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Last Updated: 10/31/2008 05:00PM • Subscribe via RSSATOM

Eco-Friendly Territory

10/31/2008 ● By Super Admin

Don’t look now but the 50 Corridor just got sustainably street legal! Cost Less Auto, located in Rancho Cordova, has us all revved-up, and for a good, responsible reason. (And let’s face it, when was the last time we were driven to report about anything requiring a drastically inflated tank of gas? Exactly.) Well, these days Style is pleased to report that there is truth in advertising – Cost Less Auto, anyone? Now that locals have access to the area’s only line of electric cars, trucks, and scooters manufactured by ZAP — a company committed to repaving the way we think about transport.  Among the cache of available eco-rides at Cost Less Auto is the affordable new city-speed electric car design called the ZAP Xebra. And, with gases tipping the scales to where no one wants to travel (least of all commuters), rest easy because the Xebra uses no gas (yeah, really!), which not only fuels our conscience, but also comes as simply great news for our collective wallets. And get this: the Xebra is actually a car you want to be seen motoring (yet another perk we love). The vehicle comes in both truck and sedan configurations specifically designed to be driven at slower speeds (think 40 MPH). So while your dreams of being Jeff Gordon will have to remain just dreams, you may be able to shell out for some driving lessons with all the extra cash you’ll save. Of course the most important thing about this win-win scenario is that by driving an eco-friendly vehicle, you are putting the pedal to sustainable metal. So what do you say — isn’t it time to stop spinning your wheels? We think so. Start your engines at 1940 Zinfandel Drive, Rancho Cordova, call 916-859-0007, or visit costless1.com. For more on ZAP, visit zapworld.com.For more Green Tips, be sure to pick up this month's copy of Style-Folsom El Dorado Hills edition. Click on the "Get Your Copy" link on the bottom of this page for some of our newsstand locations. Or, to order a copy of this issue, please email Gloria Schroeder at gloria@sierrastyle.com, or call her at 916-988-9888 x116.

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Home for the Holidays

10/31/2008 ● By Super Admin

Treasured family recipes bring us comfort every year, but the real magic lies in the memories made while sharing time with family in the kitchen. Style collected recipe cards from the community and prepared a sampling of holiday recipes from local folks, and the memories they’ve made over the years. "At this time of the year the recipes, the smells and the entire cooking process is a way for me to remember family members whom are no longer with us, but are still here in spirit to remind me to add one more touch of cinnamon, or to not forget to have cool hands when working with pie dough. The smell of my mother baking cookies always signaled a special occasion in our house growing up, and it’s this recipe that stands out the most for me." –Fran Stricker Grandma’s Old Fashioned Ice Box Cookies1 cup brown sugar1 cup white sugar1 cup melted shortening2 eggs, beaten1 tsp. vanilla1/2 tsp. salt1 tsp. soda1 cup flour4 cups oats (minute style)1 cup coconutCream sugars and shortening together, add eggs and vanilla. Beat. Sift together salt, soda, flour and add to shortening mix. Then add oats and coconut. Shape into small balls and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. (This is a moist cookie.)For more Holiday recipe ideas and memories, be sure to pick up this month's copy of Style-Folsom El Dorado Hills edition. Click on the "Get Your Copy" link on the bottom of this page for some of our newsstand locations. Or, to order a copy of this issue, please email Gloria Schroeder at gloria@sierrastyle.com, or call her at 916-988-9888 x116.

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Out With the Old

10/31/2008 ● By Super Admin

It can happen to the best of us. As life barrels along, we accumulate stuff. We don’t throw things out for fear it may come in handy one day. We’ve asked the experts for advice on how to rid your home of its unnecessary clutter once and for all, in just a few simple steps…and just in time for holiday guests!Though the task may seem daunting at first, getting started is easier than you may think. Holly Hitchcock Graff, Certified Professional Organizer and Productivity Consultant at HR Associates Clutter Control Angels (cluttercontrolangels.com) explains how to take the first step. “I like to start with the big trash bags for recycling and donating,” Graff says. Then make a simple plan that can be completed “in 30 minutes or less.” One small accomplishment like this after another will make a large task seem more manageable. “And then, start sorting,” she says. Teri Mangel of Refresh and Refine (refreshandrefine.com) points out that overwhelming yourself by attempting to get everything done in one sitting is a “sure-fire” way to sabotage your success.Staying in a small area, begin by grouping things together. “For example,” Graff instructs, “to de-clutter the kitchen. You’ll need trash bags, recycle bags, a box for donations, and another box for items that go to other rooms. Sort by categories – office supplies, videos, magazines, paper, clothes, etc. Sorting helps you identify what is being accumulated. At the end of the 30 minutes (you should already see results), take the items that go to other rooms and put them away in their ‘homes’. Repeat this 30-minute process until the room is clutter-free.”Christine Giri, a professional organizer with Simply Organized (simplyorganizedca.com), notes that your kitchen cabinets waste plenty of vertical space, utilize shelf stackers to store items under and on top of the shelves. Beside the obvious benefits a clutter-free home provides, Giri says, “Living with clutter affects your stress level…it is never about the stuff that we accumulate, it’s always about the need to have more, or the fear of letting things go.” An organized environment can add other advantages to your lifestyle, as well. Terry Prince (terryprince.com), who has been in the organizing business and serving the greater Sacramento area since 1983, points out that by de-cluttering, a homeowner can improve the safety of their home, and even save money. “You don’t have to buy what you already have,” she says, which makes sense, especially to those of us who have ever purchased something a second time because we misplaced it the first.Some particularly helpful hints to keep in mind once you’ve made the commitment to go clutter-free:...2. Donate your digs.If your closet holds a wide range of sizes, ask yourself these questions: Does it fit? Does it make you feel great in it? Have you worn it in the last year? If you answer no to any of these questions, give it away. If you don’t want to give away, try consignment. Some consignment options to consider: Belle Mode, Folsom; Nice Twice Consignment, Roseville; Forever, Roseville; Violets are Blue, Placerville; Jenni Lynn Boutique, Shingle Springs.For more about maintaining clutter-free spaces, be sure to pick up this month's copy of Style-Roseville Granite Bay Rocklin edition. Click on the "Get Your Copy" link on the bottom of this page for some of our newsstand locations. Or, to order a copy of this issue, please email Gloria Schroeder at gloria@sierrastyle.com, or call her at 916-988-9888 x116.

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RSVP Chior

10/31/2008 ● By Super Admin

Music has always brought people together. Depending on the tune and tempo, it has the ability to relax or stimulate. It has been used from the beginning of time to encourage and motivate. It can ease a broken heart or make someone laugh or cry. Artistic Director Julie Adams wants to use music to inspire people in the Sacramento area to help support charities of all kinds. In 2000, Adams envisioned a musical group that would help feed people emotionally, spiritually, and if at all possible, physically. “I wanted to bring people together for the good of our community,” says Adams. “It is important to showcase what we all have in common…not our differences.”For nearly a decade, she and the non-profit Reconciliation Singers Voices for Peace (RSVP) have been doing just that. RSVP has successfully brought together music, people in need and those that can help. “We use our singing voices,” Adams says, “to help those who do not have a voice in our society.” Homeless, hungry, illiterate and many more have benefited from RSVP’s passion for helping others.RSVP is made up of 16 extremely dedicated professional musicians. They come together every Monday night to rehearse from Labor Day to Memorial Day. “We are a diva-free zone,” says Adams, “we all like each other and work together for a common purpose.” Along with the weekly rehearsals, each member has the intense homework of memorizing each song. Although not all members are lucky enough to have music as their career, they are all university-trained singers. A mailman, physicist, company president, high tech professionals and others, work very hard to bring the music alive. “There is such goodwill within the group and in what we do,” Adams explains, “it rubs off on to the audience.”First, RSVP identifies a charity in need, (past recipients include Adopt an Elder, Mustard Seed School, and Rebuilding Together) then Adams creates a musical program that will complement the charity or its cause. During the free concert, a representative from the charity makes a presentation on their mission or cause and concert-goers can donate if they wish. The charity receives 100 percent of the proceeds of the concert.Since RSVP operates on a “shoestring budget,” they rely on many benefactors to bring their message to the community. They do not advertise and depend on word-of-mouth to help expand their ever increasing mailing list. RSVP aims to provide an uplifting musical experience now, while building a strong base of ongoing and future philanthropy. “We are real people doing extraordinary things,” says Adams. “We want to continue to help our community by building bridges between people.” The next RSVP concert is scheduled for January 2009, and will benefit WEAVE.For more information on future concerts and RSVP, visit rsvpchoir.org or call 916-624-9419.

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Homecoming

10/31/2008 ● By Super Admin

From our nation’s earliest beginnings, war has been a part of American life. So too has “homecoming” - the return of our veterans from the battlefield. Where war shapes the face of the nation, our veterans provide its heart and soul, both literally and figuratively. But with each new theatre, and each long-awaited homecoming, we still find ourselves wrestling with the same issues of care and reintegration of veterans into civilian life. While a large majority of our veterans return safely to us and successfully rejoin civilian life, there is a persistent and troubling number of veterans who don’t. Our veterans return from war forever changed by their experiences, and families are often the first to witness this change. Excited anticipation gives way to confusion and frustration with the realization that the person who shipped out isn’t the same as the veteran now returning home. And while there are a growing number of organizations that offer direct, immediate counseling for veterans, there are surprisingly few offering long-term or ongoing support to families of veterans.John Henry Parker, a Sacramento local and former US Marine, found this out the hard way. In late 2003, Parker’s son, Sergeant Danny Facto was serving his second tour with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan. Positioned in one of the most dangerous battlegrounds in the Afghan-Iraq war, the 10th Mountain had been the focus of recent media attention, appearing on Peter Jennings’ “World News Tonight." Shortly thereafter, Danny called home to his father. “He said he was having some serious reservations about coming home. He didn’t really understand how he was going to make the stretch back to being a parent and a husband after what he’d been going through. It was just, kind of an alarming phone call to get out of the blue,” recalled Parker.Parker, resolved to do everything he could to seek out counseling for Danny, and guidance for he and his family on how to deal with this new set of events unfolding. The results of John’s search, or lack thereof, were disturbing. “Kind of naively, I thought especially with the homecoming problems we had with Vietnam, that we as a society would have some kind of organization or support group for parents and family members to help with this traumatic transition, says Parker. He goes on to say, “I was in the Marine Corps, raised by a father who was a combat veteran…so I was hoping there was something out there, but I just didn’t find anything.”In his search for answers, Parker began meeting other families struggling with the same issues. He began talking to people in the mental health field, within the VA, and in the media, and out of those conversations an idea was born. Parker decided to form his own non-profit organization, called Veterans and Families, dedicated to assisting veterans and their loved ones through the difficult period known as “homecoming.” Throughout 2004­­­­ and 2005, Veterans and Families ran a series of focus groups, with a core group of attendees, mainly spouses, some veterans, as well as Vietnam veterans. It was here Parker gained valuable insight into the relationships between veterans and their family members, particularly spouses. Parker recalls, “You know, when it came right down to it, they were really angry and upset because they’d been good military spouses, they’d done everything they were asked to do and yet after all this is said and done [the veterans] are coming home saying ‘I love you but I can’t live with you, I need my space.’”Eventually hampered by the fact that no list of returning military and family members was available on an ongoing basis, the support groups gave way to a formidable Web presence, which remains and continues to grow today. The Veterans and Families Web  site, veteransandfamilies.org, is an extensive Web portal linking to numerous civilian non-profit, government and media Web sites. Available for download is the crowning achievement of Veterans and Families: The Homecoming Preparedness Guide.This 15-page guide provides crucial insight into the veteran’s mindset, allowing family members to learn how their veteran has changed, and help families move into a new and more realistic understanding of their loved one. It also offers veterans valuable insight into the feelings that his or her family may be going through, and is an invaluable resource for both veterans and their loved ones, at any stage of homecoming.“Our biggest piece of advice that we offer families for every single person outside of the veteran is: manage your expectations,” says Parker. “Manage your expectations around what’s important to the veteran coming home. And start by asking the very easy question of ‘How do you want to spend your first hours/days/weeks/months at home?’” Asking this question is often a good reality check for family members. If expectations go unmanaged and these kinds of questions aren’t asked, resentment begins to breed and can quickly accelerate into a negative spiral. One of the most striking aspects of the Homecoming Preparedness Guide is its simplicity. It outlines scenarios such as if a veteran is noticeably edgy in a restaurant, changing the seating arrangement can help them to feel more comfortable. John elaborates, “I’ve got several spouses who call me and say, ‘You know what, everything in that guide happened. We went to a restaurant and I asked for a corner table so he could actually sit in the corner and watch everything that’s going on in the room, and not only did he appreciate it, he actually opened up and started talking to me, which hadn’t been happening.’”The breakthroughs that come from the right kind of actions are much more long lasting and more deeply felt by the veteran than words. Through the Web site, Veterans and Families remains constantly connected to the “homecoming” process at all stages. “We’re getting people that are saying, 'My husband’s coming home, I’m scared to death…his emails, his voicemails, his messages, he’s changed.’” For veterans who reach “critical mass,” Parker says Vet Centers are the single best resource, of which there are 232 nationwide. Though significantly overstretched, the Vet Centers are equipped to deal specifically with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).One important tool the Vet centers use in treatment programs is getting veterans from similar conflicts into the same room together. To Parker, that method is key; “Nobody really understands a combat veteran better than another combat veteran.” Parker’s son Danny showed him this when he interacted with other veterans during Veterans and Families focus groups. “[With other veterans] he’s not my son Danny, he’s back in the role of a sergeant and a squad leader even though he’s out of the military now. He talks to these guys directly and gets right to the point, ‘You’re telling me you’re okay. How much sleep are you getting? How much are you drinking?’ Veterans have a way of communicating with each other that is a real brotherhood and sisterhood.” Parker is pragmatic and prefers that the military adopt what he calls a “mandatory decompression process.” Parker says, “If it’s important that we have an all-volunteer military in the future, we better release people back into society in a way that helps them manage and cope with what they will encounter. Veterans are reluctant to seek counseling [and] this is a real problem. Instead, Parker believes that there is value in self-help, something that is especially valuable for veterans. “When I got out of the military, an officer really changed my life and shifted my focus,” recalls Parker. “He said, ‘you’re going to get out of the military in a couple of weeks, and what’s interesting is the world is exactly the same. You’ve changed.’” On the officer’s advice Parker visited the nearest bookstore and embraced self-help names like Napoleon Hill, David Schwartz and Maxwell Maltz. Whatever civilians may think of the “personal development” phenomenon, when you’re someone who is truly looking for help, books like these can set you on the right mental path.  In his experience with Veterans and Families, the biggest lesson that Parker has learned is that veterans and their families are ultimately, and understandably, very private about “homecoming” and its aftermath. “After all the things we thought we wanted to do, the Homecoming Preparedness Guide was most relevant. If the legacy of Veterans and Families is that those in need can access the Homecoming Preparedness Guide from the privacy of their own homes, and start to understand how to make the journey back to normalcy, then that alone is a legacy that Parker can be proud of. In 2007, through Veterans and Families, Parker helped launch the Warrior Transition Project, which partners with an organization called Brain State Conditioning, using neurofeedback treatment to find an alternative form of treating the symptoms of PTSD. The Veterans and Families Web site provides a number of first-hand testimonials from veterans attesting to the success of the treatments. Parker’s ongoing drive to explore new opportunities and to find hope where there seems to be none, is embodied in the Veterans and Families organization, and shows veterans that just as they fought for us, there are people here who are willing to fight for them. As is with any non-profit organization, funding is the key to Veterans and Families’ ongoing success. With the help of Bobbi Parks, CEO of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and proud mother of an Iraq Marine Combat Veteran, Veterans and Families is currently evaluating the unmet needs of homecoming veterans and their family members to continually align their focus with current and future needs. Parker says, “[Parks] will hopefully be assuming more of a leadership role in the future with the organization. She is an incredible person, spokesperson and leader.”  And what of John’s son Danny? He’s been out of the military now for a few years and adjusting into civilian and college life while pursuing a Masters in Clinical Social Work, which will allow him to counsel other veterans. Life still is not without its ups and downs, and John, Danny and the family still take it day by day. “We talk about the future but we seem to talk more about how he’s doing right now.”To download the Homecoming Preparedness Guide, make donations, or for more information about veterans’ issues, check out veteransandfamilies.org. For more information about getting involved, be sure to pick up this month's copy of Style-Roseville Granite Bay Rocklin. Click on the "Get Your Copy" link on the bottom of this page for some of our newsstand locations. Or, to order a copy of this issue, please email Gloria Schroeder at gloria@sierrastyle.com, or call her at 916-988-9888 x116.

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