Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas in the Village 2011

Add Some Holiday Tradition

By Ashlei Jackson, Qlixite

The holidays are centered around tradition! Everyone has that time-honored activity or item that reminds them of childhood memories of Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanza...or however you celebrate - these traditions make this ‘Wonderful Time of the Year” special and give meaning to the holidays.    Thinking of adding a new tradition this year? Here are some various traditions that can add to your festive season!
The Christmas Pickle - The exact country of origin for putting a pickle ornament on your tree is fairly unknown but visit any ornament section of the store and you’re bound to find a pickle ornament! The Tradition: The ornament is hidden on the tree on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning, all of the children in the house take turns looking for the pickle ornament and the child who finds the Christmas pickle receives an extra present for his or her good work.
Caroling - Also called a noel, song or hymn - the act of groups of people singing outside in the wintertime goes back to the Middle Ages making them some of the oldest musical compositions still regularly sung. The Tradition: Whether you physically go sing in a choir or caroling group - include singing as a family (not just listening) to your regular holiday activities to add an uplifting note.
Hang Holly - To the Irish Celtics, holly represented both life and rebirth; the evergreen leaves symbolized life during a time when all else was bare and the red berries represented the coming of Spring. The Tradition: Add Holly to your home to welcome in the New Year and remind you of hope.
Light a Rememberance Candle on the Winter Solstice - The Winter Solstice is the day of the year when the position of the earth in respect to the sun results in the shortest period of daylight hours. It became very important for many cultures to ‘remind’ people that the light would ‘return.’ The Tradition: On the evening of the Winter Solstice, sit in a darkened area and each person take turns lighting a candle. Whether you choose to light candles to symbolize those people who may have passed away or choose to have the candles represent goals is up to you. Leave the candles lit until bedtime, then use a lid to extinguish the flames instead of blowing them out which would blow away the good ‘luck’ or ‘memories.’
• Stocking Buttons - Children often go through minor depression the day you take down all decorations. The Tradition: On the chosen day of clean up, at dinner, a small box is set next to the dinner plate of each person. Inside is a button that relates to the person/child. After dinner each person sews the button on their stocking which then gets packed away. This special activity makes cleaning up a positive event.
The Higher Gift Box - This is one of my own traditions that I am starting. Every year the term ‘Wish List’ turns into practically an epic quest; find the perfect gift. This year the higher gift box is making us think beyond ourselves all year long. The Tradition: Buy or make a small box. Place it somewhere high on the tree or mantle where it can be easily seen but ‘out of reach’. On a specific day, like Christmas Eve, retrieve the box and have each person write down a ‘gift’ they plan to give in the coming year on a piece of paper - the gift can be to your family, community, God, the world - anyone! But it cannot be something bought with money and forgotten. Put all of the papers in the box and store away. The following Christmas, whether privately or as a family discuss your gifts, whether they were achieved and how important giving is to this time of year.

Secrets of the Nutcracker Ballet

Man vs. Mouse: Insight to The Famous Holiday Feud

Are you afraid of being dragged to a ballet and not knowing what's going on? For many, going to the see the ballet, The Nutcracker is a holiday of joy or possibly boredom. Often it's the first and only ballet they will ever experience. To make the most of it and perhaps encourage you to enjoy the festive dance performance, here are some facts about The Nutcracker that will help you enjoy the ballet as well as impress your friends with your knowledge of trivia.
There's a Curse
The Nutcracker Prince finds himself imprisoned in a little doll. But not all hope is lost. If a beautiful young girl falls in love with him, then the spell will be broken.
There's Magic
The character, Drosselmeyer, is both a magician and a maker of toys. He presents the Nutcracker doll to Clara.
It's Old
The Nutcracker was first performed in Saint Petersburg, Russia on December 19, 1892.
Listen Carefully
Tchaikovsky used the production of The Nutcracker to introduce a new instrument to audiences: the celesta. He had heard the instrument in France and wanted to be the first bring its distinctive and new sound to a production score. This cousin to the piano puts out a high octave sound that makes the dum, dum, dum, dum, dum, dum sound unique.
The Sugar Plum Fairy Throws a Good Party
Some of the best dancing takes place near the end of the ballet when the characters visit the Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy. While there, dancers from all over the world entertain Clara and company. This showcase of dance is a fan favorite and takes up much of the second half of the production.
The Original Production Had Problems
The ballet featured two choreographers. Lev Ivanov started the work and later Marius Petipa was brought in to finish it. Peter Tchaikovsky created the score but thought the ballet was initially regarded as a failure. Audiences agreed and the production was called a flop.
From a Flop to a Hit
Despite the disappointing debut, The Nutcracker continued to be performed and it eventually reached Europe in 1934 and American shores in 1944. A decade later, George Balanchine brought his interpretation of the production to the New York City Ballet. There it became a holiday favorite which helped inspire other productions around the world.
Variety is the Spice
Today, there are countless presentations of The Nutcracker, which range from the traditional to extremely modern interpretations. In the early 90’s, choreographer Mark Morris created his  parody, The Hard Nut, which includes all male dancers, terrific dancing and tons of humor. Whether you see it on the grand stage or a local theatre - enjoy the Nutcracker this year!

Mortgage: What is FHA Financing?

By Toni Ryan, First Priority Financial

Do you  have questions about FHA….but didn't know where to ask.  The question “What is FHA?” was searched on the internet 235,000 times nationally last month so 'wondering minds want to know'.
 FHA stands for the Federal Housing Administration which is part of HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development).  FHA has been helping people to purchase homes since 1934 by insuring the loan which allows lenders to offer the homebuyer better terms.  The FHA insured loan offers low down payments, low closing costs and often easier credit qualifications thus allowing more people to purchase a home. There is an initial insurance premium payment which is added to the loan and then a monthly premium payment included in your monthly mortgage payment.  This “insurance” covers the lender if the homeowner cannot make their loan payments and defaults on the loan.
 Buy Your First Home - FHA loans have programs for the first time homebuyer with a down payment as low as 3.5% of the purchase price.  Closing costs can often be financed in the loan. FHA rates are extremely competitive and the insurance can be dropped when the loan on the property reaches approximately 78% of its total value and after 60 months.
 Buy a Fixer-Upper  FHA has loan programs referred to as a 203K which will allow a buyer to purchase a home, fix it up and include all the costs in one loan.  If you own a home and you want to remodel or repair it, you can refinance what you owe and add the cost of repairs in one loan.
 Financial Aid for Seniors  If you are age 62, live in your home and either own it outright or have a low balance, a reverse mortgage may be an answer. A reverse mortgage (HECM) is a special type of home loan that lets you borrower the equity in your home and convert it into cash. But unlike a traditional home equity loan, no repayment is required until the borrower(s) no longer use the home as their principal residence or fail to meet the requirements of the mortgage. You can also use this type of loan to purchase a primary residence if you are able to use cash on hand to pay the equity requirements. A large down payment may allow you to own the home with no monthly payment.
 FHA also has programs that allow homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient as well as mobile homes and manufactured housing financing.  Options are available to allow homebuyers to take advantage of the current housing market and low rates.  Check with an FHA loan specialist and find out how you can use this program to reach your goals.

Craft: Snowman Ornament

From Traci Eichenhofer’s Craft Kit

Supplies needed (substitutes may be used): White glue (like Elmer's glue)
 Paper clip
 Waxed paper
 Scraps of construction paper: black, and orange
 A hole punch (for cutting eyes, and buttons)
 Scissors
 Wiggle eyes
 Tiny buttons
 2 very tiny twigs (for arms)
 String or yarn (for hanging it)
 Working on waxed paper, spread 2 or 3 blobs of white glue in the shape of a snowman. Unfold a paper clip into a V-shape (to use as a hanger). Cut a tiny hat from black construction paper and put it on the snowman on top of the paper clip hanger. Put the ends of the paper clip into the glue at the top of the snowman. For the snowman's eyes, use black paper circles cut with a hole punch, or use wiggle eyes. Put the eyes on the snowman. Add a tiny orange (carrot-shaped) nose. Add a few paper buttons (or small real buttons) down the front of the body.
Let the glue dry - it will take a few days. When it is completely dry, peel it gently off the waxed paper. String the snowman on some yarn for a festive necklace or use a shorter string to use as an ornament.

Dress 10 Pounds Lighter this Holiday

By Traci Eichenhofer, Premier Designs Jewelry

Have you been trying to lose those last 10 pounds before the holidays? Well I have some solutions for you. These tips are simple adjustments that any of us can make to our existing wardrobes with an exciting outcome. Have fun playing in your wardrobe to create the illusion of being 10 pounds lighter. 
* Start with a monochromatic base. This easily creates a vertical silhouette, which is typically more slimming than an outfit with several colors.
* Make sure all your clothes fit properly. Clothes that are big or small can add weight to your frame.
* Dark colors such as black, chocolate brown, navy and dark gray are minimizers. Wear these shades to camouflage the areas of your body where you are least confident.
* Light and bright colors are maximizers. Wearing dark base pieces (i.e. pants, skirts, jackets) and wear light colors near the face draws the eye up and away from the rest of the body. This is a great way to add the seasons color into your wardrobe!
* Avoid bulky layers as they have the potential to make you look heavier.
* Wear larger earrings. Small earrings make large people look larger, and also make small people look smaller. Earrings are another way to draw the eye up and away from the rest of the body.
* Add a necklace to draw the eye where you would like it. Wearing a long necklace can slenderize your look. Layering with a shorter necklace and a pendant can give the illusion of height while draw the eye to the neckline at the pendant.
* Add a jacket to your outfit to create a professional look. Keep your jacket open to create more vertical lines. This also helps balance out your hips and slenderizes your silhouette.
* Pay particular attention to your sleeve length. When sleeves haven't been properly shortened, they can cause a distraction at your hip line.
* Wearing hose that match your hemline or shoes, or both, adds length and height to your appearance, creating a vertical line, which creates a slimming effect.
* Did you know: wearing the proper size in undergarments is just as important as the proper size in clothing? Get yourself professionally fitted and you will see a difference.
* Keeping in good posture gives height to your silhouette which slenderizes. Keep those shoulders back and straighten your back. 

 Enjoy your holiday activities with confidence looking 10 pounds lighter!

Dental Health: Sugar Blues

By Scott Thompson, DDS, Winning With Smiles

A book I read in the 1970s entitled “Sugar Blues” made a clear connection of sugar with disease (high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and heart attack, and diabetes) as well as demonstrating the addictive quality of sugar. Since then I have been dismayed by the huge attention given to fat in the diet. Though excess fat in the diet is not good, it is not nearly the bad culprit it has been made out to be. Meanwhile, a far bigger player in the chronic disease patterns in our culture has gotten very little attention; namely sugar, and specifically fructose (which is half the sugar molecule in your table sugar). You have all seen fructose advertised a great deal in recent years, but have you noticed? There is very little mention of fructose in food advertising lately.

 I recently had the distinct pleasure of hearing a seminar discussion conducted by 3 leading pediatricians who are all metabolic specialists in teaching hospitals in the USA. They discussed metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dislipidemia), and its cause (fatty liver degeneration and liver failure) which in children is caused primarily by excess fructose intake. In adults it is also caused by sugar, but is more commonly thought of as caused by alcoholism. It turns out the liver is the only tissue in the body that can break down (digest) a fructose molecule (there seems to be no system in the body that has a use fructose). The liver has a limit how much fructose it can metabolize in a day. When it gets too much fructose, it’s attempts to metabolize the fructose results in half digested “byproducts” which are toxic, which the body needs to deal with and which ultimately get stored as “excess fat,” not healthy fat.

The average American surpassed eating the liver’s daily maximum amount of sugar in about 1977. The rise in excess weight gain and increase in the presence of metabolic syndrome started about the same time. As a matter of fact, the average sugar consumption in this country in the 1960s (30 grams) has increased to an average today of 200 grams. The liver’s capacity maxes out at about 50 grams of fructose. Today, metabolic syndrome does not affect just elderly adults. It affects everybody eating excess sugar, including our children. There are documented cases of liver transplants for fatty liver degeneration in obese teenagers.

 And about addiction. The biochemistry research documents that sugar delights the pleasure centers of the brain exactly the same as alcohol, addictive drugs, nicotine and other substances. I won’t belabor that; just know sugar is just as addictive as those other substances. Notice how your craving increases during these sugar laden holidays?
 Please, Please. Don’t start your children, toddlers and infants on sweet beverages (liquid candy), sweet pastries, candies and sweet cookie/cracker snacks. It is not just about the cavities.


Gold Country Community Parish Events

By Diane Young, G.C.C.P.

The Gold Country Community Parish (“GCCP”) is delighted to be a new member of the Meadow Vista Merchants Association.  GCCP is a cooperative parish made up of three United Methodist Churches who work together to serve the communities of Meadow Vista, Colfax and Dutch Flat and the surrounding areas along the I-80 Corridor.  The three churches are united in faith, love and service and support each other in a variety of worship events, fundraising activities, training events, and mission work. 
Pastor Romy Velasco serves all three churches and resides in Meadow Vista.  In addition to offering regular Sunday services at all three churches during the Advent season, our Parish will be holding the following events in December and January:
Gold Country Community Parish:
12/10 Festival of Lights in Colfax a community event at which GCCP will join with the Colfax Ministerial Association in hosting a booth.
1/21 How to Witness Workshop at Placer Hills, 9-2:30 p.m.  Open to the public.  Call 878-0651 to register.
Placer Hills United Methodist Church:  
12/15 Christmas Caroling in the Meadow Vista Community, 2-5 p.m. with refreshments following
12/24 Christmas Eve Service, 5 p.m.

During this holiday season, we encourage you to seek out a spiritual home and find joy in serving your community. We always welcome you to any of these events or others listed on our website  We look forward to getting to know you better as we work together as the hands and feet of our Lord in our communities. 

Ask a Meadow Vista Neighbor

By Christine Schlittenhart, Sierra Pacific Real Estate

Have you ever wondered what brought our residents to this wonderful town we live in?  Was it family, friends, or was I-80 closed due to weather and they found our town by accident?  I'm always asked, “Where do you people work”?  Hopefully this little questionnaire will remind us all what a great town we live in and how thankful we are to have such a beautiful, special place to call home. 

Residents:  Jerry and Wendy Southerland• When did you move to Meadow Vista?  We moved to Meadow Vista in 1996.
• What brought you to Meadow Vista?  The country living and beautiful scenery is what brought us to Meadow Vista. We thought it would be the perfect place to raise our 3 children. My husband and I have lived around the area for a long time and had always heard good things about the town.
• Where do you work?  Jerry works for Clyde G. Steagall, Inc. based out of Loomis and I enjoy being a “stay at home” Mom.
• Please share an experience that demonstrates why you love Meadow Vista: We have many deer that run through our property and over this past year one kept coming to visit every day, and eventually I (Wendy) got the chance to feed her. She now has two fawns that she brings into my yard and they actually let me feed them and eat right out of my hands!  That is a wonderful experience of living here in Meadow Vista.
• Do you ever see yourself leaving Meadow Vista?  No, definitely not. We have lived in our house for 15 years now, and have loved every minute of it. It's a quiet, peaceful place to live and raising our kids here was a great choice.
Residents:  Russ and Dana Zeller
• When did you move to Meadow Vista?  1994
• What brought you to Meadow Vista?  We were able to relocate from San Jose' due to our employment and we were familiar with the Gold Country through friends. We started searching for good schools for our daughter, Alexandra and through a very knowledgeable Realtor we discovered Meadow Vista!
• Where do you work?  I (Russ) work for Specialty Steel Services in Roseville.  Dana has been working for a local dermatologist, in Auburn for almost 15 years.
• Please share an experience that demonstrates why you love Meadow Vista: Even through these growth years, Meadow Vista has maintained its small town charm. We also always look forward to the annual Oktoberfest event.  It's a great night spent running into old friends, new friends and a chance to meet new neighbors.
• Do you ever see yourself leaving Meadow Vista?  We love it here and don't foresee a need to leave. Hopefully we can live out our lives here.

 Would you like to share your special Meadow Vista story?  Email me at

Health: Got Sleep?

By Richard L. Peatman, Pharm.D., Meadow Vista Pharmacy

Sleep, marvelous sleep. It’s one of those things you might take for granted—that is, until it eludes you.  How much sleep is needed varies greatly by age and from individual to individual. Newborns can sleep away three-fourths of the day. Toddlers and preschoolers need 11 to 14 hours of sleep each day. This need gradually declines until adulthood, when most people require around 7 to 8 hours.  According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 70 million Americans experience insomnia. Unfortunately, a lack of sleep can cause more than just a tired feeling; it can have serious effects on your health.  In the past decade, studies have shown that insufficient sleep can put you at risk for diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and immune dysfunction. 
 You might find your sleep interrupted by night sweats during menopause or a bed partner’s snoring.  Still others have conditions such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome. A serious breathing disorder, apnea is marked by loud snoring and periods when breathing briefly stops. Restless legs syndrome is a neurological disorder that causes uncomfortable sensations in the legs. Seek medical treatment for problems like these. 
 You can do many things to improve your sleep. For starters, keep regular bed and wake times, even on the weekend. And use your bedroom only for sleep. To prepare your body for sleep, avoid stimulating activities and substances during the evening hours. This includes alcohol, heavy eating—especially spicy or high-sugar foods—fluids, nicotine, or caffeine. Be sure to exercise, but do it at least a few hours before you go to sleep. Make the time right before bed really relaxing—with calming activities and soft lighting.  Wearing earplugs or an eye mask or using a fan or heavy curtains may also create an environment more conducive to sleep. If you use night-lights, make sure they’re not too bright. 
 No matter the cause, it can’t hurt to discuss your sleep problems with your health care provider.  Before your visit, make a log of when you nap or sleep.  Also include exercise and what you drink or eat, especially in the evening hours.  Prescription, OTC or herbal medication may interfere with sleep so make sure to list what you are taking and what OTC medications you have tried for sleep, such as valerian, melatonin or Sominex®.  Sleep medications may be an option if your insomnia is interfering with your daily activities. Your health care provider has a wide range of treatment options available to help with insomnia.
 What’s new for insomnia sufferers?  There are devices on the market that now allow you to track your sleep at night including REM, deep sleep and total sleep time.  Software makes recommendations on how to improve your sleep and a charting function allows you track how well you are doing.  One such device is Zeo Sleep Manager®.  Check it out at

Exercising Amid the Holidays

By Shannon Smith, Stroller Strides

No time to exercise with the busyness of the holiday season? Try turning everyday activities into fitness opportunities. You CAN fit fitness into your life!
• Walk – You’ve heard it before, and it’s true. Walking can be a workout, especially if you’re pushing a stroller or carrying a baby in a front pack carrier. Whenever possible, give yourself extra opportunities to walk to where you’re going, even if it means parking the car in the farthest parking spot. 
Take the stairs – The more you take the stairs, the more exercise you’ll get. If you carry your baby up and down stairs (while using good posture of course), you will fit even more fitness in. Think of it as a Stairmaster times two when you’re carrying the weight of your baby!
• Participate with your kids- Are your kids in soccer or ballet or some other physical activity? Find out if it’s ok if you walk around the field or even participate with your child rather than watching from the side lines with the other parents. Practice what they’ve learned with them at home.
• Pick Up Those Toys – Turn clean-up into fitness. Here’s how: stand in front of a toy, squat low keeping your bottom down, keep back and abs tight and strong. Squat down, squeeze up, repeat!
• Tighten That Tummy – No matter where you are, no matter what you’re doing, tighten that tummy. You can work your abdominal muscles when you drive, when you walk, when you work, and when you play. Contract abdominal wall without holding in your breath. Imagine you’re trying to fit into a really tight pair of jeans and if you let your tummy out, they will pop open. Keep that tummy engaged.
 The more you move, the more fitness you’ll fit in. It’s consistency that counts; not where you do it. Try to be active in whatever you do. Instead of getting your car washed, do it yourself with your kids. Not only is it fun, but it’s great exercise. The same goes for cleaning the house, yard work, and even walking the dog.

Meadow Vista Friendly Neighbors Xmas Baskets

By Etta Gross, Meadow Vista Friendly Neighbors

The Meadow Vista Community Christmas Basket Program fund has been declining steadily to match the economy.  This year we are in need of all types of donations.  Monetary donations will allow us to purchase canned foods and help supply Christmas Dinner.  Your monetary donation maybe payable to The Meadow Vista Friendly Neighbors Club (or TMVFNC) and mail to: P.O. Box 764, Meadow Vista, CA 95722.  You will receive a letter for your tax records.  Please consult a Tax Advisor for the current IRS regulations on charitable contributions.

 The ornaments at Wells Fargo Bank will have on the back, age and gender of a community child in need of a present to brighten their Christmas.  We ask that you wrap your present and secure the ornament on the package.  If you do not have an ornament, please make visible the gender and age on the wrapper (or tag) for your donated package.
 The community assembling of the food baskets (boxes) will start on Friday, December 16, 2011, 4:15 p.m. at Sierra Hills Auditorium.  We are very thankful to all those in the community that come to help with this.  The community is what makes this happen!  If you need more information, please contact Etta Gross at (530) 637-5359 or Gerry Hinkle at (530) 878-6117.

 Cash donations are always welcomed and appreciated  Please mail check payable to The Meadow Vista Friendly Neighbors Club or TMVFNC, P.O. Box 764, Meadow Vista, CA 95722
 The Meadow Vista Friendly Neighbors Club wants to say THANK YOU community for your continuous SUPPORT!

Legal: Plan to Protect Your Assets

By Eric Meadow, Esq., The Meadow Law Group

In my practice, I'm often asked for advice on how to protect or preserve assets.  The primary challenge with this inquiry is its timing.  People often wait until they are facing an actual or potential loss, either through law suit or other claim.  There is very little which can be legally and effectively accomplished once the asset has been lost or you are on notice as to a law suit or claim against your assets unless they have already been properly protected from reach of others.  In this article, I will lay out some of the basic forms of asset protection which is available to those seeking to protect what they've acquired over the years.  This article touches on the two most basic; in fact there are many other forms of more complicated manners which generally require the advice and assistance of a lawyer. 

Insurance- Although often required by law or by a creditor, insurance is a very effective asset protection tool.   Insurance can be purchased to protect specific assets or assets generally.  It can protect assets in the event something happens to the asset or in the event an insured under the policy acts in a manner which puts your assets in jeopardy of loss.   It is contractual, provides very little limitation on your ability to use and enjoy the asset, and is relatively inexpensive.  However, not all insurance is created equal.  Rarely does cheaper ever mean better and insurance is no exception.   My advice to is make sure the quality of your insurance matches your desire to protect the quality of your assets.  The downside to insurance is that you are relying on the good faith of the insurance company to protect your assets under an insurable event.  You must fully understand those events and the exceptions to coverage. 

Qualified Retirement Accounts- Aside from the benefit associated with taxes, your 401k/IRA or other qualified plan offers substantial asset protection from creditors.  As a way to encourage people to save for retirement, the Government has by statute made the money in these accounts unreachable from creditors in the event of bankruptcy, car accidents, contract disputes, and multiple other circumstances when you might face liability to a creditor.  However, while the assets in these accounts are protected, there are pretty restrictive rules about an individual's ability to reach these assets personally before they qualify for retirement distributions.   Again, the Government's way to encourage retirement planning.

After you have reviewed your insurance portfolio and opportunity to utilize qualified retirement accounts, and still feel vulnerable to potential claims or loss, you may choose to consider trusts, limited liability companies, family limited partnerships, re-classifying property ownership, and annuities.  For any of these strategies, you should seek qualified legal counsel.

Switchback Challenge Raised $2,000 for Community Center

The First Annual Switchback Challenge Race organized by John Arabitt was a great success raising $2,000 for the Meadow Vista Community Center. Congrats to our top three racers and thanks for your support! See you next year!

Love - The Meaning of the Season

By Tonya Elliott-Walker, LMFT, Morningstar Counseling & Wellness Center

The holidays are supposed to be a time of giving and spreading good cheer. Why is it then that so many people experience great stress and inner turmoil during this season? Perhaps it is actually that we have so many expectations of ourselves and others that go unmet during this time, such as, being able to buy certain gifts for people or of receiving certain gifts, or throwing the perfect holiday party. Sometimes visiting relatives can even bring up past frustrations and make us feel anxious.   

 Whatever happened to the true spirit of Christmas? Why do we feel that we need to give something of monetary value to so many people, even minor acquaintances? If true giving is from the heart then we should be giving heartfelt gifts, not gifts to impress someone or out of obligation. Why do we feel obligated to visit distant relatives if we have so much anxiety about it?  Letting go of ego and embracing humility is what brings us into the Christmas spirit. Giving with meaning and giving with love and joy in our hearts is what makes Christmas time special. If you must go and visit family, let go of that resistance and be joyful and present with them.

 The “Five Love Languages” is a great book for self teaching on this topic. The author, Dr. Gary Chapman, says that we often give love in the way that we wish to receive it. We all have a primary way of expressing and interpreting love. What we need to learn is to give love in the way in which it can be best received, as well as, communicate how we can best receive it. The Five Love Languages are summarized as  follows:

• Receiving Gifts-Giving a thoughtful gift from the heart.
• Acts of Service-Instead of adding to the consumer frenzy give massages or coupons to mow someone's lawn, or help your mom finish that DIY project she's been working on all year.
• Words of Affirmation-Make sure that you tell your loved ones that they are loved and appreciated. Don't ever assume that they just “know”.
• Quality Time Be present with your family, play games and be attentive. Be joyful with them.
• Physical Touch-Give lots of hugs and kisses. Let them know you enjoy being close.

 Slow down and evaluate what actually makes someone feel loved and appreciated. It's not always a monetary gift. A simple hand-made gift or an act of service can have much more meaning to someone that a store bought gift.  Try to figure out which love language your loved ones speak and step out of your comfort zone and give in the way that will speak to their hearts.

Computer Tip: Get the 'Red-Eye' Out

By Greg Luther, Computer Shoppe

If you take pictures with your digital camera you will inevitably take a photo where your subjects have red eyes.  This is surprisingly easy to correct.  First you will need a photo editor.  In this tutorial I will be using GIMP which is a free photo editor similar to Photoshop.  So, if you don't have GIMP installed on your computer, you can download it at, and it works on Mac and Windows. 
 Next, open your photo with GIMP, and using the rectangle select tool from the Toolbox, outline each eye.  Then from the menu select Filters • Enhance • Red Eye Removal.  From this point just slide the threshold slider to get the desired effect. 
 That's all there is to it.  And don't forget to save your changes.  For a video on how to do this you can visit my blog from the blog link on my website.

Halloween & Oktoberfest Pictures

Recipe: Fire-Roasted Tomato & Feta Pasta with Shrimp

From Christine Schlittenhart’s Kitchen

1/2 pound linguine pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 (14.5 ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic; cook and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the shrimp, and cook until opaque, about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes and heat through. Season with basil, salt and pepper.
3. Toss the cooked pasta in the sauce, and sprinkle with crumbled feta to serve.
The canned fire roasted tomatoes are hard to find, but it is a main ingredient and really makes the dish, so don't give up!!  Serve with a hearty green salad and warm French bread.
(Serves 2)

Meadow Vista Lions Club Update

By Etta Gross, Secretary, Meadow Vista Lions

Our local Fire Department will bring Santa Claus on Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. to the bon fire.  After your stroll on the scavenger hunt, come by the lot between Sierra Pacific Real Estate and the Post Office for delicious homemade cookies.  The cookies are made by the Brownie and Girl Scouts in our community.  The Lions will be brewing up the hot chocolate.  It is a fun night for the whole family to enjoy.
 The Meadow Vista Area Lions will be in front of Holiday Market on December 9 through 11 and again on December 16 through 18th selling See's Candies.  The proceeds will be benefiting the Sierra Reach Ministries Food Closet. 
 Our annual Crab Feast will be February 4, 2012.  Tickets are available now.  Donation of $35.00 per person, location is the Placer Building at the Auburn Fairgrounds, doors open at 6 p.m.   For your $35.00 donation you will receive bread, salad and crab.  The live music will be provided by Wild Wild West.  This event is what allows the Meadow Vista Area Lions club to provide our community events such as, hot dogs for the schools, Easter Egg Hunt, Mother's Day Breakfast, just to name a few of the events.  Seating is limited this year, so please contact your Lion member early to ensure your tickets.  Come join the fun while helping the Lions club to raise money for our community events.  For questions please contact Lion President Mark Barbier at (530) 878-0484. 
 Our meeting on February 8, 2012 is Student Speaker contest.  Any student in grades 9th through 12th may enter the contest.  The topic is “What could the America of yesterday teach the America of tomorrow?” For information regarding the Student Speaker contest please contact Lion Dave Johnson at (530) 637-4175.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Investors - It's Your Game!

By Christine Schlittenhart, Sierra Pacific Real Estate

As home prices fall and rents rise, some investors are plunking their money into real estate, chasing the cash flow that comes along with becoming a landlord. For the first time in a long time, you can buy that home and can get a cash-on-cash return immediately.
 There are a lot of places in the country where an investor can buy a single-family home, rent it, and get a positive cash flow. In fact, investors bought 20% of all the homes sold in April, according to the National Association of Realtors. Some of them are buying with cash. But even if they do finance part of the purchase, they’re able to turn around a profit much quicker than they would have been able to in the past. The return on rentals can be much better than returns on other investments these days.
 In the past, investors would subsidize their monthly payments on a property with the rent they were able to collect, and the big payoff was the price appreciation he or she would accumulate. Now, investors can come in with a 25% or 30% down payment, finance the rest, and the rent they collect often can cover the mortgage payment, taxes and insurance — with additional cash left over. Investors are looking at these properties on a monthly income generating basis. They can start to realize instant profit margins, even as the market goes down more. There’s a turning point where the cost of owning a home is less than the cost of renting. I believe we are there, and when that disparity grows, we will see a push from investors to pick up investment properties.
 Before investing in a rental, make sure you’ve considered the harsh realities of becoming a landlord. I’m a landlord, and I’ve been blessed with wonderful tenants, past and present. But my experience is not always the same for everyone. Remember, often the best investment is a home you wouldn’t necessarily buy to live in yourself. These days, foreclosures can be snapped up at bargain prices, and as long as you have the means to make required repairs, they can represent good opportunities. Let your local Meadow Vista Merchant Realtors show you the great deals out there, so you can start making some positive cash flow!

QR Codes Mean Quick Response for Business

By Ashlei Jackson, This Is My Town USA

A QR code (abbreviation for Quick Response code) is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) that is readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera phones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded may be text, URL, or other data. For example the code shown right will display the contact information for the Meadow Vista Merchants Association.
 Common in Japan, where it was created by Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave in 1994, the QR code is one of the most popular types of two-dimensional barcodes.
 Although initially used for tracking parts in vehicle manufacturing, QR codes now are used in a much broader context, including both commercial tracking applications and convenience-oriented applications aimed at mobile phone users (termed mobile tagging). QR codes may be used to display text to the user, to add a contact information to the user's device, to open a website, video, or to compose an e-mail or text message. Small Business Owners can generate and print their own QR codes for customers to scan and use by visiting one of several free QR code generating sites. For example, Home Depot now includes a QR code on their plant tags so users may learn more about the plants while shopping.

QR codes may appear in magazines, on signs, business cards, postcards, real estate signs, websites or almost any object about which users might need information. Users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader application can scan the image of the QR code to display text, contact information, connect to a wireless network, or open a web page in the telephone's browser.
 Recently, QR codes have become more prevalent in marketing circles and have been integrated into both traditional and interactive campaigns. QR codes are not necessarily new to the world but they are growing ever more prevalent in the United States. As a small business owner, free innovative technology can make a difference between staying in business and growing your business.

New Cell Phone Tower in Meadow Vista

By Christine Schlittenhart, Sierra Pacific Real Estate

Have you noticed that your cell phone isn’t dropping as many calls when you enter Meadow Vista? I can actually receive and make calls while at Chevron Gas Station on the corner of Meadow Vista Road! The reason? Verizon Wireless recently installed a new cell tower in Clipper Gap off Highway I-80. As the photo below indicates, this cell tower is disguised as a pine tree. Can you pick it out from the distant photo? (2nd pinetree from the right.)
Hopefully other cell phone carriers will rent space from the existing tower, so all of us Meadow Vista-ians can benefit from improved cell coverage!

Local Achievement: Graduation

Casey Schlittenhart, a resident of Meadow Vista, graduated from Sacramento State University on May 21st with a Bachelors in Deaf Studies and a Certificate in American Sign Language. Congratulations, Casey!!

From the Meadow Vista Lion's Club

By Etta Gross, Meadow Vista Lions Club

Please enjoy the free swim day on August 14, 2011 at Placer Hills Pool (in Meadow Vista) from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The first 200 people will receive free hot dogs and sodas. This event is provided to the community by the Meadow Vista Area Lions Club. Just a little reminder August 14, 2011 is the last public swim day at our pool for this season.
 Do you want to join in the brainstorming for community events? Come visit a Meadow Vista Area Lions meetings. Our meetings are held on the second Wednesday of every month, starting time is 7 p.m., at the Meadow Vista Grange Hall. In September we will resume our four Wednesday night meeting (same details). Any questions please contact Lion Secretary Etta at (530) 637-5359

Fishing Derby Follow Up: About the Kids

By Skeet Reese, originally published on ‘Skeet’s Beat’,

Saturday [May 21, 2011] was the highlight of my year. We hosted our first Skeet Reese Kids Fishing Day in the community where our girls go to school; Meadow Vista. Kim and I have always wanted to do a kids event, but we didn’t really know how we wanted to do it. When we talked about doing a combination kids fishing day / fundraiser for the Community Center in town; we decided to do it.
 I have to give Kim most of the credit for pulling this event off. We decided to do it months ago, and with my travel schedule, she did most of the work and planning. It’s basically been a full time job for her for a while now, and she really pulled it off with a lot of attention to detail and a great deal of professionalism; I’m really proud of the job she did with it.
 We got a lot of comments from people about how things went, and when they found out it was our first event like this; they were shocked. Even with Kim doing such a great job, there’s no way we could have done it without the help of the community and most of all; our family and friends. Thank you so much to everyone who helped make this possible.
 Saturday was amazing; we had pre-registered more than 300 kids for the day, and way more than that showed up to fish. The families kept coming and everyone seemed to have a great time enjoying the fishing, the fun, the food and the music.
 I’m not sure how much money was raised for the Meadow Vista Community Center; we haven’t even had a chance to think about pulling figures together with unpacking from the event and life going on today. I’m sure that it will be something we’re happy to present to help get the Community Center on its way toward completion; but for me that wasn’t the best part of the day.
 I got to see kids having fun doing what I love – fishing. With so many kids’ activities being about video games, computers and television these days, fishing is a lost family activity. I was introduced to fishing when I was young, and it inspired me to want to fish for my whole life, and we shared that love with a lot of kids Saturday.
 I don’t know how many kids caught their first fish on Saturday, but it was a lot. It seemed like every time I went down by the pond, another kid, or their parents were telling me that it was their first fish; that meant so much to me.
 I don’t know if anyone will turn fishing into a career like I was inspired to do when I was a youngster by the event on Saturday, but if one boy or girl learned that fishing was fun enough to make a lifelong hobby; then it was worth it to me.
 A lot of hard work, preparation, energy and passion went into planning this event. Kim and I put a lot into this, but so did a lot of other people who really helped make this an amazing day; and I really want to thank them all from the bottom of our hearts; it wouldn’t have happened without you:
Wright & McGill Co., Eagle Claw, Berkley, Wiley X Eyewear, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Stratos Boats, Mercury Marine,, California Bass Federation Nation, Meadow Vista Lions Club, Meadow Vista True Value, Friendly Neighbors,, Best Buy, Newcastle Meats, Safeway Sonora, Beach Hut Deli, Emerald Cove Marina, Emerald Cove Marina at Bullards Bar, The Ridge Golf Course, Winchester Golf Course, Will Fish Tackle, TNG Motor Sports Guide Service, MJP River Adventures & Guide Service, Mark and Karin Zona, Reddy Ice, Mt. Lassen Trout, California Department Of Fish and Game, Auburn Recreation and Park District, Auburn Rooster Tail Fishing Club, Meadow Vista Merchant’s Association, Meadow Vista Library, Meadow Vista Fire Department, Mountain Mom’s & Little Folks, Meadow Vista Rod & Gun Club, Cheek Thrills Face Painting, Placer County Nature Center, Canyon Keepers, Placer County Youth Soccer, CafĂ© Vista, Jay Vanti Salon & Spa, Jamba Juice, Road Grill BBQ, Vincent Maintenance & Handyman Service, Joe Caribe Restaurant, Parkside Church, The Beda Place, Sierra Hills School, Roy & Brandy Halladay, Ivan & Mary Ichters, Joe & Sheila Coster, Sierra Pacific Reality, Dr. Randall Hensley, Sandy Edwards, Laurie Sweeney and our family and friends…

Nominate a Meadow Vista Tree: Giant Madrone

By Rich Walker, Local Resident

This one I call the Giant Sequoia of Madrone trees. It’s just off a path, locals refer to as the Madron trail between the end of Van Giesen Rd., near Sherwood Way. This Madrone matriarch has produced an entire Madrone forest, or grove, where birds and animals and the wind have spread her seeds. It was hard to get a good picture to really do it justice as the trees are so dense you’re photographing under the canopy, and surrounded this time of year by a dense forest of Poison Oak. This tree really should be registered on the as a national Historic tree as one of this magnitude is so rare in these parts. No doubt others exist, just as grand, somewhere in the canyon, but this is right here in Meadow Vista.
 The whole tree appears to be a consummation of 2 separate trees, one with a trunk diameter of 8 ft., and the other 3 ft. The combined circumference is about 35 ft. The tree height exceeds 40 ft. Most of tree family seems to be uphill from this grand Matriarch, no doubt the direction of the prevailing uphill winds.
 When you encounter this on the trail, it makes you stop and say “WOW oh WOW, look at this!”, and “What a sight!”. It’s like visiting our the local grove of Giant Sequoias, located just outside Forest Hill, but this sight is right here in our own little town.
 Below is some interesting information about the Madrone species, Arbutus Mensiesii that I found as I was learning more about this tree, and states why we’re seeing a decline in mature trees.
 Arbutus menziesii is a broadleaf evergreen tree with rich orange-red bark that peels away on the mature wood, leaving a greenish, silvery appearance that has a satin sheen and smoothness. The exposed wood sometimes feels cool to the touch. In spring, it bears sprays of small bell-like flowers, and in autumn, red berries. The berries dry up and have hooked barbs that latch onto larger animals for migration.
 Although drought tolerant and relatively fast growing, Arbutus menziesii is currently declining throughout most of its range. One likely cause is fire control: under natural conditions, the madrone depends on intermittent naturally occurring fires to reduce the conifer overstory. Mature trees survive fire, and can regenerate more rapidly after fire.

When Rent Payments Equal Mortgage Payments

To buy a house or not to buy a house…that is the question -- To pay rent or own a home. Owning a home is one of the most significant financial decisions many people will make. It is important to look at both the advantages and the drawbacks to know what to expect.
 Home prices are at such historic lows that today most people can own a home for the same monthly payment as their current rent.  Let's look at an example:  Using a USDA loan which allows for 100% financing (no down payment) the total monthly payment including principle, interest, taxes and insurance on a home purchased for $195,000 at 5% interest would be $1315.94 (APR 5.161) With rents in some areas ranging from $1350 to $1500 per month, home ownership is very competitive.
 There is more than just the payment to consider.  On the positive side, the investment potential is great.  Home purchasers are acquiring homes at low prices knowing that the market will cycle and their investment will gain equity.  The homeowner knows that their payment will basically stay the same over the years with a 30 year fixed mortgage with only slight increases for insurance and taxes.  Currently, home interest and taxes provide a large deduction on personal income taxes for home buyers. Lastly, you are purchasing a home you can make your own.
 It is important to note that there are extra costs to home ownership.  At the time you close your loan, you will have closing expenses that include escrow, title insurance, taxes and homeowners insurance just to name a few.  Closing can cost from $3000 to $6000 depending on the loan size and home value.
 Also, a new home buyer should have money in savings for emergency repairs and costs to improve the property.  Many homeowners opt for a home warranty policy at time of close which warrants the appliances, etc. for one year  allowing time to add to a savings account for future improvements. Effectively, the new home buyer becomes his own landlord in that he is responsible to fix any item that breaks or as an example, replace carpeting if desired. 
 It is important to seek the advice of a professional when considering the decision to buy a home.  Make an educated choice whether to continue renting or to purchase a home based upon your total financial picture.
 Home ownership is part of the American dream and at today's low prices and low mortgage rates, that dream is possible for many more individuals.

Fluoride vs. Fluorosis

By Dr. Scott Thompson, DDS, Winning With Smiles

Get maximum dental benefit, minimize fluorosis risk.  Every parent wants to get this right.  We want to prevent dental decay for our children for sure.  We also want to avoid unsightly fluorosis on our children's permanent teeth.  Please note: only children are at risk for developing fluorosis.
First: About the fluorosis value at risk.  For the average person eating normal foods and using typical dental care products there is a small risk of very mild to mild fluorosis.  Very mild to mild fluorosis is tiny white specks on the teeth.  They are typically not noticeable at conversational distance.  Some people appreciate them because the teeth appear whiter.  Often, photographs of severe fluorosis are published in fluoride warning publications.  Severe fluorosis is a very disfiguring opaque white with brown blotches discoloration on the surface of the teeth.  It is ugly.  Another group at risk is infants and toddlers allowed to brush their teeth with (and eat) a full squeeze of fluoride toothpaste.  Fluoride toothpaste is for children age two and above and should be applied to the brush by an adult in the size of a split pea or grain of rice. 
Second: About the frustrating development of additional fluoride sources.  The difficulty physicians and dentists have measuring and prescribing fluoride comes largely from our food industry.  Fluoride is naturally found in all water supplies including oceans (two parts per million) and freshwater.  Originally fluoride was primarily available in water supplies, naturally or added by water municipalities.  It was easy to measure and estimate how much a typical person consumed.  Today it is additionally and intentionally available in toothpaste, mouth washes, prescription dental gels and dental floss. 
 Fluoride is also unintentionally present in many sodas, juices, baby formula, other beverages and other foods processed with or reconstituted with fluoridated water.  The amount of fluoride that is present in these products depends on which bottling or processing plant made them.  The amount is unknown, varies widely in the same products and is not labeled on the product.  Due to the multiple unmeasured sources of fluoride, it is impossible for a physician or dentist to calculate an appropriate supplement of fluoride for a growing child.
 Suggestions to maximize the benefit and minimize the ingestion of fluoride:  Starting with toothpaste, use a small amount on your brush approximately the size of a split pea or grain of rice.  After brushing your teeth thoroughly spit out the foam and do not rinse your mouth afterwards.  Also try to avoid eating or drinking anything for the next 30 minutes.  This allows more time for the minute amounts of fluoride to incorporate in the surface of the tooth.  If you have a history of cavities you may wish to talk to your dentist about options specific to your level of need. 
In general, with the growing number of fluoride sources in our daily lives, dentists and physicians are moving away from attempting to calculate appropriate fluoride supplements and are moving toward the use of topical fluorides.  This minimizes the risk of fluorosis and maximizes the benefit of fluoride protection from cavities.
Still, the best way to administer fluoride for consistent prevention of cavities is with community water fluoridation. Water fluoridation levels have been recently reduced to accommodate the “extra” fluoride in many food sources.  Please note that the fluoride in foods is only present in processed foods.   If you primarily eat whole foods (whole fruit, vegetables, whole grains, meats and dairy) then your children are not at risk from the growing sources of fluoride in processed foods and beverages.

Meadow Vista Local Moments - Big Catch

Clayton Leveskis caught this 5lb 13oz trout Friday the 27th of May at the pond in Meadow Vista Park.

New Rules for Sunscreens

By Richard L. Peatman, Pharm.D., Meadow Vista Pharmacy

The FDA has changed the rules for sunscreens.  In new regulations, the term “Broad Spectrum” will be used for products that protect from both UVB and UVA and have a SPF of 15 or higher.  The goal of the FDA was to encourage more protection against skin cancer.  The labeling changes include:  1. Products that are SPF 2 to 14 must be labeled “Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert “This product has been shown only to prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.” 2.  Only two times may be listed for water resistant products: 40 minutes or 80 minutes.  3.  Manufacturers cannot label products as waterproof or sweat proof.
 Remember, severe sunburns can put you at greater risk for melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer.  But the sun isn't the only culprit. Tanning devices like sunlamps used in tanning beds are more dangerous than previously thought. A few years ago, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) looked at 19 studies conducted over 25 years. It found a link between indoor tanning and two kinds of skin cancer, as well as melanoma of the eye. The risk of skin melanoma increased by 75 percent when indoor tanning began before age 35.  As a result, the agency moved these devices into the highest cancer risk category: "carcinogenic to humans."  Remember, you are at special risk if you have pale skin; blond, red or light brown hair, or you or a family member has had skin cancer.  Melanoma is the second most common cancer in women in their 20s.  One in eight with melanoma will die from the disease.
 So, besides avoiding tanning salons, what can you do? Take precautions, whether you're at the poolside or on the ski slopes. If you can, limit time in the sun when rays are strongest  between 10 am and 4 pm.  Wear wide-brimmed hats, long sleeves, and long pants, when possible. Use a water-resistant,  broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF.  Be sure to apply sunscreen to areas of uncovered skin about 15 minutes before you go outside. Pay special attention to your nose, ears, neck, lips, and hands. Reapply, after two hours. If you have a child younger than 6 months, talk with the doctor. Also check the cosmetics you're using. Some make you more sensitive to UV rays.
 And don't forget about protecting your eyes.  Buy sunglasses with 99 to 100 percent UV protection  even for your kids. If you're not sure whether yours offer this protection, check with your eye care professional.

Meadow Vista Moments - Winchester Tennis

Winchester "loves" tennis too: shown are the players at the June Tennis Social at the Winchester Swim and Tennis center.

Special thanks to Randall Hensley who submitted our cover photo taken at the Meadow Vista Park. Dr. Hensley owns Hensley Chiropractic and is the current president of the Meadow Vista Merchants.

Send your high-quality pictures for cover consideration to