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Fashion Worthy

Shake Off Those Winter Coats!   

A Fresh Start for Spring


The old saying “what’s old is new again” certainly describes our fashion outlook for spring 2024. Nostalgia for the ’90s is rampant this year, and designers have nailed the visual. Women loved what 1990s fashion had to offer because it was, arguably, one of the most chic decades in history. This year, expect to see the classics with unexpected pairings. 


Gone are the days when sportswear was only for sporting activities. Sportswear staples have slowly been flirting with our everyday wardrobes, and that look is here to stay. Sophisticated wearability is the name of the game this season. You may have heard that shoulder pads are back. Don’t worry—we’re not returning to the giant squared shoulders of the past. Instead, we can enjoy a bold shoulder with a more pared-down, tailored look. 

You’ll see both mini and maxi 


hem lengths in dresses and skirts. The bare-legged look has passed us by, as women are loving hose and tights again, especially with shorter skirts in cooler weather. Hosiery accessorizes the legs and brings an elevated and sophisticated look to an outfit. Pants will be loose and soft (and comfortable!) this coming year. 


High-rise waistlines are still everyone’s favorite, even though trend reports have been pushing low-slung waistlines. In reality, low-slung pants are hard to wear and not comfortable. Women are craving comfort as a style basic. Stovepipe, boot cut, and palazzo pants are always in fashion. Playing with proportion is always tricky, but it’s an essential part of fashion-forward thinking. If you are choosing loose pants, pair them with a more fitted top or tailored jacket. If your top is oversized, choose a slimmer fit on the bottom. One runway classic this year is the oversized blazer paired with slim tailored shorts for a trend-driven business casual vibe.


Spring always makes me think of flowy dresses in floral patterns. We’ll see the same this year but with more sophisticated patterns. Everything is coming up roses in florals for 2024, and it is gorgeous! Many designers are promoting the romantic flower with a dark background that really makes the print pop. Floral patterns are larger in scale, not the little prints of the past. Highlighting the waistline with a belt was the way to wear it last year. In dresses for spring 2024, waists are all over the place. From empire waists to dropped waistlines, choose whatever works for you. 


Many people are driven to wear solid tones because they are “safe.” While we do love monochromatic looks, this is the year to try a pattern. Pair your patterned item with a solid piece to get you started; soon, you will be daring enough to enjoy an all-patterned look. Two-piece matching outfits are still strong in leisure wear and athletic apparel. They’re good choices to mix and match with your ready-to-wear casual apparel. Mixing it up is always fun. You may stumble upon your new favorite outfit by choosing new combinations of clothes already in your closet!


The Pantone experts on color trends are predicting this year will be the year of a color called Peach Fuzz. They say the color “captures our desire to nurture ourselves and others.” Embrace this cozy color this year! Peach tones work with all complexions, bringing a subtle glow. Peach Fuzz looks amazing and feels spring fresh when paired with soft green or blue. 


Butter yellow is another happy color for this spring. It projects a sunny happiness to those wearing it or viewing it. You probably recall that pink Barbiecore was the rage last summer. That was a fashion season to remember! It is still in the mix this year, but it’s toned down a bit. Moderate your pink with another Pantone color of 2024 called Almondine. It is a classic taupe shade that will go with everything in your closet. 


Denim is a perennial staple. Designers offer a variety of color washes, from iconic acid washes to nearly black. You’ll see denim for jeans, jackets, dresses, even vests and all-over looks. It seems we can’t get enough of this endlessly versatile fabric! The ’90s nostalgia will be bringing us denim that is bejeweled, embroidered, or splashed with pearls. Designers have become ultra-creative with denim as a fabric—some exciting finishes include mirrored embellishments or splashes of white paint. And yes, ripped jeans are still popular, whether you distress them yourself or purchase them pre-ripped. It seems this ongoing trend has no expiration date. 

Now that we are in a spring state of mind, let’s go visit our favorite boutiques to get inspired for the fashion options that the warming weather will bring. 

Editor’s Note: Holly has been in the fashion industry for over 30 years as a buyer, boutique store owner, visual merchandiser, and fashion show producer. She is currently the owner of a modeling agency. Holly regularly appears on local TV doing fashion segments.

Fashion Worthy

By Holly Bell

Weekend Gourmet

Celebrations and Family Time—Let’s Eat!


Corned Beef Hash and Eggs

Put 3 Tablespoons of vegetable oil in a heavy skillet. Add 1 package of cubed frozen potatoes or 4-5 cubed leftover cooked potatoes. Add 1 small, diced onion and 4-5 cups of chopped, cooked corned beef. Add a squeeze of good mustard and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring often. Make several indentations in the mixture and carefully add a raw egg to each. Cover and cook until egg is set or yolky. 

Beer Bread

Blend together 3 cups of flour, 3 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of salt, 3 Tablespoons of sugar, and 12 ounces of beer (stout, Irish, whatever you have). Mix well and pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour. Cool and slice.


Irish Soda Bread

Whisk together 2 cups of flour, 1/3 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. Stir in 3/4 cup of raisins (golden or dark) and 1 teaspoon of caraway seed (optional). In another bowl, mix 1 egg with 2/3 cup of buttermilk and 1 Tablespoon of melted butter. Mix and knead lightly. Shape into a plump disk. Put on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and cut a cross into the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Serve with butter and jam.


Corned Beef and Cabbage

Place a cut of corned beef (flat cut, if available) in a large stock pot, along with the envelope of spices. Cover with water. Add a cut-up carrot and a cut-up onion and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 2-3 hours until tender. During the last 20 minutes of cooking, place 4-5 clean red potatoes in the pot, additional chunk-cut carrots, and a head of chunk-cut cabbage. Serve with a spicy mustard (or make your own by mixing a bit of sour cream, horseradish, and yellow mustard to taste). 


Sauerkraut Bread

Mix the packages of yeast and flour from a box of purchased hot roll mix. Add 1 teaspoon of caraway seed. Stir in 1 cup of drained sauerkraut, 1 cup of hot water, 2 Tablespoons of soft butter, and 1 egg. Mix for 3-4 minutes. Knead on a floured counter for 4-5 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then shape and put into a greased loaf or bread pan. Cover loosely and let the dough rise for 30 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown. 


Teriyaki Lenten Salmon

Mix 3 Tablespoons of teriyaki sauce, 3 Tablespoons of hoisin sauce, 3 Tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 Tablespoon of white vinegar, 1 Tablespoon of toasted sesame oil, 1/3 cup of light brown sugar, 3 cloves of minced garlic, and a couple pinches of minced fresh ginger. Heat on the stovetop or in the microwave for a few minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Pour half of the mixture over 2 or 4 salmon fillets and let them marinate for 20 minutes. 

Put the salmon on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until the fish is done. Move to a platter and garnish with minced scallion and sesame seeds. Serve with buttered bread, if desired, and the rest of the sauce.


Hot White Chicken Chili

Put 1/2 cup of vegetable oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven. Add 1 Tablespoon of cayenne pepper, 1 Tablespoon of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of paprika, and 1 teaspoon of garlic powder. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. Remove about half of this mixture to drizzle on the chili later. 

Add 1 chopped-up carrot and 1 small, diced onion. Sauté for several minutes. Add 1-2 pounds of ground chicken or turkey and cook until browned (about 5 minutes). Add 2 cans of cannellini or white beans, 1 can of diced tomatoes (or Ro-tel), 1-2 cups of chicken stock, and several dashes of hot sauce (optional). Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring often. Serve the chili with a dollop of sour cream and chopped pickles on top, drizzled with the additional sauce or a bit of hot honey. Good with buttermilk biscuits.


Game Day Louisiana Hot Wings

Whisk together 1 Tablespoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, 1 teaspoon of dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Rub the spice mixture over 3 pounds of wings. Place the wings on a wire rack on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Place in refrigerator overnight. Grill or bake in a 375-oven, basting with melted butter, until the meat is done (internal temperature of 165 degrees). Serve with a sauce made of 1 stick of melted butter, 1/2 cup of your favorite hot sauce, and 2 Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce.


St. Pat’s Day Cake

Cream 2 sticks of soft butter with 1 cup of brown sugar and 1 cup of granulated sugar. Cream for 3-4 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of sour cream and 3 large room-temperature eggs (one at a time). Mix well. Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla. In another bowl, whisk 2 cups of flour with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Lightly mix into the egg/butter mixture. Generously butter and flour a Bundt-style pan and spoon the batter into the pan. Smooth the batter and sprinkle with 1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans. Bake at 325 degrees for 45-50 minutes (do a toothpick test). Invert and let cool. 

Make a whiskey glaze by mixing 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of Irish whiskey, 3 Tablespoons of orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Heat in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is syrupy. Brush over the cake. Slice and serve with whipped cream and whiskey sauce drizzle.


Pistachio Bundt Cake

Mix 1 package of white or yellow cake mix (no pudding) with 4 eggs, 1 cup of orange juice, 1/3 cup of vegetable oil, and 1 box of pistachio-flavored instant pudding. Mix for 3-4 minutes. Pour 2/3 of the batter into a well-greased and floured Bundt pan. Add 1/3 cup of chocolate syrup to the remaining batter and spoon it on top of the batter in the pan. Use a knife to swirl. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, until done (do a toothpick test). Cool for 15-20 minutes, then invert onto a platter. Pour a powdered sugar glaze on top, then sprinkle with a few chopped pistachios and chocolate sprinkles. 

Editor’s Note: Kate has been an Omaha area culinary instructor since 1997. She attended The Institute for the Culinary Arts at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha.

By Kate Beiting
Weekend Gourmet

Zodiac Forecast

Zodiac Forecast

Pisces  February 20 – March 20

The beginning of the month might be challenging. Try to be patient and keep your focus on positive goals. Spend some time and money on personal development, including education and appearance. Consider enhancing your business wardrobe to boost your confidence at work. You might feel restless—talk it out with a counselor or trusted friend. 


Aries (Mar. 21 – Apr. 20) For Aries, March is going to be an emotional roller coaster. You will see good opportunities in your career, love life, and financial situation, but these opportunities will also bring some anxiety. Spending time with your partner will help your face your problems. 


Taurus (Apr. 21 – May 20) March is full of ups and downs. Your anxiety may be getting in the way of communicating with others. Despite these challenges, you will grow in love and career. 


Gemini (May 21 – Jun. 20) You will get some unexpected news this month. Single people may meet a future partner. Those in relationships will find ways to solve problems as a team. When it comes to career, you might get the chance to turn your passion into an additional source of income. Why not?


Cancer (Jun. 21 – Jul. 22) This month looks promising! You can expect new beginnings and good changes in your life. In the middle of the month, you will get time to relax and recharge yourself. At the end of March, you might see changes related to your place of residence.


Leo (Jul. 23 – Aug. 22) This month, you will get an opportunity to achieve greater things in your personal life—you just need to overcome your self-doubt to succeed. During the middle of the month, take care of your finances by not making large investments or purchases. This may be harder than it sounds.


Virgo (Aug. 23 – Sept. 22) This is a positive month, with opportunities for love, career growth, and financial success. Your finances may improve when you find an additional income source. See the positive side of every little thing.


Libra (Sept. 23 – Oct. 22) March is going to be dynamic and unpredictable. Prepare yourself for emotional ups and downs, as the month will bring a range of powerful feelings. Pay attention to new opportunities, even if you decide not to go for them. 


Scorpio (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21) This will be a transformative month. Focus on self-discovery, maybe through journaling or art therapy. Hard work and dedication will pay off, leading to success in professional endeavors. Finances will be stable.


Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 20) You might get the chance to take a relationship to the next level. You will be full of energy and productivity in the first half of this month. Enjoy riding that wave, but don’t make rash decisions.


Capricorn (Dec. 21 – Jan. 19) A positive and energetic atmosphere will bring opportunities for growth and success. There will be a surge in passion in both romance and career. Avoid impulsive choices, even in the face of this passion. 


Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 19) Your lack of focus may lead to missed opportunities. Don’t let that deter you from letting go of the past and embracing the new! You may need to make a difficult decision. Seek help when you need it. 

A Woman's Work

Irish Proverbs

Offering Insights for Life


Many people adopt St. Patrick’s Day as their holiday, even if they are not Irish. It’s an opportunity to eat corned beef and cabbage, drink green beer, wear green and shamrocks for luck, and gather with friends and family to celebrate and have a good time. The historical significance of the day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. 


I am Irish. My great-great-grandparents emigrated from the Emerald Isle. In fact, I got to see their boarding passes when I visited the National Archives in Washington, DC, about 15 years ago. Irish people are proud of their heritage and their way of life. My house is filled with Irish Belleek (a highly valued type of porcelain), shamrocks, and other items from my trip to Ireland.


Ireland is a country full of storytellers. To keep their traditions and culture alive and well through the generations, the Irish are fond of passing along proverbs and sayings as a form of oral history. These are very personal forms of Irish expression and are short phrases of wisdom and life lessons. The Irish are a practical and hardworking people, and many of these proverbs emanate from their lives on farms and in the country. They have become popular in our society, as they are usually clever and universally appealing. I thought it might be fun to explore some of my favorites.


Who keeps his tongue keeps his friends. This proverb reminds us to think before we speak. Gossip is never good—it is harmful and it may well come back to bite you later.


May your home always be too small to hold all your friends! Friends are gifts. It is good fortune to be surrounded by people who support and cherish you.


“A life making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing at all.” This one comes to us from Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. He means to tell us that it is valuable to experience life, even if you make mistakes along the way, because you will learn and grow as a person. 


May you have the luck of the Irish! This one is self-explanatory. Irish people are considered to be lucky, and we hope you are, too!


You’ve got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your father was. This proverb reminds us that children must choose their own path and make their own way. Independence is powerful and valuable.


Just because your face is wrinkled doesn’t mean you aren’t young at heart. Age is about attitude and state of mind. You might be older in chronological age, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be active, do what you like, and have a good time. In other words, age is just a number!


Life is like a cup of tea: It’s all in how you make it. You have control of your life and you can determine your destiny, good or bad. You hold the power in your own hands.


A good word never broke a tooth. Kindness is always returned. 


You never miss the water until the well has run dry. The 1980s hair band Cinderella paraphrased this proverb in their power ballad entitled “You Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone).” Couldn’t have said it better myself!


The longest road out is the shortest road home. Time and effort always pay off in the end. Keep forging ahead. 


Don’t fear an ill wind if your haystacks are tied down. There is no need to worry about things if you are properly prepared. 


A friend’s eye is a good mirror. A friend can show you what you are really like, whether it’s good or bad. You can trust a true friend’s opinion of you.


Any man can lose his hat in a fairy wind. Some things are just out of your control. Go with the flow.


Sunshine always follows the rain. Things might look bleak, but there is always hope ahead. Don’t stop now!


If you lie down with dogs, you’ll rise with fleas. This reminds us that we tend to take on the characteristics of the people around us, so take care to surround yourself with people you admire and who bring out the best in you. 


Do not resent growing old, many are denied the privilege. This one is especially relevant to me as a senior citizen. Make the most of your life! You are lucky to have it. 

By Deborah Daley
A Woman's Work

Fresh Concepts

Hardscape to a Dreamscape! 

Trends for an Outdoor Oasis


Ah, spring, the rebirth of earth’s spirit. Our lawns come alive, and so do we! It’s time for planning outdoor projects that need to be done before the planting begins. In 2024, expect to see bolder hardscape designs, vibrant water features, and structures that create flair and a touch of drama. Invest in your outdoor dreams, and your home’s value will increase. In this article, we’ll focus on hardscape trends, the advantages of hiring a contractor, and the benefits of an outdoor escape. 


What is the difference between hardscape and landscape? Landscape is your lawn, your garden, and all the other living elements. Hardscape, on the other hand, is your deck, driveway, walkways, fencing, retaining walls, garden structures, built-in firepits, water features, and the borders around them. In other words, the non-living elements in your landscape design. Bring your hardscape to life with the right materials, professional advice, and a little strategy. Let’s look at some trends and ideas. 


An outdoor structure allows you the luxury of immersing yourself in nature while you read, create art, or practice yoga poses, partially sheltered from the sun and rain. If you want to increase your home’s style and value, consider an outdoor structure like a gazebo or pergola.


Although there are different types of gazebos, most are a pavilion structure with open sides and a covered roof. Ancient Greeks often built their gazebos with marble or stone, while Asian cultures tended to choose glass and wood. Today’s materials are often galvanized steel to fend off corrosion and bending. Wrought iron is another incredibly strong building material. Vinyl and aluminum are lighter and less expensive. Gazebo trends this year include pool lounges, open-air dining rooms, dreamy pops of color, natural wood or stone, and backyard bars. 


A pergola is a slightly different type of outdoor structure. The main difference is the roof. A gazebo has a full roof, while the roof of a pergola is simply a lattice of overlapping wood or metal beams that is open to the stars. What a great chance to stargaze on a warm summer night or bask under the glorious moon! A pergola can be built on top of an existing deck or balcony and is a great option for an outdoor eating area. You can add more shade with climbing vines. 


If you love using your backyard pool, plan to dive into 2024 with a new or revamped pool deck! This year, freshen up your deck for both form and function. Eco-friendly materials like reclaimed wood and natural stone are very popular—you get a stunning visual while reducing the environmental footprint. Transform your deck with cost-efficient stamped concrete or opt for a textured or smooth pebble look. Try simulated stone or porcelain tile for an outdoor spa feel. Durable porcelain (also known as waterline tile) also comes in textures, patterns, and eye-catching colors. Try deep blue with gold accents, natural beige, slate gray articulated with flecks of brown, or wood-look tiles for a cozy feel under your feet. 


2024 also brings exciting trends in backyard water features. Water inspires compassion, connection, and awe. Enhance your outdoor space with the beautiful sights and sounds of a fountain, pond, waterfalls, or stream. 


If you want a real showpiece, ask a pro to help install a splashy waterfall with a stone finish in the middle of your garden. If you don’t want a lot of splash, opt for a subtle burst of bubbles in a simple basin among your greenery. If your lot carries a natural slope, add a delicate waterfall that trickles into a pond, or create a waterfall surrounded by large stones for a more rugged feel. For small spaces, simplify with a glazed ceramic bowl big enough to reflect sunshine over the water. Birds and other critters may stop for a drink. Remember that water fountains use a pump, while waterfalls usually flow over a landscape edge into another pool or onto the ground. 


Ask your hardscape professional for advice on monumental stone, diving rocks, and slabs. Architects and builders can integrate large slab stones into water features like swimming pools or along walkways. Stone steps made from sizable limestone blocks or other stone slabs create a focal point. Add a stone seating area around a natural stone table, and you’re set for dinner! 


Let’s talk artsy trends for walkways and borders. Consider a water feature along your walkway. Include colorful pots with dashes of green plants and splashes of flowers. Showy plants like papyrus build extra zing. According to the website, 2024’s eclectic walkway styles are moving toward the “more is more” wilderness of nature. “Stylistically, you can expect less structure than both modernism and formalism. Paths meander, angles aren’t sharp, and plantings appear spontaneous, resembling the random expressions of natural beauty found on trails.” Trends for path materials this year mix warm and neutral colors with stone, brick, and concrete pavers. Eclectic indeed! 


Retaining walls are a win-win-win because they provide function, beauty, and increased home values. Functionally, retaining walls help prevent flooding and erosion; aesthetically, they create visual interest and can offer spaces for planting. Whether you choose concrete, stone, or timber, a retaining wall can create an interesting terrace backdrop or build dimension over a flat surface. Tiered garden walls create jaw-dropping scenery with wall stones, railroad ties, and treated wood. Add mood lighting to complete the fairy tale. 


Many garden borders incorporate the ever-popular paver stones, plastic, and steel, but 2024 pushes your hardscape creativity beyond the norm to features like vertical eucalyptus wood borders. Heads up—durability for certain materials wanes when temperatures drop. In colder climates, substitute acacia wood or try small cedar shingles. Try stacking different shades of flagstone around garden borders for a country cottage look! And have you heard of the garden border called curbing? This is a single-pour concrete border that is tinted and molded into the style you choose. It’s wildly durable and is great at keeping grass out of your garden beds. 


Let’s shift gears to driveways. Want a driveway that makes you smile every time you drive in or out? How about glow-in-the-dark pavers or decorative concrete inlays to guide your way? Integrate different materials to customize your own vision. One theme in 2024 is stamped concrete, imprinting unique patterns and decorative textures that mimic natural stone, brick, or wood. Naturally exposed aggregate concrete achieves a rustic look with exposed stones, and you can enhance safety with slip resistant surfaces. 


Of course, you can mix in real wood, brick, and pavers to complete the aesthetic you want. Texturing techniques include broom finishing, sandblasting, and scoring for depth and interest. Build in contrasting colors and geometric patterns to taste, but be sure to consider what you’ve already chosen for the rest of the yard! The key is to integrate and blend hardscaping with your planned landscaping. The right driveway (or patio) finish depends on your budget, personal style, and maintenance preferences. 


If you’re in the market for a new fence, choose quality with a twist. Geometric curves with an asymmetrical flair are trending in 2024. The classic white picket fence has some competition this year, with vibrant hues popping up everywhere. Think deep blues and rich greens. Low maintenance white vinyl and composite wood are still popular. They look great with the addition of a little energetic color from flowers or a little dazzle from lighting. 


Hire the right hardscape contractor, and you’ll never look back. A professional designer understands your vision as well as your practical and financial needs. Professionals craft designs for hardscape that leave room for plants and other aesthetics—they’re experts on what will and will not work in your climate, space, price range, and design preferences. Translation: They’ll save you time and money! Factor in safety, and you’ll get more bang for your buck with projects done right the first time. As always, check credentials, licenses, and customer reviews.


Go ahead and celebrate spring! Daydream in your backyard solo or invite friends and family over for a party. Allow the summer breeze to brush your face with the scent of the outdoors, cut grass, and flowers. It’s your yard—enjoy it! 


Sources for this article included:,, and 

By Janette Calabro
Fresh Concepts

Good Looks

The Mane Event

Getting the Upper Hand on Hair Loss

A stylish mane has been an important component of self-image since ancient times. Let’s face it—first impressions count, and being well-coiffed certainly influences that initial reaction. Many women acknowledge that a bad hair day can lead to a bad day overall, especially for ladies with thinning hair, bald spots, or other hair issues they didn’t have when they were younger. Luckily, many options exist to help preserve those beautiful tresses.


Several factors can lead to hair loss. Stress, pregnancy, an overactive thyroid, lack of protein, sudden weight loss, hormonal changes, nutrient deficiencies, and certain medications can all contribute to temporary or chronic hair loss. Hair loss often manifests itself as thinning hair or a widening part, typically at age 40 and over. One in five women will be affected by female pattern hair loss, or androgenic alopecia, but steps can be taken to help slow down the process.


Medication is often a good first choice. Hormone replacement therapy may decrease or even stop hair loss in menopausal and perimenopausal women. If an autoimmune disorder is suspected, a corticosteroid may be prescribed to stop the inflammation responsible for the problem. Prescription-strength Nizoral shampoo contains 2 percent ketoconazole, which may help reduce the body’s production of hormones that can lead to hair loss. A trained healthcare professional can help identify and treat nutrient deficiencies caused by underlying medical conditions.


Second-round treatment options include minimally invasive treatments such as platelet-rich plasma therapy. PRP is a process whereby blood is drawn from the patient and placed into a centrifuge that isolates the platelets. Following this separation, a physician injects the platelets into areas of the scalp where hair loss has occurred to stimulate new growth. The platelets stimulate collagen production and prolong the hair follicle’s growth cycle. Each treatment takes less than 30 minutes, and side effects are minimal. The treatments are usually administered monthly for the first three to four months, and then every three to six months after that. Results may be noticeable in as little as two months. 


Low-level laser therapy has also shown promise in combating hair loss. Laser treatments increase circulation and stimulate hair follicles, promoting growth. They may also improve the strength and thickness of existing hair. Multiple sessions over an extended period are required. Outcomes vary, but most women experience promising results. 


If these treatments don’t get the job done, consider a surgical procedure for round three. Hair transplant surgery has been around since the 1950s, but techniques and technology have greatly improved over the years. During a hair transplant procedure, a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon removes hair from a portion of the scalp that has hair and transplants it to a bald spot. Each patch of hair has one to several hairs. Sometimes a larger strip of skin containing multiple hair groupings is harvested. Hospitalization is not required, but the procedure can be painful, so a sedative is administered to ease any discomfort. More than one surgery may be necessary to achieve the desired results.


For a sure-fire, knock-out punch in the hair loss fight, hair extensions and wigs are a guaranteed win. Hair extensions have come a long way in the last several years. Weaves are still commonly used, but there are options to fit every lifestyle. Hair extensions can be either natural or synthetic. (Natural is highly desirable, but synthetic is more affordable.) 


The type of extension chosen is dependent on personal preference and the look desired. The main difference is in the method by which the extensions are attached. Bonded hair extensions are popular, largely due to their balance of quality and price. A stylist uses a heat-activated glue gun to attach the extensions to your natural hair. Fusion extensions are attached with melted keratin. Keratin is a naturally occurring protein in hair, skin, and nails. Keratin extensions are heat-tolerant, making them a good choice for women who style their hair with heat. Sewn-in extensions have been around longer than any other type of hair extensions. They are sewn or glued to natural hair. 


Millions of women wear wigs every day. Today’s wigs look more natural and beautiful than ever before. There are several factors to consider in choosing a wig, including face shape, age, lifestyle, and personality. Wigs are available in both synthetic and natural hair, and wig salons have trained professionals to help navigate the process. A licensed cosmetologist is also a valuable resource for wig care.


Don’t throw in the towel when it comes to hair loss! Put on the gloves and step into the ring. It’s not too late to reclaim your crowning glory. 


Sources for this article included:,, and

By Loretta McCollum
Good Looks

Income Outcome

Looking in the Mirror

Benefits of Self-Reflection


“One of the greatest tragedies in life is to lose your own sense of self and accept the version of you that is expected by everyone else.” —K. L. Toth


In the past, reflecting on myself and my life was not a pattern that I had practiced much. I was one of those people who lived day by day. Got up, went to Women’s Edition, and did my work. Finished up my day, left work, met friends for dinner or went home and watched my favorite television shows. I would then hit the hay, get up, and do it again. 


“People who have had little self-reflection live life in a huge reality blind-spot.” —Bryant McGill


The thought that I could reflect on my day, evaluate my experiences, and learn from them, never occurred to me. In fact, I had lived most of my adult life believing that I liked myself just the way I was, so why change? Why grow? Why learn? 


“Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.” —Barbara De Angelis


Then, twelve years ago, my husband Manny came into my life. Manny is a person who reflects daily on his wife, his family, his responsibilities, and God. By doing this, he strives to become a better person. In the beginning, I found it completely exhausting. It is a lot of work to begin to change!


“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” —Aldous Huxley


This new path that I have been on for almost twelve years has been invigorating, exciting, debilitating, challenging, and rewarding. I am not the same person I was in 2012. In 2024, I am better. At the end of my day, I stop, breathe, and reflect on what has occurred. Was I better today than yesterday? Were my communications with others healthy? Compassionate? Did I learn anything? Have I grown?


“Stop trying to be less of who you are. Let this time in your life cut you open and drain all of the things that are holding you back.” —Jennifer Elisabeth


Some days, when I reflect, I give myself an emotional high five. Other days, I realize that I have not been the best person I can be. I am learning about myself. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Every single day, I have discovered something that I did well…and things that need improving. But I’m learning. I’m growing and I’m changing. And I love it.


“Self-reflection is a much kinder teacher than regret is. Prioritize yourself by making a habit of it.”  —Andrena Sawyer 

By Janet Van deWalle
Income Outcome

Kids Comments

Harbingers of Spring

Robins, Warm Breezes, and More


You can tell spring is just around the corner. On March 19th, 2024, our calendars will herald the first day of spring…the vernal equinox…the day when the hours of light and dark are equal. If you are paying attention to Mother Nature, you’ll notice that the sun seems to set just a bit later every day. Your thermometer indicates the temperature is climbing slightly. Best of all, winter’s accumulation of snow is beginning to melt.


It’s a pleasure to go outdoors without bundling up. The spring sun feels warm. The trees are budding, and new plants are poking their heads out of the ground. Migrating birds and young animals make an appearance. The gray landscape of winter gradually changes to a more pleasing palette of soft color, and the harsh winds of winter are exchanged for the warmer breezes of springtime. 


It all reminds me of a cartoon I saw years ago (I don’t remember the title) of flowers dancing in a gentle breeze and animals romping together across a meadow to a happy tune. It’s like the gleeful feeling that Dorothy, Toto, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Lion express when they come across the field of poppies on their way to Oz and see the Emerald City at last.


In my neighborhood, I see friends outdoors planting gardens and helping their lawns recover from the harshness of winter snow. Windows are washed to rid them of the scum brought in by winter winds. It’s time to paint the house, stain the deck, and wash off the patio.


I know that folks are cleaning and sorting indoors. Windows are open to let stale air out and fresh air in. We purge closets to get rid of the old and make room for the new. Cupboards beckon us to sort through boxes, cans, and other food containers, searching for those items that have stayed past their due date.


Spring is a time of renewal. Just as we work on refurbishing the house and yard, we work on ourselves by creating new, lighter meals to replace the heavier stews and soups so popular in cold weather. What a great time to take advantage of fresh produce!


All the kids can help…with supervision, of course. They can go through their own drawers and closets to get rid of clothes that don’t fit, are worn out, or are just not worn anymore. Even the littlest can help with chores around the house and yard. A friend said she makes it a game…each kid has a job, and the one passing inspection first gets a reward…in addition to bragging rights. According to my neighbors, the more kids help, the better they are at budgeting their time and appreciating the things they have. Besides, it makes work easier for Mom and Dad! 

Editor’s Note: Marge has three children, two grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews. She holds advanced degrees in education. Her life’s mission is to teach everyone that kids are people, too.

By Marge Shoemaker, BS, MS
Kids Comments

Interiors By Design

The Modern Bathroom

Crafting Your Personal Retreat

Few of us would disagree that the pandemic changed the way we live. With a focus on well-being, homeowners have enhanced outdoor living spaces and home offices, but perhaps no single room has undergone a more radical transformation than the bathroom. No longer merely a functional space, the bath has become a personal retreat, a haven of rejuvenation, and a space to connect with self. Designers and manufacturers have responded with cutting-edge ideas and products that push the boundaries of design aesthetics and functionality to dazzling new heights. Whether you’re planning a complete bathroom remodel or simply looking to refresh an outdated one, 2024 offers no end of inspirational possibilities.


Today’s bathroom design is all about the power of simplicity. Clean lines, light-filled spaces, and finishes that embrace the natural world combine to evoke an atmosphere of calm and serenity. The modern bathroom is equipped with luxurious amenities, designed to elevate daily routines into experiences that revitalize and restore. Organic materials and flowing water merge in an environment that nurtures the soul, whether preparing for the day ahead or unwinding in the evening. Steam showers, soaking tubs, and heated floors and towel racks comprise just a few of the luxurious features that homeowners are opting for. 


The desire for a spa-at-home experience has led homeowners to approach bathroom design with the same mindfulness applied when designing kitchens and living rooms—spacious, inviting spaces that please the senses. 


One of the simplest ways to create a spa-like vibe is with a freestanding bathtub. Sleek and stylish tubs add a sculptural element to modern spaces. In a more traditional bathroom, a clawfoot tub is a beautiful feature. 


Rain showers and steam showers provide the ultimate in luxury. Designers tell us that frameless glass doors and doors with black grid frames are expected to be very popular in shower enclosures in 2024. Showers featuring door-less and curb-less entry are also gaining popularity. Offering seamless access to the rest of the room, these showers hold a special appeal to those who plan to age in place and have come to dread stepping out of a slippery tub onto a slippery floor. 


As with all great design, the devil is in the details. Create a pleasing aesthetic by drawing on current trends of patterned tile in hexagon, herringbone, and chevron designs. Large format tile as well as natural stone and porcelain slabs are streamlined choices that not only create a beautiful, seamless appearance but also minimize grout upkeep. 


In terms of finishes, the design world has experienced a shift toward warm neutrals, replacing the cool gray tones that have dominated the last decade. The bathroom is no exception to this trend. Think cream, beige, taupe, and mushroom paired with earthy brown and rich camel. Tile and paint in these warm palettes pair beautifully with white oak and light maple cabinets to create a woodsy, nature-inspired space that evokes feelings of calm and relaxation. 


The ultimate modern bathroom incorporates innovative smart home features. Homeowners can reduce their home energy and water consumption by swapping outdated fixtures for energy-efficient low flow showerheads and faucets and high-efficiency toilets. According to the Environment Protection Agency, a water-efficient toilet can reduce annual water consumption by 20–60 percent, saving thousands of gallons of water and reducing your water bill. Another growing trend is the smart toilet, equipped with automatic lids, warming seats, and self-cleaning features. For the ultimate in convenience, many homeowners are installing a washer and dryer in the bathroom. It’s efficient to tap into existing plumbing, and placing a washer and dryer in the bathroom eliminates extra trips to the main laundry room. What a treat! 


When considering a bathroom remodel, one of your first questions may be whether to hire an interior designer or an architect. The answer depends on the scope of your project. Generally, if your project requires moving walls, adding space, or relocating plumbing, it’s wise to hire an architect who understands structural integrity. 


For most other projects, an interior designer has all the requisite skills, including conceptualizing your space in a new way, creating design plans to show a contractor, and selecting finishes and fixtures. A talented interior designer will work to bring your personal vision to life, knows where to source materials, and can pull everything together in a way that is as beautiful as it is functional. Hiring an interior designer will provide the customized solutions to create the ultimate personalized sanctuary, promising you a retreat that’s as unique as you are! 


Sources for this article included:,, and

By Robyn V. Powell
Interiors By Design

Home Works

Tile and Stone

Maintaining, Repairing, Restoring


Home renovation is a common topic in this magazine, but let’s take a moment to discuss some things about your home that you don’t want to change. There is something to be said for caring and maintaining some parts of your home without changing them. If the tile or stone surfaces in your home have seen better days, think twice before tearing them out. These lovely home features require cleaning, restoration, and (occasionally) repair to maintain their condition, but it’s worth the effort.


Why are repairs or restorations even necessary? Does it really make that much of a difference? The answer (yes!) shouldn’t surprise you. Keeping your stone or tile clean and repaired naturally increases its longevity and durability, maintains (or even increases) your property values, and almost always costs less than replacement. Restoration and repairs also take a lot less time than replacing tile and stone, which means less time when you are unable to use your floors and counters.


Stone restoration can be a very labor-intensive process, so it’s best to hire a seasoned professional for the job. After prepping the surface for restoration, the first step is grinding down the natural stone to remove any surface imperfections that may have been nicked or carved into it over time. Next is honing the stone with a fine abrasive powder and water to smooth the surface and remove any minor scratches. After honing, the stone is polished to its original shine and regrouted.


Tile, on the other hand, can’t really be sanded down and re-polished to perfection. Your tile restoration pro will start with a thorough cleaning, followed by identifying any cracks in the tile or grout. Tile is best repaired with fillers like epoxy resin adhesive. When applied properly, it will look seamless and never flake or pop off. Grout cracks can be filled in with epoxy grout filler, or, if the problem is truly widespread, by regrouting the whole area. 


Regrouting increases the lifespan of your tiles. Grout is naturally porous and will become dirty and dingy over time, even when it is properly sealed. Regrouting or restoring your existing grout can improve the appearance of your floors, showers, or countertops. It also takes care of water damage and mold growth, enhancing the cleanliness of your shower, bath, or kitchen counters. Left alone, your grout could become so bad that you’d need to replace all the tile, anyway, so it’s really best to regrout regularly and save yourself time and money.


Once your stone, tile, and grout are restored, add further protection by sealing them. Grout is often sealed with a dual colorant and sealer, which will add a protective layer on the surface and prevent moisture absorption and staining. Tile is usually sealed with a solvent-based topical sealer, which will coat the entire surface, protect it from mold and stains, and add a nice sheen on the surface. The sealant for stone will depend on what kind of stone you have. The sealant will close the natural pores in the stone, preventing it from absorbing moisture or contaminants.


To make sure all of the beautiful restoration work lasts as long as possible, it’s recommended that you get your tile or stone flooring cleaned professionally at least once or twice a year. When you’re deciding how often to schedule professional cleanings, consider how much traffic the floor gets and whether the people walking on it are typically wearing shoes. Pet traffic counts, too! Professional cleanings do not replace regular DIY cleaning, of course, and regular sweeping and mopping will go a long way to keep your stone and tile looking great and staying free of scratches.


Whether or not you hire out your regular cleaning is up to you, but you should definitely hire a professional for stone or tile restoration. As when hiring any professional to work in your home, shop around and ask the usual questions. How many years have they been in business? Are they properly licensed, bonded, and insured to do the work? If you have specific questions about how they may or may not be able to handle the exact materials and services your home needs, be sure to ask those, too. And don’t forget to read reviews from past customers!


It’s easy to ignore things like dingy grout in the bathroom or scratches on the kitchen counter, but these problems will not improve over time! Hiring the right professionals to repair, restore, and maintain your stone and tile will keep your home looking great at a fraction of the cost of remodeling. 


Sources for this article included:,, and

By Anne Yankus
Home Works

To Your Good Health

March Into Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

For a Healthy You

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s the perfect time to add colorectal screening to your 2024 health goals. Remember, being healthy is more than losing a few pounds. Screening for various forms of cancer is important for everyone, especially people at higher risk because of age, lifestyle, family history, or other risk factors. If you’re 45 or older, consider this article your reminder to schedule a screening for colorectal cancer to make sure you are healthy and cancer free. 


In people younger than 50 years, the rates of colon or rectal cancer diagnoses have been increasing one or two percent per year since the mid-1990s. Screening starting at age 45 is the new recommendation. This is important because if colorectal cancer is detected early and treated early, the survival rate is excellent—in fact, it’s 90 percent.


In 2023, estimates project that over 106,000 new cases of colon cancer and nearly 46,000 cases of rectal cancer will be identified in the United States. Colorectal cancer, which is the incidence of colon and rectal cancer together, is the third most diagnosed cancer, affecting men and women across all races and backgrounds. Because the disease causes no symptoms until later stages, regular screenings are a vital tool for diagnosis. Do not ignore your doctor when they bring up colorectal cancer screenings at your office visit!


While screenings are crucial, recognizing potential symptoms is also important. Changes in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, abdominal discomfort, fatigue, and unexplained weight loss are signals that should lead you to the doctor. These symptoms can also be caused by conditions other than colorectal cancer. Your doctor will help you find the source of discomfort, no matter what the condition turns out to be.


For those at serious risk of having colorectal cancer, a colonoscopy cannot be avoided. This is not just a test; it can also be a preventative treatment. If polyps (pre-cancerous growths on the inner lining of the colon) are found during a colonoscopy, they can also be removed during the procedure.


If the idea of discussing a colonoscopy makes you feel awkward, you’re not alone. It is important to remember that the people performing colonoscopies are trained medical professionals who perform this procedure every day. They understand that their patients may be nervous, embarrassed, or uncomfortable with the process. They care for their patients with dignity and work hard to make patients feel at ease.


If you are one of those people who dreads undergoing a colonoscopy (aren’t we all?), there is good news for those whose risk of colorectal cancer is low. For many, a home stool test is a safe, private way of testing. You simply collect a stool sample at home and send it to a laboratory. 


Home tests use different methods to detect cancer. Some detect blood in the stool sample, and other tests look for antibodies to detect blood in the stool. The most commonly known kit—the one we see advertised on television—tests for cancer cells. These tests catch about 79 percent of colon cancers. 90 percent of the time, these tests accurately confirm when people do not have colon cancer. These tests can also detect 40 percent of precancerous polyps. If any of these home tests find blood, cancer cells, or polyps in the stool sample, a colonoscopy will be recommended. 


If you are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, the stage of the cancer determines the treatment plan. Treatments include radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, and ablation (a non-surgical treatment done with a needle-tipped catheter placed into a tumor to shrink or destroy the tumor with extreme heat or cold). Patients are treated by various specialists, including gastroenterologists, surgical oncologists, colorectal surgeons, and others.


Understanding your risk factors is important, so talk to your doctor to learn about your risk. Age, genetics, inflammatory bowel disease, family history, and lifestyle choices like inactivity, poor diet, obesity, and tobacco use all contribute. Making lifestyle changes, such as reducing red and processed meat consumption, increasing fiber intake, staying hydrated, and taking probiotics, can contribute to reducing your risk.


Researchers are working on a vaccine for preventing colorectal cancer in individuals at high genetic risk. A vaccine targeting Lynch syndrome is in early-phase trials. The medical community is optimistic about the potential of vaccines in preventing various cancers, including colorectal cancer.


This year, do not let embarrassment or fear stand in the way of a potentially life-saving colorectal cancer screening. Your health is worth an uncomfortable conversation! It’s a proactive step towards a healthier future—your future! 


Sources for this article included:,,, and 

By Leslie Byrne
To Your Good Health

Focus On Finance

Mr. Market

Electronic and Eclectic

A market can be anywhere that buyers and sellers come together, agree upon a price, and finalize the transaction. For example, you could put a For Sale sign in your front yard. A passerby sees it, you talk and agree upon a price, and then both parties move to their new location. 


An exchange can be a business or organization that brings buyers and sellers together. It can also just be a place where buyers and sellers meet. For example, instead of just putting out a For Sale sign and waiting for someone to walk by, you could engage a professional real estate agent, who uses multiple listings services to help bring home buyers and sellers together.


Fifty years ago, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) was the exchange that brought the majority of stock buyers and sellers together. It was a cadre of men in blue coats, carrying paper and pencils, standing by kiosks on the exchange’s cavernous floor. They received phone calls from licensed brokers in all sections of the country and helped establish a price acceptable to both parties. 


In the mid 1970s, the NASDAQ Exchange began a transformation of the investment process when it became the first American electronic exchange. The initial NASDAQ Exchange was a series of 250 broker-dealers from all parts of the country who would post buy and sell orders on a computer network that was visible to all participants. When a broker found a price that was acceptable, they pushed a button, and the transaction was completed. This allowed investors to transact business without going through the human facilitators on the floor of the NYSE. 


The next iteration in the evolution of the financial services industry was the technological and regulatory change brought about by Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade. This was the first internet brokerage firm. Ricketts’ innovations allowed individual investors to place orders on their own computer without even speaking to a broker. In its initial phase, some orders went to the NASDAQ, while others went to the NYSE. 


For several decades, the American financial services industry operated under this dual system: the NYSE human facilitators versus the direct electronic order placement of the internet brokers. 


In the early years of the 21st century, the Securities and Exchange Commission determined that the NYSE didn’t have enough competition and decreed that more exchanges be built. The industry responded, but rather than build exchanges modeled after the NYSE human specialist format, 12 new exchanges came online that were large computer server farms based on the NASDAQ model. Now, anyone who wanted to trades stocks could do so in multiple places using multiple techniques. To establish a uniform pricing mechanism, there was a magic black box at the NYSE that gathered data from all the exchanges and calculated a composite market price that was then transmitted back through the system. 


As a result of this state-of-the-art transformation of the investment process, many new players appeared, each with their own unique paradigm on how to calculate an acceptable stock price. The significance of this new twist is that the market price compiled by the NYSE’s magic box comes from the input of all these new players. These new participants are high-speed traders, algorithm traders, and index mutual funds, to name just a few. Each one of these trading groups brings to the table their own formula for calculating when to buy or sell and what price they deem to be acceptable.


Now, for the $64,000 question. What has been the impact of this electronic and eclectic system on the prices of stocks? The honest answer is that we don’t know. Today’s massive high-speed computers complete, on average, more than 6 billion trades per day. And those are only the transactions on the listed exchanges. An additional several billion are completed at sites not connected to the NYSE system…and away from the prying eyes of regulators. Given this level of activity, it is impossible to tell who is making trades and why. What we do know is that the prices of individual stocks have become more random and less connected to the perceived financial value of the underlying company. 


In the midst of this seemingly chaotic market, how can individual investors make informed decisions? One way is to step back and look at the bigger picture. For the past two and a half centuries, the long-run performance of the stock market has been a mirror image of the American economy as a whole. For those who feel comfortable with this assessment, their response should be to “forget the needle and buy the haystack.” The picture doesn’t get much bigger than that! 


Editor’s Note: George Morgan has five decades’ experience in all phases of the investment process. He is currently the Founder and Principal of Morgan Investor Education. His website is


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investments may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing.

By George Morgan
Focus On Finance

Seasons of Life

Estate Planning

Avoid Chaos for Your Heirs

Why have 64 percent of Americans neglected to make a will? Because we don’t like to think about death…especially our own. However, planning for your own demise is one of the kindest (and smartest) things you can do for your loved ones. Estate planning ensures that you, and not the state, decide how your assets will be handled.


Many people think estate planning is just for older, wealthy people with considerable assets. Keep in mind that there’s more to an estate plan than leaving an inheritance. Many of the legal documents that make up an estate plan can be beneficial to people of different ages and with varying levels of financial resources.


For younger parents, guardianship of their minor children is a concern. Small business owners of any age may want to stipulate the management of their business. Older adults may have an infirm parent or disabled adult child for whom they want to provide financial and personal care.


An estate plan might include a will, an advance directive, a trust, or powers of attorney (both financial and health). A will, probably the most familiar of the legal documents, can designate heirs, name an executor, and appoint guardians. That, along with the beneficiaries named in retirement accounts and insurance policies, may be sufficient for some situations. Each spouse must have their own will.


One sticking point for having only a will to direct distribution of assets is that, upon one’s death, the will must be placed in probate and becomes a public record. It can take considerable time to get distributions to one’s heirs. Some use other legal avenues to avoid public disclosure, minimize taxes and expenses, and speed up distributions. These include establishing a trust, whereby one’s assets are placed in a legal entity (the trust). This does not go through probate and therefore does not become public upon one’s death. Property is transferred more quickly, getting assets to heirs in a timelier manner.


Two main types of trusts are: revocable and irrevocable. A revocable trust lets you control your finances while you are living, designates a person of your choice to step in if necessary, and minimizes problems for your heirs when you die. A revocable trust, as the name implies, can be amended, altered, or terminated if you wish. You can be the trustee who manages the trust.


An irrevocable trust is one where a trustee that you name (other than yourself) manages the trust’s assets. Income from the trust is not included in your taxable income, which might be an advantage. Assets are not included in your estate. The trustee must manage assets according to the terms of the legal document and always in the best interest of the beneficiaries.


A trust may be used to establish charitable giving as well as the distribution of assets to heirs. Trusts must abide by state and federal laws, so you will most likely need specialized legal advice, often an attorney with experience in estate planning. Input from tax advisors and investment advisors may be needed, as well. 


It is advisable to name durable power attorney for financial matters and durable power of attorney for health matters. These are trusted persons designated to act on your behalf should you become unable to make financial or health decisions.


Advance directives are often part of estate planning. Sometimes called a living will, this document tells loved ones what kind of care or treatment you would want if you’re unable to make such decisions. For example, you might want at some point for treatment to extend life to be stopped and instead to be made comfortable. 


At what age or stage of life should one have a will or estate plan? The short answer is: now. Consider that if you die without a will, a judge will make decisions about any property you own or financial assets according to state law. If you have a minor child, the court will choose a guardian. A judge will appoint an executor. Perhaps you have a complex family situation involving divorce, blended family, or committed but unmarried partners. If you don’t record your own intentions, the state will make all the choices for you.


Once you have a plan, update it every five years or whenever you have significant life changes. Review your beneficiaries on pension plans, retirement or bank accounts, and life insurance. These take precedence over anything written in a will, even if the beneficiaries were designated many years previous and would no longer be your choices.


Estate planning gives you peace of mind. It is also a great service to your loved ones, easing their burden during trying circumstances. 


Sources for this article included:,, and

By Linda Barnes
Seasons of Life

Peak Performance

Selling Your Home

What You Need to Know


In the circle of life, there are many milestones: birth, graduation, your first job, buying and selling a home, and more. Selling a house is a major decision that takes careful consideration and planning. It’s a lot of work, but there’s no need to do it alone.


For the last year or so, mortgage rates have been high while the stock of homes for sale has been historically low. This has led some homebuyers to “wait out” a decision to make a major purchase. However, pent-up demand and low inventory will generally bolster prices, which is good news for sellers. Plus, mortgage rates have been trending down. This is typically characterized as a seller’s market, and it might be the right time to sell. Experts recommend selling in the spring and summer, listing your house no later than July. 


Keep in mind that preparing your home to sell, marketing, negotiating, and actually closing the deal may take several months from start to finish. You will need a plan that includes a timeline and a competent real estate agent. It is possible to sell your home on your own, but hiring a professional to handle all the moving parts is almost guaranteed to save you time and hassle.


To find a listing agent you can trust to serve as your advocate as well as manage negotiations and paperwork, ask colleagues, friends, and family for referrals. Don’t be afraid to interview multiple agents or review their client references. The internet makes it easy to delve into an agent’s experience, profile, and industry prowess. You want someone who knows the market and your neighborhood.


An agent should provide you with a detailed market analysis based on similar homes in your local area and recommend a sale price. They will factor in the condition of your home and other selling features that may affect the price.


Ask about their strategy for selling your home and make sure it aligns with your goals for sales price and time on the market. It should include a marketing plan for connecting with potential homebuyers and coordinating open houses and showings. Make sure you are on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), an online database that lists homes for sale. Your agent will write a detailed description of your home and upload photos that represent it best.


Preparing your home for sale is a critical part of your plan. Remember, first impressions matter! Your agent can advise on how you can best prepare your home for sale. They should provide advice on staging, repairs, and potential improvements to make it more marketable or lift your home’s value. 


The first step is to give your home a deep clean, from the baseboards to the tops of the ceiling fans. A professional cleaning service can ensure that your home is in pristine condition. Removing excess clutter can also go a long way with buyers. You may want to remove some of your personal items, such as photographs and family heirlooms, to help buyers visualize themselves living in your space. 


Whether it’s a leaky faucet, broken door handle, or cracked windowpane, now is the time to fix the items that have been on your to-do list for years. You want potential homebuyers to see that your home has been well cared for. 


Some realtors are also skilled in home staging; some will have someone to refer you to for this service. Staging includes things like rearranging furniture to make rooms appear larger and installing new, brighter light bulbs—anything to make your home as inviting as possible. Don’t forget curb appeal! According to HGTV, beefing up your landscaping can have a 100 percent return at the time of sale. 


Sellers generally pay closing costs, which include real estate commissions (5-6 percent of the sales price) as well as taxes and fees (2-4 percent). These costs will be taken from the sale proceeds of the home at closing. 


Another item to remember is the home inspection. Although it is paid for by the buyer, it may uncover problems with the home. If it does, buyers can request repairs, paid for by the seller, as a condition of the sale. Be prepared for these costs in your selling journey. 


Selling a home is a negotiation, and contracts are involved. Let your real estate agent navigate negotiations. In most cases, the process is a back and forth, and that is why you hire an expert. Knowing the important parts of the process, hiring a top-notch real estate agent, and following a plan will help you reach your desired outcome in selling your home. 


Sources for this article included:,, and 

By Deborah Daley
Peak Performance

Auto Wise

Auto Body Repair

Explaining the Price Tag


If you have had to deal with collision repair, you have probably asked yourself: Why is it so costly to get my car repaired? There are several reasons for it. You may not know what actually goes into an auto body repair. For example, when you take your car in for collision repair, it may not be immediately apparent how much work it actually needs. The average person may simply see the dent in their car, but the repair company may need to remove several parts of the vehicle to get to the problem at hand. It depends on how deeply the collision may have damaged other components of the vehicle. 


Another reason that repairs are so expensive is that repair shops need to comply with EPA regulations. The materials that are used to bring your dearly loved car back to its original shine, including paint, primers, and clear coats, all contain hazardous pollutants. These body shops are under very strict regulations to operate. If they do not operate under the conditions, they will have to pay a hefty fine. 


These regulations impact the body shop’s bottom line and, of course, that cost is passed on to the customer. Keep in mind that these regulations are designed to keep humans and the environment safe, so they are a necessary annoyance that keeps everyone secure in the long run. In most cases, your invoice will list an “environmental fee” or “disposal fee” along with labor and parts. 


If you are unfortunate enough to suffer a collision, you should file a police report and contact your insurance company right away. Your insurance company will give you all the information you need to get things going with the adjuster. While they get the claim started, they will work on all the necessary documentation.


Your insurance company can help you find a repair shop or make recommendations, but keep in mind that you are allowed to have your car repaired wherever you choose. It can be helpful to talk to friends and neighbors who have used repair shops locally and find out if they were indeed happy with the end result. It is always best to get three estimates. As you visit different repair shops, look around at how they keep their shops and if they seem organized and relatively clean. 


When shopping for a repair shop, always ask questions about the repair process. A reputable shop will be more than happy to explain to you the repair process and break down the estimate. If a repair shop seems reticent to do so, you should move on. 


Another reason for the high cost of repair is the cost of waste disposal. Auto body shops typically generate several types of potentially hazardous waste. These can include oil-based and solvent-based paints, coatings, other solvents, non-empty containers, paint filters, anti-freeze, dirty rags, and used oil. That is a lot of waste, and it doesn’t just head to the landfill! These items need specialized waste disposal, which costs more than regular trash pickup.


Different shops may calculate environmental and waste disposal charges in different ways. Some may apply a standard charge to every customer, while others charge customers for the specific waste items that their vehicle produced. Don’t hesitate to ask the technician how the environmental or disposal fees are calculated. 


One way a body shop can keep costs down is with a process called paintless dent repair. This process is much more eco-friendly and cheaper than traditional repair methods. Paintless dent repair is exactly what it sounds like: repairing a dent without having to repaint the vehicle. Automobile technicians use specialized tools that apply pressure to the back side of the dent to bring the surface back to its initial condition. 


Paintless dent repair is a wonderfully cost-effective alternative to more traditional repair options, but it is not appropriate for every dent. Your technician will assess the damage and decide whether your car can be fixed in this way. Things like the size, depth, and location of the dent each play a part in determining which technique to use. Although many insurance policies do cover paintless dent repair, it often turns out to cost less than your deductible, so you might be wise not to make a claim.


Hopefully, you will never need to seek out a repair company for your vehicle. However, statistics show that 77 percent of drivers have been in at least one accident, so the odds are unfortunately not in our favor! If collision repair is suddenly on your to-do list, choose your repair shop wisely for best results. 


Sources for this article included:,, and

By Linda Sutherland
Auto Wise

The Good Life

Swimming Pools

Relax and Stay Cool at Home


Spring is approaching, bringing the promise of warmer weather, new growth, and outdoor activities. As temperatures continue to rise, many people enjoy relaxing poolside. If you have thought about installing a swimming pool at your home, you may find the following tips helpful. 


When building a swimming pool, there are several items to consider. First, set a budget. A realistic budget will help determine the size, design, type, materials, and features. Another important consideration is the yard. A sloping or awkwardly shaped yard can make the project more expensive, though certainly not impossible. 


A pool’s ideal size depends upon its intended use, the available space, and the desired aesthetic. How will you use your pool, and how often? Those with large families or who enjoy entertaining may like a larger pool. Length is an important consideration for those who want to swim laps. Activities like diving, water aerobics, volleyball, or basketball require different depths. Depending upon the yard, the desired amount of patio and landscaping may also impact the pool size. Does your neighborhood have building restrictions like allowed pool types or setback requirements? 


There are several types of swimming pools, including inground, above-ground, lap, architectural, infinity, plunge, and spool. 


Inground pools are constructed with fiberglass, vinyl, or concrete. Fiberglass pools are available in a variety of pre-molded shapes. Vinyl pools have a vinyl liner and may be customized. Concrete pools can be built to specifications. Above-ground pools are less expensive than inground pools and are quicker and easier to install. These pools come in various designs and materials. 


Lap pools are rectangular, very long, and usually deep enough to accommodate turns at either end. Although this is an excellent exercise pool, it may not be the best option for young families. 


An architect designs an architectural pool, one of the most expensive types of swimming pools. This type of pool complements a home’s design and landscaping. An infinity pool, also known as zero edge, has water flowing over the pool’s edge, creating the illusion of no boundary. 


Plunge pools are smaller than traditional ones and are usually used for cooling off and lounging. They are a good option for low-impact water exercise and rehabilitation. A spool combines the words “spa” or “small” and “pool.” This small pool is meant for lounging and may contain hot tub features like jet sprays and lights. 


Once you’ve selected a type of pool, how do you design one that matches your style? According to Forbes Home, there are several pool trends for 2024. Colored pool interiors and liners change the water’s color appearance. Tanning ledges are great for those who want partially submersed lounge chairs. Lighting features like underwater LEDs, floating, in-ground, solar, and path lighting provide visibility in and out of the pool. Simple designs with clean lines create a calming effect and complement most types of landscaping. Unique depths are available to meet a homeowner’s specific needs. Water features that contain a fire element add drama that elevates the look of a pool. With so many options, you can create a unique, personalized look.


There are several ways to minimize the environmental impact of installing a swimming pool. Choose eco-friendly, recycled, or locally sourced materials when planning and building the pool. Solar-powered and rechargeable fixtures are energy-efficient lighting options. Reduce heating costs by installing a high-efficiency heater and using solar covers. Save energy by using a smaller, higher-efficiency pump. Choosing environmentally friendly options will conserve resources and improve your pool’s efficiency. 


Depending upon the type of pool, it can take between three weeks and six months to build. Factors affecting the timeframe include complexity, materials, permits, financing, weather, and the pool contractor’s schedule. It’s not too late to get on the schedule for summer 2024, but it will be soon!


Installing a pool can be a significant investment, and there are several questions you should ask when interviewing contractors. How many years has the contractor been in business? Do they have experience in the type of pool you want? Do they have design experience and offer design services? Is the contractor familiar with zoning and building requirements like fencing, barriers, depth requirements, proximity to utility lines, and permits? Obtain references and speak with past customers. Ask if the contractor uses their own staff or subcontractors. Get proof that the contractor is bonded and insured. 


Regardless of the type of pool you decide to build, careful planning will provide a pool that meets your needs and allows you to enjoy being outdoors. It will also be a space to create memorable moments with family and friends. 


Sources used for this article included:,,, and 

By Angella Arndt
The Good Life

Great Escapes

Trip of a Lifetime

Cruise to Antarctica


Whenever someone mentions visiting Antarctica, you hear over and over, “That’s the trip of a lifetime.” And yet, I am sure you can count on one hand how many people you personally know who have gone to the White Continent. Why is that? Perhaps what you believe about traveling to Antarctica doesn’t quite match the reality of what’s available. Let me give you some interesting details that might just vault this trip onto your list. 


Travel to Antarctica is heavily regulated, but not by any particular nation. The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) regulates travel there to ensure minimal impact on the environment. They do not want to spoil the land! 


One of the key tactics for this is strictly limiting how many ships can land and how many people can get off per day. (This is what causes the costs of the various cruises to go way up.) Basically, a ship carrying more than 500 passengers cannot make landings in Antarctica. IAATO specifies that tour operators have to coordinate their schedules “so that no more than one vessel visits a landing site at any one time, permitting no more than 100 passengers ashore at one time, with a guide-to-passenger ratio of no more than 1:20.” If you are lucky enough to set foot on the continent, someone will likely check your clothes inside and out on your way off the boat and again when you re-board to make sure you have not introduced anything foreign and have not taken anything as a souvenir. They are not kidding around about keeping it clean and pristine!


If your Antarctic cruise has more than 500 passengers, it will merely be sailing by for viewings…which is still spectacular. Picture several pods of whales right next to the boat, icebergs and glaciers towering next to you, and penguins, seals, and seabirds living in their natural habitat.


Nearly all visitors to Antarctica arrive by sea from Chile or Argentina. Sailing to “the end of the world” takes upwards of 48 hours through the Drake Passage. These deep waters connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and there is no land mass to break up the powerful waves. You’re not in danger—the captains are very experienced and, with today’s technology and navigational tools, they can foresee the conditions before they set sail. If it’s not safe, they won’t sail. Make sure you pack your seasick meds, as the Drake Passage can either be “Drake Lake” or “Drake Shake.” How awesome would it be to witness 30-plus foot waves smashing against the ship?


If you are not looking for that type of excitement and exhilaration, you might take advantage of the option to fly from South America to the northern part of the Antarctic Peninsula and then hop on your ship (if your pocketbook can handle it). You can book one of Silversea’s luxury Antarctica Bridge cruises, where you take a comfortable two-hour flight instead of sailing the Drake Passage. Viking Cruises go to Antarctica on their smaller Expedition ships, which carry only around 200 guests. To see what that’s like, watch Viking’s expedition video Tor’s Travels. Their chairman, Tor Hagen, shares his experience going to Antarctica on board the Viking Polaris, and it is very inspiring. I got a little teary-eyed at the end.


Though it is known as the coldest place on the planet, Antarctica can actually be above freezing and pleasant during its summer months. Travel is only allowed in the summer, which runs from November to March, and you will experience the sun 24 hours a day. 


The local wildlife will be active on those long days! Whale calves will accompany their mothers, female seals will be taking care of their pups, and penguins will have laid their eggs. (By the way, there are no polar bears in Antarctica—they are in the Arctic.) I recommend you choose an itinerary that includes the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. This is where you can get up close to five species of penguins and see over a million seals! These islands are where people take photos with the penguins and seals right next to them. What an amazing experience that would be!


If you tend to get seasick or have a tighter budget to consider, book an Antarctic cruise on a large ship. The larger the ship, the smoother the ride. If you want to get off the ship to walk on glaciers, kayak, and take part in citizen science, book a smaller Expedition cruise. Antarctica is the ultimate pristine adventure. There is nowhere like it! 


Sources for this article included:,,, and 

Editor’s Note: Jackie has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her work has appeared in publications including Colorado Golf, Desert Golf, and Canadian Architecture & Design. Her blogs can be found at and the luxury and adventure travel website, 

By Jackie Williams
Great Escapes

The Green Thumb

Drought-Tolerant Plants

Curb Appeal in Bone-Dry Weather


Drought is unpleasant, and it is unfortunately becoming more common. As we navigate through  drought conditions and attempt to use less water, we need to start at the beginning. And the beginning, for gardeners, is to choose plants that require less moisture. 


You probably have noticed that in May and June, your flower gardens are flourishing. You can sit back and enjoy their natural beauty. By mid-July and August, your flowers and plants can start to look bedraggled. What do you do? You water them, of course! 


The problem with that is that July and August are quickly becoming the months that your local water utility company is asking you to cut back on your water usage. As a good citizen, you want to comply…but those flowers look so thirsty! How do you balance a beautiful garden with water conservation? You choose flowers that are known for not requiring much watering. 


Let’s review some of the best plants to thrive in the heat of the summer so you can plan ahead. There are many options. Some are annuals and some are perennials, but they all are likely to last through the lazy, hazy days of summer. 


First, let’s talk about Lantana. This heat-loving annual is famous for its bright color palette, and it is very pollinator-friendly! They continue to bloom and attract butterflies over a long period of time. They come in ground cover and shrub forms, and they are also awesome in pots. 


Next up is my favorite perennial of all time…the busy little coneflower. They can grow almost anywhere, and they are so hardy that you could almost neglect them. The punch of color they give your landscape is outstanding! They stand up very well in high heat and dry conditions. There are so many varying colors and species that you cannot go wrong with these beauties.


Lavender has to be one of the most amazing plants on the planet. These fragrant plants are effortless to grow and love full sun and well-drained soil. When I first started my gardening journey, I watered my lavender way too much and basically drowned them all. Lesson learned! Lovely lavender will thrive planted in rocks and by sidewalks. It smells wonderful, attracts beneficial insects, and gets more vigorous with each year. 


Russian sage is another sun-loving beauty. Their gorgeous purple flowers billow in the wind, and bees and butterflies love them. They are sturdy enough to withstand wind and cold in the winter months, and their fragrant woody stems do not require much watering in dry conditions. 


I can’t talk about amazing fragrant plants without talking about rosemary. It is a fantastic addition to the garden because it looks beautiful, you can cook with it, and it smells so good! It loves the sun and holds up really well in drier conditions. Rosemary plants can be brought into the house for the winter months; otherwise, you will have to consider it an annual.


Black-eyed Susans (also known as Rudbeckia) are such a happy flower, with their daisy-like blooms and their pollinator-attracting qualities. They are delighted to live in sunny and dry conditions and will bloom all season. Speaking of happy plants, coreopsis can’t be beat for their long-lasting, bright blooms. 


Coreopsis loves the sun and requires little to no maintenance after the first growing season. 


The much maligned marigold is a plant that had to grow on me (pardon the pun). They are long-blooming annuals that tolerate heat well, once established, but I was never particularly impressed with them until I found out how great they are at keeping pests out of the garden. You may think it’s the spicy scent that keeps pests away, but the pest control is actually happening in the soil. Marigold roots produce a chemical that stops nematode eggs from hatching. The surface-level pest control comes from the fact that the blooms attract beneficial insects that eat garden pests. 


Cat mint (Nepeta) has sprawling stems packed with lavender flowers, which makes it an amazing edging plant. It thrives in full sun and will bloom all summer and through the fall. 


A vine that I love to use in the garden because of its super powers is the trumpet vine! This vine, once established, will thrive in drought conditions. It grows quickly and can actually reach up to 40 feet long. Careful—it’s a creeper!


An annual vine that is a showstopper is Bougainvillea. It is famous for actually blooming more when conditions are very dry. It comes in many colors, including pink, purple, orange, yellow, and white. It’s great on an arbor or a trellis. 


Water conservation is here to stay. Make your garden drought-tolerant this year. 

By Linda Sutherland
The Green Thumb

Cuddly Critters

Pet Care When You Can’t Be There 

Boarding, Sitting, and More


It’s normal to feel some trepidation when you have to leave your pet in someone else’s care, whether it’s for hours, days, or weeks at a time. Even if you’re only away during regular business hours, your pet will notice your absence. Too much unsupervised time at home can cause behavior lapses, even in well trained pets, presenting you with a mess to clean up when you get home. Fortunately, there are professionals ready to care for your furry friends—the trick is to find the right pro for your needs. Let’s take a look at some types of short-term and long-term pet care.


Doggy day care can be a big relief for pet owners who work long hours and have energetic, social pets. It’s what it sounds like: a facility where you can drop off your dog during the day so they can socialize with other dogs instead of tearing up your home. Expect proof of vaccination requirements (this protects employees and animals alike). Be sure to tour the facility in advance with your dog, keeping an eye out for cleanliness and happy pets. 


Pet boarding is when your pet stays at a facility while you are away (on a business trip, on vacation, or even during medical treatment or recovery that leaves you temporarily unable to care for your pet). Boarding facilities generally provide space for your pet to be alone as well as opportunities to socialize. Some facilities offer extras like bathing and grooming…some provide so many grooming extras that they’re not exaggerating when they call themselves pet spas. Ask friends with pets for recommendations. 


When you find a facility that suits you, arrange for a tour. Come to the tour prepared with questions. What is the ratio of caregivers to pets? Can caregivers administer medications or accommodate special diets? If your pet becomes ill or injured, what veterinary services are available? If they offer special services, how much do they cost? 


Find out what the facility provides and what you’ll need to bring along from home. Check the size and condition of the sleeping quarters and find out how often pets are fed, exercised, and taken outside. Some facilities offer pet cams that will show you how your pet is doing any time of day or night.


Many boarding facilities offer day care, as well. This is convenient if your travel schedule is irregular. Your pet can enjoy the familiarity of the same facility no matter how long you’ll be gone. Find out about the specific drop-off and pick-up hours.


Some boarding and day care facilities for dogs also accept cats. 


There are also facilities that are cats-only, which might be a relaxing vacation for your cat. In some places, cats from the same family can board together.


Pet sitters come in three types: those who visit your pet at your home, those who stay with your pet in your home, and those who take your pet to stay at their home. Your pet’s needs will determine the best fit. 


A pet sitter who just visits your pet may be the most cost-efficient option. Dog visitors can come a few times a day to provide food and water and to take your dog outside for relief, exercise, and play. Cat visitors don’t need to come as often, since cats don’t go outside for relief. They can come daily to check food and water, empty the litterbox, and play with or brush your cat. The frequency of visits determines the cost. If your pet has special needs, be sure to ask if the sitter can meet them. 


A longer-term option is a pet sitter who moves into your home with your pet and keeps the routines you have established for feeding, exercise, and play time. This is a great option for introverted animals that wouldn’t enjoy boarding. It has the added benefit of house-sitting—that is, your home will be lived in while you’re gone. A pet sitter who takes your pet to their home may have other people’s pets with them at the same time. This option is best for pets who play well with others.


A fairly new service for pet owners is emerging: pet concierges. Just like a concierge at a hotel, a pet concierge has worked hard to compile a list of service providers. These providers have likely been interviewed and background-checked on your behalf, saving you a great deal of time. 


Another recent development in pet care is liability insurance and bonding. Veterinarians have it; pet sitters are realizing they need it, too. It offers protection for all involved (insurance protects them; bonding protects you). 


Sources for this article included:,, and 

By Jackie Byers
Cuddly Critters

Positive Perspective

Who Do You Trust? 

Trusting in Others and in Yourself


“Trusting is hard. Knowing who to trust, even harder.”—Maria Snyder


Do you trust your parents, spouse, siblings, children, teacher, doctor, lawyer, car dealer, realtor, friends, and—most importantly—yourself? At a very young age, I learned that one of the most important life lessons was who to trust. I had to trust myself to choose which kids I could trust…and which ones should NEVER be told a secret. It was a lesson that has stuck with me to this day. 


“Everyone suffers at least one bad betrayal in their lifetime. It’s what unites us. The trick is not to let it destroy your trust in others when that happens. Don’t let them take that from you.” —Sherrilyn Kenyon


At some point in our lives, we all have placed our trust in someone who has hurt us deeply. Discovering who to trust is one of life’s lessons, and it will not be the last. It’s hard when you feel betrayed by anyone, especially by someone you love. No one is immune from a bad experience of mistrust. All you can do is keep your head up, be positive, learn, don’t get jaded, and choose to repair the relationship or move on. Don’t give anyone your joy and happiness! 


“Trust but verify.” —Ronald Reagan


How do we determine who we can trust? Do you use your gut feeling, experience, google, family, or friends? At times, I have sure wished that I had a magic crystal ball or a secret formula. It’s not easy. Just like many of us, I learned who I could trust through my personal trials, errors, and tribulations. Here’s a question for you to think about: Would you choose a doctor who just graduated or a doctor who has been practicing for decades? We need to give everyone enough time and experience to be able to trust them, including doing your homework and verifying. 


“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” —Stephen Covey


It’s difficult to protect your trust, but you can protect your heart. Don’t live life worrying who is going to hurt you next, for you will be giving everyone the most important and best parts of you. When you do find a circle of friends or professionals in whom you can trust, you will have accomplished success in your life. 

By Janet Van deWalle
Positive Perspective
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