Archive for July, 2016

Get your manners fit for summer

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Lizzie Post, etiquette expert, author and great-great-granddaughter of etiquette pioneer Emily Post, has some tips on how to get your manners in shape for the summer, along with ways to get cash back:

Be a gracious house guest

If you’re a guest in someone’s home this summer, don’t forget to bring something for the host. You can purchase a gift, or take them out to dinner during your visit.

The cost for a weekend away can add up even if you’re staying with a friend. But if you use your BankAmericard Cash Rewards credit card, you can earn 1 percent cash back on a hostess gift, 2 percent cash back on groceries for a cookout and 3 percent cash back on gas for the trip. For more information, visit

Wedding season in moderation

Sharing the cost of a wedding gift with friends is a great way to give the couple a memorable gift without draining your bank account.

Wedding parties (showers, luncheons, etc.) don’t always require a gift. Local custom often dictates what’s expected. If you’re invited to more than one event, you can give a gift at one party and bring small token gifts to the others. Ideas include: a favorite photo in a nice frame or a homemade collection of recipes.- If you’re not sure whether to bring a gift, ask the host.

No more I.O.U.s

If you owe someone money, it’s rude to make them ask for it. So when the ballgame tickets are purchased or the house rental contract comes through, be the first friend to pay.

Settle up by transferring money to friends and family via your bank’s mobile app, such as the one from Bank of America. All you need is their email or mobile phone number to securely send money – no need to find an ATM or mail a check.

Avoid family flare-ups

Identify your role in any summer social situation. When it comes to family, make sure you know: are you the host, guest or is this a joint venture? If you’re unsure, you may unintentionally make a faux pas by not paying your share for an outing.

If you follow these tips this summer, you’ll be sure to stay on the right side of etiquette expectations, earning appreciation from friends, family and as an added bonus, your wallet.

For more information, visit

Healthy summer skin: tips for every age

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Current estimates show that one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. Fortunately, it only requires simple steps alongside a protective mindset to prevent skin damage at every stage of life. To maintain a healthy exterior this season, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Stanferd L. Kusch provides the following tips for strong, glowing skin at any age:

If you’re in your 20s

Though you may not be worrying about wrinkles yet, your skin may start to show warning signs of damage. Now is the time to focus on prevention.

* Stay hydrated: Drinking water helps delay the appearance of wrinkles.

* Quit smoking: Smoking strips your skin of elastin and collagen, leaving you at the risk of severely premature facial wrinkling.

* Eat smart: Foods that are high in vitamin C and antioxidants help prevent wrinkles by reflecting UV radiation from the sun.

If you’re in your 30s

This decade is the first time many see distinct signs of aging and skin damage, and it becomes necessary to build a more aggressive damage control and prevention regimen.

*Assess the damage: Take advantage of free health screenings at your local pharmacies or retailers.

* Maintain reduced stress levels. Ask your pharmacist or clinician about the effects of cortisol and stress on your skin and weight.

* Get acquainted with retinoids: Retinoid creams contain compounds found in vitamin A and are used to treat wrinkles, sun damage and acne. Retinoid creams are available in both prescription and over-the-counter treatments.

* Make sunscreen a habit: Use (and reapply) sunscreen throughout the day whenever you go outside.

If you’re in your 40s

Years of sun exposure can leave your skin with noticeable lines, blotchiness or dryness.

* Limit exposure: Decreasing sun exposure is the best way to prevent skin cancer.

* Moisturize regularly: While moisturizers won’t slow down the aging process, they can help soothe increasingly raw or irritated skin and can help strengthen collagen.

* Add a little pep: Skin creams with peptides (small chains of protein molecules) can stimulate collagen and plump sagging skin.

If you’re 50-plus

For people age 50 and older, it’s critical to be aware of changes in your skin that may reflect the status of its health.

* Self check: Monitor changes in your skin and look out for persistent pink, scaly patches and red or black pearly spots or bumps – these can sometimes be indicators of skin cancer.

* See a dermatologist: By age 50, everyone should have a total body skin check to screen for skin cancer.

* Continue good habits: Sunscreen is still an absolute must for this age range, and moisturizers and hydration are even more important than ever.

No matter what your age, everyone feels most confident when their skin is its healthiest. Visit your doctor or take advantage of free counsel from pharmacists and local health screenings. For example, Sam’s Club hosts health screenings every month which are free and available to the public. For a full schedule of Sam’s Club screenings through October, visit This season, take action to prevent and minimize skin damage, so your skin is nourished, protected and healthy for many summers to come.

Easy meal and snack ideas for families adjusting to busy back-to-school schedules

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

When it comes to simple snacks it doesn’t get easier than fresh grapes. California’s fresh grape season is in full swing throughout the fall – good news for kids and their parents, too. Packed in a container for munching during lunch or snack breaks, grapes are a sweet, juicy and refreshing fruit with excellent credentials:

* Grapes contain just 90 calories per 3/4 cup serving, with no fat or cholesterol, and they are very low in sodium. In addition, all colors of grapes – green, red and black – contain antioxidants and other polyphenols, which scientific studies suggest may help protect the heart and important cell functions.

* Having a bowl of fresh grapes handy for an after school snack is a delicious and smart alternative to chips, cookies and other manufactured foods, which are generally expensive and high in fat and salt. Plus, grapes are delightfully easy: no peeling or coring required.

* Grapes make a simple snack that kids can make themselves. Try a fresh take on the PB and J classic. If needed, a parent can pre-slice the grapes, which can be done the night before; luckily grapes don’t brown when cut. Peanut butter can be replaced with almond butter or other nut butters and spreads.

Peanut Butter and Grape Sandwich

 1 slice of bread (wheat, sourdough, cinnamon swirl)
 2 tablespoons peanut butter
 1/4 cup red seedless California grapes, halved

 Spread peanut butter on bread. Place grape halves on top. Serve immediately.

Adults can join in the fun too. Nutritious and delicious, a rice salad with grapes and golden beets will appeal to older children, teens and parents, and anyone wanting a fresh take on salads. -It’s also perfect for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets. -Three food groups are well represented and the grapes add a juicy quality and a unique sweet and tangy flavor which complements the honey-vinaigrette dressing. Grapes also add a crispness that balances the textures of the chewy rice and the al dente beets. The salad can be served as a side for dinner or packed for school or office lunches.

Grape, Golden Beet and Brown Rice Salad

 4 medium golden beets, scrubbed
 1 cup short grain brown rice (or 2 cups cooked brown rice)
 Salt to taste
 1/3 cup chopped red onion
 1 clove garlic, minced
 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
 1 tablespoon honey
 Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste
 1 cup thinly sliced celery
 1 cup halved red seedless California grapes
 Pinch cayenne
 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

 Preheat the oven to 375 F. Trim off all but 1-inch of stem on the beets and place in a small baking dish. Cover with foil and bake until a paring knife inserted into the center of the beets goes in easily, about 60 to 90 minutes. Let cool until easy to handle. Peel, then cut the beets into 1/2-inch wedges.

Meanwhile, bring 2 cups of water, the rice and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer covered until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 40 to 50 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes, and then transfer to a baking sheet to cool slightly.

At the same time, combine the onion, garlic and vinegar in a large mixing bowl and let stand 15 minutes. Whisk in the oil, honey and salt and pepper to taste. Then add the rice, beets, celery, grapes, cayenne, parsley and toss. Serve warm or chilled. Makes 6 cups.

For more grape ideas, go to or