Archive for August, 2015

Checking for bed bugs: A new back-to-school routine?

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

Communities across the country have seen an increased number of bed bug infestations in recent years. As these pests infiltrate more homes, they’re hitching rides on backpacks, clothing, books and other items to make their way into schools.

Bed bugs that travel into a school in one student’s backpack can be carried home in the clothes of another, making the school a nucleus for the spread of bed bugs to households.

Several precautions can be taken to keep bed bugs out of your home should your child’s school become infested but you must first be able to identify these pests. Adult bed bugs are reddish-brown with small, flat, oval and wingless bodies about the size of an apple seed. They crawl at a steady rate and can be seen with the naked eye. Bed bug nymphs look much the same but are smaller and lighter in color than the adults.

Upon return from school each day, children’s school items and clothing should be thoroughly inspected. If bed bugs or their fecal staining – which is light brown to black and looks like tiny drops of dried blood – is discovered, it doesn’t mean your home has a bed bug infestation. Preventative measures can be taken to stop an introduction from developing into an infestation.

Any evidence of bed bugs can be eliminated by washing and drying items on the highest heat setting. Items that cannot be washed may be stored in large plastic zipper bags or in tightly-lidded plastic bins to stop bugs from moving into living areas.

If you suspect bed bugs have made their way into the rooms of your home, carefully examine all the mattresses, bed linens, headboards, upholstered furniture and draperies for these tiny pests.

Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Signs of an infestation include the presence of:

* Bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets

* Exoskeletons after molting

* Rusty colored spots from blood-filled fecal matter

* Sweet, musty odor.

Treatment options are available to rid your home of bed bugs and keep them from traveling back to school with your children.

“More than 300 products are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency to control bed bugs and many can be used by consumers,” says Aaron Hobbs, president of RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment) – a national organization representing the manufacturers, formulators and distributors of pesticide products.

Bed bugs are most successfully treated with a combination of insecticide liquids, aerosols and dusts. “Just remember to select the right product and always read and follow all label directions,” Hobbs adds.

With more schools reporting bed bug outbreaks, it’s important for parents to stay aware of these pests, their ability to spread from schools into homes and ways to prevent and treat infestations. For more information, visit

Like fine wine, life gets better with age: Life lessons learned from a master winemaker

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

(BPT) – The things you pick up from past generations go well beyond how to catch a baseball and grill the perfect burger – even though those things are important. Traditions and lessons learned from fathers, grandfathers and even friends can be the most important in your life – they’ll shape who you are and how you live, as long as you live. And if you haven’t had the opportunity to ask your elders what they would choose to impart, there’s no time like the present.

The family behind the Louis M. Martini winery knows quite a bit about inherited wisdom. They have been crafting wines for 80 years and three generations – and that’s plenty of time to live and learn. They have learned not just how to pursue their trade, but to become masters – and the lessons they’ve learned over that time apply outside the wine world, too.

Mike Martini, now the third-generation master winemaker of the Louis M. Martini Winery, shares eight lessons from his family’s expertise – which you might just learn from, too.

1. Great creations reflect the personality and strengths of the person who created it. Your strengths shine through when you’re passionate about something. Whether it’s your secret-recipe barbecue sauce or the way you play a favorite song on a guitar, your own style will make something not just great – but uniquely your own.

2. There are many different paths to the same goal. Not everyone approaches their work the same way – and that’s OK. As long as the goal is the same, keep an open mind about how to reach those goals, particularly when working with others.

3. You’ve got to learn to make your own mistakes. While you can learn from others’ mistakes, sometimes the knowledge that comes from making your own mistakes can be just as valuable. Don’t be afraid of mistakes; instead, see them as an opportunity to improve.

4. The most fundamental skill is patience. With winemaking, you get one shot a year at harvest, and just about any good wine is worth waiting for. Develop your patience as you would any other necessary skill and in the end, you’ll be happier with the result.

5. If our neighbors succeed, we all succeed. There’s a saying that you’re as only as strong as your weakest link, but if you flip that, you can also be as strong as your strongest link. Over time, the success of any one of us brings all of us up.

6. Perseverance pays off. There will be times in life when giving up seems like the best option – but really, it’s only the easiest option. Stick to your plan through the difficult times and you’ll be rewarded in the end.

7. To master anything, you need to learn everything that goes into it. When times do get tough, you need to rely on more than just surface-level information. A deep understanding will make it easier for you to think creatively, find solutions and excel.

8. If you’re passionate about what you do, the clock doesn’t matter. How many golfers check the clock while they’re on the course? How many surfers abandon the waves to go see what time it is? Not many. If you have a passion for something, it’s no longer work but a pursuit of doing what you love. If your job is something that you enjoy as much as a hobby, putting in the time and effort won’t ever feel like a burden.

Life is what you make of it – you can ignore the wisdom of the years and past generations, or learn and grow from it. Keep these tips from a master in mind – or learn from him in person when classic cabernet meets classic rock in the Louis M. Martini and Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp Napa Valley “Wine, Wisdom and Rock Experience” this August. Join Mike Martini, multiple Grammy Award-nominee Joe Satriani and other rock legends as they explore firsthand the wisdom passed down and lessons learned from making great wine and great rock. For more information, visit or Louis Martini Winery on Facebook.

Navigating a lung cancer diagnosis

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Until recently, the “one-size-fits-all” approach was the standard way to treat lung cancer patients. However, there are several different types of the disease, and the treatment approach for some patients may be determined by the underlying genetic makeup of his or her tumor.

“By working with my doctor and asking questions, we were able to create a treatment plan that corresponded to my needs as an individual patient, not as a disease,” says Jill Feldman, a 43-year-old lung cancer patient. Feldman is involved with Lung Cancer Profiles (, -a national campaign developed by six lung cancer advocacy groups and Pfizer Oncology, which aims to reduce the stigma attached to lung cancer and raise awareness of molecular testing.

Dr.­ Shane Dormady, Valley Medical Oncology Consultants, is a leading expert in the field and has been working with lung cancer patients for more than 10 years. He has witnessed how stressful it can be for patients when they are diagnosed with lung cancer, and he understands the multitude of questions that might be running through their minds at that time.

“It’s important to research your options and get answers to three important questions early on in your lung cancer diagnosis,” says Dr. Dormady. “Patients should first ask their doctor what type of lung cancer they have and then second ask whether a molecular test can help determine the genetic makeup of their tumor.”Dr. Dormady lastly goes on to emphasize patients should find out if there are treatments available to them based on the genetic makeup of their tumor. The treatment landscape is constantly evolving, and it’s crucial to get the answers to these questions to determine the best path forward in your cancer care. There are a variety of options available, including chemotherapy, radiation, biomarker driven therapy and enrollment in a clinical trial.

Consult with your doctor to find out if testing is right for you.

Pairing 101: Why care about the pair?

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Navigating an extensive wine list or cocktail menu should be a journey in experimentation to find your favorite flavors – and never a daunting feat at the table. With a few basics and simple tips, you can ensure that you enjoy your meal to the fullest.

“Whether you’re dining out or cooking at home, the trick to a satisfying pairing comes from understanding the fundamentals and understanding your personal palate,” says Leigh Merritt, director of bar innovation for Bonefish Grill restaurants. “Keep in mind that pairing isn’t an exact science, and personal preference is always most important. When you drink what you enjoy, the entire meal comes together.”

Here are Merritt’s top tips to consider when creating a great pairing:
Understand wine flavors

Three factors influence the taste of wines: the type of grape, where that grape is grown, and how the wine is processed and handled will affect the flavor notes. The same species of grape grown in California will have different characteristics than one grown in Chile. Grapes fermented in oak will differ from wine in stainless steel. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when purchasing spirits or ordering drinks at a restaurant, and enjoy learning about the flavors you like.

Assess the whole dish
In general, light-styled wines do pair better with lighter styles of food such as shrimp or scallops, as their delicate flavors harmonize better. However, it’s important to pay attention to all the ingredients on the plate. For instance, grilled shrimp may have a subtle flavor by itself, but when served with the bold flavors of a Chimichurri sauce, the dish takes on a different profile that can taste great with a richer, deeper wine.

Why care about the pair?
A good wine and food pairing will work together to bring out the best flavors in each. The wine shouldn’t overpower the food, nor should the food overpower the wine. This delicate balance can be achieved by using either complementary or contrasting flavors. 
Complementary flavors

Some pairs come naturally, like fresh seafood and lemon, or fresh sashimi and wasabi. The similar flavors work together to create a classic duo. When dealing with libations, complementary flavors similarly yield a symbiotic, balanced result. This strategy brings wines together with dishes that share similar notes, such as an earthy pinot noir and robust Chicken Marsala or Fontina Chop. The combination of tastes has a lot of synergy and smooth transition from food to drink.

Contrasting flavors
Wine can also have a cleansing effect on your palate, and using contrasting flavors can make a meal very exciting. To create a good contrast, remember that opposites attract, and pair foods and wines that have divergent traits, such as a crisp sauvignon blanc and a fresh Grilled Grouper with a Lemon Butter sauce. The crisp acidity of the wine cuts through the creaminess of the sauce and gives a different, refreshing sensation for the palate. Another example of this contrast effect would be a sweet wine, like gew├╝rztraminer with fiery Bang Bang Shrimp or Diablo Shrimp Fettuccine.

Several restaurants will even let you sample wines or explore half-pours to expand your oenophile experiences. Remember to have fun and experiment with your food and drink pairings to find your own personal preference. You may be surprised by the different flavors of food and wines that work well for your palate, creating a great experience every time.

Kick start the school year with fun, free ways to keep kids active

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that all people age 6 and older engage in 60 minutes of daily physical activity. This advice comes as many P.E. programs have been reduced, cut or simply not required.

During a break in busy schedules, rather than allowing kids to gravitate toward TV, tablets or the computer, encourage them to stay active with these Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals-approved tips:

1. Understand children’s motivators

Recognize that different age groups have different fitness drives, according to the experts at Duke Children’s Hospital in Durham, N.C. For young kids, variety is key. Obstacle courses, scavenger hunts and timed relays keep their bodies and minds active. Teens can stay fit by developing a skill and tracking improvement over time. Help them set small goals each week and track improvements, so you can both be proud of their progress as the weeks zoom by.

2. Get active, exercise restraint

Keeping kids active is just as much about getting them moving as it is removing mental obstacles, says Meagan Young, a lifestyle program specialist at Janeway Children’s Hospital in Newfoundland, Canada. Setting limits on TV and video games is a good place to start. TV-time tokens – tokens kids earn each day that can be exchanged for TV or computer time – provide kids flexibility and freedom with a structure still in place.

3. Variety is the spice of life

A fun, family-friendly option is to create a communal activity jar. Have each family member write enjoyable activities on a piece of paper and combine them. Check community papers and websites for free, local events to include in the mix. Whenever boredom strikes, pull out the jar to find your family’s next adventure.

3. Keep it classic and work toward a goal

No matter how far technology advances, simple games can’t be beat. Tug-of-war, tag, Frisbee and hopscotch are classics for a reason: they’ve stood the test of time. Consider daily variety and a long-term goal, says the staff at Central Lynchburg General Hospital in Lynchburg, Va. If you face resistance from your child, start with 15 minutes and gradually increase their daily play. Consider prize categories for the most improved, best “sport” or participation. You might even host a neighborhood play group one night a week to encourage everyone to get active and have fun.

5. Make participation a family affair

One of the best ways to motivate children to stay active is to join them. When mom, dad or other caregivers participate, kids are less likely to turn up their noses. Jump in and play on the jungle gym or put on your running shoes for that rambunctious game of tag. Kids won’t be able to resist, and you’ll be helping them and yourself stay physically fit.

By setting a family fitness routine, kids will learn that staying active starts at home. Visit and learn how your local member hospital is keeping kids healthy. Click on the blog for other helpful tips to keep your family active and injury-free.

Home harmonizing: Making outdoor entertaining areas as useful as indoors

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

(BPT) – The trend toward outdoor living spaces shows no signs of slowing, and the newest step in the trend is blurring the lines between outdoor and indoor spaces. Outdoor spaces are truly becoming an extension of indoors, mimicking the most useful and appealing elements of indoor spaces. The trend is rewriting how Americans construct, outfit and enjoy that backyard staple, the deck.

“The dividing line between indoor and outdoor living spaces is fading, and homeowners are looking for ways to make their outside environment as useful and comfortable as the inside of their homes,” says Chris Camfferman, senior product manager with Universal Forest Products, makers of Latitudes decking materials and accessories. “The trend is driving an evolution in deck styles and materials, with new designs emphasizing livability as much as durability.”

If you want to bring your outdoor and indoor spaces into alignment this summer, look to these areas of your outdoor living space:

* Outdoor kitchen – Food is a big part of entertaining, whether you’re hosting a big summer soiree to christen your new deck or an intimate pool-side dinner. Outdoor food prep and cooking require a touch more finessing than indoor cooking. Whether you use a portable grill or a built-in cooktop, gas or charcoal, it’s important that your decking can stand up to the rigors of cooking. Choose decking material that’s scratch- and stain-resistant, like Latitudes’ Captiva and Capricorn lines. Both composite lines are capped with the most durable polymer technology available, making them virtually impervious to stains from food spills, as well as highly resistant to damage from cooking implements. Log on to to learn more.

* Entertainment areas – Long gone are the days when outdoor entertainment areas consisted of a table and deck chairs, period. Homeowners now want to enjoy the same types of amenities outdoors as they have indoors. For some, that includes a hot tub, and composite decking can provide a sturdy, barefoot-friendly and water-resistant platform for hot tub entertaining. Today, you can also use wireless technology outdoors. Wireless-equipped devices such as TVs and iPod stations make it easy to enjoy electronic entertainment – such as watching the big game or a romantic comedy – while savoring the fresh air and sunshine. Even easier -hang a bed sheet and use a movie projector to watch your favorite kid’s film or action flick, turning your deck into an outdoor movie theater.

* Furnishings – If your idea of outdoor seating is a few plastic Adirondack-style chairs and a plastic table, it’s time to look indoors for inspiration. The styles and materials you enjoy indoors are making their way into outdoor furniture design. Plush cushions in designer hues evoke the same comfort and style as fine upholstered furniture indoors. Demand is growing for built-ins that can fulfill seating and workspace needs. Composite decking material makes built-in benches both durable and beautiful. Homeowners are using furnishings and accessories to turn the decks into statements of their personal style.

* Decorator touches – Many of the decorator tricks that designers use to spice up the interior of homes are moving outdoors, too. Deck stains and exterior paints now come in vibrant colors – not just dirt-hiding browns. Composite decking is also popping with color, with hues that mimic some of the richest, most enticing tones found in natural woods. Lighting is another design element that’s no longer relegated to the realm of “utilitarian” in outdoor environments. Whether you opt for decorative sconces on exterior walls of your home, twinkling LED lights on a deck railing, or Tiffany-inspired solar-powered postcaps, lighting is an opportunity to make a design statement in your outdoor living space.

“For many Americans, outdoor living spaces have become every bit as important as indoors,” Camfferman says. “With advances in decking technology and outdoor decor, every homeowner can create an outdoor environment that’s as appealing and harmonious as the inside of their homes.”