Go Big, Go Bold

Go Summer of 2022!

In the Midwest, we appreciate the changing of the seasons! Every year, we look for the first hint of green popping up in our gardens, we listen for the cardinals singing, we close our eyes and breathe deeply the warm, fresh air of spring and summer. This year’s warm-weather fashion is particularly inspiring, with several looks to love.


Big & Bold: Saturated bright solids are the rage for summer. Enjoy wild shades like Kermit green, royal blue, sunshine yellow, hot pink, bright turquoise, and saffron, to name a few. Go all-in with an oversized top or matching jacket and pant set for maximum impact, or dip your toes in this trend with a bold handbag or shoes.


Bridal Vibes: The little white dress will take the place of your little black dress for all-occasion wear this summer. Lace and crochet, along with pearl-embellished sleeves and necklines, add romantic touches to your summer dressing.


Black & White: We’ve always loved this classic combo, but this year it is really an important style vibe. Get creative and pull together various black and white pieces from your closet. Then, add a boldly colored handbag to touch on two big trends in a big way.


Vacay Ready: You don’t have to wait to go on vacation to enjoy this year’s vacation prints. Beautiful florals and tropical leaves bring a vacation vibe to your everyday life. Treat yourself to an airy maxi skirt or dress for the ultimate cool summer refresher.


Loose-Fitting Jeans: Designers have outdone themselves with denim creativity this year. There is definitely a jean style for everybody. The skinny jean is over, and the baggy look is in! This style, often called the “girlfriend jean” or “boyfriend jean,” is modern and super comfy, usually done in super soft-washed looks that work well rolled up with flat sandals or tennis shoes. To go a bit further, there is the wide leg jean. Worn a bit longer, almost to the floor, this style looks best with a tucked-in or close-fitting top to balance the silhouette. For those who are not quite ready for the loose look, consider the stovepipe jean or straight leg, usually worn in a dark denim with no destruction. This is a slimming and versatile jean, as it can be dressed up with a blazer for a sophisticated, put-together ensemble. Lastly, there is the boot cut or flared jean, which is sure to flatter with a long, lean look.


Maxi Lengths: There is nothing more comfortable in the summer than a cool dress. Providing airflow all around us, the maxi-length skirt is a godsend. Easy to wear, flattering at any age, and incredibly feminine, maxi skirts and dresses need to be in your summer wardrobe. Vertically challenged people may worry that this look will make them look even shorter. Counteract this by wearing a platform shoe underneath to create a little more height—make sure the skirt grazes the top of the shoe or even the floor, creating a long, lean look. To further elongate your look, go for a v-neck top, which creates a visual vertical line.


Trousers: With a little Kate Hepburn influence, trousers are back in vogue for women. Going along with the loose jean trend are pleated-front pants, complete with belt loops. These throwback slacks look surprisingly fresh worn with a blouse that buttons up the front, just as women wore them in the ’30s. This will be a fun and new addition to our wardrobes! This tailored, relaxed pant offers a cool, effortless street-chic vibe. A flat, Oxford type shoe would be a great choice with these pants; a full-coverage loafer or slip-on would also work.


Big Blazers: Oversized blazers—reminiscent of 1980s power blazers—are everywhere this year. I just purchased a yellow linen blazer, which I plan to wear with jeans, skirts, and perhaps over a dress when I go out to dinner, as the air conditioning usually requires something on my shoulders. When wearing a boxy blazer, remember to keep its companion pieces more fitted.


Matching Sets: This trend continues from last year, as everyone jumps on the matching bandwagon. From yoga ensembles to pant suits, the matching set trend is ongoing. Nothing looks more put together and slimming than wearing one color from head to toe!


We’re finally seeing our way past the pandemic, and clothing designers are just as pleased as the rest of us. They’ve created a plethora of fun new shopping choices to celebrate. It’s time for all of us to get out there, go big, and go bold!

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

Gathering and Celebrating—Let’s Eat!

Crème Brulee French Toast

Put 1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter, 1 cup of brown sugar, and 2 Tablespoons of corn syrup in a pan. Cook for 3–4 minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Pour into a 9x13-inch baking dish. Cube half of a loaf of French bread and place the cubes into the baking dish. In a bowl, mix 6 eggs, 1 Tablespoon of orange liqueur (like Grand Marnier) or fresh orange juice, 1 and 1/2 cups of Half and Half, and a dash of salt. Mix well and pour over the bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Serve with warm berry compote.


Fresh Asparagus Stir Fry

Wash and trim a pound of fresh asparagus; slice, if desired. Put 2 Tablespoons of butter into a skillet. Add the asparagus and 2 Tablespoons of water. Sauté for 5–6 minutes, until the asparagus is crisp-tender. Salt and pepper as desired. Add 2 Tablespoons of sliced almonds, stir thoroughly, and serve.


Southwest Chicken

Slightly flatten 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Cook in 2 Tablespoons of oil for 4–5 minutes. Remove and set aside. In the skillet, sauté 1 sliced onion for 3–4 minutes. Add 2 chopped fresh tomatoes (or 1 can of fire-roasted tomatoes), 2 chopped celery stalks, and 1/4 cup of water. Simmer for 2–3 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons of garlic powder, 2 teaspoons of oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Add 1/4 cup of sliced, pimiento-stuffed olives, 1/2 pound of sliced mushrooms, and the chicken. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with rice or pasta.


Perfectly Grilled Steak

(courtesy of Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa)

Rub 1 and 1/2–inch New York strip steaks with a bit of olive oil and a seasoning rub that you like (purchased or homemade). Refrigerate for several hours, then let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling. Grill over high heat for 2 minutes on each side. Move to the cool side of the grill, close the lid, and grill (untouched) for 10 minutes. Remove to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to rest for 15 minutes. Test with a meat thermometer.


Steamed Fresh Vegetables

Wash and prepare 5 cups of whatever chopped vegetables you choose: broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, carrots, celery, cauliflower. Put the veggies in a large (10-inch) skillet with 1 cup of water and 3 Tablespoons of butter. Cover and cook on medium-high heat until liquid is gone. Salt and pepper as desired.


Blender Hollandaise

Combine 3 room-temperature egg yolks with 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons of lemon juice in a blender. Melt 3/4 cup of butter. Add 1 Tablespoon of hot water to the egg yolks, then turn the blender on high and pour in the melted butter in a steady stream. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, a dash of cayenne pepper, and 1 teaspoon of yellow mustard. Pulse for another 30 seconds. Serve over steamed spring asparagus or other vegetables, or as Eggs Benedict (on top of an English muffin with Canadian bacon and a poached egg).


Mother’s One-Pan Berry Tarts

Cream 1 stick of butter and 1/2 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Add 1 egg and 1 Tablespoon of grated orange peel. In another bowl, blend together 1 cup of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder. Add this to the butter mixture. Place parchment paper on a 9x12-inch baking pan and butter the paper. Pat the dough evenly onto the paper and bake at 375 degrees for 15–20 minutes. Cool.

In a bowl, dissolve 1/2 package (4 Tablespoons) of berry-flavored gelatin in 3/4 cup of boiling water. Mix well and refrigerate until syrupy. Spread 1/3 of the gelatin over the cooled crust and place the cooled fruit all over. Brush on the remaining gelatin. Cut into 3-inch squares. Top with freshly whipped cream (whip 1 cup of heavy cream with 1 Tablespoon of sugar).


Crustless Cheesecake

Beat 3 eight-ounce packages of room-temperature cream cheese with 6 egg yolks, 1 cup of sugar, 2 Tablespoons of flour, 1 cup of sour cream, and 1 teaspoon each of lemon juice and vanilla extract. Whip the egg whites separately until you get light peaks. Fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Pour into a lightly greased springform pan and bake at 325 degrees for 70 minutes. Let cool. Chill overnight. Slice and serve with mixed berries.


Rhubarb Crisp

Mix 3 cups of washed, trimmed, and cubed rhubarb with 3/4 cup sugar, 1 beaten egg, 2 Tablespoons of flour, and a dash of nutmeg or mace. Spread into a lightly buttered 9-inch square pan. Use your fingertips to crumble 1/3 cup of brown sugar, 2/3 cup of flour, and 1/3 cup of soft margarine until you get crumbles. Add 1/4 cup of chopped nuts, if desired. Press the mixture into the rhubarb. Bake at 375 degrees for 30–40 minutes, until the rhubarb is tender. Serve warm with cream or ice cream.


Sponge Cupcakes with Strawberries

Separate 2 eggs and whip the 2 egg whites with 1/2 teaspoon of salt until peaks form. Add 1/2 cup of sugar, a little bit at a time, and whip until glossy with peaks. In another bowl, beat 2 egg yolks with 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon of grated lemon peel. Fold the egg yolk mixture into the beaten egg whites. Gradually fold in 1/2 cup of flour and mix until blended. Spoon the mixture into greased or lined cupcake tins. Bake at 400 degrees for 10–12 minutes. Wash, trim, and slice 2 cups of strawberries; sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons of sugar. Let them sit at room temperature to macerate. Serve the strawberries over the cupcakes with whipped cream.


Peanut Butter Cookie Surprise

(The surprise is that these are gluten-free!)

In an electric mixer, beat 1 cup of peanut butter with 1 large egg, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Roll into balls, then roll in sugar. Arrange on cookie sheets and press with a fork to imprint each one. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes until golden brown.

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

Zodiac Forecast


Taurus April 20-May 20

Happy birthday, Taurus! Take initiative and go after what you want. Imagine that you have the key to your destiny and that it is guiding you in the right direction. This is the best way to seize the opportunities that come into your life. No matter what challenges you encounter along the way, remember to stay true to yourself. This improves all aspects of your life!


Gemini (May 21–June 20) A truly positive change is about to take place in your life! You may have felt adrift, but you are now heading in the right direction. Embrace it!


Cancer (Jun 21–Jul 22) This will be a month filled with blessings and good luck! You will travel more than usual, which will rejuvenate the mind and body.


Leo (Jul 23–Aug 22) May will be filled with happiness and positive affirmation. You have loved ones who care for you and support you. Focus on the light and bliss in your life.


Virgo (Aug 23–Sep 22) Love is in the air, and things are working out well in the romance division. Focus on what brings you pleasure, and make every moment count!


Libra (Sep 23–Oct 22) You have the courage to overcome any hurdles. Your loved ones will guide you, support you, and advise you along the way!


Scorpio (Oct 23–Nov 21) Fill your mind with positive energy and thoughts. Focus on the things that truly matter the most to you—the rest will fall into place!


Sagittarius (Nov 22–Dec 21) May will be the month of travel. Devoted couples traveling together will find that this strengthens their relationship. Single Sagittarians may find that their charisma attracts new love during travel!


Capricorn (Dec 22–Jan 19) May is exceptional for your health. You have been working devotedly, and it shows! It is amazing what a few adjustments to your lifestyle can do.


Aquarius (Jan 20–Feb 18) Focus on what you are after in life and make it happen! May is the month of transformation. Be willing to make the sacrifices you need to lift your spirits and achieve success.


Pisces (Feb 19–Mar 20) It is a prosperous month for Pisces. Your travel prospects are bright! Be devoted to the things you want in life and go after them.


Aries (Mar 21–Apr 19) Positive energy and opportunities will engulf all aspects of your life in May. Nurture all your personal and professional relationships. Welcome your newfound financial freedom and take some time to travel!

A Woman's Work

A Day for All Mothers

Every Day is Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day has arrived, and it is once again time to stop what we’re doing and celebrate our mothers. Whether or not your mother is still living, it’s a very good exercise to reflect on what she has been and still remains and how she has shaped your own life. We all have a mother, and there are probably as many different kinds of relationships between mother and child as there are mothers in this world.


Our mother is the first human we know. Even before our own birth, we have learned to recognize her voice. After nine or 10 months of feeding us and protecting us as best she can in her own body, she knows us better than anyone else probably will in our lifetimes.


There’s no denying that fatigue and discomfort set in as the baby inside grows and takes up more space toward the end of pregnancy. Finally, the big day arrives, and the baby is born! Pregnancy can be difficult, uncomfortable, and stressful (and labor is no picnic, either), but if you think the hard part of being a mother is over, you might be getting a little bit ahead of yourself.


From this point on, life becomes really interesting. From this point on, you will never be alone again. Although this may seem distressing to those of us who enjoy solitary time, it really is one of life’s wonderful blessings. The companionship and love that grows between mother and child is enduring. With good luck and hard work, it can (and should) last an entire lifetime.


If you are a brand-new mother, don’t be discouraged by all the yucky diapers and the spitting up. Feeding time seems to take forever, and your little angel has what feels like a string of constant demands. Remember, you’ll eventually grow accustomed to this new routine...at which time, your baby will change the routine entirely. Learn to be flexible.


Motherhood is something like a club. All mothers gossip about and compare their own children to all the other kids in the family and the neighborhood. Sometimes, the competition can be quite remarkable. You wonder why your baby hasn’t started crawling when your sister’s baby has already crawled over half the county. Unless your baby’s development is drastically different from everyone else’s, worrying about it is probably not worth your time. In the end, babies do everything at their own pace.


By the time a child becomes a toddler, we have become so engrossed in their little lives that they are always our first thought and remain number one in our plans, both large and small.


Technically, it’s our children who make us into mothers. On the flip side, however, we have to consider our own mothers, who greatly influence the kind of mothers we turn out to be. It can be hard to admit that we listened to what our mothers told us. After all, how could they know anything about being teenagers? A teenaged girl thinks her mother knows nothing about teen guys because Mom has been married to good old Dad for at least a century. Fashion has probably been a hot topic between mothers and daughters since the beginning of time. Teenage boys view their mothers a little differently. Instead of angst, they seem to be split in their opinion of Mom. Maybe that balances things out.


Although it is really startling, many of us seem to eventually turn into our mothers. We plagiarize their reasoning, their remarks, and their words of wisdom. How does this happen? When we are very young, we want desperately to be ourselves and to be special. Well, even though we might turn into our own mothers, we are still special.


Even more startling is the realization that our mothers were almost always right. I do not know if anyone has ever kept the score on this, but, over the years, mothers prove to be right a great percentage of the time. How do they do that? Their intentions are good. They care for us and want us to be able to make good, strong decisions. This can be truly annoying. Perhaps someday in the future, a generation will understand this early enough in life to benefit from it before they become parents themselves.


I wish you a happy Mother’s Day and hope that you will take some time to honor the woman who set you on the road to adulthood. If you are a mother, take time to honor each of your children, and let them know how very special they are to you. Happy Mother’s Day to all!

By Sharon Knierim

Fresh Concepts

Outdoor Kitchen Trends

Cook, Entertain, and Relax Outdoors!

In 2022, outdoor kitchens are more than just a place to put the grill. Homeowners want a space where emotional connection unites family and friends—where entertaining creates fond memories for guests and hosts alike. When designed with outdoor living in mind, an outdoor kitchen can be a true extension of a home’s living space. Let’s look at what steps will get your kitchen out into the light, including what to look for when hiring the pros, what specialized features you might enjoy, and which smokers and grillers might suit you best.


Having a second kitchen that you only use during part of the year may seem superfluous, but it’s more than just a convenience at barbecues. Why pit your oven against your air-conditioning all summer? Outdoor kitchens keep the heat from summer cooking out of your house, bringing down your energy bills. If you’re a fan of foods with strong and lingering odors, having an outdoor kitchen also keeps you from having to relive your dinner the following morning. Between the energy savings, the convenience, and the fact that it will add to your home’s curb appeal and resale value, what have you got to lose?


First things first: Where is this kitchen going to be? It doesn’t have to be a particularly large space. If you have a large lot with some extra space on the side of the house or garage, you can build there. You can also use an existing patio or deck and customize the space into an outdoor kitchen. Select your location to maximize both the view and your privacy. Consider the usual wind direction, so grill smoke blows away from the living space. If possible, choose (or create) a shady location—a pergola, patio cover, sun shades, umbrellas, or trees are all great shade options.


Once you’ve decided on the location, what elements will you include? Outdoor kitchens can range from simple to extravagant, depending on available space, desired functionality, and budget constraints. Essential components of an outdoor kitchen include an accessible cooking set-up, comfortable seating, and atmosphere, but you can include so much more!


Consider how you will use the kitchen and plan accordingly. Establishing a budget will help you distinguish between wants and needs during the planning process. Don’t forget that there are some things you can’t get by without, like electricity, water supply, and ventilation. You’ll need a building permit and inspection from your local municipality. You may also need to check with your homeowners association (if you have one) to make sure that your plans are in compliance with any building restrictions for your neighborhood.


Eliminate the guesswork and gain peace of mind by hiring a reputable contractor to plan the project and build it. Your pro will know what’s possible within your space and within your budget. Contractors also have working relationships with landscapers, designers, electricians, plumbers, and any other professionals you might need to hire.


Ask friends and neighbors who have outdoor kitchens for referrals, and have some questions prepared for each contractor you consider. How long has the company been in business? How much experience does the contractor have with your type of project? Make sure the contractor is well established in constructing outdoor kitchens. Ask to visit past projects and speak with past clients about their experiences. How long will the process take? Ensure that the contractor and all sub-contractors are licensed, bonded, and insured. These types of questions will help you choose the right outdoor kitchen contractor.


A design consultation brings together all the moving pieces, from desired style and color schemes to installing features and appliances. Before you sign a contract, visit a showroom. Ask for photos and testimonials from happy customers. The best designers will tailor to your tastes, cooking habits, and favorite ways to entertain. They will transform your dreams into your own vision, with a dose of reality. Don’t just go for the cheapest kitchen you can buy! Pay for a kitchen that will still function and maintain its beauty years from now.


Since an outdoor kitchen is more exposed to the elements than an indoor kitchen, the materials selection process is a little different. For the framing of your fixtures, the most common materials are metal, wood, and concrete, which all have their pros and cons. Metal is sturdy but vulnerable to moisture and rust. For a longer-lasting build, you’ll definitely want to invest in corrosion-resistant metal frames. Wood is the most cost-effective option, but it will degrade the fastest and runs the risk of being destroyed by termites or fire. Concrete will hold up against the elements, but it is the most expensive to buy and install.


If do you choose metal or wood framing, you’ll also need to install cladding around your fixtures. Stucco, tile, stone, and brick are popular options that are resistant to all kinds of weather. Last, but not least, common outdoor countertops options include tile, blue stone/limestone, concrete, granite, soapstone, quartz, and stainless steel.


The centerpiece of the outdoor kitchen is the grill. Top-rated grills these days come in a lot of options. Some of the most popular and expert-recommended options currently on the market are liquid petroleum gas grills, wood pellet smokers, kamado-style charcoal grills, natural gas/propane, and, of course, the tried-and-true charcoal kettle grill.


Each type of grill has its pros and cons. Charcoal is best for giving meats a smoky flavor, but it takes time to heat up. Liquid propane/gas grills are quick to heat and easy to adjust but lack that classic grilled flavor. Wood pellets have the smoky flavor like charcoal with ease of use like gas, but they require electricity to run. When you’re choosing your grill, consider what you’re most likely to cook, how often you plan to use the outdoor kitchen, and how much time and attention you want to spend on the food while you’re cooking.


All outdoor kitchens start with a grill setup, but to make it a real kitchen, you’ll want to add a sink, cabinets or storage, and extra lighting and electrical outlets at the very least. You might appreciate an outdoor refrigerator so you don’t have to drag food out from indoors all evening. Other features you can add to the space include ample countertops, a wet bar (with beer taps!), a chest freezer, a dishwasher, warming drawers, a pizza oven, a meat smoker, and a hood above the grill. The list doesn’t even end there! If you want to entertain your guests while you cook, you can add a mounted TV and a sound system or an outdoor fireplace for ambience. The sky really is the limit.


While the core focus of your outdoor kitchen is where you cook, you’ll also need seating. Look for a table big enough to accommodate your guests, along with comfortable chairs. If you have younger kids (or plan to invite them over), consider a pint-sized seating area just for them. Outdoor café vibes are all the rage in 2022, and this emerging trend is something your designer can help you create.


We’re all thinking of warm summer nights right now, but an alluring outdoor room can be just where you’ll want to gather around a fire pit on cool nights this fall, when a glass of wine or a cup of cocoa fits the mood. Don’t forget about roasting marshmallows! Outdoor fireplaces build a cozy atmosphere for gathering guests or to bask solo under the stars. For more atmosphere (and fresh herbs for cooking!), scatter natural pots and planters throughout your kitchen space.


Don’t forget the lighting! Solar lights offer the highest energy efficiency, but LED bulbs aren’t far behind. Upgrade your space by adding LED lights to a waterwall. Water slowly cascades down the face of a masonry wall, adding elegance to ramp up the night’s allure. Ask your landscaper to install a filter to keep the water clean and prevent the masonry wall from gathering mineral buildup.


Grilling season is almost upon us! An outdoor kitchen provides a place to relax with family and friends, all while enjoying a great meal. Plan your outdoor kitchen and get ready to heap up the food, wine, and camaraderie for unforgettable dinner parties and social events!


Sources for this article included: goodhousekeeping.com, hgtv.com, landscapingnetwork.com, and homeadvisor.com.

By Janette Calabro

Good Looks

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow:

Removing Unwanted Hair

Summer is coming. This means beaches, backyards, and bare skin. Many of us have been living in sweatpants for months because we’re working from home, trying to stay warm during a frigid winter, or both. It’s time to ditch the sweats and don the shorts, but before we do, we want our skin ready for exposure. Eliminating unwanted hair can help us achieve that goal. Electrolysis, laser treatments, and waxing are proven hair removal methods.


Electrolysis is not a new concept, having been around since the late 1800s. It’s the only FDA-approved method of permanent hair removal. It’s commonly used on the face, bikini line, underarms, chin and upper lip area, eyebrows, and—of course—the legs. However, it’s not just for ladies. Men often choose electrolysis to treat the back, underarm, and groin areas.


Electrolysis works by destroying the growth center of the hair with either chemical or heat energy. It involves inserting a fine needle into the hair follicle. This needle delivers a small amount of electric current or heat into the follicle, destroying the root and preventing regrowth. It’s effective on all skin tones. Destroyed hair follicles will not grow hair again.


Discomfort is minimal—most people experience a hot or pinching sensation. The level of discomfort generally depends on the area being treated. For example, the bikini area is likely to be more sensitive than the calf or thighs. The skin may be slightly red or irritated for several hours following treatment, but there is no downtime required. Maintenance treatments aren’t needed, but optimal results require weekly or biweekly treatments over a period of time. (This is because individual hairs are in different stages of growth at different times, and electrolysis only destroys follicles in the new growth stage.)


Most states require a license or certification to perform electrolysis. If your state doesn’t require this, look for a technician who has been trained at an accredited electrology school. Most facilities offer a free consultation, where you can observe the cleanliness of the facility, evaluate the competency and skill of the technician, and get your questions answered.


Laser hair removal is a medical procedure that uses a beam of light to remove unwanted hair. This light energy is converted into heat, damaging the follicle and inhibiting new growth. Hair regrowth is delayed, but this treatment is not permanent. Common treatment areas include legs, armpits, chin, and bikini line. People with light skin and dark hair get the best results from laser hair removal. It’s sometimes used in conjunction with electrolysis, which targets the white or gray hairs that go undetected by the laser.


Two to six initial treatments, several weeks apart, are required. Repeated treatments provide the best results since hair growth occurs in cycles, and the lasers are most effective during the new growth stage. Periodic maintenance treatments may be needed to maintain long-term results.


The type of laser used depends on several factors, including skin pigment and the area being treated. The Alexandrite laser’s long wavelength targets a large spot with each pulse, making it a good choice for large areas of the body, such as the legs and back. The Diode laser can emit both short and long wavelengths and is a good choice for most skin tones. The Ruby laser has been around for a while, but it remains popular with people who have fair, sensitive skin, as it is relatively pain-free and less likely to cause irritation.


Each state has its own regulations regarding laser administration. Some require that it be performed by a physician, while other states permit non-medical personnel to administer treatment as long as they have been properly trained. Your state’s medical board can provide guidelines for your state.


Waxing is a tried-and-true hair removal process. Salons typically offer more than one type of waxing treatment. Hot waxing is usually the first thing that comes to mind, but there’s also cold waxing. Cold wax treatments involve pressing semi-solid wax strips to the skin, going against the hair growth—this gives the strips a strong hold on the hair when they’re pulled off. Multiple treatments are not needed to notice a visible change. Cold waxing is generally less painful than hot waxing, though hot waxing provides highly accurate results, particularly on eyebrows and other small areas. You may also be offered soft waxing. With this treatment, soft wax is applied to the skin and covered with a muslin cloth to dry. It’s a good choice for large areas like legs.


Whether you choose waxing, electrolysis, or laser treatments, it’s time to say good-bye to unwanted hair and get your skin ready for summer!


Sources for this article included: webmd.com, healthline.com, and verywellhealth.com.

By Loretta McCollum

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

Kids Comments

A Mother’s Work

It’s Not Just for Women Anymore

When I think of the month of May, one of the first things that comes to mind is Mother’s Day. Where would we be without mothers? Think of all the things they do: cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, minding the budget…the list is endless, and that’s just if you’re thinking of mothers in the traditional role of staying home and keeping the household running smoothly.


I was fortunate enough to be a “stay at home mom” when my children were small. As they got older, I started working part-time in a preschool. When they were all in school, I went back to school myself, renewed my teaching certificate, and worked as a substitute teacher for the same school district the kids were in. It was a privilege to have the same vacation days they did and even better to be able to turn down a subbing job when their schools had special activities during the day. Not all of my friends were that fortunate.


Today, many mothers have full-time jobs aside from being mothers. Whether they’re working in an office, carrying their office with them as they travel, or working from home, they still have to balance work and child care. Dads often share the load, especially if their work schedule is flexible. Some women are single mothers and get it all done without a partner.


These days, men often perform many of the tasks of the traditional mother. Remember the movie “Mr. Mom” from 1983? In the movie, the father loses his job, so his wife goes to work while he stays home. That’s not so unusual in today’s world! There are many kinds of families. Some families only have a single parent. Grandparents sometimes become the legal guardians of their minor grandchildren. In some cases, divorce separates the parents. Even with joint custody, time is spent as a single parent. In most cases, other family members and friends are able to step in when help is needed. If finances allow, nannies or other childcare specialists might be hired.


Same-gender couples face the same problems as other couples when it comes to parental responsibilities. Those with whom I’m acquainted tend to split responsibility according to individual talents and work demands. Jobs within the family aren’t labelled by gender—no more “Mom jobs” or “Dad jobs.”


This month, I salute all parents whose job it is to raise caring, confident, loving children. As always, the “child-caring parent” will wear many hats: doctor, teacher, cook, chauffeur, psychologist, and disciplinarian. We will continue to show our children that there are no boundaries on what they can do except the ones they raise for themselves…some things take more work than others. Happy Mother’s Day to everyone doing a mother’s work!

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

By Marge Shoemaker, BS, MS

Interiors By Design

Taking it Outside

Inspired Ideas for Outdoor Living

One of the biggest lifestyle changes to emerge from the pandemic has been the growing desire for our own outdoor space. When the pandemic required everyone to shelter in place, our patios and backyards became the go-to places to gather with family, entertain friends, cook, dine, even work and exercise. What began as a temporary measure has led people to rethink the way they live. The American Institute of Architects’ recent Home Design Trends Survey showed a sharp uptick in demand for outdoor living spaces. The backyard lifestyle is here to stay, and homeowners everywhere are investing in upgrades. Whether you have a sprawling backyard or a tiny balcony, there are endless ways to take your outdoor space from basic to extraordinary!


The reimagined outdoor lifestyle is all about blurring the lines between indoors and outdoors. Make the outdoors feel like an extension of your indoor living space by harmonizing with your interior style. Coordinating the flooring materials, furnishing style, and color palette creates a seamless flow between the two spaces. When materials and style flow together, your patio or courtyard becomes your outdoor living room.


When selecting outdoor furniture, it’s important to consider style, but don’t forget about the frame material, as it largely determines how long the furniture will last. Naturally beautiful wood furniture lends a comfortable feeling to any outdoor space, though it does require maintenance every couple of years to maintain the color and protect the finish. Stainless steel offers a modern look and is resistant to rust and oxidization. Classic wrought iron weighs in as the heaviest of all frames, rivaling any other finish when it comes to standing the test of time. Lightweight and durable aluminum is the most common type of outdoor furniture frame and is available at a more attractive price point than wrought iron. The woodsy warmth of woven wicker, constructed with the durability of aluminum, is lightweight and easy to move around.


Alfresco dining is fun, and food just seems to taste better outdoors. If you have the space, look for bigger outdoor dining tables to accommodate friends and family. One-of-a-kind pieces, including those constructed of old barns or boats, are popular. These sustainable, original pieces add visual interest and come with a unique backstory to share with guests.


Major paint colors for 2022 are soft neutrals and earthy shades of green and blue, reflecting the themes of tranquility and nature. Choose outdoor tones in colors that are easy on the eye and on the mind. Create a sunshine vibe with colorful accessories. Pillows are a great way to punch up your style by adding pops of fun color. Outdoor rugs add texture and comfort underfoot by providing protection from hot patio surfaces.


Fire pits, fire tables, and fireplaces are must-haves for modern outdoor living. Fire features create a focal point and a social hotspot. By adding warmth and ambience, a fire feature extends the time that you can enjoy outdoors—both after the sun goes down and after the weather turns cool again.


You can also extend the outdoor season with the comfort of a patio heater. From portable patio heaters mounted on wheels to towering flame-filled pyramids, there’s an option to heat up your outdoor space well into the cold weather season. To choose the best heater for your space, first consider the size and fuel type best suited to your lifestyle. Natural gas heaters attach to your home’s existing gas line and are permanent fixtures. What they lack in mobility they more than make up for in heating power for expansive outdoor areas.


Other options include propane and electric heaters with the added benefit of mobility.

As much as it’s fun to be outdoors, it’s important to be well protected against UV rays, wind, and light rain. Choose from various product solutions that offer reliable sun and weather protection. A pergola is a beautiful option. Patio awnings or a slat-roof canopy can be customized in shape and color. A grand-scale parasol creates an inviting and cozy patio atmosphere for relaxing or dining. Sun sails are a beautiful way to transform your space into a shaded and peaceful oasis. Elegant and modern, sun sails are light and airy and appear to float in midair. Sun sails come in many shapes and can be retracted manually or automatically.


Summer is just around the corner, and industry experts advise shopping for your outdoor space early this year! The sharp increase in demand among consumers, along with supply chain and shipping issues, have led to global shortages. Get started now and enjoy the summer in an outdoor living space as individual as you are!


Sources for this article included: hgtv.com, houzz.com, and aia.org.

By Robyn V. Powell

Home Works

Outdoor Cooking

Take the Party Outside!

It’s time to start thinking about outdoor entertaining! Whether you’re all about playing oversized yard games, organizing a corn hole tournament for friends and family, or having everyone over for an outdoor movie screening, there’s something for everyone when it comes to outdoor entertaining. Fun activities are only the half of it, though. No outdoor get-together is complete without grilled foodstuffs. Is it time to upgrade your grill?


Smoked, grilled, and barbequed foods are often the focal point for outdoor entertaining—the reward for a long-awaited visit with friends or a sit-down family meal under the sun or moon.


Top-rated grills these days come in a lot of options. Some of the most popular and expert-recommended options currently on the market are charcoal kettle grills, kamado-style charcoal grills, natural gas/propane, and wood pellet smokers. The best way to prepare food is different for everyone, so take your own style into account when you’re choosing your grill.


Some people prefer old-fashioned charcoal grills, and for good reason. Charcoal provides higher heat than gas, which leads to juicier meat and a bigger pop of barbeque flavor. Enhance the briquettes or lump charcoal with wood chips like cherrywood or applewood for extra flavor. Charcoal grills are less expensive than gas grills, but don’t forget that the coals take time to heat before cooking can begin and to cool down before cleanup. For some cooks, this feels like wasted time and attention. For others, it’s a vital part of the social experience of cooking and eating.


One of the most popular charcoal grills is the Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill. The steel-plated Weber is an iconic name in grilling and is a bestseller in the United States, where reviewers rave about the sturdiness of the grill and the removable ash tray underneath. When not in use, just wheel away for easy storage during off seasons. If you’re short on space, check out the cast iron Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler for a small, sturdy charcoal grill that doubles as a smoker.


Kamado maintains a spot all its own on the grill/smoker hierarchy. Kamado grills also use charcoal for cooking heat, but they’re made from thick-walled ceramic to retain heat for slow smoking, much like a wood-fired pizza oven. They can be used for grilling, baking, and smoking. The original Big Green Egg clay cooker is a classic Kamado grill.


Try the Kamado Joe Classic II or the Char-Griller Akorn Kamado for great overall value and performance.


Though some outdoor cooks swear by charcoal grills, gas grills are the most common choice for some compelling reasons. Temperature control while cooking means you’re less likely to end up with a burnt meal. You don’t have to wait for the coals to ignite and heat before you start cooking—you simply push a button to start it up. Do keep in mind that you’ll need to fuel your gas grill with a propane tank (they’re easily refillable) or a natural gas line from your property.


The porcelain-enameled, cast-iron grated Weber Genesis II EX-335 smart grill tops the list of favorites for even heat. If you like juicy grill marks on your steak or prefer a pink center, this is your grill. Two temperature probes help monitor the cooking process, and the grill includes smart features along with plenty of storage space. If you can make do without the smart features, try the Weber Genesis II E-310 for a lower price.


Want to smoke, grill, and sear, all with one appliance? Pellet grills and pellet smokers use electricity and hardwood pellets from wood scraps to create heat for cooking. If you want a smoky taste at the turn of a dial, the pellet smoker is the appliance you need for your outdoor cooking. In an upgrade to outdoor living, pellet smokers use a hopper mounted to the side instead of a firebox. Unlike charcoal or gas, the hardwood pellets burn clean, leaving a mouthwatering taste that wakes up tastebuds fast. Hardwood adds flavor that embellishes food with panache.


For precise temperature control and smoky meats, try the Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill or the Traeger Grills Pro Series 575 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker. Reviewers rave that these grills produce amazing smoked meats, leaving aromatic magic hovering in the breeze. Don’t be surprised if the neighbors invite themselves over for a bite.


Whatever grill (or grills) you choose, your family and friends will appreciate the fruits of the grill master’s labor. Having the right grill for your personal cooking style makes all the difference. Let’s get cooking!


Sources for this article included: backyardboss.net, familyhandyman.com, extraspace.com, and homesandgardens.com.

By Anne Yankus

To Your Good Health

Ahh-Choo, Springtime!

Take Control of the Sneezing and Wheezing

The birds are chirping, the fruit trees are blooming, and the grass is growing. It is spring, and that’s the perfect time for one of two things: outdoor fun or the misery of seasonal allergies. Thousands of people across the Midwest dread the beginning of allergy season. Springtime can bring itchy eyes, runny noses, breathing trouble, and even asthma triggers. That’s what makes May a great time for National Allergy and Asthma Awareness month.


Having allergies is not the same as having asthma, though many people have both conditions. Either one can start at any age. A family history of allergies or asthma increases the chance that a child will develop allergies or asthma, so parents should watch for symptoms early.


An allergy is when the immune system overreacts to a foreign substance. Common triggers for the allergic rhinitis that spikes in the spring are flowering trees, grass pollen, and mold spores. In the United States, allergies affect more than 5 million children and close to 20 million adults. Common symptoms include a combination of coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, a runny nose, or a scratchy throat. In severe cases, allergic reactions can lead to asthma symptoms or even death.


Testing for allergies involves a review of symptoms and family history, as well as a physical examination of the ears, nose, throat, chest, and skin. Skin testing and blood work can also help identify the problem. Testing a baby can be challenging, but an experienced doctor can make that diagnosis and start an effective treatment plan.


Allergy treatment depends on the nature and severity of the symptoms. Treatments can be as noninvasive as simply avoiding the allergens. For example, someone who is allergic to pollen could avoid spending time outdoors on high pollen count days or take a shower after being outdoors.


When symptoms are well managed with medication, people with seasonal allergies can carry on with their day-to-day activities, even outdoors. Medications can include over-the-counter and prescription drugs in the form of pills, eyedrops, or nasal sprays.


Immunotherapy involves a series of injections of purified allergen extracts or a tablet that dissolves under the tongue. Sublingual immunotherapy can also be taken as oral drops at home.  This type of therapy attempts to teach the immune system not to overreact to allergens. For people who want to avoid ongoing medication to treat symptoms, immunotherapy is worth a discussion with a physician or allergist.


Holistic allergy treatment options include acupuncture, nasal washes or sprays with saline solution, and even eating certain foods. In the home, HEPA filters can be used in the HVAC system and vacuum cleaner to decrease the level of allergens in the air.


Some people have allergies that don’t depend on the weather—like allergies to medications, food, insect stings, latex, or pets. Non-seasonal allergies are more likely than seasonal allergies to be severe enough to cause anaphylaxis, a medical emergency that requires epinephrine to keep the airway from closing. People at risk for anaphylactic shock should carry epinephrine at all times, generally in the form of an injection like an EpiPen.


The rate of food allergies worldwide is increasing. Egg, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish are responsible for 90 percent of food allergies. Steps that parents can take to help decrease the likelihood of a child developing food allergies include breastfeeding exclusively for at least six months and introducing less-allergic triggering foods before more allergenic foods.


Asthma is a chronic lung disease and a very serious condition that can be life-threatening if not properly managed. The lungs of someone with asthma are oversensitive to certain stimuli. Seasonal allergies can be one of those triggers.


In the United States, about 20 million adults and more than six million children have asthma. Asthma is the most common chronic condition for children in the United States. It can start at any age, but most people’s symptoms start by five years of age. The increasing rate of asthma in children has no single conclusive cause.


Treatments to manage asthma include bronchodilators, which are designed to relax the muscles around the airways to move air and mucus through. Anti-inflammatory medications reduce swelling and mucus production and make breathing both in and out easier. For severe asthma, biologic therapies are used. A biologic is a medication made from the cells of a living organism. For asthma, they target antibodies, inflammatory molecules, or cell receptors. This helps disrupt what is causing the inflammation that leads to asthma symptoms.  


Talk to your doctor or allergist about your allergy or asthma symptoms now so you can get them under control while the weather is nice enough to enjoy the outdoors!


Sources for this article included: cdc.gov, mayoclinic.org, my.clevelandclinic.org, aafa.org, stanfordchildrens.org, and hopkinsmedicine.org.

By Leslie Byrne

Focus On Finance

Wall Street West

Finance on Farnam

Fifty years ago, less than 3 percent of the American public owned stocks. Today, that number is over 60 percent. Fifty years ago, individual investors had to have a relationship with a Wall Street broker and pay high commissions in order to purchase stocks. Today, over 70 million Americans manage their own investment portfolios for free, without a licensed broker.


What facilitated these dramatic changes? The first factor was a change in the tax code that allowed workers to save a portion of their wages to build a nest egg to enjoy in their golden years. The second was the insight and perseverance of two men who taught Main Street how to invest and who built the technology to make it possible. Those two men are Warren Buffett and Joe Ricketts, and they both built their companies on Farnam Street, in Omaha.


Buffett began his financial career in 1956, as a stockbroker at his father’s firm in the Omaha National Bank building at 17th and Farnam. A year later, he started his own investment partnership in his home at 3555 Farnam. The partnership flourished and grew to the point where it was required to register as a publicly traded company. This also caused him to outgrow his home office, and he moved to a rented space just down the block, in the Kiewit Plaza at 36th and Farnam. Last year, he signed a 100-year lease on the same space.


Buffett was enamored with the investment process. He was driven to share his knowledge with the public and began teaching a non-credit class at Omaha University. The university was situated several blocks from his home—at that time, Farnam Street ran through the center of campus. With the transformation to a publicly traded company came the requirement to hold an annual meeting to update the company’s shareholders. This gave Buffett a captive audience when he wanted to expound upon the finer points of the stock market and national economy.


In his 2021 letter to Berkshire shareholders, Buffett wrote, “I taught my first investing class 70 years ago. Since then, I have enjoyed working almost every year with students of all ages. Teaching, like writing, helps me clarify my own thoughts.”


The career of Joe Ricketts has many parallels to Buffett’s. After graduating from Creighton University, Ricketts became a stockbroker with Paine Weber. Shortly after he earned his license, the SEC passed a regulation that eliminated fixed commissions. Ricketts immediately recognized that making a comfortable living selling stocks had just gotten infinitely more difficult, but that didn’t diminish his fascination with the stock market. He and a fellow broker started a company that would allow individual investors to buy stock with commissions significantly lower than anything Wall Street brokers would consider.


Ricketts’ company began in a back room across Farnam Street from Buffett’s father’s office. His initial effort required investors to speak with a registered broker to place a trade. Business was brisker than he expected, and they soon ran out of available brokers and desk space alike. They then moved to a larger space one block west, on 18th and Farnam.


Ricketts’ original business model had licensed brokers respond to customer phone orders. The brokers then called the New York Stock Exchange to complete each transaction. It soon became evident that this method was too labor-intensive to handle the kind of volume he had in mind. His biggest obstacle was the regulators and their penchant for protecting the legacy Wall Street firms.


Despite its challenges, the business model was catching on because the barriers to entry were quite low. Soon, many more firms, most notably on the west coast, joined the discount fray. So, Ricketts took it one step further and developed technology that eliminated the human contact. His new system allowed investors to go directly to the exchanges and place trades on a touch-tone phone. This was a game-changer, and a whole new industry was born.


Like Buffett’s business, Ricketts’ business grew to the point that it had to become a publicly traded company. In 2013, he renamed the company TD Ameritrade and built a corporate headquarters befitting its size and stature at the western edge of Farnam Street.


Literally, Wall Street is a few miles of asphalt in lower Manhattan. The term “Wall Street” is a metaphor for the financial services industry that many associate with the powerful world of high finance. Farnam Street is a few miles of asphalt in Omaha. It should come to stand for the financial services industry that Main Street investors can call their own world of finance.


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


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

By George Morgan

Seasons of Life

Memory Loss

Symptoms and Hope

The early signs were troubling. At age 70, Diana started saving and reusing dental floss. At night, she set her clothes by the window to “air out.” Diana even started stealing—she would sneak out of restaurants with the menu hidden underneath her shirt. She could no longer make recipes she once knew by heart. Perhaps most troubling, Diana could no longer be trusted to care for her husband, who was dying of cancer.


These are some of the early signs of dementia—a term that is used to describe a group of symptoms that negatively affect memory. Dementia impairs a patient’s ability to think clearly, making them more forgetful over time. Patients have increasing difficulty completing simple life tasks. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. According to the National Institute on Aging, as many as 6 million people in the United States currently have Alzheimer’s disease.


One of the early signs is short-term memory loss. Other symptoms include asking the same questions repeatedly, relying heavily on memory aids such as reminder notes, or forgetting important dates. People with Alzheimer’s disease may have trouble following a conversation or finding the right words, which can lead them to withdraw from social activities. They may put things in unusual places or accuse others of stealing the items they can’t find. Their mood and personality may change erratically. They can become easily upset when they are out of their comfort zone.


People with what is known as mild cognitive impairment may be mildly to severely impaired. This disease can lead to difficulty in memory association and coordination. Genetic predisposition plays a vital role in the development of such cognitive impairments.


Another type of memory loss disease is encephalopathy (brain inflammation) that affects brain structure or function. It causes an altered mental state and confusion. Encephalopathy can be life-threatening if untreated. It can cause seizures and fits, along with delirium. Viruses or head trauma are the most common causes of encephalopathy.


Neurological imaging and techniques can help identify the root cause of memory loss. Memory disorders are hard to evaluate clinically, but proper identification will benefit both the patient and the physician, as the proper treatment of memory loss disease depends on its cause. To prevent unnecessary suffering, treatments need to be individualized and strictly followed.


In the case of most progressive dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease, there is no cure. However, there is a new treatment which shows that removing amyloid plaque (a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease) from the brain is reasonably likely to lessen the cognitive and functional decline in people with early-stage Alzheimer’s. Other treatments can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for patients and their caregivers.


Medications used to treat Alzheimer’s disease are sometimes prescribed to address the symptoms of other types of dementias. Non-drug therapies can also alleviate some symptoms of dementia. Ultimately, the path to effective new treatments for dementia is through increased research funding and participation in clinical studies. Right now, volunteers are urgently needed for these studies.


If you have a loved one with memory loss, you likely have some difficult decisions to make. It is very important to get these patients the type of care they need. People with memory loss often need a level of care greater than what can be provided for them at home or in a traditional assisted living setting.


Assisted living and memory care communities are becoming very popular. Aides help with the activities of daily living, like bathing, grooming, and toileting. Memory care communities also have specialists who are trained to help residents who have memory loss. This specialized care is vital for a resident’s safety. In the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, patients may lose control of body movement. Many need 24-hour care and supervision. They may be unable to communicate, even to let you know they are in pain. They are more vulnerable to infection, especially pneumonia.


Several holistic steps can help decrease the chances of developing significant memory loss. Take care of your diet and nutrition. If you suffer from thyroid issues, consult with your doctor about supplements. Get enough sleep, and be sure it’s good sleep! Good sleep patterns revive memory processes. Stay away from opioids, narcotics, and excessive alcohol. Exercise can improve blood flow to the brain. Spending more time with family and friends will improve your mood and help maintain your cognitive processes. Read, play games, and manage personal notebooks to remember important things and dates. Take care of yourself and your aging loved ones! This has been the key to good living for ages.


Sources for this article included: human-memory.net, alzheimers.org, and nia.nih.gov.

By Laura Sambol

Peak Performance

Pampering Mom

Hiring Home Services

Mother’s Day is almost here, and you might be thinking, “What can I do for Mom that she would actually appreciate?” Her jewelry drawer is likely overflowing, and her clothes closet, too. She may truly love the beautiful vase you gave her last year, but where will she put another one? What many mothers really want is a break from some of their more mundane responsibilities. Consider hiring a home service that would both lighten her load and brighten her surroundings. Whatever it is that your mom least enjoys doing, hire a professional to do it for her!


Let’s start with some of the larger spring cleaning tasks, like window cleaning and carpet cleaning. Both of these tasks are best left to the pros, anyway, who have the tools and expertise to get the job done safely and quickly. Specialized services such as window washing or gutter cleaning would be especially valued by a senior mom like me. These are more difficult to accomplish in later years and would be an extra welcome gift. Professional carpet or upholstery cleaning is a great gift idea, as well. Mom will be happy, and the home fabrics will enjoy a longer life. Another out-of-the-box gift idea? Duct cleaning! It doesn’t need to be done that often…but how long has it been since she’s had it done?


If your mom is planning to host any gatherings in the near future, she might appreciate a deep-clean of the house or a spring cleanup in the yard before guests arrive. A clean house is a double treat. There is something so satisfying about a spotlessly clean home that just smells clean. She can enjoy that good feeling while she indulges in the activity (or inactivity) of her choice instead of dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing, and so forth.


Could you get your siblings on board to give Mom a package of two or three cleaning services? For example, a combo of house cleaning, window washing, and carpet cleaning. (I hope my kids are reading this!)


Next, we come to some of the tasks that need to get done on a more frequent basis, like laundry and lawn care. Would your mom appreciate a gift card for a dry cleaning service that includes pickup, delivery, repairs, and alterations? Many services will wash and press according to the customer’s personal preference and will bring the items back the very next day. For that matter, if laundry is really her most-despised task, you could arrange for all of her dirty clothes to be picked up at her door and returned clean and folded the next day.


Does your mom dread taking care of the yard? You can hire landscapers for everything from weekly lawn mowing to tree planting or removal. Looking forward to warm summer weather and more time outdoors, the gift of lawn care will suit some moms to a tee. Whether for a weekly service or a seasonal cleanup, she will surely enjoy extra free time to pursue other interests or just relax on the deck or patio and enjoy the view.


Pet care can be a real boon for moms who work outside the home. She can enjoy a leisurely lunch with friends instead of dashing home to give Fido a potty break and a short walk during business hours. Work-at-home moms can benefit from dog walking services, as well. Ideally, a dog is walked several times a day, but other commitments may not allow it.


Speaking of pet care, did you know that you can hire a service to remove pet waste? That’s right—someone will come to her yard and clean up after her dog. Additionally, enterprising pet groomers offer in-home services or mobile grooming, saving time for busy moms who hate wrangling the dog to the groomer’s or giving baths at home.


What about a handyman service for those odd jobs that never seem to get done or just need a little more expertise? Many offer options such as appliance installations, painting, drywall or plaster repair, or TLC to deck or fencing. When my husband had knee surgery, we hired a local handyman to install a second handrail on our stairs. Grab bars in the bathrooms were also recommended for added safety.


By all means, if your mom (or her grandkids!) broke last year’s vase, feel free to get her another one this Mother’s Day. More than anything, though, most moms will appreciate the gift of a service that eases her workload, makes her life less stressful, and gives her more time to do whatever she pleases. Doesn’t she deserve that?


Sources for this article included: moms.com, dogsnaturallymagazine.com, and findingourgreenlife.com.

By Linda Barnes

Auto Wise

Recreational Vehicles

Road-Tripping in Style

Yes, warm weather is finally here, and it brings along with it the desire to hit the road! If your family prefers a flexible itinerary, making unplanned stops and relaxing at the mercy of no one’s schedule but your own, this might be the year to try an RV.


A recreational vehicle is defined as a motorized (drivable) or non-motorized (towable) vehicle that includes living quarters. You might be surprised to know that the first recreational vehicle dates back to 1915. (If you think about it, though, weren’t the covered wagons of the pioneers really the first RVs?) RVs run the gamut from motorhomes, camper vans, coaches, trailers, fifth wheel trailers, pop-up campers, and truck campers. They are commonly used for traveling, camping, and other recreational activities, and they are separated into two main categories: motorcoaches and towable rigs.


There are different classes of RVs for travelers with different needs. Class As are the big RVs—literally houses on wheels. They have amazing amenities now, like home theater systems, central vacuum systems, air conditioners and furnaces, cable satellite TV receivers, and top-notch speaker systems. They are wonderful because of their spacious interiors and comfortable sleeping arrangements. They can even tow another vehicle! Of course, they are more expensive to purchase and maintain than smaller RVs.


Class B RVs often go by the moniker of sleeper van or camper van. Naturally, they are not as spacious as Class A RVs, but they are easier to park and drive, and they use less fuel. They still come with a kitchen, toilet, bed, and storage—all the basics for a traveling hotel suite.


Lastly, there are the Class C RVs. This type of camper is built onto a regular truck chassis and is much easier to drive. As you might suspect, they are not as fancy and do not have as many amenities as the larger Class As and Class Bs.


Want to talk accessories for an RV? The options are incredible. We all love gadgets, and vacation is a fantastic time to play! You can have a motorized awning on your RV, a propane fire pit, dishwasher, water filtration system—even an inflatable hot tub. It seems that anything you can enjoy at home, you can now enjoy in an RV.


There are so many benefits of RV travel. The first is cost. Of course, you’ll have to pay to either buy or rent an RV, plus gas, insurance, and park fees. However, when you travel with your own living quarters, you don’t have to book hotels or airline tickets. You don’t even have to eat restaurant meals—you can shop at the grocery store and enjoy meals in your own kitchen! You have room for everything you need instead of trying to cram your belongings into a suitcase. You’ll suffer no airport delays, which gives you control of your own journey. You can drive where you please and stop to explore whenever the mood strikes. You can see the countryside instead of flying over it. You have total freedom to explore, and you are not tied to the schedule of an airline and hotel check-in time.


RV parks are all over in the country. There are over 1,600 state parks in the United States that cater to RVs, plus more than 13,000 privately owned RV parks. Campgrounds are starting to offer activities for campers to enjoy together, like movie nights under the stars, stargazing tours, live music, fantastic swimming pools, pancake breakfasts, yoga classes, ziplines, craft brewing, hayrides, and even food trucks.


Like other vehicles, RVs can be rented or purchased. If recreational vehicles are new to you and your family, consider renting one for a week or two before you make a big investment. If you already know that you love this kind of vacation travel, it might be time to purchase an RV of your own.


An estimated one million Americans have opted to retire in an RV and spend part of the year on the road, but it’s not just seniors who are opting for this way of life! Younger couples and even families with kids are deciding to live life on the road with a more minimalist lifestyle.


Who can forget the vision of seeing an Airstream—the Cadillac of RVs—going down the road? I remember seeing them on the highway as a child and thinking how grand they looked and how the people who owned them must be very rich. My parents would talk about them in hushed tones, as if they were the royalty of RVs. These silver beauties are experiencing a resurgence that is pretty remarkable. Let’s hit the road! Are you ready?


Sources for this article included: allianztravelinsurance.com, gorving.com, and frvta.org.       

By Linda Sutherland

The Good Life

Party Planning

Hosting a Memorable Event

Summer is fast approaching, bringing vacations and time spent outdoors. It is also a common time for celebrations like graduations, showers, and reunions, as well as summer birthdays and anniversaries. We’ve all been a little low on social events over the past couple of years. Make your event this summer one that was worth the wait!


Graduation parties are often bittersweet, marking the end of one era and the beginning of another. For sentimentalists, a memory board provides a way for guests to share their favorite memories. Hanging a photo banner featuring pictures from each school year will produce smiles. Commemorate important school days with a photo wreath. Fun food ideas include a cookie spread, complete with milk and Oreos adorned with school colors.


Are you celebrating the arrival of a new baby? Clever ideas for a baby shower include a clothesline for guests to hang written wishes and advice, a onesie decorating station with stencils, a diaper cake, and a baby sock bouquet. These options are more than just cute and fun—they provide expectant parents with helpful information and items to use when the baby arrives.


Bridal showers can be predictable gatherings, filled with goofy games and finger foods. If that’s what your crowd enjoys, go for it! If not, a pool party, mimosa bar, make-your-own herbal tea bar, luau, or grilling party can provide a fresh perspective on a time-honored tradition.


Family reunions are often held in the summer because the kids are out of school. Looking for fresh ideas? Try a new location. Have cooks in the family bring recipes that can be compiled into a family cookbook (printed or electronic). A fish fry can add a new twist to the menu. Arrange games like tug-of-war, a water balloon toss, or a sack race, or bring board games and cards for people to play. How about a theme like outdoor movie night or Family Bake-Off? Adding an unexpected element guarantees lasting memories.


Birthday and anniversary parties commemorate important times throughout life. How do you plan a meaningful event? Think about the recipient’s interests and the celebrated milestone, and go from there.


Once the date is set and you know what kind of party you want to throw, what’s next? If you want to host but the to-do list gives you pause, help is available! You don’t have to do it by yourself. Professional party planners, caterers, and rental companies can help you with the details so you can enjoy the results without all of the work.


Professional party planners allow you to spend more time hosting and enjoying your event with less stress. These individuals handle time-consuming responsibilities, including budget management. They have working relationships with caterers, rental companies, and florists, which may end up saving you money. They will also have ideas and suggestions to create an event that suits your style. You can even hire them to take care of details during the event itself.


A caterer may be the answer if you are serving food at your event but aren’t excited about cooking for a crowd. Whether you are planning an intimate gathering or a formal affair, a caterer will handle the food so you can enjoy your guests. There are several items to consider and questions to ask before you choose a caterer.


Ask the caterer if they can handle your group size. Check to see if the caterer has the required business licenses, health department permits, and insurance. Cost is an important issue, and caterers are available for just about every budget. Will you have a buffet or a sit-down meal? What do you want to serve? Does the caterer have appropriate staff, like bartenders and servers, for your event? Will the food be prepared on site or off site? Can the caterer handle special dietary needs? Ask for references. Review the contract to understand what’s included, deadlines, and additional fees. Some caterers offer tastings so you can sample their food before deciding.


Rental companies can help simplify the party planning process. In addition to tables, chairs, linens, dishes, and glassware, these companies offer a variety of other party accessories. Centerpieces, portable bars, games, audiovisual equipment, and lighting are just a few products available.


Entertainment adds another dimension to any occasion. Fun ways to liven up a party include a live band or DJ, magician, karaoke system, giant outdoor games, or bounce houses. Be sure to cater your entertainment to your expected guests.


Hosting a party to celebrate a special occasion for someone you love is a gift from the heart. Planning a party around particular interests or a unique theme will create a meaningful and cherished event.


Sources for this article included: marthastewart.com, shutterfly.com, and socialtables.com.

By Toni Arndt

Great Escapes

Romantic Destinations

For Romantic Getaways

As we all know, travel destinations and options are up in the air these days, and I cannot stress enough the importance of using a travel agent for any reservations right now. With travel restrictions in flux, you will likely need help with a Plan B (or even a Plan C, for that matter) to make sure you can take a vacation somewhere. My friend, Ravyn Howard, is a seasoned travel agent and has been helping her clients find romantic destinations for the vacation they sorely need. Here are some of her recommendations for you to consider booking while you still can!


Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea

If your idea of a romantic trip includes clear blue waters and natural aromatherapy, book a Club level room at the Four Seasons Resort in Maui. For a change of scenery, take advantage of the free chauffeur rides from the resort to anywhere in Wailea, or pack a picnic lunch and rent the Porsche Roadster for a road trip of your own. If you are the outdoorsy type, you can choose from a fantastic golf course, e-bike rentals and, of course, all the water sports you care to play.


Turtle Bay Resort Oahu on the North Shore

If you prefer the island of Oahu, you simply must take advantage of the Vista Level and Ocean Club. The stunning views of the ocean are not to be missed. Watch humpback whales breach and splash during the day and get drenched in the colors of the sunset each night. How does spending a day exploring the 12 miles of beautiful paths at the resort sound, followed by a coconut lava shell couples massage?


Grand Velas Los Cabo Resort

This all-inclusive property is voted “No. 1 Mexican Resort in the World” by Tripadvisor. If you are looking for an all-inclusive resort awash in luxury, romance, and adventure, then this is your place. Experience the star-filled skies from your very own balcony, eat at gourmet restaurants, and dance along with live music—all with panoramic ocean views at every turn. The 35,000-square-foot SE Spa is a must!


Sandals Royal Barbados

Want to be picked up in a Bentley and have a room with an outdoor tub? The all-inclusive Sandals Royal Barbados, located in the St. Lawrence Gap area, is very romantic. Booking a Sandals vacation also lets you visit their nearby resorts for free. That multiplies your choice of restaurants, beaches, and amenities for a new experience each day. This is a great destination if you like to dress up a bit, too, as it is resort casual by day and evening attire at night. The more I look at their website, the sooner I want to go! Get the most perks for the price by booking through a travel agent.


Douro Valley Portugal Six Senses Resort

When you are ready to venture farther and want a destination to explore outside of a resort, visit Douro Valley in Portugal and stay at Six Senses. Imagine looking out your window to see rolling hills and the Douro River. Staying in the world’s oldest distinguished wine region, in a 19th-century manor that leads out to secret gardens, is romantic in itself. The hardest decision will be where you want your picnic setting. The resort’s estate covers 19 acres and offers the ultimate Douro wine and spa experience. While you are both unwinding, sign up for a personalized wellness evaluation that ranges from sleep to skin analysis. If you both enjoy wine tasting, biking, picnics, and historic gardens, Douro Valley should be at the top of your list.


Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa

Some say the perfect romantic vacation has to be in an over-the-water bungalow. If that is your dream, head over to Tahiti and stay at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa. The resort has outstanding views of the sunrise, sunset, mountains, and ocean. With your own private plunge pool and clawfoot tub, you might not find a reason to leave your room at all—until it’s time for spa treatments, that is!


Bora Bora

Everyone wants to go to Bora Bora. It’s the ultimate destination for a couple in love. A 50-minute flight from Moorea brings you to the island of perfect white sand beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters, and exquisite coral gardens. The 15-square-mile island is what many describe as paradise. Be as active or inactive as you want. Picture yourself jumping into the lagoon from your bungalow and stargazing under a billion stars at night.


I hope these suggestions whet your appetite to book a romantic getaway this month. We all could use a break!


Sources for this article included: montecitovillagetravel.com, sandals.com, and loscabos.grandvelas.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

The Green Thumb

A Blue Thumb?

The Joys of Hydroponic Gardening

I’ve been hearing a lot about hydroponic gardening lately, so I decided to look into it. My first question was: What the heck is hydroponic gardening, anyway? Simply put, hydroponic gardening is a method of growing plants without soil. As we all know, plants need water, light, and nutrients to grow. Most plants traditionally obtain nutrients from the soil. In hydroponic gardening, a mineral-rich water solution does the work of providing nutrients to the plants. Indoors, the light can be provided by LED grow lights. Of course, a hydroponic garden self-waters.


Hydroponically grown vegetables can be just as nutritious as those grown in soil. You can grow just about anything, from fresh herbs to vegetables to fruit, in basically any room in your house. The fertilizers used in hydroponics are much purer even than those used in organic growing, and they leave no residue in cultivated produce.


All this sounds nice, I thought, but it also sounds like a lot of work. Why would I want to try hydroponic gardening when I’m already successfully gardening in the soil? First of all, hydroponics save water, and I think we are all on board with water conservation. In agriculture, water is a critical issue. Traditional farming in the United States uses around 80 percent of the surface and groundwater. Hydroponic farming, on the other hand, uses only 10 percent of that water under controlled conditions. The water continually circulates within this system. Plants absorb the necessary water for their metabolism; surplus water moves to the reservoir or storage tank to be cycled again and again. Consequently, there is no harmful runoff and very little evaporation. People in the know have found that the efficiency of hydroponics may save up to 90 percent of the water used in soil gardening.


One of the options that I personally love about this system is that you can grow it vertically, which, of course, reduces the amount of space needed to grow crops. Another wonderful attribute of hydroponics is that you have total control over the growing climate. You have the ability to adjust humidity, temperature, light, and air for different plants’ needs.


As an avid soil gardener, I face the challenges of weeds, pests, and disease every single growing season. These challenges are completely eliminated with hydroponics! For me, that is—hands down—the best thing about hydroponic gardening. I have spent so many hours fighting those things in a traditional garden, and their absence alone is enough to make me want to try a new method. The amount of work and stress that would be eliminated is outstanding. Researchers also say that plants grow faster and larger with hydroponics, and it is clearly less labor-intensive than traditional gardening. I mean, really, what is there not to like about this process?


One caveat to hydroponic home gardening is that the initial set-up can be a bit pricey. A successful system requires light, air, water, nutrients, heat, and space. It will require five to six hours of light per day, access to electricity, and a level area to sit. There are a myriad of hydroponic systems out there for beginners. (The first time you try hydroponic gardening, you should consider yourself a beginner, even if you’ve spent many seasons gardening in the soil.)


With that in mind, make sure to start with plants that are easy to grow and sustain. Some examples would include herbs, kale, Swiss chard, spinach, and lettuce. Imagine how much fun it would be to walk over to your system and pick out ingredients for a fresh and healthy salad! I think a hydroponic garden might encourage me to eat more fresh greens. I have always grown herbs and lettuces outside in the soil. If I’m completely honest, there have been times that I did not go out and harvest their bounty because I was too lazy to walk out to the garden (I know, I know). If produce is growing right there in my living room, den, or kitchen, I am pretty certain I would be using more of those wonderful plants in my cooking.


Start small, and consider your first stab at hydroponic gardening something of an experiment. There are some excellent systems out there that do not cost an arm and a leg. A small system with everything included is a great way to get started. The Dr. Goodrow Mini Garden gets high marks in this regard, as does Vegebox Indoor Herb Garden. The information is out there. Let’s get growing!


Sources for this article included: mygardyn.com, thespruce.com, and wired.com.

By Linda Sutherland

Cuddly Critters

Domesticated Cats

Human Companions Since Ancient Times

Ancient hieroglyphs show Egyptians worshipping Sekhmet, a warrior goddess who was associated with healing. She is usually depicted as a lioness or as a woman with the head of a lion. Cats have been getting our attention and sharing our domesticated lives ever since.


According to the Cat Fanciers Association, 25 percent of U.S. households have at least one cat on the premises, and many households have more than one. Cats have many traits that make them ideal pets. Cats are generally independent, quiet, loyal, and easy to house-train. Cats regularly groom themselves, but they often welcome assistance from their owners, as cats tend to enjoy the grooming process.


Unlike dogs, cats do not require daily walks…or much human-assisted exercise at all, really. They are nocturnal animals, so they may get most of their wiggles out while you sleep. If you have had a cat, you are likely familiar with how they dash from one room to another for no apparent reason. If this frenzy disturbs you, get your cat to release some energy by playing with you! Cats naturally stalk and hunt, so they are generally fond of chasing a teaser-type toy that is essentially a string on a stick.


Scratching is also an instinctive behavior for cats. A cat who scratches furniture is not misbehaving—it is simply trying to stretch, mark objects with its scent, or remove the dead parts of its nails. Providing your cat with a tall scratching post and climbing perch protects your furniture and draperies while allowing the cat to engage in this natural behavior.


Bringing a cat into your family has many benefits. Petting doesn’t just feel good because Kitty is soft—it helps your body decrease stress hormone levels and release a relaxation hormone. Cats are good companions, thus reducing loneliness for their people. Infants also benefit if the family has a cat. A study by the National Institutes of Health found that infants who are around cats are less likely to develop allergies later in life.


When you get a cat, you need a veterinarian right away. The American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends four core vaccinations for all cats and kittens: feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia (distemper) and, of course, rabies. These vaccinations are usually required for licensing. Other vaccines may be recommended based on your cat’s risk of particular diseases.


Cats hide illness well, so schedule regular check-ups with your vet. One of the best things you can do to extend your cat’s healthy lifetime is keep it indoors exclusively. Indoor cats can live past 20 years. Outdoor cats, however, face dangers like distracted drivers, aggressive animals, and things that are dangerous to ingest. They rarely live longer than a decade.


According to WebMD, about 10 percent of Americans have pet allergies, and cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies. Many people think that the hair is the irritant, but it’s actually a protein in the cat’s saliva that causes the allergic reaction. Because cats groom themselves, their hair is thick with this sticky protein. As cats shed hair, the protein goes everywhere the hair goes. It is almost impossible to get rid of it entirely.


There is no such thing as a truly hypo-allergenic cat, though cats that shed less will spread less allergen around the house. Breeds like Javanese and Devon Rex have no undercoat, which means they have less hair to shed. The Sphynx is almost hairless, so there is very little shedding. Balinese cats actually produce less of the protein that triggers cat allergies. Scientists are looking for ways to eliminate the production of this protein in other breeds of cat.


Though cats do not need the same level of attention as dogs, you’ll still need someone to take care of your cat while you’re out of town. Options include in-home care and boarding. In-home care can take the form of daily visits or having a cat sitter stay at your home. Many cats are most comfortable in their own homes.


For more social cats, boarding can be a great option. When boarded, cats still need to climb, scratch, and feel secure in a private space. They need human contact, play time, and favorite reminders of home, like a blanket or favorite toy. Some facilities offer 24-hour video streaming so you can keep eyes on your cat while you’re away.


Cats make wonderful pets for many families. They offer a lower level of attention and daily care than dogs but are still great companions! Visit a local shelter and see what new friends might be waiting for you.


Sources for this article included: catcare.org, catster.com, and webmd.com.

By Jackie Byers

Positive Perspective

Nobody Likes Change…
But Everyone Should Try It!

Change…I used to hate the concept. Back in the day, if someone suggested it would be a good idea if I made changes, I would get a sinking feeling in my stomach. Fear would sweep down on me. I liked my life just the way it was. Why would I want things to be different? My inner thoughts were, “It’s going to be too hard, too much work. I’m scared. Let’s leave things just the way they are!” Then, almost ten years ago, I met Manny Chavez, who is now my husband.


“If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.” —Gail Sheehy


Manny is all about change, all about growth, all about learning. Perhaps this is because he’s been around the world 14 times and has lived in Italy, Japan, Hawaii, the Middle East, and multiple places in the United States. He is a 20-year retired Navy vet. Me? Born and raised right here in Omaha, Nebraska.


“It’s these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes, nothing remains quite the same.” —Jimmy Buffett


Slowly…very slowly…I started to take a few risks, to make a few changes. I began to step out of the self-imposed box I had been in for decades. Manny began to show me that although change can be a challenge, the rewards can be well worth the effort. 


I remember one of our first trips to Sedona, Arizona. Now, I had been to this beautiful town dozens of times. I always followed the same routine: go to dinner, sit on the patio to look at the Red Rocks, visit a friend who lives there. That was pretty much it. Well, Manny would have none of that. We were going to see Sedona! We went to the museum. We took a hike down the Chavez Pass. We went to the Vortexes. We went to Tuzigoot National Monument. We finished up with a day trip to Winslow to see the town that inspired “Take It Easy” by the Eagles! Who would have known? I had the best time I ever had in Sedona on that trip.


“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” —Wayne Dyer


Now, I love change. I am a different person than I was a decade ago. I am happier, I am kinder, and I love new adventures. I want to see and do everything! I had no idea how stuck I had become. I had no idea what I was missing in my life. Thank you, Manny. 


“‘It’s impossible,’ said Pride. ‘It’s risky,’ said Experience. ‘It’s pointless,’ said Reason. ‘Give it a try,’ whispered the Heart.” —Unknown

By Janet Van deWalle