Archive | April, 2012

May / June 2012 Issue

May / June 2012 Issue

2012 Spring Garden Tour

Denton County Master Gardener Association

Patio Living

Plans for Building and Furnishing Your Outdoor Space


Understanding the SPF Number

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Just Say Ahh…

Just Say Ahh…

by Taryn S. McColpin

Ahh, May…Time for hot weather to kick in, time for the last days of school, time to call our mothers for Mother’s Day.
How important is that phone call? How important is any phone call?

There was a day, once upon a time and not that long ago, when the landscape was dotted with phone booths and every home had a land line. Portable devices upon which one could speak to (and even see) the other party were the things of fantasy and comic books. Phone calls were not taken during the dinner hour, much less during a conversation with someone standing right in front of you.

And if you were driving, important calls waited until you got home and parked your car and went into the house.

Fast forward to today, when cell phones are not only a must-have device, they are appendages. Young children have them so that their parents can monitor their
whereabouts, grandparents have them so that they can receive instant pictures of their little darlings. And everyone in between has one so that they are in constant contact with every person, every happening, every opportunity to comment, communicate, or consume.

We of a certain age did without cell phones for the vast majority of our lives, but now? How many people have turned around and gone back home to retrieve their cell phone because they cannot do without it, even for an hour or two? Cell phones have become so ubiquitous that it is automatic to use them wherever you are. It rings, you answer. A thought occurs to you that must be imparted, you call.

But how important is that call when you are driving?
You’ve heard all the statistics, you’ve read that cities across the country are banning the use of cell phones while driving, you’ve listened to reports of accidents caused by
someone distracted by their call or their text.

But are you one of the majority of drivers who think they are the exception to the rule, and do it anyway? Is your justification that you use a hands-free device? (Studies show that using Bluetooth, etc., makes absolutely no difference; it is the act of carrying on a cell phone conversation that is the dangerous distraction.) Do you believe that you’re such an excellent driver that these statistics do not apply to you? (Other studies show that while 64% of drivers rate themselves as “excellent,” the reality is that, unless you drive for NASCAR, you fall in the average range. And no driver, not even Jeff Gordon, is exempt from the cognitive dysfunction caused by talking on a cell phone while driving.) Texting while driving? This ranks right up there with reading a newspaper or doing your makeup or watching a movie while operating a piece of heavy equipment. And that is what a vehicle is, a quarter-ton or half-ton or full ton of heavy equipment, hurtling down the road at 30, 50, 70 miles per hour. What school of thought would allow that typing words on a small device while engaging in such an already risky enterprise is a
safe thing to do?
(There’s a video that should be required viewing for every Driver Education class in the world. Google “texting while driving video.” Show it to your teenagers.)

While you are driving, in ten minutes, in thirty minutes, in an hour, you’re going to be where you are going, or you will find a place to pull over and talk or text. In an
emergency, there is always the shoulder.

This small column will not convince every reader to abstain from electronic communication while driving. But you? You could be one of the smart ones who takes a vow not to continue such a dangerous habit, and lets someone else be the cause of that unfortunate accident, the bearer of the guilt for their cell phone being the instrument of destruction.

How important is that phone call? Is it worth a life?

May is Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month. Hang Up and Drive: Watch Out for Motorcycles.

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Out With The Old… In With The New

Out With The Old… In With The New

by Lauren McKelvey

Summer is the perfect time to go through your closet and get rid of old trends to make room for new styles. It’s time to donate your oranges, silvers, and grays and stock up on yellow, gold, and red.

The 50s and 60s called, and they want their trends back. That’s right—full skirts, twin-set cardigans, and boxy handbags are out. Replace these decades with 1920s fashions resembling the Great Gatsby. Summer wear will feature flapper dresses, beading and fringing, drop-waists, and flapper headbands

While the two extremes of mini and maxi skirts are hot this summer, midi skirts should be avoided. Also, overstated baroque prints are preferred to understated baroque prints. This summer, stay out of the in-between and go for the extreme.

Giant, floppy hats are still perfect for a day at the beach, but stay away from wild and crazy feather headdresses. In fact, feathers and other folk styles are on the decline, but you can still mix and match different prints.

Other trends you might want to retire include star prints, punk tees, digital floral prints, and pleats. Replace these things with pastels, pencil skirts, and of course neons…because neon is, again, a go-to summer color, and color blocking is still a way to utilize neon, allowing all to wear the trend.

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A Tribute To Moms

by Debra K. Owens

I’m profoundly touched when I hear stories about a mother’s sacrifice. A blind willingness, without question or hesitation, to donate a kidney to her kid if they needed one, or in extreme situations, lay down her life to save or protect her child. It reminds me of the countless times that my own mother gave, and gave, and gave of herself throughout my childhood.

Raised by a single mom, she was the breadwinner in the family, holding down two jobs, juggling mom duties, and raising two kids, while setting aside the simple joys in life to make ends meet. There were no extra funds for beauty parlor visits, manicures, or shopping sprees. Everything she earned put a roof over our heads, food on the table and clothes on our backs.

My life is better because of her strength, devotion, faith and love. I can honestly say she was a fighter, determined to see her commitments through, never quitting, never giving up. She by no means had a perfect upbringing, but she never let that weigh her down in her resolve to raise her own family. Kind to the helpless, good to the hurting, a beacon of hope when the world was against you, those were her trademarks in life, her heritage to her children, and now grandchildren.

Maybe you have a similar story, a moving memory of your mom, the woman who inspired, encouraged and molded you into the person you are today. If that’s the case, be sure you tell her. As a mom, we need to hear those things. It’s good to know that we’re on the right track when it comes to raising decent, law abiding, human beings.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Planning for Retirement – Consider Location

Planning for Retirement – Consider Location

by Mark S. Stegman, CFP®, Financial Advisor

Among all the decisions you might make while planning financially for retirement, where you choose to live can be among the most important. And you might be surprised what kind of limitations your decision can impose in the future. The area, and the home you live in during retirement, may affect the amount of savings you spend on things like upkeep on your house and transportation as you age.

There are so many factors that may influence you as you plan where to retire, like an area’s cost of living, healthcare options and whether your family is nearby, but consider the following less-obvious things as you finalize your plans.

How much is your home really costing you?

If your mortgage is paid off you might believe you’re in the clear. But it’s important to also consider how your geographic location might affect upkeep costs and taxes, which can take a significant bite out of your monthly retirement budget. The standard estimate for a home’s annual maintenance costs range from 1-3% of its original cost, then add an average of 1% of the home’s value for property taxes. Based on these figures alone, a $400,000 home would require a $12,000 yearly outlay, or $360,000 during the average 30 year retirement. If you were to scale back to a $200,000 home, you could realize a sizable savings of $180,000 during retirement.

Is your current home elder-friendly?

Few people enjoy thinking about the physical limitations that often accompany the aging process, but it is crucial to consider when you’re deciding where to spend your retirement years. Most large homes are multi-level, which can be challenging, even unsafe to navigate if it becomes difficult for you to move around physically as you age. Retrofitting your home to make it easier can range from simply adding safety railings and bars, to more extensive. While you may initially cringe at such expenses, it’s important to consider the long-term savings.

Does the area where you live meet your needs and retirement goals?

Are you close to healthcare facilities? If you outlive your ability to drive, are there stores within walking distance or that offer delivery services? Likewise, as you think about the things you want to do during retirement, it’s important to consider if your area is a good fit. For example, if you want to spend more time with family members that have moved away, you must account for travel expenses in your retirement plan.

Still not sure you have all the information or resources you need to make these and other complex decisions about retirement? Work with a financial planner who can help you prepare financially for retirement while considering your location, your lifestyle and other aspirations.

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The Value in Volunteering

By Debra K. Owens

Life is busy, time is short, and fitting everything into our schedules can be a challenge. However, there’s considerable value in volunteering, even if it’s only one day a week. Your outreach can assist the people in your community, open the door for new friendships, enhance or develop skills that can pave the way to employment opportunities, strengthen your confidence and lift your spirits, as well as inspire your family to follow in your footsteps. Consider some of these value points as you delve into the worthwhile prospect of volunteering.

Value #1 – Outreach: Volunteers are like a stitch in the fabric of a community, they are the ones that hold it together. Every day a need is met because someone had the heart to help. Lives are touched, not just by the person who receives the service, but also by the one who does the serving. There are plenty of places to start. Try a local church, senior center, youth activities, city services, health related organizations, or any number of fundraising events. Keep in mind that finding your niche will have a more lasting effect if it’s something you enjoy doing.

Value #2 – Friendship: Meeting people is usually a given when you’re giving. Working with other volunteers, or even working with the people you help, is a great opportunity to expand your friend-base. Donating your time and talents to a worthy cause can be fun and self-rewarding, especially when the end result is making a new friend.

Value #3 – Careers: Unpaid, but not unnoticed. Connecting is just part of volunteering. You never know whose path you might cross, or what new skill you might learn while assisting with a charitable organization, community function, or school event. The knowledge and training you gain in the process can be a valuable asset to add to your portfolio or resume.

Value #4 – Healthy Minds & Bodies: Simply put, Volunteering is good for the soul. You feel better about yourself and about the contribution you make. Taking the focus off of your own problems and pouring that energy into something meaningful is a positive way to combat depression, anxiety, stress and fatigue. And we all know that a healthy mind makes for a healthy body.

Value #5 – A Family Tradition: Children are sponges, they absorb everything we say and do. Volunteering is the perfect time to instill good traits in impressionable young lives. Seeing firsthand the difference their parents make in giving back can start a family tradition that carries on for generations.

The list is long, the need is great, and rarely is a lending hand ever turned away. Finding the right place to volunteer depends mainly on what your good at and/or what you like to do, but wherever you land, keep in mind that there is value in what you do, not only to those around you, but also to yourself.

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