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Hot Time of Year

The Last Days of Summer

Hopefully, you have been getting outside to enjoy some bright summer days! Experience cheerful butterflies bouncing from flower to flower, strobing fireflies, roses blooming, and daisies smiling at the sun. Once we’ve established a lovely summer state of mind, let’s keep it going with easy, cool dressing. Simplicity is the key!

By “simplicity,” I don’t mean clothing that is particularly simple in design…I mean clothing that makes getting dressed very simple! I’m talking about one or two easy pieces that work with everything you have in your summer closet. 

There is nothing better than one-piece dressing in the summer. One and done, that’s my motto! My favorite is the cool, long, romantic summer dress in a fabulous cotton-blend summer print. Nothing could be easier to wear. No muss, no fuss, and no worrying about what your legs look like! A flowing summer dress looks put together on people of any age. The choice of prints is wonderful this year, with pastel animal prints, polka dots, and botanical themes at the forefront. 

Bare shoulders are still in, with lots of “cold shoulder” effects and off-the-shoulder looks. Shoulders are a beautiful part of any woman’s body, and the heat of summer is a great opportunity to show them off! Put on a little self-tanning lotion, dust with a little sparkle powder, and you have some peek-a-boo fun to complement your outfit!  

Another one of my favorite singlets is the jumpsuit. Look for a loose-fitting one made of a cotton blend. Definition at the waist is important to create shape in a jumpsuit. Try a matching fabric tie or drawstring around the waist. The summer jumpsuit comes in many lengths, to flatter every figure. I personally enjoy the ankle length. It is cool and shows off a cute sandal. For those of us looking to draw attention to our legs, consider the jumpsuit’s shorter, younger sister: the romper. Borrowed from a favorite outfit for little girls, the romper is perfect for summer. 

Another essential piece for the hot days of summer is the gauzy pant. Nothing is more comfortable than these full, loose pants. White is the most popular color during summer, as it reflects sunlight and works with any top. Style tip: White tends to be a little see-through no matter the fabric, so be sure to wear underwear that closely matches the color of your skin. 

The longer short that skims the knee is also an important warm-weather trend this year. Cut with a narrow leg, this tailored style is very flattering. Like a flowing sundress, it is one of those very versatile summer pieces that can go from work to the beach with just a change of shoes. 

Some unexpected color pairings can be a fun part of your summer wardrobe. My favorite bold summer color combos are pink and orange or lime and turquoise. Remember chartreuse? It’s a pale yellow, tinged with just a bit of green. It has been described as “sunshine and a warm hug.” That sounds like something I want in my summer collection!

We all love classic clothing items that we can wear year after year, but one summer season staple that you should repurchase annually is the basic white tee. After several washings, this type of shirt loses its crisp whiteness. Retire last year’s for garden work and purchase a couple of new ones each year. For some reason, nothing looks cooler than a classic white tee paired with…basically anything! Find one that flatters you and stock up. My favorite is a V-neck with an elbow-length sleeve. Pair with high-waisted jeans or a flowing maxi skirt, and you will look youthful and hip while staying entirely comfortable. 

The summer of 2020 has brought a big revival of the long skirt, another essential for this year. There are two main inspirations here: the bohemian 1970s look and the Laura Ingalls Wilder pioneer influence. Traditionally, maxi skirts almost skim the ground, but this year offers the midi model, which ends around the ankle. Choose a fabric that is light and airy and has lots of movement. If you prefer a more tailored skirt, try a lightweight denim straight skirt. It is time to retire last year’s jean skirt and go for the more sophisticated below-the-knee white denim skirt. A touch of class any time of year! 

Whether we’re swinging on a shady porch, surveying the garden with a glass of iced tea, or enjoying an ice cream cone, the joys of summer keep us smiling. Wherever summer takes you, I hope you will be cool and comfortable while you’re making memories to cherish all year long. 

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

Fashion Worthy

By Holly Bell

Weekend Gourmet

Grillin’ and Chillin’—Let’s Eat!

Bloody Mary Mix

Stir together 1 quart of tomato juice, 1/2 cup of lemon juice, 2 Tablespoons of jarred horseradish, a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, and tabasco sauce and black pepper to taste. Simmer on medium for 5 minutes. Let cool, then refrigerate. When ready to serve, pour a shot of vodka or tequila over ice in a tall glass and add the mix. Garnish with a celery stalk or fresh basil, celery seed, more pepper, or pickled green beans.

Settlers’ Pancakes

Melt 1 stick of butter and cool slightly. Mix the butter with 1 cup of milk, 2 eggs, and 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil. In another bowl, whisk together 1 cup of flour, 4 teaspoons of baking powder, 4 teaspoons of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix lightly until just combined (add a bit more milk, if desired). Fry in an oiled skillet or griddle. Serve with fresh fruit sauce, jam, warm syrup, and fried ham.


Cucumbers and Onions

Peel and slice 4 cucumbers and slice 1 medium onion. In a bowl, mix together 1 cup of Miracle Whip, 1/2 cup of sugar, 4 Tablespoons of vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Combine the dressing with the cucumbers and onions. Mix well and refrigerate. 


Curried Shrimp-Crab Louis Salad

Mix 1 cup of real mayonnaise with 1 Tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of curry powder, and 1/4 cup of chili sauce. Refrigerate until ready to serve—adjust flavors, if desired. Fill a large bowl with a variety of lettuces, chopped onions, olives, other chopped vegetables of your choice, and 2 chopped-up hard-boiled eggs. Add 1 can of drained crab meat and 1 cup of cooked, chopped shrimp. Mix well. Top with dressing and croutons. Serve cold.   

Grilled Garden Veggie Medley

Clean and chop your choice of garden veggies, including onion, potato, carrot, zucchini, and squash. Make a foil packet using heavy duty aluminum foil. Place the veggies on the foil and drizzle with olive oil. Add 2 pats of butter and seal the packet tightly. Heat the packet on the cool side of a medium-high grill for 20 minutes. Salt and pepper as desired. 


Oven-Baked Calico Beans

Drain 1 can of lima beans, 1 can of kidney beans, and 1 can of butter beans. Mix with 2 cans of pork and beans, 1 pound of crispy crumbled bacon, 1 chopped onion, 1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of vinegar, and 1 Tablespoon of molasses. Pour into a baking dish. Bake at 325 degrees for 60–90 minutes, until beans are thick and creamy. 


Roasted Garden Beets

Mix 2 Tablespoons of raspberry vinegar with the juice of 1 orange and set aside. Remove the tops and roots of a dozen fresh garden beets. Wash and peel the beets, then cut into halves or quarters. Toss with 3 Tablespoons of olive oil, a few fresh thyme leaves, and salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 40 minutes or until tender. Remove from the oven. Pour the orange juice mixture over the beets and add salt and pepper as desired.


Old Fashioned Cheesecake and Berries

Mix 1 and 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of melted butter. Press the crumbs onto the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan. Bake for 15 minutes at 325 degrees. Cool. 

Beat three 8-ounce packages of room-temperature cream cheese for 3 minutes. Add 1 cup of sugar and beat for another 2 minutes. Add 3 large room-temperature eggs and beat for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of sour cream, 2 Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, and 1 Tablespoon of vanilla. Mix until well blended, scraping the mixing bowl. Pour the batter into the crust. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. 

Prepare a mixture of 1 and 1/4 cups of sour cream and 3 Tablespoons of sugar. When you remove the cheesecake from the oven, immediately pour the sour cream and sugar mixture over the top of the cheesecake. Return to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove and cool. Cover with foil and freeze overnight. Remove from freezer. After 1 hour outside the freezer, release the cheesecake from the springform pan. Top with a mixture of fresh summer berries.  


Peach Cobbler

Put 4 cups of pitted, peeled, and sliced peaches into a buttered 9x13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the peaches with 2/3 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of freshly grated lemon zest, 1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon of lemon extract. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. While the peaches are baking, combine 1 and 1/2 cups of flour, 1 Tablespoon of baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cut in 1/3 cup of cubed butter. Mix together 1 egg and 1/4 cup of milk and add it to the flour mixture. 

Remove the peaches from the oven and drop the cobbler mixture over the peaches. Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of sugar over the top. Return the cobbler to the oven. Bake for another 20 minutes, until the tops are golden. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice 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

Zodiac Forecast


Leo  July 23–August 22

Happy birthday, Leo! The Sun is moving through your zodiac sign, escorted by Mercury and Venus. It is all about to happen for you! You should be thinking big! You are feeling flirty, affectionate, and entertaining. Your mind is working brilliantly but may be in overdrive—
thoughts are flooding in. Allow things to simmer to get the most out of this great time!


Virgo (Aug 23–Sep 22) Your mind is working splendidly but may be spinning too fast. You’re getting lots of new ideas. Slow down and allow these thoughts time to mature. This leads to superb results! 

Libra (Sep 23–Oct 22) You have an everlasting effervescent mood. You are feeling your best and have an irresistible charm. What a splendid time to entertain someone you would like to get to know better!

Scorpio (Oct 23–Nov 21) Take assertive action when it comes to your plans and goals. Obstacles will be removed once you take the initiative to make things go forward!

Sagittarius (Nov 22–Dec 21) You are feeling highly motivated and ready to make things happen! You will do extremely well with traveling or with any other plans you have for yourself. 

Capricorn (Dec 22–Jan 19) Don’t allow others to let you down. You can change results with patience. Allow issues to resolve on their own and enjoy your month!

Aquarius (Jan 20–Feb 18) Sometimes, sacrificing just a bit of your independence can lead to greater experiences, security, and performance in all aspects of your romantic and professional life. Give it a try this month!

Pisces (Feb 19–Mar 20) The time is right for you to reach for the stars! You have more support from family and friends than you realize. Your potential is present; others are noticing. 

Aries (Mar 21–Apr 19) Everything is going smoothly. The solar system is working well for you. You can expect sheer fun! The stars will make you feel communicative and flirtatious. 

Taurus (Apr 20–May 20) Do something dreamy and give your imagination plenty of freedom. You are in the mood to make your home more comfortable and lovely to behold!

Gemini (May 21–Jun 20) You are feeling extra communicative and can’t hold back much longer! It may be time to spill the beans on some exciting news. 

Cancer (Jun 21–Jul 22) Your mood is nostalgic, which is right where you like it to be. It’s a splendid time to visit your favorite secondhand store or antique mall and treat yourself to something vintage.

A Woman's Work

New Babies, New Ideas 

The Mystery of Childbirth

Most women share the miraculous ability to bear children. Some of us have blessedly passed through our childbearing years, some of us are still in the thick of it, and some of us are just entering this wondrous phase. Even those of us who do not bring any children into the world never fail to be awestruck by maternity, pregnancy, and the wonder of giving birth. 

Let’s be honest, though—not all of us mothers recall those nine or 10 months as a fairy tale that offered nothing but a happy ending. Pregnancy, delivery, and the postpartum period can be very challenging. Our bodies are asked to perform tasks which are absolutely miraculous, and, of course, only women can perform this duty. For many of us, there is the interminable morning sickness (which is certainly not limited to the morning hours alone!). For some of us, there is the inescapable heartburn or that terrible taste of metal in the mouth. We were expecting that our clothes wouldn’t fit, but even our shoes don’t seem friendly. Our skin and hair can become unruly, and our moods can swing from “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” to Hagatha the Witch. No matter. In just a few short months, a brand-new person will arrive and change everything forever. 

Throughout human history, we have accepted pregnancy as a matter of fact. It is, after all, part of life. This most natural of human functions has been viewed differently by different societies, ranging from nothing special to placing the mother-to-be or the new mother on a pedestal. There are different ways of thinking about pregnancy, childbirth, and early motherhood. Today, childbirth seems to be experiencing a “rebirth.” 

At one time, in some societies, pregnant women were kept from the public eye. Once they had reached a certain stage of pregnancy, they went into “confinement.” I suppose they spent their time knitting booties and making layettes. More recently, pregnancy was viewed as a medical issue, compared to an illness or a temporary disability. 

Currently, pregnancy is enjoying being what it is, and that is life renewing itself. Today, we see pregnant women everywhere, and what a joyous sight it is! Pregnancy wardrobes have become more flattering and easier to live with. During the 1950s and 1960s, maternity clothing was often festooned with lace, frills, ruffles, and other doodads. For many of us, these garments did nothing to add to the joy of the moment. 

Thank goodness someone finally realized that being pregnant does not mean having to look like a circus act! Many maternity dresses show off rather than hide that growing bump and help us celebrate the fact that there is someone soon to be born. Although I can’t cite any scientific evidence of the “feel good” factor, we all know that looking good helps us feel good. 

When senior women encounter a pregnant woman, all kinds of memories come rushing back as we take time to remember our own pregnancies and deliveries. It’s a special gift to those of us who have passed through our childbearing years. 

In the face of increased technology and care, it’s a pretty good time to have a baby. Today’s expectant mothers can be assured of their baby’s health and critical development even before the baby has been born. New methods of childbirth are available to make labor and delivery easier. We are seeing a resurgence of midwives, and doctors and their teams offer the best support available for both mother and baby. This wonderful time in a woman’s life now can be less frightening and uncertain. 

What about after the delivery, when the support team has gone home? The new mom is left physically exhausted, experiencing at least some degree of pain and, in some cases, challenged by postpartum depression that is sometimes mistaken for “just” the blues. Although it is not generally well known, there are services available for expectant mothers and new moms to help them cope with problems and challenges accompanying pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. 

While waiting for baby to be born, it’s a good idea to spend time gathering information about the birth experience and what to expect. Studies do show that women equipped with knowledge before childbirth experience less fear, fewer drugs, and fewer forceps deliveries. Services such as physical therapy, classes designed especially for women who need a little extra support, and other methods of help are now sometimes covered by insurance plans. Be sure to check them out. After all, the more knowledge you possess and the more confidently you can advocate for yourself and your baby, the better you will feel as you begin this new chapter of life. 

By Sharon Knierim

Fresh Concepts

Countertops and Backsplashes 

Set Your Tone 

Countertops and backsplashes set the tone as soon as you walk into a room. Of course, we all have personal preferences when it comes to materials and colors, but where do you begin to choose? What are the best countertop and backsplash options for you, and how do you select an installer? The latest trends range from natural to manmade, from neutral to vibrant. If you’re excited about transforming the tone in your home, it’s time to learn more! Let’s look at a few popular materials.

Granite, a natural stone, is popular because it is beautiful, strong, and durable. (Even though granite is prized for its durability, you should still use a trivet or hot pad under a hot pan on a granite countertop.) One drawback to granite is its porous nature. It absorbs liquid spills that can stain the surface or harbor bacteria. Sealing the surface of granite is a popular solution, though you may need to reseal throughout the granite’s lifetime. For cleaning, use a damp cloth with only soap and water, never a disinfectant wipe.  

Quartz is a high-end alternative to granite; it is less porous, more hygienic, and nearly indestructible. In appearance, quartz can look as though it is mined straight from Mother Nature, and that is the idea. The reality is that it is crushed and custom-blended with a binding agent or a resin. The rich finish can withstand oil and wine spills, even stains from tomato sauce. Low-maintenance quartz comes in many colors and patterns, some mimicking the look of natural stone. As with granite, limit heat contact as much as possible. 

For those who love the look of high shine and want a stunning alternative to natural stone, consider using glass countertops and backsplashes to add a modern, contemporary look to your home. Resistant to heat and scratches, stylish glass works well with almost any style and can add beautiful sheen to a dull space.   

Even though polished surfaces are very popular, a matte finish with little shine is also trending in 2020. Leathered finishes are popular, too, leaving a soft, sophisticated sheen that retains the stone’s natural color while hiding fingerprints and water spots. 

The name of the game this year is to have fun with colors, materials, and patterns. For example, pair wood and stone for a drastic combination of light and dark. Play with a vibrant color palette for a dramatic orange-red, or mix a demure gray with a bold veining pattern. Veining gives countertops character and varied patterns. Veins look creative and luxurious—after all, no two are just alike! These varied finishes can be matched to flooring, cabinets, and backsplashes. Some people prefer a softer, more laid-back tone for cooking or gathering in the kitchen. Neutral colors are great for this. Soft grays, whites, and beiges help smaller spaces look roomier and brighter. Minimalism remains popular, as do natural spring greens, teals, and forest greens. 

 Always unique, luxurious marble remains on the upscale side and adds value to a home. Such beauty has its costs, however, with little natural protection from staining or scratching. Newer sealants can reduce maintenance and enhance the life of this beautiful, natural stone. 

Solid-surface counters are blended acrylic and resins, pressed into sheets. They don’t have the natural look of stone, but their advantages include stain resistance and their availability in a wide range of colors. Best of all, damage to solid-surface countertops can be sanded out. 

Porcelain is having a moment. Very popular in Europe, porcelain slabs can mimic granite, marble, or even wood. Stain and heat-resistant, they also inhibit the growth of bacteria. Porcelain tile is also making a comeback this year, but not like you’ve seen it before. It’s not just for the shower walls! Porcelain tiles are lightweight and durable, with high style and low maintenance for the kitchen and the master bathroom.  

If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, recycled glass surfaces are right up your alley. They’re durable, are made up of 75 percent recycled glass and white cement, and are free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and harmful resins. Even better, you can choose colors and patterns from neutral beige to jewel tones. Another eco-friendly option is composite countertops. Made from recycled paper and fly ash, composite resists stains and bacterial growth. Heat-and scratch-resistant, this material is functional as well as good for the environment. 

For those in love with sustainable materials, reclaimed wood countertops are trending. They’re dashing and ultra-modern for 2020. For a less modern but very stylish look, consider bringing back terrazzo tiles for the kitchen or bathroom. They’re made from chips of marble, granite, quartz, and glass. This vintage look is versatile and long-lasting and can be refinished when worn.

Concrete countertops have brought a new look for the kitchen or bath in an elegant, urban home. Texture and color varies, making each counter a work of art. Concrete countertops are durable and easy to clean, and they can be pre-cast or poured in place. 

Laminate countertops are popular because they are affordable and versatile. You can choose from many different designs and patterns to provide visual interest. Perhaps most important is the low level of maintenance they require. They are non-porous, easy to clean, and don’t need to be resealed to preserve the life of the counter. Great for the busiest kitchens!

If you think a backsplash is a fun way to bring personality and style to the kitchen or bathroom, you’ll love checking out this year’s trends. Wallpaper is wildly popular in 2020, as are creatively patterned or larger tiles. Pops of color can modernize your design, while neutral and natural textures provide a classic look. 

When it comes to backsplashes, larger slabs are winning this year. Backsplashes are rising to the ceiling, covering the whole wall space. You can choose from slabs of wood (yes, really), quartz or marble, stainless steel, copper, even glass. Make a bold statement with a sealed marble backsplash that has built-in cabinets or shelves, or keep it cozy with classic subway tile that’s durable and easy to clean. Add charm with a brick backsplash or make it bold with bright colors that add dimension and intrigue. Whatever style fits your kitchen, be sure you understand the maintenance and durability factors of each material before making your selections. 

If you’re having trouble deciding how to bring your vision to life, the advice of an interior designer can save you from making costly mistakes. Once you have an idea of what you want, it’s time to find your team. Start by consulting with friends, family, or neighbors who have beautiful countertops—who did they work with, and what did they like and dislike about the process? Professional retailers can be valuable sources of information and resources. The steps for installation vary depending on the material you’ve chosen. The process of laying tile or laminate, for example, is less involved than cutting a natural stone. 

Countertop fabricators are the people who transform a slab of stone into the gleaming countertops that fit seamlessly into your space. After they inspect your slab and consult with you about any imperfections you want to avoid, they use highly specialized tools to cut and shape the stone, making sure that it will be an exact match for your kitchen or bath. 

In some cases, you can select and purchase a slab and then have the countertop fabricated and installed, all through the same retailer. In other cases, you may need to hire a contractor yourself, outside of a retail location. Again, begin by asking others for recommendations. It’s always best to talk with more than one contractor, to check online profiles and ratings, and to get testimonials. Ask basic questions like what time they arrive and leave for the day, what industry certifications they hold, and what kinds of warranties or repair services are offered. Find out how they handle fabrication and installation or how you can view other countertop materials before you make a purchase. A written estimate protects both you and the contractor, and you should always ask for one.

The kitchen and the bath are workhorses of your home. Highlight them with beautiful, functional countertops and backsplashes. Use artistic tiles, unique patterns, and fun textures to put your style and personality on display in your house. Remember, there’s no place like home!        

Sources for this article included:,,, and


By Janette Calabro

Good Looks


Putting Your Best Smile Forward

Russian author Leo Tolstoy said, “It seems to me that what we call beauty in a face lies in the smile.” It’s so true. One of the first things people notice about you is your smile. Flashing a big grin elevates your own mood, and it’s highly contagious. A great smile increases self-esteem and confidence. Whether you’re seven or 70, an orthodontist or pedodontist can help you get a smile you’ll be glad to share.

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children should be seen by an orthodontist no later than age seven. By this time, children will typically have some permanent teeth, allowing the orthodontist to determine if a problem may be developing. If early treatment is suggested, this is an opportunity to guide proper jaw growth, correct inappropriate oral habits, and help ensure proper alignment of future permanent teeth.

Early orthodontic treatment is often performed in two phases. Phase I treatment typically occurs between the ages of seven and 11 years, over a span of 10–14 months, and does not necessarily involve braces. Appliances like expanders are utilized to prepare the jaw for incoming permanent teeth, helping to avoid extractions as the child ages. A retainer is usually worn until Phase II treatment begins.

Phase II treatment starts when most of the permanent teeth are in place. Traditional wire braces remain the most common alignment correction method for young people, though today’s wire brackets are smaller and less noticeable than those of years past. Thermal technology in orthodontics is also becoming widespread. With thermal braces, the wires used to move the teeth are activated by body heat, reducing the number of adjustments needed and minimizing discomfort by adjusting teeth more gradually and gently. Overall, discomfort is usually mild and can be managed with over-the-counter pain medication.

Ceramic braces are also an option. They are the same size and shape as metal braces, but their brackets are tooth-colored, making them much less obvious than traditional wire brackets. Some also incorporate tooth-colored wire, rendering them even more inconspicuous. Alternatively, some patients opt for colored wires to complement their personality or to coordinate with seasons or holidays. No matter the appliance choice, the average amount of time required for alignment correction ranges from 18 to 36 months, depending on the amount of correction needed. 

When those braces finally come off, it’s a huge deal for young people still learning how to be comfortable in their own skin, but it doesn’t end there. Parents have invested substantial time and money on the alignment of their children’s teeth, and they don’t want to repeat the process in a few years, nor do they want their children to deal with it again as adults. The best way to avoid future orthodontic issues is to wear a retainer. A retainer holds teeth in place after braces have been removed, providing the bone that holds the teeth an opportunity to stabilize and rebuild. The most common type of retainer, and the most durable, consists of an acrylic body with a wire that goes around the teeth. Retainers should be worn continuously for six months following the removal of braces, followed by nighttime wear indefinitely. 

You may think of braces as something for teenagers, but it’s never too late to seek orthodontic treatment. Many orthodontists report that 30 to 50 percent of their patients are adults. The basic treatment methods do not significantly differ between adults and youth, but there are additional considerations for older patients. First and foremost, adults are no longer growing. Their bones are, therefore, harder, and they may have lost some density. This simply means that it may take longer to correct alignment, since adult bones are not as responsive to pressure. Have crowns or bridges? No problem. Once teeth are properly aligned, bridges and crowns can be properly placed.

Aesthetics is a significant concern for adult patients. They are established in their careers and don’t want to give the impression of being juvenile or immature. However, as previously mentioned, today’s brackets are much smaller than they used to be, and tooth-colored brackets are less noticeable. 

A popular choice for adults is Invisalign. With Invisalign, patients wear a clear plastic removable aligner for 20–22 hours per day. There are no wires, and they are virtually invisible. Because the aligners can be removed to eat, drink, brush, and floss, patients’ food and drink choices are not as restricted. Aligners are switched out every couple of weeks as teeth gradually shift. 

Your local orthodontist or pedodontist can provide more information on these and other treatments designed for both children and adults. Make an appointment today, and brace yourself for a wonderful smile!

Sources for this article included:,,, and 

By Loretta McCollum

Income Outcome

Growth and Change

Use It or Lose It

My husband, Manny, and I had the opportunity to take a trip to Branson, Missouri, a couple of weeks ago. Manny had never been to Branson, and it had been more than 40 years since I had been there. Both of us had cabin fever, and we thought getting out of town sounded like a terrific idea. We hopped in the car and took off on a Friday afternoon. 


“A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.” –Earl Wilson


Let me start by saying we had a terrific time. Manny and I both love country music, so this was a wonderful choice for us. Branson had just started “opening up” again, so there was very little traffic. We made it a point to not overbook ourselves. There were a few shows open, so we booked three in our seven-day trip. This gave us lots of time to do “a whole lotta nothin’.” 


“A vacation is having nothing to do
and all day to do it in.” —Robert Orben


We stayed in a large condominium timeshare complex. It was very nice—the only challenges we had were “maintenance issues.” Within the first few days, we had met just about their entire maintenance crew. First, it was the washing machine that sounded like a 747 jet engine taking off. Next, it was the air conditioning. The crew came and knocked on our door to let us know that the unit had frozen and they were going to work on it. The fan in the master bedroom chirped like a bird.

Being the inquisitive people that we are, we talked with these maintenance people who were becoming more like friends than employees of the resort. As it turned out, the resort had just reopened three weeks before we got there. It had sat empty since January, and now it was June. They had replaced dozens of dishwashers, washing machines, and refrigerators. Why? Because the appliances had stayed unused for way too long.


“That which is used develops, and that which
is not used wastes away.” —Hippocrates

People are a lot like this. When we get stuck, when we stop moving, stop growing, stop changing, we run the risk of breaking down. I realize that the last several months have been challenging for all of us. My concern is that many of us may become like those appliances—we may begin to break down. My wish is that we all are able to change things up, at least a little, to keep ourselves moving. 

Take a walk. Take a drive. Sit outside on your patio. Move. This, too, shall pass.

By Janet Van deWalle

Kids Comments

The School Year is Coming

 Help the Kids Start Their Adventure

It’s time again to get the kids ready for school. Kids need help switching from relaxing summer days to the more rigid demands of school schedules. Some kiddos will face major transitions. If yours are moving from half-day kindergarten to full-day first grade, from elementary school to middle school or junior high, or from high school to college, “getting ready for school” will mean more than usual. Whatever adventure your kids are starting this fall, knowing what to expect will help. 

You’ll surely need to go clothes shopping. The older the kids get, the less input you have into their style choices. (You might want to check with other parents about what their kids are really wearing.) Older kids might want to go with their friends to “shop” and then take you to “buy.” As a lesson in economics and finance, you might give them a clothing budget and a card with a spending cap. Even the little ones have definite ideas about what they want to wear. 

School shopping also includes classroom supplies. Schools often send a list of what supplies are needed to start the school year. Different districts have different needs. Some supply nearly everything; others have detailed lists of what parents are expected to provide. Regardless of what is needed at school, be sure your “home study area” is stocked with the essentials: pencils, pens, markers, crayons, printer ink and paper, a good dictionary, and an atlas or globe. Some craft supplies, such as scissors, glue, crayons, and construction or craft paper may come in handy. If you can find out the kind of projects the kids will be expected to do, you can be prepared…no last-minute dashes to the local craft or hobby store.

New school year haircuts are always one of the main expeditions. It’s fun to let the kids decide what they want done with their hair…within reason, of course…you are still the parent in charge. Whether your child wants a spiked-up mohawk, a sleek combed-back style, a buzz, or long and flowing locks, choosing their own hairstyles gives kids an opportunity to express themselves.

Some school districts are talking about major changes in scheduling and the way the school day will be conducted this fall. Requirements may vary widely, from five-day weeks at 100 percent capacity to reduced schedules, split classrooms, or virtual learning only. Undoubtedly, technology will play a major role in the kids’ education. Make sure your home study area is technologically friendly. 

Whatever changes your student will face, make it an adventure. Frame it as a new experience with different teachers, classmates, and styles of teaching. Everyone feels more comfortable when they know what to expect, but that’s just not always possible. Remember, the kids will follow your attitude. Make it a good one.  

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

Staying Organized at Home 

Purging With Purpose

If your home is disorganized and feels bogged down in clutter, you’re not alone! Regaining control
of your space can seem like an overwhelming task, and, let’s be fair—the task is large. An organized home, however, has a huge payoff in productivity and well-being. You’ll put in the work, get the task done, and, in the end, feel as if a huge burden has been lifted off your shoulders. Let’s clear the decks!

 Two of the biggest benefits of an organized home are saved time and reduced stress. In a disorganized home, you waste valuable time looking for items. The longer it takes to find something (say, your car keys), the higher your stress level will get. High stress levels impact your mood, your health, and your relationships with others. Imagine two morning scenarios: In the first one, you spend many minutes frantically searching for your children’s rain gear, snapping at the kids to grab their breakfasts and eat in the car as you leave late. In the other, you waste no time looking for rain gear because you know exactly where it is (and so do the kids). You all have time to sit down together and start your day with breakfast. Which one of those sounds better to you?

The best advice is to not let the fear of being overwhelmed take over. Start by breaking the process down into manageable steps. Decide where to donate items you no longer want or need (knowing that your belongings will help someone else is great for motivation). Gather all your clothes and separate them by category: pants, skirts, tops, and so on. Go through each pile and decide what to keep, donate, or toss. Only keep what you really love. Be realistic! With the exception of some rarely-worn specialty items, you’re not likely to wear anything that you haven’t chosen to wear in the past couple of years. 

Investing in built-in storage solutions adds to the functionality and value of your home. Bookcases with attractively displayed items instantly upgrade the look and feel of a room. A handsome mudroom bench is welcoming and provides a place to sit and remove muddy boots before they damage the floors. A flip-top bench provides seating and adds storage. 

Built-in storage can be great in the bedrooms, too. Improve your personal morning routine with a built-in closet system.  

Clothing and accessories are beautifully arranged, making it easy to find what you need. Items can be tucked out of sight in wicker or canvas storage baskets that look chic on open shelves. In the kids’ rooms, a loft bed with built-in drawers can increase both storage space and floor space!

For many homeowners, the garage becomes a catch-all for so much stuff that there’s no space left to park the car! Overhauling a garage begins with smart storage systems. A wall-mounted track system gets large or awkward items—bikes, yard tools, snow shovels, ladders—off the floor. Track systems offer versatility with attachment options like hooks and baskets that can be changed out as needed. Install free-standing or built-in shelves to hold storage containers. Reclaim floor space with the use of specialized wall hooks and brackets to mount oddly shaped items such as hockey nets and wheelbarrows. Finally, ceiling racks are ideal to get those seasonal or infrequently used items up and out of the way.     

Moving into a smaller space is always a challenging project. Downsizing means letting go of things, and deciding what has to go can be such an emotionally difficult process that it can delay your move. One solution is to temporarily rent a storage unit. Simply knowing that you don’t have to let go of all your things at once helps take the fear out of change. Embrace your move and take whatever time you need to figure out what you truly want to keep. 

Hiring a professional organizer who can reimagine your space and provide systems that work with your family’s lifestyle just makes sense. A pro will attack that jam-packed attic, basement, or garage and can teach you how to stay organized going forward.

Once you have a solid storage system in place, the key to staying organized is developing good habits and routines. Hang up your coat as soon as you come in the door. Sort mail as it arrives. Put dirty dishes directly in the dishwasher. It’s amazing how much benefit we can reap from such small investments of time. 

Life is easier when things are in order. An energy shift happens in your home when you start letting go of things—you feel lighter and your home feels more inviting. Your home is your sanctuary; don’t let it become a source of stress! 

Sources for this article included:,, and

By Robyn V. Powell

Home Works

Bathroom Remodels

What’s In, What’s Out, What’s Ancient History

Lots of new bathroom styles are trending this year! The natural stone we love in the kitchen has made its way to the bath. Whether you like the elegance of marble or the cool minimalism of concrete, modern bathrooms are seeing a trend toward stone counters, backsplashes, and walls. Dark colors on walls, fixtures, and hardware can set your bathroom apart from the bright, light trends of the last decade. If you’re not sold on a dark-colored bathroom, try bringing in the trend with an accent wall or dark-colored tiles. Nature is making its way back into the modern bathroom, as well, whether it’s adding accent plants or additional windows to bring in more natural light. Bathroom art is also on the rise. Adding pop art to your bathroom can really provide a bold focal point.

It’s not just design that’s bringing the bathroom into the 21st century—it’s plumbing technology! Adding a bidet to your toilet will not only help you save money on toilet paper, it can keep you (and your sewage pipes) cleaner and clearer! There are also a variety of water-saving toilets currently on the market, such as tankless, gravity-assist, dual-flush, pressure-assisted, and vacuum-assisted. If you’re not looking to upgrade your throne just yet, you can purchase tank inserts that will help your older model use less water.

The future of bathtubs is bringing them back to the pre-shower era with the soaker tub. Soaker tubs come in a variety of styles, but they have one thing in common that sets them apart from your old claw-foot: water depth. At minimum, soaker tubs have a depth of 14 to 16 inches, and some sit as deep as 22 inches. That is spa-level soaking, right in your own home.

Many people love a soak in the tub, but no modern bathroom is complete without a shower. Large, walk-in showers with sliding glass doors are the current trend. Exposed plumbing is a new trend that can give your shower a look that is somehow both modern and old-fashioned. As pipes comes out into the open, drains are getting camouflaged. Hidden shower drains are rising in popularity and are usually accomplished by adding a gentle slope toward a linear drain.

No shower is fancy enough to make you forget about a cold bathroom floor. Fortunately, in our modern era, we have a more elegant solution than just adding bathroom rugs: heated floors. A heated bathroom floor will cost around $5–$20 per square foot, depending on whether you’re looking for electric heated mats or heating cables with waterproof membranes. The installation may be pricey, but your electric bill won’t be! On average, heated floors will only add about $3 to your monthly electric bill, but they’ll add a priceless amount of comfort.

The recent popularity of installing pedestal sinks in smaller powder rooms is driving the trend toward custom cabinets—with no under-sink storage, you’ll need to get creative! Many different companies can install mix-and-match pre-fab cabinets or build truly customized cabinetry. As for bathroom flooring, the patterns come and go, but the flooring materials never go out of style. Popular options include porcelain, ceramic, or vinyl tiles; natural stone; concrete; and engineered wood.

If you’re looking for a quick style refresh, why not consider a bath liner? Bath liners are PVC or acrylic inserts that can be installed over your tub, shower, and bathroom walls to give you a new look without the cost of tearing out existing items and installing new ones. They come in a wide variety of designs, include convenient built-in shelving, and are incredibly easy to clean. 

While installing a bath liner may sound like a DIY project, it really isn’t. Because of the added thickness, drains may need to be reinstalled, and any tub liner installation will require a licensed plumber. Liners can develop mold and mildew when installed improperly, so it’s vital to hire a pro. With the right professional, a bath liner can give your bathroom a facelift for a small fraction of the time and money you’d spend on a full remodel.

When you’re shopping around for a qualified contractor to make sure your remodel is done right, be sure to check for a specialization in bathrooms and find out whether the contractor is full-service. You’ll want an estimate of turnaround time in writing; after all, your bathroom provides essential services in your home!

When you find the right professionals to install the right look, a single remodel can take your bathroom from a simple necessity to a luxurious getaway. It just might become your new favorite room in the house!

Sources for this article,, and

By Anne Yankus

To Your Good Health

Focus on You!

Get the Health Care You Need

There have been a lot of cancellations this spring and summer: birthday parties, family vacations, summer camps, even annual appointments with our physicians. There is no doubt that precautions need to be taken, but it’s time to focus on what you need…and what you need is preventative health care from your doctor.  

Those 20 or 30 minutes you spend with the doctor once a year may not seem important, but they are. An annual physical is an opportunity for a medical expert to make sure your blood sugar and cholesterol levels aren’t creeping up. When it comes to conditions like cancer or heart disease, early detection is crucial to successful treatment. When you see your doctor regularly, you can catch medical problems before they become big problems. 

Some health conditions, like menopause, can’t be avoided, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be addressed. The symptoms of menopause often include irregular periods, hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, and slowed metabolism. For most women, menopause occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 years, though it may start earlier or later. Women who are entering this phase of life may have questions for a physician or need prescription treatment to address bothersome symptoms. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a common and popular treatment for menopausal symptoms. 

The safety and utility of HRT depends on each woman’s particular situation. Generally speaking, experts recommend that women take HRT for the shortest amount of time that they need it, as it does bring increased risk of blood clots, stroke, and breast cancer. Women who still have a uterus need to take progesterone along with the estrogen. Women without a uterus can take estrogen alone, and it can be taken for longer. Your doctor can help you find the right treatment for your symptoms.  

Everyone has heard of menopause, but many women may not be familiar with vaginal rejuvenation. This term includes various procedures that help resolve vaginal problems caused by childbirth or menopause, including urinary incontinence, vaginal laxity, and vaginal dryness. The most common vaginal rejuvenation procedures include laser treatments, heat therapy using radiofrequency waves, or injections. These treatments stimulate collagen tightening and rebuilding to resolve common vaginal problems. For more drastic results, surgical procedures are also used. If you think you may benefit from vaginal rejuvenation, talk to your primary care physician or your gynecologist. 

Another common and very serious health condition that women should be screened for annually is heart disease. In the past, heart attacks have been thought of as a men’s health risk, but heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. Heart disease was the cause of death for 300,000 American women in 2017. That is one in every five deaths. 

Health disease can be brought on by other medical conditions and lifestyle choices. Such conditions include diabetes, obesity, unhealthy diet, and lack of physical activity. These are issues that doctors can monitor and work to overcome when women come in for annual visits. When women manage their medical conditions early, and in conjunction with their doctors, it helps protect them from life-threatening situations like heart attack or heart failure.     

High blood pressure is often called “the silent killer,” but women need to know that the symptoms of heart disease can also be silent. When a woman has a heart attack, it may not look much like it does in the movies, with all the chest clutching and keeling over. Common symptoms can be much more subtle and include chest pain or discomfort, known as angina. Other symptoms can be pain in the neck, jaw, or throat, or pain in the upper abdomen or back. Women sometimes report nausea, vomiting, or fatigue. Other signs women should watch for include shortness of breath or swelling of the feet, ankles, or legs.

How can women stay healthy at any age? Women can improve their diets, be more physically active, lower their stress levels, and visit their doctors regularly. Remember, improvements to diet and exercise don’t need to be all at once—in fact, small changes are easier to maintain. To decrease stress, make time for yourself! Whether it’s reading a book, taking a walk, working in your garden, or calling a friend, prioritizing self-care leaves you better able to care for others. Annual doctor’s appointments are opportunities to monitor existing problems and catch new problems early. Early detection is a key part of overcoming many life-threatening conditions. 

Remember, getting older doesn’t mean you can’t get healthier! If you’ve been putting off your annual doctor’s appointment, call and schedule today. It’s a great step toward better health!

 Sources for this article included:,,,, and

By Leslie Byrne

Focus On Finance

The Chicken and the Pig

Commitment Versus Involvement

Just months ago, many Americans were living the good life…then along came COVID-19, and the world changed overnight. Many businesses were forced to close, and unemployment soared to unprecedented levels. Employers and employees alike struggled to survive. Slowly, things begin to reopen, and we are pressing on to a new normal.  

As we move forward, employers and employees will likely divide themselves into two distinct groups. One group will sit back and hope that either the government or time will bail them out. Another group will take the approach that things are going to change and will look for ways to take advantage of those changes.

At first blush, it’s possible to assume this is mainly about employers and that employees are just along for the ride. In reality, the two are closely bound together in a mutually dependent relationship. Businesses cannot succeed without workers, and workers cannot survive without businesses. Let me use the business fable of the chicken and the pig to illustrate my point. 

A chicken and a pig were walking along a road and saw a sign that read, “Please contribute to the poor.” The chicken told the pig, “This sounds like a noble thing to do. Let’s donate a breakfast of bacon and eggs.” The pig responded with, “For you, that would be a contribution; for me, it’s a total commitment.” 

The idea of this story is that successful businesses need both chickens (workers) and pigs (owners), but the levels of commitment required of each group are not the same. (That is, a chicken providing eggs is not making the same sacrifice as a pig providing bacon, but you can’t make the meal without both of them.) In this scenario, the pigs are business owners, who put their resources on the line in order to create a successful enterprise. If the enterprise fails, it is the owners’ life savings and reputations that are lost. The chickens are the workers. Their stake in the business is much lower, but they’re still vital to its success. Even the most talented business person cannot create a thriving enterprise without the cooperation of a group of involved workers.   

There is a reality show called “Undercover Boss.” In each episode, the owner of a company puts on a disguise and pretends to be a trainee in his or her own company. The objective is for the employees to relax and be themselves, revealing to the owner how they really feel about their jobs and the company. Some of the employees reveal themselves as real idiots and end up getting fired. Others show their devotion to the company and help the owner realize how important these devoted employees are to the success of the company. In order to motivate and retain a quality workforce, the owner rewards the dedicated employees with promotions, bonuses, and family vacations. It’s sort of a fairy tale, but I think you get the point.

At this juncture in the discussion, let’s turn the coin around and look at the company’s 401(k) plan. This is where the employee becomes the pig and the employer becomes the chicken. Now, it’s the employee’s money at stake, and the employer’s involvement is to take the time and effort to choose the plan’s service providers. 

Over the years, I have talked to numerous employers about their companies’ 401(k) plans. Many employers take the attitude that “a plan is a plan.” They provide one but feel that they have more important things to do than spend time taking care of their employees’ money. The past few decades have brought about many changes in the financial products that make up and support retirement plans. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that employers have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that the fees and provision of those plans are current and in the best interest of the participants. 

If you are an employer, your personal stake in the business is higher than your stake in the 401(k). What can you do to ensure that you are providing your employees with sufficient incentive to be involved in your business? First, you must examine your plan and make sure it is up to date with the current competitive environment. Second, you can structure your plan as a profit-sharing mechanism so that employees are motivated to make the business the best that it can be.

If you are an employee, your stake in your 401(k) is likely higher than your personal stake in the business. What can you do to get your employer involved? Do your homework. Show your employer how committed you are to making the business a place that is a win for all participants. 

Success in business requires that both parties are both committed and involved. A top-notch retirement plan is a good place to start.

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

Sleep is a Wonderful Thing

Are You Getting a Healthy Portion?

Sleep is so basic. It is as essential as nutritious food and regular exercise for good health. Our bodies need sleep in adequate quantity and quality. Slumber is one of the most natural things that humans do, and not getting enough sleep can imperil our well-being. Why do so many of us not get enough sleep? Too little sleep can cause us to feel drowsy during the day, impair our concentration, affect our job performance, and make driving riskier. If you suspect a sleep problem is leaving you chronically fatigued and irritable, it is time to talk to a healthcare professional.

Problems with sleep range from insomnia to sleep apnea to narcolepsy. We’ve all had trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep at some time or another. When we have that problem frequently, we call it insomnia. Sometimes, it can be resolved with lifestyle adjustments; other times, more intense intervention is required. Most adults need seven or eight hours of sleep per night, but the amount varies from person to person. How do you know how much sleep you need? The key is, how do you feel when you wake up in the morning? Rested and energetic? Groggy and irritable? Insomnia affects your mood and your energy levels. If lifestyle adjustments such as avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and overeating at night don’t help, other measures may be needed.

Changing sleep habits may improve sleeplessness. Avoiding daytime naps or devising a soothing bedtime routine may alleviate insomnia. If stress and anxiety are contributing to the issue, other strategies, such as cognitive behavior therapy or medications, may be needed. A sleep study may be helpful to identify underlying problems.

Sleep apnea, in which abnormal breathing patterns disrupt sleep, is common. Two forms are obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. The causes are different, but the result is similar. Sleep is interrupted numerous times during the night, leaving you tired, irritable, and drowsy. Untreated apnea can have serious, even life-threatening, health consequences.

Obstructive apnea is the more common of the two forms. Breathing stops intermittently during sleep due to an obstruction in the upper respiratory tract. A sleep study often identifies the problem and provides valuable treatment information. A device such as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine may be prescribed to keep airways open during sleep.  

Central sleep apnea occurs less often. Here, the brain does not send proper signals to control breathing. It can be due to a health condition such as heart failure or stroke. Treatment includes addressing any underlying conditions, using an assistive device, or using oxygen during sleep. Cardiac problems can result if central sleep apnea is left untreated.

Narcolepsy is a less common but serious sleep disorder. It may result from an injury to the brain or the lack of a crucial brain chemical. Genetic predispositions play a part in some forms of the disorder. Symptoms include excessive daytime sleepiness, dream-like hallucinations, and disrupted night-time sleep. Some experience a brief paralysis when falling asleep or waking. As my brother once described it, “I’m half awake when I’m sleeping and I’m half asleep when I’m awake.” Narcolepsy with cataplexy involves sudden muscle weakness when awake that lasts a minute or two. With or without cataplexy, treatment involves easing the symptoms. Some medications can relieve daytime sleepiness, while others, alone or in combination, address a variety of other symptoms. It’s important to see a healthcare professional who specializes in sleep disorders.

With the more common obstructive sleep apnea, some surgical options might be considered if one is unable to use an assistive device such as CPAP. Treatment depends upon where in the respiratory tract the obstruction is located. Nasal surgery is typically an outpatient procedure to create more room for air to pass. Excess tissue from the soft palate can be removed to improve airflow during sleep. This usually requires an overnight stay. A different, minimally invasive, surgical procedure aims at preventing the base of the tongue from falling back and obstructing the airway during sleep.

Dental appliances may be an option for some people with mild to moderate sleep apnea. They should be properly fitted by a dentist who specializes in sleep disorders. Most work by moving the jaw forward, which increases the size of the airway.

It’s important to consult a health professional for a diagnosis. Neurologists, ENTs, and dentists with expertise in sleep disorders may be consulted. Sleep centers and clinics are typically staffed by specialists who conduct sleep studies, diagnose sleep disorders, and treat conditions. Sleep studies may be administered in-house overnight or may comprise an at-home test. Credentialed technologists provide instruction in use of CPAP machines, when recommended. With so much help available, there is no reason to be miserable or risk your health due to lack of sleep.

Sources include,, and 

By Linda Barnes

Peak Performance

Women’s Self-Defense

Prepare for the Unexpected

What does self-defense mean to you? Being able to physically defend yourself? Knowing how to use a weapon correctly? Self-defense classes and various types of martial arts can improve your physical well-being, build confidence, increase awareness, and prepare you for the unexpected. 

Self-defense classes teach you strategies and techniques to protect yourself during an assault. Classes focus on physical and mental preparation so that you can defend yourself in a dangerous situation or avoid it altogether. Physical skills taught include positioning yourself during an attack, strikes and blocks, and breaking free of a hold or choke. Psychological skills taught include awareness of surroundings, threat recognition, negotiating techniques, and remaining calm. 

For those interested in intense self-defense training, Krav Maga, meaning “contact combat,” is another option. Martial arts such as boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, karate, and Muay Thai also teach specific self-defense skills. 

Krav Maga combines techniques from various martial arts and is used by law enforcement and military organizations. You will learn self-defense techniques using punches, kicks, elbows, and knees, as well as how to defend against chokes, strikes, and headlocks. Krav Maga focuses on offense and quick counteracts.   

Boxing focuses on punching, dodging, and agility. An essential component of self-defense is keeping an attacker away. If you can create distance between yourself and an attacker, you’ll be able to keep moving, defend yourself from punches, and throw accurate punches. 

Brazilian jiu-jitsu teaches techniques to take opponents down to the ground and subdue them. If you end up on the ground, you’ll be better prepared to defend yourself. These techniques allow smaller, weaker individuals to overcome bigger opponents—making size less of an issue.

Karate teaches you how to defend yourself to avoid injury and survive a confrontation. It involves several movements, including blocks, strikes, kicks, punches, and evasion techniques. You’ll learn to use your hands and feet to protect yourself during an assault. 

Muay Thai is known as the “Art of Eight Limbs,” because it uses fists, elbows, knees, and shins to create eight points of contact. Various punching and kicking techniques are utilized to strike and subdue an opponent effectively. A combination of footwork, defensive moves, and offensive strikes can help you defend yourself against multiple attackers. 

Self-defense and martial arts classes provide multiple health benefits. These classes offer great workouts to get you in shape, build strength, enhance cardiovascular health, improve stability and balance, increase awareness and confidence, boost stamina and endurance, develop discipline, and improve mental and emotional well-being. 

For some, self-defense means a combination of physical preparedness and firearms training. If you’ve thought about owning a firearm, do your homework. Laws, safety, education, and legal permits are important items to consider. 

Firearm safety is vital to minimize property damage, injury, or unintentional harm to another person. Proper possession, storage, and handling of firearms is crucial to responsible firearm ownership. Essential components of firearm safety include treating firearms as if they’re always loaded, not pointing at anything you’re not going to shoot, staying away from the trigger until you’re set to shoot, and being certain of your target and the surrounding area. Firearms safety and instruction classes are good ways to ensure that you’re properly educated in the handling and storage of firearms.

Firearms training centers, shooting ranges, and training organizations offer firearm instruction and safety classes. Basic firearm safety classes cover safety protocols and teach you how to safely load, fire, disassemble, clean, and store a firearm. Some facilities provide firearms for use in class. Frequently, these organizations also offer a wide variety of services such as firearms cleaning, shooting facilities, self-defense classes, survival skills classes, retail shops, and customer lounges with food and beverages. In addition to individual courses, many facilities have membership packages that offer discounts. 

It’s important to note that firearm laws vary among states. Some states require a “permit-to-purchase” before buying a firearm. Open carry and concealed carry laws differ from state to state, as do firearm purchasing permits and licensing requirements. Check with your state’s Attorney General’s Office or a local law enforcement agency to obtain the most up-to-date information about lawfully owning and carrying a firearm in your state. 

If you want to be better prepared to defend yourself in an unexpected or dangerous situation, taking a self-defense or martial arts class is a great way to get started. Safety protocols and proper training are essential for those interested in owning firearms. 

Sources for this article included:,,,, and

By Angella A. Arndt

Auto Wise

Summer Travel Plans Scratched?

The RV Rescues the Modern Vacation

Summer vacation has looked a little different in 2020. We still want to enjoy the opportunity to get outside and see this country of ours, but some of the road trip staples we take for granted—rest stops, hotel rooms—seem less enticing this year. Thankfully, there is a tried-and-true method of vacationing that seems like it was made just for this moment: the RV.

Recreational vehicles have been a staple of the retirement community for decades, but younger families are now taking to the open road in newly purchased RVs. Having an RV is sort of like having a car and a hotel suite rolled into one, and, like cars and hotels, RVs come in all sizes and with all levels of amenities. Bathrooms, kitchens, and seating and sleeping areas are standard. Did you know you can also buy an RV that has a full entertainment system, a washer and dryer, LED lighting, recliners, rear-view cameras, and more?

RVs greatly simplify the travel process for families with young kids. Anyone who has traveled with young children knows how essential it is to have easy access to a bathroom, entertainment, and room to stretch everyone’s legs. An RV provides all of these things. Some larger RVs can sleep six or more people, have a full kitchen or multiple bathrooms, and have an extensive pantry for food storage. 

The Winnebago Outlook 25J is a popular model that includes a double bed, convertible sofa, overhead bed, residential refrigerator, microwave, three-burner stove, and recessed double-bowl sink. The Four Winds 31E is a class C motorhome (smaller and built on a truck chassis for easier handling). It includes bunk beds, an over-cab bunk, queen bed, fridge and pull-out pantry, sink, microwave and cooktop, wireless control system, and solar prep kit. 

The Winnebago Intent 30R is a class A motorhome—those are the big buses. Spacious but low on fuel efficiency, this model includes a split bathroom (separate rooms for toilet and shower), double side-outs, residential refrigerator, three-burner stove, microwave, pantry, studio loft bed, sofa bed, convertible dinette, and queen bed.

Though RV vacations have many advantages, they also pose a few challenges. People who have never driven such a large vehicle need some practice before getting on the road. Don’t wait until you’re on vacation to adjust to your new RV. Take short drives in your area to get used to your RV’s nuances. 

When you’re driving, be overly courteous and drive defensively. Drive below the speed limit and overcompensate when you are passing vehicles, following vehicles, or making tight turns. This way, if you’ve inaccurately estimated the size of your vehicle or how long it takes for you to slow down, it won’t cause an accident. 

Speaking of size, it’s important to know your vehicle’s measurements. Pay close attention to signs on bridges and tunnels that state their height limits, and make sure your vehicle will fit before you pass under them.

Whether an RV requires a different type of driver’s license depends on its size and the state you live in. If your RV is heavier than 26,000 pounds, about one third of U.S. states will require a CDL or other special license. Your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles will be able to tell you the local requirements. 

If you’re used to driving a much smaller vehicle (and most of us are), the fuel efficiency on an RV can cause a little sticker shock. As with cars, fuel efficiency depends on a number of factors, including the size of the vehicle, the age of the vehicle, and whether the engine uses diesel or gasoline. That said, the average fuel efficiency for an RV is in the range of six to 14 miles per gallon. When you’re budgeting for travel, remember that you’re not comparing the cost of fueling an RV to the cost of fueling a sedan. You’re comparing it to the cost of booking hotels, cruises, plane tickets—all of your trip’s travel and lodging costs combined. In this light, RVs are almost always more economical, especially if you are traveling with a family.

Deciding where to park at night can be a challenge, but it’s also part of the fun! You could stay at a national park, a scenic Bureau of Land Management area, or an RV park. RV park directories like and can provide information about what’s available. You can reserve locations and view amenities through these and other sites. Some include Wi-Fi, cable TV, swimming, laundry, showers, and long-term parking (or discounts for longer stays). In a pinch, some retail stores with large parking lots allow free overnight parking. Be sure to ask before you park!

Sources for this article included:,,,,, and

By Brennan Hallock

The Good Life

Rethinking Your Ink?

Tattoo Removal

Tattoos make a bold statement, and our appreciation of that statement can wax and wane over time. Our passions and interests change as we age. Our relationships come and go. Our attitudes about many issues shift as we gain experience and perspective. Our skin changes as it ages, too. Age spots appear, and the layers become thinner, with tiny lines. Over time, physical and emotional changes may make us wish we could remove old body art that no longer expresses the essence of our current character. What can you do if your skin is decorated with some regrettable ink? Never fear—unwanted tattoos are not something you have to just live with.

Your best options for tattoo removal include laser removal or skin surgery. These procedures can be more complicated than you might expect, so it’s vital to have an experienced and knowledgeable professional to guide you through the entire tattoo removal process, from assessment to recovery. 

First, you’ll need to have your dermatologist or laser clinic professional determine whether a tattoo can be removed, and to what degree. When choosing a clinic, consider the number of years a practice has been offering tattoo removal. Experience is crucial, as is the modernity of the instruments they use. For laser removal, outdated equipment will not be as effective and can actually be dangerous. When interviewing specialists, ask about how their clinic stays current with available technology.

The cost and timeline for laser removal varies according to the size, color, and location of the design. Tattoo removal is done in a series of visits, spaced about a month apart. The simplest designs can be eradicated with only two or three visits; more difficult removals may take up to a year to achieve the best results. The good news is that a patient can expect pain and recovery time to be shorter at each subsequent visit, as there is progressively less and less ink to be processed. Each session will last for about an hour, including all of the sanitization, application of topical and injectable anesthetics, and icing and bandaging afterwards. 

You may be surprised to learn that black tattoos are the easiest to remove! They typically only require a couple of sessions, whereas eliminating brighter colors like greens and oranges involves multiple treatments and precise laser adjustments. The “color” or frequency of the laser light should match the color of the ink being removed. This allows the ink particles to be super-heated and break down into smaller particles, which can then be absorbed by the body. Many older tattoos have already naturally begun the process of being absorbed by the body. Therefore, removing older designs tends to be easier than addressing fresher ink.

The heat that is generated will also cause some burning and scarring of the skin. This scarring is of particular concern in more delicate areas, like the face and neck. It can also make it more difficult to remove tattoos from darker skin without creating a lighter patch of scar tissue. The follow-up care that is required to minimize permanent scarring and discoloration is yet another reason that your choice of skin specialist is so important.

Patients can expect their results to be good but not necessarily complete. A hint of the tattoo is likely to remain, and the texture of the skin may change as a result of the healing process. The totality of the removal depends on the ink colors and depth, your body’s own ability to absorb the ink particles, and your specialist’s skill. 

For swift and total removal of small tattoos, the surgical option is called “excision”(that is, “cutting out”).  The tattooed skin is cut away with a scalpel, and the edges of the skin are stitched back together to heal. This technique leaves a visible scar, but the ink will be fully removed. Chemical peels, which remove the outer layers of the skin, ink and all, are another option.

Older techniques like dermabrasion are still available, but they are not often recommended, as they cause much more noticeable scarring and tend to be far less effective than laser treatments. In dermabrasion, the skin is numbed and then sanded down to deep dermal layers using a rotary sanding wheel or brush. Be sure to avoid over-the-counter creams and bleaches. They are largely ineffective, and they can lead to burning and greater disfigurement of the skin.

Tattoo art is meant to be permanent; that is part of its appeal. On the other hand, if your current ink no longer reflects the real you, and it’s stopping you from being comfortable in your own skin, you can choose a safe removal option. Talk to your dermatologist or seek out a tattoo removal specialist to learn more.

Sources for this article included:,, and

By Linda Sutherland

Great Escapes

Whale Watching

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:,, and

By Jackie Williams

The Green Thumb

Container Gardening

The Best of All Worlds!

Novices and gardening veterans alike, take heed: Container gardening is taking over the planet. We should all welcome this change! It is the new trend that brings more flexibility and less stress to gardening. If you have never experienced the extraordinary pleasure and rewards that can be attained with a glorious container garden, your gardening world is about to change forever. The possibilities are virtually endless.

The satisfying features of container gardens are numerous. There are no space restraints with container gardens. They adapt excellently to small balconies or tiny porches, which makes them great for apartment dwellers or homeowners with lots of love for planting but very limited space. The portability of containers is a huge plus, since you can rearrange potted plants wherever and whenever you want. You can bring them indoors or easily cover them if the threat of frost looms, and you can brighten up dark corners with seasonal color that is breathtaking! You can also do your part for conservation because container gardens don’t need as much water as in-ground gardens. Containers can hold many of the same plants as in-ground gardens, including herbs, foliage, flowers, and succulents. You can create a completely edible garden in pots and containers to provide you with an ongoing supply of homegrown foods. You can even plant spring bulbs in containers, so long as the container is tall enough to plant the bulbs at their recommended depths.

Physically speaking, container gardening can save you from a lot of the aches and pains that typically go along with working long hours in the garden. This means that container gardening can accommodate a person who is physically unable to care for a large garden area in the ground. There is no tilling of the soil necessary, and weed problems are small, if you have them at all. Pest control is a breeze because you can easily see insects that may have moved in and taken up residence on your plants. If you live in a country setting or on the outskirts of town and are accustomed to “sharing” your garden with local deer, planting in containers can discourage deer from dining on your treasured horticulture. (Plus, you can bring the containers inside at night.) 

Let’s talk about the actual containers! Virtually nothing is off the table when it comes to finding containers to hold your treasure trove of greenery. You can use terra cotta pots, plastic pots, tin pots, and many items that are not really considered pots but work wonderfully. Wine barrels can give you a spectacular and rustic look, as can washtubs, birdhouses, colanders, mailboxes, wooden boxes or drawers, and even wheelbarrows! Let your imagination run wild and you will see that just about anything that can hold soil, water, and plants is acceptable in a container garden. 

That doesn’t mean you should shy away from more traditional containers! The occasional basket hung on a fence or from the porch ceiling adds interest and growing space; a vining plant in a hanging basket can create a spectacular display. Don’t forget the classic, old-fashioned window box. These charming containers can be attached to any window on the home; if you can’t reach it to water from the outside, you can always water from the inside! 

Displaying your glorious groupings is another opportunity to showcase your style. In addition to leaving them on the floor of the deck, patio, or balcony, you can place your containers on old step stools or ladders, small tables, pallets, steps, or even inside larger baskets. With specialized containers or just basic shelving, you can increase your growing space by going vertical. 

Once you are armed with some interesting and versatile containers (thrift stores and secondhand stores are great places to find them), you need to get some good potting soil. It isn’t hard at all to find good potting soil. Nurseries, garden centers, hardware stores, and even big box stores all carry excellent basic potting soil mixes that include fertilizer and plant food. Potting soil has gotten more specialized over the years; you can get soil designed for plants that like an alkaline environment or prefer dry conditions. Before adding soil to your containers, make sure each container has drainage holes for the proper draining of surplus water. Putting pebbles or rocks on top of the drainage holes before adding soil sets your plants up for continued success.

Get your container garden off the ground this year, and you’ll be rewarded in ways that may surprise you. Be prepared to relish the beauty and convenience of container gardening. Let’s get planting!

Sources for this article included:,, and

By Linda Sutherland

Cuddly Critters

Pet Boarding and Day Care

Selecting the Right Care for your Pet

Being away from our pets can be difficult, but it is sometimes simply unavoidable. Work, travel, and other commitments can make it hard to be there for your animal 24/7. When this is the case, there are some alternatives available for responsible pet owners, including pet boarding and day care. 

When you’re out of town and your pet can’t go with you, you’ll need to hire someone for proper animal supervision. One option is pet boarding, where pets stay at another facility overnight. Most boarding facilities require that animal guests are up to date on vaccinations like rabies and distemper. Preventative medicines for heartworm and fleas may also be required. Ask the staff what is necessary at each facility you’re considering for your pet. 

Your pet’s veterinarian can be an excellent source of information when it comes time to find a boarding kennel, stable, or facility for your animal. In fact, some vets offer pet boarding services themselves. This option can be beneficial, especially for animals with chronic medical conditions, because your vet will know your pet’s health and behavior history and will be able to respond immediately in an emergency. If your vet doesn’t offer boarding services, the office will surely have a few places to recommend to you. 

Different boarding facilities offer different services. Some places might be minimalist in nature (just offering basic food and exercise), while other facilities are reminiscent of a spa for animals (with luxurious private quarters and extensive grooming options). Before making a selection, it’s important to visit each potential facility and ask questions. Make sure the boarding environment is clean and friendly. Make sure you understand what is being offered in terms of exercise and play schedules. Will your pet play with other boarding pets? Also, if special dietary or medicinal arrangements need to be made for your pet, ensure that the facility’s staff will be happy to accommodate them. 

Even when you’re not out of town, you might not always be able to care for your pet during the day due to work or other responsibilities. If your pet needs regular care during the day when you’re not available, consider the option of pet day care. It is essentially equivalent to day care for young children, offering structured activities, meals, free play time, and quiet time for resting. Group day care can be especially fun for social and energetic pets who like to play (nicely) with other animals. You’ll know that your pet is being properly tended to and isn’t bored throughout the day. 

Whether you plan to leave your animal for a few hours or all day long, it’s important to investigate each potential day care before dropping off your pet. Many locations will allow for an initial assessment, during which an owner and pet can visit the facility and interact with staff and other animals. It’s critical to ensure that staff members are overseeing the animals at all times and that there are enough staff members to adequately supervise the number of animals at the facility. It’s best to choose a day care that enforces sick days for animals who are under the weather, as pets can catch illnesses, too. Pet day cares should be insured and bonded, in case of an accident at the facility. 

Prior to attending day care, pets should be well trained and should answer basic commands. Some facilities may even ask that obedience training be completed before accepting an animal. There will also be policies in place that require animals to be current on all vaccinations. Be sure to ask staff members for their facility’s specific requirements. 

Like children, animals can be nervous about entering a new environment. It might be wise to ease your pet into day care by starting with shorter stays. This allows pets to adjust and become familiar with their new surroundings. It also helps them understand that their owners are indeed coming back for them. Once a pet is enrolled in day care, some facilities will offer live cameras or even provide photo updates throughout the day. This can be a great perk for owners who like to be kept informed.

Circumstances in life make it impossible to be around your pet at all times, which means that hiring proper pet care is essential. However, trusting someone else with your fur baby can be overwhelming. Research and referrals are the keys to finding the perfect match for pet and owner. In the end, finding the right pet boarding or day care facility can make life much easier. It’s a great feeling to know that your pet will be in good hands even when you’re not around. 

Sources for this article included:,, and 

By Brie Christensen

Positive Perspective

Learning the Art of Patience

Give Yourself a Break

“Have patience with all things, but, first of all, with yourself.” —Saint Francis de Sales


Being kind to ourselves can be quite the challenge for many of us. I believe that most Nebraskans are tough, hard-working people who work at doing the best they can, every single day. What happens when we don’t hit the mark? Many of us (including me!) have a tendency to beat ourselves up about it. When we review our day, this little voice in our heads tells us that we could have done better...that we could have gotten one more project finished…or at least started. Yikes! 


“Nobody is perfect. We make mistakes. We say wrong things. We do wrong things. We fall. We get up. We learn.
We grow. We move on. We live.” —Anonymous


I believe that learning how to treat ourselves with kindness is a vitally important skill that will take us far in our lives. Think about this for a moment: If we beat up on ourselves, we have not learned the art of patience. If we cannot even be patient with ourselves, how in the world can we be patient with those we care about and love? 


“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”
—Leo Tolstoy

My mother, Anne, had six kids and had the beautiful trait of patience that I respect to this day. Every time I find myself getting frustrated, irritated, losing my patience, my mind drifts back to her. I can still see her with six kids, all born within 10 years of one another. She handled stressful situations on a daily basis. My dad, Al, was gone most of the time, trying to run his business to support all of us. My mom held it together with grace and class.


“Patience is not the ability to wait, but to keep
 a good attitude while waiting.” —Joyce Meyer


That quote just brought a big smile to my face. Why? It made me realize that I have not been viewing patience that way. I’m one of those people who waits in line, tapping my foot, looking at the time, and waiting. I thought I was being patient—after all, I’m not jumping the line. My body language is telling a whole different story!


“10 percent of conflict is due to difference of opinion;
90 percent is due to the wrong tone of voice.” —Anonymous


Have I had a good attitude about waiting? Absolutely not! I just learned something! That makes this a great day.


“Genius is eternal patience.” —Michelangelo

By Janet Van deWalle

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