Seasonal Style for Men
Update Your Guy!
Gray skies are finally clearing and spring flowers are blooming! It’s time for a closet clear-out for everyone in the family, including the guys! Many men don’t pay a lot of attention to trends and just keep collecting and collecting items for all seasons. Sometimes they need help with a wardrobe overhaul. What should you keep and what should be donated?
For starters, donate, toss, or, in some cases, burn anything that does not fit, is stained, or is worn out. Put away or store those dark winter colors like dark brown, gray, and burgundy. Black is good in any season, but it’s fun to get into some lighter tones as summer approaches. Some great colors for spring and summer this year include light olive green, pale blue, light tan, and my favorite—pink. There is nothing so flattering as a pink shirt on a guy!
When it comes to pairing tops and bottoms, I find it best to wear a monochromatic look, meaning if the shirt is light, pair it with light pants or shorts. Visually, it makes you look taller, slimmer, and more put together. Break out the summer fabrics that look cool and are cooling to wear. Great fabrics to shop for are cotton, linen, and the new “it” fabric, bamboo.
Layering is an important tool for spring. It can be cool in the mornings and evenings with significantly warmer temperatures in the afternoons. These up-and-down temps require some layering finesse. Just learning how to wear layers? Here are some tips: Thinner fabrics and lighter colors go on the inside; darker and heavier fabrics go on the outside. Each layer should work on its own so you can peel off or add on as the weather dictates, and don’t wear more than three layers at once.
A rain jacket is an essential spring item. Look for water-resistant fabrics that work for rain or shine. Khaki is always a great jacket color for spring. Either a bomber style or Harrington jacket is a great choice. What’s the difference between the two? A bomber has a short standing collar or crew neck collar and usually has slits for pockets. A Harrington has a turned-down collar and is usually made of a dressier fabric such as light wool herringbone. Generally speaking, bombers are a bit more casual whereas the Harrington style is dressier. Both do come in water-resistant fabrics. Vests are another great layering piece, as well as a cardigan sweater or that forever-popular jean jacket. Denim is always on trend, but spring denim tends to be lighter, thinner washes with a looser fit.
Cargo pants have been the hot trend of the year, and summer is following suit with cargo shorts. What’s not to love about lots and lots of pockets? (Just remember not to stuff them so full that you look like you’re storing nuts for the winter!) Cargo shorts are a bit longer now, covering the entire knee. They’re very easy to wear, as most guys look good in them. To update the look of cargo shorts, it’s best to keep the rest of your clothing more sophisticated. Try pairing them with a slick button-down shirt or brightly colored polo. Light colored plaids and stripes are also good choices for spring.
Shoes also need to be revamped for warmer weather. This is the time for a new pair of sneakers. Sandals and slip-on shoes are also great options to wear with shorts. No-show socks bring that cool no-socks look without all the stinky shoes. Crossover shoes blur the line between dressy and casual and are a practical purchase. Ask for “hybrid” footwear. They are part boot and part dress shoe. Brown is the color of choice this year.
Level up a guy’s outfit with a few well-chosen accessories. Sunglasses are a basic need but can also be a cool fashion statement. A wristwatch always looks classy and instantly adds a bit of style to even the most casual outfit. Guys can have a wardrobe of watches, from casual to very dressy. It’s a fun item to collect! Necklaces and bracelets are on trend, just keep it simple and elegant. Belts should always be worn if the pant has belt loops. A great belt is one with an interesting buckle and a strap that is brown on one side and black on the other.
Even a guy’s fragrance should change in the spring. Winter colognes tend to be heavier, with notes of vanilla or tobacco. Spring fragrances are more citrus-driven for a clean, refreshing scent.
There is nothing like a well-dressed man to turn a head! Help your guy feel confident this spring and summer with a few thoughtful wardrobe updates.
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.
By Holly Bell
Warm Celebrations and Joy!
Pop’s Sunday Breakfast Casserole
Cube a small loaf of French bread and place in a large, buttered casserole dish. Top with 2 cups of cooked and drained sausage and 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese. Mix 6 eggs with 1 cup of milk and 1 teaspoon of dry mustard. Pour over the bread mixture. Cover and refrigerate. When ready to bake, mix 1 can of cream of mushroom soup with 1 cup of milk. Pour over the top. Bake at 325 degrees for 75–80 minutes.
Beer Can Chicken
Make a mixture of 3 Tablespoons of olive oil and several dashes each of paprika, thyme, poultry seasoning, black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Rinse a whole chicken and rub the spice mix all over it. Put the chicken over a half-full can of beer or onto a holder made for this purpose. (You can use broth or any soda in the can if you don’t want to use beer.) Put the chicken into a large aluminum roasting pan. Grill (with the cover closed) over indirect heat (half of the grill burners are on) until done. Use an instant-read thermometer after about 90 minutes of cooking; chicken is done at 165 degrees. Serve with grilled pineapple and a pasta salad.
Dad’s Best Burgers
Put 2 pounds of ground chuck in a large bowl. Mix in 1 teaspoon of black pepper, 1 teaspoon of seasoned salt (like Lawry’s), 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, and 1 dash of Worcestershire or Heinz sauce. Mix lightly and form into patties—you should get 6 or 8, depending on size. Grill over medium heat until done. Top with assorted cheeses, pickles, sliced onion, avocado, and tomatoes and serve on on toasted buns.
Stir-Fried Shrimp and Summer Asparagus
Wash 1 pound of fresh asparagus and trim into 1-inch pieces. Sauté in a large skillet with 2 Tablespoons of oil. Add 1/2 cup of sliced onion and 2 cloves of sliced garlic. Add rinsed and deveined raw shrimp and sauté for another 4–5 minutes, until shrimp are pink. Add 2 Tablespoons of butter. Cook for 30 seconds. Add a dash of soy sauce, if desired, and a handful of sliced almonds. Serve over cooked rice or noodles.
Tuesday Taco Soup
Add 1 Tablespoon of oil to a stock pot. Add 1 chopped onion and cook for 3–4 minutes. Add 1 or 2 pounds of ground beef; cook and crumble until there is no more pink. Drain any grease. Add 1 can of pinto beans, 2 cans of fire-roasted diced tomatoes, 1 small can of green chilies, 2 Tablespoons of chili powder, 2 teaspoons of cumin, and 3 cups of chicken broth. Cover and simmer for 20–30 minutes. Add a squeeze of lime juice and some crumbled tortilla strips. Serve with extra onion or cheese.
Scrub, slice, and cube 5–6 Yukon gold potatoes. Add 2 Tablespoons of oil and 1 Tablespoon of butter to a large skillet and heat until shimmery. Add the potatoes and 1/2 of a sliced Vidalia onion. Cook, stirring often, for 20 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of chopped red or green onion and 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Stir until potatoes are crispy. Add salt and pepper and serve.
Warm Mexican Corn Dip
Put a 32-ounce bag of frozen corn (thawed) into a large bowl. Mix in 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 1/2 cup of sour cream, 1 teaspoon of chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional), a dash or two of salt, and 1 cup of queso fresco. Pour into a baking dish and top with another 1/2 cup of queso fresco. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Sprinkle with freshly chopped cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips.
Bill’s Speedy Brownies
In a large mixing bowl, blend 2 cups of sugar, 5 eggs, 1 cup of canola oil, 1/2 cup of baking cocoa, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 1 and 1/3 cups of flour. Mix lightly and pour into a greased 13x9-inch baking pan. Sprinkle with 1 cup of mini or regular chocolate chips and chopped nuts, if desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 20–30 minutes. Cool. Cut. Serve.
Cream 1 stick of soft butter with 1/4 cup of sugar. Add 1 egg yolk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Mix in 1 cup of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. In another bowl, beat an egg white until foamy. In yet another bowl, put 1 cup of finely chopped nuts. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Dip balls into the egg white and then the nuts. Place them on an ungreased baking sheet and dent the center of each ball with your thumb. Bake for 5 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove and dent again, then bake for another 12–15 minutes. Fill the dent with tinted butter frosting made with 1 cup of sifted powdered sugar, 6 Tablespoons of melted butter, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, and 1 Tablespoon of Half and Half or cream.
Easy Chocolate Cake
Whisk together 2 cups of flour, 2 cups of sugar, 3/4 cup of cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Add 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, 1 cup of hot coffee, 1 cup of milk, and 2 beaten eggs. Pour into a greased 9x13-inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Frost, if desired, or dust with powdered sugar. Serve with salty caramel or monster cookie ice cream.
My Father’s Favorite Rhubarb Pie
Wash, trim, and chop 6–8 stalks of freshly pulled rhubarb (you’ll need about 4–5 cups). Place the rhubarb into an unbaked pie shell. In a large bowl, mix 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 3 Tablespoons of flour. Whisk in 2 beaten eggs. Pour the egg mixture on top of the rhubarb. Add 2 or 3 dots of butter and top with a second pastry shell. Fold and flute the edges and make a vent cut on top. Sprinkle with a bit of sugar. Bake on a cookie sheet at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 degrees for another 35–45 minutes and bake until golden brown.
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
Gemini May 21 - June 20
Happy birthday, Gemini! You are known to be lively! You will spend a good amount of your birthday hosting exciting events. You love having others around. This is the time to live a happy life, free from stress. Social events add a certain amount of fulfillment. Career will be in the back of your mind while contemplating how to enhance it in the future.
Cancer (Jun 21–Jul 22) Your social events are important and seem rather successful. Although you may depend on others for social success, be mindful not to lose your voice or identity.
Leo (Jul 23–Aug 22) Lions are truly tested this month. Your emotional and mental health is weakened by the amount of stress you may be dealing with. Traveling may be the only remedy to rejuvenate your mind. Embrace it!
Virgo (Aug 23–Sep 22) The House of Health is very important to Virgos this month. Maintain a healthy routine and remember to rest adequately to enhance your energy level.
Libra (Sep 23–Oct 22) This month will be about family and personal affairs. You will experience an elevated social awareness and good family moments, which bring your blessings.
Scorpio (Oct 23–Nov 21) Others may notice you exhibiting a lot more independence in many areas of your life. This is important to help you adapt when others are not around to assist.
Sagittarius (Nov 22–Dec 21) Change is inevitable. This will be a month of changes; some may be unexpected. Try to accept them as they come.
Capricorn (Dec 22–Jan 19) The stars are aligned and in your favor for your professional goals. You have put in the hard work, and the reward will be great success.
Aquarius (Jan 20–Feb 18) Your creativity peaks this month, and you can shine a new light on already developed ideas. Adding new goals and professional objectives will soon follow.
Pisces (Feb 19–Mar 20) This is a good time for you to travel and rediscover yourself and others. Interact with people from around the world, and help when help is needed. Others may not be as blessed as some.
Aries (Mar 21–Apr 19) You are feeling highly ambitious, and others are collaborating in your success. Great professional and financial development is achieved through others, both locally and internationally.
Taurus (Apr 20–May 20) Personal growth is a priority for you. This month, you are committed to getting yourself physically fit. Perhaps a new gym or workout routine will suffice. Family is important but is in the background this month, since you are prioritizing yourself.
A Woman's Work
Tell a Tale With Blooms
I have always enjoyed flowers. I love their colors, their fragrances, and how they make me feel. My appreciation for them was heightened when I lived in Germany. Every Saturday, families take a walk together to the local market to get food and flowers. I thought this was a wonderful tradition, and I try to buy fresh flowers whenever I can.
Flowers are so popular that every state in the nation has at least one designated flower. A state’s flower is usually selected to symbolize the state’s personality or the characteristics of the people who live there. Flowers are nominated by people or organizations and choices are made official through the legislative process. The flower can even change, if momentum pushes that change.
The process for choosing a flower to represent each state started in 1893, during the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition. The World’s Congress of Representative Women brought up the idea of creating a National Garland composed of flowers from each state. A National Floral Emblem Society was created, and states got busy choosing their representative. Several states have chosen the same flower, and a few others even selected trees.
The official United States flower is the rose. Roses are often associated with love, perfection, and achievement. No wonder our forefathers chose them to be our nation’s official flower! Since ancient times, roses have been grown for their fragrance, beauty, and healing properties. Roses, with their unique combination of thorny stems and fragrant blossoms, act as a metaphor for life: After overcoming difficulty, you will find inner harmony, union, and happiness. Red roses mean love, while yellow roses symbolize friendship.
The special symbolism associated with flowers was a popular pastime in the 1800s, both in the United States and abroad. In the Victorian era, flowers delivered messages like love and desire that could not be spoken aloud. Flowers have always been an integral part of William Shakespeare’s plays, and he wasn’t the only one—folklore from many cultures is peppered with floral symbolism. Every sentiment can be expressed through these lovely blooms, from “Happy birthday!” to “Congratulations on your new job!” to “I love you and only you.”
We don’t have enough room here to go over every state flower, so I’ve outlined the current state flowers in some midwestern states, along with a description of each and the meaning of the flower. The Flower Almanac offers photos of each one, and I encourage you to look up every state.
Arkansas: Apple blossom. Apple blossoms often have pink and white petals with green leaves. They signify optimism or preference.
Colorado: Rocky Mountain columbine. It can grow wild and has lovely white and lavender blooms. Columbine can mean foolishness or folly, but the meaning changes with color. Purple columbine stands for resolution.
Kansas: Sunflower. These often tall, majestic flowers can be seen in many colors but are most often seen in yellow. The bloom symbolizes devotion, happiness, and joy.
Iowa: Wild prairie rose. This wildflower blooms in the summer in varying shades of pink with yellow stamens in the center. Known for its endurance, beauty, and fantastic smell, this flower is also the state flower of North Dakota.
Louisiana: Magnolia. These blooms are large and white and have an especially rich fragrance, but they don’t last long! A magnolia symbolizes nobility and a love of nature.
Minnesota: Pink and white lady slipper. This wildflower can be found in bogs, swamps, and damp woods. It symbolizes capricious beauty.
Missouri: Hawthorn. This is the flower that grows in white bunches on Hawthorn trees. In Celtic tradition, these flowers are considered magical, symbolizing faith, hope, happiness, and fertility.
Nebraska: Goldenrod. This bright, golden yellow flower blooms in late summer and is associated with encouragement or good fortune. Like many state flowers, it can
Oklahoma: Mistletoe. A Christmas favorite, mistletoe has dark green leaves and white berries. Tradition dictates that you should kiss the person you are with if you find yourselves standing beneath mistletoe.
South Dakota: Pasque flower. This small, lavender flower blooms early in the spring. It is considered to symbolize rebirth, nobility, and dignity.
Texas: Texas blue bonnet. This wonderful gem gets its name because of its color (blue, of course) and its shape, which resembles a sunbonnet. It symbolizes sacrifice.
Flowers have been an integral part of human history, as forms of sustenance, medicine, communication, and beauty. They can have deep meaning and are held in esteem in each state. No wonder we are fascinated by them and love to have them as part of our lives.
By Deborah Daley
Live Life in Full Motion!
Physical Therapy to the Rescue
Physical therapy helps restore mobility and function after an injury, disease, or disability interrupts life as you know it. Better mobility equals less pain, restored health, and a better quality of life—every physical therapist’s main goals for their clients. Some of the earliest treatments date back to 460 B.C., when Hippocrates promoted massage and manual therapy for pain relief. Some historians reference the “Father of Swedish Gymnastics,” or Per Henrik Ling, as the originator of physiotherapy when he founded the Royal Central Institute of Gymnastics in 1813. Ling introduced massage therapy, manual manipulation, and exercises to train a better body and restore bodies in need. During World War I, in the United States, therapists known as reconstruction aides or nurses helped rebuild injured soldiers and recondition polio patients.
No matter how far back physical therapy originated, the benefits are clear. Physical therapy has become a staple in the United States, with new trends emerging often. The potential to transform patient care has never been better. Let’s look at how physical therapy can help you live a better life, how to find the right physical therapist, and what to expect on your journey.
Let’s note a few distinct industry differences before we dive in. There are several types of physical therapy, including neurological, geriatric, pediatric, cardiopulmonary, and occupational. Occupational therapy is often confused with physical therapy, and although some of the protocols are the same, they have different approaches designed to address different issues.
Occupational therapists help patients gain or regain the ability to perform everyday activities on their own. Physical therapists improve a patient’s ability to move and manage pain. Both professions require hands-on work. If you have motor disabilities and need help with taking a shower or getting dressed, an occupational therapist fits your needs. If you sprained your ankle and need to regain mobility, for example, a physical therapist works best. For this article, we’ll focus on physical therapy for people of all ages and genders with a wide range of health concerns.
Let’s start with pelvic floor therapy. Both men and women house a group of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue which support the pelvis. The pelvic floor muscles join at the pubic bone in front and connect to the tail bone in back, providing a base support. When the pelvic floor weakens, problems occur. Dysfunction such as pelvic pain, urinary incontinence, pain during sex, constipation or bowel dysfunction (remember that proper gut function requires pelvic floor strength, flexibility, and coordination), endometriosis, and even hip pain can occur. A pelvic floor that’s too tight or too weak often struggles with proper function.
The National Institutes of Health identify the primary causes of pelvic floor dysfunction in women as pregnancy, obesity, and menopause. “Factors include overweight or obesity, chronic constipation or chronic straining to have a bowel movement, heavy lifting, and chronic coughing from smoking or health problems. The pelvic floor muscles can weaken as women age and during menopause.” In addition, some women inherit a predisposition for fragile connective tissue. The good news is that physical therapists help retrain muscles, strengthening or relaxing depending on the diagnosis. Lifestyle changes help, too, and your therapist will arm you with exercises accordingly. Yoga, Pilates, and deep breathing can also be pieces of a pelvic floor retraining program.
Pelvic floor physical therapy helps pregnant women tackle low back pain, pelvic pain, and sacroiliitis joint pain (that’s where the lower spine and the pelvis meet). Physical therapy for prenatal and postpartum recovery often help a woman’s body heal from bowel and bladder irregularities after delivery or from pelvic prolapse. Scars after giving birth can be painful, and hands-on treatment is a blessing. Endometriosis (when tissue grows outside of the uterus), uterine fibroids, and interstitial cystitis (painful bladder with urinary urgency/frequency) are also common, and therapy directly targets the pelvic floor to improve pain.
The pelvic floor in men braces the bladder, bowel, urethra, and rectum. Men can experience urinary challenges or erectile dysfunction. Substantial sports training or high-impact sports can contribute to pelvic floor dysfunction, as well. This is a serious challenge that impacts quality of life, but simple changes and treatment usually help. Just as with women, a physical therapist often treats men with pelvic stretches like lying squats and adductor stretches (feet together while sitting in a butterfly stretch). Reverse Kegels also work for men. Add deep breathing and great music for a successful journey to wellness.
Physical therapy is a great assist for treating sports injuries in both men and women. It’s not easy to rebuild strength and mobility after an injury, and it’s vital to rebuild properly. Physical therapists are trained to help athletes manage pain, regain strength and range of motion, and prevent future injuries. Exercises, stretches, and specialized techniques all help to heal. They often incorporate ultrasound, electrical stimulation, traction, massage, joint mobilization, and hands-on techniques to restore blood flow to tissues, fascia, and ligaments. Traction helps to separate disc space in the lower back or neck, which decreases pressure on spinal nerves, or to separate joints like knees, hips, and shoulders. When muscles and tissues function as they should, pain subsides and range of motion increases.
One of the most popular reasons for physical therapy is for rehabilitation after orthopedic surgery or treatment. Common orthopedic surgeries include ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) reconstruction in the knee, knee replacement or arthroscopy, shoulder replacement or arthroscopy, hip replacement, ankle repair, and spinal surgeries. One popular orthopedic surgery for arthritis is joint fusion. After surgeons remove damaged cartilage, the bones that make up the joint are welded together for joint stability in the spine, fingers, ankles, and feet. Physical therapy helps improve the ability to bend and straighten the joint after surgery, necessary for actions as simple as walking or getting out of a chair.
Many of us have personal experience with joint replacement. When the damaged joint is replaced, the journey back to a healthy lifestyle doesn’t happen by itself! Physical therapy is a must to restore joint mobility and strength, all while reducing inflammation and keeping blood flow at a maximum. A professional wants you to heal properly and operate at the same level as before surgery. Physical therapy checks all the boxes, helping joint replacement patients recover faster, heal correctly, minimize pain with less medication, and prevent more damage.
What do you look for when seeking a professional physical therapist? If you also have medical concerns, it’s perfectly fine to visit your trusted physician first, but you don’t need a doctor’s referral or diagnosis to make an appointment with a physical therapist. When searching for a physical therapist who is best for you, check for required licenses and certifications. In the United States, practicing physical therapists need a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree (DPT) from an accredited institution. They must also pass a state licensure exam to practice in any particular state. Some physical therapists offer special skills and have additional training, so you’ll want to find one who is experienced in treating your condition.
A good physical therapist will evaluate your movement, posture, strength, range of motion, flexibility, joint mobility, and alignment at the start of therapy. Ask questions at your first appointment. Here are some to start with: What kinds of physical therapy are typically provided for my condition and how will therapy personally help me? How many times a week should I attend sessions in order to get the best results? How long is each visit? Will you accept my health insurance?
Pay attention to your trainer’s demeanor and willingness to listen. Do they seem trustworthy and make you feel comfortable? Ask for testimonials from previous clients. When you’re in the clinic, pay attention to your surroundings. Is the clinic clean and well-equipped? Does the room have a relaxed and healing vibe?
Physical therapy is normally an ongoing dialogue with landmark changes occurring along the way. You should expect to be an active participant in your rehabilitation. Make sure your physical therapist provides detailed instructions for home exercises. These could include videos, handouts, or websites that demonstrate how to execute proper body form while performing the recommended exercises or stretches.
Live life in full motion! Engage a physical therapist to keep you moving forward with less chronic pain, better movement, and more balance.
Sources for this article included: healthpartners.com, webmd.com, and nichd.nih.gov.
By Janette Calabro
Avoid a Hairy Situation
Eliminate Unwanted Body Hair
Summer is here: the time for beaches, backyards, and bare skin. We’ve ditched the sweats and donned the shorts. We’ve packed the sweaters and pulled out the tank tops. Many of us prefer to start the summer with a smooth, hair-free canvas. Multiple options exist for eliminating body hair, and you want to select the best method for you. Your choices are dictated by skin type and color, as well as the size of the target area.
Electrolysis, laser treatments, and waxing are proven hair removal methods. Electrolysis is not a new concept, having been around since the late 1800s, but it’s the only FDA-approved method of permanent hair removal. It’s commonly used on the face, bikini line, underarms, chin and upper lip area, eyebrows, and, of course, the legs. It’s not just for ladies! Men choose electrolysis to treat the back, underarm, and groin areas.
Electrolysis works by destroying the growth center of the hair with either chemical or heat energy. It involves inserting a fine needle into the hair follicle. This needle delivers a small amount of electric current or heat into the follicle, destroying the root and preventing regrowth. It’s effective on all skin tones, and destroyed hair follicles will not regrow hair. Weekly or biweekly treatments over a period of time are required for optimal results because only hairs in the active growth stage can be treated.
Discomfort is minimal; expect a hot or pinching sensation. The level of discomfort depends on the area being treated. For example, the bikini area is likely to be more sensitive than the calf or thighs. The skin may be slightly red or irritated for several hours following treatment, but no downtime is needed.
Before scheduling treatment, learn a little about your technician. Most states require a license or certification. If your state doesn’t require this, look for a technician who has been trained at an accredited electrology school. Most facilities offer a free consultation, when you can observe the cleanliness of the facility, evaluate the competency and skill of the technician, and get your questions answered.
Laser hair removal is a medical procedure that uses a beam of light to remove unwanted hair. This light energy is converted into heat, damaging the hair follicle and inhibiting new growth. Hair growth is delayed for long periods of time, but this treatment is not permanent. Laser therapy works on all skin types, but people with light skin and dark hair tend to get the best results. Common treatment areas are the legs, armpits, chin, and bikini line. It is sometimes used in conjunction with electrolysis, which targets the white or gray hairs that go undetected by the laser.
Two to six initial treatments are required several weeks apart. Repeated treatments provide the best results since hair growth occurs in cycles, and laser therapy, like electrolysis, is most effective when hair follicles are in the new growth stage. Periodic maintenance treatments may be needed for long-term results.
The type of laser used depends on several factors, including skin pigment and the area being treated. The Alexandrite laser’s long wavelength targets a large spot with each pulse, making it a good choice for large areas of the body, such as the legs and back. The Diode laser can emit both short and long wavelengths and is a good choice for most skin colors. The Ruby laser has been around for a while, but it remains popular with people who have fair, sensitive skin, as it is relatively pain-free and less likely to cause irritation.
Each state has its own regulations regarding laser administration. Some require that it be performed by a physician, while other states permit non-medical personnel to administer treatment as long as they have been properly trained. Your state’s medical board can provide guidelines for your state.
Waxing is a tried-and-true hair removal process. Salons typically offer more than one type of waxing treatment. Hot waxing is usually the first thing that comes to mind, but there’s also cold waxing. This involves pressing semi-solid wax strips to the skin (against the hair growth), which gives the strips a strong hold when they’re pulled off. Multiple treatments are not needed to notice a visible change. This method is generally less painful than hot wax treatments, although hot waxing provides highly accurate results, particularly on eyebrows and other small areas. Then there’s soft waxing. Soft wax is applied to the skin, then covered with a muslin cloth to dry before being removed. It’s a good choice for large areas like legs and hands.
No matter which method you choose, say good-bye to unwanted hair and make your skin summer-ready!
Sources for this article included: hairfreelife.com, electrology.com, and hairremoval.org.
By Loretta McCollum
Making a Connection
Just over three years ago, the world was thrown into a crisis that very few of us had ever experienced. Unless you were 102 years old and had memories of your birth, you had never been through a worldwide pandemic before. Everyone was shooting from the hip…business owners, parents, employees, children, teenagers. Politicians? Let’s not go there! When another Zoom meeting was announced, the groans were heard around the world. We all were forced down a road that had no map.
What did we learn? Many couples found out that living with their significant other 24/7 wasn’t such a great idea. Business owners learned that they were stronger than they believed they were. Employees? Many missed the water cooler chatter. Students? They realized that getting up and going to school was not that bad!
“I remind myself that I’m always more satisfied by human interaction than by a digital connection.” —Maulik Pancholy
What I think a lot of us realized is that human connection makes us feel better. Connecting with another person is what makes life worthwhile. You can stare at your computer or your phone for hours on end, but it will never give you the warm fuzzies you get from an authentic big hug!
“As far as this business of solitary confinement goes, the most important thing for survival is communication with someone, even if it’s only a wave or a wink, a tap on the wall, or to have a guy put his thumb up. It makes all the difference.” —John McCain
Talking to a human being, either on the phone or in person, makes us feel connected, makes us feel like we’re part of a community. I don’t know about you, but when I call a business that goes into a voicemail loop, it drives me just a little crazy. Now, I know that the country is understaffed. I know that good help is hard to find. What to do? Leave a single message. Return messages promptly. Don’t ask your customer to do your job for you.
“Lack of communication is the key to any successful relationship going wrong.” —Pepa
The world has changed. The New Normal does not give us permission to be disrespectful to one another. It does not give us excuses to do just the bare minimum. What I hope the New Normal has done is make us all more appreciative of the importance of human connection. The New Normal was the contrast we all needed to realize how fortunate we are. Let’s spread it around!
By Janet Van deWalle
Planning to Relocate?
Keep the Kids Involved!
I read an article recently about things to consider when relocating…helpful hints, geared primarily to adults, such as creating a checklist. It mentioned kids once, suggesting you find out about child care and schools. That’s not enough—kids are people, too!
Kids do need to be considered when relocating. I speak from personal experience, as I myself went to 12 schools in 12 years. When someone asks me where I grew up or went to school, my answer depends on what year of schooling is being asked about. My college advisor once asked where I grew up. I recounted my litany of schools and moves. She commented that not having put down roots would have made most kids dysfunctional. On the contrary, I looked at the benefits rather than the hardships…but there were definitely both.
Dad alerted us to a move as soon as he knew. Whenever possible, we didn’t move until summer, which maintained continuity in the school year. The one exception was attending three different schools while in the third grade. The first two schools were in the same city…the third was in a different state. That was the only time I had to play catch-up!
We were...and are…adaptable. Mom got involved in PTA and church groups and made sure we were also involved. I remember dance lessons, going to summer camp with Campfire Girls, and even taking accordion lessons. My younger brothers were similarly involved as they got older.
The hardest part of moving in the summertime was making friends. I learned to make friends (maybe I should call them acquaintances) quickly. It was easier in those days without television and computers. We played outside, and so did our neighbors. Most folks are naturally curious about the new neighbors about to move in. Dad was often around the house before we moved in, so the neighbors knew someone was moving in but nothing about kids or their ages. Neighbor kids came around to find out who we were.
Mom and Dad made sure we explored the area where we lived, learning the history and seeing the sights. Geography, geology, and history were easy after living in so many different climates and geographical areas. I could relate everything I learned to somewhere I had lived. Grandpa said, “When you live in a place, you should know all about it.”
It is important to involve kids in the relocation process. When kids are alerted to change, they have time to adapt. Find the new place on a map to put the relocation into perspective. Look up interesting places and historic events. Let the kids help with packing. Keep a favorite belonging separate to have something familiar on arrival. Include the kids in the entire moving process. Make it an adventure!
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
Interiors By Design
Creating the Ultimate Sanctuary
Bathroom Remodeling Trends
What began as a luxurious trend to transition the home bath into a personal sanctuary gained major momentum during the pandemic. With everyone suddenly living, working, and learning under the same roof, the bathroom became the most sought-after destination in the home! As life returns to normal, however, the desire for a spa-like sanctuary shows no sign of slowing down. Homeowners, whether building new or remodeling, are devoting considerable time—and a hefty part of their budget—to bathroom planning and design. Check out what designers have on their radar for 2023 bathroom trends.
Inspired by the boutique-hotel aesthetic, bathroom trends feature highly functional and aesthetically pleasing spaces. With the focus on pampering and relaxation, luxury amenities include steam showers, saunas, deep soaking tubs, touchless faucets, and automated toilets. Heated flooring, gorgeous tile, sleek lighting, and exquisite hardware each contribute to creating a spa-like vibe.
A beautiful stone can really set the tone for a space and reflect personal style. Designers tell us that clients are asking for larger format tiles in warm tones of natural stone or tiles that mimic natural materials. Meanwhile, stone slab countertops and natural wood finishes provide character. The layering of soft and luxurious textiles—think fluffy white towels and a plush bathmat underfoot—add texture to all those hard surfaces, while leafy plants bring the outdoors inside.
As the bathroom showpiece, showers featuring dual shower heads, side sprays, and frameless glass enclosures have become increasingly popular. Easy-to-clean, frameless doors add a sleek and modern aesthetic. For a space-saving option, consider sliding glass doors. Easy to operate and well designed for people with mobility issues, sliding doors are a good option for homeowners who plan to age in place. Textured or patterned glass offers design versatility and privacy. Smart technology in shower enclosures now offers features such as built-in speakers, LED lighting, and automatic water shut-off systems that can detect leaks and prevent water overflow.
Smart home technology is no longer a future concept. From LED temperature displays to de-misting mirrors to automated lighting, music, and televisions, smart technology puts control at your fingertips and makes your bathroom experience more relaxing and convenient than ever before. Water conservation is important for the environment and for your pocketbook.
Investing in low-flow toilets and shower heads ensures these products deliver ample water and cut costs.
When space is at a premium, it’s smart to create multi-functional flex rooms. One clever idea is to combine laundry room and bathroom by placing your washer and dryer near the bathroom sink and tap into existing plumbing. One of the simplest ways to combine a laundry/bathroom remodel is to cleverly conceal a stackable washer and dryer behind closed doors. A remodeler can customize cabinets that blend with the rest of the bathroom cabinetry. Imagine the convenience of a laundry room inside your bathroom!
Completing a bathroom renovation project can be challenging. Homeowners wonder if a general contractor can do the job or whether to hire an architect, and the answer depends on the scope of your project. If your plan includes removing walls or changing the floor plan, you will want to work with an architect. Look for an architect with experience in designing bathrooms that are structurally sound as well as beautiful, safe, and functional. Having an architect on board ensures you will have a big-picture plan and avoid costly errors.
According to housing experts, bathroom remodels are one of the best renovation projects to enhance your lifestyle and increase your home’s resale value. The majority of buyers focus on the quality and functionality of bathrooms and modern fixtures such as new bath tubs, showers, sinks, and stylish fixtures that add significant value to the home. Although you’re not guaranteed to recoup the entire cost of a remodel, you can typically expect to recoup 65 percent at sale time. Additionally, a home with a refreshed bathroom will typically sell faster than a similar home with a dated bathroom.
As we re-engage with the post-pandemic world, the focus is on health and well-being. This focus has led to a re-imagining of our living spaces and a new understanding of the important role our homes play in our mental health. Most homeowners want a master bath that provides an invigorating start to the day and a relaxing place to unwind at day’s end. The bathroom has become an oasis at the heart of the home. If you’re among the growing number of people who dream of indulging in the kind of pampering found at luxurious spas, why not enjoy that wonderful sense of well-being without ever leaving your home?
Sources for this article included: hgtv.com, houzz.com, and housebeautiful.com.
By Robyn V. Powell
From Privacy to Property Lines
“Good fences make good neighbors,” as they say, and it’s true! We all need boundaries and private space. Wide, open yards that blend seamlessly into our neighbors’ yards may look lovely from above, but it’s not always a very practical way to live. Fortunately, that’s where fencing comes in.
There are many advantages to a fenced-in yard, including privacy from nosy neighbors or busy streets, containment of energetic children and pets, security from trespassers, reduction of noise from traffic or other sources, and even as an aesthetic design choice. When you’re thinking about building a fence, the first thing to consider is materials. Some popular fencing materials include wood, vinyl, composite, metal, and chain-link.
Wood is a classic fencing material for privacy or decorative fences and comes in many varieties, such as cedar, redwood, teak, or treated wood. Cedar is naturally resistant to insects but is vulnerable to decay when in direct contact with soil. When paired with wood sealant and concrete post bases, cedar fencing can last many years. Redwood and teak are resistant to decay and warping but are pricier than cedar. Because of their high price tag, they are often best suited for smaller enclosures. Both do require regular application of sealant. Pressure-treated or chemically treated wood is less naturally beautiful than the other styles of wood listed but is far more economical. Treated wood is resistant to moisture and insects, making it excellent for buried fence posts, but is susceptible to warping and twisting.
For those who want less maintenance and upkeep, vinyl and composite are great options. Durable vinyl fences can look amazing and flawless for the longest amount of time, provided that you spring for professional installation and thicker-gauge vinyl. Sometimes, vinyl comes with a lifetime guarantee! Once it’s installed, it only needs the occasional hose wash. Composite is made from wood fibers combined with plastic polymers, giving it the appearance of wood and the durability of vinyl. Though its overall cost is higher than vinyl (and often higher than natural wood) and it also requires professional installation, you get what you pay for. Composite is incredibly long-lasting and only requires an occasional rinse for maintenance.
Metal fences will cost a lot for materials and installation, but they will increase your property value and curb appeal just as much. Metal comes in a variety of materials, from cast iron and aluminum to steel and wrought iron, as well as styles that include classic, contemporary, and everything in between. Some types of metal fences will require regular application of brush-on or spray-on rust-resistant paint, but they are otherwise stable.
Chain-link fences are perhaps less aesthetically pleasing, but they are affordable and effective. They provide little in the way of privacy, but they are great for corralling children and animals. Like most metals, chain-link can be vulnerable to rust at its joints. This can be prevented by opting to use a vinyl-coated chain-link.
Another thing to consider is your fence height. Standard fences meant to outline property boundaries can range from three to six feet high, and containment fences for pets or small children will need to be between four to six feet in height. Privacy fences are generally six feet high at minimum but can be as high as seven or eight feet (if your municipality or homeowners association allows it).
Fencing the entire yard may not be your thing. If you have or plan to build a pool, however, some fencing is wise and may be required. Many municipalities require safety fences of a specific height (often 48 inches) to be built around your pool, depending on how deep it is and whether it is above-ground or in-ground.
Before you start building, you’ll want to double-check all your local government’s rules and regulations about fences. This can pertain to fence height, property lines (and how close your fence can be to them), and whether you need to notify your neighbors before installing a fence. You also may be required to obtain a permit before building your fence. For example, if you live in a city or highly populated area, or if you’re planning to build a fence taller than six feet, you will probably need a permit.
It’s always good to be prepared, no matter what type of fence you need or want. Take a walk around your neighborhood. When you see a fence you like, ask your neighbors who installed it. Before you talk to any fencing companies, definitely make a mental checklist of what will be your fence’s function and what materials you’d prefer. It’s just good sense to plan ahead.
Sources for this article included: zillow.com, bobvila.com, and rockethomes.com.
By Anne Yankus
To Your Good Health
Hormone Replacement Therapy
It’s Not Just for Women!
We can’t eliminate the changes that come with aging, but we can make the transition a little smoother—even for men! As women age, their hormones change drastically, and they go through menopause. For men, the hormonal aging process is called andropause. This age-related slowdown in hormone production does not look the same in women and men. In women, the change happens fairly quickly, and clusters of symptoms can appear very suddenly. In men, hormone levels drop more gradually. Both women and men can experience unpleasant symptoms caused by the drop in hormone levels. The process is perfectly natural, but that doesn’t mean we have to put up with the symptoms!
Close to 40 percent of men over age 45 have low testosterone levels, so it is quite common. For about two in every 100 men, testosterone levels can be low enough to cause osteoporosis. Men naturally lose testosterone as they age, but very low levels should be evaluated by a doctor.
Many men do not seek hormone treatment, or even testing, until the women in their lives notice changes and encourage them to see their doctor. This is why women need to learn about low testosterone (commonly called low T). It’s important to understand what’s happening and why, what can be done about it, and how the decrease in this hormone can affect a man’s health, life, and relationships.
Symptoms to watch for include depression, loss of sex drive, erectile dysfunction, mood swings and irritability, loss of muscle mass, insomnia, or poor concentration and short-term memory loss. Some of these symptoms can also be the result of stress, depression, anxiety, or heart problems. Women may feel confused, undesirable, or frustrated when their sexual relationship with their partner is decreased due to hormone problems. When ignored, this can damage a relationship.
Once the man in your life sees his doctor and blood work confirms low testosterone, it is important to know what next steps he should take. If the results confirm a testosterone deficiency, he may be referred to an endocrinologist, which is a medical doctor who specializes in hormone problems. The endocrinologist may run a variety of tests to rule out particular conditions that can cause hormone fluctuations.
If the specialist confirms low T, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be recommended to correct the hormone deficiency and to eliminate symptoms. HRT can be administered
by injection, gel, skin patch, pellet, or pill. Most men report an improvement in symptoms within four to six weeks of taking testosterone HRT. Improvement in muscle mass may take longer—closer to three to six months.
Most men stay on HRT as long as they are seeing and feeling the benefits. It is important to remember that lower testosterone levels as men age happens naturally, so there may not be any reason to start hormone treatment. HRT is not for everyone. It will not reverse normal aging in men, but it can help treat a man diagnosed with andropause or hypogonadism.
On the flip side, if a man’s testosterone levels are too high, he can take medications to help lower testosterone to offset health risks. Elevated testosterone levels, whether they come from the body or from improper hormone therapy, can cause several issues, including acne, an enlarged prostate, aggressive behavior, heart or liver problems, blood clots from red blood cell overproduction, or infertility.
Anyone considering HRT should have a clear understanding of what treatment options are available, how it will be administered, the length of treatment, and what symptoms are being treated. The results of the pre-treatment blood tests will determine how much HRT, if any, is recommended. A man’s overall health will be checked, as well, and chronic illnesses managed.
While many hormonal imbalances cannot be prevented, there are certain things men can do to optimize their overall health, which can help keep hormones balanced. It’s nothing you haven’t heard before! Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, managing stress levels, getting plenty of sleep, treating chronic health problems, and quitting smoking are all great things both men and women can do for their health.
Ladies, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle so we can feel as good as possible while we age. Don’t forget that this also applies to the men in our lives! If you’re observing symptoms of low testosterone levels in your guy, make sure you recommend a visit to the doctor. It may be
time for him to find out if HRT is the help he needs to feel better through his later years!
Sources for this article included: health.usnews.com, nhs.uk, my.clevelandclinic.org, and mayoclinic.org.
By Leslie Byrne
Focus On Finance
A New Breed of Index Fund
Making Needles Out of Haystacks
There are 90 million Americans who collectively own $12 trillion worth of index funds. Many of these investors manage their own accounts and are aware of what they own, but there is a significant number of investors who are unaware of the specifics of their investments. Individual investors with accounts at Wall Street firms and with Registered Investment Advisors have their money managed by computers called robo accounts. These accounts normally contain of between six and 12 mutual funds. Over the past few years, we have seen an increasing number of index funds replacing the more traditional, actively managed funds.
Market indexes give investors a brief snapshot of the stock market’s movement. Charles W. Dow created the first market index in 1897 when he bundled 12 railroad stocks together and named it the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Today, investors have over 750 indexes to choose from. The ones most mentioned by the media are the Dow, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq.
An index fund is a mutual fund that mimics a market index. The objective of an index fund is to replicate the movement of the associated index. No effort is made to trade in the fund in order to improve performance. Because of their passive nature, index funds are cost-efficient and tax-efficient.
The first index fund entered the marketplace in 1975 and was designed to mimic the S&P 500 index. Jack Bogle, the fund’s creator, meant the fund to be an investment—something to be bought and held for the long term. During the fund’s initial years, it attracted few shareholders and was a financial flop. It was not until the early 1990s that it become profitable.
The S&P 500 index was selected as the index to be mirrored because, at the time, it was the broadest index available to the public. The committee responsible for monitoring the S&P 500 selects the largest publicly traded companies. No consideration is given to a firm’s industry or its financial condition. There are periodic additions and deletions to the S&P, but they are inconsequential to the performance of the index and, by extension, to any fund which seeks to mimic it.
Jack Bogle claimed that the beauty of index funds was that they allowed investors “to forget the needle and buy the haystack.” The logic was that, over the long run, investors who simply sought market returns would do better than those who were in constant search of a once-in-a-lifetime, home run opportunity.
Over the past few years, Wall Street has added over 700 new funds based on 700 indexes. These were designed by marketing departments, not research departments. Most of them are subsets of the S&P 500. The new funds revert to the investment strategy of searching for the next home run.
They fall into several different categories. The first type is an international fund that picks and chooses the countries or regions that the fund creator views as the next big deal. Examples are funds that only invest in emerging nations, like the Emerging Markets Latin American Index.
The second variation, which has seen some significant interest of late, is to take the S&P 500 and parse it into what Wall Street geeks define as growth stock or value stock—two distinct investing styles. Growth stocks, generally speaking, are companies believed to be in the growth phase, so they have the potential to outperform the market in the future. Value stocks, on the other hand, are considered to be currently undervalued. Investors need to know that these definitions of growth stock and value stock are in the minds of the beholders, and they tend to vary greatly over the various market cycles.
A third type of newly minted index funds is the type that tracks a specific industrial sector. Examples of these sectors are medical devices, consumer discretionary, chip producers, and a myriad of energy sectors. Many of these sector funds, like the growth or value spinoffs, are subsets of the S&P 500.
The motivation behind the creation of the original index funds was the inability of Wall Street to beat the market. To paraphrase the index fund pioneers: “If you can’t beat ’em, join’em.” This new breed of index funds is a throwback to the original mindset of Wall Street—that is, that they are smarter than Mr. Market and that they can outwit him by constructing new products.
Investing is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Before choosing an index fund, or a collection of index funds, investors should determine what they hope to accomplish and which approach fits their temperament. The important issue is that you are aware of the available options and understand the implications of the path you choose to travel.
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 morganinvestoreducation.com.
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
Seasons of Life
Embarrassed by Urinary Incontinence?
Treatment Is Available!
An estimated 13 million people in the United States experience urinary incontinence, so if you thought you were the only one—you have plenty of company! Urinary incontinence includes any bladder control problems or conditions that affect the accidental loss or leaking of urine. A bladder control problem may be mildly annoying or have a major effect on the way you live your life. Urine leakage may lead you to stop participating in normal activities for fear of embarrassment. These conditions affect women and men, without regard for age. You’re not alone!
There are five types of urinary incontinence, identified by their symptoms: stress, urgency, reflex, overflow, and functional incontinence. Stress incontinence is when physical activity, coughing, sneezing, or laughing stresses the bladder and causes leakage. Urgency incontinence is when a strong urge to urinate leads to leakage before getting to a bathroom. Reflex incontinence is when leakage occurs without warning (often due to bladder nerve damage). Overflow incontinence is when the bladder isn’t completely voided or is too full. Functional incontinence is when the person is unable to get to the bathroom because of some barrier or disability, like needing a wheelchair or physical inability to unfasten clothing.
Other, more easily treated types can include temporary incontinence caused by a urinary tract infection and nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting), which is common in children but happens with adults for several reasons, including drinking excessive caffeine, alcohol, or other diuretics at bedtime. Behavioral or lifestyle changes may improve these symptoms. Some of these conditions may occur simultaneously to present as mixed incontinence. All can be treated with medical assistance or intervention.
Treatment for incontinence is based on type, cause, and severity. Behavioral therapies include bladder retraining, double voiding, scheduled toilet trips, and fluid and diet management. Losing weight and increasing physical activity may also ease the problem.
Physical therapy can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that help control urination. Women often experience pelvic floor weakness after vaginal childbirth; this can easily result in stress incontinence. Home exercises and clinical sessions can help retrain these muscles so that bladder control is improved.
Several medications have been approved to relieve common symptoms of urinary incontinence. Anticholinergics can calm an overactive bladder; mirabegron is used to increase bladder containment. Alpha blockers make it easier for men to empty the bladder. For women, topical estrogen as a vaginal cream, ring, or patch may help tone and rejuvenate urethral and vaginal tissues. Ask your doctor before trying over-the-counter medications.
Medical devices designed for women include urethral inserts and pessaries. A urethral insert is a disposable device inserted into the urethra before engaging in incontinence-triggering activity; it acts as a plug to prevent leakage. A pessary is a flexible silicone ring inserted into the vagina; it presses against the vaginal wall and supports the urethra.
There are some minimally invasive interventions to help with incontinence. Bulking agents can be injected near the urinary sphincter to increase support. Botox can be injected into the bladder muscle if other treatments are unsuccessful. A sacral nerve stimulator is a device implanted in the upper buttocks; it provides electrical pulses that influence bladder control. Percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation involves the insertion of a fine-needle electrode into a nerve near the ankle; it emits a mild electrical impulse that is passed along to nerves of the spine that control bladder function.
Sling surgery is a treatment for stress incontinence. For women, the surgeon works through the vagina to insert a strip of material between the vagina and urethra to support weakened or damaged tissue. The surgeon may use a screen-like synthetic mesh material or a biologic graft made from human or animal tissue. For men, a mesh sling is placed under the urethra, lifting and supporting the urethra and sphincter muscles.
Although mesh sling surgery is successful for many patients, complications can occur. Your healthcare professional can explain the risks and benefits of surgery for stress incontinence and what results can be expected.
An artificial urinary sphincter (AUS) is another option for stress incontinence in men. Implantation of an AUS device helps keep the urethra closed to prevent leaks. This device contains an inflatable cuff around the urethra and comes with a hand-operated pump to release the cuff and allow urine to pass through. Though it was originally developed for men experiencing urinary incontinence after prostate removal, an increasing number of AUS procedures have been used for other causes of urinary incontinence in both men and women.
If you’re tired of urinary incontinence keeping you from living your life, talk to your doctor! They’ve heard it all, and they’re ready to refer you to the proper providers to get your symptoms under control.
Sources for this article included: mayoclinic.org, medicine.umich.edu, and nih.com.
By Marge Shoemaker
Painting Your Home
Inside and Out
One of the biggest investments most people make in their lifetime is a home. Sometimes, its condition might require renovation or updating. Even the perfect home requires maintenance. Painting a house can often improve it immensely. Let’s explore the latest painting advancement and trends, answer important questions about this work, talk about colors, and much more.
Historically, home exteriors were painted white, but there has been a huge shift in popular paint colors. Many homeowners choose bolder, statement palettes with interesting accents on windows, doors, and trim. Exteriors are now seen as an extension of a home’s square footage. Trending exterior colors include earthy neutrals, warm whites and creams, vibrant or muted greens, classic navy or black, and dusty charcoal.
The surface preparation of a home’s exterior before painting is critical for health and safety and also for a long-lasting paint job. Be prepared for your painters to take their time with prep. They’ll start by removing contaminants like mold or mildew from the exterior surface, followed by a power wash. Peeling paint will need to be removed. Repairs may need to be made if damage to the siding is found. Once the walls are clean and dry, they’ll need to be sanded to provide the best bond between surface and paint. Primer is then applied to help paint stick to previously painted surfaces.
Paints are still evolving. Quality and ease of application have improved, as has the safety of paint. The banning of lead paint in 1978 is one example of this. Exterior paint can last up to a decade, depending on the type of paint you use and the harshness of the elements in your area.
If you want to change your interior colors, a new paint job can last 5 to 10 years. Depending on your lifestyle, family, and your activities, you may have to paint more often to keep walls from looking dingy.
Painting contractors should always be insured. Their liability insurance protects your property from damage by the contractor. Workman’s compensation insurance protects the workers and you (from liability) while they are working on your property. Some painting contractors have employees and some hire independent contractors to do the painting work. Either way, be sure that background checks are conducted—after all, these people will be in your home.
You’ll also want to inquire about the products being used. Outdoors, durability and longevity will be the highest priorities; indoors, you’ll be more concerned about toxicity and fumes. Find out what their warranty is in case the paint doesn’t last as long as expected.
As with any contractor’s bid, make sure you get the project details in writing to avoid any surprises. You’ll want to know who will be in your home and when, and make sure that any changes to the plan will be made only after they’ve received your approval. Of course, check with the Better Business Bureau and read online reviews about the company before signing on the dotted line.
If you have purchased a historic home, designated by a local historic board or the National Register of Historic Places, paint colors may be designated, and changes in style may not be permitted. Be sure to find out before you paint!
With the chaos of the last few years, interior paint colors have trended toward calming neutrals, smooth greens, and pale pinks. However, experts are predicting dramatic new shades in 2023 as homeowners hope to inspire strength and positivity.
When you’re considering paint changes indoors, look online, browse photos in magazines, and observe houses on your visits. Don’t make a change just because it is “in.” Instead, think about the mood you want to invoke. Is the color appealing to you? If you’re planning to keep the furniture and décor in the room, take its aesthetic into account. Make sure you test paint colors on your walls both in daylight and at night. Flat, eggshell, and satin paint are best for interior walls, whereas semi-gloss and gloss paint are best for trim and woodwork.
According to experts, colors can impact the mood of the people in the room. Think about how you want to feel when you’re in the room you’re planning to paint. Greens and blues are generally calm, restful colors, well suited for bedrooms, living rooms, and bathrooms. Purple is a dramatic color, best suited for a private space like an office or bedroom. Brown is a traditionally comfortable color that can work in any room in the home.
Painting your home has the power to transform it, affect your mood, and even increase the value of your home. Choose your colors wisely!
Sources for this article included: marthastewart.com, benjaminemoore.com, and bhg.com.
By Deborah Daley
A Woman’s Touch
Influencing the Auto Market
Automakers are increasingly looking to attract more women into showrooms. Women make up half of the population, so I would say it is about time! Apparently, automakers finally caught on to the fact that women are quite likely to buy their first or second or third car before they have a spouse’s opinion to consider. In fact, 62 percent of all new cars sold in the United States are bought by women. Additionally, they have found that women influence more than 85 percent of all car purchases. That’s some real buying power! No wonder the auto market wants our attention.
How do automakers make their vehicles appeal to women, you might ask? By focusing on the things that women primarily look for in a vehicle. Women are often less impressed with horsepower and high-speed handling and more impressed with the look and safety of a vehicle. Women may not make buying decisions based on make and model, but they do have many practical concerns. Are the seats comfortable? Is there plenty of cargo space? Does the vehicle have high fuel economy? And, of course, is it reliable? Will it get me and my passengers where we need to go without any hassles?
An interesting fact regarding car owners is that women are more likely than men to lease a new vehicle. Speaking strictly from my own experience, I prefer to lease new vehicles and have done so for years. The taxes are lower, leasing usually includes all vehicle maintenance, and you get a new vehicle every three years. That is definitely a plus for me, but leasing is not for everyone. When you purchase a car, you of course get to keep the car as an economic asset, but leasing a car allows for greater affordability of higher-end cars.
Another switch for automakers is advertising for women in lifestyle magazines and on social media. It is gratifying to see that female buyers are being considered at every stage of the manufacturing and sales process! A little-known fact about women is that they tend to prefer colors like silver, black, and red in their cars. Men, on the other hand, love car colors that run the gamut—yellow, red, black, green, gray, blue, and white.
There is also a shift in women working in the auto industry. Female engineers are being put in charge of designing automobiles, and dealerships are actively recruiting female sales associates. It seems as if the old stereotype of car dealerships as “boys’ clubs” is finally outdated.
What are women really looking for in a new vehicle? Reliability is a very significant factor because women do not want a car that requires frequent repairs and maintenance. Women look for a car with good fuel economy and one that is affordable. Women also love a great warranty plan with a new vehicle. Don’t forget the safety factor! Women are often more interested than men in crash test ratings and the location of airbags.
Women generally tend to want more from a new vehicle and are particular about a broader range of components. According to industry experts, women tend to pay close attention to the details of an automobile. In general, women seem to be more open than men to driving smaller vehicles and are more focused on finding the best value. That is not to say that women do not like luxury vehicles! Women simply want the experience in the vehicle more than they want the car’s projected image.
I can personally share my recent experience with leasing a new vehicle. I looked up a lot of information before I even went near a dealership. I compared warranties, safety regulations, and other data to make sure I knew what I wanted and what I did not want. I was pretty sure of the vehicle that I wanted but I also wanted to guarantee that I was armed with information before I stepped into a showroom. Basically, I wanted to feel empowered when I went to the showroom and knowledgeable about the specific vehicle I was interested in.
This served me well! I did not feel like I was unprepared and at the “mercy” of a salesman who was choosing what information to emphasize. Because I was prepared with the information I had gathered, I was able to tell the salesman exactly what I wanted. It eliminated a lot of headache and pressure on my part and, I suspect, for the salesman, as well. It actually turned out to be a pleasant experience. Women, we can do this! Take some time to prepare before you go to a dealership and arrive with confidence! They’ll be happy to help you.
Sources for this article included: cjponyparts.com, agirlsguidetocars.com, and driving.ca.
By Linda Sutherland
The Good Life
Creating a Backyard Oasis
Finishing Touches in the Landscape
Are your days filled with work, errands, and caring for loved ones? Is it hard to find time to relax and unwind? Many women are in the same boat. Have you considered your own backyard as a retreat for tranquility and peace? Landscaping elements such as water features, fire pits, and outdoor fireplaces can help create a serene oasis for you to enjoy right outside your door.
Whether your yard is large or small, water features can soothe the senses, buffer noise pollution, and enhance your landscape with tranquil beauty. Fountains provide soothing sounds of trickling water in a beautiful artistic element and are available in various sizes, shapes, and styles. A waterfall offers tranquility in sight and sound with its running water. Creeks bring a natural look to the yard and can even connect multiple water features. If you are a wildlife lover, consider a pond. Small or large, ponds can be ecosystems full of life, including plants and fish.
Before deciding on a water feature, consider the size and layout of your yard, your budget, the feature’s electrical needs, and your own sound preferences. A quiet fountain or stream may be appropriate if you like gentle sounds, while a tall fountain or waterfall can drown out other neighborhood noise. Do you want the feature to blend in with nature or add contrast? Materials like bamboo and stone are more natural, while ceramic, concrete, copper, fiberglass, and acrylic resin add contrast. Check with your homeowner’s association for requirements related to making improvements. A large water feature may also require building permits.
Water features require regular cleaning, algae control, maintaining water levels, and removing debris. Winterizing is essential for those who live in areas with hard freezes. Care and routine maintenance will keep your water feature in good condition for maximum enjoyment.
Consider a fire pit or fireplace to enhance the enjoyment of your backyard further. Fires encourage mindfulness. Have you ever noticed that sitting by a fire quiets your mind and awakens your senses so you can enjoy the moment? Gathering around a fire promotes camaraderie and conversation, and the heat extends the time you can spend outdoors.
Fire pits come in a variety of shapes and sizes. When deciding on a fire pit, consider cost, fuel type, local ordinances, material, portability, size, and style. Fuel types include wood, natural gas, and propane. Check with your homeowner’s association and city or county office to see if there are regulations regarding fire pits. Material options can include steel, copper, cast iron, brick, slate, and stone, depending on the type of fire pit. Would you like a fixed fire pit or one that you can move around? Think about the size of your outdoor space and the number of people you want to sit around the fire. Do you want a free-standing, above-ground, or in-ground pit? Popular styles include bowls, tables, columns, and in-ground with a fire ring.
An outdoor fireplace is a fixed focal point that makes a statement. Custom-built fireplaces offer flexibility in placement, size, and design. As with fire pits, fireplace fuel types include wood, natural gas, and propane. When building an outdoor fireplace, important budget considerations include size, fuel type, materials, required permits, and customization. Popular materials are stone, brick, concrete, and stucco.
If you’d like to enhance your backyard, it helps to hire the right expert. Landscape designers work with clients to bring their visions to life. Before hiring a designer, list what you want, set priorities, and establish a budget. Ask friends and family members for references. Your first question to any potential designer should be whether they have experience in your type of project.
Landscape designers may offer different levels of service, including design-only, design-build, or full service. Design-only means the designer does a site analysis, creates a plan, and provides documents that can be handed to a contractor. Design-build includes design services as well as project installation. The designer may be a registered contractor or outsource to contractors. Full-service includes design-build and a maintenance program.
Ask for examples of past work. Ask about their process and timeline. Inquire about the estimated cost and ways that the cost might be reduced. Inquire about the installation timeline and ongoing maintenance needs. Asking key questions will help you stay within budget and get a result that meets your expectations.
Enhancing the functionality and beauty of your backyard allows you to spend more time relaxing outdoors without having to drive to someone else’s property. You’ll have a private oasis to enjoy being present in the current moment.
Sources for this article included: angi.com, bhg.com, and bobvila.com.
By Angella Arndt
Six Steps to Keep Everyone Happy
One of the hardest things to do is to get your loved ones all together in one place for a family vacation. Excuses range from “I have something scheduled already that weekend,” to “We can’t afford it.” You will get everyone else’s opinion on where to go…and when…and why. The truth is: whoever does the work gets to choose. If you’re the planner, that is you! So, where do you want to go?
Depending on the size of your group and the ages of the people in it, something as simple as a home or houseboat rental at a specific locale can be a great choice. If your group is too big for a single rental, consider a cruise or a particular hotel or resort with options all around you—that way, each family unit can have their own living space. Consider budgets and ease of travel. Are you near a major airport or cruise terminal? Will you be driving to your vacation spot via car or RV caravan? That information, and the help of your travel agent, will help you to determine what will work for everyone.
In my experience, everybody wants to spend some time together, but we also need some alone time when we can relax and do what we want to, especially if that is doing nothing. Try not to plan too much. That will definitely help with your stress level, and everyone will thank you for the freedom to relax.
When it comes to coordinating meeting places, sending “pins” from Google maps via text message will give the recipient directions to whatever location you send. If you’re not familiar with doing that already, take the time to sort it out before your trip.
I recently planned a three-day multi-generation trip for my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. It worked out so well that everyone said we should have stayed another night! I started with a budget (my own and what my family would be willing to spend) and an idea. My travel agent, Ravyn Howard, and I narrowed it down to a location that was drivable. We booked with Marriott Shadow Ridge in Palm Desert, California, which had a variety of rooms available so everyone was able to choose and pay for what they preferred, from a typical hotel room all the way up to a two-bedroom suite with full kitchen and living room. Calling the property ahead of time enabled them to put all of our rooms close to each other.
One important choice I would recommend is to book a separate space for everyone to congregate in, like a separate suite or meeting room wherever you are staying. We used this room to start each day with coffee and pastries and to enjoy desserts, drinks, and games at night. No one was bothered by having to get up earlier or stay up later than they wanted to, and people could come and go as they pleased.
Another tip is to type up a list of activities in the area, tours available, and places to eat so everyone has ideas of what they can do as a group or on their own. (Then print this list for everyone and send it by email.) Your travel agent can set up tours ahead of time and the family can sign up for what they want to do. This actually builds excitement for the trip and no one is clueless about what will take place. On our trip, the only thing anyone had to commit to was whether they would attend any of the daily lunches and dinners planned at certain restaurants. We asked everyone to RSVP for those in advance. The key is to minimize obligations. Make things easy-going and everyone will enjoy it.
To recap on how to plan an enjoyable multi-generational trip with family and friends:
Work with your travel agent to find a destination and property and have everyone book through the agent.
Give everyone plenty of notice. A year is ideal, but three to six months may work, if schedules are relatively flexible.
Book at least one large suite as a gathering spot so you don’t have to gather in anyone’s private space.
If you haven’t already, learn to pin and share locations on Google maps.
Email and print the schedule, activities, and dining options.
Remember to schedule some downtime—everyone needs to be alone sometimes to recharge or simply do what they please.
My last tip? Plan one more day than you expect to stay. No one really wants to go home on the last day!
Sources for this article included: montecitovillagetravel.com, marriott.com, and travelawaits.com.
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 BoardandRide.com and the luxury and adventure travel website, ArtofTripping.com.
By Jackie Williams
The Green Thumb
How Sweet It Is!
Ah, sweet lavender, you are my favorite perennial! You are not demanding, you come back every year, you are a confirmed sun lover—full sun, if you please!—and you are also very drought-resistant. You could plant lavender on a concrete walkway and watch it take great joy in the heat! What more could you ask for from a tried-and-true performer like this? Ah, yes…the fragrance. The fragrance of lavender is my favorite, whether it is in a soap, a perfume, a bouquet, or a sachet. You cannot go wrong with lavender! As you walk by lavender, indoors or out, you can always get a whiff of its delightful, intoxicating fragrance.
Once established, lavender is so low maintenance that it is a standard in most of my gardens. I always plant English lavender because it is winter hardy to Zone 5. Spanish and French lavenders are fussier and need to be brought indoors in the winter. They are only hardy to Zone 8. As loyal readers of this column will recall, there is no room for fuss pots in my gardens.
Those of you who do not have garden areas will be pleased to hear that lavender does quite nicely in pots. Any variety will grow in a container and can be clipped for bouquets or sachets. They produce flowers quickly and can be maintained to a manageable size. Once you plant lavender, you should provide water once or twice a week until the plants are established. Mature plants can be watered every two to three weeks until buds form, and then once or twice weekly until harvest. A sign of overwatering is yellowing leaves.
Do you still need more reasons to plant lavender? Here’s a great one: insects do not like lavender one bit! In fact, they are repelled by the essential oils in the leaves of the plant. Happily, lavender keeps mosquitoes away and is a completely natural spider repellent. Even fleas want nothing to do with lavender, and they seem to like everything. Apparently, lavender even keeps away snakes! The only creatures that love hanging around lavender (besides humans, of course) are bees, and who doesn’t want to help out the bees?
Pet owners, take heed—lavender contains a small amount of linalool, which is toxic to dogs and cats. However, mild exposure to lavender is not considered harmful and may actually help with anxiety, depression, and stress. Always check with your veterinarian first. Cats cannot digest linalool and linalyl acetate (both found in the lavender plant).
Flowering for lavender typically occurs as early as May, with another flush of blooms in June, followed by another rush of color in late summer or fall. Rebloomers are the best! You should prune lavender right after the first flowering and again in late August, after the last flush has faded. To prune correctly, cut off about two thirds of the plant’s height or to just above the bottom two sets of leaves on each stem. Take care not to cut into the woody part of the plant; this can cause damage. Pruning lavender not only gets rid of the ugly dead stems and leaves but also helps to trigger bushy growth and more flower production.
Even perennials don’t last forever, of course. How long does a lavender plant live? With proper care and a little luck, lavender plants should survive 10 to 15 years. Pruning and shaping will also extend the longevity and productivity of your plant. It may surprise you to know that the best time to plant lavender is in the fall. The cooler temperatures, moderate rainfall, and less intense sun work well for planting lavender.
Lavender plants are not very good at spreading. They are a small shrub that usually grows 20 to 24 inches tall and wide. For fragrance, the strongest is Lavandin (known as Lavandula x intermedia). Another fragrant species is English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), whose scent is just delightful. The lavender plant variously symbolizes purity, silence, devotion, serenity, grace, and calm. Purple is also the color of royalty and speaks of elegance, refinement, and luxury.
Lavender is one of the most beloved scents we use today. Lavender has been associated with improved sleep in multiple research studies, including for some people with insomnia. The smell of lavender has calming effects and has been shown to increase deep sleep. Lavender is not approved by the FDA to treat any condition and should not be taken in place of prescribed medications, but it has been known to provide benefits in the treatment of anxiety, fungal infections, hair loss, and wounds. Let’s hear it for this fragrant and lasting beauty!
By Linda Sutherland
Doggy Free Time
Could Your Dog Use Some Me-Time?
Your dog has real needs that can sometimes put a crimp in your schedule. While your dog is at home, you and your family are busy at work, at school, out with friends, running errands, participating in activities…the list goes on. Even when you’re at home, you cannot always respond right away to what your dog needs, whether it is fresh air or a bathroom break.
You can have food and water available for your furry friend. You can schedule play time and walks often. But sometimes you need to be away for longer periods. When you are not there, your pet gets lonely. This can lead to chewing whatever is handy, forgetting potty training, and just being miserable. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to give your dog a little more autonomy?
The first element of a two-part solution to this problem involves a doggy door. This pet-sized swinging door allows your dog to let itself out for relief and then back in.
“A hole in the door?” you may be thinking. “What about wildlife? Or other people’s pets? You can’t just cut a hole in the door.” You may be picturing doggy doors from the old days, which were essentially a hole covered by a plastic flap, which pets would nudge open with their noses. These are not today’s doggy doors! Unwanted critters and two-legged marauders won’t be able to gain access to your home through the doggy door because they don’t have the key.
That’s right—a key. Today’s high-tech doggy doors have an electronic key that you program by inserting it in the lock. Then you attach the key to your dog’s collar. When your dog approaches the door, from inside or out, it unlocks. Otherwise, the door stays locked. Genius! Dog doors can be installed on existing doors, so there’s no need to buy everything new.
Part two of the solution to your dog’s autonomy solves the problem of the dog being loose outside with no owner or leash every time it walks through its briefly unlocked doggy door. To keep your dog close to home, you need a fence.
Of course, you can go with a traditional fence, and many people do. Fences are great for flat or gently sloping yards and can be beautiful. They’re supremely functional, keeping your pets and people in and others’ pets and people out. On the other hand, it’s easy to leave a gate open accidentally, letting Fido get out of the yard. You may also face requirements in terms of construction materials, to maintain an enforced neighborhood aesthetic. These materials may be prohibitively expensive.
Another option to consider for dog safety is an invisible fence. Invisible fencing goes by a lot of brand names and common names, including buried fencing, hidden fencing, underground fencing, and more. For many years, invisible pet fencing has consisted of a buried wire that creates a perimeter around your home. A control panel placed in your home or garage uses radio waves to send a signal to the collar around your pet’s neck. A sound or physical sensation alerts your pet to the perimeter so they can stay safely on your property.
These days, you can also get wireless pet fencing, which serves the same purpose but uses Bluetooth to avoid the need for buried wires. You can even get GPS tracking through an app on your phone, so you’ll know where your dog is even when you don’t have a line of sight.
Invisible fencing has the advantage of being—you guessed it—invisible. It does not disrupt the aesthetic of your yard. It is also great for yards that have steep slopes or other features like wooded areas or water features because, unlike traditional fencing, it can surround any terrain. Professionals can install it quickly, and the perhaps unsightly border flags are only a temporary measure until your dog learns the boundaries of the yard.
The most important step in making an invisible fence effective is training. As always, pet training for any purpose needs positive signs reinforcement: first, praise from you; next, petting; finally, occasional small treats. At first, your pet will need the visible reinforcement of flags around the perimeter to help them get oriented to the new process. Eventually, you can train your pet to respond properly, recognizing the sound or static signal that means, “Stop here.”
Consider using invisible fencing and a doggy door to give your dog a little more autonomy when it comes to time outside. You’ll both feel better!
Sources for this article included: vcahospitals.com, homes.com, and familyhandyman.com.
By Jackie Byers
Time to Form a New Habit
Give Yourself a Break
“You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” —Louise L. Hay
Louise Hay is one of my favorite teachers. My mother, Anne, introduced me to her decades ago. What Louise focuses on is that we not only can give ourselves a break, but we feel so much better when we do. We can learn to love ourselves. We can learn to cut ourselves some slack. We can stop being our own worst critic.
“Your inner child is waiting for a genuine, heartfelt apology.” —Yong Kang Chan
I’m not sure why so many of us became our own worst enemy…why we found it to be normal to be so down on ourselves. I am not worthy…I don’t deserve that…I haven’t earned that. Being our own worst critic will keep us repeating that same life pattern over and over again…Groundhog Day, here we come.
Now, we could blame our parents, our teachers, or another person who changed us in our lives. The problem is that, when we blame our self-critical behavior on someone or something beyond our control, we get stuck, and we can never free ourselves from the bondage that we have decided to place on ourselves.
“There is an expiration date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction. The moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.”—JK Rowling
But we can change this! Repetition can also work in our favor. How many thousands of times have we thought or said something negative about ourselves? Let’s just change the script. Let’s begin by saying hundreds of times a day that we love ourselves…hundreds of times a day that we approve of ourselves…hundreds of times a day that we deserve a life of joy and happiness.
“We become what we repeatedly do.” —Sean Covey
You may be thinking that hundreds of times a day sounds like a lot. Hey, we have lots of self-criticism to make up for! After doing this for a few short days, what we find is that we catch ourselves when we begin to go back into critical parent mode with ourselves. After a few weeks, we find that when self-criticism rears its ugly head, it feels so bad that we immediately replace it with words of compassion for ourselves. We can change. We can love ourselves. We can be our own nurturing parent to ourselves. And that’s good!
“Talk to yourself as you would someone you love.” —Brene Brown