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Fashion Worthy

Early Fall Essentials

Outfit Makers You Will Love

 

In the Midwest, we really have six seasons rather than four: winter, early spring, spring, summer, early fall, and fall. Most of us fashion-loving gals are excited and can’t wait to dive into the next season, but the weather does not quite cooperate with us! In our transitional seasons of early spring and early fall, it may be cool in the morning, warm in the afternoon, and then chilly in the evening. How do we dress for these variations in temperature? Here are some ideas to prepare you for the upcoming early fall.

 

Now is the time to enjoy wearing a lightweight cargo or utility pant. An ankle or crop length will still give you a cooler feel than long pants at this time. Black, khaki, and dark green are good color choices to start the transition of your summer wardrobe into fall. Investing in basics that are not season-specific is always wise. Jeans are also an option, but make sure they are a summer weight, as they can be hot.

 

What shoes will work during the transition? You can still wear your white sneakers into fall and even into winter, if the weather allows. Other on-trend options include a loafer or mule in black or cognac.

 

White t-shirts should still be in the front of your closet, along with your tank tops. This is when you can start transitioning by adding darker-toned tops. Now is also the time to add that all-important third piece to your outfit. This third piece can elevate your style while keeping you just a little bit warmer.

 

Try adding a jean jacket. Perfect for fall and so versatile, a jean jacket can be worn over pretty much anything. Even the simplest black pant with a white tee looks elevated with a jean jacket tossed over the top. Add a cognac belt and shoe for an outfit that looks casual but still really sharp. A lightweight cotton sweater that was worn in the early spring could be a great fall option, as well. Tie it over your shoulders for an autumnal vibe.

 

I love a good blazer. If you want to be taken seriously, add a blazer to your basic ensemble. It really kicks it up a notch and lets people know you mean business! Alternatively, a lightweight classic trench coat could be that third piece. A trench coat looks great worn open to show your outfit on warmer days and buttoned up or belted on cooler days. Adding a knotted scarf to the neckline on a really chilly day will carry you into early winter.

 

On brisk evenings, I love a leather jacket worn over the shoulders for an edgy vibe. Vests are another third piece option that elevates your look in a more sophisticated way. Worn over a white tee, a vest adds another step to your outfit while creating a vertical slimming line. Check out the pullover sweater vest for another option on those in-between weather days.

 

If you are not quite ready for the jacket phase yet, a long-sleeved button-up shirt is a chic option. Classic white is always sharp, but stripes and fall colors like warm earth tones, coastal blues, and deep citrus shades would be great options, too. These tones are meant to highlight our connection to nature and are practical and elegant. I personally love deep berry tones and regal purples.

 

Layering is always the easiest way to transition your summer outfits into fall. Adding hosiery to your summer wardrobe pieces can help switch to your fall footwear via a kitten heel boot, a slip-on clog, or a platform loafer. Colorful sneakers are also modern and in vogue. This will give your outfit a more seasonal feel, and it’s a great way to be comfortable and fashionable at any age.

 

You may not think of jewelry as particularly seasonal, but jewelry can definitely take your summer outfit into fall. In the warmer months, we tend to go for light and simple pieces. The layering of small necklaces has been popular for quite a while. To bring that look into autumn, find some chunkier bold pieces. A gold chain link necklace tops the list for many fashionistas this fall, along with more bold statement pieces. Keep the rest of the outfit simple and chic, and let your accessories do the talking!

 

As we say goodbye to summer and look forward to those cool fall breezes, let’s enjoy putting together some early fall looks that fit our own personal style. There’s nothing wrong with having six seasons! For fashionistas, it just means more opportunity to put together fabulous yet comfortable outfits. Happy early fall!

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

Sunny Summer Memories—Let’s Eat!

 

Puffy Pancake with Summer Fruits

Put 4 Tablespoons of butter into a cast iron skillet or a glass 9x13-inch baking dish. Place in a 425-degree oven for 3-4 minutes until melted and bubbly. In a large bowl, whisk together 6 eggs, 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of milk, a dash of vanilla, and a pinch each of salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and sugar. Stir together. Pour the egg mixture into the heated skillet, then put the skillet back in the oven for 20 minutes. While the pancake is baking, rinse, trim, and chop any fruits you want. Warm up some syrup, dust the baked pancake with a bit of powdered sugar, and serve with fruits and syrup.

 

Grilled Shrimp with Butter Sauce

Clean and prepare as many shrimp as you like (in your preferred size) and place them in the center of a large foil packet. Add 2 scallions, some lemon slices, and salt and pepper and hot sauce as desired. In a small bowl, mix 4 Tablespoons of soft butter, 2 Tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley, 1/4 teaspoon of oregano, 1/4 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, and 1 clove of minced garlic. Place the butter mixture over the shrimp. Sprinkle in 1/4 cup of toasted bread crumbs. Seal the foil packet and grill over medium heat for 15 minutes.

 

Sweet Baby Mac Summer Salad

Cook one 16-ounce package of elbow macaroni. Drain, rinse, and set aside. In a large bowl, mix 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup of sugar, 2 cups of mayonnaise, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the macaroni, along with veggies of your choice—a bit of chopped red or green pepper, onion, carrots, cucumber, celery stalk, etc. Mix well. Top with a little chopped dill. Refrigerate overnight. Adjust seasonings as desired.

 

Penne Pasta Salad

Cook one 16-ounce package of penne. Drain, rinse, and set aside. In a jar (with a lid), mix 1 cup of vinegar, 1 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 2 Tablespoons of mustard, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, salt and pepper as desired, and a dash of all-seasoning blend. Shake well. Put the penne into a bowl along with your desired cut-up veggies—shaved brussels sprouts, bite-sized cauliflower or broccoli florets, peppers, fresh corn. (Veggies can be raw or blanched and cooled.) Add a few cubes of salami or cheese, if you like. Pour on the dressing but don’t mix. Refrigerate for several hours. Mix and serve.

 

Cheesy Drop Biscuits

Lightly mix together 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, 1 Tablespoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, 2/3 cup of milk, 1/3 cup of soft or melted butter, and 1 egg. Drop 12 portions of dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter. Mix in 1 teaspoon of dried parsley and 1 teaspoon of garlic or onion powder and paint the top of each biscuit. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

 

Thai Chicken Skewers

Chunk-cut 2-4 boneless chicken breasts and put them into a zip-top bag. Add a few drizzles of oil and sriracha, a dash of rice vinegar and toasted sesame oil, and onion and garlic powder. Refrigerate for an hour. Thread water-soaked bamboo kabob skewers with the chicken chunks, thick-cut radishes, cucumber slices, baby tomatoes, peppers or jalapeno, parboiled baby potatoes, and toasted baguette slices. Grill over medium heat until the chicken is done, basting with extra sauce or lemon butter, if desired. Serve with a sauce made of mayo and sriracha.

 

Tropical Boozy Smoothie

In a blender or cocktail shaker, mix 1/4 cup of fresh or bottled orange juice, 1 cup of pineapple juice, 1/4 cup of rum, and 1/4 cup of coconut milk. Mix vigorously. Serve over crushed or cubed ice. Add a shake of nutmeg. (For a kid-friendly drink, just leave out the rum.)

 

Watermelon Mash

Cut the fruit from a watermelon and put it in a blender in batches. Puree until smooth. Strain and then put fruit into a large pitcher. Add a can of frozen orange juice and 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Refrigerate. When ready to serve, add sweet white wine or vodka and ginger ale to your liking. Do multiple taste tests. Add ice and umbrellas.

 

Fresh Fruit Cookie

For the homemade cookie crust: Mix 1/4 cup of soft butter, 1/3 cup of sugar, and 1 egg yolk. Mix in 1 cup of flour until blended. Pat out onto a 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Cool.

For the glazed fruit: Mix 1/2 cup of sugar with 3 Tablespoons of cornstarch. Gradually stir in 1 and 1/2 cups of orange juice until smooth. Stir constantly over medium heat and boil 1 minute until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in 1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest. Cool. Slice any summer fruits—berries, bananas, raspberries, peaches, kiwi. You’ll need about 6 cups of sliced fruit. Pour the glaze over the fruit and mix. Then pour the glazed fruit onto the baked and cooled crust. Chill and serve. (Optional: Mix 8 ounces of softened cream cheese and 2 Tablespoons each of powdered sugar and vanilla and spread onto the cookie before you add the fruit.)

 

Cukes and Sour Cream

Peel and thinly slice 2 medium-sized cucumbers and place them in a large bowl. Add a few thin slices of onion or several chopped-up scallions. Add salt to your liking, then cover and refrigerate. In another bowl, whisk together 1 cup of sour cream, 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar, and 1 Tablespoon of sugar. Add the sour cream mixture to the cucumbers and mix well. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.

 

Quick Sloppy Joes

Cook 2 pounds of ground chuck with one cut-up onion, chopping finely as the beef cooks. Drain the grease. Stir in 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of mustard, 2 Tablespoons of sugar, 1/2 cup of ketchup, and 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Pour in 1/2 bottle of chili sauce and stir. Keep adding chili sauce until you get the consistency that you like. Toast the buns and serve it up.

 

Fresh Summer Berry Pie

Bake and cool a prepared 9-inch pie crust. In a saucepan, heat 3/4 cup of sugar, 3 Tablespoons of cornstarch, and 1 and 1/2 cup of water. Cook on medium heat to a boil, and keep at a boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in 1 small box of strawberry-flavored gelatin. Mix until dissolved, then cool 10 minutes to room temperature. Mix 1 and 1/2 cups of fresh raspberries, 1 and 1/2 cups of sliced strawberries, and 1 cup of blueberries. Pour the berries into the baked pie shell. Pour the gelatin mix over the berries. Refrigerate for 3-5 hours. Top with whipped cream and serve.

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

Leo (July 23 – August 22)

 
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Always remember that you can choose how you present yourself! In your personal life, you’ll notice that something may be bothering your partner. Find out what it is.

 

Virgo (Aug. 23 – Sep. 22) Don’t be afraid to take the first step. New experiences will bring you self-confidence, unveiling undiscovered aspects of your personality. There are some hard times ahead at work. Use these challenges to demonstrate that you’re an extremely good employee.

 

Libra (Sept. 23 – Oct. 22) Careless mistakes can have large negative consequences. Follow the advice your colleagues give you; they can help. Don’t let financial stress turn into physical stress. Take some time to relax.

 

Scorpio (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21) Family vacation is the activity you need right now. Surround yourself with people you love, and enjoy your time off. When you return to work, don’t start your day in a hurry! Get up early and have a healthy breakfast. You will feel better the whole day.

 

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21) Your personal and professional relationships will need your attention this month. Try to maintain a reasonable pace. Don’t rush things! Enthusiastically engage in tried-and-tested activities.

 

Capricorn (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19) This month is hectic for you. Your friends can help you meet your deadlines. There’s a great deal of stress at work, and you don’t want to get caught in it. Lay low and stay on task. Being social outside of work will help you manage your own stress.

 

Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18) You know best what you want and what is good for you, so stand your ground and don’t let anyone push you into anything. Instead, try something that has interested you for a long time but has always seemed too daring to try.

 

Pisces (Feb. 19 – Mar. 20) Come out of the shadows this month. You radiate positive energy, which will attract attention, personally and professionally. This will help you on the path to success in your personal life and in your career.

 

Aries (Mar. 21 – Apr. 19) Focus on yourself this month. You will feel open to change, which will unlock your potential for lifestyle improvement. Start planning what you would like to have achieved by the end of the year.

 

Taurus (Apr. 20 – May 20) This month will be a turbulent one. Your financial health is not at its peak, so don’t embark on any new projects that require investments. It’s also going to be a time of stress in personal relationships. Be ready to listen and understand. This, too, shall pass.

 

Gemini (May 21 – Jun. 20) If you wait for the right moment to shine, there will be no stopping you. Take your time and be creative. You will attract the attention of the right people to drive you forward. Don’t rush, but don’t fall behind, and don’t leave anyone behind.

 

Cancer (Jun. 21 – Jul. 22) August will be a challenging month. Resolve conflicts as they come and move forward. If plans don’t work out, make adjustments. Not every day can be the best day. If you feel overwhelmed at work, examine your priorities and create a more realistic schedule.

A Woman's Work

Exploring Namesakes

A Deborah by Any Other Name

 

Choosing a name for a baby is a huge decision. Many parents honor family members with middle names, but a child’s first name can be inspired by many factors. First names can emanate from popular trends at the time, famous people, favorite characters, and more.

 

This fascinates me because I was supposed to be named Shawn, not Deborah. My parents were Irish, and they loved the sound of the name. My father’s name was John, and Shawn is the Gaelic version of John. But the day before I was born, my mom saw the movie From Here to Eternity. She loved the actress Deborah Kerr and convinced my dad that if their baby was a girl, they should name her Deborah. And so I was!

 

The name was near the height of its popularity—it was among the 20 most popular names for girls from 1950 to 1970. Since I’m likely not the only Deborah reading this, I thought I’d take a look at some famous Deborahs. As it turns out, most of them were born during the Deborah boom that followed the height of Deborah Kerr’s career. Maybe their mothers saw From Here to Eternity, too!

 

The most famous Debbie of all…wasn’t really a Debbie. Mary Frances Reynolds (April 1, 1932 – December 28, 2016) was the American actress we know as Debbie Reynolds. She was dubbed “Debbie” by the Warner Brothers studio head Jack L. Warner when the studio offered her a contract in 1948. She was considered a triple threat in the industry because she could sing, dance, and act. Her career in film, TV, and theater spanned many decades.

 

Our next famous Debbie wasn’t born a Debbie, either. Debbie Harry (July 1, 1945) was born Angela Tremble. She was adopted as an infant and her parents changed her name to Deborah Ann Harry. She is best known as the lead singer of the new wave band Blondie, which had a long list of hits in the late 1970s. The band underwent a name change, too—it was originally called Angel and the Snake, but the band members decided to change it to the common catcall that Debbie endured after she bleached her hair.

 

My own namesake, Deborah Jane Trimmer (September 30, 1921 – October 16, 2007), known professionally as Deborah Kerr, was a Scottish-born film, theater, and television actress. She was nominated six times for the Academy Award for Best Actress, including for her role as Karen Holmes in the life-changing (for my name, anyway) film From Here to Eternity. Though she didn’t have any trouble with her first name, she did have to teach 1940s Hollywood how to pronounce her Scottish last name (sounds like “car”).

 

Deborah Kaye Allen (born January 16, 1950) is a woman of many entertainment-industry talents, including acting, dancing, choreography, directing, and producing. She is perhaps best known for her work on the 1982 musical-drama television series Fame, in which she portrayed dance teacher Lydia Grant and served as the principal choreographer for the series. She currently portrays Catherine Fox on the television show Grey’s Anatomy.

 

Deborah Ann Gibson (born August 31, 1970) is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and actress. In 1987, she released her debut album Out of the Blue as Debbie Gibson. The child star was the youngest female artist to write, produce, and perform a Billboard Hot 100 number-one single. Ten years later, an adult Debbie decided to go by Deborah and released a self-titled album. It was talked about as a big image change, but the truth from Deborah herself is a little less dramatic. “I’ve always preferred to be called Deborah,” she said in an interview at the time. “I realized that, hey, people are going to call you whatever you print on that cover. So here’s my chance to be called what I always wanted to be called.”

 

Deborah Elizabeth Meyer (born August 14, 1952) is a truly award-winning Debbie. She was a champion Olympic swimmer in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City—the first swimmer to win three individual gold medals in a single Olympic Games. (In 2016, Katie Ledecky became the second female swimmer to do this.) Debbie is also known by her married name, Deborah Weber, but as a swimmer, she’s known as Debbie Meyer. She retired from competitive swimming decades ago but continues to run the Debbie Meyer Swim School in California.

 

I greatly enjoyed learning about some famous women who may well have been named after the same actress who inspired my name. Who is your namesake? It might be fun to explore famous people who have your first name. It was for me.

By Deborah Daley
A Woman's Work

Fresh Concepts

Managing Pain for a Better Life

End Pain and Heal!

 

According to the National Institutes of Health, “pain” is the most common reason that people seek medical care. Because people feel pain differently, there’s no single treatment that works for everyone. To find the best ways to address your own pain, it’s important to understand the different kinds of pain, common conditions, and effective methods of pain management.

 

The two main categories of pain are acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term). The sharp sting of a paper cut or the searing pain of a sprained ankle are examples of acute pain—that is, intense pain from an injury that typically resolves as your body heals over time. Acute pain is often not complicated to manage; the body experiences less pain as the healing process continues.

 

If acute pain is not treated promptly and properly, however, it can morph into chronic pain. When pain doesn’t subside, it is considered chronic. Chronic pain often happens after a long illness or, sometimes, without a reason at all. It just is. Chronic pain can last months or years, and pain management becomes more complicated.

 

There are other types of pain, like neuropathic pain (burning, shooting, stabbing) that results from nerve damage after an illness or injury. Inflammatory pain (redness and swelling) results when your immune system kicks in to defend your body from injury or infection. Clearly, there are as many causes of pain as there are ways to treat it.

 

Some of the most common pain conditions that result in a doctor visit are arthritis, muscle injury, or joint injuries. Pervasive pain such as low back pain, neck pain, severe headaches, and post-operative pain also usually requires a doc visit. If you’re struggling to cope with pain, start by visiting your primary doctor, but don’t forget those who specialize in managing pain. Pain centers, chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, mental health practitioners, and hypnosis experts can help. Adding holistic therapy to your protocol carries little risk and is often complementary to drug therapy or traditional medicine.

 

An individualized pain treatment plan includes an initial assessment by a professional, usually your physician or a pain center. Once the pain diagnosis and underlying mechanisms are clear, a specific goal is set for improved function. The treatment plan will likely include lifestyle changes, traditional and alternative therapies, and monitored responses.

 

The most common type of pain management is medication. Over-the-counter or prescription meds can be very effective when used properly. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, ibuprofen, and diclofenac are the preferred drug therapy for pain.

 

Analgesics like acetaminophen moderate pain well and are often recommended for headaches. Even better, they safely combine for a more potent pain cocktail. However, long-term use in high doses can cause symptoms like heartburn, bloating, diarrhea, high blood pressure, ulcers, and even kidney problems, so it’s important to work with your physician to find the lowest effective dose. Low-dose aspirin reduces the risk of heart attack for some people without posing the same risks as NSAIDs. Aspirin can dull pain, reduce inflammation, and lower fever.

 

Most professionals will steer you away from opioids because of the risk for addiction, but there are other medication dangers to be aware of. Medication interactions can be harmful or even deadly. For example, pain and anxiety medications often don’t mix. Sleeping aids and Benadryl can be lethal when combined with pain meds like opioids, so use with caution. It’s best to use just one doctor and one pharmacy for medicine coordination; this cuts down on accidental interactions.

 

The search is on for non-opioid pain relief medication to help people with chronic pain. Vertex Pharmaceuticals is currently developing an alternative painkiller and has filed for FDA approval. The drug is still under study.

 

Your doc may prescribe opioid drugs like morphine, oxycontin, codeine, or fentanyl for severe and intractable pain. Follow instructions closely! They are safe if used only for a short time, and as long as the patient is aware of the risk of addiction. Opioids are available in a pain patch, also, which is often used to address post-surgical pain. Buprenorphine skin patches are used to treat severe, chronic pain when other pain medications don’t provide relief.

 

Topical lidocaine or skin patches are generally safe when used properly, with pain relief lasting up to 12 hours. Problems such as loss of feeling or agitation can occur with overuse, and large overdoses can be toxic. Patches are often used briefly for low back pain, nerve pain, and moderate to severe pain like arthritis, sprains, neuropathy, and joint pain. Because the medication does not go through the digestive tract, patches limit stomach irritation and other conditions that go along with oral medicines.

 

Tiger balm, developed in the early 20th century, temporarily treats muscle soreness with warming and cooling sensations. The numbing effect tricks nerve endings away from feeling pain and reduces inflammation. Some research says that additional ingredients like menthol can draw out lactic acid, meaning that your muscles may still feel better after the effects of a patch or cream wear off. The ingredient capsaicin is found naturally in chili peppers. It causes a warming sensation and is used as a cream for immediate relief from diabetic neuropathy.

 

A nerve block is an injection that provides temporary (several hours) relief of nerve pain. They are used before and after surgery to decrease pain, often through an IV. Injections block pain from specific nerves, providing a temporary loss of feeling needed for surgery.

Physical therapy is a great strategy to help alleviate chronic pain or rehabilitate an injury. PT can improve range of motion and increase strength and is targeted specifically for the part of the body that needs help. Expect several sessions before you start to feel better.

 

Holistic pain management addresses the whole person, not just the physical symptoms. For example, a therapeutic massage relaxes muscles, tendons, and joints, relieving stress and increasing circulation. Massage can also decrease inflammation. Expect similar relief with myofascial release therapy, a hands-on technique to manage pain by releasing the connective tissue (fascia) that supports organs and muscles throughout the body.

 

If you choose to dive into your mind, as well, biofeedback can teach you to make slight changes in your body by learning to relax. The technique provides sensory feedback as we tense up to help us control automatic body functions like breathing, muscle relaxation, and heart rate. You’ll notice pain relief and tension reduction after sessions with a biofeedback professional.

 

Chiropractors are high up on the list for holistic treatment of pain. These professionals are well studied, offering feel-good adjustments to realign joints, decrease pain, and increase range of motion. Acute and chronic neck or back pain often melts away after a few visits. Chiropractors specialize in pain relief, from the physical strains of pregnancy to pinched nerves to acid reflux.

 

Acupuncture practitioners insert very thin needles at specific energy centers (meridians) throughout your body to provide relief from pain and stress. Traditional Chinese medicine describes an internal energy flow that needs balance. The often painless needle insertion stimulates nerves, connective tissue, and muscles to boost your body’s natural painkillers. Acupuncture enthusiasts report relief from headaches, lower back pain, osteoarthritis, respiratory disorders, menstrual cramps, fibromyalgia, post-surgical pain, labor pain, and nausea, to name a few. Ask your chiropractor or medical doctor for a referral.

 

Medical hypnosis can help alleviate sudden or long-term pain from cancer, arthritis, burns—really, pain from just about any source can be addressed. Hypnosis in a clinical setting is not like what you may have seen in the movies. Clinical hypnosis leaves you in control, initiating the power of your mind to make positive changes, including lowering pain. You can check the National Hypnotherapy Society’s Accredited Register to find a certified hypnotherapist in your area.

 

Last but not least, many people find that meditation naturally boosts their well-being, reduces pain and anxiety, and increases mindfulness. Meditation relieves chronic pain by triggering the release of endorphins (the peptides produced in the brain that block the perception of pain). Try a breathing exercise as you relax, focusing on a repeated positive phrase. If you need help, reach out to a mental health professional or even online for a guided meditation. An app may not seem like a relaxing option, but if it reminds you to meditate and then guides you through a breathing exercise…why not?

 

Now that you’re armed with resourceful tools for managing pain, let the healing begin!

 

Sources for this article included: mindful.org, medlineplus.gov, and mayoclinic.org.

By Janette Calabro
Fresh Concepts

Good Looks

Face Facts

It’s Time for a Facial

Want to feel refreshed and rejuvenated? A facial may be just the ticket! A good facial improves the overall look, feel, and health of your skin, revitalizing your overall appearance. But the good news doesn’t end there! Facials provide a multitude of health benefits.

 

First and foremost, facials provide a deep, thorough cleansing. Just one session results in a noticeable difference. Your face will appear more glowing and radiant. Exfoliation is a key component of any facial. Unless old skin cells are sloughed off, it’s difficult for the skin to replace them with new ones. Exfoliation removes the dead skin cells, enabling new cells to grow. It’s also great for tackling those pesky blackheads.

 

A facial is also a good stress reducer. The face contains many pressure points, which are frequently massaged during a facial. This decreases physical and psychological stress and stimulates cell regeneration, giving the skin a more youthful appearance. Massaging any part of the body will improve blood circulation to that area. As circulation improves, skin cells take on more oxygen and nutrients. This accelerates cell regeneration, replaces dead skin cells at a faster rate, and improves overall skin appearance.

 

Outside pollutants and contaminants can make the skin dull and dry. Regular facials detoxify and tighten the skin, helping to retain moisture. Most facials use products with ingredients rich in antioxidants, essential oils, and herbal extracts, all of which accelerate the detoxification process. As we age, our skin becomes less elastic because of the natural decrease in collagen production (as well as from external factors). Facials stimulate collage production, improving skin texture and elasticity and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

 

If your complexion is blotchy, the right facial can even out dark patches of skin caused by exposure to harmful sun rays. A facial provides the proper nutrients to brighten your skin and return it to its former radiance. A good facial will also reduce undereye bags and dark circles by providing hydration and nutrients targeting that delicate area.

 

How do you determine which type of facial is best for you? The first step is to choose your technician wisely. Consult a board-certified dermatologist or licensed aesthetician and schedule a consultation. They will determine a facial treatment that is suitable for your skin type. There are multiple types of facials available.

 

The classic facial, also known as a European facial, is a basic facial that includes steaming the face, exfoliation, and massage, as well as the application of masks, serums, or moisturizers. It deeply cleanses the face, unclogs pores, and evens out skin tone. It’s a good choice if you suffer from acne. A lymphatic massage may be part of a classic facial. In addition to being a wonderfully relaxing experience, it reduces puffiness and tension around the face and neck. It also helps decrease water retention and toxins. A classic facial can be customized to include anti-aging and hydration treatments.

 

A microcurrent facial refers to any facial that utilizes an electronic device to stimulate muscles. It may sound treacherous, but it’s safe and pain-free. Galvanic and high-frequency facials are the most common microcurrent facials.

 

A galvanic facial uses galvanic currents to stimulate and tone the facial muscles. This gives the skin a more lifted look and reshapes the face, making it appear more defined.

 

A high-frequency facial is sometimes called a radiofrequency facial. Electrical currents produce a certain amount of heat to stimulate deeper layers of the skin. Its anti-inflammatory heat kills bacteria, making this a good option to treat acne and get rid of acne scars.

 

LED light therapy also uses electricity to improve the skin. For this procedure, different wavelengths of light are employed to treat various skin issues. Different colored wavelengths cause different reactions. Blue light therapy fights inflammation and can help treat acne. Red light helps the skin heal faster and promotes collagen growth.

 

Facial skin resurfacing is a more invasive option to address skin issues. A chemical peel uses an acid such as glycolic acid to promote skin turnover. It’s one of the most effective skin resurfacing treatments available. Benefits include getting rid of deep wrinkles, scars, and age spots. Laser resurfacing uses laser beams to create microscopic wounds in a pattern. Non-wounded cells encourage the wounded cells to heal, stimulating new cell generation. It’s great for fine lines, age spots, and enlarged pores.

 

By getting a facial, you’re taking an important step toward healthy, revitalized skin. Make time for yourself. Melt away stress and wrinkles. Improve your overall appearance with a customized facial that will help you put your best face forward.

 

Sources for this article included: bodywise.com, everydayhealth.com, and allure.com.

By Loretta McCollum
Good Looks

Income Outcome

Try Again Tomorrow

Life Takes Courage

 

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” —Mary Anne Radmacher

 

I ran across this quote the other day, and it got me thinking of all the courageous women and men in this world who get up…every day…and try. These unsung heroes try to take care of their family, their friends, their coworkers, their employees, and even complete strangers on the street. They don’t even think about it. They just do it, because in their gut, they know it is the right thing to do to remain an ethical and moral person.

 

“The truth is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.” —Venugopal Acharya

 

It was my parents, Anne and Big Al, who taught me how to be courageous, to always do the right thing, and to keep doing it, every single day.

 

One memory that is crystal clear in my mind is from when I was ten years old. My dad worked a lot of hours. After all, he was supporting a family of eight. When he came home from work, he was very tired. He’d go to his bedroom, toss his pocket change into a shoebox in his closet, change his clothes, and go sit down to dinner. Daddy didn’t really pay attention to how many quarters were in that shoebox…or so I thought.

 

After a few nights of me sneaking into my parents’ bedroom and taking a few quarters, my dad called me into the bedroom. He asked me if I had taken quarters from his box. “No Daddy, I didn’t steal the quarters.” In a very calm voice, and with an incredible amount of patience, he proceeded to explain to me how hard it is to go through life lying. “The problem with lying, Jan, is that you have to remember who you told what lie to. Then you have to tell another lie to cover up that lie. Before you know what happened, you’re spending lots of energy to cover up all those lies. It’s a whole lot easier to simply tell the truth.” At that point, I teared up and confessed. Best lesson Big Al ever gave me!

 

“Never lie to someone who trusts you. Never trust someone who lies to you.” —Deanna Wadsworth

 

Have we all been lied to in our lifetimes? Of course we have. Have we all lied in our lifetimes, as well? Of course we have. Ever since that conversation with Dad when I was ten years old, I dig down and try to find the courage to be honest and live my life with integrity…every single day.

By Janet Van deWalle
Income Outcome

Kids Comments

It’s School Time!

How Do You Prepare?

 

It’s time to get the kids ready for school again. Long ago, when my brothers and I were kids, Mom would take us shopping for school supplies. What we needed depended on what grade we were in. In the early years, we got a Big Chief tablet, some #2 pencils, a pink pearl eraser, and a box of 8 crayons. Later, the Big Chief tablet was replaced by school-lined, three-hole notebook paper. Eventually, the #2 pencils became mechanical (but we still needed the pink pearl eraser). If we were lucky, we got a Bic Stic ballpoint pen.

 

My, how the shopping list has changed! Today, kids need laptops and calculators. If supplies you purchased ahead of time aren’t required for school this year, store them in your home study area. You’ll be surprised how often they come in handy.

 

Getting ready for school is about much more than supplies. During the summer, we played outdoors most of the day, with a break for lunch. Once the school year started, Mom usually had a snack ready for us when we got home, and she arranged her schedule to include time to listen to us as we told her about our day. The rest of the day was ours to be with our friends…unless we had homework.

 

Schedules then, as now, were adapted to our list of formal activities. We had Scout meetings, sports practices and competitions, and assorted other activities demanding our time. In most active families, no schedule is set in stone. The kids have interruptions to their schedules, just as we do. The key is figuring out how to make sure everyone is where they need to be, when they need to be there.

 

My friend has a huge white board hanging on her wall to keep track of everyone’s goings-on. Her kids’ ages range from preschool to teens. The board is marked off in a grid, with a column for each kid and large squares going across to accommodate times, locations, and activities.

 

I’ve seen parents do the same thing on a regular wall calendar with a different color for each kid. Another option is individual calendars or planners for each child. Whatever system you adopt, be sure to schedule time for homework, jobs, chores, play, and just plain old down time. We all need it.

 

Rules are also important when school starts and schedules are more regulated. Whatever general rules you make should be adaptable for all ages—for example, bedtimes change as kids get older but are still set times. I think the most important rule should be to include regular family time in everyone’s schedule. It’s important, when our lives become harried and hurried, that the family isn’t forgotten. Scheduling helps make time.

 

I hope everyone has a pleasant and successful school year. Happy learning!

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

Master Suite Bliss

A Curated Refuge to Rejuvenate

Master suites are one of the most popular home additions today—and for good reason. More than any other room in the modern home, the master bedroom has undergone an evolution. Once a room designated primarily for sleep, the master bedroom has transitioned into a luxurious oasis designed with amenities that deliver the ultimate in relaxation and pampering. A private and personal retreat, the master suite has emerged as the perfect refuge from the outside world. If you’ve been dreaming of a sanctuary with spa-like amenities, here’s everything you need to know about planning and creating a master suite of your very own.

 

While the exact features of each master suite will depend entirely upon a homeowner’s lifestyle, the ultimate suite begins with a spacious environment. This means that step one is deciding where to place the room. If a remodel is in your plans, building an addition or consolidating two existing rooms is a way to create a larger footprint. New construction, of course, allows for the greatest flexibility in where to place the master suite. Considerations such as a beautiful view or plans to age in place can have a bearing on your decision to place it on the first or second floor of your home.

 

Once you’ve decided on the location of your master suite, it’s time for the details! Master suites are deeply personal spaces and should be curated to your exact liking with special features limited by only your imagination.

 

With so many options, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and even easier to go over-budget! To address budget concerns, make a list of needs versus wishes. This will help prioritize your must-haves and keep you within your budget.

 

For many homeowners, adding a touch of luxury to the master bathroom elevates the space. Create a spa-inspired vibe with heated floors, high-end shower heads, and steam showers to make your bathroom—and yourself—feel extra special.

 

Select from a seemingly endless array of features designed to transform your master suite into a luxurious refuge. Features currently on trend include a sitting area for reading or watching television, a fireplace, a walk-in closet, or a balcony. For some homeowners, having access to an outdoor area is the ultimate luxury. Morning coffee or an evening cocktail on the balcony or patio provides an outdoor experience without leaving the privacy of your room. A hot tub adds anenjoyable dimension to your lifestyle while extending the season to enjoy the outdoors. An adjoining library, office, or sunroom lends a sense of expansiveness and functionality to your living space.

 

When evaluating your needs, consider storage. Do you prefer one large closet or separate closets for you and your partner? Think about convenient storage spaces for linens. Consider specialty shelving and built-in cabinetry for a library, entertainment system, or perhaps a bar area to enjoy as you unwind and relax at the end of the day. Incorporating built-in laundry offers unparalleled convenience, eliminating treks to the main laundry room, which is often situated in the far reaches of the house.

 

No master suite would be complete without a soothing ambience. When it comes to creating ambience, lighting control is key. Dimmable lamps and overhead lighting are a must. As you wind down in the evening, your ability to lower light levels sets the tone for shifting into a more relaxed mode.

 

Careful selection of window treatments also plays a role here. A beautiful design element on their own, window treatments can serve a dual function. Shades, blinds, and draperies can all be equipped with light and UV blocking panels that are cleverly disguised behind luxurious fabric. With smart home technology, you can install black-out window treatments that easily open and close with a voice command or a tap on your phone, giving you the option to block light for a peaceful sleep or reveal beautiful daytime views…all from the comfort of your bed.

 

When planning your master suite, it’s important to work with professional designers and builders from the very start of the project. The right professionals can help you every step of the way, from the idea stage through the construction and completion of your dream suite.

 

A well-planned, well-executed master suite will unquestionably add value to your lifestyle, but it can also add value to your home. Homeowners seeking significant ROI will likely be pleased when it’s time to sell. At the end of the day, a master suite makes the home more luxurious, adding convenience and privacy for the heads of the household. A master suite is simply a wonderful place to begin or end a busy day.

 

Sources for this article included: forbes.com, hgtv.com, and consumerreports.org.

By Robyn V. Powell
Interiors By Design

Home Works

Hard Surface Flooring

Trade In and Trade Up!

 

If you think it’s hard to get excited about flooring, maybe that just says something about your floors. Do your current floors feel fresh and new or old and tired? Are you flat-out finished with carpeting? This year could be a great time to spice things up with some new hard surface flooring!

 

2024 has seen some fun new trends in flooring that are definitely departures from past styles. Drab gray tones are finally on their way out, making room for vibrant colors and geometric designs. Uninspired carpeting is another design choice that has stayed with us long past its prime. With options like natural wood flooring, laminate, vinyl, and concrete on the market—it’s time to tear out your old flooring and replace it with something more exciting!

 

Natural wood flooring is a classic option that never truly goes out of style. It most commonly comes in three-quarter inch thickness and is usually installed by nailing it to a wooden subfloor. Thinner wood planks are not uncommon and can alternatively be installed by gluing them directly to a base (a great option to install wood on top of a concrete foundation).

 

No matter what species of wood you choose to go with, you will ultimately have to decide between solid wood or engineered wood flooring. Solid wood can arrive unfinished or pre-finished. Unfinished wood flooring is sanded and finished after installation. Pre-finished flooring is ready to walk on immediately and often comes with substantial factory warranties.

 

Engineered wood flooring is usually made of seven to 10 layers of wood veneers glued together. This makes it more moisture-resistant and stable than solid wood, which means it will hold up better than solid wood in a high-moisture area.

 

Care of wood flooring is fairly simple: regular sweeping, keeping it dry, and avoiding prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. Surface damage does not mean that wood flooring has to be replaced; solid wood flooring can be sanded down and refinished multiple times.

 

Laminate flooring is a synthetic flooring that is constructed with a wood particleboard base, a (usually wood-grain) visible image layer, and a transparent wear layer on top. Like wood floors, laminate is best installed in regularly trafficked rooms that won’t be subjected to excessive moisture (bedrooms and hallways are great; bathrooms, not so much). Laminate is typically much cheaper to buy and install than wood flooring, so it does not improve a home’s resale value.

 

Laminate flooring care is even easier than wood, since its coating makes it more scratch-resistant and it has no seams to collect dirt and detritus. It can be regularly cleaned with brooms, dry mops, and hard surface mops that use cleaning fluid instead of water. Laminate cannot be resurfaced.

 

Vinyl flooring is a relatively inexpensive option that has the benefit of realistically imitating wood, stone, marble, or other hard flooring options. Vinyl comes in planks (to most resemble wood), tiles, and sheets. It’s easily installed with adhesive and can be great in any room, as it’s made with a waterproof layer at its base. It’s incredibly resilient and easy to clean. In fact, vinyl flooring’s only real downside is that it can be very difficult to remove once it’s installed.

 

Last, but not least, is concrete. Long considered too “industrial” for the home, modern concrete flooring can be a bold fashion choice. Concrete floors can be poured with integral color, dyed, or painted and stained after installation. Concrete is the most low-maintenance flooring option on the market, only requiring the occasional sweeping and damp mopping to clean. The downside is that installation takes a heavy toll. Any concrete floor will need a reinforced subfloor supporting it. Concrete can be refinished with painting, stain, and polishes, giving it a one-of-a-kind finish.

 

To ensure that your new flooring lasts as long as possible, hire a flooring contractor to install it. Flooring contractors are specialists who should not be confused with general contractors. In addition to installation, the services offered by a flooring contractor may include the repair or removal of old existing flooring that contains hazardous substances no longer used in construction. When considering a flooring contractor, ask what types of flooring they specialize in, how their pricing works, and whether or not they move your furniture as part of the installation service.

 

Whether you’re repairing and resurfacing old floors or installing a whole new type of flooring, it always pays off to find the right expert to guide you. Learning what you can accomplish in your budget and then hiring the best pros to get the job done is always a smart choice.

 

Sources for this article included: hardwoodinfo.com, forbes.com, and hgtv.com.

By Anne Yankus
Home Works

To Your Good Health

National Eye Exam Month

The Eyes Have It!

Our eyes deserve the same attention and care we give to the rest of our bodies. Eyesight is one of our key senses! While all our of senses contribute to our well-being, our eyes provide us with real-time information about our surroundings like no other sense can. When other senses, like hearing, no longer function properly, eyesight becomes even more crucial for keeping us safe and helping us accomplish important tasks.

 

Given how essential eyesight is, it’s only natural to prioritize good eye care. Surprisingly, however, many people don’t schedule regular eye exams, especially if they don’t wear glasses or contacts. Experts note that regular eye exams aren’t just for those who need corrective lenses; they’re essential for maintaining good eye health and catching potential issues early, even in children.

 

Unfortunately, many Americans don’t realize the importance of regular eye exams, assuming they’re unnecessary if their vision seems fine. However, everyone’s vision changes over time, and millions of people live with undiagnosed eye issues that a professional could catch early. Eye exams are vital for detecting serious health conditions like glaucoma, diabetes, and even brain tumors. Advancements in artificial intelligence are revolutionizing eye care, enhancing screenings for conditions like diabetic retinopathy. If your job or a favorite sport requires special eye protection devices or solutions, you should get your eyes checked.

 

Start with a visit to an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Optometrists conduct comprehensive eye exams to prescribe corrective lenses, diagnose and manage eye diseases, and offer treatments like vision therapy. They have a doctor of optometry degree (OD), which they earn by attending four years of optometry school after completing their undergraduate degree. Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialize in eye care, performing surgeries, and providing advanced treatments. To train, they complete undergrad, medical school, and then a residency and internship in their specialty.

 

Regular eye exams are crucial whether or not you need glasses, have a family history of eye disease, or work in an environment that requires eye protection. Although most employer eye insurance plans allow for one eye exam per year, not everyone needs to be seen annually. How frequently someone needs an eye exam depends on age, certain health conditions, and the level of risk of developing eye problems.

 

Children younger than three should be seen if they have an eye or vision problem, such as a lazy eye, crossed eyes, or misaligned eyes. Parents can opt to make an appointment with a pediatric optometrist who specializes in handling the unique needs of having a child as a patient. If your child has no eye health concerns, you can wait until they start first grade so they can see a pediatric or regular optometrist at about age six or seven. After that, their vision should be checked every other year if no problems arise.

 

Younger adults (in their 20s and 30s) with no symptoms or vision problems can go five years between eye exams. If you are 40 or older, you’ll need an exam every one to three years. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, have a family history of eye disease or loss of vision, or have a chronic disease (such as diabetes) that puts you at risk for vision loss, you should schedule an annual exam.

 

The number one complaint—maybe the only complaint—about an eye exam is eye dilation. A medicated drop is added to each eye, causing the pupils to widen. This allows more light into the eye, making it easier for the doctor to see the entire eye and diagnose diseases in their early stages. The good news is that you may or may not need dilation at every appointment. Be sure to ask, and don’t let this inconvenience stop you from getting regular eye care!

 

Advancements in eye care are always occurring. For example, digital retinal imaging is a technology that allows an eye doctor to study the health of the back of your eye and the retina. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) detects and treats several conditions, including glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. It uses light waves to take cross-section pictures and produces high-quality images of the retina in a non-invasive, patient-friendly way.

 

Corrective eye surgery is still an excellent option for those needing vision correction. Laser or radial keratotomy (RK) surgeries are common. For most patients, these surgeries permanently correct vision, but some people may need follow-up surgery. An ophthalmologist can explain the risks and success rates. Laser surgery, such as LASIK, is only approved for those 18 or older because children’s eyes are still developing.

 

Make an eye appointment today and keep those beautiful eyes looking and feeling great!

 

Sources for this article included: aao.org, opticianedu.org, hopkinsmedicine.org, and mayoclinic.org.

By Leslie Byrne
To Your Good Health

Focus On Finance

Mr. Market Meets an Engineer

Effective and Efficient Investing

Ask an engineer to head up a project, and there is a high probability that you will soon hear the words “effective” and “efficient.” Engineers live and breathe numbers. If it moves or if it stands still, they will measure it, they will test it, they will evaluate it.

 

To an engineer, being effective means achieving the best possible result. Being efficient means achieving that result with the least amount of effort and cost. Because of their addiction to numbers, engineers normally begin a project by establishing a numerical goal. Once they have established their goal, they then determine the methodology that will achieve that goal utilizing the least amount of effort and cost.

 

Statistically speaking, most investors are not engineers. Investors come to the world of finance with many different skill sets, temperaments, and objectives. At one end of the investment spectrum are those who expect a home run every time they step up to the plate. At the other extreme are those who want to spend their time with their grandkids and are perfectly happy having some else in charge, as long as their investments don’t lose money. In the middle are over 70 million investors who understand that it is possible to achieve respectable investment returns with a minimum amount of effort and cost. Each one of these investment groups has a definition of an effective and efficient investment plan that is unique to their demographic.

 

Investors who want things handled for them and are willing to accept modest returns usually turn to a financial professional who is licensed to manage money on a discretionary basis. In some cases, this professional may be a broker with one of the traditional Wall Street firms. They may also belong to the rapidly growing gaggle of financial planners who manage money as part of their total planning package.

 

Investors in this group will often end up in a computer-managed robo account that utilizes actively managed mutual funds. The investment professional involved touts the ability of their computers to provide better-than-average returns. At the end of the day, however, they end up with an investment return that is slightly below the market average. This under-performance is due primarily to the fees charged by both the mutual fund and the investment professional. So, this group’s definition of effective and efficient is: slightly less than market returns, reasonable expenses, no hassles—just get it done.

 

The group on the other end of the of the investment spectrum approaches the market with a gambler’s mentality. They deal mostly in individual stocks and flit from one hot tip to the next like a firefly on a hot June night. They tend to be lone wolves in their investment activity because they feel they can outperform both the market and the professionals. Their approach consumes a significant number of daytime hours tracking the market’s every knee-jerk reaction to the daily news.

 

Their definition of effective is a number greater than that attainable by mere mortals. To them, any amount of time and cost is efficient because of their overblown return expectations. This group almost exclusively patronizes the discount brokerage firms because the traditional Wall Street firms require all activity to be done in conjunction with a broker.

 

This group’s definition of effective and efficient is to beat the market in large measure. As long as their return exceeds the transaction and tax costs, they are a happy lot. Unfortunately, there is no empirical evidence to support this group’s claim of superior performance. While there may be isolated instances of stellar performance, the data indicate that luck plays a larger role than skill.

 

In between these two extremes is a group of over 70 million investors who understand that market returns are easily attainable through the use of index funds. Many in this group have the majority of their investable assets in either a 401(k) plan or a rollover IRA. This is critical to their program because they can trade without tax or transaction consequences. These accounts are often required to be self-directed.

 

This group has discovered that utilizing today’s electronic, internet-connected stock market provides an infrastructure that allows ordinary investors to build and manage a personalized investment program that is effective and efficient.

 

There are an unlimited number of ways to construct an effective and efficient investment program. The first step is for the investor to examine their individual skill set and temperament and identify an investment return that aligns with these parameters. Once they have completed a realistic self-assessment, their perfect investment plan will come into sight. The critical final step is to execute this plan to achieve their goals without wasting their resources.

 

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

 

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

By George Morgan
Focus On Finance

Seasons of Life

Psoriasis Awareness

Dispelling Misconceptions

An estimated one hundred million people around the world deal with the physical and psychological impact of psoriasis. Because it is a highly visible condition of the skin, many think it is contagious. That is one of the myths that increased awareness can dispel. Much like allergies, psoriasis is actually due to the body’s own overactive immune response and is not contagious at all.

 

Psoriasis occurs when the body makes new skin cells in a matter of days instead of weeks. These cells accumulate on the skin’s surface in scaly patches. Plaque psoriasis is the most common form and typically appears as itchy, scaly patches on the elbows, scalp, lower back, or knees.

 

Anyone can have psoriasis, though it occurs more often in adults. Both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the condition, which features cyclic flares. Infections, cold weather, or injury can trigger a flare. Smoking, heavy alcohol use, and some medications are thought to contribute to flares. Whatever the trigger, psoriasis can take a heavy toll on one’s sense of well-being.

 

The visible symptoms of psoriasis often cause embarrassment that can lead to low self-esteem and anxiety. Depression can result. A flare may cause anxiety, which can be a trigger for further flares, setting up an unfortunate circular response.

 

People living with psoriasis may find it helpful to learn and avoid their own unique triggers. It is important to take care of overall health, use skin care designed for the condition, and employ medication when needed. A family physician can typically diagnose psoriasis. For mild cases, over-the-counter products may be sufficient. For moderate to severe cases, a dermatologist can help.

 

Though there is no cure for psoriasis, treatment can ease symptoms for many people with the condition. Treatments for psoriasis include topical ointments and creams available over the counter or by prescription. Moisturizers are particularly helpful. Hydrocortisone may give some relief. Other medicines may be formulated for softening scales or for relieving the itch. A dermatologist can also provide guidance for avoiding medications or activities that might worsen the condition.

 

Light therapy is a common treatment, either alone or along with certain medications. The light source might be natural sunlight, UV, or laser, but it must be precisely controlled. Repeated light exposures are usually needed.

 

Oral or injected medications are an option for moderate to severe cases if other treatments have not resulted in symptom improvement. Biologics, steroids, and retinoids are some options. The newer biologics work on the immune system and must be used with caution. They can provide results where psoriasis has not responded to topical or light therapy.

 

Alternative treatments might include herbal products, vitamins, acupuncture, or special diets. They may diminish scaling and itching when psoriasis is mild to moderate. While sometimes used alone, alternative methods such as acupuncture may be more effectively used alongside medical treatments.

 

While plaque psoriasis is the most common form of the condition, there are some lesser-known varieties. Fingernails and toenails sometimes become pitted and discolored. Another variety produces small scaly spots on legs, arms, or trunk. Smooth, inflamed patches in folds of skin are typical of yet another type.

 

People with psoriasis are more at risk for developing psoriatic arthritis. This inflammation in the joints of the hands and feet is painful and can damage the joints. Pain, stiffness, and swelling are typical symptoms. Psoriatic arthritis can also cause lower back pain when inflammation affects joints of the spine. Treatment is essential to help prevent joint injury.

 

Psoriasis of the scalp may require specialized treatment. Topical medicines, special shampoos, and scale softeners may provide relief. If not, injections, light treatments, biologics, or other meds may be employed. 


A hair specialist (trichologist) might work in conjunction with a dermatologist to solve some of the stubborn issues associated with this scalp condition.

 

When psoriasis becomes a source of anxiety or depression, cognitive-behavioral therapy can be an important strategy. Since psoriasis can affect someone’s personal life, treatment may need to address both the physical symptoms and the psychological effects of living with the symptoms.

 

With so many treatment options, there are many people living their best lives despite this frustrating condition. It is not unusual to try different treatments or combinations of therapies to find the best results. Fortunately, many patients have periods of remission that give them at least a brief respite from symptoms.

 

Since psoriasis is a disorder of the immune system, it is difficult to say whether it can be prevented, but a healthy lifestyle with good eating habits and exercise is always a plus and can help keep skin looking otherwise healthy. Psoriasis is not contagious, and it is treatable!

 

Sources for this article included: aad.org, cdc.gov, mayoclinic.org, and psoriasis.org.

By Linda Barnes
Seasons of Life

Peak Performance

Plumbers 

Essential Home Repair Professionals

 

One of the essential professionals that every homeowner needs to have on speed dial is a plumber. Functioning sinks, toilets, and water heaters are vital elements of any livable home. Plumbing makes possible the miracle of clean, convenient water—something that is easy to take for granted if you’ve never been without it.

 

According to the World Health Organization, plumbing workers are among the most essential front-line healthcare workers. It is their expertise that provides access to clean water for the rest of us. Plumbers fit and maintain water systems in all manner of buildings. They are responsible for the installation, repair, and maintenance of gas and water pipes, sanitation units, health systems, sinks, toilets, and other fixtures in both commercial and residential buildings. They may also assess and design plumbing systems and ensure they comply with local rules and regulations.

 

When it comes to home plumbing, clogs are a prevalent problem. According to a survey by Kohler Plumbing, over 28 million Americans experience clogged toilets each month, and many more are dealing with clogged sinks or drains. Whether you have a blocked kitchen sink, a toilet that won’t flush property, or a slow-running drain in the shower, your drainage problem is likely caused by a blockage. Over 80 percent of sewer blockages are caused by oil and grease or paper and rags (including wet wipes).

 

A clogged drain can disrupt your daily activities, cause foul odors, and even result in water damage if left unattended. Cleaning drains should be a regular domestic routine. Neglected drains can cause long-term damage to your plumbing fixtures. Accumulated debris and blockages can put additional strain on your pipes, leading to corrosion, leaks, and even rupture. This can damage the interior of your property with stains, flooding, and warping. Finally, if water overflows due to a clog, serious damage can be done to your property’s infrastructure. If the water from one of your fixtures isn’t draining properly, contact a local plumbing professional for help.

 

Another appliance that many people take for granted is the hot water heater. Gas water heaters use a flame underneath the tank to create heat, while electric water heaters use a heating element to warm the water. An efficient water heater moves quickly between hot and cold water, and it doesn’t run out of hot water quickly. If you have noticed that your water takes longer than usual to warm up, or that your hot showers are getting a little chilly, something may be amiss with your water heater. Another sign that your system isn’t working properly is if the pilot light does not turn on, which indicates that the water isn’t warming up internally.

 

Many water heater issues can be prevented with routine maintenance by a licensed plumber. If you discover that you need to replace a water heater or are remodeling and want to upgrade, plumbers can provide a system tailored to your family’s needs.

 

Conventional water heaters use storage tanks to store heated water. Older models of conventional water heaters use a great deal of energy, but newer models are designed to operate more efficiently. All storage tank water heaters require periodic draining and cleaning to remove sediment and to improve the efficiency of the system.

 

Tankless water heaters are on-demand water heaters. Heating water on demand instead of ahead of time can lead to significant energy savings in your household. This type of water heater is generally more expensive to install.

 

Heat pump water heaters use electricity to move heat from one area of the home to another. The hot water system then absorbs heat from the air and transfers it to the cold water in the storage tank. Though these water heaters are costlier to install than their electric-only counterparts, they’re cheaper to operate over the long term.

 

Condensing water heaters rely on combustion gases that are typically expelled from a home via the flue. There’s a coil located at the bottom part of a heat pump water heater, where cold water enters the storage tank. The coil absorbs the heat carried by the exhaust gases and uses it to heat the cold water, providing hot water for the house.

 

If you are remodeling and need to move plumbing or gas lines, you should always contact a licensed plumber. They know how the systems work and can plan the details for you. They are also familiar with safety issues that need to be addressed, different plumbing needs for houses and families of different sizes, and the permits required before plumbing is rerouted.

A plumber can be an invaluable resource! Get to know yours and learn what a plumber can do for you.

 

Sources for this article included: energy.gov, thisoldhouse.com, and consumerreports.org.

By Deborah Daley
Peak Performance

Auto Wise

Leasing a Vehicle

Are You a Renter or an Owner?

 

I started leasing vehicles about 20 years ago, and I have never changed my mind about the advantages of leasing versus buying. For me, leasing is the only way to go! New-to-me car every few years? Yes, please! On the other hand, it’s important to note that leasing a vehicle is not for everyone. There are several factors to consider when you’re making your decision.

 If you think of leasing a vehicle like renting an apartment, you understand the concept. When you sign a lease for an apartment, you are responsible for keeping the property in good condition while you’re living in it. The same goes for leasing a car—you say you will keep it in good shape while you’re using it and return it in essentially the same condition when the lease is up.

 

When you buy a car, then, it’s like buying a house—you’re making an investment in a physical object that you get to keep at the end of the loan repayment period. If you’re planning to stay with it for the long term and don’t mind handling the upkeep yourself, buying might be your best bet.

 

Vehicle leases often include a mileage restriction, which means you can only drive the car a certain number of miles per year. This turns some people off. In my experience, if you are using your leased car mostly for city driving, the restriction really isn’t that restrictive. If I want to take a road trip, I rent a vehicle, and that keeps me in check as far as mileage goes. Because of mileage limitations, it is a good idea to get a feel for your driving patterns to determine if leasing is right for you. The mileage is negotiated with your dealer and is generally 10,000–15,000 miles per year. The higher the mileage, the higher your monthly payment will be.

 

One key consideration for choosing whether to buy or lease a car is the particular vehicle’s anticipated residual value. The residual value is what someone would pay to buy the car at the end of your lease. A high residual value means the car is expected to hold its value well—that is, it will depreciate less. Less depreciation can translate into lower monthly lease payments because the dealership will still hold a lot of value in the car when your lease is up. If you choose to purchase a car with a high residual value, you will pay the retail value of the car, which may be much higher than its residual value. As it depreciates, you lose that value. On the other hand, you do get to keep the car.

 

Like so many things in life, the decision to lease a vehicle depends on your current circumstances. Lease payments are generally lower than loan payments, since you are only paying for the car’s depreciation and not the car itself. Leasing can also come with incentives and rebates—dealers love to offer package deals! On the other hand, if your regular passengers are likely to be messy (kids, dogs), it might be a real struggle to return the car in the same condition.

 

When a lease is up, you have three options: trade the car in for another leased vehicle, buy the car, or just return the car and walk away. I always schedule a pre-inspection a few weeks before my lease is up. If there is anything wrong with the vehicle, I have time to have it repaired before I have to turn it in.

 

You’ll have to pay fees and taxes whether you are buying or leasing. Bear in mind that these fees are not negotiable. Typically, the dealership will also want the first month’s lease payment at lease signing. In most states, taxes are paid only on the depreciation value during the lease.

 

Experts recommend that car loans should be no longer than 60 months for new cars and no more than 36 months for used cars. Longer loans are seen as higher risk by lenders, so the interest rates may soar…and you don’t want to end up underwater on your previous car loan when it’s time to buy another car.

 

Many drivers pay more when insuring leased cars than when insuring vehicles they own. This is not because insurance companies charge more for the same policy on a leased vehicle than on an owned vehicle. It’s actually because many car owners choose to drive with less coverage to reduce their premiums. With leased vehicles, the dealership determines how much insurance drivers need to carry, and it’s probably not going to be the bare minimum.

 

Sources for this article included: popularmechanics.com, leaseend.com, and carmax.com.

By Linda Sutherland
Auto Wise

The Good Life

Changing Your Career Path

Pursue Your Passion

 

People choose careers for many different reasons. They may have been interested in a specific field at a young age, or perhaps a family member, friend, or educator recommended a certain profession. The desire to help people and make a difference may influence a career choice. Some people remain in the same field for their entire career, while others try a variety of jobs before finding the right career path.

 

According to the Harvard Business Review, “Just 27 percent of college grads have a job closely related to their major, and more than 53 percent of those who quit their job in 2021 changed their field or occupation.” Furthermore, “a survey of people who attempted a career change after age 45 found that not only were 82 percent of career changes successful, but also that 87 percent were happy or very happy they had made the change.”

 

Why make a career change? If you have achieved all you can in your current field, have lost interest, or are simply burned out, it may be time for a new challenge. Increased advancement opportunities, higher income, less stress, and more flexibility may be driving factors for making a change.

 

The online job-matching platform Indeed identifies many in-demand jobs in the healthcare industry, including registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses, physical therapists, and dental assistants. Management trainees, sales representatives, and direct support professionals are also in high demand. Other desirable job candidates include software engineers, real estate agents, insurance agents, service technicians, and truck and delivery drivers.

 

Some industries are easier than others to enter, depending on your skills, credentials, and experience. Some job options that do not require an advanced degree include real estate, coaching, advising, sales, retail management, event planning, manufacturing, and commercial driving.

 

Before making a career change, ask yourself several questions. What motivates you? What are your goals? What is your desired salary? What have you liked and disliked in your previous jobs? What is missing in your career that a new industry could help you find? Make a list of your current skills and those you need to improve, and document any coursework you’ve completed as well as degrees or certifications you’ve earned. Assessing your goals, skills, and education can help you get started.

 

If you need help assessing your goals and skills, a coach can help you move in the right direction. Career and life coaches help individuals find what is important to them and develop an action plan to achieve goals. A career coach helps people identify career goals, make career-related decisions, select a new career, build a network, strengthen interview skills, prepare application materials, and boost self-confidence. A life coach helps people in both professional and personal areas, including work, finances, and personal relationships. Life coaches help with planning for the future and making decisions.

 

Some career changes require additional education. Fortunately, educational institutions are embracing online education and other non-traditional options. They recognize the importance of accessibility, flexible scheduling, and more affordable tuition. Not everyone wants or needs a traditional four-year college experience. Some people want to obtain credentials or build skills without a traditional degree. Online content makes it easier for working adults, older students, and people from non-traditional backgrounds to pursue educational goals.

 

Accelerated online degree programs help working adults obtain additional academic qualifications. These programs can reduce the completion of traditional degree time by up to 50 percent. Common programs include nursing, healthcare administration, social work, management, accounting, management information systems, computer science, and special education.

 

You may be surprised that some colleges provide college credit for work experience. College credit can be awarded to students who successfully demonstrate knowledge in specific areas. Work experience credit can reduce educational costs, enable you to skip prerequisite courses, control your learning pace, and graduate sooner.

 

Apprenticeship programs teach skills for specific positions. These paid training programs usually involve classroom instruction and on-the-job training and provide a professional credential upon completion. Apprenticeships are available in several professions, including carpentry, plumbing, finance, business, and information technology.

 

If you need educational financial assistance, several avenues are available. Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) provides information on scholarships, grants, and loans. A 529 savings account may provide a state tax deduction and tax-free growth opportunity. Look into scholarships; some are available specifically for older students. Some employers offer tuition assistance programs. Lastly, some banks offer private student loans.

Changing careers may appear daunting, but researching options, planning, enhancing skills and knowledge, and networking can lead to a successful transition. You are always young enough to make a career change and lead a more fulfilling life.

 

Sources for this article included: aarp.org, cnbc.com, hbr.org, indeed.com, research.com, and usnews.com.

By Angella Arndt
The Good Life

Great Escapes

Ecuador’s Treasure

The Galapagos Islands

 

Many travelers agree that seeing the Galapagos Islands is a trip of a lifetime. Did you know that the “Panama hat” is actually an “Ecuador hat”? That’s right. The style was originally from Ecuador, but it was made famous in North America when President Roosevelt was photographed wearing one in Panama during the construction of the Canal, back in 1906. Ecuador has a lot to offer vacationers. Visiting Ecuador puts you right on the equator, and the nation is described as “Four Worlds in One.” Let’s explore one of those worlds for your next trip—to the Galapagos Islands.

 

First of all, no visas are required for stays less than 90 days. They use the American dollar, and credit cards are widely accepted. The weather in the Galapagos Islands is split into a warm wet season and a cool dry season, with steady temperatures ranging from 72–86 degrees throughout the year. Any time of year is good to go, but keep in mind that high season runs from June to September and from December to January. The food is diverse, and Ecuador is renowned for its fresh seafood, especially local ceviche.

 

How do you get to the Galapagos Islands? You will need to fly in or cruise in (or both). The first step is to have your travel agent book your flight to Quito or Guayaquil on mainland Ecuador; you can continue your trip from there. I recommend taking one of the daily flights to Baltra or San Cristobal and booking a cruise to explore some of the 20 islands in the Galapagos archipelago. You can also book lodging on one of the larger populated islands (Isabela, San Cristobal, or Santa Cruz) and take day trips to the other islands. This may be a cheaper option, but you will be limited on which islands you can visit because of distance. You can also do an island-hopping tour, where you can stay at inhabited islands overnight as you travel around to the others, staying at a new place each night. Choose from budget to luxury accommodations and boats along the way.

 

When should you go? Well, that depends on what you want to see most. To name just a few of the popular sights: Giant tortoises hatch in December; blue-footed boobies do their courtship dances in May; flowers and vegetation are in full bloom from December to May; and the penguins and albatross are abundant in June through November. If you enjoy scuba diving, you are in for a treat! World-class diving will bring you up close to sharks, sea lions, manta rays, turtles, iguanas, and colorful reef fish. The Marine Reserve is also a whale sanctuary, where over 16 species can be seen between July and September.

 

Keep in mind that Galapagos National Park includes protected areas; you have to have a park-certified naturalist guide with you in certain areas. They want to protect and preserve this unique biodiversity for as long as possible, so we all need to do our part by being respectful and following their guidelines and rules.

 

The official travel website for the nation of Ecuador provides a few highlights of the islands to help you decide where to go: The ancient Isla Espanola is a paradise for marine birds. North Seymour Island is a spectacular place for hiking, swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. For watching whales and dolphins, Punta Espinoza is the best place. Tourists can swim with dolphins and even go kayaking with pilot whales. Scuba diving there is sure to include seeing marine iguanas swimming back and forth from colony to colony.

 

Bartolome is the most visited and most photographed island in the Galapagos. Fernandina is the opposite—it is the most active and most pristine of the Galapagos volcanoes. Except for a single visitor site on the northeast edge of the island, the island is maintained in its pristine state. Isabela’s rich fauna is beyond compare. It is home to more wild tortoises than all the other islands combined, with a separate species on each volcano. On the west coast of Isabela, the upwelling of the nutrient-rich Cromwell Current creates a feeding ground for fish, whales, dolphins, and birds. These waters have long been known as the best place to see whales in the Galapagos.

 

Many travelers agree that seeing the Galapagos Islands is a trip of a lifetime. If this destination wasn’t on your list before, it should be now! Call your travel agent, pack your bags, and get ready to get up close with the natural beauty and animal life that thrives on the Galapagos Islands!

 

Sources for this article included: ecuador.travel, galapagos.org, and southamericantourism.com.

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

By Jackie Williams
Great Escapes

The Green Thumb

Pollinator Gardens

The Flowers and the Trees

 

Any yard can be (and every yard should be) a pollinator paradise! There are so many options for a pollinator garden and so many reasons to plant one. Everyone has heard about the bee population dwindling. This is an issue for literally everyone who eats—without bees, we would have a very difficult time growing food. A pollinator garden also provides phenomenal color over multiple seasons, as most of the flowers that attract butterflies and bees have long bloom times. Let’s talk about some of the most brilliant pollinator plants for your garden.

 

Asters are easy to grow, and they thrive with very little upkeep. These beauties will bloom late in the season, all the way to frost, and provide much-appreciated foraging for late summer and fall pollinators. They do well in most zones and should come back every year. Their colors are tremendous, and I love the way they keep the season alive.

 

Liatris is an absolutely stunning wildflower that attracts butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds with its gorgeous, fluffy flower heads. These attractive and tidy flowers spike and reach up to two feet tall. The brilliant purple color is outstanding. Liatris is a must-have for pollinator gardens.

 

Then there is my favorite: lavender. Lavender is a sensational bloom that rises over its silver foliage with striking color, bringing its lovely fragrance to landscapes and rock gardens. Besides being a great attraction for pollinators, its strong stems are great for building bouquets. Lavender is disease-resistant and is very adaptable to hot and humid summers.

 

Any species of hummingbird mint will bring flocks of butterflies to your garden, but the variety called black adder hummingbird mint is a stand-out. It is bright with brilliant color and a delightful fragrance, and it blooms late in the season.

 

Another pollinator must-have is autumn joy sedum. This sedum is beautiful and makes an easy transition from summer to fall. They have large flower heads that stand out in late summer and early fall, after midsummer bloomers have finished their season. This is a clumping variety of sedum (as opposed to the creeping varieties), so autumn joy sedum stands upright. If your clumps start flopping, you can wrap twine or wire around the clump.

 

Coneflowers are always in my top ten, and the rainbow coneflower is a high performing non-stop beauty that turns all different hues as it matures. If you want a huge range of colors in your garden or pots, this coneflower cannot be beat. Another species of coneflower that attracts pollinators like crazy is the green twister coneflower. The flowers bloom from green to yellow with a large or small halo that will darken with age. Be sure to leave the spent blooms for winter; the birds love them!

 

Now, let’s talk about milkweed. Native milkweed is the one plant on which monarch butterflies lay their eggs, so it is a crucial part of restoring butterfly habitats. Milkweed flowers all summer, and it is a native plant, so it’s very easy to tend. There are many different varieties. Butterfly weed, soulmate butterfly flower, and hello yellow milkweed are all native butterfly favorites.

 

Another native plant that requires little to no maintenance is goldenrod. In fact, it is so low maintenance that tending goldenrod is more about containing its spread than preserving its health. It is often confused with allergy-inducing ragweed, but goldenrod stands on its own and bees flock to its golden blooms. It can get quite tall but doesn’t mind significant trimming—cutting it back will encourage branching and increased blooms.

 

Black-eyed Susans are related to sunflowers but are perennials. These flowers are sun lovers and drought tolerant, and they seem to bloom forever. I have them planted on each side of my front sidewalk, and pollinators can’t get enough of them.

 

A spring bloomer that is in my top ten is the California poppy. Bees adore these cup-shaped flowers, and they are majestic when blooming. I would have an entire field of these flowers if I could.

 

A pollinator habitat can beautify your outdoor spaces and increase native biodiversity. Pollinators like bees, butterflies, birds, and bats are hard at work providing vital services that virtually go unnoticed by humans. They pollinate so many crops, including bananas, strawberries, blueberries, apples, peaches, melons, potatoes, almonds, coffee, and chocolate. Approximately 35 percent of the world’s food crops depend on animal pollinators to reproduce. Scientists have estimated that one out of every three bites of food we eat exists because of pollinators. So, let’s all do the world and our neighborhood a big favor and plant a beautiful pollinator paradise!

By Linda Sutherland
The Green Thumb

Cuddly Critters

Pet Immunization Awareness Month

Helping Your Pets Stay Healthy

 

When you decide to get a pet, an important step is to find a veterinarian to teach you the must-dos, maybe-dos, and don’t-dos involved in ownership of the particular pet you have chosen. Vets will agree on the first must-do: getting the right vaccinations at the right time to give your pet the best chance at a full, healthy life. Vaccinations help you avoid costly treatments for preventable diseases, help your pet avoid unnecessary suffering, and help stop the spread of disease among animals in your area. In short, they are just good sense.

 

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, there is a set of “core” vaccinations that all pets should receive and a set of “non-core” shots that are recommended based on the animal’s lifestyle. Your pet’s veterinarian will likely follow these guidelines. In many cases, they are required by law. As with human vaccines, protection against multiple diseases can sometimes be given in a single injection.

 

Core vaccines for dogs include canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis, and rabies. All of these diseases are potentially fatal for dogs. These essential vaccines are generally given to puppies around two to four months of age. Core vaccines for cats are given on a similar schedule and include feline distemper, feline calicivirus, feline rhinotracheitis, and, of course, rabies.

 

Rabies can be carried by any mammal, wild or domestic. Rabies can pass from pet to owner through saliva, most often from a bite. Once symptoms appear, rabies is nearly 100 percent fatal, in animals and humans alike—that’s why rabies vaccination is required for pets nationwide. Because this disease is easily contracted and transmitted to unvaccinated animals and humans, all 50 states require some form of rabies vaccinations for dogs and cats.

 

Based on the lifestyle of your pet, your veterinarian can determine whether or not the non-core vaccines should be administered. For dogs, these commonly include protection against Bordetella (kennel cough), Lyme disease, and leptospirosis (bacteria that can lead to kidney or liver damage or meningitis). For cats, non-core vaccines include those for feline leukemia, Bordetella, Chlamydophila felis (conjunctivitis), and feline immunodeficiency virus.

 

These diseases are generally spread from animal to animal, so the amount of time your pet spends around other animals (in kennels, roaming outdoors, in dog parks) plays a large role in whether or not these non-core vaccines are recommended. For example, many kennels require proof of these vaccinations before a dog can board there, since the constant interaction with other animals raises the risk of spreading disease. In some cases, disease can be spread simply by sniffing fecal matter left behind by an infected dog.

 

On the other hand, an indoor cat with very little exposure to other animals may not need to be vaccinated against feline leukemia, which it can only contract from other cats. The vaccination against Lyme disease is likely only beneficial for pets that roam outside in wooded areas where the disease is prevalent. Veterinarians take these and other factors into account before recommending vaccines; they should be happy to answer any questions you have.

 

Cats and dogs aren’t the only animals who can benefit from vaccination. Ferrets need to be vaccinated against rabies and distemper. A relatively new campaign has begun among veterinarians in the United States to require vaccination for rabbits against rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus type 2 (FHDV2). Pet rodents (hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, gerbils) don’t require any vaccinations, though their feces should be checked annually for parasites.

 

Your vet keeps a vaccination record for your pet’s lifetime. If you move or switch to a different veterinarian, you’ll need to transfer your pet’s vaccination and other medical records to the new vet. Boosters are necessary to keep your pet protected from some diseases; your vet will know which vaccinations should be boosted and when boosters are due. Many vaccinations for both dogs and cats are under state jurisdiction, so different states might have different requirements. If you move out of state, your new vet will have all the information you need.

 

In the United States, human vaccines are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Animal vaccines, however, fall under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). According to their website, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (part of the USDA) is responsible for ensuring that products available “for the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of animal diseases are pure, safe, potent, and effective.”

 

As with human vaccines, vaccination for pets offers solid protection but not total immunity from disease. To keep your pet as healthy as possible, limit its contact with other animals and environments where diseases are likely to be found.

 

Sources for this article included: aspca.org, americanhumane.org, aaha.org, and aphis.usda.gov.

By Jackie Byers
Cuddly Critters

Positive Perspective

A Handful of Friends

Quality, Not Quantity

 

The other day, I was talking with a wise woman about friendship. I was lamenting the fact that true friendships seem to be going the way of the dinosaur. We may have 1156 “friends” on Facebook…but I’m not talking about that kind of friend. 

 

“I have your back. I didn’t mean only when it’s easy. All the time.” —Veronica Roth

 

This wise woman pointed out to me all the true friends that I am blessed to have in my life. She started with my husband, Manny, who she knows is my best friend. Having a spouse who is your best friend is a rarity and a gift, she said. She then explained that, as we mature, our list of friends often begins to diminish. Some of it has to do with geography. Perhaps they move to another state and it gets more difficult to keep in touch. Often, though, we find that we are simply no longer a “match” to one another.  

 

“If you’re on the growth and development path, you’re going to outgrow people.” —Jayson Gaddis

 

With time and wisdom, many of us take a deeper look into who we are, what we believe, and what energy we want to put out there. When this happens, we may realize that when we spend time around certain friends, we walk away not feeling all that great.

 

“If it feels good, it’s good. If it feels bad, it’s bad.” —Abraham/Hicks

 

I then had a flashback to my father, Big Al. Big Al was one of the friendliest people you would ever meet. When he passed away in the early ’90s, he had a small handful of true friends. They were very close. They were always there when any of them needed something. They told each other the truth, even when it was painful. That’s the kind of friend I want!

 

“A true friend accepts who you are but also helps you become who you should be.” —Unknown

 

I have now come to the conclusion that I am very blessed to have a handful of people in my life who I can trust to tell me the truth. Friends who have my back and know that I have theirs. Friends I can be totally honest with and know they feel the same way about me. These are my true friends, and I am so very fortunate to have as many of them as I do! Life is great!

 

“An acquaintance merely enjoys your company; a fair-weather companion flatters when all is well; a true friend has your best interests at heart and the pluck to tell you what you need to hear.” —E.A. Bucchianeri

By Janet Van deWalle
Positive Perspective
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