Happy Holidays!

Tara Bitzan, Chicz Editor

Tara Bitzan, Chicz Editor

Thanks for all the wonderful feedback you sent us after our first issue of Chicz hit the stands in October! We knew we loved the magazine, but we were thrilled to learn that you loved it too! Not only did you send us your appreciation, but you also sent us your fabulous ideas to feature in upcoming issues.

A few of you even got so caught up with the new magazine that you sent us articles, and we’re happy to say, we printed them! A special welcome to contributing writer Amanda Herzog, a 7th grader who felt she had something to offer the “young chicz” in the area.

We’re already at work on your winter issue and would love your input. Please send us a note about what you think of Chicz or share your ideas with us.

In the meantime, enjoy every minute of the holiday season. Don’t get so caught up in the “to do’s” that you miss out on the real joys of the season – time with loved ones. My wish for you is that this time is unhurried, unharried and heartwarming.

Merry Christmas!
Tara Bitzan
Chicz Editor 

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Fashion trends for spring 2015

By Denise Drown

lace white faded -81271364Spring is in the air! Time for a fresh look to celebrate. Fashions have a decidedly feminine flair this season, with sheer fabrics showing up in soft chiffon layers of violet, pink and mint. Pair with a moto-type jacket in leather or denim to keep the look sophisticated. Another way to wear pastels is to pair them with navy, spring’s softer alternative to black.
Lace, crochet and fringe are all showing up in a big way. Chic is back! Fringe trim on tops and jackets, crochet pants and details are all reminiscent of decades gone by. They look modern reinterpreted in the newest neutral shades of cream, hazelnut and buttery yellow. Maxi skirts and fringe trimmed tops are a fun way to try this trend.
Bold graphics are always stylish and this spring’s versions are no exception. Look for black and white with hits of bright blue, red or sunny yellow for a pop of color.
Tunics paired with leggings continue their popularity. Asymmetrical hemlines and graceful, flowing styles lead the way.
Dresses and skirts show up for apring in easy to wear styles and lengths. Skirts can be mini, maxi, or any look in between. A maxi skirt worn with a fitted top and sandals will give you a polished look suitable for many occasions.
While narrow pants still rule by day, evenings are seeing a return of soft, flowing pants. Many feature a patterned silky finish.
This season’s hottest colors translate well to accessories. Try a tangerine purse or sandal for an easy way to try out a color trend. Another great way to add color is with statement jewelry. The bolder the better whether you choose a chunky necklace or a belt with sparkle and bling.
This spring, there is a style for everyone – bold and bright or pastel and soft. You are sure to find a look you love!

Denise is a sales associate at Bon Jos in Alexandria.  She enjoys helping customers look their best.

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Save for retirement

SaveForRetirement_PiggyBank_fade stockBy Jennifer Guderjahn

Nearly everyone looks forward to someday beginning a life of leisure and pleasure in retirement. But a Bankrate.com survey found that more than one-third of working adults have saved nothing for that time in their lives. Furthermore, only 18 percent of U.S. workers in an Employee Benefit Research Institute study say they are very confident of having enough money to live comfortably through their retirement years.
There are several common reasons for this trend. Young people tend to discount future needs as they build their career, buy homes and start families. Many workers feel they just can’t afford it; the cost of living keeps going up, taxes are high and wages don’t seem to keep up.
People are living longer lives; many of us will live to our 90s, health care costs continue to increase and the future of Social Security is uncertain, so it is up to us to ensure our future financial stability.
Don’t despair, because it’s in your power to improve your personal situation. The power of compounding interest is amazing, so the earlier one starts saving, the less is needed on an annual basis for a healthy retirement fund. If you were to invest today’s price of a coffee shop coffee every working day from age 25 until age 65 into a 401(k) you should have more than $88,000.
USA Today asked financial experts for some strategies and these are some of their suggestions:
• Delay gratification. Don’t buy everything you see; needs must be met, wants can be delayed.
• Save 10-15 percent of your annual income and you will also see tax advantages. By investing in a 401(k) or 403(b) plan with your employer or in an IRA, you can reduce your taxable income.
• Take advantage of matching contributions. If your employer offers matching contributions, take full advantage of it.
• Save your raise. If you get a raise, bank it. You can do the same with bonuses or tax refunds.
• Pay off high interest credit card debt or at least try to reduce the rate with a home equity loan.
Jennifer Guderjahn is a personal banker at Glenwood State Bank in Alexandria.

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Digestive health 101

yogurt and cheeseBy Amanda Heffner, RDN, LD

It has long been known that microorganisms in the GI tract play an important role in keeping our bodies and immune systems healthy. Recent research has found that those microorganisms may play a role in obesity and metabolic health too. In fact, there are over 100 trillion bacteria cells within the human gut; this is called the gut microbiota.
A fun fact about the digestive system is that there are no two individuals with the same composition of gut microbiota. More specifically, it has been found that obese people tend to have a different composition of gut bacteria when compared to lean people. Though the research is still new, some researchers suggest that certain structures of gut microbiota may increase the likelihood of a person becoming obese.
At this time, researchers do not know how to manipulate the gut microbiota for body weight purposes, however they do know what types of foods to include for digestive health. Have you ever heard of prebiotics and/or probiotics?
Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that promote the growth of helpful bacteria in the gut microbiota. To increase your prebiotic intake, try to include bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, soybeans, and whole-wheat foods.
Probiotics are actual bacteria – or live cultures – just like the bacteria found naturally in your GI tract. These active cultures can help change and/or repopulate intestinal bacteria. Try yogurt, kefir, and aged cheese to increase your daily probiotic intake. Other aged foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and soy beverages will also do the trick.
Keep in mind, prebiotics and probiotics are found in supplemental form. However, in the nutrition world, we always recommend that you focus on food products first.

Amanda Heffner is the registered dietitian nutritionist at Elden’s Fresh Foods in Alexandria.

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Nutritional supplements: Worth your money?

200413265-001By Carly Erickson, ND, MSM

Nearly half of all Americans take a daily vitamin and the supplement industry stands to make $30 billion in revenue this year but are your supplements worth the money? Here are a few things to think about before you buy a supplement.

Do you have a nutritional need?
This seems obvious, but often individuals start a supplement because someone said “it worked great for Jane” or there was a 30-second blurb on a talk show about the “new miracle supplement”. Your first step should be to have a conversation with a healthc are professional with training in supplements. Just because the product is natural, does not mean it is safe. You are an individual; your supplement plan should be individualized.

Does it matter where you buy your supplements?
Sort of. Often products, even of quality brands, can be found for cheaper online or their knockoff versions can be purchased at big chain retail stores; however, these products can have major pitfalls. Third-party testing has shown that these products do not contain what is stated on the label. They can contain contaminants not listed on the bottle, including binders, fillers, artificial flavorings, artificial coloring, pesticides, allergens, heavy metals, and genetically modified materials, and more importantly they may contain contaminants that may interact with medications or supplements. Some online stores have even gone as far as swapping labels of reputable companies with a completely different product. What matters is that you know the distributor.

Does serving size matter?
Absolutely! Your supplement needs to contain enough of the stated ingredient to have a therapeutic effect, and many of the over-the-counter products do not have therapeutic doses of the ingredient. For example, for you to get your daily multivitamin in a one-a-day tablet, it would be the size of a golf ball. While some supplements may be cheaper per capsule, you would have to take numerous capsules to have an effect, making the cost savings null.
Does the brand matter?
Yes! You want a company that conducts third-party laboratory testing for label claims, potency and purity. The company should meet NSF-GMP standards for supplement manufacturing and manufacture in a climate controlled facility. Does the company tear down the equipment and clean the machines between productions? This is important to prevent contamination. Furthermore, many of the quality brands only supply products to licensed health care providers, which provides another layer of safety for consumers.

Carly Erickson of Alexandria is a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine at the Dynamic Healing Center.

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Spring allergies: Just around the corner

SpringAllergies_ThinkstockBy Jessica Peterson

The thought of spring for most people means pleasant thoughts of green grass, flower buds, blooming trees, and my personal favorite, the smell of lilac. But if you’re one of the millions of people in the U.S. who have seasonal allergies, thoughts of a beautiful spring quickly drift to thoughts of impending sneezing, congestion, runny nose and other symptoms of spring time allergies.
For most allergy sufferers, spring is rough. The major culprit in early spring is wind-borne pollen from trees. This pollen release begins as early as February and continues into April. In late spring, grasses start to cause trouble. The worst allergy symptoms occur during dry or windy days when there’s a lot of pollen and mold in the air.
Itchy, watery eyes are often the first sign pollen season is under way. Or there may be an initial tickle on the roof of the mouth or in the back of the throat. Sneezing and a runny nose soon follow. Some allergy sufferers experience congestion, headaches, wheezing, and coughing. Symptoms may interfere with sleep and result in irritability.
Although allergies can develop later in life, they usually show up before age 20. The average age that allergies begin is 10 years. Like other problems that involve an abnormal immune system response, allergies tend to run in families.
You can’t completely avoid seasonal allergens but you can reduce your signs and symptoms with these tips:
• Close doors and windows when pollen counts are high. The pollen count peaks between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. each day. Check www.weatherbug.com for local pollen counts.
• Don’t hang laundry outside; pollen can stick to sheets and towels.
• Use air conditioning in your house and car. Air conditioning cleans, cools and dries the air.
• Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning when pollen count is the highest.
• Stay indoors on dry windy days. The best time to go outside is after a good rain, which helps clear pollen from the air.
• Use a dehumidifier to reduce indoor humidity.
• Kids with allergies, show this one to your parents: Delegate weed pulling, lawn mowing, and other gardening chores to those without allergies. These activities stir up pollen and molds.
When self prevention fails, see your doctor. Allergic symptoms that show up during pollen season are the biggest indication that you are suffering from allergies.

Jessica Peterson is the health coordinator for Horizon Public Health in Alexandria

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Tackling retirement plans as young couples

NewEricMorkenBy Eric Morken

I live in a marriage where my wife handles almost all of our bill-paying responsibilities.
She’s the organized one. I think it provides a sense of comfort for her to take care of all the financial requirements. It’s the only way she can be certain that it’s getting done right.
My contributions are not so much in dealing with the month-to-month bills, but rather with talking through decisions about our future. This can be an intimidating process for young couples in their 20s.
Most of our money goes toward buying a house, paying off college loans and starting a family. Simply put, earmarking money for retirement gets put on the back burner with it still feeling so far away.

Planning for my financial future is something I all but ignored until I got married four years ago. Since then, we have taken a few necessary steps to feel more comfortable in the direction we are heading.
My advice – talk with somebody who knows what they are doing if you aren’t comfortable taking matters into your own hands. We have a friend who works specifically with young couples through Northwestern Mutual, and he has provided a lot of answers.
Don’t be intimidated by the process. I didn’t know what I was getting into when we first sat down with a financial advisor. That can be scary, but these professionals know that will be the case in a lot of situations.
Our advisor was prepared to walk us through our options and offer suggestions in ways we understood what we were getting ourselves into.
I know how easy it is to simply ignore the suggestion of saving for retirement at this age. There are a lot more entertaining ways to spend money.
I wasted five years of being a full-time employee by doing nothing more than contributing to my company 401(k) and leaving it in low-risk investments.
I likely left a lot of money on the table during a time when I should have been aggressive with my portfolio. This is the time when we have the ability to take more risks with the ability to recover from short-term losses.
Many financial analysts suggest at least 10 percent of our annual income should go toward retirement. It’s probably time to start paying attention to those numbers if you already aren’t.

Eric Morken of Alexandria is a husband, father, sports editor and outdoor enthusiast.

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Wine on a budget

What’s worth it, what’s not.

wine 78458160By Al Edenloff

Enjoying wine at home doesn’t have to be an elaborately expensive affair.
Sure, you can easily spend $100 on a heavily touted bottle, drink from the finest cut crystal stemware and use all kinds of spendy gadgets that are designed to enhance your wine drinking experience.
But do you need to?
Certainly not.
Here’s a somewhat subjective list of five wine items that are worth a little extra ching and some that aren’t worth your hard-earned cash.

Wines costing $50 or more. Skip. Yes, it can be fun to splurge on a special occasion if you have some extra dough, but spending five times more for a bottle than you normally would doesn’t guarantee you’ll like it five times more. Several very good quality bottles of wines can be found in the $10 to $20 range, sometimes cheaper. Besides, it’s fun to find those “sleeper” bargains.

Fancy cork openers. Skip. There are all sorts of expensive gadgets out there, electronic, battery-powered, gas-cartridges. Some take up half a kitchen counter. But to open a bottle of wine quickly and conveniently, a simple cork screw will do the job for about $10.

Nice wine glasses. Splurge. You don’t have to empty your bank account to get a high-quality set of glasses. Look for a glass that’s thin with a long stem, holds 20 ounces or more (for swirling), has a slight inward curve at the top and feels comfortable in your hand. You should be able to find a good quality, matching set that costs around $15 per glass. That may seem a little steep but it sure beats drinking out of a jelly glass.

Wine preservers. Skip. There are a variety of trendy and spendy devices, including vacuum pumps and sprays that are supposed to preserve the full flavor of an already opened bottle of wine. A plain and simple bottle stopper can do the job just as well for around $2.

Aerators Splurge. This is a close call but pouring a wine through an aerator does seem to make a difference, at least in some wines. It expands the surface of the wine, allowing air to mingle with it, which can soften some of the tannins and draw out flavors and aromas. You could decant the wine but that takes a lot more time. Aerators are an easy pour-and-sip. Considering that aerators can be found for under $30 and can be used for a lifetime, they’re worth the investment.

Al Edenloff of Alexandria and his wife, Celeste, were married in the heart of California wine country and enjoy sipping wine on their weekend date nights.

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Longer days mean outdoor exercise

OutdoorWalking_PetePfeffer_ThinkstockBy Dr. Pete Pfeffer

The days are getting longer, and it’s warm enough to be outside. If you (like me) didn’t get away south this winter, it is time to find a cure for those pent up feelings of “cabin fever” we are experiencing. The best remedy for being locked up all winter is exercise outside. It is easy to kick start an outdoor exercise program by walking.
It feels good to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine. The smell of the earth waking up and coming back to life is amazing, but we need to move. As humans we have a physiological requirement for motion. In fact, motion is one of the three nutrients our brain requires for health. We need oxygen, glucose, but, wait for it – yep, we need motion for healthy brain and nerve function.
Our primitive ancestors not only lived outside, but thrived in the outdoors. They crossed rivers and deserts, jungles and mountain ranges, all without maps and very few tools. Our ancestors moved because they had to for survival. They were mainly searching for food abd if they didn’t move they often became food.
Our motivation for moving is not nearly as dramatic, but is still linked to our survival. Research is now showing that memory and intelligence is linked to blood flow to the brain. Motion, in the form of vigorous exercise, increases blood flow throughout the body but to the brain specifically. This increased blood flow delivers oxygen and needed nutrients but also develops a better network of blood vessels. Improved circulation serves our cardiovascular health but actually makes our thinking sharper and improves our mood.
Walking is an easy thing to begin, it is free and the equipment is minimal. I recommend starting with 10 minutes, then increasing by a minute a day until you reach your desired time interval. This may seem silly, but you’ll never get sore at this pace. Knee problems and plantar fasciitis are far less likely with a gradual program.
If it is a running program that is desired, there is an excellent phone app called couch to 5K, (C25K). It is free and uses the same gradual approach to avoid discomfort or injury. In a few short weeks you are prepared to complete a 5K in a respectable timeframe.
So join our paleo ancestors on a walk outdoors and reap the benefits.

Peter Pfeffer is a doctor of chiropractic with HealthSource Chiropractic and Progressive Rehab in Alexandria.

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Chickens: Pets, food or both?

chicken C 82770181By Dr. Florian Ledermann

One interesting phenomena in American society is the explosion of the backyard chicken industry. This “Back to the Farm” movement is probably a reflection of our desire to reconnect to our basic roots of rural living from centuries past?
Are there chickens in your future? Here are some important considerations:

Source – Baby chicks are readily available in spring from feed and fleet stores or catalogs. You may need to order weeks or months in advance.
Reasons – To produce eggs, to eat or just for pets. This helps determine which breeds and how many. For pets only, maybe fewer than 10 is in order and select breeds that make good pets.

Longevity – Chickens can live several years if they are kept for laying but broilers (for eating) typically are harvested at 6-8 weeks of age.

Housing – Free ranging chickens can be a nuisance unless you have lots of space and neighbors are tolerant. Most are kept in coops and runs (which can be moved) in backyards in confined spaces.
Predators – There are many animals and birds of prey that like to eat chickens and eggs – not just humans. Skunks, raccoons, fox, coyotes, mink, hawks and eagles just to name a few. So coop design is very important for protecting chickens.

Health – Most hatchery chicks have minimal problems if they are raised in isolation where other chickens have not been. Coccidiosis, lice or mites, salmonella and viruses will become more common without good preventive sanitation and medication.

Chicken feed – Chickens need balanced diets and their requirements change as they grow. Good commercial diets are available at feed stores and fleets. Egg layers especially need good diets to produce plentiful nutritious eggs. Free range chickens can exist on bugs and plants but also need grains.

Environmental – You need to think about effects of your birds on neighbors and visitors and even your own family. Roosters can be noisy and very early alarm clocks – some will attack people and can be scary for children.

Regulations – Not all cities and rural townships allow chickens. Always check with your local government ordinances first.

Commitment – Like having a child, animals and birds need care. Most children leave home when becoming adults. How long to you want your chickens or do you have your own hatchet?

Dr. Florian Ledermann retired after 43 years of veterinary practice. He enjoys innkeeping, grape growing/wine making and spending time with his 13 grandchildren.

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Different ways to dye eggs

dv1897038By Lori Mork

Dyeing Easter eggs is a tradition for many families. Here’s a few ways to give them a new look.

Two tone. Dip top half of hard-cooked egg in one color and the bottom half in another. Or, dip each half of the egg in the same color for different lengths of time, creating different shades of the same color.

Dots and shapes. Before dyeing, place stickers such as dots, chicks, rabbits, flowers or other springtime designs on the eggs. Dye eggs, let them dry and remove stickers.

Stripes. Before dyeing, place rubber bands on the eggs to create a design. Once dried, remove rubber bands.

Personalized. Draw zig-zags or pictures on eggs with a white or light colored crayon before dyeing. You could use your eggs as place cards for an Easter meal.

Marbled. Mix 1/4 cup boiling water, one teaspoon vinegar, 1/8 teaspoon oil and 4-8 drops of food color in a shallow bowl. Gently roll the egg in the mixture until desired shade of color is reached. Transfer egg to a second color mixture and repeat. Allow egg to dry, then wipe excess oil with paper towel.

Color wash. Place several eggs in a colander in the kitchen sink. Splash eggs with vinegar. Drop desired food color onto eggs. Gently shake the colander for a few seconds to help the color spread. Let stand 30 seconds. Lightly rinse eggs with water and drain completely. Allow eggs to dry.

Painted. Mix together color and vinegar in a small container. Use a cotton swab or a small paintbrush to paint on hard-cooked eggs, making whatever designs you like.

Tired of the same colors? Try these ideas:

McCormick brand food coloring’s guide to custom colors for dyeing or painting

DYE: 1/2 cup hot water, 1 tsp. vinegar and food coloring

TURQUOISE: 2 drops green, 5 drops blue.
APRICOT: 4 drops green, 1 drop pink.
RASPBERRY: 12 drops pink, 2 drops blue.
DEEP PURPLE: 7 drops blue, 3 drops pink.
SKY BLUE: 1 drop purple, 9 drops blue, 2 drops green.
GREEN APPLE: 20 drops green, 2 drops blue.
RADIANT ORCHID: 7 drops blue, 3 drops neon purple.
HEMLOCK: 3 drops blue, 12 drops green, 6 drops yellow.
CAYENNE: 14 drops red, 1 drop blue, 1 drop yellow.
DAZZLING BLUE: 20 drops neon blue, 1 drop neon purple.
VIOLET TULIP: 2 drops red, 20 drops blue.
FREESIA: 1 drop red, 45 drops yellow (25 drops = 1/4 teaspoon).
CELOSIA ORANGE: 2 drops red, 17 drops yellow.
PLACID BLUE: 4 drops blue.

PAINT: 1/2 tsp. vinegar and food coloring

RADIANT ORCHID: 3 drops blue, 1 drop neon
purple.
HEMLOCK: 2 drops blue, 8 drops green, 3 drops yellow.
CAYENNE: 14 drops red, 1 drop blue, 1 drop
yellow.
DAZZLING BLUE: 20 drops neon blue, 1 drop neon purple.
VIOLET TULIP: 1 drop red, 7 drops blue.
FREESIA: 1 drop red, 45 drops yellow (25 drops = 1/4 teaspoon)
CELOSIA ORANGE: 3 drops red, 17 drops yellow.
PLACID BLUE: 2 drops blue.

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