Myth 10: Solo women aren't as healthy as marrieds. Reality: Generally true, but improving. About half of us think our health is good or excellent.

    For more info, check out the May/June 2006 issue of AARPThe Magazine

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    Savvy Solo-Living Tips

    Living solo has its share of big and small annoyances and problems, and they can usually be solved! For example:
    Ever have problems with that tiny clasp, and no one around to help? You might look like a contortionist, waste time, and wind up skipping the jewelry. We suggest:
    * Buy jewelry with ease in mind. Think stretchable, no clasps, or at least no big clasps. Try it on, doing the clasp yourself, before you buy.
    * Think ahead. Don't put jewelry on at the last minute. And leave enough time, or do it when others are around.
    * Stay away from sinks—especially when putting on rings and earrings.
    * Use a mirror, especially helpful for centering pins and pendants.
    * With a necklace or bracelet, turn the clasp so that it's in front for ease and sight.
    * With a bracelet, prop your hand on a counter for stability, and turn the clasp toward you.

    ... And Other Clever Solo Living Tips:

    Sleep on one side of the bed for a week, then the other. You'll cut sheet-changing in half.

    Cook for a family of four, and freeze the leftovers. It will cut cooking time by a quarter,

    Shave your legs strategically -- for events, dates, when you wear skirts. Take a break otherwise and no one will know but Fido and Kitty.

    Share clothing and jewelry with a friend who's the same size and taste. You might double your wardrobe.

    Don't pay for directory assistance. Phone companies are charging us a dollar or more for 411/information calls when they don't have to. When you need to use the 411/information option, simply dial 1-800-FREE-411 or 1-800-373-3411 without incurring a charge.

    Don't Pay for cecll phone telemarketing. All cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sales calls. YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS. To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222. It's the National Do Not Call list. It will only take a minute and blocks your number for five years. You must call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked. To file a complaint, call the above number,

    Dust only where noticeable. You're a busy single woman. Don't dust anything taller than your tallest friend.

    Give yourself a birthday present -- of health. Make all yearly appointments such as mammograms, physicals, gyno, and dermatology checkups on your birthday, to make sure your year is as healthy as possible. As single women, we need to take care of ourselves!

    Buy single portions. Small bottle of milk, two sticks of butter, frozen foods for one, coffee for one, with single cup coffeemakers. makes you feel special, and avoids waste.

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    Solo Traveler: Tales and Tips for Great Trips, 1st Edition (Special-Interest Titles)

     

     




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