The Best Atlanta Suburbs to Live In and Raise Kids

Atlanta is surrounded by suburbs filled with families raising children. Life outside the city offers a more laid back lifestyle with access to Atlanta’s museums, sports teams and events. The one that is best for your family will depend on your unique needs, but certain suburbs have been noted as meeting specific criteria often desired by families. If your priorities are good schools, low crime and things to do

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, these suburbs might be right for you.
Marietta is located northwest of Atlanta and is easily accessible via Interstate 75. The central spot is Marietta Square, which has shopping, restaurants, farmer’s markets, 5K events and a park with a free concert series. This suburb boasts museums, theaters and 18 parks. Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is nearby, offering 18 miles of trails, a Civil War museum and war reenactments. Marietta also has many strong schools that earned a 9 or 10 rating on GreatsSchools.org– the site bases ratings on standardized testing scores. Lassiter High School was ranked seventh in Georgia by U.S. News and World Report.
Roswell, north of Atlanta, is listed third in Frommer’s “Best Places to Raise Your Family” and is ranked the 18th safest city in the United States according to City Crime Rankings. It has also been honored twice by Atlanta Magazine as the best place to live in the metro area. It has several parks and trails, including some along the Chattahoochee River. Historic Downtown Roswell has been revitalized and is packed with restaurants and shops, and the weekly event, Alive After 5, fills the streets every Thursday all summer long. A number of Roswell schools have also achieved ratings from 8 to 10 by Great Schools.
Suwanee is about 30 miles north of Atlanta and has been recognized by “Money Magazine” as one of the country’s best small communities and by Kiplinger.com as one of the best to raise children. It has more than 500 acres of parkland and miles of walking and biking trails

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. Town Center Park is a major gathering site for events and the Big Splash interactive fountain. It is served by Gwinnett County Schools, the largest and one of the best school systems in the state.
Located east of Atlanta, Decatur has small-town charm, access to MARTA–the city’s public transportation system–and fiercely loyal residents. It is minutes from downtown Atlanta and Stone Mountain Park. Decatur Square is full of unique shops, restaurants and live music venues. Eddie’s Attic is one such venue and the place where the Indigo Girls, Sugarland, Sean Mullins and John Mayer played in the early days of their careers. Decatur hosts a number of events throughout the year, including the Decatur Book Festival and the Decatur Arts Festival. The Decatur City School System is highly regarded.

Lincoln MKT Concept

The Lincoln MKT Concept seems more like a platform for fuel-saving technologies than a potential production luxury vehicle. The second Ford product introduced at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, the four-door “bustle back” features a rear hatchback design and the maker’s new EcoBoost engine technology.
EcoBoost, as Ford dubbed its family of high-efficiency engines, is offered as an alternative to hybrid drivetrains offered by other manufacturers

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. E85 capable, EcoBoost engines will feature direct-injection fuel delivery and turbocharging.
The V6 in the MKT concept displaces 3.5-liters and is rated at 415 horsepower. Ford claims that when mated with a six-speed automatic transmission, the EcoBoost engine will use 20 percent less gas than a V8 producing the same horsepower.
Lightweight composite body panels take the place of steel stampings and contribute to MKT’s overall fuel thriftiness.
Inside, MKT has “first-class cabin” accommodations including fully reclining bucket seating for four. Up front, vital vehicle information is projected onto a curved area of the center stack instead of displayed in a digital readout or on a video screen.
Though there are no immediate production plans for MKT, the concept could foreshadow a large Lincoln SUV based on Ford’s upcoming Flex crossover. Expect such a vehicle to offer seating for up to seven passengers.

Male PC Muscle Exercises

Strengthening the PC muscle, also called the pubococcygeus, helps prevent men from leaking urine or feces during stressful movements like coughing, sneezing or lifting, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Many men also have improved sexual performance after performing kegels, which exercise the PC muscle. You may find it helpful to practice kegels in a variety of positions and while performing a variety of tasks. As you advance your skills, you can try some of the more advanced kegels to keep strengthening your PC muscle.
Contracting the PC muscle will stop your flow of urine, as well as slightly contract your anus, says the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Health Services Department. Practice stopping your urine flow to learn how to tighten your PC muscle. You can also identify this contraction if you place a gloved finger approximately 1 inch inside your rectum–you do not need to do so during actual kegels. While contracting your PC muscle, avoid contracting your buttocks, abdomen or thighs. Also, avoid holding your breath.
Anytime you perform a kegel, you will notice a slight movement in your penis, according to the Ohio State University Medical Center. A slow kegel consists of holding your PC muscle tight for a count of four and then relaxing for a count of four. When releasing the contraction, be sure to simply relax, not push down. As you begin practicing kegel exercises, you may only be able to keep the PC muscle contracted for a count of one or two, but you will eventually be able to hold it for longer. Repeat these exercises for up to five minutes, two times a day.
Once you have mastered slow kegels, you may want to challenge yourself to a few sets of quick kegels, which consist of tightening and relaxing your PC muscle as quickly as you can. Try to perform a set of 10 to 20 repetitions, advises Dr. Donald Rudick, a urologist practicing in St. Marys, Pennsylvania.
To challenge yourself even more, slow down the kegel. Using a count of four, progressively tighten your PC muscle. By the time you reach the number four, you should be at a maximum contraction for your PC muscle. Hold this contraction for a second before slowly releasing the contraction to a count of four

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, when your PC muscle should be completely relaxed. Rudick advises performing a set of 10 repetitions.

The Best Inexpensive Organic Skin Care Products

Skin problems can include dryness, wrinkles and discolorations, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Fight such skin conditions with a conditioning, nourishing skin care product. Unfortunately, some skin care treatments contain chemicals and other synthetic ingredients that may be bad for you. Opt instead for an organic skin care product that helps protect your skin without breaking your budget.
Aubrey Organics’ organic anti-aging skin serum comes formulated with vitamin C. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that topical use of this antioxidant vitamin can help with wrinkles and other signs of aging

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. It also contains organic jojoba oil and sea buckthorn oil. Skin care expert Paula Begoun says these moisturizing oils “can be helpful for dry skin” and notes that the buckthorn oil has antioxidant properties of its own. Begoun reports that the serum costs less than $16, as of 2009.
Rainwater Organics’ skin lotions come recommended by “InStyle” magazine’s beauty editors. They’re all certified as organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and come in a wide range of scents, such as mint rainwater and citrus ginger. The editors note that beneficial ingredients include natural emollients that smooth and soften the surface of your skin. The magazine reports that the lotion costs $8, as of 2010.
Jarrow Formulas’ skin moisturizing oil was praised by “Real Simple” magazine, which states that it feels luxurious and works as a “dense emollient” to help restore your skin’s natural moisture barrier. It’s derived from organic, unrefined coconuts that are naturally rich in skin conditioners like triglycerides and caprylic acid, and the oil works by physically trapping moisture in your skin. The treatment rings in at $9.99, as of 2010.
Defending your skin from the sun’s aging ultraviolet rays is one of the ideal ways to keep your skin healthy. Aubrey Organics’ organic sunscreen has an ideal SPF rating of 20, according to Begoun. She says it costs just $8.50, as of 2009. She praised its lightweight texture, which doesn’t leave your skin feeling exceptionally heavy or greasy. The manufacturer also adds iron oxide pigments to give the sunscreen a sheer tint that helps even out your skin tone and camouflage blemishes.

5 Indoor Grilling Tips

Firing up the grill is a great way to prepare healthy food and to add that smoky taste that only an open flame can provide. It’s also a great way to entertain, with backyard barbecues being a three-season staple in the United States. Guests crack open a cold one and hang out around the grill

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, the aromas wafting through the air making the neighbors drool. Those are good times for sure, but what about the apartment dwellers of the world? Some apartment complexes may have a community area and grill, but good luck getting flame time on a nice summer evening. And many city dwellers don’t have access at all. In this case, the only option may be the indoor grill. While it’s no replacement for the real thing, it provides a decent alternative. Here are five tips for grilling indoors

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.

How to Fix Lumpy Cheese Fondue

Creamy, savory cheese fondue is an ideal appetizer for a cool winter evening. Making cheese fondue is a simple process requiring only a few ingredients: garlic, white wine, shredded cheese and kirsch

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, which is a cherry-flavored liqueur. Combine and heat the ingredients

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, and if all goes well you will have a luxurious appetizer. Sometimes, the heating process does not go as planned, however, and fondue becomes lumpy. This lumpiness can result from undercooking the fondue, improperly aged cheese or overcooking. Most of these problems can be easily remedied.
Stir the cheese constantly while heating it over low heat. If you are using Swiss, Gruyere or Emmentaler cheese, the cheese may not be heated enough. These cheeses often take time to melt completely.
Add 1/4 cup more Gruyere if you are sure that you heated your fondue correctly. If the Swiss or Emmentaler cheese wasn’t matured correctly, it will melt in a lumpy fashion and might not melt completely. Adding some additional Gruyere cheese may reduce the lumps by diluting the amount of improperly aged cheese because Gruyere is not likely to melt with lumps.
Add 2 tbsp. warm white wine to the fondue if the cheese is forming lumps after it initially melted. Your cheese may be lumpy because it is overcooking. The wine must be warm or it will make the cheese even lumpier. Heat the fondue on low and stir in the wine until the lumps disappear.
Add in 1/2 tsp. cornstarch and stir it in if the cheese is separating from the wine. The cornstarch is a last resort because it can change the texture of the fondue, but it will help bind the cheese and the wine together.

Polyester Vs. Silk Dresses

Once upon a time, there were few choices in terms of dress fabrics. Cotton has historically been a mainstay in every woman¡¯s closet, while silk is considered a luxury material. However, polyester is an increasingly common dress material due to its affordability and durability. When choosing between polyester and silk dresses, consider the benefits and potential risks of each type.
Polyester is a synthetic, or man-made material. It is made out of terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol, which can be woven into materials of different thicknesses. Because polyester is man-made, it is widely available in numerous pieces of clothing on the market, including dresses. Silk, on the other hand, is not as popular because of its rarity. The material is derived from silkworms, and clothing manufacturers refine it through a process called sericulture.
Between the two dress materials, polyester is considered the most durable, even though silk is considered one of the strongest natural fibers. Silk dresses tend to wrinkle easily, particularly when they get wet. If silk fabric does get wet or is exposed to heat, it loses its strength

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. Because of silk’s delicate nature and required maintenance, polyester is often chosen for its resilience over silk. However, silk is much smoother and softer. The exact occasion you¡¯re wearing the dress for can dictate the material you choose. Polyester dresses tend to be most versatile for sitting and for on-the-go. Polyester dresses can be machine-washed, requiring dry cleaning only if there are embellishments. Silk dresses should always be professionally cleaned to prevent damage.
Polyester and silk are both ideal for cooler weather. Both fabrics are heavier than cotton or linen. When it is hot, polyester particularly tends to stick to the skin, making related dresses quite uncomfortable to wear. If you are attending an outdoor event during the summer, silk is your better option over polyester because it is slightly lighter. Still, you might get hot quickly, so make sure you wear quality lotions and makeup that won¡¯t sweat onto the dress and leave unsightly marks or stains.
Due to the meticulous nature of silk

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, dresses of this material are more expensive. The more material used to make the dress, the more costly it is. This is why silk wedding dresses are among the most expensive in the fashion industry. Polyester is much more affordable because it is a man-made material. This fabric has come a long way in terms of aesthetic appeal since it first gained popularity in the 1970’s. If price is your determining factor when buying a dress, then polyester may be your best bet.