top of page
Fashion Worthy

Ready for Some Sunshine? 

Bring On the Resort Collections!


In the Midwest, many of us become snowbirds—a term used to describe those who are lucky enough to escape the winter chill and visit warmer climes. Popular destinations include Florida, Arizona, or Caribbean cruises. This season is called “resort” season by clothing designers, and it is just as important as any other fashion season. Resort is a feel-good season aimed at bringing some light and color into your wardrobe, sending those dark, heavy, winter fabrics toward the back of the closet. One of the best remedies for winter blues is joyful, colorful prints you can look forward to wearing. 


Packing for a warm-weather vacation in the middle of winter does require some serious planning. With the airline restrictions on luggage, editing your clothing needs is paramount. You must choose items that can be used in different ways under different circumstances. Pick a certain vibe you love, such as tropical prints, bright colors, or cool linen, and let your choices revolve around your style theme.


Resort collections are filled with gorgeous colors to help you banish visions of snow-covered sidewalks and replace them with images of sunny skies and cabana chairs. Magenta (Pantone’s color of 2023), chartreuse or citrus greens, turquoise, and sunny-yellow are sure to perk you up! Rainbow stripes in every shade will be a hot trend for resort-wear and can carry through for summer. I spotted a pair of loose-fitting rainbow-striped pants that would be the perfect vacation piece. You could pull them over a swimsuit if you want to go straight from the beach into a restaurant; you could dress them up for dinner out on the veranda; or you could wear them shopping with flip-flops and a white tee shirt. 


There are no rules when it comes to mixing colors during resort vacationing. Wear pink and red together. Green and blue are fabulous. Put together any vibrant solids and you are in vogue. You can even mix patterns! This can be tricky, but it’s very sharp if it’s done right. Be sure each pattern has some of the same color tones, and only use one large pattern per outfit. For example, you could wear a tropical red floral shirt with a narrow-striped skirt that has red as one of the stripes. Playing around with new combos is a way to stretch your vacation wardrobe. Of course, pure white eyelet is a lovely choice that can mix and match with anything.


The perfect vacation wardrobe should include at least one sundress or skirt and top that looks like a dress but can be mixed with other pieces. A loose comfy pant in white or a striped pattern, along with a white tee, will take you anywhere. Two bathing suits are necessary—one must dry out while you are wearing the other one. A big scarf is a sensational piece, as it can be used as a shawl, a bathing suit cover-up, or a skirt tied at the side, tropical-style. Folded up, it can even be a pillow on the flight! 


Shorts of any length that are flattering to you are also a must-have in a vacation wardrobe. I prefer shorts that end just above the knee. Tee shirts in bright colors are a necessity, along with white. You will need a few pairs of shoes, such as flip-flops, tennis shoes, and sandals. They will take up a lot of room in your suitcase—one trick is to pack small items inside them. Leave extra room in your suitcase, too. We all know you will be making some purchases while you’re away! 


Bring along some fun costume jewelry, but leave your good stuff at home for safekeeping. Don’t forget a hat to protect you from the sun. Look for a foldable hat that is easy to pack. If you find that you cannot pack your hat without smashing it, just wear it on the airplane! Another travel hint is to wear a couple of layers on the flight, along with a light jacket that will work with your vacation wardrobe. Also, wear your heaviest shoes on the plane so you don’t have to lug them around in your suitcase. Stow your everyday purse away and bring along an oversized tote that can carry everything from a beach towel to a book to an extra pair of shoes. 


Planning for a snowbird vacation isn’t quite as much fun as going on the trip itself, but resort collections will really put you in the mood for warm-weather fun. Fill your vacation suitcase with versatile pieces that will leave you ready for all types of excitement and play! 

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

Fashion Worthy

By Holly Bell

Weekend Gourmet

Open Houses, Games, and Welcomes—Let’s Eat!


Sweet and Sour Kielbasa

Cut 2 pounds of kielbasa into 1-inch chunks and place them in a slow cooker or roasting pan. Add 1 chopped and sautéed onion, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 and 3/4 cups of ketchup, 3 Tablespoons of vinegar, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of spicy brown mustard, 1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, and 2 teaspoons of hot sauce. Stir well. Add a small can of pineapple chunks for interest, if desired. Cook in a slow cooker for 3 hours on low (or bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour).


Super Bowl Super Dip

Blend 2 (8-ounce) packages of softened cream cheese with 1/2 of a chopped green or red pepper, 1 cup of sour cream, 2 Tablespoons of minced onion, 6 ounces of chopped pastrami or chipped beef, 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place into a small baking dish and top with 1 cup of chopped and toasted pecans. Bake at 350 degrees for 20–25 minutes. Serve with crackers, cut veggies, and toasts.


Tutu’s Oven-Baked Shrimp Scampi

Melt 1–2 cups of butter (or a butter substitute like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter) in a baking dish. Don’t skimp on the butter—this becomes the sauce for the pasta. Put 1–2 bags of shrimp in the dish in a single layer (don’t crowd them). Sprinkle the shrimp with 1 Tablespoon of garlic powder, freshly chopped basil, and a pinch of cayenne, if desired. Turn the shrimp to coat each piece. Sprinkle with freshly grated Romano cheese. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. Bake (uncovered) at 425 degrees for 12–15 minutes, until shrimp are pink. Serve with cooked angel hair pasta, crusty bread, and green salad. 


Cheeseburger Appetizers

Unroll a tube (or tubes) of refrigerated crescent roll dough and pat the seams together into a single sheet of dough. Top with 1/2 pound of cooked and seasoned hamburger (or cooked Italian sausage, or cooked and chopped chicken or veggies). Sprinkle with the shredded cheese of your choice. Carefully roll up into a log. Cut the log into 1-inch slices and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20–30 minutes, until browned. Serve with ranch or salsa dip.


Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a soup pot. Add 1 cup of sliced mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of diced onion and 1 cup of diced celery and cook for 10 minutes. Whisk in 1/2 cup of flour. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Gradually add 6 cups of chicken broth and whisk until the lumps are gone. Add 2 cups of diced or shredded cooked chicken or turkey (rotisserie works well) and 2 cups of cooked wild rice. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add 1 cup of Half and Half and 2 Tablespoons of dry white wine. Heat through (do NOT boil). 


Oven-Baked Brisket

Mix 2 Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of pepper, a dash or two of hot sauce, and a dash of liquid smoke (optional). Place a 3-pound chunk of beef brisket, fat side down, in a 13x9-inch baking dish. Pour the mixture over the brisket and rub it in. Cover and refrigerate overnight. 

The next day, bake the brisket (still covered) for 3 hours at 300 degrees. Make a sauce mixture with 1/2 cup of ketchup, 3 Tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of yellow mustard, 1 Tablespoon of soy sauce, and several drops of hot sauce. Pour the sauce over the top of the brisket and return it to the oven for another hour. Uncover and bake another 25 minutes. Cut diagonally across the grain into thin slices. Serve as sliders or on toasted garlic bread, with or without juice. 


Roasted Orange Chicken

Place a whole roasting chicken (2–3 pounds) into a roasting pan. Make a rub by mixing together 3 Tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of ground rosemary, 2 teaspoons of garlic powder, 2 teaspoons of onion powder, 1 teaspoon of chili powder, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Rub the mixture all over the chicken. Cut a lemon in half, squeeze the juice all over the chicken, and then place the lemon into the cavity. Do the same with an orange. Cut up a few onions, celery, and carrots and place them in the pan around the chicken. Add a few garlic cloves, if desired. Roast at 350 degrees until the chicken’s internal temperature reaches 175 degrees. Remove from oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.


Marbled-Orange Pound Cake

In a stand mixer, beat 2 cups of soft butter with 2 and 1/2 cups of sugar for 3–5 minutes, until creamy. In a bowl, whisk together 3 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. In another bowl, mix 8 eggs, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, 1 cup of sour cream, 1/2 cup of fresh orange juice, 2 Tablespoons of orange zest, and 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract. Start adding the flour mixture and the egg mixture alternately to the butter mixture to make the orange batter. Mix well but do not over-mix. In another bowl, combine 1/2 cup of boiling water with 1/2 cup of cocoa powder. Take 1/3 cup of the orange batter and mix into the chocolate-hot water mixture. 

Generously grease and flour a large Bundt-style cake pan (or an angel food pan). Pour the orange batter into the pan. Use a large spoon or ice cream scoop to drop the chocolate batter on top. Swirl the batters with a sharp knife to marble. Bake at 350 degrees for 50–60 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 20 minutes. Invert onto a serving plate and dust with powdered sugar. Serve with optional berries and whipped cream. 

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

By Kate Beiting
Weekend Gourmet

Zodiac Forecast

Zodiac Forecast

Aquarius  January 20 - February 18

Happy birthday, Aquarius! Your romantic side comes out this month, particularly around Valentine’s Day. Even if you think of Valentine’s Day as a little clichéd, you can’t help but be swept in just like everyone else! This encourages you to express your true feelings. You are in for an abundant surprise this month, which could be a promotion or proposal. Only you know the answer to this juicy secret!


Pisces (Feb 19–Mar 20) Happiness empowers you in February! This month is bound to be full of romance. At the new moon, your mind starts racing and you are able to rationalize everything!


Aries (Mar 21–Apr 19) You may say that Valentine’s Day isn’t your thing, but covertly you are a hopeless romantic. Make sure that someone knows how you actually feel! 


Taurus (Apr 20–May 20) As you reflect on how much you appreciate the stability of your romantic life, you realize you should always express your needs to others. This month is a great time to do just that.


Gemini (May 21–June 20) All right, heartbreakers, don’t go leading anyone on this Valentine’s Day! You are one to always please others. Remember to give yourself a big warm hug! 


Cancer (Jun 21–Jul 22) The full moon has reawakened your creative self. Be sure to show off your talents. On Valentine’s Day, let them take care of you! 


Leo (Jul 23–Aug 22) Beautiful Leo, you deserve devotion. February will bring many romantic blessings, but they will require personal growth on your part. 


Virgo (Aug 23–Sep 22) You tend to put emphasis on others, particularly during the most romantic of holidays. This month, don’t worry about seeming self-interested. Sometimes, you deserve to focus on yourself! 


Libra (Sep 23–Oct 22) Regardless of your relationship status, it is perfectly ordinary and enjoyable to have some alone time. Remember to indulge yourself!


Scorpio (Oct 23–Nov 21) It is essential to practice self-care to handle stressful moments in your life. Do this for yourself, and remember that others need to care for themselves, as well. 


Sagittarius (Nov 22–Dec 21) Change is on the way. This may mean a commitment to a long-term connection or the end of a not-so-fabulous one. Remember that change is good, even if it is also challenging!


Capricorn (Dec 22–Jan 19) February will have you thinking more with your heart than with your mind. This is not a bad thing! Once in a while, it is crucial to share your sensitive side. Your loved ones will appreciate it! 

A Woman's Work

Modern Etiquette

It’s All About R-E-S-P-E-C-T

One of the most popular streaming series is the Regency Romance Bridgerton. Many of us not only enjoy the romance and the costumes but are fascinated by the social etiquette. Those prim and proper rules dominated social interactions during that historical period.


Much of the social etiquette followed during the early 19th century may seem outdated for modern life, but every culture and era has protocols that define respectful interactions. The wide availability of handheld technology has divided our attention in ways that have not improved our social etiquette. I believe some gentle reminders can go a long way to helping us be more respectful with each other.


At the table: Put your phone down. No dialogue is so important that it should outweigh your respect for the people at the table. Be present and participate. If your phone rings while you’re talking to someone, let it ring. Even better: Silence it before the meal begins. 


Wait for everyone to be served before eating. If you are at an event or out to a restaurant, wait for all the food to arrive before you dig in. On the other hand, if someone is served hot food at a restaurant and your meal hasn’t arrived, it is polite to give them permission to start their meal before their food gets cold. Don’t talk with your mouth full. It is not appetizing to watch, and it is also rude.


Be on time: Being on time is always in style, especially for meetings or appointments. When you’re consistently late, you send the message that you feel your time is more important than the person waiting for you. Punctuality can affect your reputation, so make the effort.


Say thank you: This practice is an important rule in all circumstances. Expressing gratitude strengthens relationships and brings good feeling to the person giving thanks as well as to the person who is being thanked. After an interview, be sure you send a written note of thanks for the interviewer’s time. It showcases your professionalism. The same goes for when you get a client referral or a gift. It never hurts to express your gratitude with a brief note.


Phone etiquette: Some phone etiquette, like putting your phone on silent when you’re in a meeting or at a movie, is specific to cell phones. Other rules apply to all phones. For example, don’t put people on speaker phone indiscriminately—save it for when you are in an office or holding a meeting. 


Make sure you tell everyone on the call that they are on speaker, and close the door so you don’t disturb others. When answering the phone, especially at work, state your name and business. When you leave voicemail messages, make them succinct. Long, disjointed messages are irritating and take up space.


Opening doors: No matter who you are, it is just polite to open a door for another person, especially if they are carrying something or pushing a stroller or wheelchair. When you are in an elevator, hold the door for the person coming in.


Traveling: When you board a plane, train, or bus, stow your stuff as quickly as possible and get out of the aisle so others can pass by. At the baggage claim carousel, hang back so that everyone can see the luggage. When your bag appears, step forward and claim it.

In-person communication: When greeting someone on the sidewalk, make sure you take off your sunglasses and take out your earbuds. You want to be present for the interaction, and looking or listening elsewhere is considered rude. 


Email communication: Professional communication should be just that—professional. Be succinct in your email communication, and be very selective with the Reply All option. Don’t use all capital letters (that means you’re shouting), variously colored text (that’s not professional) or large files (unless absolutely necessary).


Work texting: If you have to text for work, do so no earlier than one hour before the work day begins and no later than two hours after the end of the work day. (This is according to The Modern Gentleman.) Everyone appreciates keeping their non-working time to themselves.


Cover your mouth when you cough. It has been long understood that coughing and sneezing can spread germs. Keep tissues or a handkerchief with you. If you’re not feeling well and need to go out, you could always wear a mask.


Your dog. Always walk your dog on a leash, and don’t forget to bring a bag for cleanup. Respect your neighbor’s property. Keep your dog groomed; fleas can be transferred from pet to pet.


Though the etiquette of the Regency Era may seem outdated, simple etiquette rules will always show respect for yourself and the people around you. 

By Deborah Daley
A Woman's Work

Fresh Concepts

Healthy Veins, Healthy Body!

Vascular Health Tips


Bulging varicose veins and twisty spider veins have become a chronic problem in the United States. These problematic veins are not only unsightly—health issues can develop if you try to ignore them. About 40 percent of the population may be affected by chronic venous insufficiency (damaged valves), which can lead to more serious issues. 


How did you get those veins in the first place? If they run in the family, you’re a prime candidate, but other factors may contribute, too. Luckily, minimally invasive options are available to reduce problematic veins and the health risks that go along with them. Let’s take a closer look at vein disease and what you can do about it!


Varicose veins are those dark purple or blue, bulging, cord-like veins that burn, throb, and itch, creating heavy, achy legs. Increased vein pressure is likely the cause, and factors that increase that pressure can include inactivity, obesity, pregnancy, smoking, hormone replacement, oral contraceptives, and simply the aging process. Standing or sitting for many hours a day also increases vein pressure. 


In the human body, blood flows through both arteries and veins. Arteries drive ample amounts of oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body, while veins return oxygen-diminished blood to the heart. Veins contain one-way valves that push blood back to the heart, often against the force of gravity. Those valves can weaken over time or become damaged. That’s when blood collects in the veins, and the twisty cords become enlarged and visible under the surface of the skin. 


Varicose veins are most common in the legs, but they can pop up anywhere in the body. Although not necessarily a serious medical problem, varicose veins are uncomfortable, often causing self-consciousness when it’s time to bare skin. As time passes, medical problems can occur from stretched veins and increased pressure. Vein walls can weaken, damaging the valves further. 


At the first sight of varicose veins, get a professional opinion from a physician. Board-certified vascular surgeons specialize in vein health and can often provide the best evaluations and treatment plans. With credentials and experience, these vein docs know their business. Diagnosis usually involves a complete medical history and a diagnostic procedure to determine treatment. A non-invasive vascular ultrasound reveals the vein’s structure and how well the blood flows. Expect a small handheld device moved over the vein area. The ultrasound transmits vein images onto a computer monitor and can reveal any blood clots.   


Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious medical condition in which blood clots form in the deep veins. Because varicose veins are the veins closest to the surface of the skin, DVT is not a common complication, but severe varicose veins do bring a small risk of deep vein blood clots. Blood clots are potentially fatal, if they break loose and travel to the lungs. It’s best to get varicose veins checked out early and plan treatment before more serious risks have a chance to develop.  


Treatment for varicose veins isn’t as complicated as you might think, and procedures are usually performed right in the provider’s office. In most cases, procedures are done in about an hour, using local anesthesia or simply injecting the treatment area. You can head back to work the same day—in fact, patients are encouraged to get right up and walk around so that blood keeps circulating. 


The best treatment for your varicose veins depends on their severity and your treatment goals; you and your surgeon will choose the treatment together. The most common treatment for larger veins is a radiofrequency procedure or a type of laser energy. A thin tube (catheter) is inserted into the enlarged vein. The tip of the catheter is heated with radiofrequency or a laser. After the laser is removed, the heat causes the vein to collapse and seal itself. Blood automatically reroutes itself into healthy veins.


More advanced cases of varicose veins may require a more invasive procedure. You may have heard the wince-inducing term “vein stripping,” which is a surgical procedure that removes varicose veins. Though an effective treatment, it requires general anesthesia and a much longer recovery period. Most surgeons no longer perform vein stripping and instead opt for ambulatory phlebectomy. 


Phlebectomy also physically removes a problematic vein, but the procedure is much less invasive than vein stripping. The surgeon removes the vein in sections, through much smaller incisions. This procedure only requires local anesthesia, and you’re ambulatory (that is, up and walking around) the same day. 


What does recovery look like after a minimally invasive vein procedure? Your bandaged leg should remain out of water for 24 hours. The bandages can be removed after a day (if your doc approves). Your leg might feel tight and swollen, and there may be some discomfort—after all, the healing process is taking place. A prompt return to normal activity is generally expected. You may need to avoid particularly strenuous activities for a week or two, depending on your journey. Compression stockings are also recommended for a few weeks, following your professional’s advice. 


Compression stockings have benefits beyond just the post-procedure period. Mild, moderate, and firm compression stockings are designed to apply pressure to your legs, which helps blood flow to reduce swelling and discomfort and to help prevent blood clots. Stockings are designed to be worn all day and removed at night. As you sleep in a horizontal position, your veins and valves function more effectively. 


Professionals recommend pulling on the stockings in the morning before you get out of bed. When you stand or walk, gravity may compromise blood flow if you have damaged valves (that’s why legs swell and ache as the day goes on and gravity takes its toll). Compression stockings keep valves in position for optimal circulation. Compression is very beneficial on long flights, for pregnant women, or during periods of prolonged sitting and standing.  


Spider veins are another common vein issue. These small, web-like clusters of red, blue, and purple veins mostly appear on the legs or ankles right under the skin’s surface, but they can appear anywhere on the body, including the face. Heredity, hormones, pregnancy, and obesity or weight fluctuations are often the cause of spider veins. If your job requires consecutive hours of standing or sitting, that doesn’t help the situation, either. What to do? 


Sclerotherapy is effective and is one of the most common cosmetic treatments. Expect to lie on your back as your doc injects a saline or salt solution into each spider vein. The needle is fine, causing minimal or no pain. The solution irritates the vein lining so that it seals shut, blocking blood flow. Eventually, the vein disappears. Sometimes, a foam version of sclerotherapy is used for larger veins. You might need multiple visits for sclerotherapy—spider veins often disappear after three to six weeks. Those small clusters of veins won’t come back, though new spider veins can appear. 


Dermatologists and vein specialists also use lasers to treat spider veins. The laser directs light energy to destroy the vein with no damage to the skin. Veins may disappear immediately. Your vein specialist will determine the best procedure to treat your spider veins. Keep in mind that spider veins are a cosmetic issue—since they don’t carry the risk of health issues that varicose veins do, procedures to treat them are generally not covered by insurance.


Healthy veins are important to everyday health. What can we do to keep them as healthy as possible? Recommendations for vein health include eating a potassium-rich diet. Statistics show that many Americans are short on this all-important nutrient. That can be remedied by introducing more potassium-rich foods into your diet—think beans, lentils, bananas, potatoes, avocado, spinach, and broccoli. 


Regular exercise supports your vascular system, too. Try to get a little bit every day. It doesn’t always have to be intense cardio—a brisk walk will get your blood flowing. On the flip side, relaxation can benefit your veins, as well. When you elevate your legs, they get a break from standing or sitting. A break from work, activity, and worry is always welcome, and your vascular system will thank you.


Veins work hard for us, and they deserve our attention and care. Whether your primary concern is cosmetic or medical, a vein specialist can treat your vein issues with minimally invasive procedures that will get you back to your life in no time! 


Sources for this article included:,, and

By Janette Calabro
Fresh Concepts

Good Looks

Feeling Bent Out of Shape?

Get the Shape You Want

Every year, hundreds of thousands of women in the United States undergo plastic surgery to change the shape of their body. If you’re planning to make a surgical change, it’s important to get the facts on the surgery you’re considering. You should become familiar with the various procedures, the risks involved, recovery time, what results to expect, and how to choose the correct surgeon.


Your surgeon needs to be a board-certified plastic surgeon, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, and licensed to practice in your state. Your pre-surgery consultation is the time to ask any questions you may have, including the surgeon’s experience in performing your procedure, whether you are a good candidate for surgery, possible complications and how they will be handled, and what the recovery period looks like. During the consultation, the surgeon should ask about your medical history, current medications, and your overall health. 


Breast augmentation (augmentation mammoplasty) enhances the size and shape of the breasts and is the most commonly performed cosmetic surgery. Women choose this surgery to increase breast dimensions, to correct uneven breasts, or to decrease age-related sagging and volume loss. The procedure may involve breast implants, breast fat transfer, or a breast lift. 


Breast implants contain either saline or silicone. Saline implants contain sterile salt water. Should a leak occur, the saline is absorbed and naturally expelled by the body. This type of implant provides uniform shape and firmness. Structured saline implants contain an inner shell, making the implant feel more natural. Silicone implants are filled with silicone gel, which feels more like natural breast tissue. Implants are available in a multitude of shapes and dimensions. Your surgeon will help you select the right size and composition for your needs. 


Surgery may be performed in a surgical center or hospital outpatient facility. An overnight hospital stay is rarely required. It typically involves general anesthesia, though local anesthesia may be used in some instances. In order to minimize scarring, the surgeon makes the incision in an inconspicuous area such as the fold under the breast or the armpit. The implant is then inserted either under the pectoral muscle or directly behind the breast tissue. The method for inserting and positioning the implant depends upon the type of implant and the patient’s body type. Saline implants are inserted empty and then filled with sterile salt water. Silicone implants are pre-filled. Some soreness, swelling, and bruising is common during the first few weeks after surgery. 


A breast fat transfer uses liposuction to remove excess fat from one area, and then injects it into the breasts. A benefit to this procedure is that your own tissue, not a foreign object, provides the volume. A breast lift can elevate saggy breasts and reposition the nipples for a perkier appearance. This procedure is sometimes combined with implants.


The other side of the spectrum is breast reduction surgery. This procedure removes excess fat and skin from the breasts. Women choose this surgery for both medical and psychological reasons. Having overly large breasts may cause chronic back and neck pain or nerve pain, as well as emotional distress, especially in teenagers. Breast reduction can also make it easier to participate in physical activities.


The technique for breast reduction surgery varies depending on the breast composition and the amount of reduction desired. Like breast augmentation, this procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia in a hospital or out-patient facility. The surgeon makes an incision around the areola and on the side of the breasts. Excess fat and tissue are removed. Liposuction may also be used. The breast is reshaped, and the nipple and areola are repositioned for a natural, uniform look. The incision lines are permanent, but—like other scars—will fade over time.


Results are immediate, but a full recovery takes time. Your breasts will likely be swollen, bruised, and tender for several weeks. Wearing a compression bra will protect the incisions. Physical activity should be limited for the first few weeks. Results are permanent, but breast shape and size may change over time due to aging or weight fluctuation.


Tummy tucks are one of the top five elective plastic surgeries. A tummy tuck tightens abdominal muscles, diminishes the appearance of stretch marks, and eliminates excess skin and fat. The surgeon makes an incision along the lower abdomen to remove excess fat and smooth out abdominal skin. For liposuction, the surgeon creates multiple tiny incisions, into which a metal tube is inserted that suctions out fat cells. An anesthetic solution is administered to minimize discomfort. 


Whatever procedure you’re considering, it’s important to have the facts, select a qualified plastic surgeon, and have realistic expectations. 


Sources for this article included:,, and 

By Loretta McCollum
Good Looks

Income Outcome

Hello, Self

The Importance of Positive Self-Talk


Good morning, self. Today is another fantastic day. I am going to smile, grow, and be the happy being that I know I am. I am going to relish the joy of meeting those on my path who will bring me happiness, and I will instinctively know how to help others discover their joy. I am a person who is loving and kind. I am centered and in the now with all of my interactions today. I am so very grateful for all that I am and all that I have in my life. I am so very blessed. I am excited about the day before me. I can’t wait to see what my day brings. I will turn negative into positive. My cup will be overflowing instead of being empty. How does that feel? 


“Be mindful of your self-talk. It’s a conversation with the Universe.” —David James


When I wrote the self-talk you just read above, I realized how very different that paragraph is from the morning talks I’ve been having with myself lately. I had forgotten how important it is to be centered and happy as I start my day. Perhaps it was the responsibilities of the recent holidays that caused the bump in my road. Perhaps I stopped listening to my inner voice of joy. Perhaps I simply made a great mistake.


“Bring acceptance and compassionate self-talk. Say nice things to yourself—you’re the only one listening. Tell yourself, ‘I am doing the best I can.’” —Gabrielle Bernstein 


Starting your day with a private, mindful pep talk of joy is magical. When we remember to do this, we discover that we have a skip in our step and a smile on our face. According to science, what we’ve done here is trigger endorphins in our body, which makes us feel good. 


“Brain wave tests prove that when we use positive words, our ‘feel good’ hormones flow. Positive self-talk releases endorphins and serotonin in our brain, which then flow throughout our body, making us feel good. These neurotransmitters stop flowing when we use negative words.” —Ruth Fishel


I had also been forgetting to revisit this positive self-talk with myself throughout the day. When we do this, we are refilling our psychic gas tank—it runs low as the day wears on. Positivity fuels us. 

How do I close my day?

Good night, self. Thank you so much for my amazing day that has just passed. Thank you for the smiles and the heart-warming manifestations that came my way. Thank you for my life. 


“Be very careful what you say to yourself because someone very important is listening…you!” —John Assaraf 

By Janet Van deWalle
Income Outcome

Kids Comments

Is Something Bugging You?

Change It…or Change Yourself


Following a season of love and peace, it’s easy to let down your guard…or maybe your guard is just worn out. We’ve tolerated stress and frustration. We’ve had to meet demands from many sources. We’ve thrown back our shoulders, pasted a smile on our face, and proceeded to meet the challenge. Now, it’s time for a change.


How do you handle the things that bother you or demand your time? I believe if you can do something about a situation, do it. If something is beyond your control, you have choices to make: change what you can; alter your attitude; or ignore it, hoping it will go away on its own. Whining and complaining are counterproductive and, in my opinion, only make things worse. I try to react in a positive way by taking control of my reaction.


Early last year, I decided to deal with some relatively minor irritants. My bunions were giving me more pain. When my feet hurt, my whole body hurt. I remember one day in particular: I’d worn heels to work and was on my feet all day. By the time I got home, my feet hurt all the way to my hips. I put up with it for years, going barefoot, wearing flip-flops, flats, or tennis shoes…or just sneaking off my shoes when I could. I finally opted for surgery. I still go barefoot and wear flops-flops, flats, or tennies, but my feet don’t hurt! That’s a physical solution to a physical problem.


Physical solutions don’t work with all irritants (though removing the source of irritation might). It’s often easier to control your reaction than change your surroundings. When your smoke alarm starts chirping, it’s annoying for a reason: It needs your attention. Babies cry and young children act up for the same reason…something (not their batteries) needs to be changed. They don’t have the communication skills or vocabulary to let us know what is wrong, so we change diapers, feed them, or offer cuddle time. Those changes are fairly easy. 


Dealing with older children or adults isn’t so easy, but deliberate communication can help. Teachers are trained to use “I” instead of “you” when addressing problems. If language is offensive, say, “I find that kind of language offensive. Please don’t use it around me.” That’s less confrontational than, “You are offensive when you use language like that,” or “Don’t use that kind of language!” 


Sometimes, it’s easier to remove yourself from a situation you find irritating. You can still be civil. A friend just turns his back or moves slightly when group actions get annoying. Kids can do the same thing when faced with someone who is being unkind or annoying. Help kids learn to handle annoyances with civility. Don’t change others. Change your own reactions. 

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

By Marge Shoemaker, BS, MS
Kids Comments

Interiors By Design

The Perfect Master Suite

It’s All About You!

If the demands of a busy career and family life leave you little downtime for rest and relaxation, you would greatly benefit from the convenient luxuries found in a master suite. Homeowners everywhere are transforming their outdated master bedrooms into sophisticated personal sanctuaries, complete with all the comforts and amenities of a luxury hotel suite! If you’ve been dreaming of a swanky master retreat with a gorgeous spa-like bath, discover how investing in a modern master suite can provide the bliss you’ve been craving while adding significant value to your home.


Whether you’re building a new home or remodeling your existing one, it’s important to carefully plan your space. While full luxury master suites typically feature separate walk-in closets, double vanities and sinks, a soaking tub, and even indoor and outdoor seating areas, the process begins with balancing your unique needs with the available space and determining which features you and your partner will most enjoy. 


For example, would a shared closet work or would you really prefer separate spaces? Is it a better idea to forego the tub and dedicate that space to a large dual steam shower? Having a sense of your own personal space is vital to relaxation. Two vanities provide the space to keep your belongings organized with the bonus of eliminating any concerns over who gets to use the sink first in the morning!


The ultimate luxury in a master suite is a boutique-inspired walk-in closet. A beautiful custom closet can bring some real pleasure to getting dressed each day. Rods at different levels offer hanging storage for dresses, coats, shirts, and pants, while shelves provide space for baskets to keep accessories and like-items together. We could all use a few extra minutes in the morning—with everything organized at your fingertips, you can find what you need fast. A custom closet company will come to your home to take measurements and learn about your wants and needs for the space. They’ll create an organizational haven just for you. 


Having a washer and dryer in the master closet can truly be a dream. Imagine, no more running hampers full of clothes up and down the stairs! The marriage of the closet and the laundry room is a blissful union complete with the perks of convenience, order, and practicality—a room dedicated to washing, drying, folding, ironing, and storing your clothes! Installing a washer and dryer requires proper plumbing and ventilation, so be sure to plan your space with the right professionals. 


If your space doesn’t allow for a walk-in closet, consider a custom built-in wardrobe. Typically built along a bedroom wall, a built-in wardrobe eliminates the need for bureaus—elevating a room’s aesthetic with a streamlined, uncluttered appearance—while providing organized storage for everything you might want in a full master suite, like a television or even a beverage center equipped with a coffee bar and a small fridge. 


Lighting is a fundamental consideration when it comes to creating the perfect master suite. Adding soft, warm lighting and dimmer switches to control the light level helps promote relaxation after a long day. Don’t forget task lighting, especially if you and your partner enjoy night-time reading. 


Research tells us that connecting to outdoor spaces reduces stress and is key to our sense of well-being. If you’re lucky enough to have beautiful views from your home, capture the beauty of nature by installing floor-to-ceiling windows. If possible, create direct access to outdoor spaces. What could be more relaxing than a patio equipped with daybeds and a hot tub? Add lighting and enjoy this flexible and fun space under the stars. If outdoor space is limited, a private walled-in courtyard or small balcony enables you to enjoy your morning coffee in the fresh air or relax under the stars before bedtime. 


To give your space a five-star rating, make sure it feels fresh, inviting, and soothing. To induce serenity, bathe your space in nature-inspired hues and indulge in luxury bedding. The trick is to layer a variety of plush elements, including bedding, pillows, and rugs. Pamper yourself with the installation of smart technology and give yourself the luxury of activating shades, lighting, and entertainment via your preferred digital device…all from the comfort of your bed. 


With all the demands of contemporary life, the modern master bedroom has become our safe haven—a place to escape and relax. Investing in the perfect master retreat provides all the bliss and comfort you need. Your next vacation may just be a staycation in your own master suite, with everything you need for the perfect escape! 


Sources for this article included:,, and

By Robyn V. Powell
Interiors By Design

Home Works

Spring Landscaping

Pro Advice to Boost Your Yard


Spring is just around the corner, and you know what that means: springtime landscaping! It’s not enough to just maintain your mowing and pick up your leaves; an ideal yard should be aesthetically pleasing all year-round, making it the perfect place for relaxing with family and guests. How does one obtain such an outdoor paradise? Well, certainly not by yourself. That’s what hiring a landscape designer or architect is for! This season, consider hiring a professional to give your yard an extra boost. 


Having a yard professionally landscaped has many benefits. You’ll increase the value of your home by 15–20 percent, enjoy low-maintenance gardens (which are less work for you in the long run), learn where to plant trees to help optimize your home’s energy bills, and so much more! 


When you’re deciding what type of yard professional to consult, keep in mind that there are some differences between landscape designers and landscape architects. They do have similar education and experience, which makes them easy to conflate. However, landscape architects are required by the state to hold a license, and landscape designers are not. The two also tend to serve different types of clients. Architects tend to work on larger public spaces such as cemeteries, college campuses, and parks. Designers, on the other hand, are more likely to work on smaller and residential projects. Before you hire, learn what types of projects they’ve completed in the past. 


Another thing you’ll want to consider before hiring a professional is what exactly you need done. Do you want a full re-design of your yard or just some light sprucing? What areas and plants need attention? Take a good look at your yard. Inspect your trees and shrubs for broken or damaged branches; find out if your lawn’s variety of grass is best fertilized in the spring or fall; check your beds for weeds and old plant debris; and inspect your irrigation system. Knowing what needs to be done will help your landscape professional create an overall plan for your yard and yard care.


Never assume that your landscaping professional will be thinking the same thing you are. If there’s a feature or plant that you want installed, let them know! There are a lot of new and interesting yard features trending this year, and your landscape pro will know the perfect way to incorporate them into your yard. 


A natural stone pathway is a great way to bring a low-maintenance walkway to your yard and break up the monotony of your lawn. Privacy plants are also making a comeback, but not necessarily in the way you’re thinking! These days, vertical planting on decorative fences and screens is preferred to the thick and monotonous privacy hedges of the past. 


With so many areas of the nation experiencing drought, climate-resilient plants and trees are a great way to keep your garden looking fresh without straining your water bill. Your landscape professional will know which native plants will work best in your space. Terra cotta pots and planters are also in style, as are lit garden sculptures.


Once you have a good idea of what you want for your yard and what type of professional you’d like to hire, it’s time to get some bids. Conventional wisdom says you should get at least three bids for any large-scale job or contractor you hire. This will allow you to get a range of points to consider, from price and years of experience to communication and quality of work. Don’t automatically go with the lowest bidder! Make sure to take into consideration all factors and choose the best professional for your wants and needs.


You may be thinking you have lots of time before you have to act on starting spring landscaping, but the truth is that winter is the best time to start planning and hiring! Winter is the least busy time for landscaping companies, and they will therefore be able to give you their full attention when it comes to planning and designing. Plus, if you get your whole plan hammered out before ideal planting season in late spring, your company will be to start as soon as ideally possible. April and May are the best months for planting, so you’ll really want your landscaper hired and everything planned out before then. If you’re at the top of their list, your yard will be complete and ready to enjoy this spring and summer!


No matter what you want accomplished for your yard, having a landscape professional in your pocket is the best way to get your lawn and garden goals accomplished and well-maintained this spring. 


Sources for this article included:,,,, and 

By Anne Yankus
Home Works

To Your Good Health

Heart Health Awareness

Get Heart Smart!

If you always start the year by setting goals for improving your health, add finding out how healthy your heart is to your 2023 goals. February is National Heart Health Awareness month and the perfect time to focus on your heart!


When you think of heart disease, do you immediately consider the heart health of men? It may surprise you, then, that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. In 2020, more than 314,000 American women died from heart disease. That is about one in every three female deaths! Although great strides have been made in heart heath education, many women still do not know their own risk of heart disease. Let’s check your heart smart IQ. How many of these heart facts for women do you already know?


  1. Heart disease kills more women than all types of cancer combined. 

  2. Almost half of women older than 20 have some form of cardiovascular disease. 

  3. Women can develop heart disease at any age, but the risk increases after a woman’s period ends and her estrogen levels decrease (estrogen helps protect against heart disease). This generally translates to menopausal women over the age of 55. 

  4. Less than 45 percent of women who become pregnant have good heart health. 

  5. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in new mothers and is responsible for one third of early maternal deaths. Black women have the highest maternal mortality rates. 

  6. Most cardiac and stroke events can be avoided by implementing healthy lifestyle changes. 

  7. Women are less likely than men to receive CPR from a bystander due to concerns about touching or injuring a woman. 

  8. Heart attacks look different in women and men. Women’s symptoms may include chest pain; pain in the neck, jaw, or throat; or upper abdomen or back pain. Other symptoms can include vomiting, fatigue, or nausea. Do not hesitate to seek medical attention if you experience these symptoms. 

  9. Exercise can actually reverse heart damage and help prevent the risk of future heart failure—if it’s enough exercise, and if it’s started early enough in the course of the disease. The best exercise plan combines aerobic exercise with weight training. 


How many of these facts did you know? If the number is low, don’t worry—use 2023 to improve your heart health IQ!


It is important to know the risk factors that increase the chances of developing heart disease. These risk factors include high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking. Other risk factors include diabetes, obesity, unhealthy diet, insufficient physical activity, and heavy alcohol use. Women (and men) can decrease their chance of developing heart disease by eating a healthy health diet, not smoking, and managing their weight. 


To learn how healthy your heart is, visit your primary care provider. They will ask personal health and family health questions and conduct a physical examination. If concerns arise, blood tests and chest x-rays may be ordered, as well as an electrocardiogram (ECG) to record the electrical signals in the heart. If the ECG doesn’t provide enough information, your doc may prescribe Holter monitoring, which is a portable ECG device worn for a full day to record the heart’s activity. Echocardiograms, CT scans, or MRIs may also be ordered. 


The treatment of heart disease depends on the type and severity of the damage. If lifestyle changes are not enough, medications and surgery will be considered. 


Do not discount the importance of reducing stress when it comes to improving heart health. Consider bringing more laughter into your life. That’s right—laughter. It reduces stress hormones and helps reduce inflammation and increase your HDL cholesterol. Yoga can help relax and strengthen your body and calm your mind. Stress-relief options also include meditation or prayer, deep breathing, or keeping a journal to note things that are good in your life. Other ways women can decrease stress to improve heart health include being more social and learning to say no. When you decline requests from others, you have more time to exercise, relax, and develop habits that reduce stress in your own life. 


How many of these ideas can you incorporate into your life this year? Learn about the risk factors and symptoms of heart disease. Talk to your doctor about your personal heart health. Find ways to lower your stress levels. Make 2023 a healthy year by focusing on your heart health. Your heart will thank you! 


Sources for this article included:,,,, and

By Leslie Byrne
To Your Good Health

Focus On Finance

Slimming Down the Gorilla

American-Chinese Relations

Over the course of the past three decades, China has become the 900-pound gorilla in the American economy. We have become dependent upon them for a wide variety of consumer and technology products. This includes pharmaceuticals, computer chips, consumer electronics, and clothing. We have also become dependent upon them to purchase an extensive list of our products. At the top of this list are Apple phones, Nike shoes, and Buicks.


The initial impetus for this relationship was the availability of cheap and abundant Chinese labor. America’s consistent use of Chinese manufacturers drove local wages higher. The net result was a dramatic increase in the size of the Chinese middle class. Today, that number stands at close to 750,000 people. This newly anointed middle class clambers for the goods enjoyed by their American counterparts. 


While the ongoing trade between our two countries has been mutually beneficial, the cards have been stacked in favor of the Chinese. Simply put: We buy more from them than they buy from us. 


The threats of COVID and recent policy changes by the ruling Chinese Communist Party are causing American consumers and companies to rethink the nature of these relationships. The Chinese response to the pandemic has been, in a word, draconian. Strict lockdown policies imposed by the Chinese government have caused many interruptions in the manufacturing and delivery of Chinese goods and services, most notably in pharmaceuticals and computer chips. 


Because of these supply disruptions, some American companies are re-evaluating their relationship with Chinese manufacturers. The largest of these companies, Apple, has announced their plans to move portions of their iPhone production to India and other countries. Intel, America’s largest chip supplier, is planning to build a manufacturing facility in Arizona. 


Prior to the pandemic, the focus of the Chinese politburo was on economic growth in order to satisfy the middle-class appetite for consumer goods. Recent changes in the politburo’s leadership, however, have resulted in a modification of their primary objective. They have turned their attention to increasing their military and political influence on the world stage. 


A centerpiece of this philosophical shift is the issue of Taiwanese independence. The Chinese government has made it known that they desire to bring Taiwan back under the Chinese umbrella. Given the politics of the situation, it seems that this could only come about through the use of military force. This is a major concern to the United States from an economic perspective because of our reliance on computer chips manufactured in Taiwan. Much of the chip supply chain disruption that the United States experienced during and following the pandemic can be attributed to glitches with Taiwanese chip manufacturers.


Another area where the United States’ and China’s economies intersect involves our national debt. We fund our national debt by issuing treasury bonds. These bonds are sold at auction to anyone with the money and desire to purchase them. Because of the significant trade deficit we run with China, they hold trillions of American dollars. In order to secure and protect those dollars, they buy and hold American bonds. 


The recent rise in the inflation rate in the United States has caused an increase in the interest rate that the Treasury Department pays on bonds, making them even more attractive to the Chinese. On the other hand, the growing tensions between the two nations could make the Chinese government less willing to participate in funding American debt. A further complication is that, as American companies move their business elsewhere, the trade deficit between the two nations declines and the Chinese are left holding fewer dollars to invest.


 Yet another complication in the economic relationship between China and the United States involves the Chinese companies whose stocks are traded on American exchanges. American regulatory bodies are reviewing Chinese accounting practices, and they have threatened to de-list many of these companies unless they change their accounting methodology. The potential ramifications of this for American investors are significant. A de-listing of these companies from the American exchanges would cause a precipitous drop in their share price. This is a significant issue for American investors because most money managers include an international component to their model portfolios.


The ever-complicated economic relationship between China and the United States is currently in a state of flux. 


The next move depends on unforeseeable events, most of them political. One thing is certain: the 900-pound gorilla is going to lose a few pounds. This makes it important for individual investors to remain vigilant and pay close attention to how the relationship between the United States and China unfolds. 


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


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

By George Morgan
Focus On Finance

Seasons of Life

Taxes in Retirement

Rules for Seniors

Gathering information for this month’s topic, I was reminded of how very complicated our tax laws can be. For seniors, it is crucial to take advantage of every tax break possible. Once we retire, the term “fixed income” takes on a much more personal significance. Understanding how pensions, social security, and retirement savings are taxed will help enormously to ensure we make the most of the financial assets we’ve acquired over the years.


If you happen to have retired from a career as a tax expert or CPA, you will have smooth sailing, but what about the rest of us? The IRS publication Tax Guide for Seniors has 36 pages of instructions! Do you know the different rules regarding taxes charged on an IRA account versus a Roth IRA? What about your tax liability if you downsize and sell your home for more than you paid? Do you know how to calculate the benefits of taking Social Security at age 70 versus 62? Do you have a plan if you become unable to manage your own financial affairs? Perhaps the biggest question of all: How much retirement income will you need?


Retirement planning should begin decades before you leave the workforce. Many will open an IRA (individual retirement account) or 401(k) with the goal of providing income for retirement. What are the advantages to each of the IRA plans? Hint: It concerns when the contributions are taxed—while you are working versus after you are retired.


A 401(k) is a tax-advantaged plan offered by an employer. The employer typically contributes to an employee’s 401(k). Both IRA and 401(k) contributions are invested to produce more retirement income over the years. Again, the specific type of plan will determine whether pre-tax or after-tax contributions are used. 


For many of us, hiring a pro to help us navigate retirement planning and the transition to retirement makes sense. These professionals include estate planners, CPAs, or accounting firms. You may think of a financial advisor as someone who just gives advice on investments, but these professionals can also help determine what you will need for retirement income and advise you on how and when to spend down savings. Tax advice can be invaluable.


Fortunately, seniors do get certain tax advantages. Those older than 65 get a larger standard deduction on federal income taxes. Some or all of your social security income may be tax-free, depending upon your total income. Some states give tax relief on social security income or real estate taxes. You may benefit from assistance with these tricky computations.


The threshold for filing federal income tax also increases for those older than 65. The threshold for filing for a single person under 65 is $12,950.00; for those over 65, it is $14,700.00. The threshold for married, filing jointly, increases similarly.


Exceeding the standard deduction can be more challenging after retirement. If you choose to itemize, be aware of all the possible deductions. IRS allows deductions on long-term care insurance, which increase with age. Non-reimbursed long-term care services can also qualify as medical expenses.


Last year, we could deduct up to $600.00 in charitable contributions, in addition to the standard deduction, without itemizing. On 2022 returns, charitable giving can only be claimed if we’re itemizing. Professional advice may be needed regarding charitable giving to determine the best tax advantage.


Seniors who meet certain criteria may qualify for the Elderly and Disabled tax credit. For example, if you and your spouse are 65 or older, and are married, filing jointly, you may be eligible for the credit if your adjusted gross income does not exceed a specific limit. Those under 65 may qualify if they are totally disabled and meet the income limitations.


Retirees often downsize, selling their home for considerable profit. Many are exempt from paying taxes on the profit, based on the dollar amount and the length of time they lived in the home. Even if you don’t qualify for an exemption, the profit is taxed at a lower (capital gains) rate.


Estate and gift taxes are another category that likely will benefit from professional advice. There are annual limits on the dollar value of gifts to another person to avoid taxing the donor. If one’s estate is quite large, one may avoid estate tax upon death by gifting now, within the limits, to reduce the total value of one’s estate.


Retirees often have a little business or hobby on the side. The key to reporting income is whether it is done for a profit. Certain criteria determine if one must report such income.


Good planning means taking advantage of every tax break! Find a professional to help you through it. 


Sources for this article included:,, and

By Linda Barnes
Seasons of Life

Peak Performance

CBD for Health

Broad Benefits, Narrow Risks

Have you noticed the new CBD shops opening throughout Omaha, Lincoln, and the state? While these stores may be new, the lure of CBD is not. Health food stores and other companies have been selling CBD products in Nebraska for many years. 


Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural medicinal agent gaining traction as a potential treatment for various medical conditions. CBD has long been associated with pain management. Preliminary research has shown that CBD offsets anxiety and depression. It ameliorates PTSD symptoms and has been successfully used to treat opioid addiction. Patients with ALS and Parkinson’s disease have found that CBD helps calm muscle spasms. Cancer and MS patients use CBD to alleviate pain. CBD can inhibit arthritis symptoms, protect against neurological disease, and ease complications from diabetes. The anti-seizure medication Epidiolex contains CBD and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat epilepsy.


Marijuana and hemp are both derived from the cannabis plant. The ingredient in marijuana that produces a “high” is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Hemp is defined as any part of the cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3 percent THC (a barely measurable trace amount that is not enough to produce a high). Hemp is currently a legal product according to federal law, though some states list it as a controlled substance. State laws also determine who can grow, process, and sell hemp and hemp-based products. As a result, CBD and other hemp-derived products may not be legal in all states.


There are three types of CBD. Full-spectrum CBD is derived from non-hemp portions of the cannabis plant but will contain less than 0.3 percent THC. Broad-spectrum CBD is derived from hemp and non-hemp sections of the plant and does not contain any traces of THC. CBD isolate is the purest form, derived from hemp. All three types of CBD are available in various forms, including capsules, oils, topicals, edibles, and vape juices.


The potency of CBD varies by product and company, but there are three main levels: 300 mg, 600 mg, and 1,000 mg. The 300-mg level is half as strong as 600 mg; 1,000 mg is the most potent. However, the milligrams listed on the label refer to the entire bottle, not a dose. This is where many consumers need clarification when selecting CBD products. A package of 300-mg CBD gummies in a 15-mL bottle will be twice as potent as the 300-mg gummies in a 30-mL bottle. Staff members at your local store should be happy to guide you to the potency that you want. 


One of the reasons for CBD’s popularity is its limited side effects. It is known to be very well tolerated, with dry mouth, drowsiness, reduced appetite, and diarrhea being the most common side effects. However, CBD can interfere with the effectiveness of certain medications. If you are taking medication, particularly blood thinners, you should consult your doctor before using CBD products. 


Certain people should avoid using CBD. Pregnant and nursing women should be aware that there is insufficient research to determine whether CBD is transferred to the fetus or the baby through breast milk. CBD could negatively affect children whose brains are still developing; parents should immediately contact the poison control center for assistance if children consume CBD products without a doctor’s recommendation. 


The use of CBD products is becoming increasingly popular, but there is still a lack of regulation within the industry. With no governing body, the safety of CBD products cannot be guaranteed, and there is a potential for products to contain inaccurate labeling or less-than-pure CBD. Additionally, there is a risk that consumers might inadvertently purchase THC-containing products if a business sells both CBD and THC products. Precautions must be taken when purchasing CBD products to ensure the safety and accuracy of the products.


One way a consumer can verify the safety of a CBD product is to check its COA (Certificate of Analysis). The COA is found by scanning the QR code on the product’s label or website. It is a report from a verified laboratory that details the potency of the CBD product and whether it contains any pesticides, mold, or other harmful ingredients. 


While the FDA doesn’t regulate CBD products, they do issue warning letters to companies that make false claims about their products. All warning letters are public information. You can search the website for the company’s name before you purchase its products.


While CBD’s benefits are wide, it is still important to verify the product to ensure your safety and consult your doctor to ensure it doesn’t adversely affect any of your other medications. 


Sources for this article included:,,, and 

By Charlene Pierce
Peak Performance

Auto Wise

Auto Collision Repair

A Crash Course


Statistics show that 77 percent of drivers have been in at least one accident. If you have had the misfortunate of taking a vehicle in for body repairs lately, you may have noticed that the wait is longer to get it repaired and the final invoice is bigger than you expected. The pandemic has caused problems for companies everywhere, and the semi-conductor chips needed to operate modern vehicles are in short supply as automobile manufacturers try to catch up with demand. As individual consumers, we can’t do much about that, but we can lower our stress levels after an accident by being prepared! 


So, it happens…you were trying to drive up an icy hill and your most trusted vehicle turned sideways and ran right into another car. Now what? First things first. You file a police report and contact your insurance company. Your insurance company will give you all the information you need to get things going with the adjuster. Once they get the claim started, they work on all necessary documentation. 


Now, you start the journey of finding a repair shop. Your insurance company can help with this, but keep in mind that you are allowed to have your automobile repaired wherever you choose. Talk to friends and relatives who have used repair shops locally and find out if they were happy with the end result. It’s best to get three estimates. As you are visiting repair shops, look around at how they keep their shops and how organized and clean they look. 


Another tip when looking for a body repair shop is to ask questions about the repair process. A reputable shop will be more than happy to explain to you the repair process and break down the estimate. If a repair shop seems reticent to do so, you should move on. Prepare for some revelations that the repair costs may be more than you think. 


Why is collision repair so costly? When you take a car in for collision repair, it may not be immediately apparent how much work it actually needs. You may just see a dent in your car, but the repair company may need to remove several parts to get to the problem at hand. It depends on how deeply the collision may have damaged other components of the vehicle. 


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


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


Another high-ticket item is the cost of waste disposal. Auto body shops generate several types of potentially hazardous waste. Those can include oil-based and solvent-based paints, coatings, other solvents, non-empty containers, paint filters, anti-freeze, dirty rags, and used oil. Different shops calculate environmental charges in different ways; some may apply a standard charge to every customer while others charge customers for the specific waste items their vehicles produced. Feel free to ask your technician how the environmental charge is calculated. 


One way that body shops can keep costs down is with a process called paintless dent repair, which is more eco-friendly and cheaper than traditional repair methods. Paintless repair is what it sounds like: repairing a dent without having to repaint. Technicians use special tools that apply pressure to the back side of the dent to bring the surface back to its initial condition. 


Your automobile technician will assess the damage and decide whether your car can be repaired in this way. Things like the size, depth, and location of the dent each play a part in determining which technique to use. If it turns out that your automobile can be fixed this way, you are in luck! Although insurance companies will often cover paintless dent repair, it often turns out to cost less than your deductible, so you might be wise not to make a claim. 


Hopefully, you will never need body repair work, but it’s likely that you will someday. When you do, choose your repair shop wisely for best results. 


Sources for this article included:,, and  

By Linda Sutherland
Auto Wise

The Good Life

Cosmetic Dentistry

Achieve Your Best Smile

A smile is one of the first things we notice about people we meet. Are you happy with your smile? Or are discolored, damaged, or missing teeth keeping your lips tightly closed? If you want a smile that shines, you can take advantage of options to repair teeth, enhance your smile, and improve your self-confidence. 


Cosmetic dentistry often brings to mind procedures such as teeth whitening or veneers. However, in addition to aesthetics, many procedures improve the health and functionality of teeth. These procedures include dental bonding, dentures, bridges, implants, inlays and overlays, and dental crowns.


Teeth whitening is a popular and minimally invasive cosmetic treatment. Although home systems are available, professional in-office teeth whitening offers additional benefits. Mouth trays are custom-fitted, stronger whitening solutions are used, gums are protected, and results can be seen in one office visit. Additionally, a dentist can address issues that may arise during whitening, including tooth sensitivity. Professional treatments last one year or longer, depending upon the care of teeth and regular maintenance.


Porcelain veneers help teeth that are discolored, misshapen, or fractured. They may also help with gaps between teeth or when tooth whitening is not an option. A small amount of tooth enamel is removed and multiple thin ceramic layers are placed on teeth. Because of the materials used, veneers resist coffee, tea, and smoke stains. The process generally takes three to four weeks and can last 10 years or longer.  


Dental bonding repairs broken or chipped teeth, camouflages discoloration, and helps with gaps between teeth. A tooth-colored, composite resin bonding material is applied, molded, and smoothed to create the desired shape. A special light cures the resin, bonding it to the tooth’s surface. The process is completed with additional shaping and polishing to create a natural look. Dental bonding takes 30 to 60 minutes per tooth and lasts between three and 10 years.


Replacing missing teeth is essential for chewing food, supporting facial muscles, and improving speech. Solutions include dentures and implants. Dentures are removable prosthetic teeth with natural-looking gums held in place with an adhesive. Complete dentures replace all teeth on the upper or lower jaw, and partial dentures replace a few. This process takes eight to 12 weeks and usually lasts five to 10 years. 


A dental bridge can replace a missing tooth (or teeth). Also known as false teeth, bridges are removable. Typically, a bridge has a crown on the two teeth on either side of a gap. These anchoring teeth may be natural or implants. A false tooth, or teeth, attaches to the crowns to fill the void. Dental bridges can be made of metal, porcelain fused to metal, or ceramic. A bridge requires at least two appointments and lasts five to seven years.  


Dental implants include a screw-like implant capped with a crown. There must be enough bone to support the implant (bone grafts may be required). The process takes several months. A titanium post is implanted into the jawbone and acts as a prosthetic root. Over two or three months, the post heals and fuses with the jawbone. An abutment is placed into the screw, and a dental crown is placed on the abutment to complete the process. The implant can last a lifetime; the crown lasts 10 to 15 years with proper care.


Dental fillings are materials used to repair decayed, cracked, broken, or worn teeth. Indirect fillings, called inlays and onlays, are used when there is not enough tooth structure to hold a filling but the tooth is not damaged enough for a crown. An inlay lies entirely in the pits and grooves of a tooth’s chewing surface. Onlays are more extensive and cover one or more cusps. This procedure takes two visits and can last up to 30 years. 


Dental crowns can cover weak, worn, distorted, or discolored teeth. They also cover teeth with a root canal, hold dental bridges in place, and cover dental implants. Tooth-shaped caps are placed over teeth to restore their strength and appearance. Crowns may be made of metal, porcelain, resin, or ceramic. This process typically takes two dental visits and lasts five to 15 years. 


You may be wondering if dental insurance covers cosmetic dentistry procedures. Insurance coverage varies widely; some plans may partially cover the cost of dental fillings, crowns, bridges, and dentures that are considered medically necessary. Check with your plan to see what procedures are covered; this may impact your treatment choice.


Cosmetic dentistry procedures offer more than an improved appearance; they also provide oral health benefits for healthier, stronger teeth. You’ll achieve a smile that you will be proud to share with those around you. 


Sources for this article included:,,, and

By Angella Arndt
The Good Life

Great Escapes

Romantic Getaways

Your Next Dream Spot


Right about now, you may be thinking of a warm place for you and your loved one to get away from it all. I like cuddling by a fire as much as the next gal, but sometimes the chill of a midwestern winter makes me dream of running away to sunny skies and beautiful beaches. I thought I would give you a sample of some romantic holidays you can take this season. Some of these are my old haunts, and others are still on my list to visit!


Sometimes, there’s just no way to beat an all-inclusive resort experience. I would love to visit one of Sandals’ adults-only resorts. The idea of just me and my husband enjoying the luxury beachfront properties, playing in and on the ocean, eating gourmet food, listening to live music, and relaxing for spa treatments…this is all right up our alley. The diving and golf are just gravy. With 17 award-winning resorts, deciding which one to visit is perhaps the hardest part! 


One of the most impressive properties I have stayed at during my travel writing career is the high-end Le Blanc Spa Resort in Cancun. It was the first time I had a butler! It was also the first time I went to an adults-only resort. I love children, but I was amazed by how quiet and peaceful it was without them around. Gazing out at the tranquil turquoise ocean from the bathtub in my room was pretty amazing. It is impossible not to enjoy yourself here. I look forward to checking out their Los Cabos property one day.


Many couples would love to take a romantic trip to northern California’s wine country. Just 30 miles north of San Francisco, nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Redwoods, Sonoma County has over 425 wineries to choose from. 


A short drive 50 miles northeast of Frisco brings you to the popular and well-known Napa Valley. Napa has over 400 wineries and 90 urban tasting rooms. I have heard wonderful things about Meadowood and their spa, so it is also at the top of my list to visit.


Realistically, you should really only visit two or three wineries per day, so both counties have way more than you will ever get to see. The easiest way to decide is to book a tour. Stay at an oceanfront property or vineyard B&B. Go glamping or stay at a castle or even in a treehouse. Whatever your idea of romance is, your travel agent will find the perfect place for your romantic trip to the wine country.


The Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Arizona, was another impressive stay for me and my husband. This is the perfect place for nature lovers. They have so many outdoor activities you can do if you choose to, including stargazing, mountain biking, hiking, and swimming. Imagine being in the water, surrounded by stunning red rocks and a clear blue sky, and then as you go underwater, you hear music! They have everything covered when it comes to enjoying yourself there—they even drive you to your pool casita in a golf cart.


If you really want to be secluded for a romantic holiday, have your travel agent book you an entire private island! It may sound outlandish, but it’s much more affordable than you would expect. The private islands of Georgia are as close as a 15-minute boat ride from the coast. What could be more romantic than a secluded island with just the two of you?


I promised warm-weather fun, but let’s not forget our readers who love a winter vacation! If you enjoy visiting hot springs and wide-open spaces, look into staying at the Brush Creek Ranch in Saratoga, Wyoming. Their Romance Package covers it all. Amazing winter activities await you: skiing down a private mountain, horseback riding or snowmobiling through Medicine Bow National Forest, and other immersive experiences. Go with your partner to Wyoming, where you can get away from it all.


For snow and spa lovers, I recommend going to Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa any chance you get! They have one of my favorite spas in the world. After a day on the slopes or cross-country skiing their trails, what better way to relax than with a soak in the hot tub or a rest in the aromatherapy room, followed by a massage and a steam? Talk about being pampered! Definitely book a couple’s room and enjoy the beautiful views of the ranch from your own private cabin. Things will definitely heat up for you there!


I hope these suggestions help you to find your next dream destination to make memories. 


Sources for this article included:,, and

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

By Jackie Williams
Great Escapes

The Green Thumb

The Gift of Flowers

Always Appropriate, Always Appreciated


No matter what the occasion, nothing communicates deep feelings more than the gift of flowers. Whether it is affection, love, sympathy, romance, regret, or “just because,” flowers say it all. In fact, you could say that no human tradition is more effective at communicating emotion quite as well as the gift of flowers. 


We often give flowers to connect with others, and it reflects on both the giver and the recipient in a unique way. The tradition of giving the gift of flowers can be traced back at least to the ancient Greeks, who brought floral offerings to their temples to honor their gods. As time went on, this tradition extended into giving flowers to more, shall we say, earthly goddesses. 


Flowers play a role in so many important life events. For instance, we all know the tradition of throwing the wedding bouquet. That particular tradition started in England, when unmarried women would try to rip off pieces of the bride’s gown or flowers to gain good luck. (Really? They ripped the bridal gown? Ladies, please!) This good luck, of course, was supposed to mean that they would be the next to be married. Eventually, to avert a wedding dress rampage, a new tradition was born: the bride would throw her bouquet into her adoring crowd, and whoever caught it would be married next. This tradition is still with us, as is the tradition of respecting the dress. 


The idea that different flowers had specific meanings grew in popularity in France and England in the first decades of the 19th century. A flurry of books published during this time claimed to translate the language of flowers, known as floriography. It became the secret language of flowers during the Victorian Era. 


We are apt to associate high-society Victorians with tight-laced propriety, living in a time when passion and desire were not communicated as casually as they are today. It is not a surprise, then, that Victorians decided on flowers as a great way to communicate their desire without saying anything at all. This was a wildly popular way for a suitor to express his feelings. The type of flower, the color, and the arrangement of said flowers signified many different things. Thus, the intentional selection and arrangement of flowers allowed the giver to send a message without uttering a word. The language of flowers became a favorite way for the upper classes to send thinly veiled messages of sentiment to one another. 


The meaning of flowers has also featured in literature. Centuries before the Victorian popularity of floriography, Shakespeare was including flower references in his plays. Charlotte Bronte’s Victorian character Jane Eyre uses flowers to portray a message of hope. Across the pond, American poet Emily Dickinson used flowers many times to express feelings in her poems. I could go on, but you get the idea.


There have been religious implications attached to flowers, also. The lily indicates chastity, humility, and purity. Columbine signifies the victory of life over death, and white tulips showed the Holy Spirit and forgiveness. In Chinese folklore, magnolias were the flower of royalty and a symbol of beauty. 


Combinations of different flowers and colors are still a lovely and meaningful way to send sentiment to someone. Since Valentine’s Day is almost upon us, I will give you a few expressive meanings of flowers today. Perhaps they will get your gift ideas flowing!


Of course, we cannot escape the meaning of red flowers. They symbolize passion, love, and affection. The color of red flowers also can be connected to power and vigor. Purple flowers can represent success and admiration. White flowers often indicate purity, innocence, and honesty. In Western cultures, it is common to feature white flowers at weddings and also to celebrate a birth. In Chinese culture, however, white is associated with death and mourning. 


Back to romance! No flower says “I love you” better than the red rose. A dozen red roses is a popular choice, but it’s not the only significant number. Did you know that if you receive 33 roses, it signifies that the giver will love you forever? Seven roses in a bouquet signifies luck. Just in case some of us need forgiveness this Valentine’s Day: Yellow roses express a sincere apology. 


What is the rarest color of rose? That would be the blue rose. I have never seen one in real life, but I can imagine how mysterious and mesmerizing they must be. (Also, you might have to acquire a bank loan to get them in a bouquet.) There is nothing more iconic than giving roses on Valentine’s Day. I am guessing we will always be willing to pay the price. 

By Linda Sutherland
The Green Thumb

Cuddly Critters

Dog or Cat Ownership

Privileges and Responsibilities

Owning a pet, whether canine or feline, requires you to be responsible. You are in charge of your pet’s health and happiness. Properly caring for a cat’s or dog’s needs will gain you a loyal, loving, and healthy pet.


If you have a dog or are deciding whether you can manage the time and financial commitment of dog ownership, start with understanding the basic needs of this living creature entrusted to your care. All dogs need fresh water and food and some regular exercise daily. They need a daily routine that they can count on. They need a comfortable place to sleep, some toys, and affection from their owners. (Don’t worry—they’ll return that affection to you tenfold!)


You need to do some basic research to determine which breeds of dog are best suited to your lifestyle. I have heard many complaints from a friend whose elderly parents just got a new spaniel puppy. The time and effort to train the pup, and the energy it takes to give it proper exercise, is beyond their abilities at their advanced age. Consider what your family likes to do and match the dog breed to your activity level and home. 


Once you know which dog you want, you need a veterinarian who will help you keep your pet healthy. Vets can counsel you on the best types of food, toys, and exercise for your pet. One of the most important things a vet provides your dog is vaccinations. Some are required by law; some are important protection for your family as well as your pet. Mosquitoes can carry heartworm disease, which can be fatal to dogs. Luckily, heartworm prevention is available. Fleas can infest your house and make both your pet and your family miserable. Your vet can guide you to the best flea and tick protection for your pet. 


Your dog’s need for daily exercise can also benefits its owners! If you get into the habit of taking a daily walk, you may see benefits like lower blood pressure, decreased stress levels, and a trimmer figure. The bond you and your dog have is strengthened by walking together. The joy dogs show when the leash comes out is a reward in itself!


If you choose feline over canine, you can expect to address the same basic needs. On a daily basis, cats need food, fresh water, shelter, and a place to sleep. Cats are usually more independent than dogs and may not seem as overtly affectionate. Because cats use an indoor litter box, they can be left on their own without supervision for longer periods of time, which may be a better fit for people who work long hours and wouldn’t be able to make it home for dog walks. The recommended number of litter boxes is one for each cat, plus one box more overall. Litter boxes should be cleaned daily. 


Cats need to scratch. They do this to mark their territory, to express emotion, to remove the dead parts of their claws, and to stretch. To protect your furniture, get a scratching post (or more than one). Cats will also need exercise, though their needs are different from dogs. If you have toys they can chase around the house, they may get enough exercise that way. 


Consider carefully whether or not to allow your cat the freedom to roam outdoors. Cats can easily fall victim to other animals (wild animals or neighbors’ pets) or careless drivers. I have a neighbor who takes her cat for daily walks, no leash needed. She perches the cat on her shoulder and they tour the neighborhood. Other people do have success training cats to a leash for outdoor time. Supervising your cat in a well-fenced yard is also an option.


You’ll need a veterinarian to tend to your cat’s medical needs and vaccinations. They can also guide you to appropriate food and toys, as well as grooming needs. Cats need more or less grooming depending on their breed. Grooming is one way that cats show affection for each other, and they will likely interpret grooming from you as affection, as well. 


Even indoor pets are better protected with microchipping. Your vet places a tiny chip under your pet’s skin. It holds your contact information. If your pet is ever lost, someone can take it to a nearby animal shelter or vet’s office, where the staff will read the chip and get in touch with you. 


Responsible pet ownership can bring great satisfaction to you and to your pet! Take advice from your trusted vet about your pet’s needs and get rewarded with a lovable, loyal pet. 


Sources for this article included:,, and 

By Jackie Byers
Cuddly Critters

Positive Perspective

I’m Not the Problem!

Playing the Blame Game


How often do we find ourselves blaming others for our own misfortunes? Who do we blame? God? The government? Society? Our parents, spouses, children, siblings, or friends?


“Blame is the world’s excuse.” —David R. Hawkins, MD, PhD


My husband, Manny, and I frequently have deep and lengthy conversations. Years ago, he shared with me that when we place blame on others, we point fingers: one finger points at the person we’re blaming, three fingers point directly back at us, and the last finger is pointing at the problem. The conclusion that Manny and I have drawn is that blame generally feels better than guilt.


“When we blame, we give away our power.” —Greg Anderson


When we give away our power to someone else, we become vulnerable, weak, depressed, stuck, confused, lost, doubtful, and hurt. We feel trapped in our own misery because we do not want to face the ugly truth about the problem…or about ourselves.


“Blaming others is nothing more than excusing yourself.”  —Robin S. Sharman


If we are constantly blaming someone else, then we cannot progress or mature. We can’t become wiser or find peace. There is nothing that we can do to feel better in our own skin because we have avoided looking inward. When we blame others, we let ourselves off the hook. We will never be able to find the solution to the TRUE problem.


“Most of the blaming…is a desperate attachment cry, a protest against disconnection….” —Sue Johnson


So, why do we do it? According to psychologists, blaming others is a psychological projection. It is a defense mechanism. When we use others as our scapegoats, we are protecting our own hearts. We fool ourselves into believing we are not the problem. Blaming others gives us the belief of self-satisfaction. 


“Stop the blame game. Stop! Stop looking out the window and look in the mirror!” —Eric Thomas


Grab your power back. Make a decision to own your life…the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Look inside yourself, stop pointing fingers, and find the solution to the true problem. Is it painful? Absolutely. Does it take time and patience? Longer than any of us would like. If we make the decision to look inside ourselves, to fix our own lives, and to look at the true problem, we will emerge on the other side as happier, healthier people. We can be better for ourselves, for those we love, and for those who love us. We can even change the world, one person at a time. 

Best of all?

“If you own this story, you get to write the ending.” —Brené Brown 

By Janet Van deWalle
Positive Perspective
bottom of page