Popular Outerwear Trends
Cozy Up to Cooler Temperatures
As we say good-bye to warmer temperatures, we can enjoy getting cozy with the new fall and winter outerwear trends. Faux fur will be the bomb this year! Nothing makes a coat feel immediately luxurious like faux fur trim.
Faux fur will be available in a huge variety of colors and textures. One of the cuddliest is known as the “teddy effect.”
This faux fur is dense and soft to the touch—much like your well-loved vintage teddy bear. It’s popular and widely available as a trim for collars and cuffs or as an all-over “teddy” look in a more casual short jacket. You will start seeing this fun new look everywhere this winter! Have fun with some new color choices, too. Instead of the usual black and brown for your faux fur, choose pink, ivory, or copper.
Leather, whether genuine or faux, is always a warm mainstay for winter and never goes out of style. You’ll get extra style points this year with a trench coat. It is classic and understated and a great tasteful option that you will wear for years to come. The leather moto jacket is another must-have look. Style it with a long or short dress, high-waisted jeans, or tailored pants. It’s so versatile and always hip!
For those of us in colder areas, a puffer coat has been the top choice for several seasons. At first, I was not crazy about them, but they look more fashion-forward with each passing season. You don’t want to look like a marshmallow, so choose one that has an hourglass shape to it rather than just a big square. Belted puffers are also flattering. I have relented and purchased one with a fur-trimmed hood to be protected from the elements when I venture out in the cold.
For dressier occasions, consider a sophisticated long wool coat. There is nothing classier than a blazer-style long coat. It adds a tailored, upscale look to whatever is underneath. A camel-colored, long wool coat will never go out of style.
Neutral tones for fall are prominent this year, both in coats and in what to wear underneath. One of the freshest color combinations is wearing all neutrals with a pale blue twist. Try a taupe sweater and style it with pale blue accessories. So chic! Neutral tones are so wearable and look good with all skin tones. Try wearing a monochromatic outfit with animal print boots and a pale blue handbag—a stunning and unusual pairing that is up-to-the-minute trendy.
Many of us will be sporting cute jackets this fall. It is fun to layer up jackets to be both cozy and stylish. Take, for instance, the “boyfriend blazer.” This oversized item is longer and boxier than a classic blazer. Wear it with jeans to add a polished look or with tailored pants for a suit-like look. Another jacket look that is trending is the belted look. A belt over a longer jacket easily adds style points! Some fabrics just need a little style reinvention to make them look fresh. Tried-and-true jacket fabrics you will see looking fresh again this year are corduroy, fleece, and shearling. You may have one of these in your closet already! Who knew they would be back in 2020?
With all these chic coats, jackets, sweaters, and pants, you need the perfect accessory. This year brings us the newest, most-worn accessory for all ages: the fabric face mask! Rather than stifling ourselves with a boring, utilitarian essential, why not make it fashionable? Designers have come up with cute ones to match every outfit! A related accessory that 2020 has brought us is the mask chain. Why not? It’s perfect for those on-and-off mask shopping trips. The coolest ones I’ve seen look like an animal print and chain, rolled into one!
Don’t worry, not every accessory this fall is pandemic-related. There will be plenty of other accessory looks to choose from. We’ll see hats of all kinds, from retro berets to wide-brimmed wool hats. This fall also sees the return of ladylike purses and—finally!—statement jewelry. Chanel-inspired chunky gold chains are everywhere. They dress up absolutely everything! You will find earrings, bracelets, and necklaces in various chain looks.
Time to clean up your closet and put together some fabulous, layered outfits. Start with a thin, fitted piece and layer over it, making sure the previous layer shows somewhere. Get outdoors while you can! In your cozy attire, you’ll be able to enjoy the cooler temps and the beauty of the changing landscape.
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
Thankful Gatherings and Colder Days...Let's Eat!
Dawn’s Holiday Pumpkin Muffins
In a large bowl, blend 3 cups of flour, 2 cups of sugar, 2 teaspoons of baking soda, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 and 1/4 teaspoons of cinnamon, and 1 and 1/4 teaspoons of salt. In another mixing bowl, beat together 4 eggs, 1 can of pumpkin,
1 and 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Add the dry ingredients
to the wet. Stir in 3 cups of mini chocolate chips. Fill greased mini muffin pans.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15–20 minutes. Makes enough for a holiday crowd!
Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a large stockpot. Add 1 stalk of celery (diced), 1 carrot (diced), 1 small onion (chopped), 1 Tablespoon of minced garlic, and 1/2 of a green pepper (diced). Cook for 5–6 minutes. Add 1 pound of cubed leftover turkey. (If you don’t have turkey left over, fry up 1 pound of ground turkey.) Add 2 teaspoons of ground cumin, 1 can of green chilies, 1 can of diced tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of chili powder, 1 small (8-ounce) can of tomato sauce, and 3–4 cups of stock (vegetable, chicken, turkey, or beef). Add salt and pepper to taste as well as other seasonings, like tabasco sauce, if desired. Stir and simmer for 30 minutes. Add 1 or 2 cubed sweet potatoes and cook for another 30 minutes. Adjust seasonings as desired.
Merry Widow Turkey Sandwiches
Spread slices of bread with your choice of mayo, Miracle Whip, or butter. Top bread with slices of turkey, a spoonful of cranberry sauce, and a slice of Swiss cheese. Broil until toasty.
Maude’s Roasted Cranberry Sauce
Rinse 1 pound of cranberries and spread them out onto a jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Sprinkle the berries with 1 cup of sugar and 1 Tablespoon of orange zest. Roast at 350 degrees for 45–60 minutes, stirring a few times, until the berries are bursting. Remove from the oven and cool. Pour the berries into a bowl. Pour in 1 Tablespoon of brandy or Port and stir well. Refrigerate.
Onion Roasted Potatoes
Peel and chunk-cut 2 pounds of russet potatoes. Place the potatoes in a large zip-top bag. Pour in 1/3 cup of olive or vegetable oil and sprinkle in 1 envelope of onion soup mix. Shake bag to coat. Pour the potatoes onto a 13x9-inch baking pan. Roast at 450 degrees for 35–40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.
Game Day Cheese Balls Two Ways
#1: Gonzo Cheddar Cheese Ball: Mix three 8-ounce packages of softened cream cheese with a large bag of finely grated cheese (cheddar or pepper Jack), a dash of pepper, a dash or two of garlic powder, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, and 2 chopped green onions. Mix well. Place in the middle of a serving dish and round with your hands or a spoon. Press finely ground pecans around the top and sides. Serve with butter crackers, veggies, or toasts.
#2: Salmon Pâté: Drain a 1-pound can of salmon and remove bones. Mix with an 8-ounce package of softened cream cheese, 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice, 2 chopped green onions, 1/2 teaspoon of horseradish, and a dash each of celery seed, dill, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Smooth into a ball and roll into a mixture of finely chopped pecans and chopped parsley. Serve with veggies or crackers.
Baked New Orleans Yams
Boil 5 yams (about 3 pounds) until tender. Cool, peel, and mash. Add 1/2 teaspoon or cinnamon, 1/4 cup of melted butter, 1/2 cup of cream, 1/3 cup of chopped pecans, and 1/3 cup of raisins. Pour into a buttered casserole dish. Top with 8–10 large marshmallows. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy
Place 4–6 turkey wings into a greased baking dish. Add 2 sliced onions, along with pepper and salt to taste. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 90 minutes (turn once or twice). Put the roasted wings into a soup pot. Add 2 stalks of celery, 2 chunk-cut carrots, and a sprinkle of dried thyme (or a few sprigs of fresh). Add a large (40-ounce) can of chicken broth or turkey broth to the pot. If you have a bag of turkey giblets, add them now. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer (uncovered) for 45 minutes. Strain the broth, shred some of the wing/giblet meat, if desired, and discard the vegetables. Refrigerate for 2 days or freeze for 3 months—skim fat when it gels.
When you’re ready to assemble the gravy, melt 4 Tablespoons of butter in a large sauce pot. Whisk in 4 Tablespoons of flour until smooth. Gradually add the broth (you should have about 4 cups). Whisk until heated through and thick. Season with pepper.
Mix 4 large eggs with 1 and 2/3 cups of sugar, 1 cup of canola oil, and one 15-ounce can of pumpkin. In another bowl, whisk 2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice. Mix well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix. Pour into an ungreased jelly roll pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25–30 minutes. Cool. Beat 6 ounces of soft cream cheese with 2 cups of powdered sugar, 1/4 cup of soft butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 1–2 Tablespoons of milk. Frost the cooled bars with the cream cheese frosting. Refrigerate leftovers.
Classic Pumpkin Pie
Mix 3/4 cup of sugar (white or brown) with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 teaspoon of ginger, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon of real maple syrup (optional), and one 15-ounce can of evaporated milk. Stir ingredients well. Pour into an unbaked pie shell (your own or store-bought). Bake on a cookie sheet for 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 45–50 minutes. Cool. Refrigerate and serve with real whipped cream.
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
Scorpio October 22–November 21
Happy birthday, Scorpio! You are entering an extremely rewarding year!
You are ready to move forward and make progress in your ambitions. Take your birthday month to try something different from what you typically do. Relax! You work so hard—don’t feel bad about taking a break to enjoy your life. Spend this lunation with loves ones, delectable food, and excellent music!
Sagittarius (Nov 22–Dec 21) Your social life is dominating. Revel in the excitement and throw a dinner party for close family and friends! You can rest up after the holidays.
Capricorn (Dec 22–Jan 19) Everyone feels nostalgic during this time of the year. Let yourself enjoy the nostalgia in the moment. You can look to the future after the New Year!
Aquarius (Jan 20–Feb 18) The more you concentrate on your personal motivations, the better. This is a remarkable month as far as ambitions are concerned. Do not discard any new ideas!
Pisces (Feb 19–Mar 20) Sometimes you cannot see how brilliant and artistic you are, but others can see it! Do not be afraid to showcase your talent. Share your talent by hand-crafting gifts for loved ones for the upcoming holidays.
Aries (Mar 21–Apr 19) Rams have a way of focusing on what is going on in the moment. It’s okay to focus on the trees sometimes, even if you lose sight of the forest! Nurture your inner child and enjoy the holiday season with the people you love best.
Taurus (Apr 20–May 20) Do not be afraid to ask clearly for what you want. During this powerful full moon, small actions can have lasting power when they are combined with boldness
Gemini (May 21–Jun 20) This month calls for using your influences to achieve the romance you desire. When it comes to relationships, don’t settle! You deserve to feel alive.
Cancer (Jun 21–Jul 22) Your imagination is working in a creative manner. During the full moon, spend the evening inside, nurturing your creative side and doing whatever brings you joy!
Leo (Jul 23–Aug 22) As the seasons change, you feel a fire light within you. You are reminded of how important it is to have stimulating and intelligent conversation. Do not be afraid to go out and meet new people!
Virgo (Aug 23–Sep 22) You’re in a thoughtful mood, mulling over a decision you must make. The results may surprise you, leaving you cheered and elated by your choice!
Libra (Sep 23–Oct 22) November will be very colorful and rewarding. There’s no need to push for results, as they will come as naturally and unexpectedly as flowers on your doorstep!
A Woman's Work
Mama's Melancholy Thanksgiving
Counting Our Blessings
Although Thanksgiving is regarded as a day of feasting and counting our many blessings, occasionally we find ourselves introduced to challenges in the very midst of merrymaking or daily life. Fate steps in, daring us to be brave and keep on smiling. So it was on Thanksgiving Day, 1965. A large family like ours always had many blessings to count and, of course, there were always large quantities of food involved.
Like any other cook, Mama took a great deal of pride in planning, preparing, and serving the annual Thanksgiving dinner to family members and a few friends who did not already have holiday plans. Preparing a Thanksgiving dinner is no easy task. Planning this meal involves the number of guests, seating arrangements, traditional foods to serve, and a host of other chores to be addressed.
For one reason or another, it seemed that Thanksgiving dinner always happened at our house, and I am sure that Mama took this occasion (as all cooks do) as an opportunity to display her culinary expertise. As always, everything was delicious, guests were happily filled to the brim, and the entire event went off without a hitch.
In the fall of 1965, however, one of our brothers had received his notice to report for military duty on Thanksgiving night. Although we were not unpatriotic, military service was not the norm for our farming community. Please remember that 1965 was full of dark days during the Vietnam Conflict, which caused a high degree of uncertainty among many Americans. Despite this, our brother, being a healthy young man, was willing to serve his country and did not shirk his responsibility. He was proud, I am sure.
Mama was ambivalent. One day, she, too, was filled with pride; the next day, she faced the dread of uncertainty. Four years was a long time for a son to be away from home, and all mothers want their children to remain close at hand. Courageously, Mama baked the pumpkin pies and whipped the heavy cream for toppings. She peeled the potatoes and tried to keep on smiling, knowing that on that very evening, her son would be leaving for places unknown. Mothers of grown children love to see them and enjoy their day to day accomplishments and assist with any problems.
Did her uncertainty place a cloud over the festivities? No, not at all. There were still plenty of blessings to count. We were all healthy. The crops had been excellent and the markets had been generous. We were warm. Family and friends were all around us to lend support and care. We treasured that. I suppose the show must go on; and go on it did.
It seems that there was more food on that dining room table on that Thanksgiving day than I had ever seen before. Everything tasted absolutely wonderful. Compliments for Mama’s cooking were heard all day long. Accolades began with everyone enjoying the aroma of roasting turkey. At the table itself, there were enough oohs and ahs to make any hostess pledge to repeat that very same meal next Thanksgiving. Of course, after dessert and coffee, there were oaths pledging to not eat another crumb for days, letting Mama know that she had fed her guests well. That Thanksgiving, Mama had pulled out all the stops!
When Mama was preoccupied or worried, she would purse her mouth, which was already small. Her eyes were twinkly that day, but her tiny pursed mouth nearly betrayed her. She was thinking about her second-born son going so far from home. Her first-born son had served in the military, but it had been during peacetime service. This was different.
Hours later, after all the fattened up, sated guests had retreated to their own homes and our brother had left to begin his military service, Mama went upstairs to his bedroom. There, on the floor beside his bed, were his denims, just as he had stepped out of them. Mama sat down on the edge of the bed and sobbed.
“Just like a boy,” Mama murmured. That was her release. She began laughing, picked up those bunched-up denims and put them in the laundry (after checking the pockets).
Four years later, Mama’s son had seen the world, been honorably discharged, and brought his fiancée to the Thanksgiving table. What joy! We loved the feeling, we loved having our brother home, we loved his fiancée, and everything seemed right with the world once again. There was so much to be thankful for at that table, making it nearly impossible to stop smiling long enough to chew Mama’s delicious food.
If you are thankful for someone’s love, be sure to tell them on Thanksgiving. Have a wonderful holiday.
By Sharon Knierim
Mental Health in Uncertain Times
Help Is Out There!
As we have all recently learned, nothing increases stress levels like a global pandemic. Fear and anxiety top the list of mental health challenges during a time when the world feels upside down. We are restricted from (or at least socially distanced from) our usual social activities. Some of us have lost a job or a business. Even those of us who didn’t lose income may have lost ground in our retirement plans. Everything we do is harder than it used to be, even things as simple as grocery shopping. Add that to the fear of harm from the virus itself, and—boom! Just like that, you’re in a position of stress you never thought you’d see in your lifetime. It’s easy to understand how your stress threshold can start to fray. How do you keep your mental health grounded during times like these? There is always a light in the darkness. In this article, we’ll take a look at self-care strategies and when to reach out for professional help.
At the time this article was written, the United States has recorded more than seven million cases of COVID-19, and more than 200,000 people have died. By the time you read this, the numbers will be higher. As doctors and researchers attempt to adapt to the fast-moving virus, we’re not sure when we’ll see an effective vaccine or how soon it will be available to the public. In the face of fear and uncertainty, it’s important to follow medical guidelines, but it’s just as important to find some refuge from the mental health challenges that the pandemic brings.
The Mayo Clinic, the CDC, and countless websites offer great advice for relieving stress, anxiety, fear, sadness, and loneliness, but a local therapist will be able to offer a more personal treatment plan for your health and well-being. It’s important to note that existing mental health challenges may well worsen during these uncertain times. COVID-19 may be our newest challenge, but it’s certainly not the only one! If you or someone you know is in crisis right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. Counselors are available 24 hours a day.
Stress is a normal part of life, and everyone’s stress levels wax and wane over time. Right now, the addition of pandemic challenges to everyday wear and tear has made life feel out of control for many of us. If you feel pushed beyond your ability to cope or are having difficulty concentrating on everyday tasks, it is a great time to seek help from a healthcare provider or mental health professional. Many providers are offering telehealth options now, so don’t let anxiety about entering a healthcare facility stop you from getting the mental health care you need. Just talking about it helps! Remember, you’re not alone with those feelings.
There are many ways to find a mental health provider. Your employer might offer an employee assistance program. A trusted friend or family member may have a provider to recommend. Your primary care physician can certainly offer a list of suggestions. Licensing requirements vary by state, but credentials to look for include LIMHP (licensed independent mental health practitioner) or LMHP (licensed mental health practitioner). Look for graduate or post-graduate degrees if you’re searching for a credentialed therapist.
Stress can have great impact on how you relate to your spouse or partner, your children, and the rest of your family. Many types of counseling can help. The purpose of couples therapy or marriage counseling is to help strengthen and rebuild a relationship or to help you through a separation. Family therapists can help family members make thoughtful decisions, either together or separately. Counseling provides a safe environment for the whole family to ask questions, express feelings, and talk about ideas to reduce conflict. Conflicts between parents and children can be complicated, especially during these strange days. Remember, life doesn’t stop during a pandemic. Instead, our limits may be tested beyond our everyday trials and tribulations. Children and teens have their own issues that may require additional therapy. Substance abuse or alcoholism, mental or physical illness, and divorce are among the many reasons to seek therapy.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is another issue that can almost always be helped with counseling. PTSD is sparked by a traumatic life event, including living or serving in an armed conflict zone, enduring a sexual or physical assault, experiencing the sudden death of a beloved friend or family member, or even witnessing the assault of another person. PTSD symptoms include intense fear, helplessness, and stress that may require treatment from a medical professional. Psychotherapy and sometimes medication can provide immediate help, but therapy for PTSD is often a lifelong process. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help individuals change how they think about their trauma.
Counseling can be vital for people who are struggling to understand their own sexual identity or orientation. It can also help people deal with negativity from the people around them who do not approve. Though attitudes and social norms have changed considerably in the United States, members of the LGBTQ population still endure discrimination, marginalization, alienation, and even violence. Counselors can help patients who are figuring out who they are and can help families who seek to better understand their loved ones.
When we began to hunker down at home this spring, the goal was to slow the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, being cut off from the social networks of work, school, and community brings its own challenges. Many forms of abuse and domestic violence worsen during periods of isolation. Vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, the homeless, the unemployed, or people with disabilities and compromised health are made even more vulnerable to abuse when we’re all isolated from our usual social contacts.
Physical, sexual, emotional, or domestic abuse can lead to feelings of shame and anger, trust issues, and self-destructive behavior. If this is the path you’re on, please know that you don’t have to continue down that road. It’s never too late to turn around! A therapist who specializes in protecting victims from the outcomes of abuse can help end the cycle of violence. A domestic violence counselor can also keep in close contact with legal aid to protect victims.
If you’re experiencing noticeable changes in sleep or eating patterns, have difficulty concentrating, or notice an increase in smoking or alcohol use, it’s time to take control—it’s time to find healthy ways to cope with the stress, depression, or anxiety you’re feeling. It’s true that everyone reacts differently to stress and to the pandemic. It’s important to know your own boundaries and to make a plan to take care of yourself.
We all know that getting enough sleep, exercise, and healthy food is the basic formula for good health, but there’s more you can do to help yourself! It might be good practice to take regular breaks from repeated news stories and to limit your exposure to news media. It’s good to be in the know, but you don’t need to rehash the news 24/7. Make a list of local resources in case you are sick or are concerned you might have COVID-19. Add to that list the contact information for support services, including a mental health counselor or therapist. Take precautions like facial coverings, social distancing, and other common-sense illness avoidance tactics like frequent hand-washing. Avoid overindulging in substances like alcohol or tobacco.
It also helps to keep your daily routine as regular as you can. Set aside time to surround yourself in the beauty and wonder of nature. Use your alone time to reconnect with yourself and those you love. Just because you’re not gathering in person, that doesn’t mean you can’t gather! Online happy hour, concert watch parties, or family games can be great ways to keep in touch. Relax and recharge with deep breathing, yoga, meditation, or a bubble bath! Listen to music you love, dance, or immerse yourself in art. Be sure to keep a journal of things that you’re grateful for—on days that you feel less grateful, you can read through past entries to remind yourself of what your life has to offer.
Pandemic or not, these are great strategies to stay mentally healthy. During times of extra stress, it’s common for tried-and-true coping skills to work less effectively than usual. If this is happening to you, make an appointment with a therapist or mental health practitioner. By the time the pandemic releases its grip, you’ll be armed with the tools to help conquer your mental health battles and to help those you love do the same.
Sources for this article included: goodtherapy.org, cdc.gov, dhhs.ne.gov, mayoclinic.org, usatoday.com, and forbes.com.
By Janette Calabro
Avoid a Hairy Situation
Eliminate Unwanted Body Hair
You’re primping and pampering for a big night out. You step out of the shower and see that dreaded red streak running down your leg. Your dull razor has done it again! You stick a toilet paper wad to the nick and hope it stops bleeding before you don your silky black dress. Then, while you’re applying your facial moisturizer, your finger runs across that thick, stubborn chin hair that you’re constantly plucking but that seems to grow back overnight. Enough is enough! It’s time to ditch the dull razor, nix the nicks, toss the tweezers, and try professional hair removal.
Whether your excess hair is caused by a medical condition like hormone imbalance or you just have more than you’d like, you can undergo professional hair removal for great results on any part of your body. Legs, underarms, bikini line, chin, brows—anywhere you’re growing unwanted hair. That goes for men, too. Many men want to tame chest hair, back hair, even ear hair. Luckily, there are multiple options for professional hair removal.
The best method of hair removal depends on factors like skin type and color, size of target area, and, possibly, medical history. Everyone has a favorite method for each part of the body, but it’s smart to consider how effective each method really is. If it’s been a long time since you have considered a different hair removal method, there might be something new that you’ll like more than what you’ve been doing. The best way to figure out which procedure might work best for you is to consult with a skincare professional and talk through your options.
Waxing is one option that has been around for quite some time and is still very popular. This method is frequently used for the upper lip and bikini line. Warm, melted wax is applied in strips and then rapidly peeled off. The heat from the wax dilates the hair follicle, making the hair easier to remove. Since the entire hair root is removed, it takes about four to six weeks for the hair to regrow. A cosmetologist or aesthetician typically performs this procedure. Waxing is not recommended for people with varicose veins or those taking prescription acne medication.
Laser hair removal has become a widely used hair removal technique. This procedure is typically performed by an aesthetician or trained technician. A rapid laser beam pulse targets and destroys the hair bulb. Both the patient and the individual administering the treatment will wear tinted goggles to minimize retinal exposure to the laser beam.
Not all lasers are created equal! A trained professional can recommend the laser best suited to your needs. The alexandrite laser has a high repetition rate and a large area capacity, making it a good option for the back or legs. It is particularly effective on pale skin and is a good choice for thinner hairs. A diode laser has a deep penetration rate and works well for deeper skin tones. It’s a great choice for the bikini area. The ND:YAG laser was developed to be more suitable for darker skin. It has a deep penetration rate, bypassing the melatonin level and going straight to the hair follicle. An advantage of this laser is that it can be adjusted to a shallower penetration to target lighter hairs near the skin’s surface.
Laser treatments are typically administered three to four weeks apart, over an average of four to five months. Lasers are most effective for smaller regions such as the bikini area. Laser treatments permanently reduce the number of hair follicles but will not permanently remove all hair. Periodic minimal touch-ups will help maintain smooth, hair-free skin.
Electrolysis is a procedure whereby a tiny needle with an electric current is inserted into the hair follicle to destroy the hair’s root, preventing regrowth. Some clients feel a mild stinging sensation with each electrical pulse. There are three modalities of electrolysis used today: galvanic (the current produces a chemical reaction), thermolysis (the current produces heat), and a blend of the two. Electrolysis is commonly performed on the eyebrows, bikini line, underarms, legs, and back. It is effective on all skin tones and hair colors. Electrolysis requires multiple treatments over several weeks, but the results are permanent. Any hair follicle that has been destroyed during the treatment will not grow hair again. The spacing of treatments is needed because each individual hair grows in stages, and electrolysis is most effective when hair is in the growth stage. An electrologist requires specialized training, though licensure requirements vary by state. Be sure to ask what training they’ve completed.
Don’t struggle with timeworn hair removal techniques. Embrace innovation and discover the best way to show off your silky-smooth skin.
Sources for this article included: webmd.com, electrology.com, and hairfreelife.com.
By Loretta McCollum
One Amazing Woman
Carry Your Own Bags
Baggage. We all have it. I heard a funny joke that I think most women would appreciate: A mother and daughter are boarding an airplane. The daughter asks her divorced mother, “Are you still dating that guy you met, Mom?” The mother replies, “No, he just had too much baggage.” The daughter says, “Well, Mom, you’re no carry-on yourself!”
Funny? I thought so! We all have baggage, unless we are 17 years old. Of course, we thought we had baggage back then, but we just had drama. If you are older than 30 and don’t have any baggage, I believe you most likely have been living in a cave.
“Accept what is. Let go of what was. Believe in what will be.” —Anonymous
Life experience is something that I treasure. I didn’t always feel that way, but now I know that it is what has made me the person I am. I’m guessing that there are a lot of people who, if they knew my full story, would say that I have lived a challenging life. That’s most likely true, but if I had not gone through what I experienced, I would not be the person I am today…and I like who I am, most of the time.
“You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.” —Amy Bloom
I believe my most positive trait is my ability to let go of the past. When I reflect on who I am, I feel good when I think of everything that I have gone through. Have I faced challenges? Absolutely. Have I been wronged? You’d better believe it. Do I fully own everything that has happened in my life? Yes, as painful as that can be. My experiences have made me who I am.
I bet you’re not unlike me. You’ve had challenges. You’ve had people in your life—family, friends, employees—who have disrespected you or those you love. I hope that you have learned from your experiences and grown. I know I have.
Most of all, I hope that you have been able to forgive those who have wronged you. I hope that you are at peace with your history—it has made you who you are! My best guess? You are one amazing woman.
“In the process of letting go, you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself. ”—Deepak Chopra
By Janet Van deWalle
Point of View
Why Do You Think That?
There’s no avoiding it—we are neck deep in an election year. For months, we have been inundated with political advertising from all types of media. Candidates at all levels tell us why they should get our vote. Talking heads express their opinions on every issue. Panels discuss the pros and cons of it all. Every day, the mailbox is full of missives urging us to vote for this person or issue and against that person or issue. Everyone has a point of view. It all got me to thinking: How do we form our points of view?
A myriad of things influence our views. Age and experience can determine how you think. The young are often more open to change than the elderly…but not always. Family attitudes often affect our thinking. Life experience may foster a more global viewpoint. Urban and country dwellers often view issues differently. Many people base their opinions on what they learn from the internet. Some people form their points of view according to, “What’s in it for me?”
I don’t remember my parents talking about politics much, though Mom always voted. “I’ve never missed an election,” she boasted. When her eyesight waned, I’d take her to the polling place. We’d take her ballot to a side table for privacy. I’d read the names and issues, Mom would indicate what she wanted, and I’d mark her ballot. Once, on the way home, she remarked, “I’ve always been a Democrat. Now, I vote for the candidate I think is the most qualified, regardless of party.” That’s the only time she really mentioned politics. I try to follow her example.
Having visited and lived in different areas of the country, I’ve seen how some issues result in change. It’s affected my views in many areas, conservation and climate change among them. Through his work, my husband dealt with many politicians and issues. His shared experiences have also colored my thinking.
People often harbor strong feelings about different candidates and issues. Disagreements on issues have separated families. Fathers and sons don’t speak. Brothers with strong but opposite opinions have nearly come to blows. I try to avoid expressing opinions when I know someone has strong feelings…I know they aren’t going to change their mind. I’m not sure political issues are worth splitting up families or friendships. That’s something I learned from my parents…we don’t always have to agree.
The election will be over by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, and there will no doubt be strong feelings all around. No matter what the outcome, it’s important to respect each other and the reasons we have for our points of view. Remember, there’s always more than one point of view to consider. Be thankful that the family can get together. Have a happy Thanksgiving!
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
Custom Furniture and Cabinetry
Live By Your Own Design
In a culture overtaken by mass-production, one-of-a-kind handmade goods are rare finds. Not so long ago, furniture was often built by hand, one piece at a time. As factory-produced furniture flooded the market, having well-designed, high-quality furnishings meant hiring a designer and craftsperson at a cost simply unattainable for most. Luckily, the growing demand for original, quality pieces has spawned a new wave of custom furnishings at affordable prices. Superior design, comfort, and sustainability are just some of the reasons that more consumers are turning to custom furniture builders. Buying custom is a growing trend and is probably easier than you think!
Furniture shopping is a time-consuming process. Balancing comfort and lifestyle leaves many homeowners struggling to find the right piece. Color, material, size, style, and support all come into play. Maybe you find a sofa you love but it doesn’t come in the color you want, or you find the perfect desk but it’s too short for your favorite chair. Opting for custom furniture eliminates much of the stress of shopping by delivering exactly what you want. With custom furnishings, design possibilities are endless. Whether your style is traditional, modern, or downright funky, you can create something that reflects your personal taste.
The most sought-after custom pieces are dining tables and bedroom furniture. When you invest in custom hardwood furniture, you are the recipient of truly original pieces. The art of applying color to wood and staining by hand requires an intricate skill set that simply cannot be replicated by factory machinery.
When it comes to upholstered seating, it definitely isn’t a case of one size fits all. If you’re particularly short or tall, standard sofa seat length or height can be quite uncomfortable. If a bad knee leaves you struggling to get up out of an easy chair, maybe you need a little more support. Comfort is very personal. When you invest in pieces that can be customized to the inch, there’s no need to compromise.
Homeowners are often surprised to discover that custom furniture costs less than they expect. You may pay more up front, but you receive better value for the price over time. Establish a budget before meeting with a custom builder who can discuss options within your price range. While it may take a little time to customize your piece—a few weeks or months, depending on the complexity— it’s well worth the wait. When designers take the time to understand your needs and your space, you end up getting exactly the right piece. What if you’re unsure about what you want? Many custom furniture stores often offer complimentary interior design services in the store or online to assist you in designing your perfect piece.
Cabinets are the furniture and focal point of a kitchen or bathroom and should be built in a style that reflects the personality of the owner. Custom cabinets offer quality craftsmanship and fixtures that will last a long time. You get to decide on the species of wood, style, and finish, as well as the hardware, to make the cabinetry truly your own. They may cost a little more and take a little more time to build than stock or semi-custom cabinets, but it’s an investment that will pay off. You get to take advantage of every square inch of available space and optimize efficiency by placing extra tall cabinets or nifty small ones in tight spaces to gain additional storage.
Custom cabinetry also adds to value of the home. To get the most value from custom cabinetry, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of an experienced kitchen designer who can guide you through the many options. Since the kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in the home, it’s important to keep everything organized. Convenient accessories designed for ultimate organization include custom drawer dividers, spice racks, trash and pantry pull-outs, and blind corner systems. Imagine no more fumbling around, searching for the right pan or utensil. Having everything at your fingertips will save you time and frustration.
If you need extra sleeping quarters, consider the ultimate in custom furnishings: the multi-functional custom Murphy bed. These fold-down wall beds take up very little space and can turn any room in your home into an instant guest room. Only you and your overnight guests will know what’s hidden behind that beautiful cabinetry.
The many benefits of custom furniture make it the best option for replacing the furnishings in your home. When made with high grade materials and designed with expertise and skill, custom furniture is a lasting investment. By choosing custom styling and enduring quality, you can relax and enjoy your piece all the way to the next generation.
Sources for this article included: consumerreports.org, carvedculture.com, and brittanica.com.
By Robyn V. Powell
Integrating Tech at Home
In the last 20 years, smart tech has become both affordable and commonplace in new and existing homes. We’re even coming to call such homes “smart homes.” What does that mean? Smart homes are an amalgamation of all the smart tech items and appliances in the home, which are connected via the “Internet of Things.” This is a fancy way of saying your smart appliances are connected through a digital network (like Wi-Fi). The Internet of Things is also what makes it possible to control your refrigerator or doorbell through an app on your smart phone. Smart home tech isn’t just about controlling house lights while you’re bored at work, though. It can also be automated with things like motion sensor lights, scheduled pet feedings, or even keyless entry doors to make your life easier.
There is a huge range of smart appliances out there for your convenience. Some of the most common examples are clothes washers and dryers, dishwashers, vacuums, ovens, microwaves, cameras, coffeemakers, televisions, refrigerators, locks, thermostats, and light bulbs. Most of these appliances work much like the old appliances you’re used to, but they have the added benefit of being connected to a programmable device that allows you to access them remotely from anywhere. You can set things to run automatically or send you reminders. You may be surprised by how much you can improve your home’s energy efficiency, safety, and security with simple automation—that is, by eliminating natural human error.
Speaking of security, smart tech can even eliminate the need for bulky, overpriced home security systems and contracts. Many smart security system companies offer a variety of items, including cameras (both indoors and outdoors), video doorbells, motion sensors, smart locks, and even optional 24/7 surveillance by a professional team. Though some devices can be installed using your home’s existing wiring, most smart security items are wireless and will need to have additional batteries purchased to ensure they remain active when you need them. Conveniently, many smart security devices are sold individually, which allows you build your own customized security system.
Smart home technology has just about reached a point where even if you purchase a third-party or off-brand smart device, you can usually link it in with one of the big-name smart home system networks. This means that you won’t need a separate app on your smart phone for each smart appliance and device you have installed. Usually, anything you can’t access from a mainstay app on your smart phone, you can control using a smart speaker like Google Home or Amazon Echo.
Making sure all your devices link together and can be accessed by a single remote controller is also what distinguishes your living room television from your home theater. Modern home theaters aren’t just fancy chairs and a big screen or projector. What really makes or breaks a home theater experience is the sound. To accomplish this, you’ll need to buy a high-quality sound system (usually, a sound bar and a few additional speakers to create a surround sound). Fortunately, with the same Internet of Things technology as the rest of your smart devices, hooking up several speakers to play sound simultaneously with your screen has never been easier.
Once you’ve decided to purchase one or more smart home items, the next step is installing them. Some companies do offer home delivery and installation, but many smart appliances are made to be bought off the shelf and installed by the customer. If you don’t have any knowledge or experience with electronics and wiring, this can be anywhere from tricky to downright dangerous. You may be able to handle set-up for smart speaker that connects wirelessly through protocols such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. However, smart light switches, wall outlets, thermostats, sprinkler controllers, smoke alarms, and some video doorbells will require you to disconnect your existing hardware and wire in your new smart tech without damaging the wires or electrocuting yourself. You’re better off calling in a professional for that kind of installation.
For installing just a handful of items, your best bet is probably to hire a local electrician. If you’re looking to install more than just a few smart devices, or if you’re building your smart home infrastructure from the ground up, you may want to hire a tech consultant. A tech consultant can help you find the right custom installers for the job and make sure that all your items work exactly the way they’re supposed to.
With the right appliances and professional help, you can really bring your home into the modern age with all the ease and convenience that a smart home brings!
Sources for this article included: hunker.com, pcmag.com, and electronichouse.com.
By Anne Yankus
To Your Good Health
Living With Diabetes
Control Your Condition, Control Your Life
A diabetes diagnosis can feel like a life sentence. However, with the right care, the latest medical advancements, and a can-do attitude, diabetes can be just one part of a busy and active life. In some cases, diabetes can be avoided or even reversed. Understanding the causes and treatment of the disease is the key to controlling diabetes…instead of letting it control you.
Diabetes affects the way the body regulates blood sugar (also known as glucose). Glucose is the sugar that is found naturally in blood. It creates energy and helps provide nutrients to the body. To support the body, glucose needs insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that regulates the body’s metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. In people who have diabetes, insulin is not doing its job, and blood sugar is not sufficiently controlled.
There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. With type 1 diabetes, the body simply does not produce insulin. It is often called juvenile diabetes, as it is usually diagnosed in childhood or young adulthood. It is an autoimmune disease. That means the body’s immune system attacks healthy body tissue. Heredity, certain viruses, and race or ethnicity can increase the risk of type 1 diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes can produce insulin. However, their cells have become resistant to this insulin, and the pancreas is unable to make enough insulin to overcome this resistance.
Without sufficient insulin, sugar builds up in the bloodstream instead of moving into the cells, where it is needed for energy. Type 2 diabetes often develops in patients older than 35 and is sometimes referred to as adult onset diabetes. African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and many patients have a family history of the disease. Lifestyle risks include being overweight and sedentary.
In 2018, 34.2 million Americans, or 10.5 percent of the population, had diabetes. Of that number, only 1.6 million have type 1 diabetes—type 2 is much more common. Approximately 88 million Americans have what is known as pre-diabetes. That is when someone’s blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to meet the threshold of a diabetes diagnosis. Without lifestyle and dietary changes, pre-diabetes often develops into diabetes. A blood test at an annual physical is usually how people learn they have pre-diabetes. It is an opportunity for them to make changes to ward off the disease. The most common blood test to diagnose diabetes is the A1C test. Levels below 5.7 percent are considered normal. Levels between 5.7 percent and 6.4 percent indicate pre-diabetes. A1C levels of 6.5 percent or higher indicate diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is a genetic condition that cannot be avoided. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin several times a day because the body does not produce the hormone on its own. An insulin pump is a convenient device that gives the patient small, steady doses of insulin throughout the day.
Though type 2 diabetes is much more common, it is also possible to avoid by addressing risk factors. If you are overweight, get down to a healthy weight; if you’re at a healthy weight already, maintain it. Make sure you’re getting sufficient exercise and eating a healthy diet. Limit alcohol and quit smoking. If high blood pressure is an issue, talk to your doctor about controlling it.
Some people with type 2 diabetes are able to control it by eating a healthy diet and being physically active. If medicine is needed, the medication can be an injection or a daily pill. Some studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can be reversed with significant and permanent changes in diet and lifestyle.
An endocrinologist is a medical doctor who specializes in diabetes and hormone disorders. People with either type of diabetes should see their endocrinologist regularly. They should also schedule annual eye exams and work with a dietitian to help them adopt a diabetes-friendly diet.
When diabetes is not closely monitored and treated, the patient has an increased chance of developing serious medical problems such as heart disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, eye damage, or stroke. Nerve damage and poor circulation can lead to skin conditions, especially in the feet. Simple skin problems like blisters can develop into serious infections that may eventually require amputation.
If you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes, use that time to make changes so diabetes does not develop. If you do develop diabetes, follow your endocrinologist’s advice about treatment and lifestyle changes. Diligent attention to your condition means that diabetes can become a part of your life without taking over your life.
Sources for this article included: mayoclinic.org, cdc.gov, diabetes.org, and niddk.nih.gov.
By Leslie Byrne
Focus On Finance
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Who's the Fairest Index of Them All?
Most Americans have heard of the Dow Jones and S&P 500 stock market indexes. A smaller number are aware of the Nasdaq Composite index. Even fewer know how these indexes are constructed and how they impact stock prices in today’s electronic, internet-driven stock market. Insight into the workings of indexes can help individuals make informed decisions about their investments. Don’t worry—the insight doesn’t have to be all that technical to be of value to the average investor.
The purpose of a stock market index is to provide an overview of what a specific group of stock prices is doing. A straightforward way to describe how an index is built is that you choose a group of stocks, add their share prices together, and then divide the total by the number of stocks in the basket. Then, when most of the stocks in the group go up, the index goes up. When most go down, the index goes down. It’s not quite that simple, but the analogy is a good starting point.
The oldest of the market indexes is the Dow, which was begun in the late 1890s. Originally, it consisted of 12 railroad stocks. Over time, it has evolved into 30 large industrial companies across a broad range of American industries. The S&P 500 consists of 500 American stocks and was developed in the early 1960s with the objective of creating an index that represented a broader spectrum of the market than the Dow. The Nasdaq is the youngest index of the three and includes the shares of 3,000 American and international companies. All of the companies in the index are traded on the Nasdaq Exchange, which is the second largest exchange in the United States.
One important difference in the calculation of these indexes is that the Dow is price-weighted, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq stocks are weighted by their market capitalization (market value). Rough translation: In the Dow, the stocks with the highest price have the most influence over the movement of the index. In the Nasdaq and S&P 500, stocks with the highest market value have the most influence. A stock’s market value is calculated by multiplying a company’s stock price by its number of shares. As a result, companies like Apple and Amazon have greater influence over the movement of these two indexes than that of all the bottom stocks combined.
A further distinction between the calculation of these three indexes is that the Dow and the Nasdaq are calculated by including the dividend returns of the stocks in the index, while the numbers for the S&P 500 do not include the dividends. Thus, the performance number for the Dow and Nasdaq is enhanced by the dividend return in a way that the S&P’s performance number is not. To make a true comparison of the performance of all three indexes, you need to add the dividends into the S&P 500 number. Historically, the dividend returns for all three indexes has been about 2.5 percent. In order to make an apples-to-apples comparison of all three indexes, you need to add approximately 2.5 percent to the listed return of the S&P 500.
For the past several years, all three indexes have moved in a somewhat similar fashion. That is, they tend to move up and down in sync. Where they differ is in the magnitude of that up-and-down movement. The Nasdaq moves up and down the most, followed by the S&P 500, with the Dow lagging behind. A partial explanation for this synchronous phenomenon is that there is a significant amount of crossover in the stocks contained in all three indexes. For example, all 30 of the Dow stocks are in the top 50 of the S&P 500. About 20 of the top stocks in the Nasdaq are in the S&P 500.
Investors need be aware of market indexes and their construction because these indexes serve as benchmarks for the performance of individual investment portfolios. I’m sure you’ve heard the term “beating the market.” It means that the return on an individual portfolio or mutual fund exceeds the return of a particular index. When you’re evaluating these returns, it is critical to be aware of how well the particular index chosen as a benchmark matches your investment objective. For example, the aggressive and the technology-oriented Nasdaq will be a poor match for a conservative investor because the returns of the Nasdaq are achieved with a higher degree of volatility than you will find on a more conservative index such as the Dow. Which index is the fairest of them all? That depends on which mirror you ask.
Editor’s Note: Professor Morgan has over 40 years’ experience in the investment field, both as a university professor and as a financial advisor. He currently serves on the faculty at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where he directs a program designed to educate 401(k) plan participants on how to improve their investment strategy.
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
Support During Serious Illness
Hospice Vs. Palliative Care
When you or a loved one needs specialized care during a serious illness, palliative care can significantly improve quality of life, easing symptoms and providing support. Hospice care, on the other hand, brings comfort to those experiencing a terminal illness. Both specialties address the challenges and improve the well-being of patient and caregiver. The aims of hospice and palliative care are similar, but there is a difference. Palliative care may begin at diagnosis and occur along with treatment. Hospice is specialized care when recovery is not expected and curative treatment is stopped.
Palliative care is relatively new, becoming a defined medical specialty in 2006. I was not familiar with it until my sister-in-law developed a debilitating illness six years ago. Many fellowships are available in the United States to train doctors, nurse practitioners, and social workers in palliative care. Most large hospitals now have palliative care teams.
Palliative care affirms life and provides relief from pain and distress. It includes psychological and spiritual care, encourages an active life, and offers support to the family of the person who is ill. Palliative care benefits those with illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, lung disease, kidney failure, dementia, AIDS, or ALS. Patients can remain under the care of their regular doctor as they receive treatment. A palliative care team might include doctors, nurses, physician assistants, dietitians, social workers, psychologists, massage therapists, or chaplains.
The goal of palliative care is to help patients feel better while they undergo treatment for serious illness. Symptoms caused by the illness or the treatment are eased. The stress, fear, or anxiety that treatment can bring are attended to, and spiritual challenges can be explored. Treatment often causes nausea, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, or pain. Palliative care is an extra layer of support, addressing all of these. Palliative care teams can also help with logistical challenges like understanding medical forms or treatment choices, obtaining financial counseling, and securing housing or transportation during treatment.
Look for palliative care services at hospitals, clinics, home care agencies, cancer centers, or rehabilitation facilities. Though it is often covered by health insurance, including Medicare or Medicaid, check with your provider. A social worker or hospital’s financial counselor may be able to help.
Hospice care is for people with serious illnesses who do not expect to recover. Usually, a doctor and patient come to agree that curative treatment is no longer effective or desired. Caregivers focus on achieving the best possible quality of life for the patient in the time that remains.
Hospice may involve medications to ease pain, medical equipment, counseling, and other kinds of support. Care can be provided in one’s home, at an assisted living facility or skilled nursing facility, in a hospital, or at a facility dedicated to hospice care. A team might include a doctor, nurse, social worker, and others working together with caregivers and family, giving support where needed.
A member of the hospice team makes regular visits, and someone is available by phone 24/7. Daily care is provided by family or friends, augmented by the hospice team. If the patient prefers to stay at home but no family or friends can help with daily care, in-home care may be obtained. Note that insurance and Medicare do not normally cover this. For Medicare to cover hospice costs, they must be given by an approved provider.
The hospice team coaches family members or others to care for the terminally ill patient’s physical and emotional needs. This can be a heavy load for caregivers. Respite care may be needed to give them a break. Most insurance does not cover respite care, but Medicare will likely cover most of the cost for up to five days.
Deciding on hospice care can be difficult for the patient and also the family, but it is likely to improve quality of life for both. Some feel it to be too final—what if the patient stabilizes or improves? What does “stopping treatment” really mean? A person can stop hospice care at any time. Though treatments meant to cure are discontinued, other measures such as medications to control high blood pressure, oxygen to ease breathing, or diuretics to address fluid retention will continue. The goal is not to prolong life, nor is it to shorten the time remaining.
To enter hospice care, a medical doctor must certify that the patient is terminally ill and is expected to live six months or less. For palliative care, it is the patient’s wish that is determinative. Most professionals advise starting palliative care early in treatment.
How fortunate that we have specialists able to improve quality of life during recovery from a serious illness! When recovery is not possible, it is reassuring to have round-the-clock specialty support for patients and caregivers.
Sources for this article included: medlineplus.gov, nehospice.org, and americanhospice.org.
By Linda Barnes
Causes, Treatment, and Solutions
My sun-kissed face was beaming, and I was relishing every moment of my beach vacation…but my smile wasn’t the only thing shining in this photograph. Through my thinning, windswept hair, my scalp was also beaming. That’s a brilliant quality I had hoped to not inherit from my mother.
Those experiencing unwanted hair loss, also known as alopecia, are not alone. It is estimated that two thirds of men and one out of five women suffer from hair loss. For both genders, thinning hair is indeed hereditary, and that is the most common cause of hair loss. Other influences include chronic stress, some chemotherapy drugs, and poor nutrition.
In my case (and my mother’s), the hair loss was due to the hormonal changes that come with middle age. During my mother’s era, she felt her options were limited to the various means by which she added volume to her hairstyle. Fortunately, today we have many more effective ways to deal with hair loss, including surgical, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic options.
Hair replacement surgery is done by transplanting a patient’s own hair. Areas of healthy hair growth, usually on the back and sides of the head, are harvested as grafts. For this reason, hair replacement surgery cannot help those who are totally bald. The size and severity of the affected area may dictate where your procedure takes place and what type of anesthesia is used. Several surgical sessions are usually needed to achieve desired fullness, and at least a couple of months are recommended between sessions to allow for healing and assessment.
Sometimes, baldness appears in small isolated patches. This can be caused by an injury or by the medical condition alopecia areata (known informally as “spot baldness”). A surgical option for this type of hair loss is scalp reduction. The affected scalp is removed, and edges of the hair-bearing areas are pulled together.
Pharmaceutical treatments are abundant and go by a variety of proprietary names. For individuals who suddenly develop bald spots, the most common cause is an overactive immune system. Treatment typically involves the use of a corticosteroid medication that suppresses the body’s immune response. In one promising new treatment, platelets from the patient’s own body are injected after being enriched and combined with proteins that stimulate and regenerate hair follicles. Other chemical treatments alter the levels of DHT, a derivative of testosterone, which attacks hair follicles. Some compounds are suitable for both men and women, but others are not! Don’t assume that your husband’s prescription is safe for your use.
If surgical or chemical treatments are not your preferred approach, contemporary wigs for men and women can be a glamorous option, offering a variety of styles that might never have been possible with your natural hair. Wigs made from real hair bring the best durability and styling versatility. Wearing a wig can give your hair a chance to rest from daily styling, actually encouraging healthy regrowth, particularly if you use a cap that allows your scalp to breathe. Lace caps or hand-tied wigs offer the best circulation. Opting to use a wig can also save you time, as there is no need to spend time styling your hair—the salon looks that are so difficult to replicate are already crafted into your wig.
Extensions and toppers can greatly enhance your hair’s appearance of fullness. Extensions work best if your hair is thinning overall, rather than in a specific spot. Under a top layer of hair, extensions attach with a clip or adhesive or by being sewn onto a thin braid that’s created against your scalp. Toppers are half-wigs that rest on top of your head, blending with the natural hair below. For this reason, they work well for clients with spot baldness. Be sure to rely on the skills of an experienced technician-stylist, as imperfectly applied extensions can lead to a lopsided hairdo, a bad color match, or even damage to your hair, exacerbating the hair loss you are trying to counter.
It is important to have your hair loss evaluated by a dermatologist or hair loss specialist. Together, you can determine the cause of your thinning hair and plan the best course of treatment. Develop a good relationship with a stylist who has experience working with thinning hair. You can collaboratively choose the best styles to maximize your hair’s appearance and draw attention away from a weak hairline or gossamer texture.
Our hair can be an important component of our self-expression and confidence. Losing hair can be a traumatic experience, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Many options are available for you to look and feel your best. Don’t delay speaking with a hair loss specialist. Solutions are available and within reach.
Sources for this article included: stanfordhealthcare.org, aad.org, and webmd.com.
By Maria Harding
Luxury Vehicles in 2020
Life in the Fast Lane
The extravagant and sumptuous feel of a luxury car cannot be denied! We have all dreamed of sinking down into a lavish leather seat before a gleaming dashboard and driving away to an exotic destination. We have all seen a beautiful and elegant car go by and thought, “I wish I were in that car.” There is nothing like the splendor of a luxurious vehicle to make you feel pampered. People who drive them will tell you that once you drive one, you will never look back.
So, what is considered a luxury car? Is it something that provides the driver with increased levels of comfort? Absolutely! Something that provides prestige and status not offered by regular cars? Indubitably! A vehicle that performs with quality and ease? Positively! A dream car that exudes quality, personality, and enchanting amenities? Affirmative! Of course, an economy car will do all the basic functional things that a luxury car will do. The difference is in how beautifully all the components perform and how you can enjoy their splendid features as they take you from point A to point B.
Luxury cars have features that just get better and more exciting every year. Some of the features that come in luxury cars are seat massagers, seat coolers, heated steering wheels, automatic lane keeping detection, vacuum cleaners, super cruise systems, sport response buttons, remote-control parking, and—my personal favorite—self-closing doors.
There are many popular luxury cars on the market in 2020. One of the newest makes is the Tesla. This is an electric car complete with a 5-door hatchback configuration. Tesla describes its Roadster as “the quickest car in the world, with record-setting acceleration, range, and performance.”
For decades, the name Mercedes-Benz has conjured up immediate visions of style and grace. These days, you can pretty much design your own version, with a plethora of choices in upholstery, trim, paint, and options. Mercedes makes it painless to find a superb vehicle that is just right for you. Next up is the compelling Lexus. Talk about a car that delivers! Versions include Standard Luxury, Ultra Luxury, and the breathtaking Sport version, too.
No list of luxury brands would be complete without BMW. You can get BMWs in coupe, convertible (who can forget James Bond’s iconic BMW roadster?), sedan, and station wagon body styles. That’s right—even people who want a station wagon can enjoy a luxury vehicle! Other outstanding choices in luxury vehicles include Audi and Infiniti. Both offer upgraded trim packages and premium choices for your refined taste.
If you really are looking for a standout, you can make quite an entrance in a Porsche Panamera. Speaking of entrances, who among us has not mentally drooled and sighed as a Jaguar saunters past? This car comes complete with true sports car amenities and is not to be outdone in the upper-class pedigree arena. Ferraris are in an individual class, as well. Aston Martin, Cadillac, and Rolls Royce are no strangers to the speed and luxury market when it comes to sophistication.
We’ve all heard the warning about buying a brand-new car—that it starts to lose value as soon as you drive it off the lot. Depreciation on a new car is a given, I’m afraid, but some luxury vehicles don’t suffer from it as much as a standard vehicle does. Some of the luxury cars that do not depreciate as much as your standard car are Audi Q7, BMW X4 and X5, Mercedes-Benz GLC and GLE, Infiniti QX60, and even the Volvo XC60. Resale value is always a big deal for luxury car owners. Luxury cars tend to attract buyers who have monetary resources regardless of the country’s economic circumstances, and those automobiles tend to sell even during a moderate recession. Also, keep in mind that a luxury car isn’t just about the brand name and the heated leather steering wheel—these are well-made vehicles. For example, three fourths of the cars that Rolls Royce has ever produced are still on the road.
Let’s close with some other fun facts about luxury cars! The Tesla Model S is road-tested on an indoor track—this is possible because it produces no emissions. Actor Daniel Craig is so revered for his portrayal of James Bond that he has the distinct privilege of taking any Aston Martin from the factory for the rest of his life. Al Capone’s bulletproof Cadillac was seized by treasury agents and was later used as President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s limousine.
Drink in the impressive splendor that is a status symbol on wheels. You know you want it!
Sources for this article included: edmunds.com, tesla.com, mbusa.com, and caranddriver.com.
By Linda Sutherland
The Good Life
Creating Unique Pieces of Beauty
Another holiday season is fast approaching! Seasonal foods, traditions, and festivities welcome this magical time of year. Many of us are shopping for that perfect gift for someone special. The gift that never goes out of season is jewelry—and custom jewelry can be a thoughtful and distinctive gift for both men and women.
Custom jewelry sends a message. It’s personal. It’s unique. It’s a gift that says you pay attention and you care. Whether it’s a necklace, bracelet, earrings, or ring, a gift of custom jewelry is sure to be appreciated.
There are some things to consider before you visit the jeweler. First, think about the recipient of your gift. What kind of jewelry does he or she typically wear? Statement pendants or delicate chains? Brightly colored gemstones or understated metals? You can also take a cue from your recipient’s clothing style—classic, trendy, vintage, or whimsical? Second, figure out your budget for this gift. Setting a budget will help you make design decisions and help ensure that you don’t spend more than you planned. Once you have an idea in mind and have decided on your budget, it’s time to get into the details of the piece. Current jewelry trends include pearls, chains, charms, hoops, spider-inspired pieces, stars, button earrings, and, of course, diamonds.
When thinking about jewelry, the first thing that usually springs to mind is the gemstone, but the metal that holds it together is just as important. Silver, gold, and platinum are the most commonly used metals. Silver is the most budget-friendly of the three, but it scratches and oxidizes if worn regularly over a long period of time. Gold is generally mixed with other metals for strength, which means that gold varies in hardness and scratch resistance. Higher karat golds are softer. Platinum is beautiful and durable, although it will wear and scratch over time.
Stainless steel, titanium, cobalt, and tungsten are modern, durable metals that are gaining ground, particularly in men’s jewelry. Stainless steel’s affordability, strength, and durability make it a popular option. Titanium and tungsten are very strong metals, highly resistant to scratching but difficult (or even impossible) to resize. Cobalt is durable and relatively scratch-resistant. Platinum, titanium, and cobalt are hypoallergenic, making them good options for individuals with skin sensitivities. (If your gift is to be a surprise, you’ll need to find out beforehand if your recipient has any sensitivities to metals.)
Historically, gemstones were categorized as precious and semi-precious. Precious stones included diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. All other gems were considered semi-precious. These classifications seem to imply that precious stones are more valuable than semi-precious stones, but that’s not necessarily the case. Semi-precious stones are generally softer (more susceptible to scratching or chipping) and more abundant than precious stones. You should choose a gemstone based on its appeal, its intended use, and, of course, your budget.
Color, clarity, cut, and carat weight (the 4 Cs) are factors used to grade diamond quality. Diamonds are graded on a color scale from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow/brown). Colorless diamonds are rarer and, therefore, more expensive. Clarity refers to the inclusions (internal features) and blemishes (surface irregularities) of a diamond, ranging from flawless to included. Flawless diamonds are extremely rare and costly. Cut refers to a diamond’s proportion, symmetry, and polish, all of which impact its ability to transmit light and sparkle. Cut grades range from excellent to poor. Carat weight refers to a diamond’s weight, with larger diamonds being more expensive. However, two diamonds with the same carat weight may vary greatly in price because of differences in the color, clarity, or cut. All four factors determine a diamond’s final grade.
Since custom jewelry is a significant investment, it’s important to choose a professionally trained, certified jeweler. Visit jewelers with well-established, good local reputations. (You can start by asking family or friends for recommendations.) When you’re speaking with custom jewelers, take note of how you feel—do they seem knowledgeable and trustworthy? Do they listen to you and appear interested in your needs? You’ll also want some general information about the business. How do they handle diamond certification and appraisals? Do they have a reasonable return policy? Do they offer a warranty?
Of course, commissioning a custom piece takes longer than buying something out of the case. You can expect the process to take one to three months, depending on the complexity of the piece. Be sure you understand the details of the process before you begin.
Custom jewelry is a personal gift—a wearable work of art that is sure to be cherished. Visit a jeweler today to bring your style to life or to celebrate someone you love.
Sources for this article included: americangemsociety.org, gia.edu, gemsociety.org, and jewelers.org.
By Angella A. Arndt
West Coast Hot Spots
If you have ever had the experience seeing an amazing, enormous mammal like a whale up close, then you know the exhilarating feeling it brings! These magnificent creatures migrate in oceans all over the world, fending off predators to mate or give birth. If your timing is right, you can spend a few hours with them and their calves. While you can go all over the world to spot different species and even swim alongside them, you do not have to travel internationally for this exquisite experience. Take a quick trip over to the west coast of the United States. From north to south and beyond, there are opportunities to go whale watching whenever you are ready.
After talking with the naturalists aboard different whale watching boats in Southern California, I learned that different species of whales are migrating all year. They make their way from the cold waters of Alaska down to the warm waters of Baja, Mexico, to give birth, and then they head back. The best times of year for whale-watching, the naturalists tell me, are March and April because you can catch more mothers and calves swimming together. It’s such an exciting moment when you spot these huge whales next to your boat. Some are curious and swim along to get a closer look, and some are protective mothers who guide their babies away from the ship. Either way, there is excitement in the air when you hear an on-board announcement of a whale spotting or when you see your first spout of water.
Starting from the northwest, you can do some fantastic whale watching on an Alaskan cruise. You have options to see different species of whales, depending on the month you go and what areas you travel.
Travel south, toward the San Juan Islands off Washington, and find one of the best places in the world to see orcas. Just off South Beach is Salmon Bank. You can also go whale watching in the spot where the orcas, humpbacks, and other marine life enter and exit the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Pacific Ocean. Check out the Interpretive Center to learn more about the orcas at Lime Kiln Point State Park (also known as Whale Watch Park), one of the best places to watch from land.
The next destination is the Oregon coast. The little town of Depoe Bay is the Oregon state capital for whale watching. They even have a historic Whale Watching Center that offers free binoculars to use and staff to answer questions about spotting whales. It is the perfect spot to watch from shore as the whales blow, dive, spyhop, and breach. Whale watching is a year-round activity in Oregon, but the best time to go is during Whale Watch Week (in either winter or spring), when some 20,000 gray whales migrate just offshore.
Time to go to California! Killer whales frequent Monterey Bay more often during the spring, mostly because they are searching for the gray whale pairs. The Monterey Submarine Canyon is like the Grand Canyon, but underwater. These exceptionally deep waters near the coast allow deep-water species of whales and dolphins, along with shallow water species, close to the shore for an abundant amount of whale watching. Depending on the season, there are plenty of varieties to see, from gray, blue, and humpbacks to killer whales and fin and minke whales.
Travel to Dana Point in Orange County for more whale watching fun. Dana Wharf Whale Watching & Sportfishing has plenty of whale watching trips to choose from. They even offer full-day cruises that take you behind Catalina Island, where you can see entire pods of whales! It is not uncommon to see 30 whales. Keep in mind, this trip is for the seasoned boat rider. Most tours last just a few hours, which may be a more comfortable length of trip for those less accustomed to spending all day on a boat.
Another option is to go to San Diego. Flagship Cruises & Events has guaranteed whale sightings—or your money back. Hornblower Cruises & Events is another outfitter. Both set off in the same harbor and offer large, comfortable boats for whale watching.
Taking a whale watching cruise is not as expensive as it might sound—tickets can cost as little as 10 dollars. You can usually bring food and drinks aboard and have the option to buy them on the boat, too. Remember to dress in layers and wear sunscreen. Being out in the open waters can get colder than you think. If you’re prone to seasickness, keep in mind that morning tours usually have calmer waters. Wherever you choose to travel along the coast, enjoy yourself exploring the coastal towns and cities that let you get a look at those beautiful whales!
Sources for this article included: alaska.org, visiscalifornia.com, and oregonstateparks.org.
By Jackie Williams
The Green Thumb
Garbage is Your Garden's Best Friend!
Gardeners are naturally concerned about the environment. We try to do right by the planet by growing beneficial plants, but the temptation to spend our money on chemical fertilizers can be overwhelming. We reduce, reuse, and recycle, but we still find ourselves hauling trash to the curb, which will go straight to the landfill. These problems seem impossible to solve! What if I told you that you can turn some of your garbage into gold for your garden? It’s good for your wallet, good for the environment, and good for your soul! How can this be? Well, let us see what “good” garbage we can salvage to make your garden sparkle!
First up: eggshells. Yes, eggshells. Those delightful protein-filled nuggets that you fry, scramble, and boil have an outer coating with a high calcium content. As luck would have it, plants really need calcium. This important nutrient helps plants grow by maintaining chemical balance in the soil and improving water penetration. Of course, chemical fertilizers contain calcium (along with many other ingredients), but why spend your money on expensive fertilizers while throwing away eggshells when you could solve both problems in one fell swoop? Simply grind or pound the shells into powder and mix into the soil around your plants. You have done your plants a huge favor!
Got banana peels? No problem—your garden will love them. Bananas contain lots of potassium, which is one of the three major components of most fertilizers. Most of the potassium is in the fruit itself, but there is still a significant amount of potassium in the peel, which is too tough and bitter to eat. Potassium strengthens plant stems and is a component in fighting off disease. Without enough potassium, plants may grow poorly. You don’t have to do anything special to your banana peels before using them in the garden. Simply bury the peels near your plants. They will release nutrients into the soil as they start to break down.
If you’ve been enjoying a backyard fire pit or a wood-burning fireplace this year, you have probably ended up with a lot of wood ash and nowhere to put it. As it turns out, ash is an excellent source of both lime and potassium. To use it in the garden for the benefit of your plants, scatter it lightly in the soil or mix it into your regular compost. A word of caution before you do so: Wood ash will make your soil more alkaline (less acidic) by raising the pH level. Plants that prefer alkaline soil, like daisies, beets, and asparagus will appreciate the boost. Acid-loving plants like blueberries, azaleas, and rhododendrons do not appreciate wood ash in the slightest. If you don’t know how acidic your soil is, you can buy a soil kit to do your own simple testing.
Grass clippings and leaves are a bonus for the garden, and we all seem to have an excess of both after a day of mowing or raking. Leaves help retain soil moisture, and grass clippings contain potassium and nitrogen that will supplement your other natural fertilizing options. Be sure that leaves are dry before placing them in the garden. Wet leaves will mat down, reducing the chance of oxygen and moisture getting down into the soil. The same goes for grass clippings or pine needles—dry is always best.
Finally (and maybe most importantly), consider creating your own compost bin for your gardens. It may sound daunting, but it is fairly simple. Start with one of those large plastic bins (like the kind you store holiday decorations in). Drill some holes in the bottom of it for drainage. Create the base with shredded newspaper or dry leaves and fill to one quarter full. Next, add a layer of dirt and then a layer of food scraps that you have diligently been saving for this very project. Give the whole thing a good stir and cover the pile with additional dirt. Moisten with some water, but do not soak it. Drill some holes in the lid for aeration and place the lid on tightly. Find a nice shady spot away from the house and let nature work its magic. You’ll need to stir the mix occasionally so it doesn’t get too compacted. It will take two or three months for it to be ready for the garden, but it is so worth the wait! Till it in with your soil before you plant in the spring. Always keep about a third of your composted material to start the next batch going. You will love the results!
By Linda Sutherland
Selecting a Veterinarian
The Ins and Outs of Finding Care
Adding a pet to the family is an extremely exciting experience that can bring a lot of joy to a household. That said, it is a life-altering decision for both family and pet, and it’s important for new owners to be mindful of how much care a pet will need upon reaching their home. In all scenarios, there are financial costs involved in adopting a new pet and a considerable amount of time will need to be invested. However, the fun and happiness along the way is priceless.
One of the most significant considerations for new pet owners involves choosing a veterinarian to care for their furry friend. This is a big decision. Veterinarians advise owners on the best preventive care options and identify the pet’s needs and risk of disease. In addition, the vet will maintain an ongoing history of the pet, including health records that detail care, illnesses, surgical procedures, and allergic reactions to medications. It’s vital that owners can trust the veterinarian.
It’s smart to approach this selection in the same way you would choose a physician or dentist for a human family member. Ask a neighbor or a local friend or family member with the same type of pet for recommendations. If you visit dog parks, other owners may also have ideas. During the selection process, it’s also wise to think about location, hours of operation, payment options, and the range of services (including how emergencies are handled) offered by the vet before making a final decision.
When adopting from a pet rescue or breeder, it’s wise to ask the rescue or breeder for any previous medical records for your pet. Bring that information to the first appointment with the vet so that services are not repeated or missed. New owners might also want to bring in a small, fresh stool sample that can be tested for worms—be sure to ask when you call to make the appointment.
During the visit, a veterinarian will thoroughly check your pet for any physical abnormalities, including the eyes, ears, teeth, skin, abdomen, heart, lungs, and joints. The vet might also check for conditions specific to the animal’s breed. The first visit also provides a great opportunity for owners to ask for specific tips or recommendations about care, training and feeding. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
A new pet will likely undergo a round of vaccinations and preventative medications for fleas, ticks, and heartworm during the first visit, too. Pets are due for these every three to four weeks until they’re about four to six months old. Additionally, core vaccines are recommended for all dogs and cats, as they protect against diseases that are widely spread but easily preventable with antibodies. For dogs, the recognized core vaccines are for canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis, and rabies. The core vaccines for cats are feline panleukopenia, feline calicivirus, feline rhinotracheitis, and rabies.
Moving forward, a pet should continue to visit the vet on a regular basis; the recommended frequency of visits for a generally healthy animal depends on the animal’s age. A puppy or kitten under the age of four months should visit the vet every three to four weeks to receive all of the necessary vaccinations and a general checkup. This is especially important because vaccinations and tests for common diseases are essential in the early stages of life. Also, it is around the four-month mark when most kittens and puppies are spayed or neutered. Additionally, the animal may need to start flea medication.
After pets have reached one year of age, they generally need to visit the veterinary clinic once a year (much like humans). During this annual visit, the vet will conduct a complete physical examination to check for any concerns. Updated booster shots will also be given during annual visits, as needed. As pets age into their senior years, vets suggest animals should receive checkups twice per year. Along with a typical physical and any necessary vaccines, senior pets may need further health tests at their visit. This may include checking on previous problems or undergoing blood and urine tests to ensure their internal organs remain healthy. Of course, if you notice unusual symptoms or behavior in your pet between visits, be sure to give the vet a call.
Finding the right veterinarian to provide services is an essential part of any new pet ownership. Luckily, you’ve got experience in that area—you’ve gone through the same process to find your own medical professionals. When you find the right one, keeping an eye on your pet’s health will be a much lighter task.
Sources for this article included: avma.org, petfinder.com, and aspcapetinsurance.com.
By Brie Hellbusch
Blow Out the Candle
Put Yourself First
What is it that makes so many women think that everyone else is more important than we are? Women put themselves out there for their spouse, their children, their extended family, their work family…wait a minute!
“Go above and beyond for yourself! You do it for family, friends, and colleagues, but don’t forget about YOU. It’s important to include yourself…You are worthy of your own kindness, too!” —Stephanie Lahart
Ouch. That hit way too close to home. I am a middle child, which, according to psychologists, makes me the peacemaker between my older siblings and my younger siblings. I proceeded to bring this role with me into adulthood. Next, came my own family, with my children and their father. After that, came my friends—and their friends. I then proceeded on this path with all of my employees. My goal was to make sure that everyone was HAPPY!
“I’m a typical middle child. I’m the mediator. The one that makes everything okay, puts their own needs aside to make sure everybody’s happy.” —Jennifer Jason Leigh
The problem with all this caretaking? We get tired. Please admit it. We all do. Now, as I am one of those annoying people who takes total responsibility for her own life, I realize that I have no one to blame but myself. Now, that made me feel better, right? NOT!
“It is only when you take responsibility for your life that you discover how powerful you truly are.” —Allanah Hunt
I am the first person to admit that I do not follow my own advice. If I have to make a choice between taking care of myself or someone I love, it isn’t a choice. The person I love always gets my attention. My dear husband, Manny, has been trying to nudge me onto a different path. He takes care of me and strongly encourages me…okay, let’s be honest here…pushes me to make a new decision.
“Respect, love, and value yourself. Always remember to be good to yourself by taking care of yourself. Make yourself a priority and know that it’s okay. Don’t feel guilty for loving yourself first! You’re just as important as anybody else.”
How many of us have gone down this path of thinking everyone else is more important than we are? I have a dear friend who is the oldest child. She does that same thing. She is almost worse than I am! When I think about the women in my life, I can’t think of a single one of us who puts herself first. Wow. That was truly a revelation.
I believe we can change. If you have a good spouse, friend, mother, or daughter in your life, I believe they can help you. Are you on board?
“Stop constantly burning the candle at both ends, or you will eventually be reduced to ashes.” —Christine E. Szymanski