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April showers bring May flowers, eh?

Somebody alert the providers of floral items.  They’re either going to be left twiddling their thumbs because the general public is inundated by blooms of exotic sizes and descriptions springing up along every highway and by-way or their own backyards…or…there will be wholesalers of flowers lurking around corners trying to off-load cheap orchid and baby’s breath that they just happen to have a truckload of in a back alley somewhere.  “Hey, little girl, want some real cool Dianthus barbatus?  Try it, you’ll like it.  Give it to your friends.  I’ll come back tomorrow.  Bring your lunch money.”

So this week you could celebrate the one hundred forty-second anniversary of the first Arbor Day, begun in Nebraska—where they really needed trees—in 1872(If you don’t count Villanueva de la Sierra in Spain in 1805).  J. Sterling Morton was the organizer of that first event and over one million trees were planted in Nebraska.  Later, Major Israel McCreight of DuBois, PA, after listening to Theodore Roosevelt’s speaking of his interest in conservation and a national park system, declared that the speeches shouldn’t be directed  only at businessmen, but at schoolchildren.  Gifford Pinchot, head of the United States Forest Service, picked up that ball and ran with it.  On April 15, 1907, Roosevelt issued         the Arbor Day Proclamation to the School Children of the United States about the importance of trees.

You might want to try planting a bald cypress.  They like moist soil.  We’ve got that.

Anyway, check with your local county Soil and Water Conservation District(Every county’s got one, I think.);they’ve got evergreens, deciduous trees, shrubs, flowering & fruiting trees( lots of native plants) at good prices.  Some get sold out early, some get left over and can be picked up for a song.  Last year I got American Chestnut whips and a subscription to the Ohio Nut Growers Association magazine, “In A Nutshell”.  No smart remarks, please.  Just reading about the plants and their characteristics is really interesting.

You can get fish too.  Might need them for the back forty.

 

While we have “Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang” and “A Dictionary of Americanisms on Historical Principles” available in the reference section here at the Newton Falls Public Library, both are more useful for looking up the origins of specific words and phrases. Putting “cowboy slang” into an online search engine brings up quite a few websites, but we had a tough time finding one that cited its sources, and so we weren’t sure how authentic they actually were.

Looking through CLEVNET, however, we found “Cowboy Lingo” and “Western Words: A Dictionary of the Range, Cow Camp, and Trail.” Both are written by Ramon Frederick Adams, a respected Western writer, historian, and bibliographer, and both can be put on hold and sent to any other CLEVNET library.

Here at Newton Falls, we have Candy Moulton’s “The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West From 1840-1900,” which has a short chapter on language along with a wealth of other information, including sections about the clothes people wore, the food that they ate, and what they did for fun. We also have “The Cowboys” by Time-Life Books and a selection of more general books about the American West, including Geoffrey C. Ward’s “The West: An Illustrated History” and James D. Horan’s “The Great American West.”

 

For answers to your questions, visit the Newton Falls Public Library, 204 S. Canal Street, Newton Falls or phone 330-872-1282. For information about all the free library programs or hours, visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org or our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/NewtonFallsLibrary.

 

By now you probably have seen the Girl Scout Cookie booths at your favorite grocery stores, banks, malls and Wal-Marts so if you didn’t pre-order your cookies, make sure you pick them up while you are at the winery as cookie booth season is over!

As the proud sponsor of Girl Scout Troop 402 in Garrettsville, the winery has been converted into Girl Scout cookie headquarters for our troop to get their cookies to you. While the Girl Scouts did an amazing job of selling cookies, a few curious parents have asked what wine pairs well with the rest of the Girl Scout cookies after last week’s article? There are so many options with 8 great cookies this year, so here are the pairings for the remaining cookies.

Let’s start with my favorite Girl Scout Cookie – the Samoa. This delectable caramel, coconut and chocolate-covered cookie has so many flavors that pairing it with a particular wine is tough. However I had a bottle of Tawny Port and sampled it with the cookie. It was so unexpected. The nutty flavors of the Port really brought out the caramel and coconut of the cookie without losing the cookie flavor.

Next is the Trefoil cookie. This shortbread cookie could be paired with almost any wine since it is so light. However I found that an oaked Chardonnay paired quite well with this cookie. The buttery overtones in the Chardonnay matched quite well with the buttery taste of the Trefoil.

The newest cookie was introduced a couple of years ago and seems to be picking up in sales. The Thank U Berry Munch has mix of cranberry and white fudge chips. My initial thought was to pair this with our Cranberry wine but I found that I liked the cookie much better with our Iced Wine which is a much sweeter and almost syrupy wine. The combination of the cranberries and white fudge chips made the wine perfect for dessert.

Finally, for this week I paired this year’s new cookie, Savannah Smiles, with our Chambourcin. This lemon crispy cookie covered in powered sugar can be difficult to pair since lemon is such an overpowering flavor. But the smooth finish of the Chambourcin reduced the bite from the lemon flavor and made this a great pair. The Savannah Smiles cookie is the signature cookie representing the Girl Scouts 100th anniversary is a great way to end our cookie tasting this year.

Not a fan of cookies — or sticking to your New Year’s Resolution? You can still support the Girl Scout Troops – we have challenged our troop to raise enough money to send 400 boxes of cookies to the troops overseas! Stop by the winery to help this great cause!

 

Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more gift ideas or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com.

A little phrase that may mean a big difference. When you read about investing and other financial topics, you occasionally see the phrase “tax efficiency” or a reference to a “tax-sensitive” way of investing. What does that really mean?

* The after-tax return vs. the pre-tax return. Everyone wants their investment portfolio to perform well. But it is your after-tax return that really matters. If your portfolio earns you double-digit returns, those returns really aren’t so great if you end up losing 20% or 30% of them to taxes. In periods when the return on your investments is low, tax efficiency takes on even greater importance.

* Tax-sensitive tactics. Some methods have emerged that are designed to improve after-tax returns. Money managers commonly consider these strategies when determining whether assets should be bought or sold.

* Holding onto assets. One possible method for realizing greater tax efficiency is simply to minimize buying and selling to reduce capital gains taxes. The idea is to pursue long-term gains, instead of seeking short-term gains through a series of steady transactions.

* Tax-loss harvesting. This means selling certain securities at a loss to counterbalance capital gains. In this scenario, the capital losses you incur are applied against your capital gains to lower your personal tax liability. Basically, you’re making lemonade out of the lemons in your portfolio.

* Assigning investments selectively to tax-deferred and taxable accounts. Here’s a rather basic tactic intended to work over the long run: tax-efficient investments are placed in taxable accounts, and less tax-efficient investments are held in tax-advantaged accounts. Of course, if you have 100% of your investment money in tax-deferred accounts, then this isn’t a consideration.

* How tax-efficient is your portfolio? It’s an excellent question, one you should consider. But this brief article shouldn’t be interpreted as tax or investment advice. If you’d like to find out more about tax-sensitive ways to invest, be sure to talk with a qualified financial advisor who can help you explore your options today. What you learn could be eye-opening.

 

Christopher Perme may be reached at 330-527-9301 or cperme@financialguide.com www.permefinancialgroup.com 

 

Christopher Perme is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. (www.SIPC.org) Supervisory Office:  2012 West 25th Street, Suite 900 Cleveland, OH  44113. 216-621-5680. Perme Financial Group is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC or its affiliated companies. 

 

Out like a lamb?  Maybe a drippy-wet lamb.  Maybe a lamb looking up at the occasional flurries and possible thunderstorms lurking in the wings next  week.  Baaaa! Enjoy it while you can.  Quoting The Old Farmer’s Almanac here, “Showers often; the earth softens.  Sunny and sweet.  Watch out for sleet!”

Sounds  like Winter : Lite to me; a sunnier version of what we’ve had going on since November or so.  The next entry is, “Dry feet.  (around Palm Sunday) A soaking, no joking!  Peepers croaking (Easter)” Well, we have THAT to look forward to.  Those participating in Easter egg hunts might want to bring along a minnow net.  The summer map predicts a hot and dry summer in our area but the specifics of May look pretty damp.  Methinks the Old Farmer is hedging his bets.

I have got bulbs of various sorts that desperately need to get out and sink their little green toes in the dirt—have to wait until the dirt thaws.  I have snowdrops lifting  their shy little heads and looking around the front lawn.  There are two clumps of golden crocus (croci? crocuses?) and one anti-social singleton out there.  I finally took down the Christmas wreath on the front porch pillar.  Spring must surely be here.

“You can step on the flowers but you can never delay the Spring.”—Pablo Neruda

Looking through my latest spring issue of Popular Science , I’ve spotted a number of interesting items on the page revealing new products available.

How about a transportation gizmo that looks “like the love child of a motorcycle and a unicycle.”  Called the Ryno, it’s a single wheel with a seat and handlebars; a gyroscope and accelerometers (whatever they are) keep the rider upright.  Speeds up to 10mph may be reached by leaning forward.  What a hoot!  Can you just see people buzzing around town on these machines?  No mention of how many miles per gallon but it would have to be amazing.  Don’t believe they’re quite “Turnpike-ready” but a little plaza-cruising would not be out of the question.  Drag racing with riders really dragging off the machines running  on their own!  $5300

The world’s first beer-flavored jelly beans have been produced by the Jelly Belly people.  It is, apparently, a Hefeweizen-style confection, has no alcohol, and can be paired with a Red Apple jelly bean to approximate  an apple cider shandy(beer mixed with apple juice or a soft drink or lemonade, popular in Germany).  You won’t see a Budweiser commercial for this one next Super Bowl.  $8.99/lb.

Here’s something that you didn’t know that you needed, a cubic rubber band, made by Nendo.  Right, it looks like one of those illustrations in the plain geometry textbook.  There was no indication of how big it is, no scale but PS did comment that it was easier to pick up than the standard round rubber one.  Also mentioned that it might be difficult to shoot the thing.  Too bad, little boys!  $10 (No mention o whether this was for just one or a box of the little buggers, the way rubber bands are usually sold)

How about the Flir One, a thermal imaging device for the iPhone which detects infrared energy from 32 degrees to 212 degrees (freezing to boiling).  Suggested uses include seeing in the dark, locating heat loss (energy assessments, like around doors and windows to determine  ways to reduce your energy use) and cheating at hide and seek.

And, finally, the latest from Kings Island, The Banshee.  This is the world’s longest inverted roller coaster.  Oy! Speaking as one who gets dizzy and suffers from borderline vertigo just looking out of a second story window( I passed up the opportunity to go up in Seattle’s Space Needle and the CN Tower in Toronto.  I was clutching nearby structures at the time), I don’t think that this will be on my summer plans.  Speeds of up to 68mph can be reached (not by me!) in a transit time of approximately two minutes and 40 seconds.  Zoweeee!  No wonder they named it the Banshee (In Irish folklore, a woman who starts to wail when someone is about to die; a messenger from the underworld; a keening woman whose wail can be so piercing that it shatters glass).  The one about to die would be me, were I to, somehow,  be put aboard such a ride from—and to– the pit of Hades.  I have to be with a particularly charming child to get on a carousel, even with a Joe Leonard-carved horse.  The last such contraption that I was on was dubbed the “WildMouse”  and was just about the size you’d imagine with such a name.  Small children ride the roller coaster and wave their hands in the air; I stand on the ground and quiver just watching.EEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW!

 

This weekend, I had the opportunity to make some homemade mozzarella and ricotta cheeses with some friends, and the results were simply delicious. Although ricotta cheese can be made using basic ingredients most of us have in our kitchens, I chose to use a cheese-making kit, which includes everything needed to make either ricotta or mozzarella — you simply add the milk.

The kit contains cheesecloth, a thermometer, and enough rennet, citric acid, and cheese salt to make 30 batches of either ricotta or mozzarella cheese. It also includes simple recipes and tips to help you get stated. Since the process was so simple, I thought I’d share the recipes and step-by-step instructions, in case you want to try it for yourself. You can use your fresh cheese on pizza, in lasagna, or in any recipe you wish.

We sliced our mozzarella and arranged it over sliced tomatoes, sprinkled it with torn basil leaves and drizzled olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top. We enjoyed the ricotta spread on crusty wheat bread, topped with a splash of olive oil, chopped sundried tomatoes and Italian spices. Any combination of those ingredients would make a wonderful Italian-style grilled cheese sandwich. The possibilities are endless — so what are you waiting for? Get cheesy!

Mozzarella Cheese (Makes about ¾ pound)

Ingredients

1 gallon milk (make sure your milk is not Ultra- Pasteurized)

1 1/4 cups cool, chlorine-free water

1 1/2 tsp. citric acid

1/4 rennet tablet

1 tsp. salt

 

Tools

1 gallon stainless steel pot

thermometer

slotted spoon

colander

knife

glass bowl

 

First, dissolve 1/4 rennet tablet into 1/4 cup of cool water and set aside. Then mix 1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid into 1 cup cool water and pour into your pot and stir until dissolved. Then add the milk into a large stainless steel pot and heat to 90 degrees while stirring constantly.

Remove the pot for the stove and add the rennet mixture, then stir the mixture for about a minute.  Next, cover the pot and let it sit, undisturbed, for five minutes. After five minutes your mixture should congeal and look sort of like a floating mass of tofu. (If not, let it sit for another few minutes.) Take a knife and cut the curd into small squares, then place your pot back on the stove and heat to 105 degrees while slowly moving the curds around with a spoon.

Once the temperature has reached 105 degrees, remove the pot from the stove and continue to stir the curds for another three to five minutes.  Then pour off the liquid, which is called whey, and use a slotted spoon to transfer the curds into a large glass bowl. Reserve the whey for another use*.

Next, microwave the curds for 1 minute. Then drain any excess liquid, shape into a ball and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Place the cheese ball back in the bowl and microwave for another 30 seconds.  Drain, and check the temperature — The cheese must be 135 degrees to stretch properly. Stretch the cheese a few times and form it into a log or ball.

Place your stretched cheese in a bowl filled with cool water and let it sit for five minutes. Then add one cup of ice cubes to the bowl, and let it sit for an additional 15 minutes to cool down completely. You can now eat the mozzarella, cook with it, or store it in an airtight container for up to a week.

Ricotta Cheese (Makes 1 ¾ – 2 pounds)

Ingredients

1 gallon milk (make sure your milk is not Ultra- Pasteurized)

1 teaspoon citric acid

1 teaspoon salt, optional

 

Tools

large pot

thermometer

measuring spoons

cheese cloth

strainer

mixing bowl

slotted spoon

 

Pour the milk into a large pot and set it over medium heat. Let it warm gradually to 195°F, stirring constantly.  Remove the milk from heat. Pour in the citric acid and salt, stirring gently to combine.

Let the pot of milk sit undisturbed for 10 minutes. After this time, the milk should have separated into clumps of milky white curds and thin, watery, yellow-colored whey. Set a strainer over a bowl and line the strainer with cheesecloth. Scoop the big curds out of the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer them to the strainer. Pour the remaining curds and the whey through the strainer. Reserve the whey for another use*.

Let the ricotta drain for 10 to 60 minutes, depending on how wet or dry you prefer your ricotta. If it becomes too dry, you can also stir some of the whey back in before using or storing. Use your fresh ricotta right away or refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to a week.

 

*Don’t dump that whey! You can use it in place of equal parts water in bread or pizza dough, or add it to smoothies for an added source of protein.

 

Wow what a winter! It is like the children’s fairy tale “The Never Ending Story” instead we should call it “The Never Ending Winter.” To date, 93% of the Great Lakes are frozen and some say it is the coldest since the winter of 1977-78. Believe it or not, spring IS on its way. Hopefully this is the last week of below average temperatures. Since we at Nearby Nature are eternal optimists, we thought there was no better way to think about spring than to talk about Morels.  

Maplewood, beware!

I’m thinking that the cats—at least some of them—need occupational/vocational counseling.

One of the guys(It’s always the guys)apparently thinks that he is a watchcat, protecting us all from  dangerous gray tiger cats out on the back porch.  He pays no attention at all to the calico incipiently-maternal feline that appears on the front porch.  When  he spots this gray interloper looking in the window, he growls in the fiercest possible manner, from somewhere south of his liver and paces along the top of the handy chair back, hurling threats and imprecations at this creature that had DARED to look in the window.  Sometimes he yowls really loudly and runs to  another window to repeat the whole thing…maybe he’s trying to give the impression that there is a whole cat posse inside here  just itching to get out and make short work of the trespasser.

However, if I open the door, guess who takes off and heads for far parts?  Got it in one.

Then there’s some individual here who is laboring under the delusion that he, or maybe she, is a florist or horticulturist of some sort.  I bought flowers, see, just  because the place could use  some color and some illusion that winter might come to an end someday.   Company was coming and while running the  vacuum was a necessity, it wasn’t real uplifting…so…flowers.  They were O.K. as long as there were people in the house but under cover of darkness, SOMEBODY removed the baby’s breath and fern and the flower buds and blossoms from the vases and strewed them artistically across the top of the buffet and down on the carpet; different  arrangements on different occasions  You haven’t lived until you’ve stepped on something small and soft  and unmoving… in the dark.  It’s a wake-up call, for sure.  This happens every time there are flowers are in the house.  Somebody else is chewing off the leaves on a shamrock plant(Not much Luck of the Irish here) but the miniature daffodils are safe, so far.  The escapades have continued from poinsettias to primroses and roses.  Whoever is doing this is not picky, just determined.  Anything green is regarded as a challenge.

Then again, there’s somebody  around here who is , perhaps, pursuing a career in writing or in interior decorating.  Pens move around.  Papers travel.  The lid to the kitty water fountain downstairs keeps moving off to new locales and the cat food cups can’t be counted on to stay in the same place for more than a day or two.  I don’t use them, honest. I wouldn’t even mind all of this movement, if I could just count on them to clean up once in a while.  Not happening.   One of them has taken to curling up in the bottoms of the drapes.  Certainly picturesque but not really helpful.  A couple, the older ones, I think, make  a point of watching for my return by sitting in the window and watching for the headlights.  This is why the front windows have got nose prints.  The back door has got paw prints, from the littlest guy standing up on his back legs and scratching away at the glass to let me know that he wants out—NOW!  He’s really good at making known his desire to come back in too.  He just stands there staring in…staring with yellow eyes and real intensity.  Never takes very long to get my attention.   This is a smart cat.  When it was REALLY cold, he would go to the door  to be let out and I would go and open the door.  He would put maybe one paw out into the frigidity then turn around, come back in and give me a look which was clearly meant to say, “Are you kidding me?”  Nope.  Still COLD.

And we won’t even start on the soccer players… the balls have bells..games at night.

 

Is a tax refund coming your way? If you have already received your refund for the 2013 tax year or are about to receive it, you might want to think about the destiny of that money. Here are some possibilities.

Start (or add to) an emergency fund. Many people don’t have a dedicated rainy day fund, only the presumption that they might have enough cash in case of a financial tight spot.

Invest in yourself. You could put the money toward education, career training, personal improvement, or some sort of personal experience with the potential to enhance your life.

Use it for a down payment on a car or truck or real property. Real property represents the better financial choice, but updating your vehicle may have merit – cars do wear out, and while a truck also ages, it can help you make money.

Put it into an IRA or workplace retirement account. If you haven’t maxed out your IRA this year or have a chance to get an employer match, why not?

Help your child open up a Roth IRA. If your under-18 son or daughter will earn income this year, he or she can open a Roth IRA. Your child’s contribution limit is $5,500 or the amount of his or her earned income for 2014 (whichever is lower). You can actually make this Roth IRA contribution with your own money if your child has spent his or her earnings.1,2  

Buy some warehouse memberships. If you have a large family or own a small service business, why not sign up to save regularly?

Pay down debt. Always a smart choice.

Establish a financial strategy. Some financial professionals work on a fee-only basis. If your tax refund is substantial, it could pay some or all the fee that might be charged for a review of your current financial situation and a plan for the future, with no further obligation to you.

Pay for that trip in advance. Instead of racking up a bigger credit card bill, consider pre-paying some costs or taking an all-inclusive trip (some are not as pricey as you might think).

Get your home ready for the market. A four-figure refund may give you the cash to spruce up the yard and/or exterior of your residence. Or, it could help you pay a professional who can assist you with staging it.

Improve your home with energy-saving appliances. Or windows, or weatherstripping, or solar panels – just to name a few options.

Create your own food bank. What if a hurricane or an earthquake hits? Where would your food and water come from? Worth thinking about.

Write a proper will. Your refund could pay the attorney fee, and the will you create might end up more ironclad.

See a doctor, optometrist, dentist or physical therapist. If you haven’t been able to see these professionals due to your insurance situation or your personal cash flow, the refund might provide a way.

Give yourself a de facto raise. Adjust your withholding to boost your take-home pay.

Pick up some more insurance coverage for cheap. More and more affordable options exist for insuring yourself, your business and your property.

Pay it forward. Your refund could turn into a charitable contribution (deductible on your 2012 federal tax return if you itemize deductions).

Last year, the average federal tax refund was $2,744. That’s a nice chunk of change – and it could be used to bring some positive change to your financial life and the lives of others.3

 

Christopher Perme may be reached at 330-527-9301 or cperme@financialguide.com www.permefinancialgroup.com 

 

Christopher Perme is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. (www.SIPC.org) Supervisory Office:  1660 West 2nd Street, Suite 850 Cleveland, OH  44113. 216-621-5680. Perme Financial Group is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC or its affiliated companies.

 

Citations:

1 – wellsfargoadvantagefunds.com/wfweb/wf/retirement/ira/faq.jsp [2/11/14]

2 – kiplinger.com/article/saving/T046-C001-S003-often-overlooked-opportunities-to-save-in-a-roth-i.html [1/28/14]

3 – blog.seattlepi.com/irs/2014/02/04/irs-kicks-off-2014-tax-season-check-your-eitc-eligibility/ [2/4/14]

 

 

Like many of you, our family and employees are saddened by the loss our town suffered this past weekend. We have grown to know many of the business owners and their families over the years and are working with the fundraising groups in Garrettsville to host a number of events. More details will be posted to our website as well as the Chamber of Commerce website as the details are finalized. As many of you know Candlelight Winery is also heavily involved in Girl Scouts and are working with our local troops to get some additional fundraisers going as well. While this is a sad time for many, I know how strong Garrettsville is and will quickly shine again. Until then I hope this article starts to bring back a sense of normalcy and humor to you.

The first department store in Portage County (Chic & Shabby/the Root Store)transformed into a  source for home decorating with a distinctive touch…a craftsman fascinated by and devoted to clocks… a fledgling lawyer, an experienced attorney…the Barber of G-Ville…lawn and garden equipment gurus…a quilt shop drawing craft persons  from all over the state and beyond…a podiatrist…an audiologist…a community food cupboard offering a lifeline to community members in difficulty…tools for every need and every handyman…a dream-come-true shop full of one-of-a-kind items, fun to own, fun to sell…memories…gone.

The Newton Falls Public Library offers free computer classes and one-on-one times three Mondays and one Saturday every month. However, we understand that everyone has busy schedules. Fortunately, there are online resources available. Cynthia Casterline, our technology educator, recommended LearningExpress Library and GCFLearnFree.org.

LearningExpress Library requires that you set up an account first at a participating library (such as Newton Falls Public Library), but after that, you can access it from anywhere. Along with tutorials on everything from the very basics to Adobe Photoshop, LearningExpress Library also offers practice exams for the SAT, ACT, GED, AP tests, CDL exams, NCLEX-PN and NCLEX-RN, and many others. It also provides math and English practice and help.

GCFLearnFree.org can be accessed anywhere even if you don’t have a library card. It offers math, English, and career help as well, along with a wealth of computer tutorials on Google, Facebook, Microsoft Office, using the mouse, Skype, iPads, iPhones, and many more.

 

For answers to your questions, visit the Newton Falls Public Library, 204 S. Canal Street, Newton Falls or phone 330-872-1282. For information about all the free library programs or hours, visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org or our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/NewtonFallsLibrary.

 

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The wind still whistled through the curious puppy’s floppy ears, but Doodle Dog had so much fun at the park he decided to go back again today to see what more he could find. As he made his way down the sidewalk, his little legs tilted his body slightly to the side as if automatically remembering how to curve and sway as the go-kart zipped and swerved and whipped through the blurry lines of competition. Doodle Dog almost had to convince himself he was now safe on firm ground! But as his furry paws met the solid concrete, it wasn’t long before the floppy-eared puppy found his land legs and it wasn’t long after that he found them leading him to the grassy green carpet of the park.

One of the most frequently asked questions I get at the winery is “Can you taste the difference between an expensive and inexpensive wine?” This is always a tough question to answer but usually I can tell the difference between the two wines. However there are some inexpensive wines that have really surprised me.

I have had my share of really expensive (over $50) bottles of wine that were terrible and I have had my share of inexpensive (under $8) bottles of wine that were amazing. Regardless of the price range, a lot has to do with how the wine is stored and handled before you drink it. Assuming that the bottles are both stored in the right temperatures and on their side you may be surprised how comparable the two wines are.

Another factor to look at is the type of winery the wine comes from. Some of the smaller boutique wineries may have more expensive wines because they might have smaller quantities of that wine or the wines may have been aged longer than the others. However some of the larger wineries will also offer more expensive wines based on the amount of work that goes into the grape growing process, thus making the quality of the wine much greater.

One of my favorite deals is when an expensive wine goes on sale. You do have to watch though because sometimes it means the wine is starting to go bad, however most of the time, wineries will have a sale because the next vintage is about to be released. If you are lucky, you can even buy an older vintage at a lower price and the newer vintage at its regular price so you can compare it.

Regardless of the price, you may be surprised on how good an inexpensive wine tastes. I recommend setting aside a wine budget and every once in a while try the more expensive bottle of wine.

 

 

Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more gift ideas or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com.

The Oxford English Dictionary has just come out with its quarterly revisions and additions.  Some nine hundred new words and phrases have now been deemed worthy to grace its pages, some of them pretty far out there.  How often do you wish to know the meaning of Empedoclean? ( Don’t go there.  It’s about some Greek philosopher dude named Empedocles who posited  the theory that all matter was made up of four elements—earth, air, fire, water—and has morphed into a new Empedoclean Evolution theory where change is caused by attraction and repulsion.  It is also connected—somehow—to a so-called Project Mayhem featuring—would I make this up?—Chaos and Pain.   Sounds attractive, eh?)

How far back can you remember into your childhood?  I’m guessing that most people can’t remember much before 4 years old.  I’ve read that approximately 4 years of age is somewhat of a threshold of actively recalled memory experiences. This is not to say that there aren’t occasional flashback experiences—dreams and visual recalls.  Some of them are often strange and seemingly unrelated to general life themes.  For example, I remember a scene in our apartment, from which we moved ‘long about 1949, wherein I wanted some more milk and my mother showing me an almost empty milk bottle saying “the rest is for your Father’s coffee”.( Yes, I’m sure we could psychoanalyze that one!!) Certainly unpleasant repressed experiences are somehow retained on an unconscious level. Pleasant things are likewise often retained as an aura or overall good feeling.   I surely can’t remember much prior to four years of age but I do have a sort of flashback memory in the context of automobiles. How odd!  Does this mean that automobiles are somehow genetically programmed into me?  If you buy Darwin’s theory of evolution (being of a scientific background I certainly do!) then it is certainly possible and more than likely so.   Hey, generations of birds seem to automatically be programmed to ….fly south, then north again, visit the same bird feeders, and eat the same things, generation after generation, right?   Without a doubt old cars are a major part of the Schweitzer lineage dating back to the beginning the automobile era and my Grandfather Charles. He would have been about 12 years old at the turn of the century—1900—and witness to the beginning of the great age of automobiles.  Yes, I know, the old nature verses nurture debate comes into play. Why me and not my sister or brother who have little interest in automobiles? I buy the genetics!

How many 401(k)s have more than $100k in them? According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), the average 401(k) balance at the end of 2012 was $63,929. Even with stocks rising last year, the average balance likely remains underwhelming.1

Is this enough money to retire on? No – and this is only part of America’s retirement dilemma. There is inequity in retirement savings – some households have steadily contributed to retirement accounts, others have not. Additionally, IRAs, 401(k)s and 403(b)s can suffer when stocks plunge, with the most invested potentially having the most to lose. 

If you are an avid reader of this column, you know that I love getting together with friends and pairing different foods and wines together. We’ve paired Halloween candy, BBQ sauces, pizzas, Girl Scout cookies and desserts. This past weekend we had a fantastic time sitting with Chef Gary from The Rolling Pig to pair wines with his gourmet dips.  

It seems that most everyone is Irish, at least on Saint Patrick’s Day. And although my family is truly Irish (just ask Grandma Flanagan!), we haven’t inherited a love of many of the Irish foods typically served this time of year. Sorry, Grandma, but cooked cabbage has been pretty much banned from our house due to its pungent aroma, and corned beef, looking all red and stringy, is just not our cup of tea either. While we do enjoy potatoes, since they’re such a menu staple, they don’t bring on the St. Patty’s Day spirit. My husband and children would be content to celebrate with Lucky Charms cereal, which is also a staple in our home (don’t judge!), but I want to go with something a little more traditional. And while Irish and Irish-for-the-day traditionally celebrate with green beer, whiskey, Baileys, or Irish coffee, I’m looking for a more family-friendly way to mark the day at home. 

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The Old Farmer says of the month of March (and I quote), “In like a sea lion, cold and wet with fishy breath. Rain to snow and snow to rain—di-si-do and back again!  This month can’t be trusted; the hinge of spring has rusted.”

There are two annual book sales at the Newton Falls Public Library, one in the spring and one in the fall. There’s also a small cart in the lobby where people can buy books year-round. All sales are put on by the Friends of the Newton Falls Public Library.

The Friends of the Library is a non-profit organization founded in 1979 dedicated to supporting the library. The money from the book sale, as well as what’s brought in from their other fundraisers, pays for supplies, prizes, and special programs during Summer Reading. The money also goes toward projects to improve the library, such as siding the garage, and all of our other speakers and programs throughout the year, including the Harvest Fest.

Along with running the book sales, the Friends also volunteer at the library and sponsor programs like the Annual Poetry and Short Prose contest. Membership is open to anyone, and those interested can pick up an application at the library’s circulation desk. The Friends of the Library are currently running a spring membership drive, and any new or renewed memberships between March 3 and May 20 will be entered into a drawing to win a Kindle Fire HD, so it’s an excellent time to join for anyone who’s interested.

For answers to your questions, visit the Newton Falls Public Library, 204 S. Canal Street, Newton Falls or phone 330-872-1282. For information about all the free library programs or hours, visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org or our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/NewtonFallsLibrary.

 

For answers to your questions, visit the Newton Falls Public Library, 204 S. Canal Street, Newton Falls or phone 330-872-1282. For information about all the free library programs or hours, visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org or our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/NewtonFallsLibrary.

 

Have you noticed? It’s getting lighter closer to breakfast and is still light out after supper! The temperatures have warmed (albeit very slowly) but you know spring is around-the-corner now that the sap buckets are hung and local breakfasts are serving hotcakes and maple syrup.

It was time to go outside – Doodle Dog was tired of being cooped up indoors! Some furry rodent had supposedly predicted that winter would be camped out for quite a while longer, but some other furry rodent claimed that wasn’t true. Doodle Dog didn’t know who to believe so the only thing he could do was go and find out for himself and see what his own floppy ears told him!

As the cold stabilization stage starts to wind down this year, I had the chance to sample some of the new wines we are going to release this year. Sampling some of the wines before they are finished is one of my favorite jobs around the winery. This sort of sampling, called barrel sampling, can really give you a great idea on how the wine is going to finish.

One of our patrons, an avid walker and biker, was making plans to spend a few weeks in late spring or early summer going around the Little Loop of the Buckeye Trail.

The Buckeye Trail winds around the interior of Ohio. It’s made up of twenty-six sections and covers around 1,444 miles altogether. The Little Loop is comprised of the Akron, Bedford, Burton, and Mogadore sections, as well as part of the Massillon section. According to a post on the www.buckeyetrail.org Trail Talk forums, the Little Loop covers 229 miles [http://buckeyetrail.org/TrailTalk/index.php?topic=439.0].

The official Buckeye Trail website, www.buckeyetrail.org, states that 93% of the Akron section, 68% of the Bedford Section, 41% of the Burton section, 32% of the Mogadore section, and 47% of the Massillon section are off-road, suggesting that they may not be ideal for biking. The Trail Talk forums confirmed our suspicions. When a member posted in the forum asking whether it’s possible to bike sections of the trail (though not the Little Loop specifically), others discouraged them. The Buckeye Trail is intended for hiking, and biking could actually damage parts of it [http://buckeyetrail.org/TrailTalk/index.php?topic=144.0].

Our patron checked out Robert J. Pond’s “Follow the Blue Blazes: A Guide to Hiking Ohio’s Buckeye Trail,” other copies of which are available through CLEVNET. For more Ohio hiking routes, Diane Stresing’s “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles, Cleveland,” Ralph Ramey’s “50 Hikes in Ohio” and “50 More Hikes in Ohio,” and “Ohio Trails and Greenways,” edited by Annemarie Kuhn, can be checked out here at Newton Falls Public Library. For bike routes specifically, “Biking Ohio’s Rail-Trails” is available through CLEVNET.

 

For answers to your questions, visit the Newton Falls Public Library, 204 S. Canal Street, Newton Falls or phone 330-872-1282. For information about all the free library programs or hours, visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org or our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/NewtonFallsLibrary.

 

Why do some people let their potential for lifetime wealth slip away? Some people are better off economically at 30 or 40 than they are at 50 or 60. In some cases, fate deals them a bad hand. In other cases, bad decisions and inaction are to blame.

They buy depreciating assets, instead of allowing assets to appreciate. In 2012, a Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances noted that only 52% of American households earn more money than they spend. They rack up debt and live on margin. What are they spending so much on? It isn’t just consumer staples – it’s not unusual for a family to “keep up with the Joneses” and buy the latest nonessential items.1

Contrary to the bumper sticker, he who dies with the most toys does not necessarily win, and he may leave a pile of debt and little savings behind. Today’s hottest cars, clothes, flat-screens, phones and tablets may be tomorrow’s discards.

They never contribute to an IRA or qualified retirement plan. For all the flak directed recently at workplace retirement plans and IRAs, they still provide a tremendous opportunity to save and invest. They are tax-advantaged, which contributes to greater compounding of the assets within them. With a Roth IRA, qualified withdrawals are tax-free for the original owner.2

They never build up an emergency fund. Financial challenges will arise, and a rainy-day fund can help you meet them. Even the wealthy need cash reserves.  Striving to save for that rainy day also helps to promote good lifelong saving habits.

They never seek to own. Who gets rich by renting? Ownership of real property or a business comes with its headaches, but it may also leave a middle class or working class individual much wealthier over time.

They invest without a strategy. Chasing the return at any cost, impulsive stock picking and market timing – these are behaviors that may lead to frustration instead of financial freedom. Clichés become clichés because they are true, and the financial cliché of “get rich slowly” has proved true for many. Instant wealth seldom comes from picking a hot stock or fund; indeed, that wealth may be fleeting. These truths don’t stop people from “putting it all on black” – hazardously assigning an excessive portion of their assets to one investment or market sector.

They accept a “forever middle class” mindset. Some people define themselves as middle class and accept that definition all their lives. The danger is that this can amount to a kind of psychological barrier, a sense that “this is it” and that “getting rich” is for others.

With all the dire articles out there about the diminishing middle class in America, the fact is that upward mobility is much more common here than in many other nations. Yet in this land of opportunity, people have some intriguing perceptions about the middle class.

Last year, the Pew Research Center conducted a poll of 2,508 American adults which had some interesting results. Only 48% of those earning at least $100,000 identified as upper class or upper-middle class. Amazingly, 6% of respondents at that income level actually felt that they were lower class or at least lower-middle class. Additionally, 18% of those with incomes from $50,000-99,000 identified themselves as lower class or lower-middle class, though 65% (correctly) believed they were middle class.3

The poll also asked how much money a family of four would need to live a middle class lifestyle. Answers to that question varied by income bracket: while the median response across the poll was a reasonable $70,000, respondents with family incomes of at least $100,000 gave a median response of $100,000, while families earning less than $30,000 said $40,000 would do.3

Behavior & belief may count as much as effort. It takes some initiative to create lifetime wealth from present-day affluence, but a person’s outlook on money (and view of the purpose of money) can influence that effort – for better or worse.

 

Christopher Perme may be reached at 330-527-9301 or cperme@financialguide.com www.permefinancialgroup.com 

 

Christopher Perme is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. (www.SIPC.org) Supervisory Office:  1660 West 2nd Street, Suite 850 Cleveland, OH  44113. 216-621-5680. Perme Financial Group is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC or its affiliated companies.

 

Citations.

1 – business.time.com/2012/10/23/is-the-u-s-waging-a-war-on-savers/ [10/23/12]

2 – schwab.com/public/schwab/resource_center/expert_insight/retirement_strategies/planning/saving_for_retirement_ira_vs_401k.html [10/10/12]

3 – economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/who-counts-as-middle-class/ [8/23/12]

 

“Maple syrup is a unique product made in a limited part of the world, and Ohio is fortunate to be located in the heart of it,” explained Nate Bissell, owner of Bissell Maple Farm and board member of the Ohio Maple Producers Association. Bissell and his colleagues at the Ohio Maple Producers Association want you and your family to visit them to find out how they make this local treasure during the ‘Maple Madness Drive It Yourself Tour,’ which starts this weekend.

Mardi Gras, that is.  Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, beginning of the Lenten season.  Carnavale, Carnival, Carnaval, Karneval, Faschtnact/Fasching…whatever your ethnic background, if there’s a shot of Catholic in there anywhere (or even if there’s no Catholicism but a lot of fun-lovers), you may be acquainted with Mardi Gras, one way or another.

SANK!  The word is SANK!  The past  tense of “sink”  is “sank”…”sank”, not “sunk”.  “Sunk” is the perfect tense, which is either being shamefully abused or ignored most of the time by people who ought to know better.  If I have to listen to some talking head on a TV screen or hear a faux-authoritative voice on the radio tell me, “That-there ark Mr. Noah was buildin’ just up ‘n’ sunk on the way to Mt Ararat this mornin’”, I’m likely to scream…as I have been known to do upon other occasions.  Whole bunches of other words have lost any connection to their past, present and future tenses as well.  The word “might” has been kicked unceremoniously aside for the use of the word “may”.  It makes me crazy.

One of our patrons stocks several bird feeders year-round. With the cold weather we’ve been having lately, she was worried about how her birds were keeping warm. Putting “how do birds stay warm” into an online search engine showed that this is a popular concern.

Some birds will fly south for the winter, especially the species that eat insects rather than seeds. However, the ones that stick around in snowy climes have their own ways to stay cozy. Birds’ natural oils help waterproof their feathers, and some birds will grow extra feathers for the winter. Like people, they can shiver to stay warm, and they’re also known to sit in the sun when they can, sometimes spreading their wings to get as much sun as possible. When sunshine isn’t an option, they fluff up their feathers to trap pockets of air, which then serve as excellent insulation. On especially cold nights, some will enter a torpor, dramatically lowering their body temperature and heartbeat so as to conserve warmth. They may also huddle together and share heat that way.

To keep their legs warm, birds can either stand on one leg, tucking the other up under their feathers, or hunker down to keep both legs cozy. According to an article at birding.about.com, the special scales on birds’ legs also can help retain heat [http://birding.about.com/od/birdingbasics/a/howbirdskeepwarm.htm].

Bird lovers have several ways to help their feathered friends make it through the winter. Providing good winter food such as suet and black oil sunflower seeds will give birds the calories they need to stay warm. Keeping a heated birdbath will give them a reliable source of drinking water. Finally, having a clean birdhouse, roost box, or just a yard full of evergreen trees and shrubs can give birds a snug place to roost. Sally Roth’s “Attracting Birds to Your Backyard” suggests putting your old Christmas tree outside where it can serve as a shelter.
For information on building birdhouses and birdfeeders, patrons can check out some of the books we have here at the library, including Paul Meisel’s “Bird-Friendly Nest Boxes & Feeders” and Don McNeil’s “The Birdhouse Book.” For information on attracting and feeding birds, we have “North American Birdfeeder Guide” by Robert Burton and Stephen W. Kress, and “Attracting Birds to Your Backyard” by Sally Roth.

For answers to your questions, visit the Newton Falls Public Library, 204 S. Canal Street, Newton Falls or phone 330-872-1282. For information about all the free library programs or hours, visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org or our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/NewtonFallsLibrary.

One thing I have learned over the years is that wine tastes the best when shared with friends with some friendly competition. On any given Sunday night you can find us hanging out with the owners of Sharon James Cellars (11303 Kinsman Road, Novelty, Ohio – www.sharonjamescellars.com) enjoying some wine and playing a variety of board games.
Between Apples to Apples, 5 Second Rule to War, and even Go Fish, to Scrabble or Monopoly, we almost always have some type of board game going. The topics we cover in conversation, the bets we place on the next move and the laughs we have from each game make it memorable each week.

So as we were talking one night we thought why not bring this type of friendly competition to the winery. So, think your strategy is best for winning Connect Four? Or maybe your drawing skills will have you crushing the competition in Pictionary? Do you have the lucky hand at rolling Yatzee??

Then we have a fantastic event for you! Join us at Candlelight Winery for our first Game Night on Saturday, March 8th from 7-10pm! You and a team member will play a round of 3 games against other teams throughout the night. The teams with the highest scores at the end will win some fantastic prizes.

There is no charge to play but please make a reservation by calling the winery or stopping by so we can put the brackets together.

Many are the stories of family wealth lost. In the late 19th century, industrial tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt amassed the equivalent of $100 billion in today’s dollars – but when 120 of his descendants met at a family gathering in 1973, there were no millionaires among them.1
Barbara Woolworth Hutton – daughter of the founder of E.F. Hutton & Company, heiress to the Woolworth’s five-and-dime empire – inherited $900 million in inflation-adjusted dollars but passed away nearly penniless (her reputed net worth at death was $3,500).1,2
Why do stories like these happen? Why, as the Wall Street Journal notes, does an average of  70% of family wealth erode in the hands of the next generation, and an average of 90% of it in the hands of the generation thereafter? And why, as the Family Business Institute notes, do only 3% of family businesses survive past the third generation?1,3
Lost family wealth can be linked to economic, medical and psychological factors, even changes in an industry or simple fate. Yet inherited wealth may slip away due to a far less dramatic reason.
What’s more valuable, money or knowledge? Having money is one thing; knowing how to make and keep it is another. Business owners naturally value control, but at times they make the mistake of valuing it too much – being in control becomes more of a priority than sharing practical knowledge, ideas or a financial stake with the next generation. Or, maybe there simply isn’t enough time in a business owner’s 60-hour workweek to convey the know-how or determine an outcome that makes sense for two generations.  A good succession planner can help a family business deal with these concerns.
As a long-term direction is set for the family business, one should also be set for family money. Much has been written about baby boomers being on the receiving end of the greatest generational wealth transfer in history – a total of roughly $7.6 trillion, according to the Wall Street Journal – but so far, young boomers are only saving about $0.50 of each $1 they inherit. If adult children grow up with a lot of money, they may also easily slip into a habit if spending beyond their means, or acting on entrepreneurial whims without the knowledge or boots-on-the-ground business acumen of mom and dad. According to online legal service Rocket Lawyer, 41% of baby boomers (Americans now aged 50-68) have no will. Wills are a necessity, and trusts are useful as well, especially when wealth stands a chance of going to minors.1,4
Vision matters. When family members agree about the value and purpose of family wealth – what wealth means to them, what it should accomplish, how it should be maintained and grown for the future – that shared vision can be expressed in a coherent legacy plan, which can serve as a kind of compass.
After all, estate planning encompasses much more than strategies for wealth transfer, tax deferral and legal tax avoidance. It is also about conveying knowledge – and values. In the long run, nothing may help family wealth more.

Christopher Perme may be reached at 330-527-9301 or cperme@financialguide.com www.permefinancialgroup.com

Christopher Perme is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. (www.SIPC.org) Supervisory Office:  1660 West 2nd Street, Suite 850 Cleveland, OH  44113. 216-621-5680. Perme Financial Group is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC or its affiliated companies.

Citations.
1 – tinyurl.com/qblyk6v [3/8/13]
2 – investorplace.com/2013/08/woolworths-heiress-outspent-a-near-billion-dollar-fortune-died-penniless/#.Us8-D7SLXs8 [8/2/13]
3 – fa-mag.com/news/why-wealth-disappears-8227.html [9/7/11]
4 – forbes.com/sites/lawrencelight/2013/11/22/how-to-inherit-wealth-without-screwing-up/ [11/22/13]

Doodle Dog uncurled his little body and slowly stretched his legs so that they peeked out over the edge of his cozy bed, extending his paws so that they untucked from the soft blanket keeping the floppy-eared puppy, his legs and his paws quite warm and comfy. About to curl right back up again, Doodle Dog thought of all the woodland creatures who lived in the park, in the meadow and in the forest at the edge of the lake with the warm blankets of grass and flowers and leaves and thistles to keep them cozy. He wanted to keep exploring outside today, but one glance out the window (that he still thought was hung in the wrong place) and he could see the land still dressed in snowy white. Many of the other animals spent this time of year tucked in their warm homes and snoring away. They had the right idea – Doodle Dog thought hibernating sounded pretty good right about now!

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One of the revolutionary new trends in hair care is the Global Keratin Hair Straightening Treatment or “Brazilian Blowout.” This in-salon treatment was designed to help clients with kinky, curly and unruly hair achieve a sleek, stylish, and manageable hairstyle that can last up to three months. Global Keratin treatments are even gentle enough to allow children to have their hair straightened.

The treatment works by  introducing keratin complexes to the hair follicle. Keratin fills in the cracks and fissures that develop naturally in your hair, smoothing and taming damaged hair. After the keratin has set, a hot iron is applied to seal in the healing compounds.  The Keratin treatment will not stop you from having more fun with your hair and can be used with color treatments, actually, it will seal in the dye if you have the color done before the Keratin treatment, giving you an extra bonus for your dollar.

Global Keratin Hair Straightening Treatments cost about $150–$600 depending on a client’s hair length and can be performed on all types of chemically treated (bleached, hi-lights, colored, permed, relaxed or previously straightened) and virgin hair.
Ask your hair-care professional today if Global Keratin is right solution for you.

Well, here we go again.  The Mayan “end of the world” didn’t pan out, so, now we can look forward to the Viking Apocalypse.

It seems that in some enormously long poem in Norse mythology written in the 13th century by( Here’s a name to conjure with) Snorri Sturlson, the gods of just about everything and nothing have a whopper of a fight, incorporating three roosters, a giant hound, ravens, eagles, a huge wolf(which eats the sun), a serpent and Lord-only-knows how many other creatures.  The narrative goes on with a fire-breathing dragon and—here’s the connection—the Fimbulnetr, Mighty Winter.  In fact, there are three winters without a summer and just about everyone and everything  go off to hell in a handbasket .  Those Vikings!  What a bunch of fun-lovers!

Well, it inspired Richard Wagner (Twilight of the Gods and all that).

And it sounds like an advertising ploy for some crowd in York, England at the Viking Center where the Jorvik Viking Festival was going on last weekend (February  21-23).  They claim to believe that THE moment will be on February 22 .  Heck, it’s as believable as most of the other end-of-the-world prophecies so far.  And we’ve got the winter part.  Polar Vortices “R” Us!

So it’s a good thing that I went to the Great Big Home and Garden Show before that.  Not a Viking in sight but plenty of other interesting things…beginning with the weather.  It was warm enough that I took my coat off and left it in the car.  When was the last time anybody could do that without risking frostbite?  The I-X Center was in the Goldilocks Zone—not too hot, not too cold, just right—and lots of attendees were without the heavy coats to which we’ve all become accustomed.  Refreshing, I calls it.

The BIG landscape  and outdoor design firms were not totally able to persuade all of the plants in their displays that it really, really WAS actually spring outside.  The primroses fell for that line but a lot of the  shrubs and bushes weren’t buying it; their buds were pretty tightly furled and not terribly green.  There was, as usual, a lot of water,  splashing from fountains, burbling along in faux brooks, trickling over pebbles.  Good thing the restrooms are nearby.  These large companies all adopted themes for their displays—Sicily, Tuscany, etc.  A couple of them decided to get real and went with “Ohio Beer Garden”—co-operating with the Great Lakes Brewing Company—and “Backyard Barbeque”.  Another had a wall-mounted concrete dining table inset with rectangular plots for growing herbs.  You’d have to watch where you put your bread plate but you could use your fork for weeding after dessert.  The really interesting one was the genuine rock garden that had mushrooms made out of some bizarre stone formation mounted on concrete bases—fun fungi.  The Lorain County JVS had a fine entry, the only non-professional one, I think(Over in the Student Model Home Design competition,  Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent carried the local flag).  My work as a proofreader is never done.  I notified a pair of workers at the semi-outdoor bistro serving lovely meals in the garden section that someone should check the spelling on their boards advertising the fare available.  I can sort of understand missing  pancetta, it’s  Italian bacon that not everyone has ever seen or heard of, but leaving a “p” out of peppers is NOT acceptable and “carmel”( a place in California) is NOT the same as “caramel” (a beige to dark brown confectionery product made by heating any of a variety of sugars—flavoring, filling, topping), as in caramelized onions.  They seemed puzzled that anyone noticed.

As usual, the variety of entries was simply amazing and I set off to see them all…got pretty close.  Full disclosure : I do NOT do Ferris wheels.  The whole, vast space is divided, more or less, into four sections : (1) construction, remodeling & renovation, (2)lawn, garden & outdoor, (3) home décor, household products& services; lifestyle, wellness & recreation (4) arts & crafts, with the Playground World in the center.

The Closet Factory was showing off closet designs that were bigger than my entire bedroom.  There were samples of worm dirt—honest, worm dirt—available in the gardening section, also cute little packets of heirloom seeds of all sorts.  In a triumph of hope over good sense, I purchased several of these, beguiled by the fact that many of them say, “A cold period and light are necessary for germination.” “We’ve got that,”  I said to myself, ignoring the information that  at least 6 hours of full sun per day is also necessary for full growth and my yard could be a playground for vampires, since the sun does not shine there all that often.  Then again, we could just take out all of the trees and replace them with the metal palms—quite fetching ones—available at one spot.  Pettiti’s was sponsoring a fellow speaking about straw-bale gardening—he wrote a book—that looked interesting; it was well-attended by Yankees and Amish alike.  I should have purchased the book.

One of the places that caused a chuckle was the display of Inada massage chairs.  I was heading up an aisle when I looked to my left and there was a array of 15 or so chairs, all with people in them, smiling.  Men, women, Amish, Yankee, older, younger, all looking happy.  One Amish gentleman who , reluctantly, climbed out of one of the chairs and said to me, as he put on his boots, “If I could run one, I’d buy one of those.”  I could run one but I couldn’t afford it.  Would have to put an addition on the house to keep it in; it’s not exactly something that you’d put in the living room.  Looks a little like a torture device.  I tried one out.  I smiled.

Sometimes bon appetit, the 0h-so-upscale cooking magazine, is just too much.
They just assume that everyone has access to—and a budget for—artisan cheeses and spirits, baby organic lettuces, at least four different varieties of milk…and we don’t mean simply whole, skim, 2% and buttermilk…oh no.  You’re deprived unless the shelves boast the lactic fluid of cows, goats and maybe the wild ibex.  There must be soy milk (tough to squeeze those little guys), almond milk (This is a revival from the Middle Ages when nobody had refrigeration and cow’s milk had, basically, no shelf life at all.  Almond milk could be created from ground almonds and water, still no easily-available ingredient at your local castle), coconut milk, rice milk, oat milk, hemp milk(!), or even kefir, a fermented milk product claimed to be pro-biotic (Good for you and your personal internal digestive flora.).    Whole grains of every shape, size and source, honey from Mt. Whatzit, imported Himalayan pink salt…bon appétit loves them all and demands that you have them at your fingertips to follow their recipes.  We won’t even go into the specialized cooking utensils; Martha Stewart is just the same—2” biscuit cutters. 3” biscuit cutters , 11” pans, 14” pans, 6” tart pans, metates—gotta have them all, no substitutions.

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Recently, I heard an interview with a writer in Nebraska, who compared this winter’s polar vortex conditions to the ninth circle of hell mentioned in Dante’s “Inferno”. That reference brought to mind a quote by writer Oscar Wilde, who said, “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” Lately I’ve realized that this is not the case, at least in my life. Lately, I’ve been feeling like a character in a book by children’s’ author Laura Numeroff, who wrote, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”
While a cookie would be appreciated, most mornings, I simply want to quietly drink some coffee and start my workday. But before I can do that, I must load lunchboxes and issue reminders…Is your homework in your backpack? How about library books? Is your hair brushed? How about your teeth? Heated discussions ensue about the need for boots, hats, gloves, and/or snow pants. The discussion is tabled while we try to determine why the kitchen trash smells like something dead. Once the trash is removed and the demon-odor has been exorcised, its time to rush out the door, only to have kids returns for a forgotten hairbrush and backpack. The delay means we arrive at the bus stop just in time to hear the school bus turn the corner at the end of the street.

We’ve gotten this question a lot in the past few months. The desk everyone’s been talking about is the reference desk, and the lady in question is Carol Baker, who had been our reference and adult services librarian here for quite a while. If you’ve been to the Newton Falls Public Library in the past thirty seven years, chances are you’ve seen Carol. She started here in 1976 as a children’s librarian and went on to hold numerous positions, such as teen librarian, adult services librarian, assistant director, and reference librarian, before retiring at the end of 2013.
Always willing to help out anyone with a question, Carol was so proficient at finding the answers that Richard Miller’s 2011 article in The Bridge posed the question that she might be the smartest woman in the world. One of our library staff members reminisced that no matter what question they asked, even if it was just something they were curious about, Carol would go above and beyond, putting all of her heart and expertise into finding the answer. Carol started writing the Ask the Librarian column to share some of the particularly interesting and unusual reference questions she was asked, and she was always impressed by the readership it garnered.

While December 31st, 2013, was Carol’s last day working as one of our librarians, she’s already been back in several times to check out books and to attend our monthly book discussion group, which she was instrumental in forming. She plans on using her newfound free time to travel more, though she can often still be spotted out and about in Newton Falls. While patrons and library staff alike miss having her around, we’re happy for her to be able to enjoy some well-earned time of her own.

For answers to your questions, visit the Newton Falls Public Library, 204 S. Canal Street, Newton Falls or phone 330-872-1282. For information about all the free library programs or hours, visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org or our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/NewtonFallsLibrary.

Some people start saving for retirement at 20, 25, or 30. Others start later, and while their accumulated assets will have fewer years of compounding to benefit from, that shouldn’t discourage them to the point of doing nothing.
If you need to play catch-up, here are some retirement savings principles to keep in mind. First of all, keep a positive outlook. Believe in the validity of your effort. Know that you are doing something good for yourself and your future, and keep at it.

Thankfully, this month is flying by! Sure we made it through Groundhogs Day, Valentine’s Day, some more rough Cleveland winter days but when I looked at the calendar today I realized that I almost missed my favorite thing about February – Open That Bottle Night (OTBN).

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Having a bad day ? Bad week?  Your month is not going as you had planned?  You might need a little pampering.  A little relaxation after a stressful day or week could just be what would put you back on top of your game.

Salon/spa establishments not only can help you look your best by offering services such as manicures, pedicures, hair cuts and styling but they can also help you feel your best by offering spa services such as massages, facials and body wraps.  

Little things matter. When planning for retirement, people naturally think about the big things – arranging sufficient income, amassing enough savings, investing so that you don’t outlive your money, managing forms of risk. All of this is essential. Still, there are also little financial adjustments you can make at mid-life that may pay off significantly for you down the road.

Though the insides of the new office were still slightly strange to Doodle Dog, the floppy-eared puppy figured the outsides would still be slightly familiar, so he slipped out the new door to the new porch stoop and onto a sidewalk that seemed a bit strange but indeed a bit familiar too. He remembered that the moving truck hadn’t gone that far at all and that he could still see the old building from where the new building lived. In fact, in all his explorations of the town, there was a good chance that he’d scampered by this very spot several times before this – it was just now a starting point instead of a middle one.

This week’s installment is a little light on recipes, and heavy on the rambling part. But I’ve got a very good reason. Because this Saturday, February 15th, the nice folks at the Burton Chamber of Commerce will be holding their annual Tree Tapping Ceremony. This event signifies the official start of Maple Syrup Season, and hopefully, the end to this seemingly eternal bitter winter weather we’ve been having. So for those of you who, like me, are desperate to see ANY sign of spring, maple tree tapping is a pretty big indicator that some day soon, we’ll be seeing forsythia and daffodil blooms in places where snowdrifts have taken up residence the last few months. 

While many of us are still hoping to get through the cold Cleveland weather, the vineyards around northeast Ohio have another focus – the months of warmer temperatures that will be here soon. (Yes, I promise warmer weather will be here at some point…)

Don’t you just every so often look out the window or open the door or read the weather forecast and feel like the little boy  on the  internet the other day?  The little guy must have been about four years old, bundled up to a fare-thee-well in mittens, hat , snowsuit and he was out shoveling snow, clearing the sidewalk or something, the snow was close to knee-high on him, the snow shovel was about as big as he could handle and the flurries were still swirling around.  That’s the picture on the video.  The sound portion was a hoot.  

This has been a good winter for those of us who love cold and snow. It has also been a good winter to observe birds at the feeder. Winter birds are some of my favorite and I enjoy watching them steal seeds from the feeder and hang upside-down from the suet block. Tufted titmouse. Northern cardinal. Downy and Hairy woodpeckers. Nuthatch. Blue jay. During the cold snap (one of the cold snaps, anyway), a Red tailed hawk visited our feeder. Of course, it wasn’t interested in the seeds and suet. Turns out it was very interested in one of our chickens. It was reluctant to give up an easy meal, but the hawk flew off angrily with an empty stomach. The chicken survived and our breakfasts have remained tasty!