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December, 2014 |

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A Better You

Most of us habitually approach the month of January with a pocketful of high hopes and New Year’s resolutions that end up in the wastebasket before the calendar flips to February. It’s a predictable and annoying problem, one likely to leave you wondering about the best way to stick to your lofty plans for 2015.

We talked to three professionals who specialize in helping Keller-area folks change their lives for the better — improving their health, appearance and financial situations — and changing their resolutions from futile exercises into lasting improvements. Here, they share a few of their secrets to success.

Wellness and Weight Loss

Laurie Graves, a certified personal trainer in Keller, helps clients become healthier by taking a holistic approach: body, mind and spirit.

“There is not a one-size-fits-all approach for wellness and weight loss,” she says. “Through reading and discussing and listening, a plan can be created with things that work for you.”

Having guided hundreds of people to achieve their goals — including several contestants for The Biggest Loser and Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition Graves’ own path to healthy living began in a difficult place.

She talks of her struggles with depression in her late teens that turned into anorexia and bulimia. As an adult, she gained 90 pounds following the birth of her second child 11 years ago. She worked with two different personal trainers, lost the weight and kept it off. So many people asked her how she did it, she says, that she realized she had acquired a lot of knowledge that she could use to help others.

“It’s not just a quick fix and lose 90 pounds,” Graves says. “It’s about daily choices and continuing in a path of learning.”

She enhanced her personal experiences with further education and certification as a personal trainer through the Cooper Institute, then began working in a small gym. Today, Graves focuses on more than just helping people drop physical pounds. She also urges them to lose the behaviors and beliefs that are weighing them down.

Developing better habits involves “cleaning out your pantry,” which means both eliminating most unhealthy foods from your kitchen and ridding yourself of negative patterns.

One of the key practices to adopt is portion control, Graves says. Vegetables, especially leafy greens, should make up half of your dinner plate. A serving of meat should be no bigger than a deck of cards, and carbohydrates should play a minor role.

And then there’s the matter of activity levels — an essential part of the equation. While many people say they don’t have the time or the money to work out, Graves says exercise can be as simple as going up and down stairs, marching in place in front of the television or walking around the block. She has one client who has lost 145 pounds in 2014 simply by eating better and marching in front of the TV.

Even those with limited mobility can do exercises while seated in a chair, she adds.

“My philosophy is that everyone can move,” Graves says. “People are more likely to stick to something they enjoy.”

Noting that Bible study and prayer have been integral parts of her own journey to wellness, Graves encourages clients to examine their spiritual health and is an advocate of seeking God’s help in the process and believes that sticking to a plan of healthy eating and activity becomes easier when people find forgiveness and practice it with others.

“I can have people who have been on every kind of diet but haven’t worked on emotional issues and old wounds,” she says.

Last spring, she published a devotional book, Fit for Freedom, that helps people address the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of healthy living. She teaches an eight-week class by the same name at Northwood Church in Keller, conducts regular fitness camps at Bear Creek Park and offers one-on-one health and wellness coaching.

As far as making long-term improvements, her advice is simple: take small steps over time.

“It’s a lifetime process, not cutting everything off at the New Year, that works best for most people,” she says.

Getting Savvy About Saving

Wendy Ezell, a certified public accountant who offices in Keller, encourages clients to examine their spending habits and plan for the future.

“Everyone has stages in life,” Ezell says. “Each phase of life has challenges, and you need a budget that reflects that.”

Whether folks are striking out on their own or planning for retirement, she says a little forethought goes a long way. Ezell advises clients to track their spending and estimate their budgets, and explains that what people think they are spending and how they mentally allocate funds often are not in line with reality.

If you find a big discrepancy, focus first on budgeting for your needs — things like housing, utilities, groceries and basic clothing costs. She also advises planning for medical insurance because even a minor health problem can derail family finances when someone isn’t insured.

Once necessities are covered, she says, it’s time to set aside funds for emergencies, and after that, take on debt — putting largest creditors at the bottom of the list.

“Once we get the budget going, we pay off the smallest bill first. That gives you a little breathing room and a quick boost of confidence. Then you pay off the next bill,” she explains.

This strategy implements a “snowball” effect, she says, with funds that were applied initially to the first bill soon going toward the next.

A number of years ago, several of Ezell’s clients told her that her approach to finances was similar to that of Dave Ramsey, a national radio host and bestselling author who specializes in guiding people out of debt and back into a state of financial health.

Now, she’s a Dave Ramsey “Endorsed Local Provider,” or ELP, and part of a list of professionals Ramsey recommends to listeners and readers of his website, www.daveramsey.com.

Ezell also urges clients to teach their children wise financial practices. She sees a lot of couples who have done well with their resources but who do not pass that on to the next generation.

“Parents need to pass on a good work ethic and teach them how to succeed,” she says. “A lot of kids don’t understand what a dollar is worth and how to save and plan for the future.”

Ezell said that with her own children — Hanna, 14; Dylan, 12; and Alden, 9 — she has paid them for jobs they have done around her office by investing the money in Roth IRAs, a tool for tax-free retirement funds. Even though the kids are a long way from retirement, she explains, they can see how the money will grow over time with interest.

“It’s all about planting seeds,” she says.

Ezell attributes her passion for handling resources wisely to the fact that she grew up in poverty.

“I saw the results of that and thought, ‘There’s got to be a better way. I don’t want to be here in another 10 or 15 years,’” Ezell says.

A childhood battle with cancer, she adds, taught her perseverance. Diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma at age 6, she says she went through surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, and wasn’t expected to survive.

Once she beat the odds, doctors said she likely wouldn’t be able to walk, wouldn’t be able to have children and would only be 4 feet tall. Once again, she proved them wrong, regaining her ability to walk, growing to 5-foot-7 and giving birth to three healthy children. In recent years, she began using a wheelchair because of weakening in her legs — part of the long-term effects of her treatment.

Her experiences made her a fighter, Ezell says, and she was determined to pay her own way through college, where she became interested in studying about taxes and law.

After graduating and working for large accounting firms, she started her own firm in 2001, in part to have a more flexible schedule for her family.

Ezell describes the key to her financial philosophy as “living within one’s means while planning ahead.” Through all the phases of life, early planning can head off many problems, she says, citing examples like skipping on the zero percent car loan if you can’t readily afford the monthly payments, saving for your kids’ college expenses long before they enter high school and not buying that huge house if you’re on the verge of being an empty nester.

“You have to realize what you’re committing to and what it means in the long run,” she says.

Putting Your Best Face Forward

Elaine Stoltz, a Fort Worth image consultant, wants her clients to love what they see when they look in the mirror.

“I feel like I’m more of a self-esteem builder than anything else,” Stoltz says. “I love watching clients blossom.”

Stoltz Image Consulting’s services include custom color analysis, cosmetic makeovers, wardrobe assessments, style recommendations and personal shopping. Her process involves dressing clients in hues that complement their hair, eyes and skin tone, and Stoltz says matching makeup is an important step for women while color analysis helps men incorporate more shades in shirts, ties and casual attire.

Contrary to the Color Me Beautiful seasonal color craze of the 1980s, Stoltz says there are many more than four harmonious groups, and many people don’t fall easily into one of the four or six groups. As such, she says her evaluations are more specific, drawing colors directly from a person’s eyes, skin and hair.

A custom color analysis will provide clients with a collection of swatches of the 100 best colors for them to wear. Using the swatches while shopping can help people reduce “mistake purchases” and make the most of their clothing budgets.

After studying makeup artistry, Stoltz started her own cosmetics and skin-care line, which she updates frequently based on the latest technology. For those seeking more assistance, she assesses wardrobes and hairstyles, and handles “personal shopper” duties.

It took something of a midlife crisis for Stoltz to find her niche as an image consultant. After majoring in math and becoming a computer programmer, she took time off to raise her family. When she decided to return to work, she says she wanted something she enjoyed more than numbers and code. Aptitude tests indicated that she was extremely visual and could distinguish slight variations between colors that others had trouble seeing — an ability she’s relied on extensively during her 25-year career in the field.

Stoltz Image Consulting sees about 1,000 clients each year, with needs ranging from 15-minute cosmetic updates to several weeks of wardrobe-building appointments. A full, custom color analysis takes two to three hours and costs $300, which includes the packet of swatches, and Stoltz says many customers return regularly for advice on freshening up their makeup or wardrobes.

When it comes to clothes, Stoltz recommends focusing on a limited number of pieces in flattering styles from your color palette.

“I’m a believer that you don’t need a closet full of clothes,” Stoltz says. “Love it madly, need it badly or don’t buy it.”

Expert Tips

Laurie Graves: Follow the 80-20 rule. Choose healthy foods 80 percent of the time and plan ahead for splurges. http://lauriegravesfitness.com.

Wendy Ezell: A budget is a work in progress. Realize that it may take several months of tweaks before your spending plan works. www.wendyezellcpa.com.

Elaine Stoltz: Buy a full-length mirror to assess your head-to-toe look. Find clothing and accessories that make you feel great, focusing on quality rather than quantity. www.stoltzimage.com.

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Good Neighbors find a new home

Smith Mountain Lake Good Neighbors, founded in 2006 to fill the summertime educational, nutritional and enrichment needs of children from families with limited resources in Bedford and Franklin counties, now has a permanent home for administration, meeting space, living space for summer staff and a central location for the organization’s records.

Purchased in the fall, the residence and surrounding property in Moneta will serve as an operations center for Good Neighbors, which since its founding has grown into a significant and respected presence in the lake region providing learning and enrichment opportunities for youngsters who otherwise could not afford them, including peace education, nature and global education, communication, the arts and music, and mathematics, science and reading. Programs will continue to be held in Bedford and Franklin County schools.

  The purchase cost of the property, renovations to the building, construction of improved parking, furnishing, equipment and ongoing maintenance is estimated at $230,000. Fifty percent of the amount already has been secured, and Good Neighbors, with the help of contributors, hopes to raise the rest of the funding by the end of December, 2015.

  As volunteers get ready to paint and refurbish the organization’s new office home, they are looking for the following donations from those in the lake community who would like to contribute them: a refrigerator, washing machine, clothes dryer, dishwasher, kitchen items (including pots, pans, dishes, cutlery, glasses, knives and other items), a coffee pot, mirrors, twin bedspreads, living room chairs, end tables, coffee tables, lamps, a desk chair, office visitor chairs, waste baskets, a lawn tractor/riding mower, outdoor tools, indoor tools and a six-foot ladder.

To read more of this and other stories, pick up a copy of this week’s Smith Mountain Eagle on newsstands. Subscribe online by clicking this link: http://www.smithmountaineagle.com/site/services/  or by calling 719-5100. A year’s subscription, which is just $29 in Bedford, Franklin and Pittsylvania County, also gives you free access to the Smith Mountain Eagle’s e-edition, an online version of the entire newspaper.

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Food Psychology: How To Trick Your Palate Into A Tastier Meal

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Environmental cues — like the color, size and shape of the dinnerware, the music playing in the background and the lighting in the dining room — can alter how we experience food and drink. For example, research suggests that serving food on a red plate tends to reduce the amount diners eat.

Ariel Zambelich/NPR


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Ariel Zambelich/NPR

Environmental cues — like the color, size and shape of the dinnerware, the music playing in the background and the lighting in the dining room — can alter how we experience food and drink. For example, research suggests that serving food on a red plate tends to reduce the amount diners eat.

Environmental cues — like the color, size and shape of the dinnerware, the music playing in the background and the lighting in the dining room — can alter how we experience food and drink. For example, research suggests that serving food on a red plate tends to reduce the amount diners eat.

Ariel Zambelich/NPR

What makes the perfect meal?

Most of us might envision a specific dish, or a certain ingredient — a fine steak cooked medium-rare, grandma’s chicken curry or mom’s hearty ratatouille.

Charles Spence thinks about the food, for sure. But he also thinks about everything else: the color and size of the dinnerware, the music playing in the background and the lighting in the dining room.

That’s because Spence, an experimental psychologist at Oxford University, has dedicated his career to studying how our environment affects the way we experience food and drink. He has found, for example, that the weight and color of our utensils can affect how sweet or salty a food tastes. And people tend to enjoy the same dish more when it has a longer, more descriptive name.

In The Perfect Meal: The Multisensory Science of Food and Dining, Spence and psychologist Betina Piqueras-Fiszman from Wageningen University in the Netherlands explore how even the most minute adjustments can enhance the dining experience.

“The perfect meal means something different to everyone,” Spence says. “But there are commonalities, and the quest of looking for the perfect meal leads to a lot of interesting research.”

We asked Spence to walk us through the science and advise us on how to perfect our own meals.

The Plating

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Kandinsky’s Painting No. 201, on the left, was the inspiration for the salad on the right. Diners enjoyed their greens more when plated to resemble the work of art.

Museum of Modern Art; Crossmodal Research Laboratory


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Museum of Modern Art; Crossmodal Research Laboratory

Kandinsky's Painting No. 201, on the left, was the inspiration for the salad on the right. Diners enjoyed their greens more when plated to resemble the work of art.

Kandinsky’s Painting No. 201, on the left, was the inspiration for the salad on the right. Diners enjoyed their greens more when plated to resemble the work of art.

Museum of Modern Art; Crossmodal Research Laboratory

As any good chef will tell you, how the food is arranged on a plate makes a big difference.

“When the plating is artistic, people tend to enjoy the food more than if the same ingredients were just dumped on the plate,” Spence says. In a paper published this June, Spence and his colleagues found that people enjoyed salad more when it was plated to resemble a Kandinsky painting.

The shape and color of the dinnerware can affect taste as well. In general, round, white plates tend to enhance sweet flavors in food, whereas black, angular plates tend to bring out more savory flavors, Spence says. And serving food on a red plate tends to reduce the amount diners eat.

Why? “We know that if we change the actual color of the food [or drink], it can change the taste and flavor,” he says. Dye a glass of Sauvignon Blanc red, and your brain may trick you into thinking it tastes more like a Merlot. The same food can look different when it’s placed on different colored plates, Spence says, and flavor our perception.

Cheese might take on a whole new flavor when you use a plastic utensil.

It could also be that we’re primed to expect certain foods to be plated in a particular way. “Maybe you’ve been to a lot of gastropubs where they serve food on slate boards,” Spence says, so you subconsciously associate dark, rectangular plates with salty pub food.

Or it could be something else, deeply subconscious. “Studies show that people normally describe sweet tastes as round,” he says, though researchers aren’t sure why. And we tend to associate red with danger, which he says may help explain why we tend to eat less when food is served on red dinnerware.

The takeaway here, Spence says, is there are lots of ways to plate the perfect meal – it just depends on which ingredients and flavors you want to play up.

The Lighting

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We like bright light when we’re tasting strong flavors, but we prefer dim light when our food and drink is more subtly flavored, Spence says.

Glenn Beanland/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images


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Glenn Beanland/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

We like bright light when we're tasting strong flavors, but we prefer dim light when our food and drink is more subtly flavored, Spence says.

We like bright light when we’re tasting strong flavors, but we prefer dim light when our food and drink is more subtly flavored, Spence says.

Glenn Beanland/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

The hue of the lights in your dining room can also affect the way your food looks, and that can profoundly affect the way we perceive the food, Spence says.

“Green and red lighting added fruitiness to red wine,” he says. “And studies show that men will eat less under blue lighting.”

One study found that people who like strong coffee tend to drink more of it under bright light, whereas people who prefer weak coffee tend to drink more of it under dim light.

Scientists can’t fully explain any of these phenomena, Spence says. It may be that we expect certain foods to look a certain why — so blue chicken and yellow milk just look wrong.

“Or perhaps people are trying to maintain some kind of balance in their senses,” Spence says. We like bright light when we’re tasting strong flavors, but we prefer dim light when our food and drink is more subtly flavored.

The Music

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Music can enhance flavors in our food, says researcher Charles Spence. Sweet-tasting foods are associated with higher-pitched sounds, he says, while lower-pitched sounds and brass instruments are linked to savory and bitter flavors.

Tom Kelley Archive/Getty Images


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Tom Kelley Archive/Getty Images

Music can enhance flavors in our food, says researcher Charles Spence. Sweet-tasting foods are associated with higher-pitched sounds, he says, while lower-pitched sounds and brass instruments are linked to savory and bitter flavors.

Music can enhance flavors in our food, says researcher Charles Spence. Sweet-tasting foods are associated with higher-pitched sounds, he says, while lower-pitched sounds and brass instruments are linked to savory and bitter flavors.

Tom Kelley Archive/Getty Images

As we recently reported, music can either enhance the dining experience or ruin it, Spence says.

“That’s something people don’t think about. We see chefs care passionately about the food in terms of the ingredients they put in,” he says. But they aren’t as discerning about the music playing in the dining hall. “The duty manager on the floor just has his iPod on — and it detracts from the meal.”

Pairing music with food is both an art and a science, Spence notes. “People tend to say that sweet-tasting foods are associated with higher-pitched sounds and wind chimes, whereas savory foods are associated more with lower-pitched sounds and brass instruments,” he says. One study found that people enjoyed wine more when it was paired with certain types of classical music.

Sommeliers are using such research to better understand and experience complex wines, Spence says.

And chefs are paying attention as well. In England, inspired by Spence’s research, famed chef Heston Blumenthal serves a dish called “Sound of the Sea” at his three-Michelin-star restaurant, the Fat Duck. The seafood plate comes with an iPod tucked into a conch shell, so diners can listen to the sound of the ocean as they eat.

But there’s no need to leave this sort of experimentation to the pros, Spence says. He encourages home cooks to experiment with their own gastro-musical pairings.

The Mood

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A sour mood can taint the taste of a meal, Spence says. Why not lighten things up before chowing down by telling a joke or two?

Tom Kelley Archive/Getty Images


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Tom Kelley Archive/Getty Images

A sour mood can taint the taste of a meal, Spence says. Why not lighten things up before chowing down by telling a joke or two?

A sour mood can taint the taste of a meal, Spence says. Why not lighten things up before chowing down by telling a joke or two?

Tom Kelley Archive/Getty Images

“When people are in a really bad mood or depressed, they have trouble even tasting the food or certain ingredients,” Spence says.

Small levels of stress can taint the taste of a meal as well, but that can be remedied. Just as a palette-cleansing dish can refresh your taste buds, he says telling jokes before a meal can lighten the mood and improve the overall dining experience.

In his book, Spence mentions chef Denis Martin, who adorns the tables at his high-end restaurant in Vevey, Switzerland, with toy cows that make mooing noises when tipped over. The idea is to get customers laughing before they eat.

In the same vein, Spence says, “you’ll never have great meals while fighting with your partner.”

And we tend to enjoy meals more when we’re eating with a group of friends than when we’re eating alone. “The more people at the dining table, the more food is consumed,” Spence says.

These days, many solo diners use their iPhones to keep them company, but, Spence warns, studies suggest that smartphones can distract diners and diminish their enjoyment of a meal.

But we have to accept that smart phones are now a permanent fixture at our dining tables, Spence says. He’s interested in figuring out how chefs can work with technology rather than against it.

“The challenge,” he says, “is how do we reposition technology from distracting us from our food to enhancing our meals?”

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Aromatic Artistry: Cooking Competitions and Restoring Ancestral Cuisine

Chefs love to cook, that’s a given. And despite the intrinsic indigenous ideology of sharing, a number of Native chefs love to compete—utilizing their culinary secrets, cooking skills, and favorite recipes to see who can edge out the competition.

Indian Country Today Media Network has followed several Native American kitchen artists, and some of their non-Native casino and resort chef brethren, over several seasons to witness their ongoing battle of the skillets. They compete best at the Chefs Challenge event, an annual clash of the spatulas that highlights the Arizona Indian Gaming Association’s yearly expo.

The 2014 challenge took place on the Yavapai Nation’s Fort McDowell Adventure Site where 8 resort chefs fired up their grills and competed for top honors.

While they each have their secret ingredients, they all aim to highlight heritage in their cook-offs. “Food is very powerful and everything goes back to our roots for me,” says Nephi Craig, executive chef at Arizona’s Sunrise Park Resort, and previous winner of the Arizona Indian Gaming Association’s annual Chef’s Challenge.

As founder of the Native American Culinary Association even Newsweek said Craig is acting on his dream to “restore and reinvent the largely forgotten cuisine of his forbearers.” Using local ingredients like acorns, seeds, nuts, corn, squash, rabbit, and venison, Craig doesn’t call his creations Native American cuisine, but indigenous foods that represents a culture defined by diversity, history, and resiliency.

RELATED: Redefining Native American Cuisine By Culture

Chef at Casino del Sol in Tucson Enrique Alcantar, Pascua Yaqui, subscribes to that theory in dishes like his award-winning braised buffalo with white tepary bean cassoulet. “I like to go lean and healthy with short ribs and tepary beans, a diet staple for thousands of years, traditional foods cooked in contemporary style.”

Chef Lois Ellen Frank, Kiowa, founder of New Mexico’s Coyote Café in Santa Fe, likes to gather natural ingredients from the land—prickly pear, yucca blossoms, purslane, and other wild greens. Frank also bridges historical with modern in creations such as an ordinary blue corn tortilla complimented by blue corn gnocchi arrowheads and guajillo chili sauce. “Food is sacred,” she says. “What you eat is a gift of a person’s culture.”

On the menu at the 2014 Chef’s Challenge at Arizona’s Yavapai Nation We-Ko-Pa Resort were dishes such as mesquite boar rib accompanied by acorn squash; smoked elk chilaquiles with a red chile reduction, topped with a fried quail egg; carne asada tacos with roasted red pepper salsa, and grilled Navajo beef rib eye with lotus root and patty pan squash.

“I continue my grandmother’s influence of cooking pre-Columbian food grown and harvested locally,” said chef Christian Movassaghi, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

If you’d like to try following in the chef’s footsteps, here are some suggestions:

Elk Chilaquiles

Casino Arizona’s chef Movassaghi feeds large groups, so tailor his efforts to your own needs. He takes 40 pounds of elk tenderloin, skillet-searing it before smoking it for two hours. When done and sliced, top some tortilla chips with chorizo and melted cheese, add the tenderloin slices and garnish as desired—he uses a pinot noir-red chile reduction with sliced red serranos.

Blueberry Posole

Navajo chef Freddie Bitsoie uses traditional ceremonial blueberries in his posole. Taking one pound of seared pork, he sweats onion, thyme, and bay leaf in a pot, then adds paprika, cumin, lime juice and zest before combining it with the pork, tomato sauce, chicken stock, garlic, and pureed red chile, then adding hominy and blueberries and simmering. Finish by garnishing with cilantro.

Television chef Lidia Bastianich, of “Lidia Celebrates America,” who cooked on camera with her Navajo counterpart, notes: “Food is the basis of who we are. It helps us to understand each other better.”

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Post-Holiday Sales Continue On Art, Crafts, Gifts

Karen Rossi Studios, 27 East Main St. in Torrington, is holding a January “White Sale” on Friday, Jan. 2, with 50 percent off full priced items and most pieces of original artwork. (Mention “Arts Walk” to get the discount.) Hours are 1 to 6 p.m.

Dawn Hill Designs, 40 Main St, (second floor), in Torrington, and Kelly’s Crystals, 83 Main St., Torrington, are also holding special sales events on Friday, Jan. 2.

Bodytalk, a women’s clothing shop in Avon, is holding its winter clearance sale. During the event all winter merchandise is discounted 50 percent. The sale continues until all reduced merchandise is gone. All reduced items are final sale. Bodytalk is at 51 East Main St. in Avon. Information: 860-678-7855.

The Children’s Place in The Shoppes at Farmington Valley, 110 Albany Turnpike, in Canton, is closing and currently discounts are at 40 percent. Sale is taking place at this location only. Information: 860-693-3758.

Moms-to-be can expect savings at Destination Maternity’s sale. The “maternity superstore” is featuring discounts on select fall and winter fashions and gift items, and discounts are available online and in-store. Destination Maternity has a store in the Shops at Evergreen Walk in South Windsor. Information: http://www.destinationmaternity.com.

Winter coats are up to 60 percent off at Woman Within, http://www.womanwithin.com, a website specializing in women’s clothing sizes 12W to 44.

Put some art in the new year. The Guilford Art Center is holding its annual post-holiday sale of fine American crafts and art. During the sale, everything in the store is 25 percent off. The event runs through Sunday, Jan 4, and takes place at 411 Church St., Guilford. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday; and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Information: 203-453-5947 or http://www.guilfordartcenter.org.

The Work Shoppe, a gift and home accents store, at 926 Hopmeadow St. in Simsbury, is holding a closing sale and most merchandise, including holiday and gift items, are discounted. All sales final. Information and hours: 860-651-8966 or http://www.theworkshoppect.com.

Blumen Laden’s half-price sale is on, with half off most Christmas wreaths, arrangements, ornaments, holiday ribbon and garlands, Bethany Lowe collectibles, door pieces, snowmen and Santas. Select clothing and handbags are 20 percent off. All sales are final. Payment is by cash or credit card. Store hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. Blumen Laden is at 41 Bridge St. in the Collinsville section of Canton. Information: 860-693-8600.

Stonewall Kitchen, 336 West Main St., in Avon, is closing. All merchandise, including gourmet foods and kitchenware, is at least 50 percent off. Sale ends Sunday, Jan. 4, or when stock is sold out. Information: 860-674-8001.

The Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum Shop, 211 Main St. in Wethersfield, holds a sale on ornaments, pine pillows, jewelry, scarves, small rugs, party poppers and other holiday items through Sunday, Jan. 4. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Information: webb-deane-stevens.org.

Copyright © 2014, Hartford Courant

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Hands-off dinners made easy with sheet pans – Winston

WSJ_1231_HASTLEAD FOOD

WSJ_1231_HASTLEAD FOOD

Hearty Ratatouille

WSJ_1231_HEALTHY FOOD

WSJ_1231_HEALTHY FOOD

Apple Cranberry Brown Betty.

WSJ_1231_HASTLEAD FOOD

WSJ_1231_HASTLEAD FOOD

Quick chicken

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WSJ_1231_HASTLEAD FOOD

Greens Eggs and Ham

WSJ_1231_HASTLEAD FOOD

WSJ_1231_HASTLEAD FOOD

Sheet Pan Suppers cover art



Posted: Wednesday, December 31, 2014 7:00 am

Hands-off dinners made easy with sheet pans

Michael Hastings/Winston-Salem Journal

Winston-Salem Journal

We’ve all heard of one-pot meals, but for most of us that evokes soup pots, Dutch ovens or large skillets.

A new cookbook suggests a variety of one-pot meals in the sheet pan.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014 7:00 am.

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It’s 2015! New Year, New Trends in Home, Food, Fashion and Beauty

There is nothing like a fresh calendar year. A brand new 365 days. Aside of the excitement surrounding New Year’s, rounding the corner to 2015 also brings a crop of new trends across life and style — food, fashion, home and beauty. It kicks off with resort season as the holidays wind down and the last of celebrations take place, then goes full-course into spring and summer. It’s no wonder this time of year is always exciting.

Home

For the home, the trend of style in everything — every room, every corner, every element of the house — has been around for a few seasons and shows no signs of slowing this year. With the growth of home furnishings available online and affordable retailers to meet a broader range of demographics, fulfilling this trend is easier and more personal than ever. Watch for color explosion in the kitchen this year — black which has been popular for a few years will return, but even more so will be color across the spectrum particularly in cabinets. Pastels, primary colors, bright, bold, you name it.

Color has already crossed into small kitchen appliances, and while it has turned up with the larger items like refrigerators and dishwashers, far more commonly seen is the popularity of large appliances mirroring the cabinet experience. It creates a smooth, streamlined and synergistic feel. Outside of the kitchen, the same attention to color continues — walls in particular continue to see the play. The sky is truly the limit, so get creative with yours. With furniture and other furnishings, the same is on trend. Bright or rich jewel blue tones are particularly showing up, but pinks, yellows, greens, oranges, etc. are also in the mix again this year for furnishings. New exciting home decor retailers like Serena Lily and Lulu Georgia carry great items, while HM and Zara both now offer online home options that are really great and budget friendly.

Fashion and Style

For fashion and style, 2015 is showing some fresh ideas and concepts as well. Sky-high wedges and flat forms in footwear are appearing across many designer collections in resort and spring previews this year, and if the shoe isn’t one or the other, the wide heel is definitely making an arrival in all forms and formats. After years of tight-fitting skinny jeans and pants, skirts, etc. everything’s loosening up in apparel — soft, flowing fabrics, volume, etc. particularly in coats and pants. In jewelry, architectural and big statement continues to trend. For color, understated hues are here. They’ll start to knock out pastels and big, pop colors in everything from apparel to footwear and handbags.

Lace details, floral prints, bows, gems and other trimmings will continue to play a popular role in accessories of all kinds — handbags, shoes and jewelry. From a styling standpoint, outfits will have a slightly retro and late ’70s vibe. Activewear is exploding in popularity — nearly every brand now offers a collection. Newcomer retailers like Style Runner are growing for their chic curated offerings, but you can find great stuff virtually everywhere now including Net-a-Porter and HM.

Beauty

Beauty trends for the coming year are equally exciting. Black eyeliner was everywhere in runway shows and presentations, going beyond the traditional smokey and cat eye to all kinds of unique ideas and applications. With the eye making the stand, lip colors are corresponding accordingly. Nude tones and subtle colors are edging out bright reds, pinks and corals in this area. Matte foundation for spring and sun-kissed summer glow will provide the right base.

While the nails have been doing a lot of talking the past few years, nail art is starting to feel tired though don’t expect detail on the digits to go anywhere just yet. For color, trends will likely follow the same route as the fashion hues — muted tones, etc. A few new makeup favorites here include eyes, lips, face which boasts a great collection of affordable makeup items — perfect for those who want to play with the year’s makeup trends. The company is cruelty-free, which is also growing in popularity as mainstream beauty-lovers continue to buck unnecessary testing on animals.

Food

A new year of fresh ideas doesn’t leave out the foodie. Coconut cream is everywhere at the moment — in desserts, dinners, you name it. There’s also a trend of doing interesting things with items like rice and quinoa — particularly in desserts. Upstart companies in the food category are continuing to boom and grow in popularity. Justin’s nut butters, Mighty Rice, Fork in the Road meats, and so many others. You can find them at stores like Whole Foods or online with a bit of search by item or ingredient.

Cider beer is the drink lately, particularly from upstart and artisan brands. Colorado is home to a bunch of really good creators of this trendy item, but you can find many other types and tastes across the spectrum. Tea is always a popular item — ginger tea is the ‘it’ item of the moment here. It’s got a bit of a kick yet packs great benefits to the body. In coffee, there’s been a huge boom in new coffee makers. Stumptown, from Portland, is a popular player in this arena.

To see more 2015 ideas and trends or all of this month’s edition of Condiment magazine, visit www.getcondiment.com

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