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.