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By Chloe Monte


According to the NASA’s Clean Air Study, the following plants not only absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, but they also absorb harmful chemicals from the air.  And it is recommended that a home or office have one plant per 100 square feet. 


Areca Palm - Areca palms are great for filtering xylene and toluene from the air.  As well, it is known for being good humidifiers.   Areca palms like bright light, so place near a large window. 


Boston Fern  - Boston Ferns are great at filtering formaldehyde, xylene and toluene from the air.  Place them in humid areas as they thrive in humidity.  


English Ivy - English Ivy is good at filtering benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene from the air.  It’s an excellent broad filtering plant and it’s also recommended for those with allergies. 


Lilyturf - Lilyturf is known for its ability to filter formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene, and toluene from the air.  It is excellent for bright spaces or shaded areas of the house. 


Devil’s Ivy - Devil’s Ivy is great at filtering benzene, formaldehyde, xylene and toluene. 


Peace Lily - The Peace Lily is an excellent broad filtering plant.  It filters: benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and ammonia. 


Mother-in-law’s Tongue - This plant is an excellent plant for areas of your home with low sunlight.  As well, it releases oxygen at night, so it is great to place next to your bed. It filters: benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene


Red-edged Dracaena - This Dracaena variety filters: benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene.  This plant is very sensitive to fluoride and it requires the use of filtered water. 


Florist’s Chrysanthemum - Chrysanthemums filter the air best when they are flowering.  They filter: benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and ammonia. 


Thank you to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Clean_Air_Study for providing excellent information for this article. 


Article sponsored by DCH, Lift Fund, and Morning Pointe.

Find DCH on the web at:  https://www.dchsystem.com

Find Lift Fund on the web at:  http://www.liftfund.com

Find Morning Pointe on the web at: http://www.morningpointe.com


By Tori Linville


The best game days are marked by the football and the food. If your last tailgate wasn’t one that your taste buds remember, it’s time for a change. Revamp your table with these classic dip recipes on us.


The Perfect Guac


(photo/recipe: gimmesomeoven.com)


What you’ll need:


3 ripe avacados

1 minced jalapeno (stem and seeds removed)

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

1 tbsp. lime juice

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped

1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt

dash of cumin
(optional/: 1 roma tomato, cored and chopped)


What you’ll make:


Mash together ingredients. If you’re adding tomatoes, stir those in at the end. Cover with plastic wrap so that the wrap directly touches the guacamole, and refrigerate.


The Best Bean Dip



(photo/recipe: the-girl-who-ate-everything.com)


What you’ll need:


1 can refried beans

1 cup picante sauce

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

3/4 cup sour cream

1 pckg. cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

tortilla chips


What you’ll make:

In a bowl, combine first eight ingredients and serve with chips and salsa.


Ways to cook it:

Slow cooker: cover and cook on high for two hours

Oven: bake dip at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes

Microwave: heat in bowl for five to eight minutes


Mississippi Sin Dip


(picture/recipe: amandajeanbrown.com)


What you’ll need:

1 loaf French bread (Italian loaf)

1 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

1 1/2 cup sour cream

2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar

1/2 cup chopped smoked ham or prosciutto

1/3 cup green onion, chopped fine

4 oz. can of chopped green chilies, undrained

1/4 cup jalapeno pepper, chopped fine

couple shakes of Worcestershire sauce


What you’ll make:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare the bread by cutting off the top of the bread 1/2 inch deep. Hollow out the bread, leaving about a one inch shell. Set top aside and cut inside bread into cubes for toasting and dipping later. Mix all ingredients in mixer until blended.

Place a piece of aluminum foil large enough to wrap around the whole loaf onto a baking sheet. Pour cheese mixture into hollowed-out bread. Sprinkle top with meat if desired. Return the top piece of bread to close the bread bowl.

Wrap completely in foil and place baking sheet in oven. Bake for one hour.



Article sponsored by the following: South’s Finest Meat’s, Nationwide, and Fincher & Ozment.

Find South’s Finest Meat’s on the web at:  http://southsfinestmeats.com

Find Nationwide on the web at:  http://www.nationwide.com

Find Fincher & Ozment on the web at:  http://www.fincherandozment.com

Check out some of the best museums in the state.

A monthly editorial piece of masterful opinionated writing (insert joke here) regarding life and times in the big town of Tuscaloosa coupled with the musings of a guy nicknamed “Oz.” 


Safe and Happy Home Vacation Tips (From a Man Who Doesn’t Go On Many Vacations)


It’s July! Tuscaloosa translation: It might be time for a family vacation, and football season is not far away.


I treasure “Tip Lists,” especially the ones that insult the intelligence of my four-year-old daughter,  even though they do make valid points. You know, like, “Be sure to unplug your curling iron” or, “Don’t leave the lasagna in the oven on 450” if you are going to be gone for a week.


Nothing ruins a sabbatical like seeing the charred timbers of your home as you pull in the driveway. 


This briefing of tips is contrived by Yours Truly in an attempt to uncover some of the more important suggestions as they relate to our happy community.


This list is by no means scientific and/or thorough. The editor limits my shenanigans (as she should).


Turn Your Thermostat Up: There is no need to spend money on cooling your house while you’re gone, right? Articles I’ve read on the subject suggest that 85 is a good setting while on summer vacay. But here is the “We live in the south” rebuttal:  Leaving the thermostat on 85 means that after I get finished taking a cramped flight or driving for hours with the Griswold smell coming from the back seat, I will return to my restful abode which has become a sauna. And that sauna won’t get back down to 72 degrees until sometime the next day. That is a problem for weary travelers. Southern suggestion: 79, unless you are lucky enough to have a programmable thermostat.


Don’t Socialize Your Sunburn: While I love nothing more than seeing Facebook photos of everyone having the time of their lives basking in the sun and eating crab legs as the rest of us tend to the daily grind, it’s best to not to advertise the fact on social media. “But only my friends see it!” Not true. But even if it was, how well do you know all of your friends on Facebook? Southern suggestion: Post the photos when you get back.


“Leaving the Lights on Will Make Others Think I’m Home:” In theory, yes. But when the lights don’t turn off for two or more days, it’s a direct indication that the cat is away. And we all know what happens next. Southern suggestion: Invest in a timer. If it appears that someone is turning the lights off and on, the perception is that the cats are roaming.


There are many more potentials, but alas, I have covered my word allotment. In conclusion, don't put your spare key under that cement frog statue in the garden… it’s the first place I’ll look. 


I tweet insignificant things @ozborn34.          


Derek Osborn is the Executive Director of PRIDE of Tuscaloosa by trade and writer by hobby.  He lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife, Lynn, and daughters Savannah and Anica. 


By Ben Talmadge


The area of prayer can be a tricky one. While the idea of talking to God is thought-provoking, it also feels kind of strange to talk to someone you can’t see, hear, or touch. I have found that the times I pray most consistently is when I am keenly aware of needs in my life which are beyond my ability to figure out on my own. Parenting is a great example of this, for it is an area which can often be frustrating and taxing. Here are three lessons I’ve learned about prayer through my own journey of parenting:

Prayer is illustrated by children. Interestingly, Jesus uses the example of children to help explain what God desires from people. He tells his followers, “unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). So, why does Jesus use children to explain how to best approach God? Most likely, Jesus is expressing his desire for us to come to him in the same way that little children come to their parents. They do not come with everything figured out but rather simply as who they are in each and every moment. As we observe this in our children, Jesus intends for us to assume this posture before him. Ultimately, he desires to be with us through every parenting experience, as we learn to be honest with him through both the good and bad times.

Prayer matters more than principles. If you peruse any bookstore, you will find no shortage of books which contain a plethora of parenting principles. While some of these can be helpful, we need to be careful not to make too much out of principles. Becoming too dependent on good principles can give us the illusion that we are the ones who are in control of the task of parenting. If we are the ones in control, it means that we are not allowing God to be in control. While principles may help in some moments, there are inevitably moments that come when we have no idea what to do or say. If principles alone could produce successful parenting, then God is not needed. May we learn to pray through our parenting as much as we attempt to apply the right parenting principles.

Prayer challenges our view of God. If many of us are honest, it just doesn’t feel like God is very involved in our lives. Accepting the idea that God is far off is dangerous, because it produces a dogged cynicism in our lives. We begin to think that life is up to us, that God is not really doing a whole lot to help us. And there is nothing in life that can feel more like a struggle to simply survive than parenting. Often times, we may feel like we have no idea what we’re doing as a parent, and it is in these moments that it is imperative for us to understand that God actually desires to be intimately involved in our parenting. In fact, I have found the task of parenting to be the birthplace of prayer in my life, realizing that without God’s personal involvement, my best efforts to parent will ultimately fall short.

Admittedly, prayer can be challenging. But if we can learn to view it as an invitation from God to enter into relationship, then it can become an opportunity to experience relational transformation with our children. Perhaps God is wanting us to learn how to relationally pursue our children as we simply experience how he relationally pursues us.

Ben Talmadge serves on staff of Youth For Christ and Grace Church. He and his wife, Anna Grace, have two children, Jem and Hazel Jane. 


By Tori Linville


1.     Make a roommate agreement immediately

While taking time to get to know your roommate can be fun, drawing some clear and concise boundaries ahead of time will save some heartache if you’re out a pot and pan set because said roommate can’t cook. After you both know what each other likes and doesn’t like, you can face the semester together with less to worry about.



2.     Don’t over-commit…

The famed interest fairs with free t-shirt giveaways can have you slingin’ your email at every honor society and club that throws you a complimentary cup. The best thing to do? Take the shirt, but only leave your email and contact information at the clubs that really strike your interests. That way, you’ll be able to spend your time on things you actually care about, instead of spreading yourself too thin!




3.     But don’t be a hermit!

On the other hand, staying inside your dorm room while binge-watching Netflix isn’t too healthy either. So either add some friends to your binge spree, or get out and about. Just don’t end up stuck to your bed to where you’re in a daze and don’t know what day it is.



4.     Get to know campus (and the city) before classes begin

This is where the whole ‘out and about’ thing comes in. Knowing the campus cuts down on the stopping-staring-you’re-definitely-a-freshman-move. It also saves time and keeps you from getting lost. Once you’re familiar with campus, branch out to the remaining town around you in order to know the best places for shopping, coffee and more.



5.     Avoid the freshman fifteen

One of the best things you can do is to remember to take care of your body. While unlimited fried foods at the dining halls will always be tempting, exercise can give you more energy for class, studying and friend time.


6.     Hunt for textbook bargains    
Be aware that the campus bookstore might not have the best prices for your textbooks. Shop around and spend the extra time comparing prices in order to save your wallet some pain.



7.     Find a study space that fits you
It might be the campus library, or it could be the coffee shop clear across town. You won’t know it until you find it and when you find it, it can make all the difference.


8.     Don’t forget to breathe (and have fun!)
College is a time to learn, grow and have fun. Don’t let the stress get to you



Article sponsored by DCH and First South Farm Credit.

Find DCH on the web at: www.dchsystem.com

Find First South Farm Credit on the web at: www.firstsouthfarmcredit.com/home.aspx

By Tori Linville


A five star experience doesn’t mean a bad bed in a gross hotel and it doesn’t mean bad food. Even if you’re not on vacation, no one wants to deal with subpar experiences, regardless of the establishment. So wherever you’re going, whatever you’re doing – whether you’re a native or a visitor, we’ve hit up Trip Advisor in the area to help you have a top-rated time.




Top Hotel: Embassy Suites by Hilton


This Tuscaloosa hotel gets nothing but praise for its staff and amenities. One reviewer labels it a “southern gem,” while another says “Tuscaloosa got exactly what was desperately needed” while describing their stay.  Most visitors really enjoy the location of the Embassy Suites, as it’s next to plenty of restaurants and shopping opportunities. And if you don’t like it, be sure to say so on Trip Advisor – the general manager, Steven, makes sure to reply to most reviews and digs deeper into why a customer didn’t enjoy his or her stay.


Top Restaurant: The Ave Pub


Great burgers, great fish tacos, great drink selection. Trip Advisor has spoken and The Ave Pub is one of the best places to fill a stomach. One review by added, “I am glad that they offer healthier foods with real substance, such as their greens in their salad; it's not just your average iceburg lettuce.” From the service to the food presentation to the drink selection, people are raving about all the good things happening down at The Ave.


#2 Thing to Do: Paul W. Bryant Museum


Why the second? Because in a town like Tuscaloosa, the obvious first choice is Bryant-Denny Stadium. No need to explain. Since it’s off-season, the second choice is Paul W. Bryant Museum. Just down the street from the stadium, the museum is the perfect off-season stop to help all your Alabama football yearnings. As one reviewer said, “Bear will love to see you stop in and visit.”




Top Hotel: Hampton Inn & Suites Birmingham/280 East-Eagle Point


If you’re in the mood for some comfortable beds, clean rooms and some above-average complimentary breakfast (seriously, who isn’t?) then Trip Advisor says the Hampton Inn is for you. The location and hotel basics are a shoe-in at this place and the staff seems to be on top of their game. As one reviewer put it, a stay at this Birmingham hotel is “always a great stay.”


Top Restaurant: Highlands Bar and Grill


Trip Advisor has 834 restaurants listed for the Birmingham area and Highlands Bar and Grill lands at number one. Highlands offers a fine dining experience that can’t be missed. The menu changes frequently and the wine is not to be missed. It is a more high-end place though, which threw some reviewers off. That’s not to say you won’t be welcomed regardless – it’s still true to its Southern hospitality.


#1 Thing to Do: Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum


The top-ranked thing to do in Birmingham lies with Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. Why? The Trip Advisor consensus is that there’s just so much to see, one trip is only the tip of the motorcycle iceberg. The museum boasts the largest collection of Lotus cars in the U.S. and as one reviewer said, “This is a one of a kind museum for everyone to see. You don't have to be interested in motorcycles or a 'gear head' to appreciate this spectacle.”




Top Hotel: Henderson Park Inn


Not only is it the number one hotel for Destin on Trip Advisor, Henderson Park Inn is also Destin’s 2015 Travelers’ Choice for the website. Number one thing to know? It has a no children policy – this is for the adults who need time away! The staff is more than accommodating and the beach location definitely doesn’t hurt. Dinner reservations are a must, but freebies abound in the form of water, candy bars and other treats. Take it from the guy who flew from New York City on a whim: “We were very impressed. It's got excellent location, a solid restaurant, friendly staff - everything we wanted for a getaway. Highly recommend. We will be back.”


#2 Restaurant: Buck’s Smokehouse


Since the top rated restaurant was Beach Walk at – you guessed it – Henderson Park Inn, we decided to switch the scenery and check up on the number two. Buck’s Smokehouse is home to some of Destin’s best barbeque. Though some reviewers were disappointed in comparing it to Texas barbeque, the brisket is still a crowd favorite. Add it to a clean atmosphere, friendly staff and an array of sauces that’ll have you coming back for more, it’s no wonder it’s dubbed the “best BBQ on the beach” by one reviewer.


#2 Thing to Do: Crystal Sands Beach


In a coastal town like Destin, obviously the main thing to do is to veg out on the beach and get some well-deserved sun. The number one beach was back to the Henderson Beach State Park, so we again saw what number two had to offer. Crystal Sands Beach stands on its own (not literally), with “sugary white sand” and “gorgeous blue water” that has reviewers handing out five stars all around. The best parts? It’s great for children, but not too crowded.


Article sponsored by Tuscaloosa Tourism Black Warrior and Tuscaloosa Tourism Veterans.

Find them on the web at: http://visittuscaloosa.com


By Mike Green


Business management guru Stephen Covey identified “seeking first to understand” as one of his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The principle is that when you are facing conflict with someone, the best approach is not to make a case for your perspective, but to try hard to understand why the other person has a different perspective. Now, I can surely see the incredible benefits of this approach in a work environment, but if I could give only one piece of advice to the parent of a teenager this would be it…


How different would your relationship with your child be if you had the power to read their mind? If you not only knew what your teenage son or daughter thought, but why they thought it. Unfortunately, we have not been given such mystical abilities, but we have been given the amazing ability to ask questions and listen. Now this, as you know, is not as easy to do as those without teenage children might assume that it is. Listening to ideas and opinions that we don’t agree with, where we can easily see the illogical conclusions that are being drawn, takes superb patience. But the goal here is not to listen to your child’s ideas so you can correct them. No, the goal is to listen so you can understand your teenager. 


So, let give me you an example of how this might work, and I will use an analogy from my work environment. A colleague and I had a significant disagreement over an issue. Neither of us was willing to budge. But then, my work associate began to work hard at understanding why I was so adamant about my perspective. The harder he worked to understand the more willing I became to give a little. Eventually, we chose a compromise that looked very much like his original idea. Why? I felt like he valued my opinion. He valued me as a person, so I worked harder to find a solution with which we could both live. 


Does this always work? Of course not. Not every strategy for growing healthy and happy teenagers works every time. But I hope this new twist on Mr. Covey’s habit gives you another tool in your tool belt. I think you would agree that we need every tool we can find as our youth navigate their teen years. 


Mike Green is Executive Director of Tuscaloosa Youth For Christ. He and his wife, Laura, have two grown children.


A summer past time everybody remembers is taking a huge, refreshing swig of water from the water hose while playing outside. Nowadays, there’s more than one way to catch that refreshing swig all over again. We’ve listed some virtually inexpensive water games that don’t even require you leaving the driveway to cure the summertime boredom we all face. Other than slip ‘n slides and water balloon fights, these fast and easy games will offer a quick way to cool off without breaking the bank.


Cold Potato

Unlike hot potato, cold potato is considerate of the summer heat. Using a pin to poke a small hole in a water balloon, the ‘cold potato’ is passed around in a circle before it runs out of water. The idea is that every one cools off, but not too much.

Add a twist: The player who catches the balloon as it runs out of water gets an entire leaky water balloon squirted at them.


Marco Polo – without the pool

The idea is the same but instead of treading water, the infamous Marco is blinded and strapped with a water gun to seek out his or her Polos. Mixed with a bit of hide and seek, Marco counts to ten with his or her back turned, and then calls Marco. When a Polo is successfully drenched, switch roles.

Add a twist: Add some water balloons to the Marco’s arsenal.



Maybe one of the easiest water games ever. The goal? To make the biggest splat with water balloons. Just throw them in the air. The higher the throw, the bigger the splat. Winner is the player with the biggest splat.

Add a twist: Challenge players to create a shape from their splats.


Bobbing for Apples

A carnival tradition, bobbing for apples is a perfect way to chill down. Just stick your face in the water and try your best for a fruity prize.

Add a twist: Switch up fruits and turn the edible prizes into smoothies.


Article sponsored by Alabama Power and Tuscaloosa Environmental.  

Find Alabama Power on the web at: http://www.alabamapower.com


Find Tuscaloosa Environmental on the web at: http://www.tuscaloosa.com/recycle

By Tori Linville


College dorms are a home away from home, so it’s only natural to make it more comfortable. Some go the full nine yards and hire an interior decorator, but there are some easy and affordable decorating hacks that don’t break the bank. Check out what tips we picked up from Pinterest and add them to your room this semester!


Utilize as much wall space as possible


Use the walls around you as the built-in space savers they were meant to be:


·      Use clear command hooks, staggered down the wall to hang up festive jewelry for eye-popping color. Another option would to decorate a bulletin board with colorful jewelry pieces that dry the eye.

·      Create a simple shape out of pictures for a collage that doubles as a focal point on the wall.

·      Hang some strings of lights around your room to offset the harsh fluorescence of the dorm light.

·      Using some cheap twine string, command hooks and clothespins, create a picture collage by stringing the twine along in a random shape. Attach photos to the string with the clothespins


Optimize storage space wherever possible


·      Hang a refrigerator caddy over your mini fridge to store utensils and dishes

·      Use hollow ottomans for multi-purpose seating and storage

·      Hang storage racks inside closets and use hangers that can be staggered in closets

·      Cut up old cereal boxes for desk organizers

·      Repurpose a shower caddy for above-the-desk organization

·      If you don’t have a side table, use a bedside caddy for storage

·      If you aren’t using an over-the-door shoe rack for actual shoes, make the a storage hub for crafts, make up, hats, etc.


Most importantly, have fun!


Photo Credit: hercampus.com


Article sponsored by Spiller Furniture and Mattresses

Find them on the web at: http://spillerfurniture.com

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