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Fashion Worthy

Everything is Coming up Roses!    

Wearable Trends for Spring 2024


Spring 2024 has a fashion trend for everyone. You might think of  “trends” as things that are only temporarily popular, but this year’s trends are classic and timeless. You can pick the look that best matches your personality or mix your style to fit your various moods and occasions. 


Last year, you probably heard all about Barbiecore as a major trend force. Barbiecore is fun, but it’s not for everyone. Thankfully, the look has been pared down this year to simply Girlcore. While still feminine, this movement is about romance with a touch of whimsy. Soft flowy fabrics, features like bows or ruffles, and a soft pink palette are more wearable than the exaggerated Barbiecore theme of the past year.


One of my favorites this year is the elevated basics trend. This is a great look for absolutely everyone at any age. Sometimes, we assume that basics will be boring. Think about upgrading your basics to include functionality along with style. Well-chosen basics are not only timeless but can be a statement of understated elegance. Time to clean out your closet and upgrade your white tees, tailored white shirts, and black and white pants, along with your other basics in neutral tones. Basics worn together can be sophisticated and elegant, with an air of effortless style. For a little touch of luxury, add gold jewelry. 


Use black and white as your color combination this year. They are always elegant when worn in tandem or as monochromatic ensembles. The freshness of white will be enormously popular throughout spring and summer. White dresses and monochromatic white outfits look new and summery for 2024. This doesn’t mean you have to relegate your black pieces to the back of the closet! Designers are pairing white with black as an unexpected and prominent combo even during warmer weather. 


What about florals for a feminine look, you ask? Fashion has not forgotten them. One flower in particular has taken the runways by storm. A single oversized red rose was shown on dresses, tops, and jackets. The rose was also worked into patterns and three-dimensional embellishments. Quite striking is a black and white dress featuring one large red rose on the front. If you want to purchase a new spring floral dress, skirt, or top, look for a garment featuring the rose for the ultimate 2024 trend. A symbol of love, the rose will be a well-loved favorite trending forward.


Matching suits for women are back in a big way for corporate America and beyond. It’s part of a modern ’90s redux that designers have been flirting with for the past few years. Important this year is the vest for women. Vests can be worn in so many ways. Their versatility is endless. Button up the vest and wear it alone with jeans. Wear it layered with a white tee underneath for a casual look. Wear it over a silk blouse for a bit of elegance or wear it with your suit as intended. Suits and vests send a power statement! Preppy looks are also resurging in a big way and mix well with the suited corporate revival movement. Break out that polo shirt, cardigan, or striped button-up and add these to your repertoire for a great mix of polished business casual. 


Accessories are especially important this year with the elevated basics look. Gold is the summer standard, with a focus on large earrings. Other comeback kids are kitten heels, the peplum, and capri pants. Capris are tricky to choose. They must be the correct length for your body. Have them tailored if you need to adjust the length for maximum flattery. I can certainly get behind the kitten heel. Finally, a feminine dressy shoe that won’t kill your feet! The peplum look can be very flattering, but go lightly on this trend, as it may not be as popular next season. 


Oversized bags are back again, just when everyone got on the tiny crossbody bag wagon. A good solution is to just carry your tiny bag inside your huge one so you can switch it up easily when the occasion calls for it. Other fun trends this year will be metallics, shiny fabrics, and sequins worn in the daytime. It will be fun to mix pieces for your hi-low dressing. Hi-low dressing is mixing some high-end pieces with lower-end pieces, along with mixing dressier pieces with items that are more casual. This takes some experimentation but can result in some stylish, one-of-a-kind ensembles.


The most important fashion advice is to make sure your outfits make you feel good when wearing them. Everything’s coming up roses, so bring your confident smile to welcome spring! 

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

Fashion Worthy

By Holly Bell

Weekend Gourmet

Celebrations and Family Time—Let’s Eat!


Easter Brunch Strata

Place 3 cups of cooked ham (cubed) or sausage in the bottom of a greased 9x13-inch casserole dish. Spread 3 cups of cubed French bread and 2 cups of grated cheese over the meat. In a mixing bowl, mix 6 eggs, 3 cups of milk, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of seasoned salt, and a few dashes of Tabasco or hot sauce. Pour the egg mixture over the bread mixture. Mix 3 Tablespoons of flour with 3 teaspoons of dry mustard and sprinkle on top. Drizzle with 4 Tablespoons of melted butter. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Breakfast Bran Muffins

Soak 2 cups of All-Bran cereal in 1 and 1/4 cups of milk for 2 or 3 minutes. Add 1 egg and 1/4 cup of vegetable oil and mix well. Stir together 1 and 1/4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of sugar (regular or brown), 1 Tablespoon of baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Mix the flour and sugar into the cereal mixture. Add chopped dates or raisins, if desired. Fill 12 muffin cups and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. 


Glazed Baby Carrots

Steam, boil, or microwave 1 or 2 bags of baby carrots until tender. Pour 4 Tablespoons of butter and 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar (or real maple syrup) over the carrots. Add 2 Tablespoons of crushed pecans and 4 or 5 crushed butter crackers. Stir. Add salt and pepper as desired.


Baked Green Beans and Bacon

Cook 1 pound of bacon until slightly crispy, then chop. Drain 5 cans of green beans and pour into a large baking dish. Top with the cooked bacon. In a bowl, mix 2/3 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of melted butter, 1/4 cup of soy sauce, and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder. Pour the mixture over the beans. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Stir and serve.


Spring Asparagus Soufflé

Wash, trim, and chop 1 or 2 bundles of fresh asparagus. Microwave or boil for a few minutes, then drain and place in a baking dish. In a bowl, whisk together 3 eggs, salt and pepper, and 1 cup of milk. Add 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, 3/4 cup of crushed crackers, and 1 small jar of drained pimientos. Pour over the asparagus. Pour 2 Tablespoons of melted butter over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


Polish Sausage with Sweet Sauce

Cut 2 pounds of Polish sausage into chunks and sauté in a skillet for 3-4 minutes. Add 1 cup of chopped onion and 1 cut-up celery stalk. Add 1 Tablespoon of olive or canola oil and continue sautéing. Mix in 1/3 cup of Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 2/3 cup of water, 1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, and several dashes of hot sauce, if you like. Stir and pour into a baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. (You can also make this in a slow cooker.)


Jezebel Dip

Mix 1 cup of apricot preserves with 1/4 cup of prepared horseradish and 1/4 cup of Dijon mustard. Pour the mixture on an 8-ounce block of cream cheese. Serve with crackers
or veggies.


Glazed Holiday Ham

Make score marks on any cooked smoked ham and dot with whole cloves. Put the ham in a foil-lined baking dish. In a bowl, mix 3 Tablespoons of brown sugar, 3/4 teaspoon of ground mustard powder, 1 cup of cherry preserves, and 1 Tablespoon of bourbon or apple glaze. Thin the mixture with cider or water if you like. Pour the glaze over the ham. Cover with foil. Bake at 325 degrees until the internal temp is 140 degrees. (You can also make this in a slow cooker.)


Hashbrown Casserole

Mix together 1 stick of melted butter, 1 can of cream of chicken soup, 1 pint of sour cream, 1/2 cup of chopped onion, 2 cups of grated cheddar cheese, and salt and pepper. Pour a two-pound bag of thawed (previously frozen) hashbrowns into a baking dish and pour the mixture on top. Top with 2 cups of crushed corn flakes and 1/4 cup of melted butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.


Prime Rib Sliders

Cut a dozen brioche or Hawaiian rolls horizontally and place in a baking dish. Mix 3 Tablespoons of melted butter with your favorite spices (garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, seasoned salt, whatever you like). Brush the spice mixture onto the rolls. Arrange slices of deli roast beef and slices of provolone over the rolls. (You can sub another deli meat or go just cheese). Add a dab of grainy mustard or mayo. Replace the top of the rolls, brush any remaining butter on top. Cover with tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until warmed and melty.


6-Bean Picnic Salad

Drain and rinse 1 can of each: butter beans, garbanzo, cannellini, pinto, kidney, and black-eyed peas. Put the beans in a large bowl. Add 1 or 2 diced celery stalks and a small diced onion. Salt and pepper as desired. Add a pinch of garlic powder, Italian seasonings, or any spices you enjoy. Drizzle with 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 Teaspoon of white vinegar, and 1 teaspoon of sugar, then mix. Adjust seasonings as you like. Mix well. Refrigerate. You can add other items to this basic bean salad—cut-up salami, cheese cubes, a bit of cooked pasta, diced olives, cubed tomatoes.


Sensational ’70s 7-Up Bundt Cake

Cream 1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks) of soft butter with 3 cups of sugar for 3-4 minutes. Add 5 eggs, 3 cups of flour, 2 Tablespoons of lemon extract, and 3/4 cup of 7-Up. Mix and scrape down the sides. Pour the batter into a large well-greased Bundt pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 60-80 minutes (do a toothpick test). Let the cake cool for 10-15 minutes, then invert onto a platter. Make the glaze (optional) by whisking together 3 and 1/4 cups of powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 3 Tablespoons of lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of cold 7-Up. Stir until smooth, then drizzle over cake. Serve with fresh strawberries. 

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

By Kate Beiting
Weekend Gourmet

Zodiac Forecast

Zodiac Forecast

Aries (March 21 – April 20)

April promises positive changes in your personal and professional life. There will be improvements in family relationships. Single Rams might get to meet their future partners! In the workplace, your leadership skills will shine. Opportunities for learning and growth are abundant this month. 


Taurus (Apr. 20 – May 21) Be cautious this April and avoid impulsive actions. Consider finances before making any major decisions. You will have promising career opportunities, and your creative energy will be at its peak. Focus on your goals and on improving yourself professionally. 


Gemini (May 21 – Jun. 21) This is the month you will face success. You have a chance to add a new stream of income, perhaps by starting your own business. You can achieve great things if you avoid stress. Try yoga or meditation. 


Cancer (Jun. 21 – Jul. 23) Emotions will guide your life this month. Single people will get a chance to meet their love, and those who are in a relationship will take the next step. You will see success in your personal life. You are driven to improve yourself through personal development. Let this spill over into your professional life! 


Leo (Jul. 23 – Aug. 23) Your positive outlook takes over this month. You are driven by creativity, which leads to positive career changes and financial success. Be realistic! Balance your ambitions with your actual opportunities. Your imagination will lead to creative experimentation. 


Virgo (Aug. 23 – Sept. 23) April is a mixed-up month for you. You feel the potential for career problems, but they will eventually resolve themselves. Your mood at the first of the month will lead to opportunities for pleasant events. New people may enter your life and turn your world around. 


Libra (Sept. 23 – Oct. 22) Use this month for self-renewal and discovery. It is a good time for business ventures, but it is important to manage expectations. Gather with friends and like-minded individuals for support and inspiration. 


Scorpio (Oct. 22 – Nov. 21) Be careful this month. Your moodiness may lead to impulsive or even selfish decisions. In your personal life, feelings will be tested, and relationships will face problems due to distrust. Avoid getting involved in risky projects for short-term gains, as the losses may be irreparable.


Sagittarius (Nov. 21 – Dec. 21) April is going to be a mixed bag. Although there will be opportunities for career advancement and financial gain, you will also face challenges and setbacks. Remain calm and focused to overcome these obstacles.  


Capricorn (Dec. 21 – Jan. 19) This is the month for new starts! Step out of your comfort zone and pursue your goals. Be mindful of your communication style and avoid being domineering. New opportunities for investing will emerge. 


Aquarius (Jan. 19 – Feb. 19) Be open to new experiences and relationships. You will get a chance to make money out of your passion, which will stabilize your finances. You will be able to focus on your personal life as the month progresses. 


Pisces (Feb. 19 – Mar. 21) Pisces, get out there! Trust your instincts and make bold decisions to grow in your personal and professional life. You will hear good news in every aspect of your life this month. All you have to do is believe in yourself and finish what you started.

A Woman's Work

Fascinated By Flowers?

Know Their Meanings


Everyone has something that makes them stop what they are doing and take a moment to appreciate life. For me, that something is flowers. I love how they bring life to my home! Flowers are a big part of my townhouse’s landscape, and I change the pots surrounding my home every season. When I lived in Germany, I came to appreciate how the German people feel about fresh flowers. Every Saturday, I would take part in the German custom of walking to the local market to buy a fresh bouquet of blooms. The lovely smell would consume the air in my quarters for an entire week. 


The fascination with flowers goes deep for many of us. Why do we love them so much? It’s simple: Flowers are a mood changer, guaranteed to lift spirits. Flowers are a wonderful way to celebrate a special occasion or tell someone you’re thinking about them. 


When you don’t have the right words to say, flowers can help express emotions. They have been used for centuries to send unspoken messages. From admiration to love, from sympathy to regret, flowers have a language all their own. The international florist Teleflora suggests that we “say it with flowers!” The billion-dollar floral industry knows that different flowers mean different things. I thought I would highlight some of these.


Depending on the color, roses can say many things. A red rose symbolizes love and romance; a white rose is known for respect and care. Yellow roses symbolize friendship. 


My favorite flower is lily of the valley because of its one-of-a kind look. The tiny little bells are a miracle of nature! They stand for purity, happiness, luck, and humility. 


My last neighbors had thousands of lilacs. These regal, fragrant blooms have long stood for royalty as well as wisdom and respect. Purple lilacs represent the first emotions of love, while magenta lilacs symbolize love and passion.


Carnations abound because they are a relatively inexpensive flower. Pink says “I will never forget you.” Avoid yellow carnations, unless you’re trying to express rejection and disappointment (and if that’s what you want to say…why send flowers?).


The majestic white lily is often chosen to express sympathy at funerals but also to represent purity and rebirth at weddings. 


The gladiolus is deeply linked to the integrity and strength of gladiators. Give this “flower of the gladiators” to a recent graduate or game winner.


Another flower steeped in history is the hyacinth. This bloom is dedicated to the Greek sun god Apollo (also known for archery, truth, and prophecy). It signifies sport and play. This would be a good choice for someone who loves to play sports as a way of encouragement for an upcoming game.


One of the most popular movies of all time is “The Sound of Music.” And if you know the movie, you know the song “Edelweiss.” The edelweiss flower stands for courage and devotion, probably because they thrive in harsh Alpine conditions.


I often purchase pansies for my flower pots because they are hardy and do well with those of us whose thumbs aren’t exactly green. The name is derived from the French word “pensée,” which means “to think.” Pansies stand for thoughtfulness and remembrance. 


From their wonderful scent to their beautiful purple hue, lavender is a message of devotion. It also has calming aromatherapy properties. A bouquet of lavender may make an excellent gift for a stressed-out student or anyone in your life who needs some relaxation.


The spelling of chrysanthemum is complicated, but their meaning is simple: honesty. Because they can withstand cool temperatures, they often appear in autumn landscaping.


Daffodils are some of the first flowers to emerge in the spring, so it’s probably no surprise that they symbolize new beginnings. Give these cheery yellow blooms to someone celebrating a new job, a new home, or a new addition to their family. 


The sweet and many-petaled blooms of peonies represented anger to Victorians. Today, however, peonies are linked to romance, marriage, and even bashfulness. 


Snapdragons are something of a puzzle, as they are understood to represent both deception and graciousness. Some legends note that snapdragons were carried as protection against magic. 


The red poppy represents remembrance, which is why it is worn on Remembrance Day, known as Veterans Day in the United States. This holiday was originally known as Armistice Day, and it marked the end of hostilities in World War I (at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month). 


These are just a few of the thousands of types of flowers that adorn our world. Can you imagine a world without flowers? I can’t, and I wouldn’t want to! 

By Deborah Daley
A Woman's Work

Fresh Concepts

Plan a Spring Party! 

Sunset Cocktails, Anyone? 


As the winter chill makes room for the warm embrace of spring, it’s time to shake off the cold and welcome the excitement of a celebration. It’s time for a party! Whether you’re hosting a birthday bash, graduation party, wedding, shower, anniversary, or reunion, spring is a wonderful time to celebrate. If you don’t have a special milestone coming up, just plan a festive gathering with family and friends! Let’s explore fresh ideas to plan a successful party with the latest trends, stay within your budget, and choose the ideal venue. We’ll also consider food choices and how establishing the goal of your event clarifies your plan. Time to unwrap a spring fling! 


First, set the tone with a sensible budget. Identifying the purpose of your event determines a lot about budget and venue. What kind of atmosphere are you hoping to create? How many attendees will you likely have? Your party goal shapes the planning stages for catering and entertainment. The purpose of your bash also helps highlight the perfect party theme. Start with purpose and budget, and the rest will follow. Are you fostering new connections? Celebrating a milestone? Creating memories? 


Invite your guests at least four weeks in advance for a formal event so that guests can mark their calendars. Twelve weeks for weddings! Allow two weeks for a semi-formal event and at least three days for a casual get-together. Know your guests and adjust accordingly. Parties like formal dinners or charity balls usually need more time to send out invites. Guests often bring another guest and like to plan for special attire. Include a wish list for birthday parties, weddings, baby showers, or any event at which gifts might be expected. Casual gatherings often don’t require a paper invite. Just set up a Facebook event or simply call or text your guests! 


It’s important to remember that the secret to a great event is making sure that your guests enjoy themselves. Don’t let photos of posh events scare you if that’s not what you want to spend. You can have a good time at any price point if you bring your creativity to the planning process.


Aching to throw a backyard party? Consider keeping it simple. Clean off the grill, then watch your guests arrive and gather to enjoy burgers and hot dogs with all the fixings. A thoughtful outdoor gathering for friends might include cold beverages, snacks like popcorn and pretzels, chips and dip, and a simple dessert. Get creative! Set out a tablecloth and pretty vases of simple flowers. Spice it up with unexpected games to keep guests engaged (think ring toss, water balloons, or a scavenger hunt). Welcome back, Lawn Twister and Giant Jenga! Pull out your wi-fi speakers to set the mood with music, and add a simple cocktail bar. Cheerful, upbeat music works best for spring. Depending on the size of your crowd, you might want to rent tables and chairs from a local party rental store. 


Warmer spring weather brings the demand for outdoor venues, no matter the size. Embrace the beauty of spring by choosing a nature-based venue for birthdays and graduations. Gardens, parks, and botanical spaces are refreshing backdrops for any event. Many gardens and parks don’t require an appointment or deposit unless you’re reserving a building or structure. If you’re not, consider renting tents in case it rains. 


When spring flowers bloom, so does love! That means spring weddings and showers. For bigger events like weddings, budget accordingly by starting with a dollar amount that you’re willing and able to spend. Split up that number into how much you want to spend on the venue, caterer, florist, music, entertainment, and party rentals. Consider hiring a wedding planner to help coordinate, organize, and execute foolproof special events. Great venues for bigger events include banquet halls, country barns, mansion estates, botanical gardens, hotel ballrooms, galleries, and lodges. Don’t forget to factor in the weather (is there a backup space indoors?), especially in the spring. 


Make room in the budget for the deposit that is usually required when you sign your contract with a venue. Ask about their refund policies in case plans need to change. The timing of a venue booking is also vital for a successful event. For large venues, book at least one year before the event, to be safe. For smaller venues, three to six months will likely do it.


Consider accessibility for guest parking, and how many people can fit inside the space you choose. Does the venue have tables and chairs, or do you need to rent them yourself? Party rental companies can deliver equipment to your door and pick it up when the party is over. It can be a great resource for plates, utensils, linens, lighting, decorations, and flowers, as well as for party planning advice from people who have a lot of experience with large events. 


Flowers are expected at weddings, and many people enjoy the look and smell of fresh flowers. If you want floral arrangements that will also last as keepsakes, consider silk or even wooden flowers. Balloon weddings are trending this year, with whimsical spring cascades of color. Suspended crystal fringe in large outdoor tents is stylish, while beams of light and gleams of tassels are also springy. No flowers? Go with dazzling lights (for any party) and natural greenery. 


If want your guests to connect without worrying about names, offer name tags. Name badges signal that there are no cliques here, only the possibility for new friends. For events where many guests will be meeting for the first time, consider including an icebreaker on the name tag, like “What’s a good book you’ve read recently?” or “What’s your favorite breakfast food?”


Parties are really all about the food. Catering is one of the most important investments you’ll make in a successful event. Engage guests with food stations that go beyond the ordinary buffet. Hire out for a live cooking demonstration (just for fun) or stack the food stations with DIY snacks. Consider gourmet grilled cheese stations or spring appetizers like ham and cheese spinach puffs and baked salmon sushi cups. When searching for the best caterer, ask about creative options like a coffee bar, an artisan donut wall, or a smoothie bowl bar. Always schedule a tasting before you commit, and check customer reviews. Remember, good food makes the best memories. Break bread and bond! 


Another option for catering is hiring a food truck. Some of the most popular food trucks include taco trucks, grilled cheeseries, vegan food, comfort food (like soups or mac and cheese), street food, barbeque, gourmet burgers and hot dogs, fresh seafood, and farmer’s market foods. Consider insurance, permits, and the ingredients in food offered before signing a contract. Before you rent or hire, check with your guests about any dietary needs or food allergies.


Ready to get creative? Party trends this year include themed décor. Transform your vibe with anything from bohemian chic to futuristic minimalism. Ask your rental company for unique ideas to foster an atmosphere that resonates with your vision. 


Grazing tables and “deconstructed” food are popular this year because partygoers are ready to experiment and mingle. Experts expect hosts to focus on food platters and themes that nod to the season or to an upcoming holiday. 


For your spring party theme this year, try a disco party! Yes, disco is gaining traction again. In addition to the disco ball, here’s where you can bring spring flowers into the décor, along with a DJ! Add PJs for an all-night disco party. Need more ideas? Invite your golf buddies to a master’s tournament party. Go for a tiki party immersed in tropical greenery. Gather up your friends for a traditional tea party around a lit-up cherry blossom tree in honor of spring. Adults can celebrate spring break, too! Cater a margarita lounge inside or out, and dance barefoot under the stars. 


It’s time to celebrate spring and everything that comes along with it. Go ahead and plan. Blend spring colors into a vibrant event. Fire up the pit, book the venue, order the food, and party until the sun comes up! Cheers to spring parties, and unforgettable moments immersed in life’s festivities. 


Sources for this article included:,, and

By Janette Calabro
Fresh Concepts

Good Looks

Get Rubbed the Right Way

Soothing, Restorative Massage

When you’re stressed out, sore, or feeling overwhelmed by life’s trials and tribulations, you definitely need a little pampering. A massage may be just the ticket! It’s much more than a self-care indulgence—a massage provides many physical and mental health benefits. Those with active lifestyles may choose massage in order to help maintain peak performance or speed recovery from injury. For someone with mobility issues or pain, a massage can improve flexibility, provide pain relief, and strengthen the immune system. 


Getting a massage can help improve overall mood and provide relief from symptoms of depression. A massage increases endorphins within the body. These naturally occurring chemicals are produced by the body’s nervous system. They help fight stress, elevate mood, and act as a pain reliever. 


The relaxation experienced during a massage may also improve other aspects of health and well-being, such as sleep quality. Better sleep quality allows the body to focus on faster healing and helps you feel more rested when you wake up in the morning. Restful sleep helps increase energy levels, leaving you better equipped to take on the day’s challenges.


We can’t always avoid stress in our lives, and truthfully, a little stress can be healthy. If left unmanaged, however, stress can cause serious physical and mental damage. Massage has been shown to be effective as a remedy for general anxiety disorder, due in part to the increase in serotonin levels and the decrease in cortisol levels experienced during a massage. Cortisol is the body’s natural response to stress and triggers our fight or flight response. As our cortisol level is lowered, our minds and bodies calm down.


Another potential benefit of a massage is improving blood circulation and promoting healing. With better blood flow, oxygen and nutrients are delivered more efficiently to muscles and other soft tissue, helping to heal any damage that has been done by daily wear and tear or overexertion. Better circulation also helps rehydrate spinal discs, which is why it’s beneficial for back pain.


Massages help build a strong immune system by stimulating the lymphatic system, which aids in flushing toxins from the body. It also helps increase white blood cell activity to protect you from infection and disease. Studies have shown that massages can increase the level of lymphocytes, which are the cells that help fight off harmful substances in the body.


A massage is just a body rub, right? No, it’s much more than that. Massage is actually an umbrella term for a wide variety of techniques, from acupressure to Zen Shiatsu. 


Acupressure is a TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) technique where the therapist applies deep finger pressure to certain points that follow the body’s energy lines. Acupressure encompasses the whole person, including body, emotions, mind, and spirit. Zen Shiatsu is a hands-on therapy that uses supportive acupressure to balance the energy pathways of the body and calm the nervous system. It is a holistic bodywork therapy designed to uplift and harmonize physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. 


The rolling, kneading strokes, and movements in Swedish massage each have a specific therapeutic benefit, including muscle relaxation and injury recovery. Deep tissue massage is designed to work out muscular knots by manipulating tissue with long, deep strokes.


In a hot stone massage, the therapist places hot, smooth stones along your spine and other key areas, including your palms, belly, and between your toes to target muscle tension and stimulate circulation. 


Reflexology is a form of massage therapy centered around the idea that pressure points in the feet are directly connected to other areas of the body, including organs. It’s thought that applying pressure to these points will result in better overall health and rejuvenation. 


Some experiences are better when shared with someone. A couples massage can be a great experience. The couple will be in the same room on two separate massage tables, allowing for closeness while still leaving room for the massage therapists to perform the individual massages. Other amenities, such as beverages and snacks, are sometimes included. A couples massage doesn’t have to be romantic! A mother-daughter massage outing is a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time together. What a gift for Mother’s Day!


No matter what type of massage you choose, it’s important to select a qualified professional. Your therapist should be licensed and certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.


There are many great reasons to incorporate massage into your self-care routine. A massage will help keep your spirits up and contribute to a healthier overall lifestyle. 


Sources for this article included:,, and

By Loretta McCollum
Good Looks

Income Outcome

Old Friends

Nurturing Relationships


“Ten minutes with a genuine friend is better than years spent with anyone less.” —Crystal Woods


When my father, Big Al, was alive, he had a circle of friends that he connected with very frequently. I remember them all—Brother Ed, Cousin Ed, friends Wilber and Glen. They met for coffee almost daily, got together to play cards, played golf, and went fishing. They loved and respected one another.


Now, keep in mind, this was during the time when it took genuine effort to plan a get-together. Land lines. Paper calendars. If it was a large gathering? Multiple calls back and forth. But these guys made it happen. For decades. 


“Friendship is the wine of life.” —Edward Young


What they knew back then was that you had to work on your friendships. Did they have disagreements over the years? Of course they did. (At my wedding, when I was 20 years old, a couple of them got into a wrestling match! They laughed about that for years.)


What I learned from observing their friendship was what separated a true friend from a fake friend. My dad’s friends were there for him, as he was for them, when it was easy…but also, most importantly, when it was hard.


“When you’re up, your friends know who you are. When you’re down, you know who your friends are.” —Shalini Boland


Nowadays, even though communication is so much easier, I feel that the challenge of maintaining true friendship is greater than it was in Big Al’s generation. How do you know who is truly a great friend? Ask yourself this question: if you were in a serious bind at 3:00 in the morning, who would you call? Who could you call? Who would come?


“Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity.” —Khalil Gibran


I am blessed to have a few long-term, very close friends. We are talking decades here. Several years back, I realized that I had been taking them for granted. We would get together around the holidays…most of the time. Manny pointed out to me how off balance this part of my life was. Manny, being a 20-year Navy vet, has true friends all around the world. He taught me the importance of nurturing these people in our lives. If you don’t spend time with friends, you won’t have any.


“Old friends don’t only know the real you, they prefer it.” —Martha Bolton


Now, our meetings are every four to six weeks. I so look forward to them! We laugh. We remember…and we don’t end the evening without setting up our next meeting.


“The older you get, the more you realize you have no desire for drama, conflict, or any kind of intensity. You just want a cozy home, good food on the table, and to be surrounded by lovely people who make you happy.” —Anonymous 


Yup! Thank you, friends! 

By Janet Van deWalle
Income Outcome

Kids Comments


Give It to Get It!


I have a group of neighbors who get together to watch televised football games. We’re a chatty group and usually spend commercials and time-outs discussing various subjects. Our conversations are not always connected to the game, although many are centered around the actions and reactions of the players.


Recently, a star player’s reaction, highlighted by the television cameras, showed (in some opinions) little respect for the officials, his teammates, or the coaching staff. It started a conversation among us regarding all aspects of respect. 


We all agreed that respect no longer has a place in our society. Rather, it’s become more acceptable to call names or hurl insults. In the past, it was expected that kids be respectful to their parents, teachers, and elders. It is now common to hear kids being sassy to adults and to each other. One of my neighbors commented, “It’s no wonder everyone is disrespectful. They hear it reported on the news all the time.”


We continued our conversation without judgment. Each comment was discussed and sometimes argued. Then someone asked, “How do we turn this around? How can we get respect for others back into our society?” Basically, we decided that to get respect, you must give respect. 


Questions should be a way to start a conversation. Show you care about another person by listening carefully to their comments or responses. Whether the response is to things in general or to something personal, it’s important that you’re not judgmental. Their answer is their answer; it’s what they think or feel. They don’t have to agree with you…nor do you have to agree with them. You can discuss differences of opinion, with each giving the reasons for their response. Remember, not everyone is looking for a solution or help with a problem. Sometimes, we’re simply reporting something going on in our life. Showing respect is paying attention.


Show respect by making requests rather than giving orders. A suggestion was made to provide a list of family chores that must be accomplished daily, weekly, or monthly. Family members indicate which ones they’ll do. They can work together or separately, but the chores must get done. No nagging is needed. Everyone is their own boss. No one feels they’re being taken advantage of. Remember, too: the magic words “please” and “thank you” go a long way in showing respect and appreciation.


Compliments, when generous, personal, and sincerely made, are a way of showing respect…of demonstrating that you see a person and not just another body. “You look especially good tonight” (or in that color or that outfit) is specific and indirectly says they look good all the time. “I like your use of color,” compliments the artist more specifically than telling them they’re great! 


In short, showing respect is treating the other person…kid or adult…like you want to be treated. Remember, kids are people, too. They’ll respect you for it. 

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

By Marge Shoemaker, BS, MS
Kids Comments

Interiors By Design

Interior Shutters

Sophistication and Enduring Beauty

If you’re considering new window treatments, you have plenty of options. Roman shades, blinds, draperies…the list goes on. All these options offer unique benefits, but when it comes to versatility and timeless beauty, there’s one clear winner—interior shutters. They may have been around for centuries, but thanks to their clean lines and classic styling, louvered shutters continue to complement any décor. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why they’ve been around for centuries! Shutters are also incredibly durable, earning them a place at the top of today’s most popular window treatments. 


Window treatments generally last about 6 to 8 years, so homeowners who plan to stay in their homes for the long term can expect to replace window treatments several times. UV damage, wear and tear, and new trends lead to swapping out existing window treatments and investing in new ones. Window treatments typically represent a substantial part of a homeowner’s design budget. This is why choosing interior shutters really makes sense, both aesthetically and financially. 


Designers tell us that the style and function of shutters has not changed in over 200 years and that classic shutters will never look out of style. That means that shutters are a once-in-a-lifetime investment—regardless of changing trends, the vast majority of homeowners who opt to install shutters never change their window treatments again. Talk about an excellent return on investment!


Lending beautiful style to your home is just one of the many benefits that shutters bring to your interior spaces. The easy-to-adjust louvers allow you to invite sunlight into your space when you want it or block it out with a simple touch, giving you light control or instant ambiance. When you install natural wood or faux wood shutters, you are adding another layer of insulation to your existing windows. It may come as a surprise to many people that shutters rank #1 in energy-efficient window treatments. The louvered construction traps air to keep you cool in the summer and snug in the winter months. Custom shutters are fitted to your exact window size, minimizing any leaks that allow air to enter or escape. This helps to eliminate drafts and reduce energy loss.


Customizing your shutters allows you to select the louver and frame style and size, the color, and more. The vertical tilt bar mounted on each panel of louvers easily manages light control and privacy. Tilt bars are typically positioned in the center of each panel. If your space is contemporary, consider choosing a clear view shutter with a hidden tilt rod feature. This is a simple change that will give the shutter an updated look, distinguishing it from a more traditional style. Without any cords to get tangled, complicated mechanical devices to operate, or heavy fabric that needs to be taken down and cleaned, shutters are a virtually maintenance-free option. Operated manually, they are safe for kids and pets and can be kept clean with a simple cloth.


Coordinating window treatments throughout your entire home creates a sense of continuity and cohesiveness. Unlike other window treatments, shutters can be installed throughout a home. Oddly shaped windows can be a difficult challenge for window treatments, which often come in standard shapes and sizes. Whether you’re dealing with angles, arches, or an octagonal window, shutters can be customized to fit a window of virtually any shape or size. 


Bathrooms, basements, and kitchens with higher humidity levels can be equipped with shutters that are made of faux wood or PVC and are resistant to moisture and scratches. Shutters are a very functional addition to sliding doors, as well. Wood shutters can be stained or painted any color, while PVC shutters come in a limited range of colors. Whether you select shutters made from solid hardwood or moisture resistant vinyl, they are built to last the lifetime of your home. 


With custom shutters, you will also enjoy total privacy in your home. Simply closing the louvers provides instant privacy while adding another layer of security. Home buyers and appraisers alike appreciate the value that interior shutters add to a property. For a better understanding of the benefits of interior shutters, visit your local custom window treatment store and speak with a trained professional who can walk you through the various options. An interior designer can also help you find the perfect custom shutters for your interior space. Custom shutters are a window treatment choice that is not just beautiful but also smart. They will save you money, add curb appeal, and increase the value of your home. 


Sources for this article included:,, and 

By Robyn V. Powell
Interiors By Design

Home Works

Spring Cleaning

Shine Inside and Out!


It’s the time of year when you start looking around the house and seeing just how much dirt you and your family tracked into the house over the winter. The idea of cleaning all that up may feel overwhelming. Never fear! For every cleaning job you can find, there is a cleaning professional with the equipment and expertise to get it done better, faster, and more safely than you would. When you take that first deep breath of fresh air in your clean house, you’ll feel your stress melting away!


Let’s start with the carpet. With the advent of advanced home carpet shampooers and steamers, is hiring a carpet cleaner still necessary? The answer is a resounding YES! Professional carpet cleaners have access to specialized cleaning solutions and machines that you don’t have. Home shampooers and steamers are great for spot-cleaning in houses with pets and kids, but having your carpet cleaned by a professional annually is non-negotiable.


Air duct cleaning, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be done on an annual basis. While the EPA says there’s no evidence to suggest regular duct cleaning prevents health issues, they do recommend that you get your ducts cleaned immediately if you see signs of mold growth, evidence of vermin, or excessive amounts of dust collecting on the vents or cold air returns. For this job, hiring a professional is really the only option. Duct cleaning is not a home vacuum job!


Next on the list is tile cleaning and regrouting. Professional tile cleaners can remove all the germs and bacteria deep in the cracks, replace any grout that cannot be salvaged, and seal it up to prevent more damage, all without breaking a sweat. When you’re setting up your appointment, ask them about related services like grout recoloring. Changing the color of your grout can remake the whole look of a room!


Professional window cleaners will clean your windows inside and out—even on the upper floors. Unlike you, these pros have the tools and training to stand safely on a ladder while cleaning. Window treatments are another item that appear to be easier to clean than they actually are. While some curtains can be machine washed at home, many cannot. Take them to a professional cleaner, just like you do with your dresses and suits.


Light fixtures collect a lot of dust and oils just from people living in the house (and cooking in the kitchen). The more ornate the fixture, the more nooks and crannies to catch dust! Professional cleaners can make your glass fixtures sparkle without breaking anything. Many light fixture cleaners will also offer a service for cleaning your ceiling fans.


That takes care of deep cleaning your home’s interior, but what about outside? Why not give your home’s exterior the same level of TLC this spring? There are many spring services that can help you accomplish this.


Springtime is the ideal time for getting your lawn aerated. This process allows oxygen, water, and nutrients access to your lawn’s root system by drilling small holes and relieving soil compression. Your lawn will grow back fuller and healthier than it would have otherwise.


Gutter cleaning, a surprisingly dangerous task, is really best left to professionals who have the best tools and expertise to get all the detritus out of your gutters without falling off your roof or injuring themselves. Professional gutter cleaners may also have the knowledge to be able to spot (or even fix) any damage your gutters have sustained over the winter. Similarly, sprinkler systems can suffer winter damage that can only be found and repaired by a professional. Late spring and summer is when gutters and sprinklers are going to see the most use. They should be cleaned and repaired long before then.


Last, but not least, is tree and bush maintenance. Trees and bushes need to be regularly trimmed and pruned to keep them healthy and improve the growth of new foliage. If you’ve got trees with a lot of dead branches or blooming bushes that haven’t seen as many new buds in recent years, they could probably use a good pruning. Adding fertilizer to large plants like trees and bushes is also important. Trees are often planted in soil with low fertility, so having an expert come out and test the soil can be the difference between losing a tree and giving it new life!


Doing an extensive spring cleaning may sound daunting, but with the right professional help, you’ll have a clean, healthy home and yard in no time! 


Sources for this article included:,, and

By Anne Yankus
Home Works

To Your Good Health

National Foot Care Month

Start Your Journey to Healthy Feet!

We don’t always give our feet the attention they deserve. Caring for your feet is as important as caring for any other body part! In the United States, up to 87 percent of people experience foot pain at one time or another. That is almost every American. This April, let’s celebrate National Foot Care Month by remembering that foot care is more than just pampering your toes with a pedicure (though a pedicure is also a great way to celebrate).


Considering all the moving parts in a foot, it’s no surprise that feet can hurt sometimes. Each foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 120 muscles, tendons, and ligaments that are the body’s shock absorbers. Compared to the rest of our bodies, feet are pretty small, but they work hard. They help us keep our balance and get us where we need to go. 


On average, we stand for four hours a day, and most people walk 150,000 miles over a lifetime. That is like walking around the world six times! You would think that all that walking is the only reason so many of us have foot pain, but it’s not that simple. One of the leading causes of foot problems is the shoes we wear. 


We are all guilty of wearing shoes that hurt, are too tight, or do not provide enough support, just because we like how they look. The longer we wear ill-fitting shoes, the more problems they cause. And it’s not just high heels making trouble! Failing to replace your running shoes every 300 miles can also lead to problems. 


If you’re having a problem with your feet, you’re not alone. Many foot issues are quite common. Perhaps the most common foot issue is a blister, caused by the friction of an ill-fitting shoe on the skin. They aren’t usually serious but can be painful. Calluses and corns are also caused by friction and pressure from shoes. 


A bunion is a bony growth outside the big toe or the little toe. Heel spurs are an outgrowth of calcium between the heel bone and the arch of the foot. Both of these conditions can be caused by arthritis or ill-fitting shoes, among other things.


Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain and occurs when the ligament that supports the arch on the bottom of the foot becomes inflamed. Hammertoe is when toes curl up or under, becoming rigid and painful to move. 


Toenails can be plagued by problems such as ingrown toenails or toe fungus. Another fungal foot infection is known as athlete’s foot because it is common in athletes who spend a lot of time wearing warm, damp shoes. It is highly contagious and often transmitted in locker rooms.


Feet and ankles are also subject to trauma and can be sprained (stretched or torn ligaments) or fractured (broken bones). 


Health conditions like diabetes and arthritis can also cause serious foot issues. Arthritis can cause chronic pain in any of the 33 joints. People with diabetes need to be mindful of a condition called diabetic neuropathy. This occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the nerves in the feet. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, and foot pain. 


Many people treat foot problems with over-the-counter remedies like medication, ice packs, or orthotics inserts. Orthotics are special shoes or heel inserts that can be bought over the counter. Custom orthotics are prescribed by a doctor who will ensure the orthotic is fitted correctly to treat your individual condition. 


What can we do to help our feet? Our feet need room to move! Wear roomy and well-cushioned shoes. Limit your use of high heels or narrow toes. To avoid overtaxing your feet with excess pressure, maintain a healthy weight. Keep your feet clean and your nails trimmed, and replace worn-out or worn-down shoes regularly. 


If you have a foot problem you cannot overcome, it is time to see a doctor who specializes in the care of feet. Podiatrists and orthopedic surgeons are highly trained in the care of feet and ankles. A podiatrist is a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM). Their training is focused exclusively on foot and ankle care, including surgery. An orthopedic surgeon is a Doctor of Medicine (MD) trained to treat musculoskeletal health, including feet and ankles. These surgeons may specialize in certain areas of the body. 


Our feet need more than pedicures, but regular foot pampering is still a great idea. Think of a pedicure as an opportunity to inspect the condition of your feet and to alert you when it
is time to see a professional for a foot issue. 


Sources for this article included:,, and 

By Leslie Byrne
To Your Good Health

Focus On Finance

Mr. Market Goes to Hollywood

Who’s Running This Show?

An allegory is a story based upon fictional characters that are used to convey a real world truth. The greatest movie ever produced—”Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”—is an allegory about Mr. Market and Wall Street. The movie begins with Butch and Sundance robbing a train. As they go about completing their sinister deed, another train appears and out pop dozens of lawmen with guns drawn, mounted on swift horses. The chase is on. As their flight from the long arm of the law continues, Butch keeps looking back at their pursuers and asking Sundance, “Who are those guys?”


In the course of their market commentary, Wall Street analysts and the financial media often refer to the market participants—both human and electronic—as investors. They provide the public with market predictions and observations based upon what they perceive to be the investors’ thought processes. Which begs the question, who are those investors? 


In his classic value investing book, “The Intelligent Investor,” Ben Graham categorized market participants as either investors or speculators. His definition of an investor is one who analyzes the finances of a company, establishes its worth, and compares that to its market price. An investor then sells stocks that are overvalued and buys those that are undervalued. 


In Graham’s world, those who do not practice the investor methodology are speculators. Speculators think that everything that happens is either good or bad and then buy or sell based upon that perception. Speculators don’t care what a company is worth; they just believe its share price will increase or decrease.


Wall Street and the financial media use Ben Graham’s definition of an investor as a blanket description for all (or almost all) of the market’s participants. The implication is that they believe that the market’s gyrations result from a majority of market participants making trading decisions based upon financial fundamentals. 


The market is not a monolithic institution that consists of millions of like-minded participants. They come in a wide variety of stripes and colors. To name just a few: There are high-speed traders, who program massive computers to buy stock in one of the 13 major exchanges, and then, within a nanosecond, sell it on one of the other exchanges for fractions of a penny higher. There are algorithm traders, who program their own massive computers to buy or sell stocks when a trigger word or phrase comes across the news wire. On an average market day, 80 percent of the over 6 billion trades are made by computers that are set in motion by either high-speed traders or algorithm traders. 


There are also hedge funds, which manage 20 percent of the market’s total assets. They use their clients’ money as collateral to increase their buying power by borrowing money from commercial banks. They concentrate on small sectors of the market and place large bets on both sides—that the sector in question will either provide excess returns or will fail miserably. Either way, they win.


It is unclear exactly how much activity is required to move the needle on a stock price. It is obvious that the bigger a stock’s market cap, the larger the number of dollars must be to move it. On an average day, it is not unusual for the stock in the upper tier of the S&P to trade one half or more of their shares outstanding. Some days, this moves the stock’s price one or two percent. On other days, the same activity can leave the price unchanged. Jim Cramer claims that in his hedge fund days, he could move stock prices with as little as a few million dollars. But that was two decades ago, before the current level of high-speed trading was set in place. 


Wall Street knows who “those guys” are, but they fear their clients and customers would leave them if they knew the truth. On numerous occasions during turbulent times in the market, I have heard Cramer state that “The quants (computers) are in control.” This is an acknowledgement that he knows who those guys are and that they are setting the direction of the market based on non-analytical parameters. Immediately following this comment, Cramer returns to his market commentary as though the market is run by the analytical, unemotional investors Graham outlined in his book. 


Why do Cramer and his acolytes continue in this fashion? In the words of the Oracle of Omaha, “It is hard to embrace change when you are being paid not to.” Knowing who “those guys” are is a tool every involved investor needs to have in their tool box. 


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


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

By George Morgan
Focus On Finance

Seasons of Life

Assisted Living Options

When Home Help Isn’t Enough

What are the options when a loved one is no longer able to remain independent at home? Statistics say that the majority of Americans who are currently 65 years old will require some form of long-term care in the future. Many older adults eventually require some help with day-to-day activities, though they do not necessarily need 24-hour health care.


Seniors tend to want to remain at home as long as possible, but assisted living arrangements offer a host of benefits for both seniors and their families. When it becomes difficult to bathe, dress, keep house, or prepare meals, seniors may welcome the advantages of assisted living.


Though assisted living arrangements vary, most offer basic services: apartments and private rooms, social activities, and personal care and help with medications, meals, housekeeping, and laundry. They typically encourage as much independence as possible.


In addition, many have amenities that offer convenience and also opportunities for recreation and interaction, both of which are vital for physical and mental health. Safety is a major focus, including emergency call systems and building security. Families can rest assured that their loved one is safe and well cared for.


A nearby assisted living facility in my community is a bustling, upscale complex offering apartments in four different sizes and layouts to suit individual needs. Residents have the option of preparing their own meals in their apartments, enjoying restaurant style dining, or grabbing meals in a casual atmosphere. 


Residents receive excellent care while enjoying the most freedom possible. There is a licensed healthcare professional on site 24/7. In addition to assistance with daily needs, amenities maximize residents’ daily experiences. They have easy access to a hair salon, outdoor spaces, library, fitness center, swimming pool, and transportation for shopping or medical appointments.


Their activities and events schedule is filled with opportunities to learn, enjoy movies and live performances, or join interest groups within the facility. Short trips to local events or museums in the community are available, as well. Local phone, cable, and Wi-Fi are included. 


Add to this weekly laundry and housekeeping services for the ultimate balance of care and independence. Most of these services and amenities are fairly typical of assisted living centers. The one near me also offers a continuum of care, which translates to distinct levels of care located within one campus. If a resident in an assisted living area should need skilled nursing care at some point, it is a smooth transition to another area within the complex. 


Some facilities also offer assisted living for those needing memory care. This might be a wing dedicated specifically to those with memory issues or it might be freestanding. Care and activities are specially geared to residents’ needs and are staffed with caregivers trained in memory care. 


How does one find the ideal arrangement for a loved one? My state has a searchable listing of assisted living facilities. You can also do a Google search or get recommendations from Aging Services, friends, relatives, or healthcare professionals. Be prepared to spend considerable time exploring and touring various options.


For those living a significant distance from an elder loved one or those whose career or commitments do not allow such lengthy searches, a referral service may be a good option. These professionals are well acquainted with the facilities in your loved one’s area. They will match your loved one’s needs and wishes with the best living arrangements and will arrange for tours. This service is typically at no cost to families. 


Whether conducting a search yourself or using a referral service, look for essential services and the amenities your loved one desires. Most assisted living centers have pharmacy, dietary, PT or OT, and social worker services. Hospice care can usually be accommodated within the facility. Many will offer different levels of care, and cost is often based upon how much assistance the resident requires. 


You’ll want to know that a facility is properly licensed and employs properly credentialed staff. The federal government does not regulate assisted living centers. Rather, the state oversees these entities. They may not require a specific staff-to-resident ratio, but this is an important


Costs can vary greatly. Medicare does not typically pay for assisted living as it does for skilled nursing after a hospitalization. Some states offer assistance for those who qualify. Military veterans and spouses with VA pensions can receive assistance with cost if they qualify. Long-term care insurance is the best bet, but even those have varying degrees of coverage.


Assisted living is a wonderful solution for adults who need some help with daily activities and are not able to remain safely at home. 


Sources for this article included:,, and

By Linda Barnes
Seasons of Life

Peak Performance

Mental Health Conditions

Don’t Delay Treatment


Every year, one in five adults experience mental illness and one in six children experience a mental health disorder. Unfortunately, more than half of the people with mental illness don’t receive treatment. People often avoid or delay seeking treatment because of concerns about being treated differently by family, friends, colleagues, or even employers. That’s because prejudice and discrimination against people with mental illness is still very much a problem.


Stigma often comes from lack of understanding or fear. Inaccurate or misleading media representations of mental illness contribute to both those factors. To understand the stigma associated with mental health problems, we first need to define mental health. 


Mental health is a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realize their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community. It is an integral component of health and well-being that underpins our individual and collective abilities to make decisions, build relationships, and shape the world we live in. Throughout our lives, individual, social, and structural determinants may combine to protect or undermine our mental health and shift our position on the mental health continuum. 


Individual psychological and biological factors such as emotional skills, substance use, and genetics can make people more vulnerable to mental health problems. Exposure to unfavorable social, economic, geopolitical, and environmental circumstances, including things like poverty, violence, inequality, and environmental deprivation, can also increase a person’s risk of experiencing mental health conditions. These vulnerabilities exist at all stages of life, even in childhood. 


Mental health conditions in children are most often defined as delays or changes in thinking, behaviors, social skills, or control over emotions. These conditions disrupt their ability to act well at home, in school, or in other social settings. 


The warning signs are similar in all age groups, and they’re not usually as clear as a threat or attempt at suicide. A person who is suffering from mental health problems may simply seem “out of balance” to others. Feeling worried, depressed, guilty, or worthless, or feeling an exaggerated sense of “high” may be signs of a mental health issue. Drug or alcohol dependence, irrational behavior, or large mood swings can also be symptoms. Changes in sleep, weight, personal hygiene, or activity at school or work may hint at a mental health issue. If someone in your life seems off balance, keep an eye on them. If the situation doesn’t improve in a couple of weeks, there may be an overarching problem. 


There are more than 200 types of mental health disorders. Some of the more common types are anxiety disorders, mood disorders, eating disorders, and psychotic disorders.


Anxiety disorders include general anxiety, panic disorder, and social anxiety. Individuals with anxiety disorders tend to feel extreme fear or dread. They have reactions strong enough to affect their everyday life.


Two of the most common mood disorders are depression and bipolar disorder. Clinical depression is not just feeling sad. People with depression often lose all interest in the activities they used to enjoy and have difficulty performing the daily tasks of life. People with bipolar disorder swing between periods of excessive energy and periods of extreme depression. 


Eating disorders involve an unusual need to control eating habits. These disorders could include eating too little (anorexia), going to extremes to get rid of calories after eating (bulimia), or eating to excess and then feeling deep regret (binge eating).


People with psychotic disorders can have different perceptions of reality. Schizophrenia, for example, usually involves an abnormal interpretation of reality. 


If you have mental health-related concerns, either for yourself or someone else, see your general practitioner, who may recommend a specialist.


Psychotherapy is the therapeutic treatment of mental illness provided by a trained mental health professional. It explores thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and seeks to improve an individual’s well-being. It is helpful for many people with mental health problems. Medications can also work, especially in conjunction with psychotherapy. Other support options include peer support and community support services. 


There are also a variety of holistic approaches to decreasing mental health issues. These are supplemental and should support the efforts of the patient and their therapist. Some treatments include relaxation techniques, like yoga, that help reduce stress and induce calm. A strategy you might be surprised by is practicing gratitude. Researchers have shown that acknowledging gratitude can lead to healthy emotions and better overall health. 


Mental health is just as important as physical health. It helps us cope and enjoy life. If you or someone you know is experiencing signs of mental health issues, seek help from a professional. Be informed! The first step to treatment is acknowledging the problem. 


Sources for this article included:,,, and

By Deborah Daley
Peak Performance

Auto Wise

New Tires for Spring

A Collective Force of Support


I doubt this will come as a surprise, but tire shopping has never been high on my list of pleasurable activities. Be that as it may, tires hold up our vehicles, so they can’t be ignored! The way I see it, the more you know about tires, the better a consumer you will be. Let’s learn a little about replacing tires!


The first question I have is probably pretty common: If I replace one tire, do I have to replace all four tires? Yes, vehicle manufacturers recommend that you replace all four tires at once. The main reason for this is that tires at different stages of wear do not spin at the same rate, and you want your tires to be in sync. This is especially important if your car has all-wheel drive. 


If you have front-wheel drive, you can sometimes get away with replacing just two tires at a time. In this case, new tires should be placed on the rear wheels, and the older tires should go in the front. If you get a puncture on a fairly new tire, you can probably replace just the ruined tire. 


How often should you replace tires? Most experts agree that your tires should be replaced every six years, or a maximum of 60,000 to 75,000 miles of driving. 


Once you’ve decided to replace your tires, there are several things to take into consideration. Most vehicles today come with standard (all-season) tires. These are well-balanced tires that can handle a wide variety of road conditions, including wet, dry, and snowy surfaces. This is the only type of tire that many drivers will need. 


If you live in an area that gets lots of ice and snow, you may benefit from what are known as snow tires. These tires have a more significant tread and provide a much better grip during slippery, winter road conditions. You can switch out your tires from summer to winter, as needed. 


The sports car drivers among us may be interested in summer tires. These tires are very sensitive to temperature and provide plenty of grip on hot pavement. They should only be used when the temperatures are above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. 


Remember, tires are your car’s only point of contact with the road. Because of this, they influence how much control you have while driving, how accurately you can take turns, and how quickly you can stop. Good tires can even give you a quieter ride! 


You can extend the life of your tires by filling your tires correctly, keeping tabs on the alignment of your tires, rotating your tires, avoiding gravel roads (if possible), and never driving on a flat tire. Rotating your tires helps alleviate the differences in wear rate. You can rotate your tires left to right, back to front, and diagonally to extend the life span of your tires. 


What about filling your tires with nitrogen? Tires that are kept properly inflated with air or nitrogen won’t feel any different in terms of handling or ride quality. The benefits of nitrogen over normal air include increased tire life, improved fuel efficiency, and reduced corrosion. The disadvantages include higher cost and limited availability. Tires inflated with nitrogen will have a slower loss of pressure, but it may be harder to find nitrogen for a refill when you need it. There is no harm in putting regular air in nitrogen-filled tires in a pinch, but it does pretty much defeat the purpose. 


What if you get a nail in your tire? If the puncture is in the tread area and is no larger than 1/4 inch in diameter, the tire can most likely be repaired. You can probably safely patch or plug a tire a total of two or three times at most, as long as the punctures are not within six inches of each other. If the puncture is in the sidewall or shoulder of the tire, it cannot be repaired.


Even if your tires haven’t sustained any unusual damage, the timing of vital tire maintenance is important. Your owner’s manual can give you detailed information on the maintenance schedule. If you don’t have it or can’t find it, the general guideline is to have your tires rotated and balanced every 6,000 miles or so. (If your steering is wobbly right after a tire rotation, that’s a sure sign that the tires still need to be balanced properly.) Wheel alignment, which lines up your car’s suspension, should be addressed at approximately the same interval—about every 6,000 miles. In most cases, all three of these things can be done in the same appointment. 

Sources for this article included:,, and 

By Linda Sutherland
Auto Wise

The Good Life

Mommy Makeovers

Restore Your Body and Self-Confidence


Being a mother is one of life’s most rewarding experiences. However, pregnancy, childbearing, and breastfeeding take a toll on a woman’s body and may cause significant, unwanted physical changes. Diet and exercise are not always able to restore a woman’s body to the pre-pregnancy appearance she desires. In these cases, a mommy makeover may be an option worth considering.


A mommy makeover is a combination of cosmetic procedures with the goal of restoring the physical appearance of a woman’s body after childbearing. Several surgical and non-surgical procedures may be part of the package. Cosmetic surgery procedures might include tummy tuck, liposuction, breast surgery, buttock lift, and labiaplasty. Non-surgical options could include reducing cellulite, non-surgical fat reduction, skin tightening treatments, non-surgical feminine rejuvenation, Botox and filler injections, and skin resurfacing treatments.


A tummy tuck removes excess fat and skin around the abdomen, helps tighten the abdominal muscles, and may reduce stretch marks and C-section scars. Liposuction removes excess fat to shape specific areas like the abdomen, hips, buttocks, and thighs.


Breast enhancement procedures include augmentation, reduction, or breast lift. Augmentation can increase breast fullness and projection and correct asymmetry. Reduction removes skin and tissue and reshapes and elevates the breasts. A breast lift removes excess skin and tightens the surrounding tissue to raise the breasts, making them look fuller
and lifted. 


The considerable weight fluctuation during pregnancy may lead to poor buttock tissue elasticity. A buttock lift removes excess sagging skin and fat to provide a smoother, more pleasing shape. Childbirth may stretch the labia, making hygiene, intercourse, or exercise difficult. A labiaplasty reduces the labia minora to improve symmetry or reduce labial length so the labia do not twist and pull and are not visible when wearing tight clothing.


Non-surgical treatments may be good options for women who aren’t sure if they will have more children or who cannot take time off work to recover from surgery. These treatments can provide considerable improvements, although they will be less dramatic than surgical options. 


Who is a good candidate for a mommy makeover? There are several items to consider before making this decision. Being in good medical health and at a healthy weight are essential, as are realistic expectations and a positive outlook. The best candidates are finished having children and breastfeeding. There may be other factors to consider, depending on the procedures being performed.


Consider several criteria when selecting a plastic surgeon. The physician should be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Ask if they are specifically trained in plastic surgery and how many years of training they’ve had. Inquire about training specific to the mommy makeover procedures that you desire. If the surgery will be performed in a hospital, find out where they have hospital privileges to perform the procedures. If the procedures will be performed in an office-based surgical facility, ask if a nationally or state-recognized accrediting agency accredits it. 


Ask for references from former patients. Ask to see before and after photos. During the initial consultation, make sure the surgeon takes time to explain things and answer questions. You should be comfortable with how the surgeon and staff treat you. Asking questions will help you select the right plastic surgeon for you. 


Ask your plastic surgeon questions about the mommy makeover during the consultation. What is expected of you to achieve the best results? Which techniques does the surgeon recommend for you, and what are reasonable expectations? Ask about recovery period length and assistance needs during recovery. Inquire about risks and complications related to the procedures. How are complications handled? What happens if you are dissatisfied with the results? The answers to these questions will help you prepare and maintain realistic expectations. 


Mommy makeovers are personalized to meet the specific needs of each woman. Procedures are usually performed as outpatient surgery, though an overnight stay may be recommended. Depending upon what is being done, multiple operations may be performed simultaneously. Cosmetic surgical procedures are usually not covered by insurance; having various procedures done at the same time can save on anesthesia costs and other fees. 


Recovery time depends on the procedures performed, generally taking two to six weeks or longer. There will be limitations on heavy lifting and strenuous exercise for several weeks. Full results can only be determined once the swelling subsides, which could take six months or longer. 


A mommy makeover can help restore a woman’s body to its pre-pregnancy state. In addition to the visible benefits, this type of makeover can restore a woman’s self-esteem and confidence. Feeling good about yourself is essential to living a positive, fulfilling life.  


Sources for this article included:,, and

By Angella Arndt
The Good Life

Great Escapes

Sunny Spring Breaks for Families

Mexico & the Caribbean


Spring break is coming. Are you ready for a vacation? I am sure the kids would love one. How can you book a fun and relaxing getaway for all the members of your family (including yourself) without stressing out about the plans? By choosing an all-inclusive resort, of course! Even easier is booking through your travel agent. Why not take a break and head to a sunny destination with a beautiful beach? Spring is a great time to go, with lots of options for every taste, budget, and family dynamic. Sometimes too many choices makes it hard to decide. Let’s narrow it down to Mexico and the Caribbean. 


If you opt for Mexico, look into the States of Puerto Vallarta, Nayarit, and Quintana Roo. These include popular spots like Cancun, Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, and Playa Nayarit, just to name a few. This area of the country is often described as “the paradise of Mexico,” and it’s not hard to see why. Enjoy the beautiful blue waters and white sandy beaches. If you want to venture outside of the resort, you can explore tropical jungles, beautiful cenotes, and breathtaking Mayan historical sites. 


Families with young children, listen up: Nickelodeon Riviera Maya opened in 2021. Families will love this property! The kids can enjoy Aqua Nick, the six-acre Nickelodeon-themed water park that features meet-ups with kids’ favorite characters. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the five-star treatment you’ve been craving. They’ll be thrilled by the cool room décor, and you’ll love the extra space that the suites afford. There’s something for all of you!


If you’d prefer to travel to the Caribbean, consider staying at Beaches Resorts. These all-inclusive family resorts have locations in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos. As you’d expect, the price includes lodging, food, and drink. What may surprise you is that the price also includes unlimited WiFi, land and water sports like scuba diving and golf green fees, airport transfers, and even gratuities. Pay once when you book, and you do not have to worry about a thing when you arrive.


The Turks and Caicos resort has their own enormous Pirates Island waterpark, complete with lazy river and Surf Simulator, 12-mile beach, and 10 pools! For those who love to get in the water and stay in, this is the place to go. Beaches has kid camp programs for infants through 12 years old that keep the younger set entertained and safe while the grown-ups take some time for themselves. If your older kids are more active, they can participate in the Kids Scuba Program. When they need a break from underwater adventures, they can hit the arcade and kids’ lounge. The resort has plenty of included options and activities to entertain the whole family.


Fancy Jamaica for your spring getaway to the beach? Beaches Negril is set on Jamaica’s renowned seven-mile beach. Their property is adding 12 new and expansive butler suites. Six of these will be Firesky Reserve Villas, which have four bedrooms over three stories, to accommodate up to 10 guests. The other six are under the Eventide Penthouse Collection; they have three or four bedrooms each and can accommodate up to 18 guests. Booking one of these private residences gets you and your guests full butler service, a private courtyard, and a private pool. You will enjoy stunning views of the Caribbean Sea from your own private rooftop deck. Bring the extended family and be one of the first to stay at this new paradise! There is room for everyone. 


With multigenerational travel becoming ever more popular, Beaches is a great option for everybody to stay together in one place but still have enough space and freedom to do what they want. Now, that’s a vacation! You can also keep it in mind for a trip with family friends or a girls’ getaway. One more thing about Beaches that impressed me is that they have the Caribbean’s first autism-friendly kids camp, as well as low-sensory areas or zones at each resort. These features really show thoughtfulness for families who want all their members to be able to relax on vacation.


Talk to your travel agent, narrow down your choices, and get something planned now. Booking an all-inclusive resort in Mexico or the Caribbean is time and money well spent. We all need vacations, including our families. Take them on one that will nurture a love of traveling and create memories for a lifetime. Add in a sandy beach, some water sports, unlimited dining, and beautiful weather…I’m sold! 


Sources for this article included:,, and

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

By Jackie Williams
Great Escapes

The Green Thumb

When Critters Attack!

Share and Protect Your Garden


It happens….you have planted a beautiful garden of flowers, and you’ve been admiring your handiwork for a few days. You get up one morning, go out to water, and recoil in horror. Some of your prized plants have been upended! Others have had all their leaves sheared off. Did a runaway weed whacker destroy your garden? No, it was the work of some wild things commonly known as moles and rabbits. After you regain your composure, you attempt to replant your precious perennial flowers and do as much damage control as possible. Alas, the pesky critters come back in a few days and it starts all over again! What can you do?


Bear in mind that many beneficial creatures visit your welcoming garden, but your garden also attracts some less-than-welcome visitors. Rabbits are my personal nemesis. It makes me a little sad because we all know how cute rabbits are. But they are not cute when they are devouring my plants. Nope, no way! 


How can you handle them? Well, certainly nothing that would actually hurt them. You don’t want to destroy them—you just want to keep them away from your hard work. I start with some organic repellants such as ground hot pepper flakes, human hair, dog hair, and even onions and garlic. Don’t forget that you have to reapply said repellants after every rain or deep watering. If that doesn’t work, you can certainly put rabbit-proof fencing around your prized garden areas, but that could interfere with the look you want, or it just may be too costly.


What I recommend for warding off rabbits is to plant flowers and herbs that they do not like to smell. Lavender is my go-to. They don’t like it and will avoid it. Rosemary also has a heady scent that rabbits are not fond of. Along those same lines, catmint and regular mint are not favorites of rabbits and should mask the alluring scent of some of your other flowers. Allium is in the onion family and has a strong odor that is very unappealing to rabbits. Marigolds are also a winner as far as keeping destructive critters at bay. Oregano, thyme, and sage will also do the trick. This doesn’t mean you must plant only flowers that fall into this category. Plant whatever you love, but pair them with flowers that won’t tempt the rabbits.


When we first moved into our current house, that backyard was a blank canvas. I was thrilled and proceeded to plant a garden with some pretty mature perennials. Imagine my surprise when I went out the next morning and all the plants were upended. It turned out I had planted my beloved garden in a favorite tunneling spot of moles (which I did not know). These pesky little creatures had basically destroyed everything. 


I did a little reading and learned that the moles were prolific because we had such rich, earthworm-laden soil. That first season, the moles literally stripped all the earthworms from the soil! I don’t use poison for moles because we have animals and because it could eventually end up in the water system. There are traps you can buy for moles, but I have not had much success with that route. Predators seem to be the safest and “greenest” option. Cats and terriers are great predators for moles. Snakes are also good, if you happen to have them in your yard. They will eat the heck out of moles.


One of the biggest garden pests today is the whitetail deer. The only thing that keeps deer out of our yard is an eight-foot fence. If that’s not an option for you, try hanging bars of soap or mesh bags filled with human hair. Some people claim that a mix of water with eggs, garlic, and hot peppers will do the job. 


We know that we want some critters to stay out of the garden (moles, rabbits, deer) and we want other critters to come and enjoy it (bees, butterflies, birds). Sometimes, however, the calculation is more complicated. What if the birds that you love having in your garden also like to eat the fruits growing in your garden? Plastic netting can be put over the tops of low crops like strawberries. For taller plants, like raspberry brambles, balloons or plastic bags that flap in the breeze or metal pie pans that rattle when the wind blows can be attached to poles as deterrents. 


Some people have trouble with squirrels, but my biggest problem with them is that the nuts they hoard cause unwanted trees everywhere. The important thing to remember is that humans can live in harmony with wild critters. Instead of hurting them, make plans to outsmart them! 

By Linda Sutherland
The Green Thumb

Cuddly Critters

A Dog’s Life

What Do We Gain From Having a Dog?


Dogs have been a part of humans’ lives for millennia, and that’s good news. Having a dog helps us live longer and live better, in more ways than one! Modern scientists are studying dogs’ genomes to gain insight into diseases that affect humans. Dogs provide a faster aging model for studying all kinds of ailments. If you think about why dogs are so great, though, it’s probably not scientific study that first comes to mind.


The benefits of dog ownership for both adults and children are many (and have, in fact, been documented by science). First of all, the responsibilities of dog ownership are great tools to teach kids how to grow into responsible adults. Dogs need to be fed, bathed, walked, brushed, played with, and loved—all on a daily basis. Any of these tasks can be assigned to various members of the household to promote a feeling of responsibility and self-worth. 


The tasks of dog ownership can also be good for us, in and of themselves. Playing with or petting a dog can elevate brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which make you feel calm, relaxed, and content. This feeling is mutual. As you pet your dog, he may place a paw on your arm or leg. That’s dog speak for “good human!” 


Walking a dog also makes us get up and exercise regularly. Your doctor can tell you how healthy it is to walk every day, but your dog will insist on it! Dogs thrive on fresh air and walking, and they know how to convince their people that it is time to get the leash and go. If you have a few pounds to shed, why not get your dog in on the exercise plan? Walking or running together will help you both stay healthy.


Dogs and humans are social animals, and being out for a walk together is a great way for both of you to socialize. You’ll meet your neighbors who are out walking their dogs (and your dogs will meet each other). If you head to a dog park, you’re even more likely to meet dogs and dog lovers.


Dogs also provide loving and loyal companionship. Whatever your mood, your dog can sense it and respond to it in comforting ways. This is part of who they are! People have been breeding dogs to be good pets for a long, long time. As time has passed, dogs that are sensitive to human wants and needs have thrived. 


Some of the human needs that dogs can address are job-specific, like hunting, herding, guarding, fetching, and seeking. If you want your dog to perform any of those jobs, you’ll likely need to invest in some targeted training. General behavior training is a smart move for every dog.


If you don’t have a dog yet or don’t know which dog to get, start by visiting your local humane society or animal shelter. There are always dogs waiting to be adopted! Any dog can make a good pet, but consider where and how you live before you choose a dog. Some dogs need a lot of room to run and would do better in a home with a large yard or with an owner who likes to go on long runs. Others would be perfectly content with living in a small condo and enjoying a short daily walk. The staff at the shelter or a veterinarian can guide you toward dog breeds (or even individual animals) that are more likely to fit your family’s lifestyle.


If you’re interested in a specific breed, consider reaching out to a breed-specific rescue organization. There are also a lot of dog breeders out there; some reputable, some not. Be sure to ask other dog owners which breeders they feel confident working with. Many designer breeds have cropped up over the years, including delightful (and delightful-to-say) breeds like schnoodle, puggle, and cockapoo. 


Once you have your new pet, visit a local veterinarian to get you started on the right path. This professional will provide a thorough wellness check for your new pet and will let you know how to help your dog adjust to life at your home and with your family. 


Many dogs do best with some kind of training. Play time, praise, and petting are great ways to ensure that positive behaviors become habits! If you want help training your dog, you can hire a trainer or take a class. For best results, all members of the family need to be a part of the training. After all, everyone in the family will be welcoming this new member! 


Sources for this article included:,, and 

By Jackie Byers
Cuddly Critters

Positive Perspective

My Business? 

None of Your Business


Yikes! Since when did it become the norm for people to butt their noses into everyone else’s business? To try to control everyone in their circle of friends and family? To insist on giving advice when no one has asked for it? 


“Keep your attention focused entirely on what is truly your own concern, and be clear that what belongs to others is their business and none of yours.” —Epictetus 


I have been watching this pattern become more and more prevalent over the last several years. We now get to deal with nosy neighbors, intrusive family members, and opinionated friends. I have even encountered this attitude from total strangers!


Where have the manners and respect disappeared to? It’s as if the pandemic opened the doors for people to feel they have the right to tell others how to be, what to do, how to feel, and how to act. These individuals feel they have the right to tell you their opinion about you…and they expect you to be interested in it. 


“Civilization depends on, and civility often requires, the willingness to say, ‘What you are doing is none of my business’ and ‘What I am doing is none of your business.’” —George Will


So, what is the solution? How do we get the message across to these people that we really don’t want their unsolicited opinions and advice? How do we stay mature and respectful when others are being anything but? How do we avoid sinking to their level? 


“What you think of me is none of my business.” —Larry Winger

I love this quote! It is short, sweet, and to the point…and it is impossible to argue with! I have turned to this quote on several occasions when someone is ignoring my boundaries. It quickly ends the discussion. It stops the meddler dead in their tracks! 


“Let people do what they need to do to make them happy. Mind your own business, and do what you need to do to make you happy.” —Leon Brown


The next time you run into someone who feels they know how to run your life better than you do, calmly look them in the eye, put a smile on your face, and say, “What you think of me is none of my business.” It will make you feel happy, will surprise the heck out of them, and may even save your relationship.


“My life, my choices, my mistakes, my lessons…not your business!” —Eleanor Roosevelt  

By Janet Van deWalle
Positive Perspective
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