It’s Almost Spring!
Easy Dressing on Trend for 2021
There’s a reason that spring inspires more paintings than any other season of the year. A beautiful multi-colored spring bloom is inspiration all by itself! On the fashion horizon, designers are taking their cue from Mother Nature. Dresses are bursting with patterns both floral and tropical that are fun and so easy to wear! Soft colorations in sweet pastels remind us of the “flower child” era. Those of you who are old enough to remember it—don’t think you’re too old to wear it! After a cold and snowy winter of hibernation, we are all craving a burst of spring.
This season’s floral patterns will make you feel like you are tiptoeing through the tulips and smelling the aromatic hyacinth! Like a tie-dyed Monet, floral looks are fun to add to your collection. Add a sun hat and a strappy flat sandal for a cool and comfortable style. These florals are not the “prairie dresses” of the past. Designers have added touches of lace, cut-outs, or crochet for an updated twist. If you feel like you need to add a little edge, add a leather or denim jacket for some contrast.
A fresh “borrowed from the boys” look is the overly long button-down shirt, done up as a dress. Pop on a belt and a short vest or jacket for a tailored look. To wear the shirtdress another way, don a long skirt over it. This is a great look, especially if the skirt is a little sheer—the bottom half of the shirt acts as a slip! Another great dress look is the floral print kimono dress. Belted and closed, it is a great summer frock. Worn open, with jeans and a tee underneath, it becomes a casual yet elegant new look.
The shoulder and sleeve are still important factors in this spring’s ready-to-wear. Billowing, cut-out, and slit sleeves, along with a shawl or cape, make a great romantic design element. Jumpsuits are still going strong. Worn in a loose fit and belted, the jumpsuit offers a modern “one and done” outfit!
White will be prominent this spring and summer. White always looks beautiful and chic. If you are like me, though, you need to add one of those stain-removal pens to your purse to keep blotches at bay! When you want to look especially sharp, you simply cannot beat black and white. There will be no shortage of beautiful black and white patterns to choose from this spring for when you want a particularly stunning look.
Other optimistic color tones to wear this spring will include Marigold Yellow, Sky Blue, Mint Green, Butter Cream, Hot Pink, and Cherry Red. These hues will liven up your mood and wardrobe! Wide-leg pants are definitely on trend this year. Some are so wide that onlookers won’t be able to tell whether you are wearing a skirt or pants! This is a new, fresh take on the bottom half. Remember to wear a more close-fitting top with a wide-leg pant; otherwise, you will look like you are engulfed in fabric!
Belts are also making a strong appearance this spring. Wide, thin, leather, sparkly, animal print, and designer logo-buckled styles are fun to wear and will add a bit of panache. Though belts are hardly new, the natural waist is the focal point for spring 2021. It’s all about creating shape—belts were not worn loose or low on this spring’s runways. Hitch your belt up a little on your ribcage and fasten it around the smallest part of your torso to create a flattering shape.
When it comes to footwear, the cute white or patterned tennis shoe is still very in vogue, but there will be many fresh choices this year. The overarching need for comfort in footwear is certainly met, with flat sandals taking top billing. Are you ready to wear heels again? If you answered “maybe,” consider platform wedges this spring. Yes, you can be content all day in a stable platform that makes your legs look longer without sacrificing comfort.
A good closet cleaning is always necessary in the spring, and it’s a great excuse to go shopping! You need to update your wardrobe with the newest trends and find what works with pieces you already own. It is a great feeling to be ready for when the spring colors burst forth and the sun shines relentlessly again! This spring will feature a bright, fun take on fashion. There will be something for everyone, regardless of age, size, or taste. It’s almost spring! It’s almost spring! Just keep saying to yourself…it’s almost spring!
Editor’s Note: Holly has been in the fashion industry for over 30 years as a buyer, boutique store owner, visual merchandiser, and fashion show producer. She is currently the owner of a modeling agency. Holly regularly appears on local TV doing fashion segments.
By Holly Bell
Spring, Hope, and Celebration! Let’s Eat!
Easter Holiday Brunch Casserole
Place 3 cups of cubed, cooked ham or sausage in a lightly greased 9x13-inch baking pan. Spread 3 cups of cubed French or Italian bread on top, along with 2 cups of shredded cheese. In a bowl, mix together 6 eggs, 3 cups of milk, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of seasoned salt, and a dash of Tabasco sauce. Pour the egg mixture over the bread mixture. Mix 3 Tablespoons of flour with 3 teaspoons of dry mustard and sprinkle on top. Drizzle 4 Tablespoons of melted butter over everything. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for 50–60 minutes.
Baked Ham With Glaze
Line a large baking dish with aluminum foil. Place a fully cooked, bone-in, spiral sliced ham in the dish. Score the top and push in 15–20 whole cloves. Cover loosely with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours. Mix 1 can of Dr. Pepper with 1 cup of pineapple juice, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and 1/3 cup of Dijon mustard. Cook over medium heat until reduced by half. Pour this mixture over the ham, re-cover, and bake for another 20 minutes. Slice and serve.
Slow Cooker BBQ Ham
Place 2 pounds of thinly sliced ham in a slow cooker. Add 1/2 cup of sliced onion. In a bowl, mix together 1 cup of water, 1 cup of ketchup, 1/3 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce, 2 Tablespoons of vinegar, and 2 teaspoons of yellow mustard. Pour the mixture over the ham. Cook on low for 4 hours. Serve on warm poppy seed buns or pumpernickel bread.
Easy Scalloped Potatoes
Mix together 2 pounds of frozen hash browns, 1/4 cup of diced onion, 1 can of cream of potato soup, 1 pint of sour cream, and 2 jars of Old English cheese spread (or 2 cups of shredded cheese). Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture into a greased 9x13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle on 2 cups of crushed potato chips or Ritz crackers. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of melted butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 45–55 minutes.
Melt 2 sticks of butter over medium heat. Add 1 and 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves, and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Stir well. Cook for 5 minutes or until syrupy. Pour the mixture over 5–6 washed, peeled, and chopped yams in a lightly greased casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, baste, and then baked uncovered for another 20–30 minutes. Let cool for 5–10 minutes.
Classic Deviled Eggs
Have 12 hard-boiled eggs prepared. In a bowl, mix 1/2 cup of mayonnaise (the real stuff!) with 1 Tablespoon of yellow mustard, 2 teaspoons of sweet pickle relish (or several diced sweet pickles), 1 teaspoon of pickle juice, 1 teaspoon of white vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Peel, rinse, and halve 12 hard-boiled eggs. Remove the yolks to a bowl and smash them thoroughly. Add the mayonnaise mixture and mix until smooth. Fill the empty whites with the yolk mixture. Sprinkle with paprika, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Baked Spring Asparagus
Wash and trim 1 pound of fresh asparagus, breaking off the tough ends. (If you don’t have fresh asparagus, you can use a box of frozen spears.) Melt 3 Tablespoons of butter in an 8x8-inch baking dish and put the asparagus in the dish. In a bowl, mix 2 Tablespoons of diced onion, 1 diced celery stick, 1/4 cup of dried breadcrumbs, 1/4 teaspoon each of black pepper and dried oregano, and 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the mixture over the asparagus. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 25–35 minutes.
Cream together 1 stick of soft butter, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of light brown sugar, 1 and 1/2 cups of peanut butter, 3 whole eggs, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Slowly add 4 and 1/2 cups of oatmeal (quick or old fashioned), 2 teaspoons of baking soda, 1 cup of M&M candies, and 1 cup of chocolate chips. Spread into a greased jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15–20 minutes. Let cool slightly before cutting into bars.
Coconut Cream Cake
Mix 1 box of white cake mix (with pudding in it) with 1 cup of water, 1/3 cup of vegetable oil, and 3 eggs. Beat for 3 minutes. Pour into a greased 9x13-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack. While the cake is still warm, poke holes in the cake and pour in 1 cup of canned cream of coconut. Let cool. Cover and chill overnight.
Before serving, spread with 1–2 cups of whipped whipping cream. Sprinkle with shredded sweetened coconut (add a bit of green to the coconut for decorative effect). Sprinkle miniature jelly beans on top. Refrigerate until serving time.
Chocolate Bundt Cake with Spring Berries
Mix together 2 cups of flour, 3/4 cup of cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt. In another bowl, cream 1 and 1/2 cups of soft butter with 2 and 1/2 cups of white sugar for 5 minutes. Beat in 5 eggs, one at a time. Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Add 2 teaspoons of instant coffee dissolved in 1/4 cup of hot water (or 1/4 cup of strong coffee). Add 1 cup of buttermilk and mix for 2 minutes. Pour the batter into a greased and floured Bundt pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 60–70 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack or serving platter. Serve with seasonal berries and freshly whipped cream.
Earth Day Cookies
Mix together 1 cup of butter (2 sticks) and 1 and 1/4 cups of sugar until creamy. Add 3 egg yolks, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract. Blend together 2 and 1/2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and blend.
Divide the dough into 2 halves, add a bit of blue food coloring to one half and a bit of green food coloring to the other half. Pinch off a bit of each dough, roll together, and make a walnut-sized ball. Place the balls on parchment-lined (or lightly greased) cookie sheets (no need to flatten the balls). Bake at 350 degrees for 10–11 minutes. Tops will crack. Cool on a rack.
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
Aries March 21-April 19
Happy birthday, Aries! Change is your theme this year, and the planets are on your side. Expect luck in both love and finances! Summer will be the season of travel for you. Rams also have the chance to meet prospective romantic partners suited for a long-term relationship. Professionally and financially, success is in sight. Carry on with courage, and act on what comes to you!
Taurus (Apr 20–May 20) You may have some exciting information that you are itching to share. Wait for just the right moment. Everyone will be positively surprised by your news!
Gemini (May 21–Jun 20) Expect your social life to be busy. If you’re planning an event for a special occasion, you will be pleasantly surprised by how well it goes!
Cancer (Jun 21–Jul 22) There are two lunar eclipses on the creative and romantic alignment of your solar chart, which predicts major developments. Notably, your steamiest month is forecasted!
Leo (Jul 23–Aug 22) In the area of love, luck will smile
upon Leos this month! Single Leos will find a match, while Leos already in a committed relationship will experience positive growth.
Virgo (Aug 23–Sep 22) Toward the middle of the month, you should focus on your financial planning. You are enthusiastic about putting these new ideas into action! Use the energy of the new moon to propel yourself forward.
Libra (Sep 23–Oct 22) Make time with loved ones and colleagues to consider your future. You may not agree on everything, but compromise comes effortlessly for you.
Scorpio (Oct 23–Nov 21) Your professional life may put extra pressure on you this month. Schedule an occasional massage, facial, or whatever seems fit to help you relax and unwind. Don’t forget to exercise!
Sagittarius (Nov 22–Dec 21) Spring is an excellent time for archers. Your lively characteristics shine through. Your bubbling personality cheers up others and makes life enjoyable for everyone around you!
Capricorn (Dec 22–Jan 19) You may soon start planning a special event. This is very satisfying for you, and everyone else will appreciate it, too! Emphasis is placed on your home and family this month.
Aquarius (Jan 20–Feb 18) Put your public life on hold and unplug for a while. Take some time for yourself, doing whatever you enjoy most! You will feel extremely fortunate to take this much-needed break.
Pisces (Feb 19–Mar 20) Follow any creative surges that come your way. Your talents are at their most dynamic right now, so find your fabrics, paints, or notebooks, and create!
A Woman's Work
The Secret Lives of Grandmothers
It's Not Just Baking Cookies Anymore
From all appearances, the traditional role of “Grandma” has been altered beyond recognition. Those of us who have been around long enough remember sweet little grannies baking cookies, tending to grandchildren, and crocheting doilies. It was fun to always know just where Granny was and what she was doing. In a word, she was simply “caring” for her progeny. Her children and their offspring were her highest priority.
Why did Granny work so hard for other people? It’s a tradition that she knew and understood because, most likely, her own grandmother took great care to make her life more comfortable. In the not too distant past, families were often multigenerational under one roof, much like we are now experiencing again. Nobody forced or paid Granny for the child care, or the laundry and ironing, or the baking she provided for the family. Instead, it was just a given that Granny would always be at home and be reliable.
Grandmas from a long time ago were typically assigned their duties as a matter of necessity and circumstances. At one time, Grandma was often left alone after the passing on of her husband. No huge and sustaining retirement plans were available for most women, and benefits such as Social Security had not yet come into use. Sometimes, Granny was left with a business or farm to sustain her economic needs, but Granny’s health and safety were another issue. Many grandmothers moved in with the kids so they could look after her welfare. For economic purposes, Granny often found herself living with grown children and their families or other welcoming relatives.
The combination of Granny, her child and spouse, and a houseful of children usually worked pretty well. The family dynamics were certainly changed, but very often, this was for the better. Not many people thought it was odd to have this older person living in the home, and fewer complained about the inconvenience of the situation. One of my grannies lived with us in our home. Was it difficult? Yes, it was. Our mother probably experienced the worst of it, as she tried to reconcile five growing children and the needs of an ailing and sometimes demanding grandmother. For the most part, though, life was good for everyone.
So, who was this interloper who entered into the homes and lives of her grown children and their families? Typically, Granny had always lived relatively nearby. Often, Granny had been a major and important part of the family life. For centuries, having her in the home relieved the workload and provided companionship for the family. These women brought talents, skills, and experience into the arena—as do today’s grannies.
So, who is Grandma today? Whether you call her Granny, Grandma, or Nana, she still has much to offer. Don’t expect her to be home every day, baking gooey cookies or breads and pies. Grandmas do still provide lots of baked goods, but the chances are pretty good that she stopped by the local bakery or supermarket to find some of her family’s favorite treats. There is nothing wrong with this! Grandma maintains such a busy and cluttered schedule these days that she has taken off her perennial apron, shrugged off her shawl, and found other tasks that challenge her, interest her, and enhance her value as a member of the family.
Is she still wise? Yes, she is. Does she still love her family? Yes, she does. Life has changed for all of us, and today’s grandmothers can be found participating fully in the world outside of the family home. Her endeavors now take her far and wide. While it is true that some of our matriarchs reside in nursing homes and other care facilities, they remain important to all of us. Those ladies who remain independent are traveling the world and having wonderful experiences. Some women who we typically think of as being “retired” are still enjoying satisfying careers or part-time jobs. Volunteering is very popular among this group of women.
Some people credit this emancipation of grannies to the women’s liberation movement, and that may be so—at least in part. As our family and societal dynamics changed, so did Grandma. Part of the population misses Grandma and her fresh baked cookies, but most of us are happy that she’s found new horizons. Just as her grandchildren bring so much to the family by outside learning at school, so too does Grandma bring gifts to the family with her newfound outreach. And remember, Grandma has to finally come home sometime. If we’re lucky, she’ll bring cookies.
By Sharon Knierim
Dreamscape Your Hardscape
Outdoor living is trending in 2021 as millions of Americans place more importance on leisure time outside. Backyards are morphing into living rooms and kitchens, and creating luxurious, fresh-air living space is definitely having a moment. Outdoor kitchens are in high demand. More spacious patios and decks, bigger firepit areas, and enhanced outdoor seating are also popular. To achieve that airy, alfresco living space, homeowners’ expectations go far beyond the norm this year—loftier changes equal greater transformation. Think pool houses, cabanas, pergolas, outdoor televisions, and patio bars, among other creature comforts. Let’s take a closer look at the old, the new, and the latest outdoor hardscape ideas, along with who can help you achieve your outdoor dream space.
Time spent in isolation indoors is driving us to an outdoor refuge away from the world, and the desire for private space is increasing. Homebuyers in 2021 are looking for bigger backyards with more personal space. Backyard cottages are a hot commodity this year. They don’t have to be big or expensive—there are options for the smallest of structures in smaller spaces, depending on what local building codes will allow. A bigger cottage can add a work-from-home office space or a spare bedroom and bath for guests. A smaller cottage can be a place to meditate, a small space to get in a daily yoga class, or a hideaway to cuddle up with a good book in the rain. The options are endless.
While you’re planning your space, consider the benefits of hiring a professional landscaper or designer. These pros can save you time and money by taking away your worry about what materials to buy, how to install them, and what plan works best for your outdoor space. Leave the logistics to them! The polish of a landscaper will leave you with a dream escape in your own backyard, increase your home’s value, and add curb appeal. Landscapers are lifesavers when it comes to maintaining the beauty and function of your dreamscape, too. They have the experience, the tools, and the knowledge to get the job done right and keep it looking great.
Maybe your focus is on upgrading your patio. Backyard patios as we know them grew in popularity after World War II. While the smell of barbecue and mesquite wafted among family and friends, the suburban outdoor living space changed our lives. Though backyard patios are still popular, we’re no longer satisfied with a plain concrete slab. Irregularly shaped flagstone is popular this year, as are easy-to-maintain brick pavers. Another idea is to dress your patio space with Ashlar sandstone pavers, which can also neatly define your garden’s borders. Modernize your patio space for 2021 with colored gravel and pebbles in large decorative planters. Landscapers and designers can help match the gravel with specific plants that complement your patio pavers.
Newer this year is a refreshing take on outdoor seating—natural stone furniture. Natural stone slabs give elevated chairs the feel of sitting on a tree trunk, and they’ll stand up to bursts of rain or snow. To soften stone benches and patio furniture, toss in cushions, pillows, and warm throws.
Pathways often bring a whimsical vibe, and the right decorative walkway will beckon you and your guests to follow wherever it leads. Creating that walkway can be challenging, and it’s a job often best left to the experts. Ask your landscaper for advice when adding natural stone pavers among the garden’s blooms. There are many ways to dress up an existing pathway. Stepping stones along a white pebbled path with stone or concrete borders is a look that’s somewhat new for 2021. Narrow walkways that lead to a rounded patio bring a touch of elegance. Flagstone walks are popular this year, too—add a path straight toward the patio firepit for warmth on a cool night or have the path lead to your new pergola or raised garden beds.
A minimalist wood pathway is earthy and traditional, and aged wood pairs well with stone for romantic flair. Add playful wave patterns using an ombre stone pattern or line your path with fanciful Scandinavian-inspired stones of irregular shapes for a simple but catchy look. For a clean and simple path, there’s always semi-crushed gravel. Choose traditional red brick for a modern design with a twist of Old World flair. If you’re looking for a showstopper, try a stone mosaic walkway. Beautiful and dramatic mosaic designs are likely to leave your guests speechless.
What about outdoor showers? This luxe option is especially convenient for rinsing off after a dip in the pool. From modern to rustic, your private outdoor shower will change your life during the warmer months of the year. You can even lay a tile pathway from home to shower and hang up wall hooks for towels, bathrobe, or clothing. Life is good!
Retaining walls and garden borders help define your space. Tiered levels of stone or wooden retaining walls add interest and work nicely to raise flowerbeds. Use stacked stones to create sitting walls so you can enjoy the calm inside your garden landscape or set seated walls around a natural stone firepit for mood and atmosphere. Modernize your garden borders with a well-designed scheme of river stones, using black, gray, and white stones for high contrast.
Lighted pathways can appear as though they’re straight out of a fairy tale, but an outdoor lighting system is actually a very sensible safety feature to discourage both stumbling and intruders. In fact, lighting is an integral part of any effective security system for your home.
Just because it’s sensible doesn’t mean it has to be boring! For stunning ambiance, lighting trends for 2021 mix distinctive materials, colors, and styles. Strings of patio lights, freestanding lanterns on tabletops, and fairy lights along the garden path are popular this year. Solar-powered spike lights can highlight water features, ponds, and swimming pools. Wired lighting can tastefully make a dark space light without the worry of replacing batteries. Ask your designer about wall-mounted lamps for smaller spaces or directional lights that are strategically placed to illuminate a stairway, a statue, or your favorite tree. Don‘t forget to light up the pergolas and walkways!
Pergolas are springing up everywhere this spring. These unique outdoor structures consist of columns that support a roofing grid with beams and rafters that can be left open or covered. Set your pergola along a garden pathway or as a sitting area on the patio to provide shade from the hot sun. Lounge in the open air with some protection from the elements, dine outside, or get some rest and relaxation away from the workday.
What else is popping up in our backyards? Accent rocks and boulders for our flowerbeds, patios, and water features. In the garden, stones merge with their natural surroundings to create an earthy, timeless look. Bury a larger boulder one third of the way into the ground for a naturally embedded effect. Go a little further and create a Zen garden. Who couldn’t use a little Zen in this world full of unknowns? Zen gardens have a calming aesthetic and are mostly made of gravel, pebbles, and stones or boulders.
Although indoor kitchens bring plenty of obvious advantages, there’s something about cooking outdoors that appeals to us as members of a species that has been cooking outside for millennia. The trend that started with a charcoal grill on the patio has expanded to today’s outdoor kitchen. A fresh-air kitchen with all the latest conveniences is perhaps one of the most sought-after outdoor improvements in 2021. Natural stone countertops can integrate a sink or an oven for full outdoor cooking. Mix in a dining table with comfortable chairs for gatherings or special occasions, and you’ve taken your entire culinary experience outside!
If you have enough land to combine your patio space with an in-ground swimming pool, extend the deck with flagstone to sit around the pool with a cup of coffee, a glass of iced tea, or your favorite tropical drink. Whatever your outdoor dreams are, open air living is what it’s all about in 2021. Whether you’re seeking peace and privacy or outdoor entertainment and gatherings, contentment from the inside out is here to stay!
Sources for this article included: forbes.com, bhg.com, homebnc.com, and houzz.com.
By Janette Calabro
Clearing Things Up
Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting close to 50 million Americans each year. It’s often associated with puberty but can occur at any age. Acne can be traumatizing, directly affecting quality of life by causing emotional distress and low self-esteem, not to mention the potential for physical scarring.
Anyone can develop acne, but it does play favorites. It’s more prevalent in teenage boys than teenage girls. Adult women are more likely than men to develop acne, since it is often due to the hormonal changes of pregnancy and menopause. Family history is also an indicator. If your parents suffered from significant acne, chances are that you will, too. Medications that contain corticosteroids or testosterone may trigger or worsen acne. Stress is not a direct cause of acne, but it may increase the severity.
Acne occurs when hair follicles under the skin become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. The follicle wall may bulge, resulting in a whitehead. If the clog is open to the skin surface, it will darken, causing a blackhead. Acne most often appears on the face, forehead, chest, back, and shoulders, as these areas contain the most oil glands.
Although there is no cure for acne, many effective treatments exist. Oral or topical medications are frequently prescribed. In-office procedures such as light therapy, chemical peels, and steroid injections have proven to be beneficial. A treatment regimen is based on several factors, including age and the severity of the acne.
Oral and topical medications work by reducing oil production and swelling. Common topical treatments include antibiotics, azelaic acid, and retinoids. Antibiotics destroy bacteria while reducing inflammation and redness. Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring acid that has antibacterial properties. It can also be used to minimize the skin discoloration often associated with acne. Drugs containing retinoids help prevent blockage of hair follicles and are frequently prescribed for moderate acne. They may increase sensitivity to sunlight, so use with caution.
Oral medications such as isotretinoin, anti-androgen agents, and antibiotics help fight acne. Isotretinoin is a derivative of vitamin A. It’s only recommended for people whose severe acne hasn’t responded to other treatments. Anti-androgen agents are another option, particularly for adult women and adolescent girls. These drugs work by blocking the effect of hormones on the skin’s oil-producing glands. Oral antibiotics reduce bacteria and are commonly used in conjunction with topical treatments such as benzoyl peroxide. Like topical retinoid drugs, antibiotics have been linked to sun sensitivity.
In many cases, in-office therapies such as steroid injections, chemical peels, or light therapy may be helpful. Steroid injections treat painful acne lumps beneath the skin’s surface. These injections decrease pain and flatten those unsightly red bumps. Chemical peels involve repeated applications of a mild chemical solution to unclog pores and exfoliate dead skin cells, blackheads, and whiteheads. They also stimulate new skin growth. Multiple treatments are usually required. As with any treatment, pregnant women should consult with their physician prior to scheduling a chemical peel.
Light therapy targets the bacteria that cause redness and swelling. It also shrinks oil glands, decreasing oil production and helping to prevent clogged pores. These treatments may be used in conjunction with a topical photosensitizing agent. Light therapy is a good option for mild to moderate acne. Once again, increased sun sensitivity may occur. It is not recommended for pregnant women.
Even after it’s cleared up, acne can still leave its mark in the form of acne scars. The good news is that treatments exist to make those scars less noticeable. These procedures are performed in a doctor’s office, outpatient facility, or day spa. More than one type of treatment may be needed to achieve optimal results.
Skin resurfacing removes damaged layers of skin from the treated area, allowing new healthy skin to grow, which makes scarring less noticeable. Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion are two frequently used resurfacing techniques. Another option is to insert collagen or fat fillers into the affected area, puffing up the skin under the scar and resulting in a smoother appearance. In cases of severe scarring, surgery may be required to remove the scar tissue, which is then replaced with a skin graft taken from another area of the body.
Diet may also play a role in fighting acne. Consuming foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids helps reduce inflammation. Fish, eggs, spinach, kale, nuts, and soy products are good choices, as are foods rich in antioxidants and fiber. Keeping a food diary will help identify foods that trigger acne breakouts.
If your acne is dragging you down, call your dermatologist to get you started on the path to clearer skin.
Sources for this article included: medicalnewstoday.com, webmd.com, and healthline.com.
By Loretta McCollum
Time to Be Happy
A New Approach
Those of you who have been reading Women’s Edition for some time know that my Income Outcome column focuses on how to help us be more deliberate creators in our lives…to learn, to have joy, and to grow. Over the years, I have searched for new approaches to this process, though quotes, teachers, seminars, and so on, and I have always shared these approaches with you.
I wanted you all to know that I’ve found another one: a man named Mike Dooley. I had never heard of him until a week ago, when I got an email from Hay House, which is Louise Hay’s foundation. I clicked on the link, watched a couple of his videos, and committed to my very first webinar…three one-hour seminars, over three days. I loved it.
“Let dreams be broad brush strokes.” —Mike Dooley
I learned so much during those three hours that I bit the bullet and purchased the 10-hour online training course. What I have found the most interesting about the last week is the immediate impact it had on me. At the beginning, Mike asks, “Why do you want…the new car, the new house, the love of your life, great health, and a terrific physique?” I asked my husband, Manny, these questions. He immediately replied, “Because it will make me happy!” Bingo. He was so right on. That is the only reason any of us want anything. We want it because we believe it will make us happy.
“Nothing happens unless first we dream.” —Carl Sandburg
The thing that hit home to me is how pure that answer was. Manny nailed it. We all want to be happy. What Mike Dooly asks is, why don’t we all just be happy?
“…happy. Which means follow your dreams, face your fears, and, every single day, move forward.” —Mike Dooley
I had made a decision before I even started this program to be happy every day. Now, does that mean I nail it every waking hour? Nope. Does it mean that I have failed if I’m not happy all the time? Nope. Mike talks about how an hour of being happy is 10,000 times more powerful than eight hours of negativity. That works for me!
I love it when the Universe delivers me a new path to learn, to have joy, and to grow. When I was a teenager, it was the “Seth” books by Jane Roberts. When I was 40, the source was Abraham/Hicks. Today, I’m going to delve into Mike Dooley. He’s funny. He’s very down-to-earth, and I know this is going to be fun. Join me in these columns, and let’s be happy!
“Follow your dreams, they know the way.” —Kobe Yamada
By Janet Van deWalle
We're All Under the Influence
How Does That Happen?
Have you ever overheard your kids say something and wondered where they heard it? Have they expressed an opinion that varies from your beliefs? We know that kids tend to be like human magpies and repeat what they hear from others. We know they get different ideas from shows, games, and movies they are acquainted with. We’ve laughed when a toddler responds with a “naughty” word or outlandish saying because it is so unexpected. We are sometimes puzzled about where they learned some of these words, sayings, and statements because we’re pretty sure they “didn’t learn it from us.” We think they are not listening or paying attention. They are.
We’re all influenced by the world around us. Our first teachers are our parents. We learned to talk by them talking to us, learned to read by being read to, learned to walk by their encouragement to move around. Most kids expand their interests when exposed to different ideas and activities. What they don’t learn at home, they will learn elsewhere.
Think about the influences in your life. The people around you have a great deal to do with your thinking. Your family, coworkers, peers, friends, and teachers have all influenced the way we think and live our lives…and some of them still do! Those same factors influence our kids’ lives. Kids need the experience of male and female influencers in their lives.
What the kids want to know and don’t learn at home, they will pick up from other places and people. That’s one reason it’s important to know who your kids hang out with. Make your home a friendly place for the kids to bring their friends. Mom always welcomed our friends and, while she didn’t sit down and join us, she knew what was going on. Our friends all liked and respected Mom because she respected them. She was around without inserting herself into our activities. Being a present parent differs from being an older friend. Mom taught by example that it’s important to listen and discuss but not lecture.
Various media have a big influence on how people talk, think, and dress. There is wider access to knowledge than we ever dreamed of when we were kids. My oldest grandson has strong opinions based on things he’s heard, read, or seen online. We’ve talked about the basis of his opinions. He knows there are other sides to every issue, but he isn’t always open to hearing them. Movies and print media also exert influence, especially on style. Remember the impact of the movie “Flashdance” on leg warmers and off-the-shoulder sweatshirts?
Think about how you’ve formed your ideas and opinions. Who do you admire? Where do you get information? How did you decide what you believe? All people are under the influence of their surroundings, of the people and events they encounter every day…and kids are people, too.
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
Window Treatments 2021
Everything You Need to Know
After a year spent mostly indoors, it’s time to let in some light and fresh air. Refreshing your home’s interior with new window treatments is a step in the right direction! Homeowners are looking to simplify, declutter, and say goodbye to messy and overcrowded living spaces by embracing clean and simple window treatments to create a fresh vibe. Check out the latest trends to discover the best window treatments and welcome positive energy back into your home.
The best window treatment design is a blend of form and function that balances style with privacy, light control, and insulation needs. Many designers are addressing these various requirements by opting for a layered look, like combining a drapery with shades. Drapes hung high and wide will make the window look larger and the room more opulent, while installing a shade inside the window frame offers stylish texture as well as privacy and light control.
Consumers are opting for more organic and textural elements when choosing window treatments. Roller shades, especially those made from natural fibers like bamboo or rattan, are growing in popularity. Matchstick blinds and natural linen curtains have a calming effect, especially when paired with natural hues and soft colors. Tailored styles are also very popular right now. Designers are seeing lots of classic, clean-lined Roman shades that complement modern interiors. Neutrals remain popular, but pops of color such as fresh green are appearing in window fashions.
Classic plantation shutters add streamlined style and function to any space while adding value to your home. Wood and faux wood shutters provide excellent insulation, are easy to clean, and won’t fade like fabric shades and drapes. Composite shutters resist warping and staining and are ideal for high moisture areas such as bathrooms.
While most window treatments offer some energy savings, understanding the various features will help guide your decisions on how to provide optimum energy savings for your home. On average, about 30 percent of a home’s heating energy is lost through windows during cold weather, while about 76 percent of the sunlight that hits windows in summer enters to become heat. Cellular shades have a honeycomb construction that provides maximum insulating properties, reducing the transfer of both heat and cold through the window. Insulated cellular shades are a great choice for significant energy savings while providing style, privacy, and increased home value.
While most of us welcome natural light into our homes, ultraviolet rays from the sun can damage furniture, flooring, and window treatments. Adding UV protection to your window treatments ensures that your possessions don’t suffer from sun damage. Assess your needs and choose the UV-blocking solution that works best with your design plan. For example, blackout lining is very effective at blocking harmful rays and creating a darkened room on demand; they can be ideal for a nursery or daytime sleeping.
Blackout lining is also an excellent insulator because it increases the heat-preserving properties of the window treatment fabric, reducing both heating and cooling costs. Blackout lining can be added into draperies during manufacturing or purchased separately and attached to ready-made items. Manufactured window shades such as honeycomb or pleated shades with a blackout layer on the window side can reduce UV transfer.
Roller sun shades are constructed with mesh fabrics to reduce light transfer and serve as an effective heat shield, helping to keep your energy costs down. Depending on the tightness of the mesh weave, light can be reduced up to 90 percent. Sleek sun shades add refined, modern style while they gently filter light, reduce glare, and maintain a view. They can be installed indoors or on the exterior of your home and can even be operated by remote control.
Window treatments that block UV rays do come at the expense of keeping out natural light. If a bright, sunny space is a priority, window tinting can be one of the best investments you make in your home. Just like tinted windows on cars, a high-quality window tint that will block up to 99 percent of harmful UV rays and protect your interior can be added for a moderate cost. It’s best to bring in an experienced professional to determine your needs and install window tinting.
Whichever window treatments you choose, consider automation. Smart home automation is no longer in the future. It’s happening now! Automated window treatments offer the benefits of safety and convenience. Cordless blinds and shades, which eliminate the need for cords that pose a hazard to children and pets, are becoming standard. Pair window treatments with motorization and have full control with the push of a button. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the view!
Sources for this article included: houzz.com, energy.gov, and consumerreports.org.
By Robyn V. Powell
Automatic Sprinkler Systems
Good for Your Lawn and Your Wallet
We may still be up to our ears in ice melt, but the time is not far off when we’ll be wishing for such excess to keep our lawns healthy and green. No one wants to manually water the lawn when it’s 90 degrees outside! Fortunately, there’s a simple solution that won’t have you fiddling with sprinkler knobs all summer long: automatic sprinkler systems!
Aren’t automatic sprinklers expensive and wasteful? Not so! Modern sprinkler systems are a lot smarter than the ones you’d see 15 years ago, watering the sidewalk during a rainstorm. Most systems have customizable programming, and others have smart controllers or automated sensors that can tell if your lawn has already been getting enough rainwater. Besides the convenience of not having to wake up early to water your lawn at the optimal time of day, you also don’t have to worry about your grass getting too much or not enough water when you’re on vacation. As for the water bill, modern sprinkler systems are by far cheaper than watering the grass the old-fashioned way.
Regularly-watered grass is also a boon for your home’s curb appeal and resale value. Having an automatic sprinkler system will keep your lawn lush and green all summer, eliminating the unsightly brown spots that come with manual watering, which is—let’s face it—inevitably uneven. Modern sprinkler systems are also designed to avoid excessive runoff and standing water, which can reduce fungi and plant disease that can be caused by excessive dampness. Less runoff means more nutrients stay in your soil.
When you start to shop around for a sprinkler system, there are a few things you’ll want to take into consideration. The type of soil you have in your yard will determine how often it needs watering. You should also consider the size and shape of your yard as well as any water usage rules that may be set by your local municipality. You’ll also want to look into a system that comes with professional installation rather than a DIY kit. You’re not just setting out sprinklers here! Professionally installed sprinkler systems are generally smarter, have more programable options and soil sensors, and can be designed to fit your yard in the most optimal way.
The top sprinkler systems on the market currently are going to be the systems with smart controllers. Consumer Reports suggests that the top three sprinkler models for 2021 are the Orbit B-Hyve 57950, the Rachio 8ZULW-C, and the Rain Bird ST8-2.0. The Orbit has the lowest price point of the three and is rated as excellent for convenience and ease of use. On the other end of the price range is the Rachio, which can connect to local weather forecasts via Wi-Fi. The Rain Bird is in the middle of the price range and is very convenient to use once installed. Its weather sensors are rated as good.
The best time of year to install a new sprinkler system is in early spring or early fall, so now is a great time to start shopping around for systems and installers. You can probably still have one installed in later spring or summer, but avoid winter installation at all costs.
When shopping around for sprinkler system installation companies, there are naturally a few questions you should ask. Ask if they have a licensed plumber that they work with regularly, how much experience they have with installing the specific system you’ve chosen, and whether regular maintenance and repair are available through their company (and at what cost).
Once you’ve got a sprinkler system installed, you’ll want to make sure it’s properly winterized so it doesn’t suffer any damage during extremely cold weather. Insulating any parts that are above ground with foam tape or tubes is a good practice, as is shutting off the main water supply to the system before the first freeze. In colder areas, it’s also recommended to drain all your sprinkler pipes to prepare for winter. If your system doesn’t have a drain valve, you’ll want to ask a professional for help. Last, make sure to turn off any control panels.
In short, getting an automated sprinkler system is convenient, optimizes when your lawn is watered, lessens daily yard work, reduces your monthly water bill, keeps your schedule while you’re out of town, boosts your curb appeal and home value, improves your yard’s aesthetics and overall health, and preserves your soil quality. What’s not to like? Make your lawn more beautiful and your summer more relaxing by having an automated sprinkler system installed in your yard this year!
Sources for this article included: consumerreports.org, homeadvisor.com, and chicagotribune.com.
By Anne Yankus
To Your Good Health
A Perfect Smile at Any Age
There’s no denying that a perfectly aligned smile is pleasant to behold, but that’s not all that’s good about it! Misaligned teeth or jaws can lead to oral health problems like tooth decay, jaw pain, gum disease, and even sleep apnea. Crooked teeth can make brushing and flossing challenging by creating hidden or hard-to-reach spots in the mouth. When plaque builds up, it can result in bleeding, swelling, cavities, and, ultimately, gum disease. A perfectly aligned bite also benefits the jaw, promoting a lifetime of comfort and helping both natural teeth and restorations last longer. If your tooth alignment is troubling you, an orthodontist can help.
When teeth are misaligned, it is called a malocclusion. There are several different types of malocclusion. An overbite is when the upper front teeth stick out significantly more than the lower teeth. An underbite is when is when the lower front teeth are in front of the upper teeth. This can sometimes be caused by a problem with the lower jaw. A crossbite is when the upper teeth fit inside of lower teeth; this mainly affects the back teeth. Overcrowded teeth means that there is not enough room in the mouth to allow the teeth to be aligned. The teeth are pushed in front of or behind other teeth. Any of these malocclusions can be addressed with orthodontic care.
The most common patients in an orthodontist’s office are children. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that a child’s first check-up with an orthodontist be at age seven years. By that time, a child has enough permanent teeth for an orthodontist to evaluate how the teeth and jaw are developing. Orthodontists are trained to spot subtle problems, even in young patients. The outcome of this initial visit varies widely. The orthodontist may say that treatment will not be necessary, that treatment may be needed at an older age, or that there is a problem that is best treated while the child is very young.
The purpose of early orthodontic treatment is to avoid problems associated with how the face or jaw bones are growing. A child may need some orthodontic care at age seven or eight and then again a few years later. Most children who wear braces wear them for 18 months to three years. Anyone who has had braces will need to wear a retainer after treatment to keep the teeth from moving back. Teeth do move over time. When children do not continue to wear a retainer, their teeth may move so much that braces are needed again.
Though most orthodontic treatment is for children, adult orthodontics is more common now than ever before. Adults should consider a consultation with an orthodontist if they know their teeth have moved, if their dentist warns them of serious oral health problems if their bite is not corrected, if they have missing or worn-down teeth, or if they have dental disease.
What makes the biggest difference in orthodontic care for adults versus orthodontic care for children and teens? Adults are no longer growing. While the nature of the treatment may be the same, adult treatment may take a bit longer because of increased maturity and density of the bone. As with kids, adult patients need to wear a retainer after orthodontic treatment.
Whether the patient is a child or an adult, an orthodontist can suggest different treatment options. Conventional metal braces are the most common type of braces and are what most of us are familiar with seeing—metal brackets on the teeth with a metal wire going from one bracket to the next. (In some cases, patients need only partial orthodontic treatment, in which case the number of brackets may be limited.) Clear braces are less noticeable than metal braces, but they work the same way. Another option is lingual braces, in which the brackets are attached to the lingual (tongue) side of the teeth. These may be beneficial to athletes who risk injury from brackets on the lip side of the teeth.
Many people are opting for Invisalign clear aligners. These are custom-fitted, clear, removable trays that fit over the teeth. You remove them while eating, drinking, or brushing your teeth (and also on special occasions, if you choose). Though clear aligners can be ordered without an orthodontist’s prescription, experts don’t recommend it. Do-it-yourself teeth aligners mean that you miss out on your orthodontist’s expertise in diagnosing and treating related oral problems.
Correcting your bite or crooked teeth with orthodontic treatment can bring you the healthy smile you’ve always wanted (or restore the one you used to enjoy!). Ask your family dentist for a recommendation today!
Sources for this article included: aaoinfo.org, dentistry.uic.edu, and medlineplus.gov.
By Leslie Byrne
Focus On Finance
The Internet Investor
Version 1: The Defensive Investor
Changes in technology have led to an explosion in the number of investment options available to the investing public. This gives individual investors the ability to design and execute an investment program that meets their unique financial condition and temperament. The strategies and the investors who implement them run a wide spectrum, from those who are extremely cautious and want to have the whole process managed by a third party to those who will accept significant risk and are willing to take the time and effort to manage the process without professional assistance.
My space here is limited, so I can’t cover all three investor profiles in a single column. This month, I will discuss version 1: the defensive investor. Over the course of the next two months, I will explore the profiles of version 2: the involved investor and version 3: the enterprising investor.
The top priority of defensive investors is to avoid losses and serious mistakes. They desire to exert as little effort as is necessary and to make as few decisions as possible. The demographics of defensive investors run the entire gamut, from young to old, from small accounts to major accounts. Some are professionals and some work blue collar jobs. They can be male or female, retired or just entering the work force. Any person with any amount of money to invest may have a defensive investor personality and adopt the defensive investor strategy.
It is not unusual for a defensive investor to turn all decision-making responsibility over to a third party. This third party may be a friend, relative, or significant other. The third party may also be a financial professional such as a broker or financial planner. In some cases, the driving factor motivating the transfer of responsibility is not the quality of the investment decisions that the third party is likely to make, but rather the fact that the investor doesn’t want to deal with it. If the third party is a not a financial professional, they must treat the assets as if they were their own.
Because of their desire to avoid loss, with the understanding that this most likely will result in reduced long-term earnings, defensive investors tend to keep a significant portion of their portfolio in either a bond mutual fund or a money market fund. In both cases, the return is small relative to the return available in the stock market, but the principal is exposed to a much smaller amount of risk.
Many of those categorized as defensive investors are drawn to target-date mutual funds. These funds are attractive because they are readily available, inexpensive to hold, and simple to monitor. Target-date funds are mutual funds that are organized and managed with the owner’s potential retirement date in mind. The objective of a target-date fund is to maximize the owner’s asset value at the time of retirement while keeping in mind the owner’s risk-averse personality. Named for the year in which the investor could potentially begin utilizing the assets, target-date funds are considered to be extremely long-term investments; thus, low rates of return versus other types of investment must be anticipated.
The farther that the target date is in the future, the higher the percentage of stocks in the portfolio and, thus, the lower the percentage of bonds. As time passes, the percentage of stocks in the portfolio is decreased and the percent of bonds is increased. Under normal circumstances, the portfolio’s allocation of stocks and bonds is adjusted on an annual basis.
There are several things that a defensive investor (or the defensive investor’s representative) needs to be aware of when purchasing target-date funds. First: the fees. When target-date funds were introduced 30 years ago, they charged higher fees than other mutual funds. However, in today’s competitive environment, those fees are on the decline. Second: the relative proportion of stocks and bonds. Defensive investors may feel safe because of the bond-heavy mix of stock and bonds. However, target-date funds vary dramatically in the type of stocks used in the stock portion of the portfolio. Funds that incorporate more aggressive stocks carry a higher risk profile.
Just like any group of people, investors are not all cut from the same cloth; therefore, a one-size-fits-all approach does not apply to investment strategies. An effective way to find an investment strategy that is right for you is to begin by deciding which type of investor profile (defensive, involved, or enterprising) best describes you. Once that is decided, the investment strategy that is right for you will fall easily into place. Check this space next month for a profile of version 2: the involved investor.
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
Aging in Place
Maintain Independence Safely
Aging in place is defined by the CDC as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.” Essentially, it means staying in your own home as you grow older. Nearly 90 percent of seniors would prefer to stay in their own homes as they age, and respecting those wishes is an important factor in supporting them. We all want a life that is positive and satisfying—that feeling does not change as we grow older. With the right support, independence and a good quality of life can be found at any age.
The benefits of aging in place go well beyond the desire to stay home. First and foremost, seniors who age in place can continue to stay in familiar surroundings and maintain their routines. Studies have shown that aging in place is good for seniors’ health (provided that they don’t need medical care that can only be achieved on an inpatient basis). There is also the cost-saving aspect of aging at home.
Of course, you don’t get the benefits of aging in place if you’re not safe in your home. If your aging loved ones have expressed a desire to live at home, it’s important to figure out whether they can do safely. In many cases, a home can be made much safer for seniors with some modifications.
The number-one threat to seniors is falling, but there are many ways to lessen this risk. If the home has stairs (indoors or out), adequate lighting and railings are necessary. If a senior can no longer take the stairs, a ramp or stairlift may be in order. Grab bars or seats in the shower, as well as walk-in bathtubs, are ideas to consider for the bathroom. Non-skid flooring and sufficient lighting are important in every room. For seniors who have difficulty with hand grip, cabinet hardware can be updated to handles that don’t require a gripping motion.
Some of these modifications are relatively simple and inexpensive. However, some require an expert in the field of aging in place. To help people find the professionals they need, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) created a designation for contractors who specialize in this area. They are called Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS), and they have undertaken specific education to learn about what modifications seniors may need and how to implement them. Some professionals in and outside the construction industry have a “Living in Place” specialization. This indicates experience and interest in building and remodeling homes that are accessible to everyone. You can find CAPS contractors by searching the NAHB directory (start at nahb.org). These people know their stuff and can help you feel secure at a time when you need reassurance and guidance.
Many of the modifications implemented by CAPS are part of a concept called “universal design.” In home design, this means that homes are deliberately built to be accessible to everyone. In addition to some of the modifications already discussed, it might include no-step entry points into the house and doorways wide enough to fit a wheelchair.
In addition to home modifications, seniors may need some amount of home health care in order to age in place. Most home health care companies offer a combination of both medical aides and those who help only with the activities of daily living. Such aides are generally paid on an hourly basis. AARP has many resources to help families that need caregiving guidance.
Of course, if seniors are aging at home, they may also need assistance with home maintenance and yard work. Seniors who would like to remain independent but no longer want the responsibility of maintaining a house may be interested in an assisted living arrangement. Residents live in their own apartments but have as-needed access to services like transportation, social activities, food service, laundry, medication management, and more.
Many facilities offer different levels of care, from assisted living to skilled nursing to memory care. If residents’ health requirements change and they need more care, they can simply move to a different part of the facility. Avoiding a big move during a health crisis can mean less stress for everyone.
The conversation surrounding where someone would like to grow old is often challenging. It’s never too early to express your wishes! Ideally, every person should choose whether or not to age in place. If you are making decisions on behalf of a loved one, be sure to include them as much as possible. Most of us will be at this crossroads someday, and it’s important to approach it with patience and understanding.
Sources for this article included: nia.nih.gov, caring.com, aarp.org, and academic.oup.com.
By Linda Sutherland
A Hole-y Responsible Choice
As populated areas expand, their roads, parking lots, and residential pavement take up more and more space. Rain runoff from these paved areas carries petroleum-based contaminants and other toxic chemicals. Traditionally designed pavement will direct runoff to gutters, gullies, and then sewer networks to eventually empty directly into natural water reservoirs such as lakes and rivers. Runoff poisons our bodies of water and can lead to dangerous flooding and erosion.
Permeable pavement is gaining attention as a partial solution to reduce the damage done to lakes and streams and the surrounding areas. As a homeowner, you can be part of the solution by replacing traditional impervious concrete with permeable pavement on your driveway, sidewalks, or garden patio.
Permeable pavement can include a variety of paving techniques, including pavers, plastic grids, and permeable poured pavement. What they have in common is that they are porous, allowing storm water to filter into the earth below, replenishing natural underground aquifers. When a large volume of water comes quickly, it is stored in reservoirs beneath the pavement, allowing the water to soak into the ground gradually.
As water filters through the pavers, through the soil sediment, and through ground roots, many pollutants are filtered out or broken down by bacteria before the water returns to an aquifer source, our primary natural source for drinking water. These aquifers have become severely depleted by the expansion of cities and impervious pavement.
Many municipalities already require that newly-constructed parking lots have green features like permeable pavement. Dense urban areas without nearby lakes and streams are using permeable pavement to reduce reliance on sewer systems. Pedestrian areas such as outdoor shopping centers and college campuses are using permeable pavement as a way to avoid puddles and dangerous slippery spots.
If trees grow near paved areas, using permeable pavement can allow them to grow to their full potential and to be more safely rooted. Permeable pavement allows for air and water to reach the rooting zone more effectively than impervious surfaces. Trees, in turn, contribute to urban canopies, soaking up stormwater and air pollution, providing cooling shade, beautifying neighborhoods, and helping to slow traffic.
Individual pavers, permeable asphalt, permeable concrete, and plastic grids are all possible paving materials. Individual pavers look like traditional cobbled surfaces, but the stones themselves are more porous and the material between individual stones allows water to pass through. Varied stones can even be used to create gorgeous mosaic patterns. Permeable asphalt and permeable concrete look very much like their impervious counterparts, but the aggregate stones tend to be larger. You may have seen similar material used around swimming pools to avoid slippery surfaces. Installation for either permeable option tends to be more expensive than traditional material because of the deeper dig and supporting rock reservoir. Plastic grids function much like individual pavers, but they are made of recycled plastic and have a more industrial geometric pattern. Many designs allow for grass or other ground-cover plants to grow right through the grid.
You may wonder if permeable pavement is more vulnerable to cracking and deterioration due to repeated cycles of freezing. In fact, because permeable pavement is porous and moisture does not remain on the surface during daytime thaws, ice buildup and expansion damage is decreased. The underlying rock reservoir also acts as an insulating layer of air, which reduces surface freezing as well as soil frost depth. Thus, permeable paving materials may offer a winter safety benefit to residential walkways and driveways.
It’s important to rely on the guidance of an experienced installation company. A professional installer will evaluate the quality of soil to be paved. When paving over clay or low-draining soils, the depth of the rock base reservoir should be increased, allowing for more water volume capacity as it absorbs slowly into the soil. A professional installer will also help you decide if there are some areas that should be left impermeable—for instance, sections of pavement that are directly at your home’s foundation.
You can ask your pavement specialist about any regular maintenance or cleaning that may be needed to keep your pavement filtering properly. Some adjustments to your seasonal routine may be required. One example is that sand should not be used on permeable pavement in the winter, as the small grains may plug the porous openings. Your installer may recommend periodic vacuuming with specialized equipment.
If the pavement at your home is in need of a face lift, consider making a conscious choice for the environment by installing permeable pavement. Speak to an experienced paving company about the varied, durable, and beautiful options available.
Sources for this article included: usgs.gov, epa,gov, and stormwater.pca.state.mn.us.
By Maria Harding
More Than Just a Wash
That clean, new car smell isn’t just for new cars (or for old beaters with a “new car smell” air freshener). You can maintain that level of cleanliness and new car shine as long as you want, and it doesn’t even take any of your own elbow grease! It can be accomplished year after year with frequent car detailing services. For some drivers, professional detailing is unknown territory. For others, it’s the clear way forward.
One thing is for certain—professional detailing can improve the value of any vehicle, not to mention making it more pleasant for drivers and passengers alike.
Why is it so important to have your car professionally detailed? Can’t you just keep your own car clean? After all, professional detailing begins with vacuuming the interior and washing the exterior. You can do that yourself at a car wash or in your driveway, right? Maybe so, but read on: Next, a pro detailer steam-cleans doorjambs, pressure-washes floor mats, removes stains from upholstery and carpet, and takes care of the tar and road grime that car washes often miss. That’s more than just a car wash, and it’s just the beginning!
Detailing shops typically offer a variety of services, from basic to deluxe, and the price reflects how much work is performed. An exterior detailing job can include an exterior wash, cleaning the paint with a clay bar, polishing the paint by hand or with a machine to remove minor scratches, and then applying wax or paint sealant to make the paint shine and last longer. The wheels are cleaned and waxed, and the tires are shined, too.
Interior detailing can include vacuuming and shampooing the upholstery and carpeting, pressure-washing or scrubbing floor mats, cleaning and conditioning leather upholstery, cleaning and coating vinyl and plastic interior trim, and cleaning the glass. There are a lot of nooks and crannies in cars, and a professional detailer will find and clean every single one.
Most professionals recommend that you have your vehicle detailed two or three times a year. However, a car owner’s ideal detailing frequency will also depend greatly on the car owner’s approach to taking care of the vehicle. The more often a car is detailed, the better condition it will stay in—this much is true. Therefore, drivers who wash, wax, and clean their own vehicle on a consistent basis will need detailing less often than a driver who doesn’t regularly complete this type of maintenance. The longer you go between professional detailing appointments, and the dirtier your car gets in the meantime, the more thorough (and expensive) your eventual detailing service will need to be. The choice is yours.
When you’re looking for a recommendation for a great detailer, ask friends and family who drive beautifully clean cars—they probably know someone! It’s important to find potential detailers within driving range or to look for detailers who will travel to you. Detailers should be willing to share some of the work they’ve done for previous clients and to answer any questions regarding the type of work they offer and their background with cars. It’s usually easy to tell when people are experienced and passionate about cars, as they’ll most likely enjoy talking about the subject.
Other important factors for some clients might include questions regarding paint thickness measurements, risky areas on the car that may need special attention, and what type of wheel cleaner will be used on specific types of wheels. It’s also a good idea to ask about the types of detailing packages offered and whether or not there are luxury wax options available.
Some other key considerations may relate to options in the look or finish of interior surfaces. For example, the detailer may have options for a matte finish, satin finish, or gloss finish. It might also be wise to ask about no-slip products used on interior surfaces, especially pedals.
Cars are expensive investments. Like any piece of property, keeping a car in good condition is beneficial for the here and now as well as down the road. Professional vehicle detailing is an important component of maintaining a car’s value and appearance. It can also make time spent in the car much more enjoyable for the driver and passengers. Consider what you’d like your car to look like when you have unexpected passengers, like your boss, your clients, or your in-laws. Once you find the right detailer and get your car into tip-top shape, maybe you’ll be the one whose friends and family are always asking for your detailer’s phone number!
Sources for this article included: carfax.com, newroads.ca, and detailedimage.com.
By Brie Hellbusch
The Good Life
Spring into Entertaining
Celebrating Special Moments
Spring means warmer weather, new beginnings, and, for many people, celebrating special occasions. The past year has been a challenging time, but creative people have figured out lots of new ways to celebrate together. Are you in charge of planning an upcoming event? Are you looking forward to the process? While some people thrive on planning and hosting events, others view event planning as a stressful experience. No matter what challenges you face, the secrets to a fun and rewarding event are the same: preparation and organization.
For every event, you need to consider several essential elements. These include budget, guest list, venue, food, invitations, activities or entertainment, seating accommodations, decorations, and event photos.
Once you’ve selected a date and time for your event, the next step is to determine your budget. Deciding on a budget is an important component of planning because it impacts every subsequent element of the event’s size and scope. Your budget will drive decisions regarding the venue, number of guests, type of food, and entertainment. Think about your priorities and balance those with other event needs.
Let’s talk venues, which have undergone some changes in the past year and may be operating at limited capacity. This year might be the right time to consider places that you may not have thought of as private event venues before. Zoos, stadiums, movie theaters, camps or retreat centers, museums, and historical sites may be happy to host events of various sizes and will likely have plenty of room to spread out. These settings offer built-in entertainment for your guests and are sure to provide a memorable experience.
A key component of most events is food. If your venue doesn’t provide food, hiring a caterer means you can select the menu but leave the cooking, serving, and cleaning up to the pros while you relax and enjoy your event. Unless you have a caterer in mind, interview several candidates and ask questions before making a decision. Ask friends and family for referrals, and read customer reviews online. Ensure that the caterer can handle your event size. Can the caterer provide what you want within your budget? Are there hidden fees? Does the caterer have experience with your venue or a similar venue? Can the caterer accommodate food allergies or special requests? Is the caterer licensed and insured? Is the food prepared on-site or off-site? Asking questions will help you select the caterer best suited to meet your needs and expectations.
The manner in which you invite your guests depends on the formality of the event. Formal invitations can be customized and vary widely in price, depending upon the chosen design and type of paper. Bold colors and pressed flowers are both popular for 2021. Handwritten invitations on lovely stationery bring a personal touch to a small, intimate event. Asking guests to RSVP provides a headcount, so you are better able to plan.
Electronic invitations are popular because of their speedy delivery, low cost, and eco-friendly nature. You may not want to go full e-vite for your wedding, but even the most formal event can benefit from a digital component to keep guests up to date on travel or gathering restrictions that may change quickly. Another item to look out for this year is the “change the date” card. Many couples have chosen to postpone a wedding that was planned for 2020—these charming cards share the new date.
Depending upon your event’s location and size, you may need additional seating, tableware, or serving pieces. Rather than running out to purchase items you may not need after the event, visit your local party rental company. In addition to traditional rental items, these companies may also have things like audiovisual equipment, portable bars, lighting, games, and helium tanks. Many rental companies will deliver and pick up for an additional fee.
If memorializing your event is important, hire a professional photographer. Employing a pro means you don’t have to juggle taking photos and entertaining your guests. Professional photographers have the right gear and understand lighting, photo composition, and editing, resulting in better images.
If all of this sounds exciting to you, get started! If it seems like too much to handle, working with a professional event planner is an excellent option. Event planners maintain relationships with suppliers and vendors and may have access to volume pricing. Most importantly, an event planner handles everything from start to finish, reducing stress and freeing up time.
We have all missed gathering with friends and family to celebrate life’s special moments. Though events this year will require some extra planning, it’s worth your time! Whatever type of event you’re hosting, get the planning done ahead of time and spend the event with your guests.
Sources for this article included: eventstant.com, socialtables.com, and theknot.com.
By Angella A. Arndt
Destination Weddings and Honeymoons
Planning an Experience You'll Cherish
Are you thinking of heading way out of town for your wedding or honeymoon? There are so many destination options! Start by considering your interests as a couple. What do you like to do? If you love the water, a tropical location may be calling your name. If you’re into art and culture, a historic location might be ideal. No matter what you love, choose an amazing location where you can celebrate with the people you love. Here are some ideas to tempt you!
Santorini, Greece. If you’ve dreamed of getting married in an idyllic setting, Santorini fits the bill. Famously known for its architecture of white-washed villages built high atop cliffs, this Greek island has it all—beautiful beaches, spectacular sunsets, ancient history, fabulous food and wine, and a world-famous volcano. Visit the black sand beaches, take part in watersports, explore the island’s natural beauty with a hike, and experience the excellent regional cuisine and wines. Some resorts offer wedding packages and have wedding planners to assist you. There are also venues designed specifically for wedding ceremonies.
Tuscany, Italy. If you’re looking for a romantic setting, Tuscany is your place. Rolling hills, vineyards, olive groves, and beautiful sunsets provide the perfect backdrop. This region of Italy is known as the birthplace of the Renaissance and includes Florence, Siena, and Pisa. You can immerse yourself in the works of artists like Michelangelo, Botticelli, and Leonardo da Vinci at one of the many museums and art galleries. For foodies and wine enthusiasts, Tuscany is also known for its Chianti wines, olive oils, and excellent cuisine.
Montego Bay, Jamaica. If you desire a Caribbean destination with a laid-back atmosphere, try Montego Bay. You’ll enjoy white sandy beaches and lots of sunshine, and there are lots of activities for anyone in an adventurous mood. Try tubing down a river, ziplining, river rafting, or an ATV tour. Montego Bay also has a bustling nightlife. Of course, you should try the jerk cuisine and world-famous Jamaican rum.
Islamorada, Florida. If you want an island setting but don’t want to leave the country, Islamorada is a great option. Islamorada, or Village of Islands, is located in the Florida Keys. You’ll enjoy white sandy beaches, splendid sunsets, nature, and sea life. Revel in activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, eco-adventure tours, and hiking. Islamorada is also known as the Sport Fishing Capital of the World.
Cancun, Mexico. For a truly tropical location with all the comforts of home, an all-inclusive resort in Cancun is worth a look. Shimmering white sand, clear water, tropical climate, and affordability make this a popular destination. Explore Mayan civilization at one of the ruins, engage in water sports, swim with dolphins, or take an ATV tour. All-inclusive resorts provide wedding planning services that typically include the venue, accommodations, and food.
Once you’ve chosen the location, check in with your local travel agent. Travel agents are invaluable members of the destination wedding planning team. They have industry connections and have probably traveled to your chosen destination…they may even have arranged a destination wedding there before! An agent will help you find the perfect hotel or resort for your wedding vision. They’ll assist you with group contracts and will know about specials and perks. Travel agents are familiar with travel requirements and documents. Your guests will appreciate working with an agent who is familiar with your plans and who can help them negotiate the travel process.
A destination wedding is exciting, but it takes a little extra planning. Get started at least nine to 12 months in advance to ensure availability. It’s essential to establish a budget to avoid overspending. If possible, visit the location you’ve chosen to ensure it matches your vision and can accommodate your guests. Think about the climate when selecting attire and hairstyles for your wedding party.
Send out save-the-date cards at least six months in advance so guests can plan their travel, and be sure to refer them to your travel agent. Mail formal invitations three months before the wedding. Arrive a few days early to review details with the wedding planner. Schedule a trial hair and makeup appointment so you know what to expect on your wedding day.
Good travel agents can do a lot to simplify the destination wedding and honeymoon planning process. You’ll benefit from their expertise and guidance. Several resorts offer wedding planning services. This significant milestone in your life is sure to be a treasured experience.
Sources for this article included: theknot.com, thetrendspotter.net, travel-bash.com, destinationweddingdetails.com, and brides.com.
By Angella A. Arndt
The Green Thumb
What’s All the Fuss?
Echinacea, commonly known as coneflower, is widely used for medicinal purposes and garners much acclaim and accolades for its beauty and durability in gardens. It is best known as an herbal remedy for colds and flu, and some people think it helps with inflammation, as well. Echinacea plants are high in antioxidants and seem to have beneficial effects on the immune system. To be clear: While echinacea may boost immunity, there are really no definitive studies that prove its effects on the common cold. That said, it has been used for centuries by Native Americans to treat various ailments, and I’m pretty sure they’re onto something there.
As an avid gardener, I go back and forth between loving and praising coneflowers and wanting to ban them from my garden for eternity. I have had some misfires and some glorious successes with coneflowers, and—no matter what—I still cannot seem to get enough of them. To add to my obsession, they keep coming out with new hybrids that lure me into trying them every spring. The brilliance of their rainbow of colors is not to be rivaled, and that is probably one of the reasons I cannot stop planting them and trying new hybrids. Pollinators adore these vibrant beauties, and birds and bees are always welcome in my garden!
The coneflower hails from the daisy family, and there are many different species within that family. They are found only in North America and seem to like open wooded areas as well as dry to moist prairies. This sun-loving perennial flower is named for the “cone” shape that sticks up in the center of the circle of petals as the bloom matures. That cone is actually a cluster of seed heads that acts as a birdfeeder when left to dry on the plant. How handy is that?
My frustration with coneflowers is mostly about the water. While coneflowers are known as drought-tolerant plants, I have found that they tend to droop and look very thirsty in the heat of the afternoon sun during the first season they are planted. They get limp leaves and send me into a tailspin, thinking that I have managed to strangle them with inadequate watering. Once they have experienced an entire growing season, they truly do become drought-tolerant, and all is forgiven…until I plant more the next year.
Each of these brilliant beauties has their own taproot. In my book, that’s another plus because they do not need thinning to thrive. Basically, they want to be left alone. So, once you get past the first year with these lovelies, you are home free. As with all flowering plants, they will need plant food from time to time if you want them to grow larger and produce more blooms. These vivacious flowers need at least six to eight hours of sun per day.
To encourage growth in your coneflowers early in the season, you can “deadhead” them regularly—that is, cut off the faded blooms before they start to produce seeds. As the season progresses, you can just let them be. They naturally grow in clumps, so they are not big spreaders, but many varieties self-seed if you leave the blooms in place later in the season. Another bonus for these flowers is that they very seldom need to be staked, since their stems are extraordinarily strong. In winter, I leave the spent blooms on for the birds that make their way into my garden looking for sustenance.
Although coneflowers are not usually troubled by pests, they can succumb to an evil-sounding form of root rot called Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (also called white mold, crown rot, blossom blight, and many other terrible names). According to people in the know, this disease is more likely to occur in damp conditions. Overwatering is the culprit, and it may take applying a fungicide to rid your coneflowers of the issue.
When it comes down to it, I cannot resist the glorious colors offered by all the stunning varieties of coneflower—as well as their delightful names! Eccentric is not to be outdone, and Supreme Cantaloupe lives up to its name with its soft orange color, just like the inside of a cantaloupe. Doubledecker is pink and has petals that grow out of the top and bottom of the central cone. Green Jewel is a vibrant green (yes, the flowers are green). Tiki Torch looks like, well, a tiki torch, with its bright orange color reaching for the sky. Year after year, coneflowers continue to charm and disarm me, and I just saw a new variety I must order immediately!
By Linda Sutherland
Riding With Benefits
Horses have played many important roles throughout history, in war, in hunting, in travel, and in the transportation of everyday life. Though mechanical technology has, in many places, eclipsed the use of animals for those tasks, horses continue to play an important role in the lives of many riders today. Equestrianism as a sport has been around for more than 100 years and remains a popular pastime.
There are many reasons that people enjoy riding horses, including its health benefits. Riding can improve balance and muscle strength, coordination, respiration and circulation, visual-spatial perception, and hand-eye coordination. It can also help to stretch tight or spastic muscles and increase range of motion of joints.
Those are just the physical benefits! Horseback riding is also a great activity to help exercise the mind by improving attention and concentration, building skills in planning and critical thinking, and increasing ﬂexibility in thinking.
That’s still not all, though. Horseback riding is also recognized as having excellent therapeutic qualities. Being outdoors can boost overall well-being and act as a great stress reliever. Like many sports, equestrianism can improve self-conﬁdence, assessment abilities, emotional control, and self-discipline. Plus, riders learn to develop a lot of patience as well as respect for animals. Confident riders also experience a sense of exhilaration and freedom when riding. It’s fun!
While some people prefer to ride horses only for pleasure, those who love the sport can take it to the competitive level across the United States and internationally. Equestrians can take part in a wide variety of disciplines, including events like endurance, jumping, reining, and vaulting. At the Olympic level, athletes and their horses can participate in dressage, jumping, and eventing. Dressage is a demonstration of very precise movements that the horse is trained to make after nearly imperceptible commands from the rider. Jumping is, as the name suggests, horse and rider jumping together over a variety of obstacles. Eventing is basically a triathlon that includes dressage, jumping, and cross-country endurance riding.
Though horseback riding brings a lot of benefits, it does come with its share of responsibility, specifically when it comes to horse care and training. Owners must consider diet, living quarters, vaccinations, and health care, as well as social needs for horses.
The basic diet for most horses should be grass and good-quality hay. Clean water should be available all day, along with a trace mineral. If a horse lives outside, it must also have access to safe shelter at all times.
Additionally, all horses need vaccinations and regular deworming, as well as hoof trimming every six to eight weeks.
A horse’s teeth should be checked by a large-animal veterinarian once or twice a year. If necessary, the teeth should be filed, otherwise known as “floated,” to make them smoother. Horses are very social animals who are physiologically most sound when they are able to roam and interact with other horses.
On the training side of things, many horse owners will opt to hire a professional horse trainer who has worked with various equines, helping to educate them so that they’re safe and suitable for riding. Training may involve introducing horses to saddle, training for performance, re-educating horses who are moving from one discipline to another, harness training, or aiding with behavioral or safety issues like bucking, rearing, biting, or kicking.
People with children are often excited to introduce their kids to the equestrian sport because of the life-enriching benefits that it has to offer, like patience, compassion for another being, responsibility, and sportsmanship.
Schools from elementary to college are incorporating horseback riding into their offered activities. High school riding associations have developed across the country to promote equestrian riding teams and clubs to junior high, middle, and other high schools. The Interscholastic Equestrian Association is one organization that provides an option for middle and high school students to compete in multiple disciplines at a national level.
Equine-assisted therapy is growing in popularity due to its experiential approach and the growing evidence of its effectiveness with adults, children, and teens who have experienced challenges such as trauma, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and disabilities. This type of therapy incorporates horses into the therapeutic process by having people engage in activities such as grooming, feeding, and leading a horse while being supervised by a mental health professional. The end goal is to help people develop skills like emotional regulation, self-confidence, and responsibility.
Whether the experience with a horse is competitive, therapeutic, or recreational, riders across the world have learned the value of a personal relationship with a horse. Equestrianism can be a fun hobby with competitive opportunities, but it’s also beneficial to mind, body, and soul.
Sources for this article included: usef.org, equisearch.com, nbea.ca, and aspca.org.
By Brie Hellbusch
Quiet Your Chatter
Listen to Your Heart
“Your heart knows things that your mind can’t explain.” —Anonymous
As we go through school, we are guided to use our brains to figure things out. We are encouraged to put our emotions aside so that we can make “rational” decisions. “Take 10 deep breaths,” they say, “to get your head on straight.” Where does our heart come in? Should our heart play a part in our “rational” decision-making?
“Follow your heart, listen to your inner voice, stop caring about what others think.” —Roy T. Bennett
Many years ago, I realized that there was another part of my being that I had stuffed down inside of me in order to be an adult, in order to make “logical” decisions. That part was my heart, which was where my “inner voice” came from. In the beginning, it was a tiny voice that I found myself questioning. If I had a spontaneous inspiration, I would question its validity. Sometimes I would question it so much that my mind would convince me to disregard this inner voice, to disregard what my heart was telling me. Not a great decision.
“Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself.” —Cicero
I have come to believe that my heart, if I get really good at listening to it and following it, will never lead me astray. When I take a few moments and get rid of the chatter that my brain is constantly screaming at me and just listen to my heart…wonderful things happen.
“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” —Steve Jobs
With all of the intrusions that we face in our day-to-day lives—cell phone pings, computer alerts, incessant ring tones—sometimes, it seems like it is getting harder and harder to listen. But it is worth it! When it is time to make an important decision, turn everything off. Breathe. Do some meditation. Then be quiet and listen. Really listen.
“Always listen to your HEART. The wisdom of your heart is the connection to your authentic power—the true home of your spirit.” — Angie Karan
At times, I wonder why we are not taught this in school. If anything, I feel as if our educational system is teaching us to disregard this priceless part of our being. I am so blessed that I was able to rediscover this early in my adulthood. My mother, Anne, is the one who gently encouraged me to begin listening again to my heart, to my inner voice. That, my friends, is priceless.
“When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object.” —Milan Kundera