Healthy Concepts

Conventional wisdom suggests buying a home makes more financial sense than renting. In many cases, this is true. However, renting is sometimes a smarter approach than buying.

As with any financial decision, all of the options and circumstances need to be weighed before jumping in. Making a major purchase requires doing your homework. The following are some reasons why renting can be more beneficial than buying.

You are young. The National Association of Realtors says the typical first-time home buyer is 31-years-old. People who are younger than that and uncertain about their futures should not feel pressured into buying simply because it is presumed to be the “adult” thing to do. Renting and feeling your financial way, which can include seeing how a job pans out or where your budget lies after paying off debts, might make more financial sense than buying.

The price-to-rent ratio is too high. Buying may seem like a wise idea, but it could be causing you to spend more than necessary, particularly if you check the price-to-rent ratio and find homes in your area are not fairly priced. Figuring a P/R ratio includes finding two similar houses (or condos or apartments) where one is for sale and the other is for rent. Divide the sale price of the first place by the annual rent for the second. The end result is the P/R ratio. So if a home sells for $300,000, and there is a house around the corner renting for $1,200 a month, divide $300,000 by $14,400 (the annual cost of renting). The ratio would be 20.8. A rent ratio above 20 means the cost of home ownership will exceed the cost of renting. The higher the P/R ratio, the more sense it makes to rent instead of buy.

Home prices continue to rise. Some people find themselves being priced out of certain neighborhoods or cities. RealtyTrac recently analyzed median wage and home-price growth between 2012 and 2014, ultimately finding that, while the typical worker’s earnings increased a meager 0.3 percent during the study period, median house prices were up by 17 percent. Wages have not recovered from the Great Recession as quickly as home prices have, and some people may need to rent out of necessity.

A market shortage makes it harder to find an affordable home. The number of homes available for sale in many areas of the country has fallen below the number that realtors say is required for the market to be in balance. Therefore, even when a home becomes available, demand drives the price up to where it may not be affordable or fiscally smart to purchase. In such instances, renting may be the best option.

You don’t meet the buying criteria. Don’t buy a home based on market conditions or pressure from others. Instead, buy when you’re financially ready. This means being out of debt; having between three and six months of expenses in an emergency fund; enough cash for a 10 to 20 percent down payment on a fixed mortgage; and when your mortgage payment will be no more than 25 percent of your monthly take-home pay, according to financial expert Dave Ramsay.

Renting can be a smart move in many instances. Only when individuals are financially and emotionally ready to buy should they begin searching for their first homes. 

Source: MetroCreative Connection.

Most licorice root grows in Greece, Turkey, and Asia. Anise oil is often used instead of licorice root to flavor licorice candy.

Centuries ago, licorice root was used in Greece, China, and Egypt for stomach inflammation and upper respiratory problems. Licorice root also has been used as a sweetener.

Today, people use licorice root as a dietary supplement for digestive problems, menopausal symptoms, cough, and bacterial and viral infections. People also use it as a shampoo.

Licorice is harvested from the plants’ roots and underground stems. Licorice supplements are available as capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts.

How much do we know?

A number of studies of licorice root in people have been published, but not enough to support the use for any specific health condition.

What have we learned?

Glycyrrhizin — a compound found in licorice root — has been tested in a few clinical trials in hepatitis C patients, but there’s currently not enough evidence to determine if it’s helpful. Laboratory studies done in Japan (where an injectable glycyrrhizin compound is used in people with chronic hepatitis C who do not respond to conventional treatment) suggest that glycyrrhizin may have some effect against hepatitis C.

There’s some evidence that topical licorice extract may improve skin rash symptoms, such as redness, swelling, and itching.

A Finnish study of mothers and their young children suggested that eating a lot of actual licorice root during pregnancy may harm a child’s developing brain, leading to reasoning and behavioral issues, such as attention problems, rule-breaking, and aggression.

Studies of licorice root extracts in people for cavities, mouth ulcers, and oral yeast infections have returned mixed results.

What do we know about safety?

In large amounts and with long-term use, licorice root can cause high blood pressure and low potassium levels, which could lead to heart and muscle problems. Some side effects are thought to be due to a chemical called glycyrrhizic acid. Licorice that has had this chemical removed (called DGL for deglycyrrhizinated licorice) may not have the same degree of side effects.

Taking licorice root containing glycyrrhizinic acid with medications that reduce potassium levels such as diuretics might be bad for your heart.

Pregnant women should avoid using licorice root as a supplement or consuming large amounts of it as food.

Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

Source: Herbs at a Glance.


1 head cauliflower

1 egg white

1/4 cup shredded skim mozzarella



Olive oil


  1. Boil cauliflower until soft, process/mash until it becomes rice-like. Squeeze liquid out.
  2. Add salt, pepper, egg white.
  3. Add shredded mozzarella.
  4. On a baking sheet, spread olive oil to coat pan.
  5. Mold cauliflower mixture into bread shape.
  6. Bake in oven for 15 minutes at 450 degrees until golden brown.
  7. Heat non-stick skillet, pan fry slices.
  8. Add cheese in between. Grill! Enjoy! 

If you ordered honey bees for this season, April is typically the month they are delivered here in Wisconsin. Honey bees can be ordered two very different ways: packages or nucleus colonies (NUCs). What’s the difference, you ask? Let me explain…

Packaged bees or packages are simply a weighted amount of worker bees, typically 2 or 3 pounds along with a queen in a queen cage. These bees are placed in a screen box with the queen cage hanging in the box. You might ask why the queen is in a box, separate from the worker bees. Since the worker bees associate themselves to the pheromone scent of the queen, when they are packaged they are packaged with a new queen. This poses a threat to the worker bees as they think the new queen is trying to kill their queen. The cage is to protect the newly installed queen in the package until her pheromone scent is associated with the workers. This usually occurs within 3 days. A 3-pound package is approximately 8,000 worker bees plus the queen. There are no frames, comb or brood with a package. Installation is unique in the fact that you have to pour or knock out the worker bees from the screen box they come in, into your hive. You must also release the queen, which if not careful, she can fly away. We hope the queen will be a good layer, but she has yet to prove herself. She should be a newly mated queen.

NUC is an acronym for nucleus. What is a NUC? Wikipedia says it best, “NUCs, or nucleus colonies, are small honey bee colonies created from larger colonies. The term refers both to the smaller size box and the colony of honeybees within it. The name is derived from the fact that a NUC hive is centered on a queen, the nucleus of the honey bee colony.” Typically, this would be the preferred method for new beekeepers to start a colony. The queen is already a proven layer as evidence of the brood within the frames of the NUC. Installation is simple by taking the frames from the NUC box and placing them in your hive. The queen and the worker bees are associated with each other. The colony is already a work in progress. The NUC will contain about 3-4 pounds of bees, plus there are different stages of brood. New bees are being born all the time! Honey Bee Ware NUCs are 4-frames with drawn comb on those frames, at least two of the frames contain brood, and the other frames contain pollen and honey.

Experienced beekeepers typically purchase the packaged bees, but we have seen a trend in people moving to the NUCs. Since Wisconsin’s honey season is so short, starting with a NUC makes sense. Production is already 2 weeks to a month ahead of a package. If you’re a beekeeper and wanting the honey, you need as much production from your bees as possible. When your worker bees don’t have to build comb to start collecting pollen and nectar you will reap the benefits of honey much quicker!

Until next time, “bee” happy! 


Are you waiting for your knight in shining armor to come along, but all you keep attracting is the guy who spends more time in his underwear wiping his car down with Armor? You might just have your Venus in Pisces.

What is it you’re looking for in a relationship? What might be holding you back from finding it, or feeling satisfied once you do pluck that rainbow trout from a river of guppies? If you have such questions, understanding Venus in your natal chart can be extremely illuminating. Much like the goddess she is named after, Venus’ placement shows what you love and how you love — what will keep you happy in a relationship and what you have to give to the other person.

Your talents, skills and abilities can be seen through your Venus. She embodies that special spark that only you can manifest in this world and the one who gives you your sense of self-worth. As such the planet also deals with money and your capacity to earn it. And when you think about it that makes some sense: the more you believe in your abilities, the more confidence you have, the better the world treats you and the more money you can make.

You know that person who is beloved by everyone for reasons that leave you scratching your head? They likely have strong Venus in their natal chart. This power can be used for good, to get someone to open up about a traumatic event, for example, or it can be used to sell you…well…just about anything you don’t really want or need.

In a woman’s chart Venus reflects how feminine and beautiful she feels. This is more of an inward manifestation of beauty, since to see outward beauty we would look at the Ascendent. Is her idea of lingerie more in line with something out of a survivalist magazine than Victoria’s Secret? She feels beautiful in that camo backpack with her Venus in Capricorn, the sign of planning and preparedness.

In a man’s chart Venus shows the kind of woman he will be attracted to. Is Venus in Cancer in the 4th House? He’ll be looking for a homebody and someone to take care of him. Or is Venus in Gemini in the 8th House? Then he will be inclined to like a bit of intensity and drama in his women but also some intellectual stimulation and good conversation.

As with everything in astrology it’s also all about the aspects. So a woman with Venus in Gemini may be prone to infidelity in a relationship, for example, but if Saturn — planet of commitment and longevity — is giving Venus the eye then this tendency can be curbed.

Understanding your Venus can help you to pinpoint what you need, and what you need to avoid, to be happy in your relationships. There are so many complex things going on in your natal chart that sometimes the desires of Venus, your desires, are put on the back burner. So I’m here writing to you about her, even though I am extremely Mars heavy, because no one puts Baby in a corner.

Find out where your Venus is placed in your birth chart by going to my website ( and putting in your birth time, date and location in the calculator on the main page. Look for the Venus symbol and click on it to learn more about your placement. It won’t show you all your aspects but it is a good place to start.

If you would like to learn more about the specifics of your Venus I am hosting a 2-hour class on April 15 from 2-4 p.m. at my office in Menasha. To sign up, please contact me at the email below. Let’s explore this beautiful, volatile twin of Earth together.

If you are suffering from hearing loss, you’re not alone. While an estimated 36 million American adults experience some degree of hearing loss, those closest to you ­— your immediate family — are affected even if they don’t share your hearing impairment. Your spouse, in particular, may have a difficult time dealing with your hearing loss.

Many spouses complain of a lack of communication. They resent having to repeat themselves and adopt strategies such as positioning themselves in front of their husband or wife when speaking, encouraging lip reading and relying on handwritten notes. The biggest effect is on everyday activities, mainly television and telephone use. Spouses must deal with increased volume when the TV is on, making it uncomfortable for them to watch television in the same room. They also tend to be the ones to answer and make all telephone calls. There is also a reduction in social activities, with the hearing impaired partner more likely to want to stay at home rather than venture out and be put in a potentially uncomfortable situation.

Naturally, these factors can lead to resentment and put a strain on the marriage. Increased tension often leads to a lack of intimacy, causing serious damage to the relationship. However, a study conducted by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) supplies overwhelming data about how much of a difference hearing devices can make for the hearing impaired, especially where relationships are concerned.

Of 2,000 hearing loss patients surveyed by the BHI, 70 percent reported improved communication abilities when they started wearing hearing devices. The study also concluded up to one-third of patients saw improvements in their romance, sense of humor, mental, emotional and physical health. These results demonstrate a clear potential solution to many of the communication barriers that patients with hearing loss suffer from.

If you are hearing impaired and married, there are steps you can take to improve your relationship with your spouse and ease his or her burden. If you own hearing devices, use them — and if you don’t, speak with your audiologist to see if they will help. There is a direct correlation between hearing device use and relationship satisfaction. Of equal importance: accept your condition rather than wallow in self-pity or despair. Nobody wants to have difficulty hearing, but dealing with it in a positive manner can go a long way toward maintaining a solid marriage. When you accept your impairment, your spouse is more willing to help and it’s easier for both of you to adapt to the situation.

Remember the days of heading to the pool on hot summer days? Nothing beat jumping and splashing around with friends to stay cool. While our thoughts on going to the pool may not mean exactly the same as we get older, that doesn’t mean it’s off limits. Heading to the pool can be a great way to help maintain your overall health and wellness. Splashing optional!

Aquatic exercise

Hitting the waves for some exercise is a great way to stay in shape, while being gentle on your joints. Aquatic exercise — especially in warm water — helps to increase circulation, improves flexibility and endurance, and helps to build core strength and cardiovascular endurance. Not to mention it’s a great calorie burner! In addition, aquatic exercise can also help slow down muscle loss many adults experience as they age.

Getting in the pool can also be of benefit to those dealing with chronic pain or recovering from injury or surgery. The buoyancy of the water decreases joint compression making it easier, while still providing resistance, to complete exercises. Finding classes that include a variety of exercises that tackle range of motion, flexibility and endurance will give you the best outcome.

Making a connection

One hidden but important benefit of aquatic exercise is the connection you make with others in and out of the pool. Look for classes or a program that is non-competitive, provides opportunities to be more social and offers a fun atmosphere. This will make you more likely to head to class each week. Let’s face it, if you aren’t excited about the class, you won’t want to go. Connecting with others in the pool can also help build confidence to participate in activities and be more social with friends on land as well!

How to get started

Do you just want to dip a toe in and see how it feels? Many sites will offer a trial or discounted pass for you to test the waters and see how you match up with aquatic exercise. Check their website and see if any of the classes offered fit your needs. Look for a facility that has a lifeguard on duty, is well-maintained and has certified instructors.

Before you start an exercise program, be sure that your physician is on board with a warm water exercise program. Your doctor might be able to make suggestions on what types of exercises to look for. When you are exercising, be sure to stay hydrated. Being in the pool provides great resistance training and can get your heart rate going fast, so listen to your body and know your limits. If you are taking a class, talk to the instructor ahead of time about any concerns or limitations with certain movements. They should be able to give you modifications so you can still participate.

Use these tools to find out what types of aquatic exercise programs are offered in your area and if they can meet your needs. Once you find one, dive on in — you’ll be splashing like a kid again in no time! 


Now that we have all survived another winter it’s time to do some spring cleaning of your skin care routine. Your skin has taken a beating over the last few months. Now is the time to transition it into spring and prepare it for summer. Follow these steps and your skin will thank you.

Clean out that makeup bag

You may or may not know this, but makeup does expire. Expired products harbor bacteria, and no one wants to apply bacteria to their face, right? So grab that makeup bag and ask yourself a few questions. First, ask yourself how long has this product been open? If you can’t remember when you bought it, it’s time to toss it. Chances are it is beyond expiration. Second, ask yourself if you really use it. I think we all have a product in our bag that we thought we would try out, but never did. Not only will you be ridding your bag of an item bound to expire, but you are also making more room in your bag.

Lastly, ask yourself if you plan to use the product in spring or summer. As the temperatures rise, oily skin becomes more common. Opt for a light tinted moisturizer instead of a heavy foundation. Tinted moisturizers are less likely to clog your pores. A general rule of thumb for all makeup is if you have had it for over six months, it needs to go.

Treat your skin

Now that you’ve spring cleaned your makeup bag, it’s time to clean up your face and unclog those pores. During winter, the cold and wind tends to lead to dry skin. This can cause the production of dry skin cells, which ultimately clogs your pores. One of the best ways to unclog those pores is with deep pore cleansing treatments, which include exfoliating with a gentle cleanser or deep pore mask. Your local beauty store will carry a variety of deep cleansing brands and products. You can also visit your local skin care expert to receive a customized solution to get your skin ready for springtime.

Make SPF your best friend

You have heard this before and you will hear it again: sunscreen should be at the forefront of your skin care routine. As a dermatologist, I can tell you we have heard your reasons for not wearing sunscreen. However, there is no excuse that will be more important than preventing skin cancer. Follow these sunscreen tips and before you know it applying sunscreen will become second nature.

First, keep a bottle of sunscreen in your bathroom. If it’s in sight, it will be on your mind. After your morning shower, pat dry and apply sunscreen to your entire body. From there you are starting your day on the right foot. Next, always keep a small bottle of sunscreen with you in your purse or in your vehicle. This will ensure that it’ll always be there when it is time to reapply. Lastly, your lips need protection too. Buy a chapstick that contains at least SPF 30 and apply regularly when you are outdoors. Believe me, you don’t want to experience a case of sunburned lips.

Just like the seasons change, your skin care routine always requires a slight change from season to season. Following the three categories above is the key to not only a successful spring skin care routine, but also to having beautiful, healthy skin just in time for summer. 

Dogs have been known for decades as man’s best friends. The four-footed pals seem to have a sixth sense when people feel pain, loneliness or depression. Many stories have been told about pets having positive effects on those healing from cancer.

One such story is the basis for the Paws Parade of Hope, a fundraiser celebrating 11 years April 23 at Riverside Ballroom in Green Bay. Started by Susan Gee and Linda Fairchild, her childhood friend and cancer survivor, the doggy fashion show event has raised about $230,000 during its ten-year history. The two hope to raise another $20,000 this year.

Why a doggy fashion show? Because Gee’s yorkie, Gidget, helped Fairchild heal physically and emotionally when she struggled with cancer. Today, Fairchild celebrates 16 years cancer free and has said, “Gidget touched a spot that humans couldn’t touch. She loved me unconditionally and her response aided in my healing.”

Gee lost a brother to colon cancer at the age of 22. “You can let your challenges and trials through life harden you and cause you to be bitter,” she said, “or you can try to turn it around and do something good. My parents did that by working with the American Cancer Society. I took a lot of inspiration from them.”

Gee and Fairchild held the first Paws Parade of Hope in 2007, and it’s grown every year since. This year 16 dogs of various breeds and sizes will strut down the runway in costumes ranging from beautiful, to charming, to hilarious. Add to the fashion show raffles, silent and live auctions, and a delicious buffet lunch, and you have a Sunday afternoon to enjoy — while helping a good cause.

All proceeds of the Paws Parade of Hope Fund go to Community Benefit Tree, Inc. (CBT), a 501(c)3 nonprofit founded to help those suffering from a serious illness. CBT assists with emotional and spiritual needs too, but much of their support takes the form of financial aid to cover medical and living expenses.

Paws Parade of Hope was set up as a community fund administered by CBT to assist cancer victims in their fight for recovery. Denise Diedrich, whose aunt struggled with melanoma, said, “The Paws Parade of Hope Fund helped her offset medical bills and buy prescriptions. The fund took a lot of pressure off her and her family.”

People don’t seem surprised that small dogs like dressing up, but Gee said, “We have pet models who are small, medium and large this year. Two goldendoodles, a mastiff-great dane mix, and a chocolate lab will be participating.”

She leaves costume ideas up to pet owners’ creativity, but encourages them to visit the Paws Parade of Hope page on Facebook to look at photo albums of past events. “For larger dogs, people sometimes adapt human clothes to the dogs,” Gee said. “The one thing I stipulate is, ‘Please do not put your pet in if they are not sociable and do not like being dressed.’ I want the dogs to enjoy it as much as the people watching.”

Gee is happy that she and Fairchild got involved with Community Benefit Tree. “CBT monitors the fund for us,” Gee said. “I like the way they do it. You bring in a bill and get paid, or they give gift cards for gas or food. It’s not like they’re giving cash. It’s paid on a needs basis.”

For details about the Paws Parade of Hope, visit, click on What You Can Do and then on Attend and Support Events. Paws Parade of Hope is at the top of the list, and clicking on Event Details will get you all the information you need to enjoy a Sunday afternoon while donating to a worthwhile cause. 

Vitamin K and especially vitamin K2 are now understood to be one of the most important nutrients for bone health. What is also emerging is that same vitamin K2 is beneficial for arterial/cardiovascular health. Vitamin K2 helps keep bones strong and arteries soft.

Important notice: Vitamin K is not recommended for anyone who is using anti-coagulant drugs without consulting your doctor. This is one of the more sensitive challenges in the area of nutrient/drug interactions. It is critical that consumers become well-informed on both their medical treatment and the nutritional adjuncts. It is especially important to understand how targeted nutrition is critical for better health. While your medications may help manage your disease, medications provide no nutritional benefit and in fact may come at the cost of nutrient depletions. It is the nutrients that you consume through food and supplementation that provide the building blocks of repair and maintenance for all cells and tissues. Keep this in mind as you develop your nutritional program for any health challenge.

Forms of vitamin K

  • Vitamin K1: 90 percent of vitamin K in the diet is K1. Also known as phylloquinine and is found in plant foods such as spinach, lettuce and broccoli.
  • Vitamin K2 as MK-4 (menatetrenone): this is the form of vitamin K that is found in animal foods such as meat and dairy.
  • Vitamin K2 as MK-7 (megaquinone-7): this is the form of vitamin K that is found in fermented foods such as natto and fermented cheeses.

Benefits of vitamin K2

  • Supports healthy cardiovascular system function
  • Promotes healthy blood flow by maintaining vascular elasticity
  • Helps build and maintain strong bones
  • Promotes healthy bone and teeth calcification
  • May improve inflammation status

It is the dual benefit of more calcium in the bones and less calcium in the arteries that makes vitamin K2 so important. This is especially true for women who are at duel risk for bone loss and cardiovascular events.


A lack of an active vitamin K-dependent protein may increase the risk of arterial calcification and stiffness, say two new studies that support the potential heart health benefits of vitamin K.

One study published in the American Journal of Hypertension looked at data from 66 diabetics (type 2) found that vitamin K deficiencies were correlated with artery stiffness.

According to a new “ground-breaking” study sponsored by NattoPharma, supplements containing vitamin K2 may reduce bone loss and improve bone impact strength in postmenopausal women. A daily dose of 180 micrograms of the company’s MenaQ7-branded vitamin K2 for three years produced significant improvements in bone mineral content, bone strength and bone mineral density in post-menopausal women, according to findings published in Osteoporosis International.

If you want to research the science of vitamin K, go to PubMed, our government’s science studies clearing house. There are over 21,000 studies on vitamin K at PubMed. There you can review the extensive body of scientific research that reveals the importance and benefits of vitamin K, and especially vitamin K2. There are even 229 studies on vitamin K and its possible role as an anti-inflammatory. Don’t let anyone tell you supplements are not scientifically studied.

It is interesting that as our body of science and knowledge continues to grow, we see an ever broadening of the articulated benefits of nutrition. Why is it that so many nutrients seem to have far reaching effects in the human body and can be helpful for so many things? The simple answer is that the human body has developed over the ages and our bodies have always been built and maintained through the nutrition in our world. It is the magic of life that nutrients become part of living tissue. It is the body that does the work. Supply the body with the right nutrients and building, maintenance and repair can occur. The body uses different nutrients in many different ways and benefits can often be seen throughout the body.

Vitamin K2 is a good example. This one nutrient shows benefits in bone, arteries and may reduce inflammation. Many if not most nutrients are useful, necessary and needed in multiple ways that contribute to health. Drugs do not nourish the body. One important point that is made by many of the experts that I interview is that it is never too late to start and you are never too old to benefit from better nutrition.

If you want to learn more, listen to my interviews on vitamin K at


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