Thursday, March 26, 2015

Just Beet It!


by Leanne Ely, C.N.C

Today's Focus is on BEETS


Now now! Don't turn your nose up! There's way more to beets that the purple gushy sliced things you see decorating salad bars all of over America. We're talking fresh beets, the kind that are in season RIGHT now!
Beets are amazingly healthy; they tell you that all by themselves by their gorgeous color. Rich in folate, fiber, vitamin C, magnesium and a whole host of other vital nutrients, beets need to considered in your diet. Seriously!

Here's Today's TRICK:

Raw beets are easy to disguise in a beef and black bean burrito. Ask me how I know. :-) My children (now 21 & 19) still don't know to this day they have consumed many a beet this way!

Here's a TIP:

Store unwashed beets in your fridge's crisper. They'll stay good for 2 or more weeks! If the beets "bleed" on you, use lemon juice to help remove the purple.

And Your RECIPE:

Roasted Beets

4 to 6 beets, scrubbed, peeled and quartered (they'll bleed)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place your cut up beets evenly on a baking pan; drizzle with olive oil, top with salt and pepper to taste. Roast till fork tender, about 20 to 30 minutes depending on the size.
Copyright (C) 2012 www.savingdinner.com Leanne Ely, CNC All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Talking about sex with your kids

Finding Your Prince in a Sea of Toads

What Dads Wish They Could Tell Their Daughters

While most dads would rather watch a Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants marathon than talk to their teenage daughters about sex and relationships, Dr. Kenneth Ryan, father of three girls, never runs away from the talk. As a relationship expert, Dr. Ryan seeks to help parents have normal, comfortable conversations about these important life topics.  No one feels the pain of a bad boyfriend more than the dad so start talking before she has a boyfriend - before her mind turns to mush.

According to Dr. Ryan, one of the most common mistakes parents tend to make is lecturing instead of conversing.  Since parents often feel strongly about the issues, we sometimes try to hammer home our point without really listening and understanding what our daughter is thinking.  Ask open ended questions that begin with what,why and tell me.
Another common problem is awkward conversations.  Nobody wants awkward conversations, but what can you do? Discussing touchy topics can be less threatening if you talk about a celebrity or a person you both know rather than yourselves.   Honesty and humor are essential.  Teens can smell BS from a mile away so give it to them straight. She wants and needs the truth.  Don't take yourselves too seriously.  A light touch makes conversations more fun and encouraging.  She must know, without a doubt, that you are on her side.

The third mistake dads make is assuming their daughters will not listen to them.  Unless your relationship has gone seriously toxic, most children really do care what their parents think. However, sometimes it takes them a while to process challenging ideas.  We don't want our daughters to go out and make big mistakes because we didn't have the courage to tell them the hard truths.  Your own mistakes in life do not disqualify you from sharing your wisdom and insight.

To get the conversation started, share one of these concepts with your daughter and ask what she thinks of it. Does she agree or disagree? Why? What examples has she seen in people around her?
1. Lips are your secret weapon - Learning to converse easily with guys is one of the most important skills you can learn.  Guys like being with girls who make conversation easy and interesting.  Conversation is a skill you can learn just like playing the piano.  If you practice, you can get good at it.
2. Fateful Attraction - Attraction cannot be forced or faked but it can be influenced.  Physical attraction will fade if you do not have an attraction based on character and personality.

3. Dump the guy Humanely - Men want to know the truth so if it's not going to work, tell him so he can deal with it and move on.  He would rather know where he really stands than get dragged along.  Sandwich the bad news between a couple of compliments. Be gentle but direct.

4. You can't put a condom on your heart - Contrary to popular opinion, your heart is at just as much risk as your reproductive system.  Since you can't put a condom on your heart, safe sex is a myth. A girl's heart is at much greater risk than the guy's.

5. Sex is like Duct Tape - Sex is meant to help one couple bond together permanently for life.  Each time it is used outside of marriage, it loses some of its stickiness.

6. Guys say "love" to get sex. Girls give sex to get love.  Sorry girls, sex won't buy you genuine love.  It is very easy for men to have sex without love or commitment but women violate their own inner voice of sanity and femininity when they have sex without commitment.  His self esteem may go up but yours will go down.  Perhaps it's not fair but that's how it is.

7. Sex causes blindness - Sex helps married people overlook each other's faults.  Unfortunately, it has the same effect on single people, often causing them overlook critical flaws and make a poor choice of who they marry. Does he truly love you or does he love having sex with you?  That's the million dollar question and sex can give both of you fuzzy vision and confusion.  "Keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half shut afterward" - Ben Franklin.

8. Intended for pleasure - Sex is part of the superglue of marriage. Surfaces must be clean and dry for good adhesion. Marriage is tough and you need as much going in your favor as possible.  If you ruin the magic of sex by treating it like a meaningless toy, you are heading into marriage with one strike against you.  Sex is a big deal in marriage and you need the magic.

9.  Never buy a swimsuit at a Hardware store - Your shopping instinct easily steers you away from the hardware store when you need a new suit but your man instinct is letting you down if it takes you to bars and clubs with the hope of finding good husband prospects.  It's a needle in a haystack if you are hoping for a quality hubby.  Flashy moves and smooth talk won't mean a thing when your kid is throwing up in the middle of the night.

10.  Lifestyles of the Rich, famous and confused - Famous people are no smarter than you when in comes to relationships.  In fact,  they are more likely to have a warped perspective of reality. They are not necessarily a reliable role model and they won't tell the interviewer the real problems in their life.  Smiling celebrity photos today, divorce tomorrow.
So...Don't run away from the conversation, get one started. 

___________________________________________________
About Dr. Kenneth Ryan
Dr. Ryan is a relationship expert and author of Finding Your Prince in a Sea of Toads: How to Find a Quality Guy Without Getting Your Heart Shredded.   He and his wife have counseled engaged couples about sex for over 10 years.  (www.FindingYourPrince.com)

Easter Brunch... with a Twist!

Easter is fast-approaching, Chef Anthony Stewart of the Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa in Miami, offers healthier versions of all your holiday favorites—from Eggs and Lamb to the traditional chocolate bunnies.  As the executive chef at Pritikin, Anthony teaches guests how to eat and cook for your health - without sacrificing taste. he shares two of his recipes that put a twist on these foods to build a healthier (but still delicious) Easter meal that won’t add to the waist-line!

Chef Anthony gives eggs a makeover with his recipe for Breakfast Quesadilla (just 100 calories per serving) and for those who look forward to Lamb on Easter, try Bison – the “good” red meat. 

 



Breakfast Quesadilla

Ingredients
·         1 cup diced assorted vegetables (the more colors the better!)
·         ½ cup egg whites
·         ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
·         1 whole-wheat, low-sodium lavash thin bread
·         3 Tablespoons  shredded fat-free mozzarella cheese
·         1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
·         2 Tablespoons fat-free sour cream
·         ¼ cup pico de gallo (no salt added) or no-salt-added salsa (such as Enrico’s brand)

Procedure
1.       In a medium nonstick skillet, sauté vegetables until beginning to brown.  Add egg whites and scramble.  Season with black pepper.
2.       On a warm griddle or flat-top grill, place lavash thin bread and let the side facing the heat get hot.
3.       Turn the bread over on the griddle or grill, and sprinkle the cheese on top side.
4.       On half of the top side, spread the vegetable scramble and cilantro.
5.       When the cheese begins to melt, fold the thin bread in half to cover the vegetables.  Press firmly, using a tool like a large firm spatula or bottom of a pan.  Flip on the other side, grill for about 2 minutes, and press.
6.       Remove from heat.  Cut quesadilla into four pieces.  Serve two pieces per person with fat-free sour cream and salsa on the side.



Bison with Mushroom and Onions

Ingredients
·         4 four-ounce grass-fed, free-range bison steaks
·         ½ pound button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
·         ½ pound shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
·         4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
·         ½ pound onions, thinly sliced
·         1 ounce balsamic vinegar
·         ¼ cup red wine
·         ¼ cup Low-Sodium Very Veggie Juice
·         1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
·         1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon

Procedure
1.       Heat a large nonstick sauté pan over high heat.  Sear bison for about 90 seconds per side, or until a crust is formed but the meat is not fully cooked.  Remove bison from pan and set aside.
2.       Add mushrooms, garlic, and onions to the pan; sauté until soft and lightly browned, about 4 minutes.
3.       Deglaze pan with vinegar.  (To deglaze: Pour vinegar into pan, then gently scrape bottom of pan with a wooden spoon to loosen the caramelized juices.)
4.       Add wine, Knudsen Low-Sodium Very Veggie Juice, thyme, and tarragon.  Simmer for two minutes.
5.       Add bison steaks back to pan and simmer until bison is cooked through.

 ______________________________________________________
Chef Anthony Stewart Executive Chef

Chef Anthony Stewart has won accolades worldwide, including five gold medals in top culinary competitions, for his masterful use of foodstuffs like fresh seafood and tropical fruit from his native Jamaica. When not in the kitchen, he’s in the classroom, and has inspired thousands of Pritikin guests “to have some fun!”
For more information visit www.pritikin.com

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

High Risk Pregnancy

High-Risk Pregnancy: Why Me?
Understanding and Managing a Potential Preterm Pregnancy


Every year, 1 million U.S. women with high-risk pregnancies are placed on bed rest to protect their developing babies. Despite that, every year, about 500,000 newborns – one of every eight – arrive too early, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Enduring a high-risk pregnancy can be an overwhelming experience of stress, fear and unknowns, leading to more questions than answers. Many of these moms adhere to strict regimes of bed rest; face major changes in lifestyle and relationships; and are subject to dozens of doctor visits and even surgery or medications to protect their unborn children. For them, birth may not be the joy-filled event most families expect.
Knowing those feelings all too well, research scientist Kelly Whitehead wrote High-Risk Pregnancy: Why Me? Understanding and Managing a Potential Preterm Pregnancy (www.hrpwhyme.com), which is backed by fetal and maternal medicine specialist Dr. Vincenzo Berghella, a top pre-term birth researcher. Whitehead’s first child died following his premature birth. During her next pregnancy, she spent 4½ months in bed worrying over and trying to protect her daughter.
The book is both a medical reference and provides emotional support for mothers-to-be, with Whitehead providing answers in layman’s terms to the myriad medical questions families have. Whitehead also shares coping strategies she discovered, along with what she’s learned through benefit of hindsight, and insights from other mothers.
• Try to enjoy being pregnant. Don’t miss out on this experience because you’re high-risk. Do the normal prego things, even if you have to modify them: Shop online, get a belly cast, shoot expanding-belly photos, and savor those kicks and body changes. Don’t forget or stop dreaming about the actual birth and your desires for what it will be like. I regretted missing out on so much while carrying my daughter. Rather than enjoying the pregnancy, I kept focused on the end and my hope she would survive.

• Don’t let your emotions become your enemy. Say goodbye to guilt – this is not your fault!  It’s okay to be bitter, angry and upset at the world, and to hate “normal” pregnant women, but it isn’t going to change anything. So go get mad, yell, and cry, and then move on.

• Pelvic rest sounds easy, but it isn’t. It’s not fun being forced to become a nun, so don’t. There are still ways to enjoy intimacy; you just need to get creative. Think high school – remember how much fun necking was? Try body oil, a massage…whipped cream? Sexy lingerie is still hot, even if you’re pregnant. Flaunt your new assets - they surely went up a cup size or two.

• Educate yourself about your situation. Don’t go reading about every other possible scenario out there; you don’t need to worry about problems that aren’t a likely issue for you.

• Ask and you shall receive. It may sometimes feel as though people have forgotten about you, but the reality is they’re busy and they have no idea what’s it’s like for you. If you want company, reach out and invite someone over.
“I know it’s tough to be going through a high-risk pregnancy and living in fear every day,” Whitehead says. “Though this will be the toughest time of your life, many of us have been through it and now have our children. You can, too.
“Keep your chin up and keep hoping. Healthy babies are born every day to families who’ve walked the same path.”

_________________________________________

About Kelly Whitehead
Kelly Whitehead is a scientist-mom, who lost a preemie son and went on to have two high-risk pregnancies. She wrote High-Risk Pregnancy: Why Me? Understanding and Managing a Potential Preterm Pregnancy as an educational tool and emotional guide for those experiencing a difficult pregnancy and the providers who work with them. She is also a trained doula, birth advocate and spokesperson for Sidelines National High Risk Pregnancy Support Network. For more information, check out www.hrpwhyme.com.

Perfect Poaching


by Leanne Ely



Today's Focus is on Poaching


Poaching is method of cooking that is perfect for bringing out the best in delicate foods such as eggs and fish. Some people expand that to include chicken and shellfish and even fruits, but I stop with the eggs and fish, personally. I adore poached salmon and am sharing a favorite recipe with you today. 

Here's Today's TRICK:


To keep your poached foods submerged, press a sheet of parchment paper right onto the surface of the poaching liquid. Works great! Just make SURE you use parchment, NOT wax paper, ugh! Guess how I know this??

Here's a TIP:


To poach flawlessly, you will want to make sure your liquid temperature is somewhere between 160 degrees and 170 degrees. To eyeball that temp, without having to resort to thermometers, look at the water (or wine or broth). The liquid should look like it is JUST about to break into a simmer, but not quite. Almost like it is ready to show some movement, but it hasn't quite yet. I know you know what I mean. That's poaching temperature.

And Your RECIPE:


Poached Salmon with a Creamy Horseradish Sauce
(from the original Saving Dinner book)
Serves 6

 6 cups water
 2 lemons, sliced
 2 carrots, sliced
 2 stalks celery, sliced
 6 (6-oz.) salmon steaks or fillets
 1/2 cup low fat mayonnaise
 1/2 cup low fat sour cream
 3 teaspoons prepared horseradish (not creamed)
 2 teaspoons lemon juice
 2 green onions, chopped

Combine first 4 ingredients in large skillet; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add salmon, cover, lower the heat some more and simmer another 10 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and let stand for 8 minutes. Remove salmon to serving plate; set aside.

Creamy Horseradish Sauce: In a bowl, combine last five ingredients (mayo through green onions). Serve with salmon.

Per Serving: 293 Calories; 12g Fat; 36g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 99mg Cholesterol; 267mg Sodium. Exchanges: 5 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates. Points: 7

SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Serve with steamed baby red potatoes, green beans and carrots.
Copyright (C) 2012 www.savingdinner.com Leanne Ely, CNC All rights reserved. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Struggling Young Adults

Increased Stress Puts More Teens at Risk

Spot Early Signs of a Struggling Young Adult


Adolescence is difficult in the best of times. It’s doubly stressful for kids today; they’re experiencing the same worries and insecurities as adults in this troubled economy, and with far fewer coping skills. From families struggling with joblessness and foreclosure to increasing competition for college admissions to the normal fears associated with impending adulthood, they’re particularly vulnerable.

“Teens who are overwhelmed by stress often are unable or unwilling to ask for help,” says noted psychologist Dr. Gregory L. Jantz, (www.drgregoryjantz.com), author of When Your Teenager Becomes…The Stranger in Your House.

“But the longer they continue to flail and struggle emotionally, the greater the chance they’ll develop more serious problems like clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder, dependence on alcohol or drugs and, sadly, suicidal tendencies,” Jantz says. “It’s up to parents and other adults to recognize when a teen is struggling and intervene.”

So how do you know when typical teen characteristics, such as moodiness, have moved beyond “normal?” Jantz offers these tips:
• Arguing is normal; constant anger is not. Sometimes teens argue just to argue. It allows them to let off steam, express their displeasure about life in general and test boundaries. The occasional dramatic meltdown is to be expected. But it’s not normal for a teen to be angry and hostile all the time, constantly fighting and yelling. 

• Withdrawal from parents is normal; pulling away from family and friends is not. Expect your teen to start pulling away from you – unless she wants something – and occasionally from their friends, as well. Sometimes, they just need to pull back for a few days, even from friends. But when they appear to isolate themselves for weeks, spending weekend after weekend alone in their room, they may be struggling with depression. Socializing with friends is one of the first things to go as depression sucks the joy out of life.

• Anxiety is normal; feeling constantly overwhelmed is not. Teens have a lot to be anxious about – the prospect of independence is both exhilarating and terrifying, so some worrying is to be expected. But a teen who seems to be, or says he is, struggling daily with stress needs help. Two types of kids are especially vulnerable to developing generalized anxiety disorder, a heightened, constant state of anxiety: The worker bee perfectionist who crams his schedule with activities, responsibilities and tasks, and the kids who worry so much over anything, they can’t get anything done.

• Being upset for days after a bad experience is normal; more than two weeks is not. Teenagers tend to react dramatically when things go wrong – their boss chews them out, they fail a test, they get in an argument with their sweetheart. Adults know from experience that these things aren’t the end of the world and all will be well again, but teens lack that perspective. It’s normal for them to be in a bad mood about it for a few days, but to dwell on the problem for more than two weeks indicates they’re struggling.
The most recent data available, which is about 3 years old, puts suicide as the third-leading cause of death for teens after unintentional injuries (such as car accidents) and homicide, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. More than 2 million teens attempt suicide each year.

“I suspect new data will put suicide as the second and possibly even the leading cause of death for that age group, because depression is the biggest risk factor,” Jantz says. “We’re seeing more teenagers suffering from depression in recent years because of the economy and overstimulation by technology.”

Visit www.aplaceofhope.com for an online survey to see if you or your teen is showing signs of depression (click “Depression” and then “Depression Survey” in the drop-down menu).”

_________________________________________________

About Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D.
Gregory Jantz has more than 25 years experience in mental health counseling and is the founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, near Seattle, Wash. The Center, “a place for hope,” provides comprehensive, coordinated care from a treatment team that addresses medical, physical, psychological, emotional, nutritional, fitness and spiritual factors involved in recovery. He is the best-selling author of more than 20 books on topics from depression to eating disorders.

How to Make Your Wardrobe Last

Everything is more expensive these days but some items experience higher price hikes than others. To the dismay of fashionistas everywhere, apparel is taking the hardest hit with a whopping 4.7-percent increase in January alone, according to ApparelStrategiest.com.

The best way to save on clothes is not to buy any, but that's easier said than done for most. Carefully selected pieces that are cared for and stored properly can last a long time, however, reducing the necessity for replacement. If you struggle with making your clothes last, consider these tips to promote wardrobe longevity.

1. Follow care instructions.
"Hand-wash only" is just a suggestion, right? Wrong. I've ruined many a blouse due to laziness. By following care instructions closely, clothes will last longer and you can enjoy them for years. If you have dry-clean only items, avoid professional cleanings with at-home kits and use mesh bags for delicates to prevent damage from the washer drum or other garments.

2. Invest in classic pieces.
Avoid spending too much on trendy clothes and invest in classic pieces instead. After all, buying $100 worth of cheap, trendy items is no deal compared to a $100 blazer that lasts a lifetime. To reduce the initial hit on your bank account, purchase discount gift cards at sites like GiftCardGranny.com to places like Nordstrom, Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus.

3. Wash inside out.
Avoid fading and reduce pilling by turning your clothes inside out when washing. This is especially important for denim and dark articles of clothing. Additionally, search your whites pile for the mutinous red sock before loading it into the washer.

4. Don't replace, repair.
We all have that favorite pair of shoes we can't stop wearing and can't imagine giving up. I wore down one such pair of boots and frantically looked for a worthy replacement. Upon finding nothing that could compare, it occurred to me I could just get them re-heeled. For $15 my faves were as good as new.

5. Hold onto all sizes.
Unless you're a Victoria's Secret model, you likely change a size up or down every few years. It's when that adjustment decreases that we want to find new, smaller clothes and get rid of the bigger stuff, but it's best to hold onto these pieces for the inevitable. That way, you don't have to spend money on a bigger size that you're not too thrilled about purchasing.

6. Hang vs. fold.
Crumpling your clothes on the floor every night requires more turns in the washing machine and leads to faster wear-out. Hang up your clothes the minute you remove them to increase longevity. If space is an issue, double up by placing two blouses or two pairs of pants on one hanger. For knitwear like sweaters, it's best to keep those folded in a drawer or shelf since a hanger can damage the stitching.

7. Hang with Care
Always remove plastic from dry-cleaned items so the clothes can breathe and toss those wire hangers immediately. Clamp hangers are great for trousers and skirts -- just make sure to clamp the closure at the waistband to avoid creasing. Padded hangers with nonslip material ensure suit jackets and pants don't endure hours and days of creasing. For recommendations on the best hangers, check out Oprah's picks.

8. Longer lasting shoe care.
Water and dirt can damage shoes over time, especially those made of suede and leather. Apply a protector spray after each wear, and use a wire suede brush to remove dirt and scuff marks. Keep leather shoes looking new with a touch of polish. Place tissue paper in the toes of heels and flats to maintain their shape, and make boot shapers out of cardboard boxes to keep boots from creasing.

__________________________

Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spring Has Sprung

Spring Brunch Tips

There’s something about the air on a warm spring day that makes us want to get outside and enjoy brunch. The thought of hosting a brunch at home may be intimidating for some, but renowned celebrity event producer Gary Levitt has teamed up with Sterling Vineyards to share some simple tips to ensure your boozy brunch is a picture-perfect success.

Here are a few key tips from Gary:

·         “Be sure to visit your local Farmers Market.  The beautiful colors and textures of the food will help to inspire ideas for menus as well color schemes, plating ideas, and design choices.”
·         “Create a centerpiece using live plants that can be planted in your garden after the event or given to guests as parting gifts.  It provides a great conversation topic and will keep your guests talking about your party.”
·         “Don’t overdo the table décor. Sometimes less is more! Colorful ribbon wrapped around your table service and/or napkins is a great way to accent your table”
·         “Use everyday household items like storage boxes hid under table clothes or linens to create multi-tiered platforms for your centerpieces.”

·         “Have a great glass of wine ready at the door when your guests arrive.  It will make them feel welcome, grounded and at ease.”

Below are a few libation recommendations that are delicious, refreshing-tasting – including Pino Noir, a delightful Prosecco and a bubbly moscato rosé.

Sterling Vineyards 2011 Carneros Pinot Noir

From a legendary growing region, our 2011 Carneros Pinot Noir offers a dark red fruit profile graced with toasty oak complexity. Black cherry and rich toffee aromas open the nose, followed by brambly berry flavors. The sweet scent of forest floor and rich cherry cobbler weave through the smooth and supple palate. The finish is long and satisfying, with a spicy fruit intensity that extends toward a rewarding finale. Lamb, a dish perfect for spring-time occasions, will pair well with the inviting personality of this Pinot Noir. $18 SRP
Stellina di Notte Prosecco

Bubbles with oysters, smoked salmon, chicken salads, omelets and cheeses? Or just bubbles with friends? You don’t need a reason to uncork Stellina di Notte Prosecco. It’s a fun, affordable sparkling wine with delicate aromas of citrus, pear, melon, lemon and almonds. Elegant bubbles enliven the flavors, making them dance on the palate. The body is light, with a lovely balance between crisp acidity and a touch of sweetness. The hint of minerals in the finish is a classic quality of the Prosecco grape, which has been grown in the Tre Venezie region of Northern Italy since Roman times. Sales of Prosecco grew 23% in 2013 and has grown by 1/3 annually for the past five years$14.99 SRP, according to Nielsen.
Rose ‘N’ Blum Bubby Moscato Rosé

A pop of fresh strawberries and orange zest aromas open the Rose ‘N’ Blum Bubbly Moscato Rosé. Delightfully fun and playful, the wine dances with red fruit flavors and creamy, light bubbles. Subtle floral and stone fruit nuances add textural interest to the bright, bubbly palate. Festive and fanciful, the wine can be enjoyed on all occasions from picnics to parties. $18 SRP.

7 Tips for Preparing Your Taxes

It's tax time again! We encourage you not to put off tax prep, it's essential to get your information submitted as soon as possible. After all, the sooner you submit, the quicker you get a refund, or the more time you have to save up if you owe.

Preparation is key to any task and absolutely essential when completing your taxes. Before you commit your weekend to pouring over government vernacular, consider these seven tips to stay on track.

1. Identify Deductions
Before you start number crunching, be sure you know what expenses to write off; you don't want to miss out on a single tax-deductable expense. The list is quite long, so take the time to read it thoroughly and highlight anything that applies to you. You can find the Top 500 Itemized Deductions on the IRS website.

2. Organize, Organize, Organize
Now that you know what to deduct, it's time to organize the information. You've filed tax-related documents in a single file all year - that's as organized as you need to be, right? Wrong. If your receipts are a hodgepodge of charitable donations, business lunches and vehicle records, take the time to separate them out. This will save you a lot of headache come input time.

3. Keep Track of W2s
By law, employers must submit W2s to employees by Jan. 31 of each year. If you failed to receive yours or can't seem to locate it, contact your HR department or supervisor. File it immediately when you receive it.

4. Find Discounts for Software
Preparing taxes at home is much cheaper than working with a professional, but that doesn't mean you should pay full price. Look for tax coupons from websites like CouponSherpa.com and save on software packages to make your tax prep even more affordable.

5. Save on Professional Help
Taxes are never straightforward, but business owners and people with multiple real estate properties are much less likely to be audited when they work with a tax professional. If you work with a chain agency like H&R Block, be on the lookout for deals and discounts; they run rampant this time of year.

6. Analyze Your Refund
It's tough to compete with the glee of receiving a hefty tax return, but not owing anything to the IRS is the sweetest gift of all. If your withholdings are too high, you're missing out on monthly income. If they're too low, you're living the high life until an abrupt wake-up call on April 15. Ultimately, you want to break even with Uncle Sam, so use the IRS Withholding Calculator to determine the optimal deduction from your paycheck.

7. Spend Refunds Wisely
It's tempting to treat yourself when you get a refund, but the biggest treat of all is financial security. Thankfully, 43.8 percent of Americans intend to stash away expected refunds this year, up from 42.1 percent in 2011, according to the National Retail Federation's Tax Returns Consumer Survey. Paying down debt, donating to a charity, and adding to emergency savings are all wise ways to spend your refund.
_____________________________________________________

 Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. As a nationally recognized media source, Andrea has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC's Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Secrets to hiring the perfect nanny

Make sure kids are in safe hands

Cassford Management LLC provides tips on how to select, screen and hire the right nanny
There are many unanswered questions when it comes to hiring a nanny – a decision that affects your child’s life: Where can I find a nanny? How can I train a nanny? How can I make sure a nanny treats my child well?

“We watch troublesome stories in the news of how a nanny abuses a child, yet we see very few parents take the proper steps to ensure their child’s safety and well-being,” said Kim Cassford, co-founder of Cassford Management. “Most recently, a babysitter was charged with murdering 23-month-old Aaliyah Ali. In the wake of horrific stories such as this, we want to help parents understand the importance of selecting, screening and hiring the right person to care for your child.”

We all want to make sure the person we leave our child with is qualified, professional and reliable. Cassford says this is achievable, but you must take the necessary steps to keep your child in good hands. Here are some important things you should know when looking for the perfect nanny:


STOP, THINK, ACT

Stop! Carve out the time to think about what you need from your nanny to ensure the most precious person in your life is safe and sound. Invest 30 minutes to an hour to list requirements, duties, hours of service, days of service and a realistic salary range. Parents who do not take this first step often end up in trouble. Only then can you begin the search.


DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Search for reputable resources to source your nanny. Ask friends and family who they have used and can refer. Research and do your due diligence. Learn the differentiating factors in using an agency versus conducting the search yourself.


TAKE ACTION - ACTIVATE YOUR SEARCH

As you review applicants’ resumes or applications, look for the following:

- Legal working status. Do not hire a non-legal worker for reasons such as less money and/or longer working hours.

- Qualified help who has the appropriate credentials in child care.

- Years of experience.

- Employment history –be sure to speak to former employers.

- Conduct a full background check, including public records, criminal and credit history.

- Conduct a thorough interview process.


BE PROACTIVE AND MONITOR

After you’ve made your decision, trial the candidate for a period of time to ensure he/she is the right fit. Cassford recommends placing a monitoring camera in several locations and letting the nanny know they exist. Make sure you have careful supervision from a specialist to assist with assessing the nanny’s skills, capability to perform the duties adequately and, most importantly, that he/she is a good fit for your household.
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About Cassford Management:
Cassford Management LLC is an experienced, credentialed and discreet luxury estate and hospitality advisory service specializing in staffing, household staff training, estate and household manuals, management and other luxury lifestyle consulting. Cassford Management’s luxury lifestyle support services save you time and enhance and supports your desired quality of life, managing and meeting all your expectations. To learn more, visit www.cassfordmanagement.com.

Heads Up!

The Children's Hospital Concussion Experts Share Tips For Recognizing and Responding to Concussion Signs and Symptoms

According to the Brain Injury Association of Colorado, a conservatively estimated 1,500 to 2,500 youth athletes visit Colorado emergency rooms for sports-related concussions each year. At the same time, the number of children treated in the outpatient Concussion Program at The Children’s Hospital has risen steadily over the last three years at an average rate of 32 percent per year.

“Concussions pose particular risks to children and young adults, whose brains are still developing and may take longer to recover after an injury,” said Dr. Joe Grubenhoff, emergency medicine physician with Children’s Concussion Program. “Most concussions heal within a couple of weeks, but every concussion is serious. A young athlete needs plenty of time – and proper medical management – to give the brain an opportunity to mend.”

The Children’s Hospital is actively supporting Senate Bill 40, otherwise known as the Jake Snakenberg Youth Concussion Act. This bill, which has bi-partisan support, requires
that coaches of all youth organized sports complete annual concussion recognition education. Further, if the coach suspects a youth athlete age 11-18 has sustained a concussion, the coach must immediately remove the athlete from play, and the athlete cannot return to practice or play until evaluated by a licensed health care provider and cleared to return. The legislation covers middle school-aged athletes as well as high school kids because this age range is most at risk for sports-related concussions.

The Children’s Hospital wants children to be active, but also to be safe. To that end, it offers the following concussion-related information for parents and other caregivers:

Concussion Symptoms
Concussion symptoms that an athlete may experience include dizziness, headache or “pressure” in the head, vomiting, confusion, blurry or double vision, sensitivity to light or noise, feeling groggy or dazed, concentration or memory issues and being “knocked out.” However, a person does not need to be knocked out or lose consciousness to have had a concussion.

In the first 1-2 days after the injury, parents should watch their child very carefully. Signs to be on the lookout for include appearing dazed; forgetting what happened before or after the injury; clumsy movement; slow responses to questions; and mood, behavior or personality changes. Parents can give their kids acetaminophen (Tylenol) for headaches, but no other medications should be given during this time without a doctor’s approval.

When to Seek Medical Help
Serious problems after a concussion are rare, but can occur. For this reason, a medical doctor should always be involved in a young person’s care after a concussion.

Parents should seek IMMEDIATE medical help if their child displays:
• A headache that gets worse, lasts for a long time, or is severe
• Confusion, extreme sleepiness, or trouble waking up
• Vomiting three or more times
• Trouble walking or talking
• A seizure (arms or legs stiffen or shake uncontrollably)
• Any other sudden change in thinking or behavior

Parents can learn more about concussion care and access a list of resources at http://www.thechildrenshospital.org/conditions/rehab/concussion/parents.aspx.
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About The Children’s Hospital

The Children’s Hospital has defined and delivered pediatric healthcare excellence for more than 100 years. Founded in 1908, The Children’s Hospital is a leading nonprofit pediatric network entirely devoted to the health and well-being of children. Continually recognized as one of the nation’s outstanding hospitals by U.S. News & World Report, The Children’s Hospital is known both for its nationally and internationally recognized medical, research and education programs as well as the full spectrum of everyday care for kids throughout Colorado and surrounding states. With more than 1,000 healthcare professionals representing the full spectrum of pediatric specialties, The Children’s Hospital network includes its main campus, 15 Network of Care locations and more than 400 outreach clinics. For more information, visit www.thechildrenshospital.org.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The hazards of the office

Women are three times more likely to suffer from suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and wrist injuries than men, according to the National Women’s Health Information Center. Carpal tunnel syndrome is the name for a group of problems including numbness, pain, tingling, swelling and loss of strength in the wrist and hand. It is often the result of swelling inside the carpal tunnel, which places too much pressure on the median nerve.

Here are some tips from The American Physical Therapy Association to help women avoid getting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

1.      If you’re typing, only move your fingers and keep your wrists straight. Consider using a keyboard pad to rest your wrists during breaks.
2.      When typing, maintain good posture to reduce strain. Make sure your spine is flush with the back of the chair, your shoulders are relaxed and feet are flat on the floor.
3.      Make sure your computer monitor is at eye level so you don’t have to bend your neck.
4.      At home, take frequent breaks from activities that require repetitive motion. For example, if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen slicing and dicing, be aware that all that cutting can put a lot of strain on the wrist.
5.      Consider using a wrist brace at night or when playing sports to keep the wrist in a neutral position and allow it to rest.

However, if Carpal Tunnel Syndrome does develop it can be treated, often without surgery. One popular therapy is to use a brace that immobilizes the wrist to relieve pressure on the median nerve.  But not all supports are made to fit a woman’s body.  Wellgate for Women designs its products specifically to fit the size and proportions of women’s bodies.  Wellgate’s Slimfit Wrist Support uses memory foam and soft fabrics to provide comfort day or night, which is important as orthopedists often recommend wearing a brace to bed to help speed recovery.

How can you convey love?

By Maryanne Comaroto

We have lots of different ways that we try to convey love, through certain behaviors or words or actions.  But these actions can be empty, as well - it all depends or where the gesture comes from, and that's what makes the difference.

For example, you might think that you're being loving by not speaking frankly in an argument in order to spare your partner's feelings, but what good is that if in the end you bottle your resentments up and end up taking it out on them in other ways?  Not very!

If you want to convey love to your partner, here are a few starting points:

1. Listen to your partner, both the verbal and non-verbal cues.  Most people are quite good at communicating what they want, even if they don't specifically use the words to say it.  You don't have to read your partner's mind, but start learning to interpret the ways in which they clue you in to what they need.  If your partner has said, "wouldn't it be great to eat at a restaurant" five times this week, guess what?  There's your hint.

2.  Study your partner.  I bet that, even if you've been together a long time, there are still some basic things you don't know about each other.  What does your partner like on their burger?  What sorts of things do they struggle with?  What's their favorite color?  Learn to start caring about the little things that make your partner the person they are, and this investment of time and energy will come back to you tenfold.

3.  Consider the things that would make your partner happy, and integrate that into your daily awareness.  Be aware that these things could change on a daily basis as circumstances change, so check in with your partner regularly to find out what they need, what they want, and what would make their life a little easier.  Make these things a priority as if their happiness were your own.

4.  Start acting on the things you know you can do to make your partner's life a little happier.  Don't blow things off just because you think they're too insignificant to make a difference; even small things can have a huge impact when it comes to improving someone's day or someone's life.  For example, if you've asked or observed that your partner likes their coffee with two sugars and soy milk, make the effort to ensure that there's always enough soy milk in the house for the following morning, and when you're making your own coffee, why not make theirs the way they like it?  It doesn't take much effort and it can make a big difference in how their day goes.

5.  Grow together.  It sounds kind of corny, but finding new ways to grow together and through each other will enrich your lives and your relationship greatly.  Discover new things together, make an effort to explore your world together, share new things with each other as they come up, and ask each other new questions as you think of them.

These are just some places to start from, but you can expand and include some of your own ideas!  The true meaning of joy is through learning to bring joy to those we love, and that comes from a place of real love.

Like I always say, if you actually care, then act like it!
Great relationships begin within!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

How NOT to Overcook Meat


by Leanne Ely


Dear Friends,
You've decided what to make for dinner. You've shopped, chopped, cooked, cleaned, and placed a gorgeous meal on the table. You take your first bite and start chewing and chewing and chewing it's tough, it's dry, it's over cooked. Don't worry, we've all been there!
 
Cooking meat can be tricky. You want to cook it long enough so that it's safe to consume, but not so long that it becomes tough and unappetizing. Sometimes there is a very fine line between the two. Even worse, overcooking some types of meat can create carcinogens. Lucky for you, the Dinner Diva is here to save the day! Here are a few tips to help you avoid overcooking meat.

When grilling meat, be sure to grill slowly over low heat. This will help reduce charring which poses a cancer risk. If you do end up with black areas on your grilled meat, scrape them off before serving. Marinating meat before cooking can help avoid overcooking as well.

A digital probe thermometer is an excellent tool to help you discern the level of doneness when cooking meat. You insert the probe end of the thermometer into the meat and the readout end rests outside of your oven, Some models are wireless whereas others use a thin wire that doesn't prevent the oven door from being closed. This enables you to check the meat's internal temperature without opening the oven door and letting heat escape. Some can even be programmed to beep once a particular temperature is reached. Here are a few internal temperature guidelines for cooking different types of meat:

*    Beef Roast: 155 degrees F
*    Ground Beef: 160 degrees F
*    Pork Roast: 160 degrees F
*    Ham: 135 degrees F
*    Lamb: 155 degrees F
*    Veal Chops: 155 degrees F
*    Whole Chicken or Turkey: 170 degrees F
By using a thermometer to check the internal temperatures you will avoid guessing which can often mean a disaster for dinner. How many times have you cut into your turkey to find it is not done, so you put it back in the oven only to remove it later and its turkey leather? With a thermometer you can avoid that and with so many varieties on the market you are sure to find one that works for you.
Love,
Leanne Ely
Your Dinner Diva since 2001
Copyright (C) 2012 www.savingdinner.com Leanne Ely, CNC All rights reserved.

Easter Candy Cookies

Easter’s almost here and we have an easy to make Easter Candy Cookies recipe—plus you can switch Easter chocolates for different season sweets throughout the year.


Easter Candy Cookies

Makes 3 dozen cookies

What You’ll Need
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 tbsp. vanilla
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
2 cups small chocolate Easter candies or coarsely chopped candy bars (Editor’s note: We used Hershey’s Solid Milk Chocolate Eggs)
36 jelly beans, if desired

What You’ll Do: 
1. Heat oven to 375⁰F.  Beat butter, egg and vanilla in large bowl until well mixed. Mix in both sugars.



2. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt until smooth. Stir or knead in chocolate candies (Target Tip: To make it easy for kids to chop larger pieces of hard candy, place candy in sealed plastic bag and let kids pound with a rolling pin or large wooden spoon.)

3. Drop mixture onto cookie sheets using a tablespoon.


4. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown around edges. Press a jellybean into each cookie.  Let cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet.  Cool completely.






Recipe courtesey of A Bullseye View