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Amherst ranked a retirement paradise


Hey, Amherst retirees--did you know you were living the dream?

Amherst came in ninth in a feature from Consumer finance site and real estate Web site ranking the top 20 "retirement dream areas." The survey specifically cited the neighborhood near Transit Road and Renaissance Drive as desirable.

The list was compiled from the neighborhoods with the best "overall combination of housing options, beautiful surroundings, a vibrant mix of educated seniors and other age groups, very low crime, peace and quiet and amenities for every taste."

This Amherst neighborhood, called "stunning," was specifically chosen for its parks, safety, housing stock, value, waterfront, medical facilities and its suburban setting near a metropolis, among many other things.

Other neighborhoods making the list were in Santa Barbara, Calif.; Sedona, Ariz. and Fort Meyers, Fla.

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Kids Eat Free on Easter


I'm not sure if you want to spend your Easter at Applebee's, but if you do, the restaurant chain is offering free entrees to children ages 10 and under on Easter Sunday, April 4.

As long as they are accompanied by a parent paying for an entree, kids can choose from a menu of six meals, including macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers and fried shrimp. A drink and side dish are also included.

To find your nearest location, click here. Applebee's restaurants in New York State and Connecticut are participating.

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

The most and least expensive cars to insure

Insurance has put together a list of the most and lease expensive cars to insure. The figures estimate national average annual insurance premiums for a 40-year-old male with a good driving record.

The least expensive 2010 models to insure:

1. Mazda Tribute I, two-wheel drive four-door utility, four cylinders: $1,070.25.

2. Honda Odyssey LX, five door, two-wheel drive, single overhead camshaft van, 6 cylinders: $1,095.26.

3. Mazda Tribute I, four-wheel drive, four-door utility, four cylinders:$1,103.29.

4. Chrysler Town & Country LX, two-wheel drive, four-door 3.3 liter wagon, six cylinders: $1,119.83.

5. Jeep Wranger X, four-wheel drive, two-door 3.8 liter utility, six cylinders: $1,124.38.

The most expensive 2010 models to insure (no big surprises here):

1. Porsche 911 Carrera GT2, two-door coupe, six cylinders: $2,943.78.

2. Mercedes S65 AMG, four-door sedan, 12 cylinders: $2,863.03.

3. Dodge Viper SRT-10, two-door coupe, 10 cylinders: $2,851.89.

4. Porsche Panamera Turbo, All-wheel drive four-door sedan, eight cylinders: $2,837.39.

5. Dodge Viper SRT-10, two-door convertible, 10 cylinders: $2,815.90.

And here are some average car insurance premiums for the top 10 selling vehicles:

1. Ford F-Series pickup: $1,492.71.

2. Toyota Camry: $1,274.61.

3. Chevrolet Silverado pickup: $1,383.10.

4. Toyota Corolla: $1,302.68.

5. Honda Accord: $1,301.20.

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Pet Washing Machine

I admit, giving my dog a bath is not my favorite thing to do. And I'd rather crawl through thornbushes than bathe a cat. But I can honestly say I don't think I would ever pay money to put my pet in one of these, no matter how much easier it made my life.

In the United States, these pet washing machines are made by a company named PetSpa USA. In France, they have the Dog-O-Matic. Tokyo has the Washmatic-Kan, which costs about $5.25 per use. Each machine takes about half an hour to wash your pet.

Makers of the machine say it is perfectly safe and that pressure and temperature levels are carefully monitored. But even so, it reminds me of some horror you'd see in a PETA advertisement.

What do you think?

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Fly JetBlue for 10 Bucks by Midnight

It seems almost too good to be true.

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Jetblue is offering $10 one-way flights among its first 10 destinations for travel March 9 and 10.

Since Buffalo is one of those first 10 destinations, we can book travel to the other nine (and vice versa) for just $10 each way, including Fort Lauderdale, Fla; Tampa, Fla.; Orlando, Fla.; Rochester; Oakland, Calif.; Burlington, Vt.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Salt Lake City, Utah and Fort Myers, Fla.

Travel must be booked by 11:59 p.m. Monday March 8.

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann