Comfort, Style, Wearability…
It’s All on Trend!
Don’t you love that first crisp morning in the fall when you can start thinking cozy and cool? The changing of the seasons is something we love here in Nebraska. This fall’s fashion brings back some of our favorite ’80s vibes, along with tweaking some of our ongoing popular trends. I have put together a must-have fall list for 2023 that works for all ages and sizes. Some of these items may already be in your closet, hiding in the back and waiting their turn to re-enter mainstream fashion! Here’s their chance to get back into your everyday rotation.
1. Satin. We have loved the look of satin for years but have hesitated to indulge in it because it stains easily and must be dry cleaned. Thankfully, fabric gurus have come up with fabric blends that look exactly like satin but are washable and do not stain as easily. The colors of this amazing fabric are non-stop gorgeous this year. Satin has a drapey quality that flatters everyone, a softness that is so comfy, and an expensive and luxurious look. You may be surprised by how much you will wear a satin top! It is great for work. Try it under a blazer, with a leather jacket, or with jeans and boots for an urban vibe. A simple button-down long-sleeved satin shirt could be fabulous for the holidays. Wear it with a maxi skirt and chunky gold jewelry.
2. Loose Pants. Looser pants are very much on trend this season. We love the easy fit and flow of loose pants. With the variety of styles and cuts, you may need to try on several to find your perfect flattering fit. The easiest fit is the high-waisted pant with a straight leg. You can’t go wrong with this comfy, slimming style. For perfect style and comfort, see if you can find a pair of pants that have a tailored flat front with elastic just in the back! For a more dramatic look, wider legs are very chic. Some are so wide they look like skirts. If it is a more polished look you’re after, I love sewn down pleats around the waistline. They’re great for hiding a little tummy, too.
3. Tailored White Shirt. I know this sounds so simple, but there is nothing more elegant than a classic, button-down white shirt. Preppy is big for 2023, and the basic start of this look is the simple white shirt. It works layered under a crew neck sweater as well as under a denim or leather jacket. You can style it several ways. Button it up all the way to the top for the ultimate preppy vibe. For a more laid-back look, undo the top two buttons…or unbutton more and show a peek of a satin tank underneath. A shiny gold chain under the shirt also adds a bit of sparkle to your style. You can experiment with the untucked or half-tucked looks, or even tie the ends of a white shirt for variety.
4. Double Denim. This is the year to finally find the perfect fit jeans. Maybe you have shied away from jeans before because you think they are hard to wear. This year offers so many options, and they are all in style! I love the fact that most jeans have some stretch in them, making them more comfortable than ever. The high waistlines that are on trend now are also the most comfortable I have ever worn. Denim worn with denim is so cute! Look for a denim maxi skirt and pair it with your denim jacket for the ultimate double denim look.
5. Cropped Jackets. Jackets this past year have been fashioned somewhat oversized, and that cut is still going strong. New this year, however, is the cropped jacket, adding a modern edge to your look. It’s perfect with the high-rise pants we love and is a great opportunity to layer. If you want a fun look, try combining the cropped denim jacket and tailored white shirt with your favorite jeans.
6. Matching Tops and Bottoms. We were introduced to this look several seasons ago, and it is still going strong. Matching dresses and coats, two-piece suited pant sets, double denim, or two-piece leather outfits are all in vogue. Matching sets give you the opportunity to show off the chunky gold necklace and earring styles that are so popular this year.
This season’s autumn fashion seems to focus on wearability, sustainability, and comfort. Who can argue with that philosophy? Fall brings us the beauty of bluer skies, cooler temperatures, and a changing landscape of color, along with opportunities to refresh our closet and our positive outlook.
Editor’s Note: Holly has been in the fashion industry for over 30 years as a buyer, boutique store owner, visual merchandiser, and fashion show producer. She is currently the owner of a modeling agency. Holly regularly appears on local TV doing fashion segments.
By Holly Bell
Fall Walks and Chilly Days—Let’s Eat!
Game Day Apple Dip
Mix an 8-ounce package of softened cream cheese with 2/3 cup of brown sugar and a dash of vanilla. Spread onto a serving plate, drizzle with warmed caramel sauce, and then sprinkle with a package of toffee-chocolate baking bits. Serve with cut apples, salty crackers, graham cracker sticks, or vanilla wafers.
Roasted Autumn Root Vegetables
Melt 1 stick of butter, 1/4 cup of maple syrup, and salt and pepper as desired. Peel, seed, and cube 1 small butternut squash, 2 turnips, 2 parsnips, 2 sweet potatoes, and 2 carrots (or any other root vegetables). Put the vegetables in a roasting pan and pour the butter mixture over the veggies to coat. Cover and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Fry 2 pounds of ground chuck or ground beef until cooked through. Drain the grease. Put the meat into a slow cooker or large pot. Add 1/2 of an onion (chopped), 2 cloves of minced garlic, 2 Tablespoons of sugar, 1/2 cup of ketchup, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of mustard. Stir. Pour in 1 bottle of chili sauce (or as much as you want). Cook on low for 3–4 hours. Serve on lightly toasted potato buns (or other buns).
Quick Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Shred a cooked rotisserie chicken. Chop up the meat and heat in a large skillet with 2 Teaspoons of peanut (or any) oil. Add 3 chopped green onions, 1/2 of a carrot (chopped), 1 clove of minced garlic, and 1 stalk of celery (chopped). Stir for 3–4 minutes. Add bottled Hoisin sauce (or any stir fry sauce) until you like the consistency. Serve in washed lettuce cups, over rice, or inside warmed tortillas.
Football Day Leftover Brisket Chili
Fry 1 pound of ground chuck and drain the fat. Put the meat into a slow cooker, along with chopped up pieces of leftover brisket. Add 1 can of tomato juice or V-8, 1 chopped onion, 1/2 of a chopped green pepper (or a can of Ro-Tel), and 3 cans of the beans of your choice: pinto, butter, red kidney, or pork and beans. Add beef broth or more tomato juice if you want it juicier. Mix together 1 teaspoon of chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon of cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon of oregano, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, and salt and pepper as desired (or add a ready-made chili packet envelope). Add spices and stir. Cook on low for 6 hours. Serve with chopped onion, grated cheeses, sour cream, hot dogs, and buns.
Slow Cooker Ham Sammies
Put 1–2 pounds of sliced deli ham (pit, brown sugar, whatever you like) in a slow cooker. In a bowl, mix 1 cup of ketchup, 1/4 cup of chopped onion, 1/4 cup of chopped peppers, 1/3 cup of brown sugar, 2 Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, and 1 Tablespoon of yellow or ground mustard. Mix well and pour over the ham. Stir once or twice to coat. Cover and cook on low for 2–3 hours. Serve on warmed rolls or hoagie buns.
Overnight Pork in the Oven
Put a 3-4 pound pork butt in a roasting pan or large baking skillet. Sprinkle generously with 1 Tablespoon of kosher salt and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Mix together 2 Tablespoons of maple syrup, 1/3 cup of brown sugar, 1 Tablespoon of Dijon, 1 teaspoon of thyme, 1/8 teaspoon of ground chipotle or chili powder, and 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper. Rub this mixture all over the meat. Put several garlic cloves and a chopped onion in the pan (add a bit of oil to the skillet). Heat at 475 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 200 degrees and roast for 6 hours or overnight. Shred and serve or refrigerate and warm in slow cooker. Serve on a kaiser roll with coleslaw. BBQ sauce or aioli optional.
Slow Cooker Shredded Barbacoa Beef
Cut a 3-pound chuck roast into 4 pieces. Season with salt and pepper and sear the pieces in 1 Tablespoon of oil until browned. Put the meat in a slow cooker. In a bowl, blend 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin, 1 Tablespoon of dried oregano, and 1/3 teaspoon of ground cloves. Sprinkle the mixture over the beef, adding salt and pepper as you like. Add a small can of chipotle chilies, 1–2 cups of beef broth, and 5 cloves of garlic. Mix together. Add 2 bay leaves and a sliced onion on top. Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove the beef, shred with 2 forks, and put it back into the cooker. Squeeze in the juice of half of a lime and stir. Serve on rolls, toasted bread, tortillas, or nachos. Top with your favorite cheese.
Soft Pumpkin Cookies
Mix one stick of soft butter with 1/2 cup of vegetable oil. Blend in 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin, 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 2 large eggs (room temperature). Mix together 4 cups of flour, 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix well.
Scoop by tablespoons onto a prepared cookie sheet, flattening dough balls slightly. Bake for 9–10 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool on rack. Make a glaze by mixing 3 cups of powdered sugar, 4 Tablespoons of milk, and 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. Makes 3–4 dozen cookies.
Peel, core, and chop 9–10 cups of any fall apples. Mix with 1 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Pour into a large baking dish and sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon of flour. Add 1/2 cup of water. In another bowl, mix 1 cup of quick oats with 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda. Mix well. Pour in 1 stick of melted butter, mix it up a bit, and sprinkle over the apple mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes until bubbly. Serve with ice cream. Refrigerate leftovers.
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
Libra September 23 – October 22
Change is a common theme across the zodiac this month. Open your heart to this feeling and your inner being will lead you through wonderful life changes. Your thinking is going through a growth process. Remember that growth can include struggle but will also take you where you need to go.
Scorpio (Oct. 22 – Nov. 21) High energy will be in your favor. Focus on the little jobs that have been hanging over your head. Once you complete those, you will find yourself ahead of the game, which is a nice place to be!
Sagittarius (Nov. 21 – Dec. 21) Focus on what you wish to accomplish in October. This would be a good time to write down your immediate goals to help keep you from getting sidetracked along the way. The more you set eyes on your goals, the more likely you are to meet them!
Capricorn (Dec. 21 – Jan. 19) Be practical, and steer clear of unnecessary things. You are about to make a serious advancement in the area of your career. Keep your eyes and ears open so a golden opportunity does not slip by unnoticed.
Aquarius (Jan. 19 – Feb.19) You must concentrate and direct your energy to get things done. Don’t focus on the big picture right now. If you focus on one or two tasks, the outcomes will be marvelous.
Pisces (Feb. 19 – Mar. 21) In October, you will want to change things, to make your situation (social, family, professional) evolve. Focus on dialogue and take a step toward the other person to discuss the subject, but don’t be too forceful. Stay open and warm in your communication.
Aries (Mar. 21 – Apr. 20) You tend to be independent, but working with others can be beneficial this month. This will help you avoid unnecessary conflicts that will only waste your valuable time and energy. Others will appreciate your positive disposition and follow your lead.
Taurus (Apr. 20 – May 21) Pay close attention when you are feeling a particular way about something, and follow through with what your feelings are telling you. More often than not, your hunches will prove themselves right.
Gemini (May 21 – Jun. 21) This is the month to sort out family problems. You will find that others may be much more agreeable to working out differences now that some time has elapsed. Celebrate a friend who has brought you happiness recently. Show your appreciation!
Cancer (Jun. 21 – Jul. 23) You have strong opinions, but don’t push them as law. If there are disagreements within the family, don’t be pulled in. Let others work it out.
Leo (Jul. 23 – Aug. 23) Change is the theme for Leo this month. Share with a friend and discuss your feelings about the change you are going through. Don’t overspend this month; you will feel the stress later. People admire you for your character, not your purse.
Virgo (Aug. 23 – Sep. 23) This month, take stock of the balance in your life. Have a couple of important things fallen by the wayside? If so, now is the time to correct this.
A Woman's Work
Let’s Make It Fun!
Believe it or not, it is not too early to contemplate the annual ritual of holiday shopping. For many, this task is a dreaded one…and the bulk of it often falls to the woman of the household. Let’s discover how to make this experience more enjoyable and more successful.
In the early 1980s, I lived in Germany, assigned to the military through the American Red Cross. Not being home for the holidays was difficult, and international mail compounded the problem. If Christmas gifts were not sent before Thanksgiving week, there was no chance they would arrive in time in the United States. This time restriction actually made me a better shopper—to this day, I am usually done with shopping by the last Thursday in November. Read on to hear how I get it done!
Listen. Families and friends often talk about wanting something or needing a particular item. This can be as simple as someone wishing they had another corkscrew or an extra iPhone cord. Write this information down! Buy the gift while you are still thinking about it; of course, keep the receipt. People will be surprised and pleased that you remembered.
Shop early. I buy things the day after Christmas because there are huge sales. This is not just for wrapping paper! Many toys are longtime standards that any child would want, and toys can be up to 70 percent off. Do you have anyone who would appreciate a wreath or other holiday decoration? This is the time to buy; all you have to do is hide it in the closet.
Hunt for collectors. I have several friends who collect things. I make it a game to find an unusual item for that collection. I go to flea markets, attic sales, and thrift stores to see what I can find. It becomes like a scavenger hunt! For example, do you have someone on your gift list who was in the military? I have a friend who was, and he loves when I find him Army memorabilia.
Take advantage of sales. Monitor sales on items for others. Many teenagers like clothes or electronic accessories, and they can be costly. Taking advantage of sales can help. Make sure you know sizes (talk to their moms), and always keep the receipt. End-of-the-season bargains can always be found, especially for sports fans. Remember to keep the receipt and confirm the return policy.
Consider gift cards. Just because it’s a gift card doesn’t mean it has to be impersonal! I have friends in New Hampshire and when I visit, we often go out to dinner. When the holidays come around, I call a couple of those restaurants and purchase a local gift card to include in their seasonal greetings. Many restaurants will give you additional gift cards if you purchase over a certain amount at their establishment. (Promotions like these often roll around during graduation season and the winter holidays.) Be savvy and know what’s possible. Navigating the technology path for gamers on your list can be tricky, and you don’t want to get it wrong. When in doubt, give them a gift card—just ask their parents which gaming system they use!
Select edible gifts. Many food vendors, wineries, and specialty stores offer gift boxes or baskets. If friends like a special wine or cheese, this can make a wonderful seasonal gift. Make purchasing the wine an adventure for yourself by visiting a local winery and getting a couple of the local vintage bottles. Investigate shops that will package candies, cheeses, fruit, and other delectable delights. Selections of dried fruits, cheese trays, cookie boxes, and imported chocolates are all possibilities.
Get creative. I have a niece who is especially creative when it comes to gift baskets. The key to this gift is tailoring it to what is going on in the recipient’s life. If a teenager got a car this year, put together items they might need for the auto, like ice scraper, gas card, Armor All, hand vacuum, and air freshener. If a friend has done work on their home, do a room box. For example, new towels, fragrant soaps, and matching accessories can all be packaged for the bathroom. If kids are into sports, create some fun. My great nephew loves golf, so we put together golf gloves, balls, towel, tees, water bottle, and more. Maybe your aunt loves a certain author or a certain genre of stories. Seek out paperbacks and pair them with coffee or tea or other refreshments. Your local bookstore can provide recommendations.
The holidays are coming soon. Make this year’s shopping an adventure! It will be more fun for you and for the people on your list!
By Deborah Daley
Get Back to a Healthy Lifestyle!
More than 35 million Americans (adults and children) undergo chiropractic treatment every year. Why are chiropractors so popular in 2023? One answer is that around 50 percent of adults in the United States have tried non-invasive treatments such as chiropractic care with success, and they’re spreading the word. Chiropractic treatments relieve pain in the body, the brain, and the nervous system.
The brain stem is a bundle of nerve tissue that connects to your spine. Since the brain and spinal cord is the pathway for the body’s nervous system, messages from the brain to the body and from the body to the brain happen all day long. That’s likely why feel-good hormones such as endorphins are released when a chiropractor makes an adjustment.
It’s common to think that a chiropractor only treats sports injuries or performs spinal manipulation. That’s true, but there’s much more. Chiropractors tap into our natural healing force, a non-drug intervention done case by case with a focus on the whole person.
The Mayo Clinic describes chiropractic adjustment as “a procedure in which trained specialists (chiropractors) use their hands or a small instrument to apply a controlled, sudden force to a spinal joint. The goal of this procedure, also known as spinal manipulation, is to improve your body’s physical function. Chiropractic adjustment is safe when it’s performed by someone trained and licensed to deliver chiropractic care.”
Neuromusculoskeletal health is one focus. However, diet, nutrition, and exercise are equally important for most chiropractors who are developing treatment plans. Using mostly natural remedies, chiropractors often treat general wellness, from boosting brain activity to addressing pregnancy challenges and everything in between.
The list of conditions potentially improved by chiropractic care is vast. It includes neurological issues, allergies, migraines, ligaments, joints, digestive disorders, sciatica, and back pain. Let’s examine how these specialized professionals can help improve general health and lifestyle, what different methods are used, what’s tried and true, and what’s new.
The educational requirements for chiropractors are extensive. They include earning a Doctor of Chiropractic degree, passing a series of exams from the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners, and gaining a license to practice in their desired state. Education requires four years of undergraduate study, followed by four to five additional years of study in areas like pharmacology and studies related to the human body.
One of the differences between a medical doctor and a chiropractor is that chiropractors do not prescribe medicines or perform surgery. Some chiropractors successfully specialize in food-based, plant-based supplements and nutrition to help balance out what ails you. Chiropractors often use basic philosophies that incorporate balance and structure. They believe that the body self-regulates to preserve health.
Testimonials reveal that the majority of patients feel better after their chiropractor visit. Like any type of treatment, it’s not for everyone. Proceed with caution if you have severe osteoporosis, cancer in your spine, increased stroke risk, or abnormalities in the upper neck.
What should you expect during a visit to the chiropractor? Typically, expect to lie face down on a padded table while the chiropractor applies hands-on force (nothing painful) to a joint, safely pushing beyond normal ranges. You might hear a snap, crackle, or pop, but that’s expected during adjustments. Depending on the specific adjustment, body position varies. Soft tissue techniques using instruments or hands help to manipulate muscle, fascia, tendons, and ligaments like a massage, which helps to break down scar tissue and improve mobility.
Continued treatments are often effective for chronic lower back pain, headaches, and neck pain. Expect your chiropractor to evaluate posture (maybe taking x-rays), discuss symptoms, and suggest at-home stretches, exercises, and nutrition choices. Arms, legs, and feet get adjustments just as much as the spine. Low-voltage electrical current instruments help stimulate nerves (in a good way) and reduce pain. Expect an in-office treatment plan, too.
Let’s look closer at the chiropractic method called NUCCA (after the National Cervical Chiropractic Association). Nucca.org explains that “when the cranio-cervical junction (head and neck) is injured, the NUCCA process works to reduce interference to the nervous system using a precise, gentle, non-invasive spinal adjusting technique. Aided by x-rays of the head and neck, along with mathematical measurement analysis, NUCCA doctors are able to establish a misalignment pattern unique to every person.”
There’s no twisting, cracking, or popping with this technique, just a gentle touch on the first vertebrae in the neck, designed to restore balance in the spine. NUCCA also helps alleviate the symptoms of asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, ear and sinus infections, vertigo, fibromyalgia, headaches, and even mood swings and menopause. NUCCA and chiropractic care are also safe for kids!
Upper cervical adjustments done by a NUCCA chiropractor feel like a light, comfortable pressure behind the ear. It’s non-invasive, as are most chiropractic adjustments, and no adverse reactions have been reported to young patients. In fact, there is no minimum age for any chiropractic care, including newborns.
Most practices report safe benefits to newborns within the first few weeks after birth. (Waiting a few weeks allows a newborn time to develop muscle and the ability to hold their head up.) Chiropractors often treat babies challenged with gas reflux or colic, and they help calm young nervous systems along with proper spine alignment. The normal curves of the spine develop from birth to around age three years, so adjustments carry great value for babies and toddlers!
Chiropractic care and NUCCA are also compatible with pregnancies, for both mom and baby. Pregnant women often carry an extra 25 pounds or more. Abdominal muscles weaken and the lower back curve accentuates, either of which may cause pain. Chiropractic treatment can help alleviate this pain. Chiropractors can also help with nausea during pregnancy, reduce the length of time in labor, and focus on postpartum pain. If the baby is in a breech position, a chiropractor can also work on pelvic alignment to decrease intrauterine constraint and reposition the baby, allowing more room for the baby’s head to face down.
A treatment method called the Gonstead technique restores balance within the nervous system by using exact adjustments to specific areas of the spinal column, pelvis, and extremities (hands and feet). This hands-on method studies pain-causing factors, is skillfully precise, and increases mobility for more natural movement, reduced joint pain, and less stiffness. Patients usually find some relief from a misaligned spine vertebra (subluxation). Headaches, neck pain, tenderness, and inflammation often occur with subluxation, and pressure on the nerve roots within the spine can undermine the function of nerve signals between the body and brain. Gonstead helps! Ask your chiropractor what technique or method works best for your specific symptoms.
Chiropractic studies show that treatments can help restore the nervous system’s ability to channel communication between brain and body. That means more brain activity and improved performance in the prefrontal cortex of the brain (the frontal lobe). This part of the brain regulates our thoughts, emotions, and actions. If communication signals improve, the brain’s reasoning, problem-solving, motor control, memory, and creativity all have more capacity to improve! Hello, chiropractic adjustments; good-bye, brain fog!
A chiropractor uses a range of advanced techniques to treat neurological conditions like concussions, headaches, and dizziness and can also introduce neuromuscular re-education exercises that help stimulate balance, visual and hearing challenges, and cognitive exercises. Soft tissue manipulation, spine decompression, and other treatments alleviate pressure in the nervous system. Benefits include improved sleep, more energy, and reduced depression and anxiety. Even eating disorders can be addressed with chiropractic care. Nerve damage treatments might include cold laser therapy and therapeutic ultrasound. Chiropractors also help manage symptoms from neuropathy (numbness, tingling, nerve pain) with customized adjustments, spinal decompression, ultrasound, and infrared light.
Chiropractic treatment helps overall health and improves quality of life in many areas. (Many chiropractors are also licensed to perform acupuncture—be sure to ask!) Whether they’re addressing neck pain, resetting a sports injury, or knocking out your allergies, a chiropractor’s primary goal is to help relieve your pain and arm you with information to manage your health conditions at home. Spinal manipulation changes the biomechanics and postures that other pain treatments may only mask. Visit your chiropractic specialist and get back to your best life, no matter your age. Your body and brain will thank you!
Sources for this article included: mayoclinic.org, forbes.com, nucca.org, and goodbody.com.
By Janette Calabro
A Feast for the Eyes
Cosmetic Eye Enhancements
Most women spend an average of 55 minutes per day applying makeup, with 17 of those minutes dedicated to the eye area. If you skipped that routine, what would you do with those extra minutes? Eye enhancement procedures offer us that freedom.
Permanent eye enhancements such as eyeliner and brow treatments are convenient, maintenance-free alternatives to conventional makeup and can last for years with proper care and occasional touch-ups. Other techniques such as microblading, threading, waxing, lash lifts, and extensions require more frequent touch-ups but are also time-saving options. Surgical eyelid lifts address drooping and puffiness. All of these techniques help define the eye area, creating the illusion of larger, brighter, more prominent and youthful eyes.
Permanent makeup tattooing involves tiny needles and rotary pen-like devices used by licensed aestheticians or other trained professionals to insert pigment into the skin. The pigment is tapped into the skin with a small instrument that resembles a utility knife but has needles instead of a blade. You can opt for soft colors or a bolder look to line your eyes, define your brow, or add shade to your eyelid.
Eyeliner is a popular permanent makeup choice. We all know how difficult it can be to get that perfect outline with a liquid or pencil liner. With permanent eyeliner, we can choose a bold or natural look. A procedure known as “tightlining” adds pigment between the layers of lashes to darken the lash line. It looks very natural. The procedure takes between one and two hours, and you should avoid applying eye makeup for a week afterwards.
Many ladies opt for eyelash extensions to match their permanent eyeliner. Lash extensions can be natural or synthetic. Natural fibers such as mink, sable, or silk look very realistic, but synthetic lashes may be a better choice for allergy sufferers. Eyelash extensions are offered in a wide variety of lengths, curls, and fans. It’s important to make sure that your technician uses a medical-grade glue with no formaldehyde.
The initial application of eyelash extensions takes about two hours, and touch-ups are required every couple of weeks, depending on how quickly your natural lashes shed. To extend the life of your lashes, avoid using oil-based eye products, cream-based eyeliners, and waterproof mascaras, which can be difficult to take off even under normal circumstances.
If you don’t want the extra weight of lash extensions, consider a lash lift. For this treatment, a technician curls your lashes with a curling rod, then sets the curl with a chemical solution. Think of it as a perm for your lashes. No extra lashes are added on; the effect comes from lifting your lashes from the root. The lift lasts about six weeks, and you should wait 24 hours to apply mascara.
To achieve a perfect brow, some of us turn to tweezers, pencils, or both. Microblading can give you an impeccably shaped brow. A trained technician draws in eyebrows using a tiny blade that creates slices in the skin and deposits pigment. Individuals who have undergone treatments resulting in hair loss often take advantage of microblading. Touch-ups are recommended every one or two years.
Eyebrow threading is an ancient procedure that is still used today. Threading is performed by an aesthetician using a double-stranded cotton thread. The thread is twisted around a single hair or an entire row of hairs, then the hair is pulled out from the root. It is less painful than tweezing and requires only monthly touch-ups.
Waxing is a quick way to remove eyebrow hair. A warm or cold wax is spread over the hairs that need removing. A paper-like or cloth-like strip is then pressed onto the waxed area and ripped off, taking the unwanted hairs with it. Only the hairs that have been covered by the wax are removed, allowing the stylist to help you achieve the perfect brow shape. The procedure is usually repeated every six to eight weeks.
As our skin ages, it gradually loses elasticity. This, combined with the pull of gravity, causes excess skin to collect on our upper and lower eyelids, resulting in drooping, puffiness, and wrinkles. A significantly droopy eyelid can even impact vision. Eye lift surgery, known as blepharoplasty, removes that excess skin, redefining the shape of the eye. It can be performed on the upper or lower eyelid (or both) by a plastic surgeon specializing in facial procedures. Insurance will typically not cover the cost if the purpose of the surgery is cosmetic only, but it’s become one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in the United States.
To keep your bright-eyed look, visit your favorite salon or consult a specialist today.
Sources for this article included: hopkinsmedicine.org, healthline.com, and my.clevelandclinic.org.
By Loretta McCollum
Why Be Normal?
Embrace Your Superpower
“The things that make us different, those are our superpowers.” —Lena Waithe
When I first read this quote, I stopped dead in my tracks. What a wonderful concept. Our differences from other people on our planet are what give us our superpowers.
“So you’re a little weird? Work it! A little different? OWN it! Better to be a nerd than one of the herd!” —Mandy Hale
I remember the first time I realized that I wanted to be “just like everyone else.” Sixth grade. I had transferred to a new school district. I didn’t know anyone. These kids, by the way, were really different from the kids I had gone to school with my whole life. First problem? I was the tallest one in the class…including all the boys. Second problem? Most of them had been in the same school together their whole lives! It was the first time in my life that I felt like I didn’t fit in.
What to do? Well, first I went crying home to Mom. After all, my parents had brought this upon me! My dear mother listened and consoled me. She then looked me in the eyes and told me that I was strong enough to be myself. That I was strong enough not to change who I was just to fit in. That I was a good person with a heart of gold. She suggested that I open my eyes, get out of my own self-pity, and see if there was someone else who looked like me…LOST!
“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” —Henry David Thoreau
The next day at school, I took a deep breath and walked up to a girl who looked even more scared than I did. She was in the same situation I was in, but she had moved from a whole other state. My heart of gold kicked in and we became best buddies. She was a little odd. I was a little odd. But guess what? When I got out of my own drama, listened to my mom, and dug down to my own superpower, things changed.
“You make everyone around you feel seen. That is your superpower.”—Unknown
This was really a turning point. I realized that I may not be like everyone else, but that I do have a superpower…just like everyone else. What is your superpower?
“While the rest of the world is trying to be ‘normal,’ break out, hold out, and delight them with the unique gift of you.”—Sam Akbar
By Janet Van deWalle
Kids and the Art of Conversation
Many people today seem to avoid “live” conversations. Instead of talking to each other, they “talk” via FaceTime or Zoom, or by texting or messaging, leaving out anyone else in the vicinity. It reminds me of passing notes in school, only these days kids use technology to slyly relay a missive to the intended recipient.
In many cases, technology presents a major distraction. At school, the teacher can limit technology to laptops with a “no phones allowed” dictum. Parents might require “no technology (including television) during dinner.” Limiting the use of technology in public is more difficult...and it’s not just kids who communicate using technology to join (or avoid) socialization.
Technology can create “blindness” or “deafness” to what is happening in the physical space you actually inhabit. We’ve all seen people who are so engrossed in technology that they’re oblivious to what’s going on or being said around them. I’ve often answered someone I thought was talking to me, only to discover they’re talking to someone else through earbuds. We’ve all experienced “convenient deafness” when not particularly interested in a topic, only to be caught when asked a question. Being social means being involved! It’s common courtesy.
And that doesn’t even cover the safety issues inherent in distracted driving.
Kids are people, too, and they deserve the same courtesies we extend to friends. Don’t talk AT kids or TO kids…that’s just a lecture. Talk WITH them, instead. Ask their opinion and listen to their answer. Note their facial expressions and body language. Help them learn to express themselves. If you don’t understand what they’re saying, say so. Say, “I hear you saying this,” and repeat what they said but in your own words. “Am I right?” Listen to their explanation.
People are often experts at masking their real feelings and inabilities. “I don’t like doing that,” may mean “I don’t know how to do that,” or “That makes me feel dumb.” Be interested. Kids need to know it’s okay to ask questions, to share impressions, to not understand. That’s just being human.
Once, when the Grands were visiting, a storm knocked out the power. No TV. No computer. No radio. No lights! What to do? I put a battery-operated lantern on the table, got out some board games and a couple decks of cards, and told the Grands, “We each have a choice. Since we can only do one thing at a time, we’ll cooperate and take turns.” Because of the power outage, we were forced to unplug. We had a good time.
Now, when I visit them and their mother, we still spend at least one night playing games. They’re young adults now, so the dynamic is a little different…they’re more competitive. Still, we’re just people having a good time together. Unplugged.
Editor’s Note: Marge has three children, two grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews. She holds advanced degrees in education. Her life’s mission is to teach everyone that kids are people, too.
By Marge Shoemaker, BS, MS
Interiors By Design
Modern Window Treatments
Inspiring Ideas to Refresh Your Interiors
If you’re looking to update your home or just make it feel more cozy, dramatic, or chic, window treatments might be the answer. While window treatments serve the very practical purposes of light control, privacy, and energy efficiency, a perfectly selected treatment also adds style, personality, and sophistication to a space. We spend so much time selecting furnishings, paint color, and décor to enhance our homes, but we often don’t give the same consideration to window treatments. We should!
Begin the process by figuring out what you need from window treatments in a specific space. Different rooms have different needs at different times of the day, and determining these needs is vital. Perhaps you need both versatile light control and privacy in a bedroom that doubles as an office during the day. Perhaps you want to create a visual statement as part of your overall design plan. Going through this exercise ensures that you identify your needs first and then select the optimum window treatment to address those needs.
A growing design trend that addresses differing needs is layering window treatments. It’s easy to pull off this look by installing woven or wooden shades underneath drapery or by layering draperies. An added benefit of layering is that it makes both the window and the room appear larger. Drapes hung high and wide open up a space, while the shade or blind hanging inside the window frame adds stylish texture as well as privacy and light control. As temperatures continue to rise, layering thermal blackout window coverings beneath drapes has become increasingly popular because of their ability to help regulate room temperature.
While enhancing the functionality of windows is important, one of the greatest benefits of window treatments is the beauty and style they add to a space. Window treatments are a relatively easy way to add a splash of color and personality. The style and texture of window dressings can change the whole mood of a room by impacting the light, atmosphere, and even the temperature of a space!
Consider the aesthetic you’re trying to create. Modern spaces with clean lines and a minimalist aesthetic call for streamlined window treatments. Shades and roller blinds are a great match for these spaces. Roman shades can be a beautiful choice for traditional spaces, as well! Give them a more traditional feel with inset or edge banding. This custom option adds a contrasting fabric or ribbon a few inches inside the shade or along the edge and brings a bit more definition and formality.
A leading design trend in window treatments is the use of natural and environmentally friendly materials. Natural materials such as wood, bamboo, and hemp are becoming more popular because they are sustainable and biodegradable and because they add an organic vibe to a room. Among today’s most popular window treatments, matchstick shades offer stylish texture and natural warmth to your window design. Wooden plantation shutters are a classic choice that add style and function to any space, increase the value of your home, and provide excellent insulation. In addition, they’re easy to clean and won’t fade like fabric shades.
Faux wood blinds remain the most popular window treatment because of their practicality, durability, and timeless look. Faux wood blinds are made with a PVC coating, making them a great choice for humid areas like bathrooms. Top down, bottom up shades are a great choice for rooms where you want privacy but still want to let in the light and enjoy the view. These versatile shades can be raised up from the bottom, lowered from the top, or both at once.
For energy efficiency, cellular shades are the way to go. With their crisp pleats and honeycomb-shaped cells, cellular shades offer superior insulation and light control. Available in a spectrum of colors and fabrics, cellular shades come in a variety of lift systems for easy use, making these shades a top choice for both practicality and aesthetics. A motorized option adds ease of operation and eliminates any additional hardware that can detract from the elegant lines of a window. Motorized features are a great solution for hard-to-reach areas like skylights, and they add a touch of luxury in bedrooms.
When considering window treatments, have some fun playing with how different options can add to a room. Interior designers and window treatment retailers are experts at finding the ideal solution for both your needs and your design tastes. They love taking clients’ ideas and making them a reality. Sitting down and talking to a designer is the best way to discover how quality customized window treatments will add that special touch to your home.
Sources for this article included: houzz.com, hgtv.com, and architecturaldigest.com.
By Robyn V. Powell
Home Water Systems
Raise a Glass to Clean Water!
In the United States, most of our drinking water comes from rivers, lakes, or ground water aquifers. Unfortunately, both the ground and surface water sources we use to pump water into our homes are vulnerable to contaminants.
These contaminants can include things such as industrial and agricultural runoff, human and animal waste, byproducts of water treatment and distribution, or even natural ground contaminants. Exposure to chemical contaminants can cause things like skin discoloration, nervous system or organ damage, negative developmental or reproductive effects, or even cancer. Organic contaminants aren’t any better and can contain disease-carrying microbes, which are especially concerning for any immunocompromised members of your household.
The solution is simple: filtration! That’s where home water systems come in. These systems can filter out harmful contaminants, reduce limescale and mineral buildup in your shower and sink, and even improve the taste of your drinking water. There are several different water systems currently on the market, but some of the most popular are reverse osmosis systems, cation exchange systems (water softeners), activated carbon systems, sediment filtration, UV systems, hydrogen water systems, and bottled water systems.
Reverse osmosis systems, one of the most comprehensive water filtration systems you can buy for your home, are considered by some to be the gold standard. Using air pressure to force water through a semi-permeable membrane, reverse osmosis systems will filter out 99 percent of contaminants. They’re designed to be a whole-house system and are typically installed in a central location where they can provide filtered water to every faucet in your home.
Cation exchange systems, also commonly known as water softeners, are also whole-house systems. They are most useful for homes located in areas where local water has been contaminated by heavy earth metals such as barium, calcium, and magnesium, which can make your water taste bad and negatively affect your health. Cation systems use positively charged ions to attract the metals and minerals, removing them from your water.
Activated carbon systems, on the other hand, are much smaller and comparatively inexpensive. They’re usually installed at the point of delivery, such as on your faucet, in your refrigerator, or in a water pitcher, and their filters need to be changed out every few months. Activated carbon is good at removing chemicals and contaminants that are associated with making the tap water smell or taste bad.
Sediment filtration is great for homes that draw water from wells or other sources with large contaminant particles, such as dirt, rust, sand, and the like. They can filter water at a fairly high capacity and are relatively inexpensive. Since they don’t filter smaller particles or chemicals, they’re often used in conjunction with a secondary filter.
UV filtration systems use ultraviolet light to kill bacteria in the water. They are very effective at disinfecting water, but they don’t provide any physical filtration. Therefore, they would need to be used in conjunction with another type of system to filter out any chemicals or particulate matter.
Hydrogen water purifiers are machines that start by using reverse osmosis or other filtration to remove contaminants from the water and then add hydrogen gas to the water. This has all the same benefits as the primary filtration system, with the addition of providing your home with hydrogen-rich water, which is purported to increase the antioxidant content and benefits.
Last, but not least, we consider bottled water. This is not so much a filtering system as a delivery method of filtered water. Bottled water can be installed in water cooler dispensers, which cool the bottled water with simple electric refrigeration. You can also just buy bottled water by the gallon, liter, pint, and so on.
There are a number of ways to determine which water filtration system is best for you and your home. Obviously, you’ll want to factor in things like how much you want to spend on your system up front and over time, as well as how much you like (or dislike) the way your water tastes and smells when it comes straight from your tap. You can also have your water tested for harder-to-detect contaminants. The CDC recommends contacting your local health department, who can help explain any tests and results to you, as well as checking out your local water company’s annual Consumer Confidence Report.
Whether you choose to install a state-of-the-art whole-house filtration system or just buy a simple filter pitcher, the most important thing about water filtration is that you and your family get clean, healthy water that you want to drink!
Sources for this article included: epa.gov, teamenoch.com, aquasureusa.com, pentair.com, ebiopure.com, and cdc.gov.
By Anne Yankus
To Your Good Health
Don’t Settle For Achy Joints
Are your touchy knees keeping you from playing golf? Maybe that sore shoulder means you turn down tennis dates with friends. Do your joints complain every time you get out of bed in the morning? Don’t resign yourself to a life of aches and pains from overused joints. Joint replacement surgery might put a spring back in your step! In fact, you may be surprised by how many of your friends are staying active because of joint replacement.
As people age, joint pain from old injuries or simple wear and tear can reach a point when medical intervention is needed to relieve the pain. As baby boomers age, the number of joint replacement surgeries soars—these seniors make up 40 percent of joint replacement patients in the United States.
The main causes of joint issues that lead to joint replacement surgery are obesity and osteoarthritis. Other people may need a joint replaced due to wear and tear or an injury. Hips and knees are the most commonly replaced joints. Ankles, shoulders, wrists, and elbows can also be replaced.
When it comes to hip replacements, the three common types are total hip (most common), partial hip, or hip resurfacing. The more common surgical method for a total hip replacement is from the back (posterior approach). Less common is the anterior approach (from the front), also called the muscle-sparing method. The anterior approach has the faster recovery time. Anyone planning a hip replacement should discuss the type of surgery needed and learn which method the surgeon will use.
Most knee replacement surgeries are either a full knee replacement (most common) or a partial knee replacement. A full replacement removes bone that has been damaged by arthritis. The surgery involves cutting near the thigh bone (femur), shin bone (tibia), and knee cap (patella). A partial replacement removes only the damaged area. Fewer patients qualify for a partial replacement.
For a shoulder replacement, the type of joint damage will determine the best replacement option. Options include an anatomic total replacement (ball and socket are replaced), a reverse total replacement (ball and socket are replaced but their positions are switched so the shoulder is powered by different muscles), or a partial replacement (only the ball of the joint is replaced). Common reasons a shoulder needs to be replaced are osteoarthritis, rotator cuff injuries, fractures, or rheumatoid arthritis.
Unlike many types of surgery, most orthopedic surgeries require rehabilitation or physical therapy after the procedure. Physical therapy is crucial to help minimize stiffness and to help restore motion to the joint. Rehabilitation can last a few weeks or several months. The full recovery time for any orthopedic surgery, whether it is on the knee, shoulder, or other joint, takes several weeks or months.
If a recovering patient is unable to safely get around using an assistive device like a walker, cannot get in and out of a chair, or does not have any help at home, they should plan to spend time in a short-term skilled nursing facility. Skilled care provides the extra help and care orthopedic patients need for a few days or weeks before they can safely finish recovering at home. Most orthopedic patients are able to resume normal daily activities within six weeks, but it may take four to six months to fully recover.
The materials used in a joint replacement need to be strong to take the place of the bone, cartilage, or tendons that nature provided. The materials used for joint replacement include titanium or cobalt-chromium metal, very strong plastic, and ceramic or ceramic/metal mixtures. Most joint replacements last 10 to 15 years, so some patients may need a second replacement surgery later in life.
Since orthopedic surgery often requires a lengthy recovery time, surgery is rarely the first line of treatment. When someone comes to an orthopedic office with joint pain, they will likely undergo injections into the joint for pain relief that can last several months. Other new options include cold injections to freeze nerves around an injured knee; these are being used as a treatment for osteoarthritis in patients who do not qualify for joint replacement or do not wish to have replacement surgery. A new and exciting option for some patients is stem cell therapy.
Joint replacement may be unavoidable, but you can take some action to keep your joints healthy. Maintain proper posture when sitting, standing, and walking; make sure your work space is ergonomically designed; maintain a healthy weight; do low-impact, muscle-strengthening exercises; and eat an anti-inflammatory diet.
Don’t settle for sitting on the sidelines. Schedule an orthopedic appointment today and get back to an active life!
Sources for this article included: hss.edu, mayoclinic.org, orthoinfo.aaos.org, cdc.gov, and piedmont.org.
By Leslie Byrne
Focus On Finance
How Many Baskets Is Too Many?
When I was just a wee bit of a lad, I recall my parents telling me not to put all my eggs in one basket. I don’t remember the exact circumstances of my parents’ advice, but I do remember the admonition. It’s good advice, when properly applied. Everyday life is full of risks, and it is prudent to take steps to manage them. The corollary to this approach is that if you do put all your eggs in one basket, you should pay very close attention to that basket.
For years, Wall Street has been advising us to heed our parents’ advice when managing our money. In their jargon, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” translates to “diversify your investments.” This makes sense in the macro context, but the devil is in the details. Does diversification mean buying two stocks instead of one? Buying 20 instead of 10? Including both stock and bonds in your portfolio? The list goes on and on.
In today’s electronic markets, Wall Street brokers and independent investment advisors rely heavily on the use of automated programs to manage their clients’ portfolios. These programs replace humans with computers in the role of money manager, hence the term “robo” account. The benefit to the investment professionals who rely on robo accounts is that it allows them to manage money in an environment where their job description also includes such time-consuming activities as retirement planning and tax planning. The downside is a reduction of human input and client interaction.
Another side effect of this methodology is that it has resulted in brokers and investment advisors over-diversifying their clients’ accounts. It is not unusual to find robo accounts that include as many as 20 to 25 different mutual fund positions. These mutual funds run the gamut from large-cap stocks to small-cap stocks, from real estate to commodities to international funds and, occasionally, such things as coal mining stocks.
Is there such a thing as enough diversification (or too much)? Academics will tell you that when you own 20 stocks or more, you have achieved all of the risk reduction advantages that are possible to achieve. When you own 20 to 25 mutual funds, there is a high probability that you own the same stocks in five to 10 different mutual funds. That’s not a major negative, but it is a waste of effort or expense.
When you peel back the onion of many robo accounts, you will find that large percentages of the holdings are the traditional blue chip style of mutual funds. These types often constitute 60 to 70 percent of the total portfolio. At the bottom end of the spectrum, you will find esoteric mutual funds that focus on stocks that pay high dividends or represent small industrial sectors of the economy. It is not uncommon for these positions to constitute less than one percent of the total portfolio. Should one of these extremely small holdings increase by 20 percent or more, the impact on the value of the portfolio is less than one percent. This raises the question: Why bother?
The alternative to the robo accounts are the 40 million investors who manage their own accounts at one of the major internet brokers. Here, the approach is 100 percent hands-on. These accounts typically contain significantly fewer mutual funds than their robo cousins. The fund holdings tend to be concentrated in the mutual funds that represent the broad market, such as large cap stocks or index funds that mimic the S&P 500 or the Dow Jones Industrial Average. While the majority of these accounts make fewer than one or two trades per year, some are more active and make trades on a regular basis.
Investors who self-manage their accounts normally pay smaller fees than those who utilize the robo approach, since they are doing some of the work themselves. They recognize that the low cost associated with this approach requires more effort on their part, and they are willing to make that trade. Those who choose the robo approach usually have their money management fees wrapped in with the fees they pay for retirement and tax advice.
Do not assume that any of the above approaches is inherently right or wrong. Investing is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up someplace else.” The first step in selecting an investment program is to determine what you are trying to accomplish. Then, and only then, can you choose the solution that fits your skills and temperament.
Editor’s Note: George Morgan has five decades’ experience in all phases of the investment process. He is currently the Founder and Principal of Morgan Investor Education. His website is morganinvestoreducation.com.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investments may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing.
By George Morgan
Seasons of Life
Stay Independent at Home
Choose In-Home Care
How fortunate we are to have a variety of in-home services available, allowing us to remain at home and maintain a degree of independence even when we need a little extra help. Whether you’re recovering after an illness or injury or just need some assistance with everyday activities, in-home care can be a great option. Family and friends may be able to provide some non-medical help. With more serious challenges, trained professionals can provide medical care at home.
Varying levels of in-home care are based on need. Non-medical services might include assistance with meal preparation, shopping, transportation, housekeeping, or laundry. Companionship is also beneficial for those living alone. These caregivers are required to meet training requirements in some states but not in others. Sometimes, it just takes a little assistance to continue living at home!
Home health aides bring expertise gained through additional training. The federal standard for HHAs is 75 hours of training. These caregivers check vital signs and observe a patient’s condition. They will assist with such things as toileting, bathing, and dressing. Some may help with housekeeping and preparing meals.
In some cases, a caregiver with more medical training is needed. Licensed nursing assistants (LNAs) and certified nursing assistants (CNAs) may report changes in a patient’s condition, set up medical equipment, and take vitals. They may assist with exercises, change dressings, and administer some treatments. CNAs may also assist with toileting, bathing, and other areas of personal care. They may help change bedding or prepare meals. A registered nurse (RN) or nurse practitioner (NP) directs their medical tasks. Federal standards have been established for nursing assistants whose work is overseen by an RN or NP.
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are trained to give direct medical care such as IVs, feeding tubes, injections, or wound care. Some LPNs have specialized training in occupational, physical, or speech therapy. RNs hold a nursing degree or associate’s degree in nursing and must pass national and state boards. Their duties include giving direct care, operating medical equipment, administering medications, and assisting doctors with medical procedures.
Hospice care is a specialized form of home health care reserved for terminally ill patients who have ceased curative treatment and are not expected to live longer than six months. Patients entering hospice care may have serious illnesses such as cancer, heart failure, or chronic lung disease. Many choose to remain at home, with health care providers coming to them, depending upon the level of care needed. The focus of hospice is on symptom and pain relief but may include physical and occupational therapy.
In some cases, a person who is recovering from surgery or an injury no longer requires hospitalization but is not quite ready to take care of themselves. They may require assistance with bathing and dressing or may not be able to handle cooking, cleaning, or doing laundry. Home health care can be the bridge they need to a full recovery.
Agencies providing in-home care maintain a staff with an array of qualifications and expertise. Agency caregivers have undergone background checks and have a range of experience. The back-up ability of an agency is valuable—when the designated caregiver is ill, a replacement can be arranged quickly. Having staff with a variety of qualifications means that caregiver adjustments can be made easily if a patient’s needs change.
For those over 65, Medicare will often pay for home health care if certain conditions are met. Medicare will likely cover intermittent skilled nursing. However, if you need 24-hour nursing on an ongoing basis, it might be wise to consider a skilled nursing facility where Medicare will pay.
Medicare is not likely to cover non-medical support unless it is considered necessary to improve one’s condition. However, in-home therapies (such as PT or OT) may be covered, along with durable medical equipment that is needed to treat one’s condition.
An important qualification for Medicare coverage for home health care is that one must be homebound. A doctor or other allowed practitioner must certify that a person should not leave the home because of their condition. Additionally, caregiver agencies must be Medicare-certified to be covered. Learn more at medicare.gov.
Those without Medicare can check with their medical insurance; some policies cover in-home care. Many of us prefer to recuperate at home after an illness or surgery! Plus, home care is believed to result in a faster recovery with fewer complications.
It is important to have familiar surroundings. Maintaining customary routines fosters a sense of normalcy that is conducive to healing. Choosing in-home care helps ease the burden on families, as well.
Sources for this article included: nurse.org, aginginplace.org, aarp.org, and medicare.org.
By Linda Barnes
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Regular Screening and Early Detection
Are you aware that breast cancer accounts for approximately 30 percent of new female cancer cases in the United States every year? The average risk of a woman developing breast cancer in the United States is around 13 percent. Fortunately, death rates for breast cancer have declined, due to increased awareness, regular screening, and improved treatments.
Breast cancer screening and early detection are essential for breast health. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer that is detected early, while in the localized stage, has a 5-year relative survival rate of 99 percent. Breast cancer screenings include monthly breast self-exams, regular clinical exams, and mammograms.
Monthly breast self-exams allow women to find changes in their breasts, like skin changes or new lumps. Women should immediately report these types of changes to their healthcare provider. Women should also receive a clinical breast exam during their annual physical. A screening mammogram is a low-dose breast x-ray. Although not infallible, a mammogram can find breast cancer early, sometimes several years before detection by you or your healthcare provider.
At what age and how often should you have a mammogram? American Cancer Society guidelines are based on a woman’s risk for breast cancer. Concerning mammograms, women are considered at average risk if they do not have a personal or strong family history of breast cancer, have not received chest radiation therapy before age 30, and do not have a genetic mutation that may increase the risk of breast cancer. Women with high risk factors include those who meet the conditions listed above, those with medical syndromes known to increase the risk of breast cancer, or those who have family members with one of the syndromes. In high-risk cases, an MRI may be done in addition to a mammogram.
Guidelines suggest that women at average risk between 40 and 44 years should discuss annual mammogram screening with their healthcare provider. Women between 45 and 54 should receive annual mammograms. Women 55 and older may continue to receive yearly mammograms or change to every other year, depending upon their situation. Women considered at high risk should receive an annual mammogram starting at age 30 or as directed by their healthcare provider.
Two types of mammograms are available: 2-D digital mammograms (tomosynthesis) and 3-D mammograms (digital tomosynthesis). Both procedures are performed the same way. The difference is that a 2-D digital mammogram uses two x-rays of each breast to create a 2-D image. The 3-D mammogram uses several x-rays from different angles to create a 3-D image. Studies have shown that 3-D mammograms find more cancers and reduce false positive results. However, not all insurance plans cover 3-D mammograms.
Breast cancer risks like personal or family health history and aging can’t be controlled, but there are several things you can do to help lower your risk. Maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, and drinking alcohol only in moderation contribute to overall health and reduce the risk of breast cancer. If you take oral contraceptives or are on hormone replacement therapy, discuss your risks with your provider. If possible, breastfeed children. If you have a family history of breast cancer or genetic mutations, ask your healthcare provider about ways to lower your risk.
Depending on the type and stage of the cancer, several treatment options are available. These options include surgery, radiation therapy, and systemic therapies such as chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted drugs, and immunotherapy. Sometimes, treatment may consist of surgery followed by radiation therapy or a combination of systemic therapy options.
Upon completion of treatment, your healthcare provider will develop a follow-up schedule for you. Follow-up care may include regular doctor visits, mammograms, pelvic exams, bone density tests, blood tests, and imaging tests. Additionally, your healthcare provider may recommend physical therapy to restore shoulder and arm mobility and strength.
Women who undergo a mastectomy as part of their breast cancer treatment may feel self-conscious about their post-surgical appearance, impacting their confidence and self-esteem. For those who want to restore their previous breast shape, options include reconstructive surgery (to restore a breast’s shape and size) and breast prostheses (artificial breast forms designed to fit inside a bra). Some women decide against reconstructive surgery or breast forms and decide to go flat. This is a highly personal decision; each woman must choose what is best for herself.
A healthy lifestyle, regular cancer screenings, and early detection are all great ways to increase your chances of a life free from breast cancer. Work with your healthcare provider to develop a personal health plan so you can live your healthiest breast life.
Sources for this article included: breastcancer.org, breastcancernow.org, cancer.org, and nationalbreastcancer.org.
By Angella Arndt
Leasing a Vehicle
Are You a Renter or an Owner?
I started leasing vehicles about 20 years ago, and I have never changed my mind about the advantages of leasing versus buying. For me, leasing is the only way to go! New-to-me car every few years? Yes, please! On the other hand, it’s important to note that leasing a vehicle is not for everyone. There are several factors to consider when you’re making your decision.
If you think of leasing a vehicle like renting an apartment, you understand the concept. When you sign a lease for an apartment, you sign it knowing that you are responsible for keeping the property in good condition while you’re living in it. The same goes for leasing a car—you say you will keep it in good shape while you’re using it and return it in essentially the same condition when the lease is up. Included in this agreement is making sure the vehicle is serviced on a routine schedule.
Vehicle leases often include a mileage restriction, which means you can only drive the car a certain number of miles per year. This mileage restriction turns some people off. In my experience, if you are using your leased car mostly for city driving, the restriction really isn’t that restrictive. If I want to take a road trip across the country, I rent a vehicle, and that pretty much keeps me in check as far as mileage goes. Because of mileage limitations, it is a good idea to get a feel for your driving patterns to determine if leasing is right for you.
Believe it or not, there is a good time and a bad time to sign a lease. Holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day often come with good deals on vehicle leases. Also, an excellent time to lease is during an “end of sales” period. That could include the end of a month or the end of a quarter. Salespeople may have an incentive to reach a specific quota, which motivates them to move more vehicles in a small amount of time. Another great time to lease is in December. Dealerships want to hit their yearly sales targets, so they are ready to deal.
Four factors determine the monthly payment for a lease: the number of miles agreed upon, the residual value (the probable value of the car at the end of the lease term), the capitalized cost (the down payment), and the money factor (basically like the interest rate for an auto loan). For me, the payment to lease is always less than the payment to buy, and that is a big plus!
The mileage is negotiated with your dealer and is generally 10,000–15,000 miles per year. The higher the mileage, the higher your monthly payment will be. The residual value is what you would pay to buy the car at the end of your lease. A high residual value means the car is expected to hold its value well and should depreciate less over the term of the lease. Less depreciation can translate into lower monthly payments.
Down payments are not always required on a lease, but they can make your monthly payments lower. The “money factor” is simply the finance charge added to your monthly payments.
Like so many things in life, the decision to lease a vehicle depends on your current circumstances. Lease payments are generally lower than loan payments, since you are only paying for the car’s depreciation and not the car itself. Leasing can also come with incentives and rebates—dealers love to offer package deals! Sometimes the leasing incentives can be bigger than the discounts or low-interest rates offered to consumers buying a car. On the other hand, if your regular passengers are likely to be messy (kids, dogs), it might be a struggle to return the car in the same condition.
You’ll have to pay fees and taxes whether you are buying or leasing. Dealer documentation fees can vary; state and local fees are collected and forwarded to the appropriate agencies. Bear in mind that these fees are not negotiable. Typically, the dealership will also want the first month’s lease payment at lease signing. In most states, taxes are paid only on a portion of the vehicle (the depreciation value during the lease.)
When the lease is up, you have three options: trade the car in for another leased vehicle, buy the car, or just return the car and walk away. I always schedule a pre-inspection a few weeks before my lease is up. If there is anything wrong with the vehicle, I have time to have it repaired before I have to turn it in.
Sources for this article included: popularmechanics.com, leaseend.com, and carmax.com.
By Linda Sutherland
The Good Life
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” This timeless lyric captures the feelings that many of us have about the winter holiday season. It’s a time of year when friends, families, and coworkers gather and connect. Holiday parties are a tradition of sharing warmth and happiness…but they don’t just happen! They take careful planning. If you’re planning a large-scale holiday party this year, for work or another organization, read on! Planning ahead can alleviate your stress and help you enjoy the party.
The first stop on your planning checklist is deciding how much you can spend. Take into account the cost of food, entertainment, and venue. Your budget will inform all the decisions to come.
The holidays are a busy time for celebrations, so you want to set your date and time as early as possible. You don’t want to conflict with major community events that some of your guests might also like to attend. The Omaha Chamber of Commerce and other community groups publish calendars so you can compare dates. Consider a weeknight event to avoid scheduling conflicts!
Next on the checklist is the venue. If you’re going off-campus, consider the usual suspects, like a hotel ballroom or restaurant banquet room. You might also consider something more unusual, like a warehouse, a complex clubhouse, or even a museum. An unusual location can add an additional “Wow!” factor to any gathering.
Venues that host many events may offer all-inclusive packages. When you select one of these packages, you’ll likely be blessed with an event-planning specialist to help with all the details, a customizable menu, and staff on site to help host the party. Decorations and entertainment equipment will also be included.
Consider whether the venue is large enough (or intimate enough) for the size of your group. Will the guest list be employees only, or are significant others included? If kids will be present, you need something for them to do. You can provide coloring sheets, crafts, photo booths, or other activities, as well as space for them to be creative.
Are tables and chairs provided? Does the venue provide all the party necessities, including linens, plates, silverware, and glasses, or will you need to rent these items from a party rental shop? What decorations are allowed?
If your venue doesn’t provide food, what are their requirements for bringing in food? If they do, what is the cost for the food and beverages provided? Can you pick your own menu, and can they accommodate dietary restrictions or preferences? Can you request a cash bar or an open bar (or something in between)?
One issue that hosts sometimes overlook is ample parking. Is it nearby? Will you need valets? Considering all these factors and exploring your venues months or even a year in advance will increase your chances of success.
When signing a contract for a holiday party, the key is to make sure all your terms are spelled out explicitly. Most large venues have their own event staff who specialize in standard contracting. Many venues require a large deposit up front to hold a date. Winter holiday events are subject to winter weather, so make sure the cancellation clause is clear. The penalty is usually a small percentage as long as you reschedule the event.
You already have an overarching theme to work with: holiday party. Now, bring it into focus. Winter wonderland? Elegant glitz? Ugly sweaters? Think about what best suits your company’s style and values. If you have a dress code in mind, be sure to let everyone know ahead of time.
Make sure your invitation is unique and tailored to the event. Printed, mailed invitations can be very special and are a great branding opportunity. Digital invitations can work for less formal events. Make sure your invitations are sent at least eight weeks in advance and include all details like date, time, location, what to wear, contact information, and an early RSVP date. You will likely need to give your venue a head count a week before the party.
The right entertainment is essential for a good party. Music is always a great starting point and is sometimes all you need. Consider the type of playlist you want based on the theme of your party. The choice of live music versus streaming likely depends on your budget.
The best advice for anyone planning a holiday part is: Don’t do it alone! A holiday event is a lot of work. Consider forming a team to help you. Choose a lead person for each item on your checklist and delegate the tasks. If your team doesn’t materialize, hire a party planner to help you get the job done.
Sources for this article included: simplycharmingsocials.com, theknot.com, and officelibations.com.
By Deborah Daley
Tips For Traveling
Be Ready To Go!
You have probably noticed that travel is back to pre-pandemic levels, bringing 2024 on track to exceed them. Even if you do not have dates or a destination yet, it is never too soon to get ready to travel. Waiting until the last minute to hop on a plane just doesn’t fly anymore!
When was the last time you checked your passport? Is it expired or less than a year from being expired? Time to get that baby renewed! Current costs are $165 for the application and acceptance fees for a first-timer’s passport book or $130 for renewing a passport book. Expect 10–13 weeks for processing…or pay an additional $60 to expedite the process. Need it faster? Use Priority Mail Express from USPS to send your application and documents. Then pay an additional $19.53 fee for 1–2 day delivery for them to return it to you faster.
If it’s actually an emergency, call the number on the State Department’s travel website (877-487-2778). They will give you very clear directions on what to do and what to fill out to apply for or renew your passport for family emergencies or urgent travel.
To apply in person, first book an appointment at your nearest post office. Go to USPS.com and click on the International tab; use their Online Scheduler to make a passport appointment. Prior to your appointment, print and complete the required forms, making copies of everything requested. Then head over to a drug store or office supply store where they can take and print out your passport photos. Bringing in the required paperwork, photos, and payment will make your appointment go smoothly—you’ll be in and out in about 10 minutes. If you are renewing your passport, you can do all of this by mail.
The next step is to prepare yourself to get through the airport faster. TSA PreCheck expedites your security screening—you can skip the long security lines and leave your shoes on, and your laptop and toiletries stay inside your luggage. Costs are $78 for new members and $70 for renewal. Both get you five years of TSA PreCheck membership.
To become a member, you can pre-enroll online and make an appointment for the in-person process, or you can walk in to an enrollment center without an appointment. Once you get your Known Traveler Number (KTN), you can provide it to your travel agent or use it when booking tickets. It will automatically give you the clearance for TSA PreCheck.
Another expedited security program is CLEAR. With this program, you go through their separately marked lines, scan your eyes or fingerprints and then your ticket, and you are escorted to the front of the security line. CLEAR lines can sometimes be faster than TSA PreCheck. They also can be found at various stadiums and arenas, so if you frequent the particular venues that have the CLEAR lines, that can be to your advantage. A CLEAR Plus membership costs $189 per year.
Several travel credit cards offer free memberships to Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, and CLEAR, so check your card’s benefits. It is important to note that not all airports have these lines and not all airlines are a part of these programs, so check ahead.
The best packing tip is to always pack light! Using only a carry-on and backpack can save you the hassle of extra luggage fees and the possibility of losing your luggage. Rolling your clothes is the most effective way to pack more into your bag while keeping items wrinkle-free. With the money you save not paying for checked luggage, you can utilize your hotel’s laundry service!
Wondering about immunizations? Whenever I am going out of the country, I consult the State Department’s travel website (travel.state.gov). Click on International Travel and then type in your destination to see what visas and vaccinations are needed, if any.
Many travelers are concerned with exchange rates, but I very rarely exchange currency. Many banks offer debit and credit cards with no foreign transaction fees or fees to use ATMS worldwide. Bring a few hundred dollars in cash. When you get to your destination airport, simply use a reputable bank’s ATM to withdraw local money. Aside from that, I use my credit cards as much as possible. Make sure your bank knows your travel plans ahead of time so they don’t flag your cards as stolen.
When you’re ready to plan your next trip, you’ll already have your passport in hand, your packing strategy planned, and your ticket to jump to the head of the security lines. All that’s left is deciding where to go!
Sources for this article included: usps.com, tsa.gov, clearme.com, and travel.state.gov.
Editor’s Note: Jackie has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her work has appeared in publications including Colorado Golf, Desert Golf, and Canadian Architecture & Design. Her blogs can be found at BoardandRide.com and the luxury and adventure travel website, ArtofTripping.com.
By Jackie Williams
The Green Thumb
Feeling High and Dry?
Enter the Amazing World of Succulents
Succulents are not just your grandma’s little cactus! Today’s succulents are the perfect solution for so many different circumstances. Succulents are defined as water-storing plants. They can go for long periods of time without additional watering or rainfall. Decorative succulents can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians, and they are enjoying a resurgence in popularity.
We in the Midwest may not know this, but the 2011 drought in California seems to have been a turning point for the recent revival of these delightful plants. People had to fill their gardens with something that was low maintenance and didn’t require much water—otherwise, everything eventually turned brown from the lack of moisture. Succulents were the perfect solution!
Gardening is one of the nation’s top hobbies, and it seems that succulents have found a place with traditional gardeners and a younger generation, as well. In this economy, people are living in smaller spaces and staying there longer. Succulents are a creative way to have a small space garden for not much money. They come in so many different sizes, and the low maintenance and low cost make them appealing to everyone. Speaking from my own experience: if you need to move them, they move quite easily.
In the past, I thought that succulents were just some cacti and jade plants. Succulents are frequently confused for cacti. Wrap your head around this: all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. What makes a cactus a cactus is its thorns.
There are many different varieties of succulent, in many different colors, shapes, and sizes. They can be planted outside (though they will not survive cold winters) and make amazing indoor plants. They are so easy to care for that there is no excuse not to have some of these beauties in your home or even your office. Generally speaking, they only need watering about once a month and can benefit from a little plant food every couple of months. Added bonus: they are generally resistant to pests.
Unsurprisingly, succulents originated in dry, desert locations. They outcompete rival plants in areas with long dry seasons because they store water in their leaves. They thrive in sunlight and dry air and extremely warm conditions—conditions under which many plants tend to wither. There are approximately 60 different plant families that contain succulents. They come in almost every color in the color wheel, including blue, purple, pink, orange, red, and, of course, green! One of my favorite succulent features is the ability to grow new plants from a plant cutting.
The word succulent comes from the Latin word sucus, which refers to sap. From a botanical point of view, succulents are those plants that possess thick, juicy, and turgid leaves. Their highly efficient deep root system enables them to retain water to combat drought conditions and still stay healthy. Succulents can be found in Africa, Europe, America, and Asia.
People who grow succulents as a hobby may use the term in a different way. In horticultural use, the term succulent often excludes cacti. As I mentioned, many cacti are grouped with succulents and in botanical terminology, all cacti are succulents but many succulent plants are not cacti. To make things less confusing, let’s use a practical definition that has emerged among hobbyists: any desert plant that a succulent plant collector wishes to grow shall be known as a succulent. We will just leave out the scientific classifications at this point and focus on helping our beloved plants thrive.
There are many sizes and shapes of succulents to fit all spaces and circumstances. I love the one known as Donkey’s Tail. This is a great choice for a hanging basket and can trail down to lengths of up to four feet! I also love the vibrant flowers of a Christmas cactus. You can take it outdoors during the summer months and bring it inside when the weather gets cold. Who doesn’t love to see that splash of color inside over the long winter season?
It’s important to keep in mind that some of the most useful and beautiful succulents are also toxic to pets. (Donkey’s Tail and the Christmas cactus are non-toxic.) String of Pearls is another trailing beauty for hanging baskets, but it is definitely toxic to pets and children. Of course, I love an aloe vera plant, but it is also toxic if ingested. This doesn’t mean they’re not worth growing, but you do need to take precautions if you have pets or kids at home.
There are thousands of types of succulents. With all those choices, you are sure to find some you will love!
By Linda Sutherland
Popular Dog Breeds
Plan Ahead for a Happy Home
Some dog breeds have been around for centuries. Many were bred for particular activities, like hunting or herding. Others were bred specifically to be easygoing companions for people. The ultimate American authority on dog breeds is the American Kennel Club (AKC). They recognize 200 pure dog breeds (that is, dogs that are not genetically crossed with any other breeds).
The AKC is an excellent resource for information on dog breeds (and all things dog). Visit their website (akc.com) for detailed information on many dog breeds, including photos, activity level, barking level, coat type, shedding tendencies, size, and trainability. It also has a directory of reputable breeders from whom you can purchase a particular breed of dog. (This is important because many disreputable breeders are also out there and should be avoided.) AKC can also connect you with rescue organizations for specific breeds.
Before you consider bringing a dog into your life, you need to consider where and how you live, what kind of dog is suited to your lifestyle, and what every dog needs.
All dogs require medical attention, including vaccinations and regular examinations. Microchips can bring a wandering pet back home quickly. All dogs also require training. Dogs can be trained or retrained at any age. (Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks.)
A dog needs to feel welcome in your space. Larger dogs need more room than smaller dogs, but even the smallest couch potato dog needs fresh air and exercise. When you decide you want to bring a dog into your life, think about where and how you live. Will you be a good fit with a family dog, a large dog, a small dog, a watch dog, or a quiet dog?
For example, Labradors and golden retrievers need about two hours of fairly vigorous activity daily to stay healthy. That requires space (a fenced yard or a nearby dog park) as well as time and exercise for you. If you live in an apartment or an urban setting, a Lab may not be the best fit for you, no matter how lovable it seems.
Another aspect to consider: How much of each day do you spend away from home? Lonely dogs often misbehave by chewing your belongings and forgetting training. Don’t hesitate to ask for help choosing a dog! A veterinarian will have wisdom to share, as will other dog owners. You can find a wonderful dog to fit the way you live.
The AKC ranks the popularity of the top breeds annually. According to the AKC, the French bulldog was the most popular dog in 2022. Its compact size, calm demeanor, and intelligence make it a great fit for urban life. It won’t need much exercise outside of a short daily walk.
The Labrador retriever, which was top dog for decades, has been bumped to number two, followed closely by the golden retriever at number three. Good natured and lovable, these family pets require plenty of space and regular exercise.
The fourth spot goes to the German shepherd. This smart, easily trained dog has variously been a war hero, a movie star, a service dog, and a family pet.
Poodles are fifth and offer three different non-shedding size options—the larger the dog, the more room to roam it will need.
After those five purebreds, the most popular dogs are designer species; that is, a mixture of two purebreds. Most successful include the Labradoodle, goldendoodle, Yorkipoo, Schnoodle, and Buggle (that’s a beagle and an English bulldog, for the uninitiated). The list of designer breeds grows every year. Local shelters will also have many dogs of mixed heritage to choose from.
If you have children in your household, consider their ages and abilities to interact with a dog. If you are part of a working couple, will the dog be alone every day? Can you afford doggie day care or a daily dog walker? Is your family active and outdoorsy, in need of a dog who would like to run and play, or would a lapdog fit in better with your group? Where you live should also impact your decision. Do you live in a home with a fenced yard or in an urban condo? Is there a dog park nearby?
You may feel tempted by all of the four-legged friends (especially when they’re puppies!), but you need to choose a dog that will fit your lifestyle, and the breed tendencies are a good place to start. The dog you choose will win your heart quickly, so be sure you are setting up your family for success.
Sources for this article included: akc.org, rover.com, and blucross.org.uk.
By Jackie Byers
Go Ahead, Rock the Boat
“If you want to improve your self-worth, stop giving other people the calculator.” —Tim Fargo
Many of us…myself included…have spent a large part of our lives working to keep the peace, not rock the boat, and be the nice girl. Unfortunately, this creates negative self-talk, which eventually turns into destructive behavior. We then have to deal with our internal conflict: with our mind, our beliefs, and our soul.
“If you avoid conflict to keep the peace, you start a war inside yourself.” —Cheryl Richardson
We all have kept our mouths shut at times out of fear. Fear of offending, fear of losing a friend or family member, fear of confrontation, fear of an argument, fear of losing ourselves.
“It is when you finally learn that fear is all in your mind, that your real life begins.” —Brian Tracy
Making a decision to respectfully speak our minds is the first step in dealing with our scars. Learning to communicate in a healthy way is vital to a healthy life. How to do it? Listen more, speak less. Hear your own tone. Sometimes it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. You may not even realize that what you’re projecting is negative. Use I statements instead of you statements. Don’t interrupt. Think before you speak. Be present.
“10% of conflict is due to difference in opinion and 90% is due to delivery and tone of voice.” —Anonymous
Speaking our minds in a respectful way will begin the process of positive change within ourselves and, hopefully, within others. The only person you can truly change is yourself. We can, however, influence those around us. It is up to them as to whether they are open to another perspective or not. If they value your relationship, they will make an effort to listen.
“When you start seeing your worth, you’ll find it harder to stay around people who don’t.” —Unknown
Doing “the right thing” means speaking up in situations that can be uncomfortable. Pretending that everything is hunky-dory when your gut is telling you that what is happening is wrong will cause internal conflicts. Just know…it is never too late to change or regain your own positive mental health. You can either stay the same or decide to grow to be a better person.
“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and, if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.”— F. Scott Fitzgerald