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Enjoy our Arts & Thoughts creative writing: POEMS AND A READING by Robert Frost WIT & WISDOM of Mark Twain RANDOM MUSINGS from Gerry Mandel A ROAD TRIP with John Drake Robinson


Can You Be Healthier than Healthy?

What You Need to Know: To improve and enhance your home and landscape For more resources, visit us online CountyLivingMag.com

Experts to help you get fit and stay healthy

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8 RANDOM MUSINGS from Gerry Mandel 28 POEMS and A READING by Robert Frost 32 WIT AND WISDOM of Mark Twain 34 ON THE ROAD with John Robinson


10 What Is Keeping You from Reaching Your Weight and Fitness Goals? 12 Can You Be Healthier than Healthy? 16 Hypnosis Can Be Your Key to Change



18 The Advantages of Design/Build Construction for Remodeling 20 Shower Yourself with Remodeling Savings this Year 22 Custom Closet and Home Office Solutions 24 Custom Bathroom Remodeling Doesn’t Have to be a Mess or Cost a Fortune 25 The Basement Egress Window 29 Stone and Tile Floors Looking Dull? Ugly Grout?



30 Spring Activities & Events Calendar


36 Keeping Great Rooms Comfortable 38 Discovering the Pleasure and Beauty of Professional Landscape Lighting 39 Save Money by Renewing Your Outdoor Furniture 40 Keeping Wooden Roofs Beautiful 41 The Professional Approach to a Truly Beautiful Landscape 42 Enjoy A Natural Water Feature in Your Own Yard 44 Does Your Home Have Damage from Wind or Hail? 46 Do You Have Uneven Concrete Surfaces?


48 How to Lower Your Property Taxes 49 The History of St. Louis County, Missouri 50 Care and Counseling – A Unique Resource 51 Help for Trustees and Condo Boards for Their Communities WINTER/EARLY SPRING 2016 | COUNTY LIVING magazine | 5

34 42

Publsher’s Message

Resources & Expertise for Home, Health & Enjoyment




That’s what we offer in these pages. And those categories aren’t mutually exclusive. Enjoy the warmth of radiant heated bathrooms, or the convenience of controlling your home’s temperature from your smart phone. Enjoy a new pool, or beautiful new finishes for your existing pool. Enjoy a new roof, beautiful plantings and landscaping. Enjoy the benefits of being “Healthier than Healthy” as described in our feature article on page 12, and the benefits of improved fitness from personal trainer Bret Kliethermes and hypnotherapist Joan Krueger. And, right in these pages enjoy the writers on our Arts & Thoughts pages. Our ongoing columns Random Musings from Gerry Mandel and On the Road with John Drake Robinson, as well as some old favorites: two poems by Robert Frost, including a link to a reading by the poet himself, and brief bits of wit and wisdom from Mark Twain. We invite local writers to submit their own short-form pieces for consideration in future issues. Let us know what you would like to enjoy in these pages and on our website CountyLivingMag.com. Todd Abrams

on the cover

This stately home in St. Albans has an elegant new Classic Inspire® Composite Slate roofing system in Coachman Blend color. Inspire provides the natural look and texture of quarried slate, but with the benefits of low maintenance, greater durability and affordability. The new roof was installed by Aspen Touch LLC, the expert team with more than 26 years of experience caring for, repairing, replacing and installing new roofs of cedar shake, slate, asphalt, as well as natural wood siding. You can call them for a free estimate at 636-458-8878, and learn more about them in articles on page 41 and 46. 6 | COUNTY LIVING magazine | WWW.COUNTYLIVINGMAG.COM

staff PUBLISHER/EDITOR Todd Abrams Creative Director Fran Sherman PRINTING ADVISOR Creative Printing Services DISTRIBUTION DATABASE Target Marketing Technologies PRODUCTION Sherman Studios FOR INFORMATION REGARDING ADVERTISING CALL County Living Publications 314-432-1171 phone 314-569-3380 fax P.O. Box 411036 St. Louis, MO 63141 www.CountyLivingMag.com County Living Magazine is published quarterly by County Living Publications and distributed to select homeowners in the St. Louis area. Articles are selected to provide useful information about home, lifestyle, health, travel and recreation. Opinions expressed in articles and editorials are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of County Living Publications. While every effort is made to assure accuracy, we are not responsible for how information found in County Living Magazine is used. We are very interested in reader comments or suggestions. Correspondence should be sent to the address above or to editor@CountyLivingMag.com.

Reproduction of content of this magazine without permission is prohibited. All submitted materials, including images, logos and text for advertising, articles and editorials are assumed to be the property of the contributor, and County Living Publications does not take responsibility for unintentional copyright infringement. County Living Publications has the right to refuse advertising and content not deemed appropriate for this publication. Circulation is verified by U.S. Postal receipts.

Arts & Thoughts



Eye Contact in The Age of Distraction


he ancient Roman poet Ovid listed Four Ages of Man: Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Iron. From where I sit, it looks like we are now living in the Age of Distraction. We have available to us an endless array of devices that feed us information, entertainment, and the only means of keeping in touch with our kids.

No, I’m not going to bore you with my views on social media. Even though much of it isn’t social. What’s on my mind today is Conversation. The old-fashioned kind, face-to-face, eye-to-eye. With no distractions. Here’s what brought this to mind. Recently my wife and I had Sunday brunch with another couple at a local restaurant. I emphasize “restaurant” because it was not a “sports bar.” However, this restaurant was festooned with TV screens. On the walls, hanging from the ceiling. The other couple are good, long-time friends. They’re trying to sell their house after 35 years accumulation of stuff. (He has over a thousand movies on videotape, which he wants to keep.) She, on the other hand, is not a pack-rat. So there was much to discuss and resolve. As we sat there, I found my eyes drifting over to one of the many HiDef monitors. A football game was on. I didn’t know who was playing. I really didn’t care. But there were large, helmeted men in colorful outfits knocking each other to the ground and stomping on them. How can you not watch that? I bounced in and out of the conversation. I struggled to maintain eye contact. My attention kept shifting back to one of the screens, hoping to catch a long pass or a remarkable run or even the cheerleaders cheering. Before I knew it, brunch was over, and we never did resolve what to do with his videotapes. There must be a new category of Interior Designer for restaurants. Call it Strategic Screen Placement Director. First prerequisite: Put a screen in every line of sight. So wherever the customer sits, they can still catch all the action. The “Post-Installation” phase of this service is also critical. Selecting which screens carry baseball, hockey, figure skating, the Final Four, the Triple Crown, the Masters, Wimbledon. And how about that delightful sport called Extreme Boxing? The “no rules” version,

where guys use their feet, their fists, their heads, even their teeth and bad breath as weapons of pain. It reminds me of the “Mad Max” movies. I understand the concept of a Sports Bar. You need lots of screens for that. But why does a restaurant think we need continuous entertainment? My favorite Chinese restaurant installed a really huge screen last year. It rivals the Galaxy IMAX. You can see it from everywhere, even the parking lot. What little atmosphere they had is gone. As I enjoy my egg foo young or curry shrimp, I find myself hanging on “the next play,” hoping they sink the putt or slash a single to right. You’d think they could at least show scenes of a Yangtze River Cruise, a hike along The Great Wall, even Ching-He Huang on the Cooking Channel. I miss the fine art of uninterrupted conversation, of minimum distraction from the food and your partner. If not a lost art, then one that is quickly disappearing. Of course I’m talking about most mid-level and below restaurants, the kind I usually patronize. Your upscale joints may have one screen in the bar. Probably not, if they’re really upscale (aka expensive). The only distraction may be the bill. Next time you go out, take a test. No pencil or paper required. Simply focus on the menu, the waiter, the food, the beverage of choice, and - most importantly the person seated across from you. You can do it, but it won’t be easy. Especially if the bases are loaded in the bottom of the ninth. Gerry Mandel is a free-lance writer and video/biography producer. He also writes two blogs, which he invites you to enjoy. HeyYouHoser.blogspot.com, and TimeWithCharlieChaplin.blogspot.com. Your comments are welcome. clm



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Health & Fitness

What Is Keeping You from Reaching Your Weight Loss and Fitness Goals? BY BRET KLIETHERMES

The three solutions to helping you achieve your health and weight loss goals.


et’s face it: most of us would like to improve some part of our health and fitness, with weight loss usually being at the top of the list. We have been conditioned to believe that a pill, fad diet or a special machine will solve all of our weight loss problems in no time flat. You and I both know it’s simply not that easy. If you’re looking for a “real” way to reach and maintain the goals you want then follow these three solutions: 1. Incorporate a complete exercise and nutrition program and commit to it. Eat 4 to 6 small healthy meals per day and perform a combination of aerobic and resistance training exercise for 40 to 60 minutes 3-6 times a week. Take out your calendar right now and mark off these days each week for the next 12 weeks for when you will commit to your training. Then do it!. 2. Get a professional to help you. A coach is an experienced and trusted counselor who shares their knowledge and experience to help streamline the process to reaching your goals. It’s inevitable that you will come up against hard times, uncertainties and questions on your path to losing weight and getting fit. A coach will guide, motivate, educate and support you with everything that goes into a complete exercise and nutrition program. 3. The BIGGEST solution: Accountability. In a recent study at Virginia Polytechnic University, researchers started a walking program with two groups. Every week, individuals in Group 1 got a phone call asking how their exercise program was coming along. Group 2 got no calls. At the end of 24 weeks, 45% of the individuals from the first group were still walking compared to just 2% of the second group. The results

show that weekly accountability increases the likelihood of sticking to your exercise program by 2200%! I have discovered that the ultimate secret to getting the results you want is finding a coach who understands you and provides you with an effective weight loss and exercise program, guidance, motivation, support… but most of all, a coach who holds you ACCOUNTABLE! I’ve proven it over and over again. On this page are two of my clients who have had great success. Bret Kliethermes is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist with a Bachelors of Science in Health & Wellness Promotion from Missouri State University. He provides complete fitness programs to help his clients reach their personal health and fitness goals. Bret offers both private and semi private training to fit all budgets and schedules. For a no obligation, no pressure consultation to discuss your goals and programs you can call Bret at 314-691-9040, email bret@stronghumanfitness.com, or visit www.stronghumanfitness.com. Bret works with his clients at The Fitness Partner Inc., a boutique gym located in the Corporate Plaza Building at 14528 South Outer 40 Road, Chesterfield 63017. For 22 years the Fitness Partner has offered its members a more private alternative to the large box gyms that are often noisy and overcrowded. Owner/operator Randy Stone has more than 25 years of personal training experience, knows all members by name, and can be found in the gym 6 days a week. The Fitness Partner is also a proud supporter of the Joshua Chamberlain Society, a grassroots 501c3 that provides long term support to severely wounded veterans and their families from the greater Saint Louis area. clm



Health & Fitness

Can you be

“Healthier than Healthy?”


or most of modern history, good health was thought of as simply the absence of illness or injury. This was the way both the general public and health professionals have usually defined someone as “healthy.” As modern medical research and practices have advanced, and greater understanding has emerged of the causes of illness and injuries, there has been a real revolution in the definition of good health to apply to a wide variety of measures, and also in the ways that we live our daily lives.

BRET KLIETHERMES is a Certified Personal Trainer with a degree in Health & Wellness Promotion from Missouri State who provides complete programs to help his clients reach their personal health and fitness goals.

JOAN KRUEGER is a hypnotherapist in private practice with an office in Kirkwood. Many individuals have achieved their personal and professional goals through guidance they have received in her hypnosis sessions.

CLM: How do you define “healthy?” BRET: It is the ability to physically do the things you want to do, and not be restricted by physical limitations that prevent exertion, such as bad knees, a bad back or carrying around weight that keeps you from doing things without getting fatigued. JOAN: It’s not just about the absence of illness or symptoms, but being able to fend off things that make us sick physically, mentally and emotionally. ANGELA: Health is multi-faceted. It involves physical energy, spiritual and

More often now being “healthy” is defined as enjoying a state of fitness and also daily habits and practices that can actually prevent a wide variety of illnesses and injuries. The understanding is now broadly shared that lifestyle practices including diet, exercise, reducing stress and protecting ourselves can have a meaningful impact on longevity and quality of life. To help you understand specifically how to achieve this preventative level of healthfulness, we interviewed four experts who deal with these issues every day.

DR. BRYAN EMERSON, D.C. has been trained in a variety of chiropractic techniques. His overall aim is to help each patient achieve wellness through chiropractic treatments, nutritional advice and rehabilitative exercises.

emotional feelings and even financial well-being, to be able to live a fulfilling life where nothing holds you back. CLM: Can a person take steps to prevent illness and injury? How does what you do with your clients help achieve those goals? BRET: A higher level of physical fitness can prevent or lessen issues such as cardio vascular disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Genetics certainly are a factor, but being physically fit helps reduce the risks associated with these conditions, and the amount of medication needed to treat them.


ANGELA THOMAS is a Health and Wellness Consultant and Independent Distributor of Shaklee nutrition and cleaning products in a business of her own.

For both athletes and non-athletes, increasing strength through resistance training, conditioning through cardiovascular exercise, and mobility through flexibility training enables them to increase durability and resilience, reducing the chance of injury in the things they do every day. JOAN: My clients come to see me when something is wrong. They want to be free of unhealthy states, such as smoking or being overweight. Because we are working with the mind, I enable people to change perception about the substance or behavior. When a person

continued on pg 14


Health & Fitness continued from pg 14

perceives food, cigarettes, alcohol or the stressful situations in a different way, we can then get their mind to create a healthier, more positive way to deal with it.

successful. A fitness trainer can be very helpful for showing you how to exercise properly to get the most benefit from it, and how to prevent injury. The key to sticking with a program is seeing the positive results, and varying your activity to keep it interesting. Complement your training with activities you enjoy. What is really motivating is seeing improvement not only in changes in weight, percent body fat and body measurements, but in how much better you feel.

BRYAN: A lot of my patients are “wellness” patients who not only want to prevent illness, but to achieve a robust sense of well-being, which means feeling better, with less tension in their muscles and a properly functioning nervous system. Spine adjustments can take tension off the nervous system for better communication between the brain and peripheral nerves in the rest of the body. ANGELA: Our bodies are made to be able to heal themselves, if given the right tools. The first thing is to ask each client what his or her goal is. It can be a specific issue such as relieving allergies or losing weight. Then we ask about their diet, energy level, stress, medications they are taking and how much sleep they are getting. Based on their responses, we drill down to achieve the specific goals. CLM: Can you share some examples of results you have seen in improved health among your clients? BRET: One client was overweight, on blood pressure and cholesterol medication. After 12 weeks on a fitness and diet program, he lost weight, increased blood circulation and release of hormones that not only made him feel better, but also enabled him to cut back on medications. JOAN: My clients come to the realization of better health through better habits and behaviors. Every person who has achieved success after our session has not only achieved a better physical state, but the psychological and emotional benefit of freedom from what they couldn’t control before. Mind and body need to be in balance to be truly healthy. If a person is depressed or not in a state of balance mentally and emotionally, they are still not healthy, and it can affect them physically. BRYAN: As one example, patients who come with a chronically tight back

often have complications or further injuries as they compensate for the reduced mobility and range of motion. Relieving this through adjustments reduces pain and also can prevent further injuries as they are able to function better in activities of daily living. Physical issues can also cause mental stress. Reducing stress in their body, they become a better version of themselves. That’s why a holistic approach, which includes listening to patients and addressing their nutrition deficiencies as well as physical issues can help them achieve reduced stress. ANGELA: Clients of mine who had issues with reduced energy during the day were drinking a lot of coffee and eating excessive carbohydrates, causing their blood sugar to spike up and down, and also making them feel hungry. We helped adjust their diet to include more protein, fruits and vegetables and also introduced our Shaklee protein shakes that enabled them to more gradually build and reduce blood sugar levels. CLM: What are the keys to getting people started on a program that can lead to improved wellness, and to helping them stick with it? BRET: It is very challenging to have the discipline to get started on a physical fitness program on your own. You really have to keep it simple to be


JOAN: For my clients, there first has to be realization that there is a problem and the willingness to change – being open to an alternative to the problematic behavior. When they experience the power of their own mind in our session, it becomes much easier to establish a new, healthier habit. As people see the results and feel in control, that new habit or behavior can continue to reinforce itself. BRYAN: They have to make an initial appointment to figure out what their health issues are – physical, chemical and mental. It’s important to figure out where they are and what their goals are. Sticking with a program starts with the patient being educated on why we choose the course of treatments that are indicated, and monitoring results. Often these are not quantified, but most important is how they feel, such as reduced pain and increased range of motion. It’s all about creating a better you – and knowing that you don’t have to just accept chronic pain, or limitations you may have thought were just part of getting older. ANGELA: I agree – one of my goals is to educate my clients to make healthier eating and nutrition choices that will make them more empowered to make decisions that can help make them a healthier person. It is important for them to realize that health is a journey. It’s not just making abrupt changes, but taking one step at a time along a path toward improved health. It is helpful to have someone to help you along that path, not only to make the right choices, but to build reasonable expectations. clm



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Health & Fitness

Hypnosis Can Be Your Key to Change would like to take the mystery out of hypnosis as an effective therapy for enabling behavior change, by explaining how it works. Your conscious mind contains your active thoughts, and the subconscious mind contains information that you act on. The unconscious is like a big filing cabinet that holds a record of everything BY JOAN KRUEGER, you’ve ever experienced. CERTIFIED HYPNOTHERAPIST All your habits, behaviors, responses, reactions, memories and emotions are stored there, as though there is a file for each. Hypnosis is the process of communicating with the subconscious mind. Before a hypnosis session, your therapist should ask specifically what behavior you would like to change. This identifies the file that you are currently working from. Hypnosis gets the subconscious part of your mind to open up so that a new file can be added about how you want to function. For instance, if you want to be a non-smoker, change your eating habits, or be more confident. After the session, your mind has new information to begin to work from instead of working from the old information. With hypnosis you can’t make someone do something they don’t want to do. For hypnosis to work, the subject must willingly accept the change, because the conscious mind is still very aware of what is going on. At all times, the subject has complete power of selectivity, reacting only to suggestions that are reasonable and pleasing to them.


Joan Krueger has a private practice with an office in Kirkwood. Many individuals have achieved their goals, both personally and professionally, through guidance they have received in her hypnosis sessions. About 80% of people who Joan hypnotizes to stop smoking will quit after just one session. You can contact Joan to discuss how hypnosis could help you achieve positive change in your own life by calling her at (314) 962-7558, or visiting her Web site at www.jfkhypnosis.com. clm 16 | COUNTY LIVING magazine | WWW.COUNTYLIVINGMAG.COM



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Home Remodeling



Design/Build Construction Is a More Satisfying Approach to Home Remodeling

f you have been thinking about remodeling your home, but have concerns about time, money and sanity that are holding you back, you may change your mind when you understand the advantages of the design/build approach to home remodeling. This is an integrated process. Five important facets are combined to achieve a successful project: innovative design, material selections, constructive coordination, budget considerations and experienced craftsmanship. More and more homeowners have found that design/ build streamlines the remodeling project and empowers them in the process. With the design/build approach, design and construction services are contracted by a single company in which there is one point of contact overseeing the entire remodeling process. Rather than having to find and deal with a designer, engineer, architect and contractor separately, a design/build firm manages the entire process and is responsible for bringing all components into play and unifying a team. This reduces the stress on the homeowner. The design/build approach puts the burden of performance on one company, minimizes the risks, reduces costs and synchronizes the schedule by coordinating design and construction. The process begins with a meeting between the design/ build contractor and the homeowner to discuss what they want to accomplish and their budget parameters. Then an Existing Conditions Report is developed which includes measurements, photographs, structural elements and mechanical systems of the home. Based on this report and the goals established, a general budget range is determined and a Design Agreement is signed. The next step is to develop conceptual floor plans and elevations using ‘real time’ design. This computer based

collaborative process makes it possible for the architect, designer and builder to meet with the homeowner to show realistic color renderings of how the remodeled space will look and blend into the rest of the home, before the investment is made in detailed drawings and plans. Three-dimensional visuals are shown on a computer screen that illustrates room layouts, surface materials, location of built-in elements and furniture pieces in the remodeled space. Real time design is a participatory process for the homeowner, making it easy for them to compare options and allowing for changes to be made right on the spot. It also enables discussion of budget implications for changes that are considered. With agreement on conceptual drawings, work is then begun on detailed plans for the project. Once the design phase is completed, but before construction begins, the client is given a construction package that includes project specifications, material selections, cabinetry drawings, on-site mechanical specifications, budget controls and trade-contractor coordination with a guaranteed cost of construction. Construction begins, and the end result is a homeowner’s dream living space! Steve Scheipeter is owner and principal at S.W. Scheipeter Construction, one of the most reputable design/build firms in St. Louis. They specialize in kitchen, bathroom and basement remodeling as well as additions and outdoor living spaces. They have won numerous awards for professionalism, craftsmanship and service including the 2012 Chrysalis award for the best whole house remodel. Steve Scheipeter has attained the Certified Graduate Remodeler certification and the Certified Aging in Place Specialist certification. You can view their work by visiting www.scheipeter.com or follow them on Facebook or Twitter or call 314-962-7073 to discuss your next home remodeling project. clm


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Home Remodeling

Shower Yourself with Remodeling Savings this Year Now is a great time to tackle those needed home improvement projects


f your tile shower “Our customers AFTER BEFORE is dated, some love the look and they of the grout is love the money they missing, the pan save over replacement is leaking, or your even more.” fiberglass unit is Most customers are faded or cracked, opting for the Natuyou don’t necesral Accents™ stone sarily have to tear finishes for their tile it out and replace and fiberglass shower the entire shower. walls. This designer There are proprietary look creates the upprocesses to repair a dated impact homeleaking shower pan owners are looking for without removing in a makeover. and replacing the As the nation’s largtile. This will save est surface refinishyou time and money ing network, Miracle and the end result Method has been will be both beautiful helping St. Louis and durable. area homeowners Loose tile grout save on remodeling can be repaired costs for over twelve BEFORE AFTER and you can also years. Whether it is a replace dated colors porcelain, fiberglass, with high-tech cultured marble, surface refinishing acrylic, Formica or instead of expensive even Corian® surface, replacement Miracle Method can or re-grouting. fix it, update it, and “Having your have it looking like tile re-grouted is a new. “It takes just a temporary soluday or two and our NATURAL ACCENTS COLOR CHOICES CAN BE SEEN AT tion,” says Terry work is guaranteed.” WWW.MIRACLEMETHOD.COM/NATURAL-ACCENTS-SAMPLES.HTM Kavanaugh, owner says Kavanaugh. of Miracle Method of St. Louis. “If grout is not To see just how good refinishing can be, you can read routinely sealed, it can deteriorate and absorb water, reviews from satisfied customers by logging on which can cause leaks and possibly black grout and www.miraclemethod.com/stlouis. mold.” The process Kavanaugh recommends permaThe Natural Accents™ stone finish color choices can be seen nently seals grout, eliminating potential leaks, and it at www.miraclemethod.com/natural-accents-samples.htm. is also easy to maintain. Miracle Method of St. Louis is a member of the Do you have problems with a fiberglass bath or local Chamber of Commerce, the Better Business shower unit? Miracle Method has an answer for faded Bureau (BBB) and the national Kitchen and Bath Asand cracked showers and pans. “Cracked fiberglass sociation (NKBA). does not need to be replaced. We can fix the cracks and You can call 888-819-4399 for a free estimate, or schedrefinish the dull surface, and it will be stronger than ule an appointment to visit their new showroom at 414 new,” adds Kavanaugh. Gravois Rd in Fenton 63026. clm 20 | COUNTY LIVING magazine | WWW.COUNTYLIVINGMAG.COM

How is Your Home Performing? Solutions for Increasing Comfort and Reducing Energy Bills


chieving these improvements starts with proper evaluation and testing. A Home Energy Evaluation identifies causes of comfort problems and high energy consumption, and suggests cost-effective remedies. A Blower Door Fan draws outside air into the house to detect and diagnose air leaks. Thermal Scanning with an infrared camera that “sees through walls” can measure how effectively your insulation is working.. Solving the Problems Based on the findings, a proposal is developed that identifies steps to reduce energy use and increase comfort. Recommendations are provided that can have the biggest impact on energy use, comfort and savings. Common recommended improvements often include: Air Sealing - Your home may be leaking air, resulting in drafts and rooms that don’t heat or cool effectively. Air sealing is the first step to a more comfortable and energy-efficient home. Insulation is also important to an energy-efficient home.

Find out how much insulation you have, how it’s performing and whether you need more. Crawlspace Sealing - Cold floors, poor air quality and energy inefficiency can be caused by unsealed crawlspaces below. Sealing prevents moisture and air infiltration. In the St. Louis area, one long-established company is helping solve home performance problems. Dr. Energy Saver STL, part of the Woods Basement Systems organization, performs the Home Energy Evaluation at no charge – totally free - to help you discover where your home is using, losing, and wasting energy. Dr. Energy Saver also can perform the critical home energy-saving services needed to address the specific problems identified, such as adding insulation, sealing air leaks in your home, crawl space encapsulation and more. The results will show up in lower energy bills. To schedule a no-obligation Home Energy Evaluation in your home, you can call Dr. Energy Saver at 866-735-1890, or you can learn more about them at www.betterbasementvalue.com. clm


Home Remodeling

Custom CLOSET AND HOME OFFICE SOLUTIONS For better-organized storage and work spaces


t seems that when most homes were built, little thought was given to wardrobe, storage or at-home work needs of families who were going to live there. Maybe that’s why most of us have closets where there never seems to be room to put everything or ways to find anything. And according to the National Association of Home Builders, a walk-in closet rated number one in the amenities builders planned to include in homes they were building in 2015. Fortunately for homes built before 2015, today there is the opportunity for closet systems and other space solutions that are custom-designed to meet specific and changing needs of each member of the family. For closets and workspaces that are more functional and enjoyable to use, it pays to consider a custom system. A professional designer can provide a solution that will work best for your specific needs, and flexibility to adapt as needs change over time. The process starts from scratch with the designer creating an organizational portrait of family members who will use the space, asking about their needs, accurately measuring and inventorying items that need to go in it. And to make it your own, offering choices of hardware, materials, specialized accessories and finishes. The leader in custom-designed storage and workspaces for the home is Closet Factory. They emphasize customization in every step of their process, which begins with a free in-home consultation by an experienced designer. You’ll be presented with a selection of drawers, shelving, handles and knobs in an extensive array of the finest materials and finishes, from basic laminates to dramatic solid woods. Once you’ve approved every feature and finishing touch, each piece is manufactured to specification in their own factory. For your own custom consultation, you may call Closet Factory at (314) 227-1936. clm



Home Remodeling

Custom BATHROOM REMODELING A Whole New Look Doesn’t Have to be a Big Mess or Cost a Fortune


ike many homeowners, you may have a bathroom that looks worn and outdated, or doesn’t really meet your needs or desires. For instance, if you rarely take baths, you might much prefer a walk-in shower instead of that tub with a shower curtain. Converting an old tub or shower to an attractive, safe, convenient new shower can add enjoyment and utility for years. With a built-in seat, well placed grab bars and easy to clean, grout-free walls, you can have the safest and most convenient bath environment possible. If you still prefer a bathtub, you can upgrade to a beautiful, durable tub that is attractive and warm to the touch. Or, there is the option of a walk-in bathtub, offering easy entry, comfortable seating and easy-to-reach faucets. To complement your new shower or tub, you can outfit your bathroom with attractive shower and wall surfaces and select from many varieties of flooring, as well as upgraded vanity or pedestal sink and toilet. One company that can cost-effectively complete your new bathroom with minimal interruption is ReBath of St. Louis. A custom ReBath conversion transforms your bathroom from dull to dramatic, adding value to your home. And they offer the best warranty in the business. ReBath of St. Louis will help design your bath to be a statement of your own personal style and taste, and their own installation crews complete the conversion. Their designers bring everything to your home for the selection process - no wasted time or extra trips to find all of what you want. For a free in-home consultation you can call Mid-America Re-Bath and Remodeling at 314-272-4688, or visit www.rebathstl.com. clm


The Basement Egress Window Adds safety, appeal and value to your home


inishing your basement is the most efficient way to add useable space to your home. If you have or are planning sleeping rooms downstairs, you need to make sure that there are two exits for emergencies. If your home does not have a walk-out basement, this usually requires an escape, or egress window. It is important to know your local residential building codes for egress. St. Louis County building permit requirements state that all basement bedrooms must have one window for emergency escape with a sill no more than 44 inches above the floor and a minimum clear opening area of 5.0 square feet. The emergency escape window must be operable from the inside without need for special knowledge, tools, or extra force beyond that required for a normal window. But don’t just think of the basement egress window as a requirement. It can also add natural light and ventilation and with an expanded window well it can be an attractive feature, with flowers and plants on the terraced steps. The overall enhancements of safety, light, ventilation and more attractive appearance add to the value of your home. One company that is expert in structural basement improve-

ments is Woods Basement Systems. They will be happy to give you a free estimate to install a basement egress window in your home. You can call them at 866-735-1890 or learn more at betterbasementvalue.com. clm


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Arts & Thoughts

Poems and a Reading BY ROBERT FROST



Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;

When a friend calls to me from the road And slows his horse to a meaning walk, I don’t stand still and look around On all the hills I haven’t hoed, And shout from where I am, What is it? No, not as there is a time to talk. I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground, Blade-end up and five feet tall, And plod: I go up to the stone wall For a friendly visit.

Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim Because it was grassy and wanted wear, Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. To listen to a reading of this poem by Robert Frost, visit: https://youtu.be/ie2Mspukx14


Home Remodeling

Stone and Tile Floors Looking Dull? Ugly Grout?


ost stone or tile damage can be corrected. Whether it’s dull, stained, suffering water spots, cracks or chips, the problem can be addressed. A true stone professional will work with you to assess the root cause and to formulate a strategy to avoid a recurrence. For the stone or tile surfaces in your home, it makes sense to contact a local specialist to discuss what can be done to restore them, and how to maintain them day-to-day. A brief dialog can extend the life of your stone and tile and save you from costly errors. The good news is that most problems are repairable and cost substantially less than replacement. Proper selection and application of a sealer can reduce or prevent damage from stains and water.

A ColorSeal treatment of your sanded grout can not only restore your original grout color but also topically seal it to better resist future stains. Many glass and tile cleaners will actually dissolve grout, leaving a rough spot. Fortunately, even this can be repaired. Grout repair and sealing are part of the repair and restoration process. Experienced stone and tile craftsmen can provide pointers on how to maintain your stone and tile surfaces to keep them looking like the day they were installed. Your ceramic, porcelain, marble, granite, terrazzo, limestone or travertine will look new when your great-grandchildren come to visit generations from now. Don’t give up on your stone, tile or grout. For expert advice and restoration, you can call the professionals at MARBLELIFE-Groutmasters at 636-639-1304 or visit their website at www.marblelife-stlouis.com. clm


Weekend Getaways

County Living Magazine

Spring Activities & Events T

ake advantage of these wonderful annual events. Make this the year you get out beyond your own neighborhood and enjoy the special festivals and entertainment events across the St. Louis metro area.

Community Associations Institute Trade Show

Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival

Mother’s Day May 8 Spirit of St. Louis Air Show & STEM Expo

March 10 Sheraton Westport Lakeside Chalet Hotel CAIHeartland.com/tradeshow

March 21-23 Touhill Performing Arts Center gsljazzfest.com

May 14-15 Spirit of St. Louis Airport spirit-airshow.com

St. Louis Earth Day Festival

Bark in the Park

First Day of Spring March 20 World Eagle Day

April 16 Forest Park, Muny Grounds stlouisearthday.org

May 21 Cricket Field@Forest Park hsmo.org/bark

Art Fair at Laumeier Taste of Maplewood

March 27 World Bird Sanctuary worldbirdsanctuary.org

May 6-8 Laumeier Sculpture Park laumeiersculpturepark.org

May 21 Downtown Maplewood maplewood-chamber.com

Art on the Square GO! St. Louis Walk/Run Forest Park April 9 gostlouis.org St. Charles Home Show April 8-10 St. Charles Convention Center stlhomeshow.com/stcharles

Chinese Culture Days

Belleville, IL May 13-15 artonthesquare.com 30 | COUNTY LIVING magazine | WWW.COUNTYLIVINGMAG.COM

Missouri Botanical Garden May 21-22 mobot.org

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Arts & Thoughts


A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

of the great geniuses are wine. Fortunately, everybody drinks water.

Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.

Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she laid an asteroid.

Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest. Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. Don’t part with your illusions – When they are gone, you may still exist, but you have ceased to live. Everything has its limit – iron ore cannot be educated into gold. Familiarity breeds contempt – and children. Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example. I have made a rule never to smoke more than one cigar at a time. I must have a prodigious quantity of mind; it takes me as much as a week sometimes to make it up.

Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits. Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself. The more things are forbidden, the more popular they become. There are several good protections against temptation, but the surest is cowardice. There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist. To be good is noble; but to show others how to be good is nobler and no trouble. Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t. When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear. When in doubt, tell the truth. clm

It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them. Man is the only creature that blushes – or needs to. Man was made at the end of the week’s work when God was tired. Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising. My books are like water; those 32 | COUNTY LIVING magazine | WWW.COUNTYLIVINGMAG.COM

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garden_green@live.com WINTER/EARLY SPRING 2016 | COUNTY LIVING magazine | 33

Arts & Thoughts



Locked Out Again

onnie caused me a lot of trouble. It wasn’t her fault. Connie was sweet and beautiful, her allure too hard to resist. I thought I could get away with it, and stop for only a few minutes, if only to gaze upon her beautiful shape. But my detour to her doorstep brought me deep despair. I paid dearly for my mistake. Connie stays at Kansas City’s old municipal airport. She’s known more formally as a Lockheed Constellation, the airline workhorse of the 1950s. You’d instantly recognize the plane, with her curvy porpoise fuselage, three tail fins and four propellers--the poster plane for Howard Hughes’s TWA. She sits in Hangar 9, a museum at the old airport, itself a relic, replaced by the larger, safer Kansas City International Airport. Tucked into a tight river bend beneath the watchful eyes of the Kansas City skyline, this airport museum gets overlooked by just about everybody, one of Kansas City’s best-kept secrets. I was looking forward to climbing aboard Connie. Until dumb struck. On the day we visited the old airport, foul weather had grounded flights. Forecasters were predicting a foot of snow behind a late spring cold front that was poised to push through. So Erifnus, my car, delivered me through the howling wind and rain, into the parking lot. As I climbed out of Erifnus and locked her doors, I realized I’d left the keys in her ignition. I stood, numb, frozen—not from the wind and rain that pelted me, but from my own stupidity. Erifnus Caitnop doesn’t deserve such rude neglect. She’s performed nearly flawlessly as my Trigger, my Lassie, and my Old Faithful all rolled into 140 horsepower. She is my one constant companion along this journey across every mile of every road on Missouri’s highway map, my trusty steed for fifteen years and nearly 300,000 miles. But on this day, she sat protecting my keys from the wind and the rain. And me. I must confess that this is not the first time I’ve

locked the keys in this car. In fact, I’ve probably tied a world record: performing this stupid feat twice in one day. That memory is painful: She was new and sleek and shiny, and we were still getting used to the road together when it happened. The first time was like any time you’ve done it. And don’t tell me you haven’t done it. The second time, hours later at a rural gas station, I jumped out of the car to fill her tank with the corn-laced liquor she loves. I hung the hose on the gas pump and returned to open the car door. My heart sank. It soothed my ego only a tiny bit when the locksmith arrived an hour later and told me, “Yeah, these cars have a protective locking system. So when you leave the keys in the ignition and shut the door, it automatically locks. Keeps thieves from hopping in your car.” And me. At the end of that horrible day I promised Erifnus I’d never again treat her with such neglect. But over the years, as with most partnerships, there were stressful moments. Most were caused by driver error. Spinouts. Warning tickets. Getting stuck in mud. Sliding sideways under downed power lines. Stuff like that. And now this. In the windswept parking lot of Hangar 9, with a blizzard on its way, I regained my composure and entered the museum hangar, confessing my stupidity to the friendly folks inside. They were extremely helpful, being pilots and mechanics and classic airplane lovers. But try as we did, we couldn’t make a coat hanger unlock my car. So after a tour of the museum, and a walk down the aisle of that classic old aircraft with its three tail fins and four engines and porpoiseshaped fuselage—and ninety dollars for a locksmith—I thanked my hosts, said farewell to Connie, tucked my tail fin in the driver’s seat, and drove home.


Read more road tales in John’s two books--A Road Trip Into America’s Hidden Heart and Coastal Missouri--available at Left Bank Books. Read more of his stories at http:johndrakerobinson.com clm


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Landscapes & Exteriors

Great Room Glory

Protect Your Home from Heat, Glare and Damage from the Sun


reat rooms, discreet, overhead cassette. with their large The smaller screens are windows and fully wind resistant and the beautiful views, larger ones are rated for provide a wonderful open winds of 40 miles per hour feeling and their large (and winds seldom exceed windows provide great 40 mph on sunny days). SEE-THROUGH views of the outdoors. For Adding to the convenience many homeowners the is the option of having great room was the feature a sun sensor that autoMAX. 25’ that convinced them to matically extends the solar purchase their home, and screen during times of is the room they enjoy intense sunlight and then the most. However, many retracts the solar screen homeowners with great during dim lighting or rooms complain about cloudy conditions. excessive heat from the sun You can reduce air and glare they experience conditioning and fading of during hours of direct furnishings and woodwork sunlight. And the problem by blocking undesirable is not only during warm heat and ultra-violet light. weather months. During During cooler weather you winter the sun is actually can retract them to allow lower in the sky, meaning the warmth of the sun to that it shines more directly enter your home, keeping into the great room. your heating costs down. Now there is a new genSunroom Covers protect eration of exterior shading interiors and also add shade products that dramatifor sunrooms and greenSUNROOM COVER cally reduce heat and glare, houses. They are easy to use especially in great rooms, and can be opened or closed without requiring a change as needed, allowing you to to the beauty of the interior control temperature and craftsmanship. These solar light in these glass rooms. screens shade from the For more information outside. If you can stop the on this new generation of harmful rays from passing Great Room Glory, you through your window with can contact Shade Your an outdoor solar screen, World. Entering their 24th you will eliminate the summer of business, this inside greenhouse effect company has provided which captures and retains more retractable awnings the excessive indoor heat. Outdoor Shade is so much more than any other company in this area, as well as a full range effective that the best windows, tinting, or blinds. You will of outdoor shading products. Their mission is to Shade stop the heat, stop the glare and stop the fading. Your World and Brighten Your Day. Each product is cusGreat Room Solar Screens cover windows from the out- tom designed to your individual specifications and will be side, while still permitting light to come through, maintain- built and installed within three weeks. Now you can shade ing outdoor views. They are motorized and easy to operate your windows like never before. with either a hand-held remote control or a wall-mounted To learn more about shading products from Shade Your remote control. When the sun is not blazing through the World, or for a free in-home estimate, you can call them at window, you can simply retract the solar screen into its 314.740.5100 or visit their website at ShadeStL.com. clm



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Landscapes & Exteriors

Discovering the Pleasure and Beauty of Professional Landscape Lighting


alph Damiano Properly placed lights showcase the distinctive home, and how up-lighting and his up-lighting trees creates a beautifully shimmering effect. them instead would family have create a beautifully lived for diffused shimmerfifteen years in their ing effect. Ralph is home in Ladue that still amazed by the is over 100 years results, which he old. They have done feels adds real beauextensive remodeling ty to their home. and renovation over Jeff showed the the years to create possibilities in the home of their increments, and the dreams, and they plan final installation to be there forever. achieved was very Shortly after they different from what moved in, they used they had planned. an irrigation company They are delighted recommended by with the results, and the previous owner as time goes by they to provide some enjoy it even more. outdoor lighting, a few They have received lampposts in the large many compliments circular driveway, and from guests on some pathway lights. the beauty of their Last year Ralph home and grounds was too busy to put at night. The new up his own Christcontrols that were mas lights, and so installed are actihe decided to have vated by light, and them installed proare much easier to fessionally. A friend use than what they had recommended had before. Next Jeff Mitchell Lightthey plan to have ing for that work. Ralph was impressed by the job Jeff Jeff convert the landscape lighting in their back yard to did on the Christmas lighting, his approach to the work, achieve the same up-lighting effect in the trees. passion for lighting and the professionalism of his crew. So Ralph then asked Jeff to take a look at his landscape Jeff Mitchell Lighting is the St. Louis area’s most expelighting. The Damianos like to entertain at their home, rienced professional outdoor lighting provider. Since 1997 and with the minimal lighting on their driveway it was they have installed and maintained lighting systems at difficult for their guests to navigate their way. many of the finest homes and most visible public attracRalph considered other providers of landscape lighttions in the St. Louis area. They also provide turn-key ing, but says that Jeff listened to what the Damianos service installing, removing and storing custom Christmas wanted, and gave them different options to achieve lighting. They have excellent references from their enthutheir goals. He was also impressed by Jeff ’s passion for siastic customers, and their passion for providing quality lighting, and his knowledge of the business. Jeff pointed products, creative designs, professional installation and out that from the street the lighting of their home was customer service continues to show year after year. You spotty, and he showed how properly placed lights could can learn more about them at www.jeff-mitchell-lighting.com. showcase the distinctive architecture of the house and If you would like to schedule a design consultation or simfully light the driveway. Ralph was thinking of adding ply need information, you may call Jeff Mitchell Lighting down lighting from the tall trees, but Jeff showed him any time at 314-665-2500. TW6 clm 38 | COUNTY LIVING magazine | WWW.COUNTYLIVINGMAG.COM

Save Money by Renewing Your Outdoor Furniture


f your outdoor or patio furniture has strapping, slings or cushions that are worn, stretched or faded, you don’t have to spend the money for new furniture. Instead you can select your own fabric or vinyl strapping for a new custom look that will give you many more years of use and save the cost of new. Apple Tree Custom Sewing specializes in renewing fine outdoor furniture by custom-making new strapping, slings and upholstered cushions. They have hundreds of fabrics to choose from or you can bring in your own. They will pick up your furniture and bring it back ready for summer with a whole new look. Many of the leading outdoor furniture stores in St. Louis rely on Apple Tree Custom Sewing for their repairs. With over 30 years experience, their expert sewing technicians can provide complete sewing repairs as well as custom designs made to your personal specifications. clm

Apple Tree Custom Sewing 5116 Hampton Avenue St. Louis, Missouri 63109 314-752-8733 WINTER/EARLY SPRING 2016 | COUNTY LIVING magazine | 39

Landscapes & Exteriors

Keeping Wooden Roofs

Periodic treatment preserves & protects



o other exterior building material compares with wood for its warm, natural look, resilience and versatility. Cedar shake roofs, oak or pine log or cedar walls, down to redwood decks, a wooden home has a distinctive look that improves with age. However, to keep wood exteriors looking their best and prevent deterioration that can lead to costly repairs, it's important to periodically treat wood surfaces that start to dull or darken with mold, show signs of mildew or have lost protection from the elements. Wood surfaces that are unprotected degrade from exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun. These harmful rays turn bare wood dark, dull and uneven in color. Rain penetrates the wood, causing it to swell. Then blistering heat from the sun dries it. This cycle can cause wood to warp, splinter and crack. Moisture also can make cedar and other woods conducive to mold and mildew. Unlike most other building materials, however, wood exteriors can be restored and maintained through proper care and treatment. Preserving wood protects it from moisture and sunlight, and helps it last twice, even three times as long. This extended life makes cedar roofs, wood siding and decks cost-effective building solutions. The experts at Aspen Touch Cedar Restoration & Installation have more than 25 years of experience in preserving, repairing


and replacing wood roofs, natural wood siding and decks on St. Louis’s finest homes. Their restoration process uses a high pressure wash to remove algae, moss and lichen, returning wood to its natural color. Shingles are repaired, replaced and nailed as needed. Finally, a quality sealer/ stain is applied. This restoration is also effective for asphalt roofs. Aspen Touch is also expert in installing new cedar shake roofs, siding and decking. They can help you make informed decisions about preserving the beauty and value of your wood exteriors. You can call them at 636-458-8878, email aspentouch.rick@gmail.com or visit their website www.aspentouch.com. clm

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The Professional Approach to a

Truly Beautiful Landscape


hether you are planning new landscaping for your property or looking to upgrade and refresh your existing gardens and beds, before buying individual plants, it is worthwhile to consider the space as a whole in choices of plant material and placement of color, height, shape, and texture to make a truly appealing and enjoyable landscape. In addition to plant selection, there are hardscape features such as walkways, patios, retaining walls, beds and planters that can define areas of your yard, contain plantings and create outdoor living spaces that you and your family will enjoy for many years. Also gaining interest is the use of plantings that are native to the St. Louis region. Native landscaping brings an authentic beauty and sustainability to your landscape and home. Just as in designing a home, there is real benefit to working

with professionals who will listen to your wants and needs, share ideas to arrive at a design, then follow through with excellent construction and installation. One team of experts in the St. Louis area that has years of experience and excellent knowledge of the world of landscapes is SFP Landscaping. The experts at SFP Landscaping take the time to discuss your goals and ideas, and work with you to formulate them into a workable plan. They can help you in the early stages of your project to plan for optimum growth and beauty for your landscape. SFP Landscaping provides high quality landscape design and installation for new homes, new pool installations, commercial sites, home renovations, secret garden areas, patios, and more. To set up a free consultation with an SFP Horticultural Expert, you can call them at 314-544-4436, and you can learn more about them at www.SFPLandscapingInc.com. clm

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Landscapes & Exteriors

Enjoy A Natural Water Feature In Your Own Yard


f you are thinking about having a water feature installed on your property, this provides some considerations that should be helpful in your planning. First, you need to realize that a water feature isn’t just landscaping, it is a way of life, a lifestyle. It is, after all, a living thing. It changes with the seasons, it matures, and it becomes a retreat when life becomes stressful. A water feature becomes the centerpiece of a backyard paradise that can breed biodiversity, attracting wildlife including birds, frogs, butterflies and hummingbirds. LINER POND WITH FALLS Your budget will directly affect the type and size of your water feature. Spending a little more at the beginning will save you much more in the long run. Not just money, but time. Think it through and plan well. In the end, it will save you time and frustration. By designing it well, you will also reduce your need LINER POND WITH FALLS AND KOI for maintenance. For the purposes of this discussion, we are focusing on water gardens, those features that have a natural look and feel – where you can have plants and rock that look like the outcropping of a natural spring. While pre-formed ponds and container water gardens are inexpensive and fairly easy to set up, they are very limited in what you can do to dress them up to look natural with fish and plants, and they are not easily upgraded. Similarly, a formal water feature like a fountain is usually stand-alone and not part PONDLESS FALLS of a natural setting.

Water Garden Options to Consider A “liner” pond uses a fish-safe rubber liner, giving you the most versatility of any of the features. Because of its flexible membrane, the design possibilities are endless. They are easy to customize and if constructed correctly, require significantly less maintenance than a pre-formed pond. This is the most commonly chosen style of water feature. A Pondless® Waterfall is the way to achieve a natural-looking feature without having a body of water. It provides the sparkling visuals and sounds of a natural fall, and allows for many varieties of plants at the margins. This is one of the fastest growing segments in waterscaping today. It is especially appropriate where children are present or liability is an issue. The one thing to keep in mind during the design phase is that you want to create something that appears to have been placed there by Mother Nature herself. The most common complaint that pond owners have is that their feature is too small. You want to design a pond that allows for growth and expansion. Remember that fish grow and plants will mature and spread – give them the room they need!


Chris Siewing is owner and president of Nature’s Re-Creations, nationally recognized as Master Certified Aquascape Contractors, first place winner of the North American Pond/Waterfall Competition, and named by Aquascape as Artist of the Year in 2012. Nature’s Re-Creations stays on the cutting edge of technology and installation techniques to continually improve their projects and the environment. To discuss a water feature project, you can contact Chris Siewing at 314-220-3841 or check out their portfolio at Facebook.com/ NaturesReCreations. clm


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Landscapes & Exteriors

Does Your Home Have Damage from Wind or Hail?

A Consumer Advocate works for you, not the insurance company.







Consumer Advocate gives you a voice in the claims process by assessing and informing you of the true condition of your home’s exterior, before you file a claim. They also offer assistance when you believe the insurance company has missed damage, or if they have devalued or minimized your claim. Homeowners in the St. Louis area are certainly aware of the severe weather we have experienced over the past few years. It is important to understand that damage to homes and businesses is not always obvious and may not be easily detected by the average homeowner – especially high on the roof. Damage from hail and severe windstorms Photos on this page show typical damage that can occur from hail and severe windstorms. Impact holes and tattered edges of cedar shingles, denting on a roof vent cap, a dented gutter downspout and a torn window screen help verify hail impact. Hail damage to asphalt roof shingles includes tattered edges, shingle loss, extreme granule loss and penetration holes. Damage from severe winds to asphalt roofs includes lifting, tearing and even missing shingles. A driving hailstorm can also dent the fins of an air conditioning unit. When the wind gets under asphalt shingles and lifts them, it can pop the glue tabs and nails, causing shingles to tear, not lie down and re-adhere. Damage to shingles can reduce their useful life and also expose cracks where water can penetrate, making the roof vulnerable to future leaks and more severe exterior and interior damage. If the roof is compromised in this way, it is important that it is completely replaced rather than patched or partially replaced, since there are very likely other areas where the damage is not as obvious. Damage to gutters can cause leaks that rot the soffits where they are attached or cause water to pour down to the founda-



tion or fill window wells, causing further problems. Damage to air conditioning fins can impair operation, reducing airflow and raising the refrigerant temperature, leading to lost performance and reliability. Importance of a second opinion To determine damage, insurance companies will send an inspector to your home, right after the storm or up to several months later. Inspectors often miss these signs of damage, causing claims to be denied or limited to only what the inspector has seen. It is important that homeowners have an advocate who can provide a “second opinion” in the event that their insurance company denies or limits their liability to lesser damage than actually exists. Someone who can guide you through the claim process to make it easier, and assist in getting the maximum benefit your policy allows. Aspen Touch LLC Restoration Consulting & Design is a local, third-generation contractor and the advocate for homeowners with expertise in storm damage and repair, including not just roofs but also siding, gutters, windows and more. Aspen Touch helps homeowners streamline the insurance process, while assuring that you get the maximum benefit your policy allows. Many homeowners have found that damage to their roofing; siding and gutters have met their insurance company’s criteria to authorize full replacement. Before contacting your insurance company, you can contact Aspen Touch for a free evaluation and consultation on your home’s exterior and any storm damage. They are fully insured, and have helped numerous homeowners acquire new roofs, siding, gutters and repairs to their property affected by storms. You can reach their experienced inspectors at 636-458-8878 or by email at aspentouch.rick@gmail.com. You can learn more on their website www.aspentouch.com. clm


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Landscapes & Exteriors

Does Your Home Have Uneven Concrete SurfacesWalks, Steps, Patio, Pool Deck or Driveway? These are unsightly and also tripping hazards that could cause injuries.


ou may have tilting concrete steps or sidewalks, driveways or patios where a seam has turned into a step, or repeated cracking in sections of concrete slabs. These problems are often the result of a shifting or a weak soil base or erosion. In the past, contractors relied upon mud jacking or slab jacking to level concrete that had settled over time. This involves pumping concrete slurry under the settled slab to raise it, hoping that the settlement won’t continue. But that requires large holes in the concrete - about the diameter of a soda can. It can take an entire day to cure and the mixture itself is heavy – about 100 pounds per cubic foot, which can lead to further sinking. There is now a great alternative called PolyLEVEL™, which uses a lightweight polyurethane mix that expands to fill the

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void beneath sunken concrete. This not only results in a solution that lasts longer, but also it looks better because it is less destructive to the applied surface. PolyLEVEL requires a much smaller hole – about the diameter of a penny, cures in 15 minutes and weighs much less – about two pounds per cubic foot. It lifts concrete slabs to a level position with less weight and disruption than the legacy mud jacking or slab jacking process. The result is a safe, secure and level concrete slab. In the St. Louis area, Woods Basement Systems is the authorized contractor for PolyLEVEL concrete lifting. They will inspect your concrete walk, steps, pool deck, patio or driveway and provide an estimate to have your sunken concrete slab lifted with PolyLEVEL. To meet with one of their concrete repair experts, you can call them at 866-735-1890 or learn more at www.betterbasementvalue.com. clm

Are You an Effective Connector & Communicator? County Living Magazine is seeking a full or part time independent commissioned advertising sales and writer representative. Flexible hours Special Fall Issue and opportunity for recurring income. Qualified candidates should have direct selling experience, be energetic, personable, with good presenting and writing skills and have your own transportation.


FALL 2014



RANDOM MUSINGS from Gerry Mandel KING OF THE ROAD with John Drake Robinson WORKING FOR MISSOURI FAMILIES by State Rep Jill Schupp

Health & Fitness Sensory Pleasures Home Remodeling For Your Business Weekend Getaways Fall Activities & Events Landscapes & Exteriors

More Resources: CountyLivingMag.com

Contact Steve Turner o: 314.863.4550 c: 314.378.6323 e: steve@cpsstl.com www.cpsstl.com

Email resume to publisher@countylivingmag.com or call 314-432-1171.


For Your Information

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The way to assure perfect fit for table pads is for the provider to visit your home to accurately measure and show you sample colors and textures to match your table and décor. Custom Table Pads & Linens, an independent St. Louis dealer, provides the finest custom American-made table pads at factory-direct prices. They measure at your home or business, and show you a choice of 23 vinyl tops and 5 velvet bottoms. Perfect fit is guaranteed. Pads are heat resistant to 550o, moisture and warp resistant. Patented hidden magnets minimize separation and slippage on your table. Custom Table Pads & Linens also sells country club quality table linens and accessories in hundreds of colors and textures, with the look and feel of cotton linen at a fraction of the cost.

Do you own quality furniture, but are ready for a change? Or does a favorite piece need restoration? Experienced craftsmen can repair and refinish fine wood, and skilled upholsterers can fashion the look and feel you want in your choice of fabric and trim. Custom Furniture Works has twelve experienced craftsmen on staff to provide quality work in a timely manner, taking your job from planning to completion. They also create custom furniture from scratch. Pickup and delivery services are available. Call today for a free estimate, or visit their website to see examples of their work.

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Hourly Projects & Repairs Tile, Drywall, Plumbing, Electric, westcountygardens.com • westcountygardens@yahoo.com www.hmaconstruction.com Carpentry, & Much More WINTER/EARLY SPRING 2016 | COUNTY LIVING magazine | 47

For Your Information

How to Lower Your Property Taxes BY STEVEN A. WEBER

Thousands of Home Owners Receive Tax Reductions. Will You Get Yours – and As Much As You Deserve?

CHANCES ARE THAT YOUR PROPERTY TAXES ARE TOO HIGH. All St. Louis City and County properties were reappraised in 2015. This value was used to determine your property taxes for 2015 and will be used again in 2016. This appraised value is supposed to represent the market value of your home as of January 1, 2015. WHILE 2016 IS NOT A REASSESSMENT YEAR, PROPERTIES THAT WERE NOT APPEALED IN 2015, OR THAT HAVE SOLD SINCE THE MIDDLE OF 2015 CAN BE APPEALED IN 2016. Even if the assessor lowered the value of your home in response to current market, we have found that for many properties, they did not lower the value enough to reflect the actual changes in value based on recent sale prices of homes that are comparable with yours. In fact, since 2009 we have filed over 7,500 appeals in St. Louis County alone resulting in over $5,300,000 in tax savings to homeowners. The simple fact is – assessors make mistakes. They utilize mass appraisal techniques, market averages and neighborhood models to determine property values, which may not accurately reflect your property value. These errors and miscalculations end up costing you money year after year. A NO-RISK RESOURCE FOR HOMEOWNERS. You now have the opportunity to have your appraised value reviewed to determine if you are being fairly taxed based not on mass computer modeling, but on real comparable sales in your neighborhood. Our firm, PAR Residential, does all the work and only earns a fee if we are successful in lowering your taxes. All costs of the appeal are paid by PAR Residential including legal fees (our attorney bills

us at $250/hour) and appraisal (an independent appraisal would cost you $350). Here’s what we do: 1. Information gathering. PAR will gather information from County records, including the assessor’s “appraisal”, and set up a case file on your home. 2. Valuation. Beginning in 2016 and for each reassessment cycle PAR Residential will determine a fair appraised value for your property based on real comparable sales in your neighborhood. 3. Determination of assessment equity. We will compare our appraised value to the assessor’s appraised value to determine whether an appeal is necessary. If we determine the assessor’s appraised value is fair, we will notify you in writing that you are already paying the lowest possible property taxes and no appeal will be filed. There will be no cost to you for our time and efforts. 4. File your appeal before the July 11 deadline. If we determine that your property is over-valued by the assessor, our attorney will, at our expense, file an appeal on your behalf and provide the required information to the Board of Equalization. 5. Board of Equalization (BOE) hearings will take place July through August. The PAR Residential Team will attend the hearing and argue your case. We will mail the official BOE results to you in September and let you know if your appraised value has been reduced to a fair and appropriate amount, or if we need to continue your appeal to the State Tax Commission of Missouri. 6. Fee. Only if we are successful in achieving a reduction in your property’s appraised value will we earn a

fee, sharing equally in the tax savings (50/50). All of our work is performance based: NO SAVINGS, NO FEE. There are no additional costs to you for any of our work. We pay all costs of the appeal including legal and appraisal. Our invoice will be sent to you once tax rates are set in the fall of each year arriving about the same time you receive your reduced tax bill. You can learn more about saving money on your real estate taxes, the assessment and the appeal process by visiting www. parresidential.com. Interested in signing up? The enrollment process is quick and easy, visit our website and sign up online today! Specific questions can be answered by emailing them to info@parresidential. com or by calling PAR Residential at 314-454-0505 from 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday. clm


Steven A. Weber is Partner – Director of Valuation at Property Assessment Review and PAR Residential. His team of experts has the experience, market and legal knowledge to achieve the biggest tax reduction possible on residential properties. He has been reducing property taxes for 30 years, and before that was a Senior Appraiser for St. Louis County for five years. Property Assessment Review is the leading property tax consulting firm in St. Louis, saving over $100 million for some of the region’s largest commercial taxpayers – the St. Louis Galleria, Solon Gershman, Duke Realty, Mills Properties and US Bank. In 2007, PAR created PAR Residential to represent homeowners in St. Louis County. PAR’s residential clients have saved over $5,300,000 in real estate taxes since 2009 with over 80% of appeals resulting in tax savings.

The History of St. Louis County, Missouri by William Lyman Thomas

Celebrating the Heritage of St. Louis County

Not Your Typical Road Trip


any of us have lived here our whole lives, yet there is so much we don’t know about the rich history of our county. County Living Publications has re-published this 100year old book that documents the county’s first 100 years. It covers the period from the earliest settlers in the region, up through the Civil War and into the first decade of the 20th Century. Originally published in 1911, it is was re-published to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the organization of St. Louis County on October 1, 1812. Every time you pick up the book and read a chapter you come away with an appreciation of life here 100 years ago, or a little nugget of information that has relevance to today. This book makes a great Holiday, business or personal gift. For quantity pricing, more information or to order the book, please visit www.stlcountyhistory.com. clm

County Living columnist

John Drake Robinson won an


for his unique travelogs based on his books.

Coastal Missouri and A Road Trip Into America’s Hidden Heart

In this age of interstates and instant gratification, Robinson took the long way around the state, with his only constant companion: his car. “. . . we’ve dodged rabbits and turtles, texters and drunks. We’ve slid sideways in sleet, jumped curbs and low-water crossings. We’ve passed every pun on every roadside marquee, every time and temperature sign, every clip joint and carny barker and corn dog vendor, every barbeque shack and Tex-Mex taco stand. And we’ve stopped at most of ‘em.”


Available at: Left Bank Books and other fine bookstores. Or on Amazon.com

Read more stories at johndrakerobinson.com/blog WINTER/EARLY SPRING 2016 | COUNTY LIVING magazine | 49

For Your Information

Care and Counseling A Unique Resource serving St. Louis area Families, Individuals and Clergy


any families in our community have someone who has faced psychological and emotional problems. And nearly all clergy have had a member of their congregation who was in need of help to address such issues. But often those needing help, or looking to help members of their communities find counseling, have not known where to turn. Care and Counseling is a private, not-for-profit organization incorporated in the State of Missouri in 1968 as an multi-faith agency to combine the work of several faith-based counseling centers. Today the services offered include direct care of children, adults and families needing professional counseling services, pastoral training and psycho-educational programs. These services enable adults, families, children, and clergy to get the help they and their members need to enhance their emotional, relational and spiritual well being through affordable, high quality counseling, regardless of their ability to pay.


L 20


Financial support from individuals, foundations, corporations, organizations and faith communities help make counseling services available to those who would otherwise be unable to afford the full cost of psychotherapy. The counselors at Care and Counseling assist people to successfully address life issues they are facing. These include depression, anxiety, relationship problems, pain and heartbreak, among others. Their counselors make it possible for people to make positive change in their lives and transition to greater health and well being. Care and Counseling serves those in need at their main office at 12141 Ladue Road in Creve Coeur and at nine satellite offices in St. Louis County, St. Charles County and the City of St. Louis. To learn more about accessing the services of Care and Counseling, or about supporting the organization, you can contact them by phone at (314) 878 4340 or by email at info@careandcounseling.org. clm





County Living Magazine is an attractive resource guide, an informative publication that readers rely on to discover distinctive products, services and destinations to enhance home and lifestyle.

: now to K ce d e e n a N enh cape t You s and Wha improveand land you

y elp To home to h ealth r erts ay h you Expand st fit get


n onli readm o or to info gMag.c re in mo For ntyLiv Cou

CLM is mailed by name to the top 20% of homeowners in St. Louis County and St. Charles County, the City of St. Louis and eastern Franklin County – all 70,000 of them. This publication provides considerably greater reach of upscale homeowners than any other glossy magazine. Our advertisers are St. Louis area companies providing products and services to enhance home, health, wealth and lifestyle. We provide advertiser exclusivity, limiting the number in every category. To learn more, call 314-432-1171 or email publisher@CountyLivingMag.com


Trustees, Condo Boards are Not Alone In Maintaining and Improving Communities The Community Associations Institute provides support to community leaders and managers


e usually think of representative government as elected officials at the federal, state and municipal levels. There are also representatives even closer to the people. Trustees, directors and board members of subdivision and condo associations are among the most important representatives in our community, but do not seem to get the support or attention elected officials do. These uncompensated volunteers usually have little if any staff or resources and can feel very alone in the work they do. Though these men and women act in the best interest of their communities, they can be exposed to frustration, confusion and even legal liabilities as they carry out their duties. The Community Associations Institute (CAI) is a notfor-profit organization dedicated to supporting volunteer community leaders as well as professional community managers. In Missouri, the Heartland Chapter of CAI serves the St. Louis Metro, Lake of the Ozarks/Branson and Kansas City Metro regions. CAI Heartland provides training for community leaders on topics such as law, property management, landscaping, parking, insurance, liability and swimming pool maintenance. Throughout the year CAI Heartland provides seminars for community leaders, such as the upcoming Legal Roundtable, to be held Wednesday, April 6, 2016 at the Lodge at Des Peres. Topics will include legislative changes affecting community associations. Similar seminars and events will be held throughout 2016. For more information about

upcoming events, you can visit tinyurl.com/caievents. Volunteer leaders who are members of CAI Heartland report feeling relief knowing that they are not alone in the challenges they face, from mitigating disputes between neighbors to managing assessments for community improvements. For more information about CAI Heartland, you can visit their website CAIHeartland.com, or contact the executive director Cathy Roth-Johnson at (314) 423-8859 or cathy@caiheartland.com. CAI Heartland, in partnership with St. Louis County, is sponsoring a trade show to both provide training and bring trustees and professionals serving community associations together to meet face to face. See below. clm

Subdivision Trustees & Board of Directors Be Our Guests - 2016 Greater St. Louis Trade Show Thursday, March 10, 2016 Sheraton Westport Lakeside Chalet Hotel Complimentary drinks, appetizers and prize drawings • 4:00 - 5:15 p.m. “How & Why” Learning Session When is it time to rewrite your governing documents? Dealing with Difficult People • 5:00 - 7:30 p.m. Trade Show Meet vendors who specialize in community associations

Learn More at: CAIHeartland.com/TradeShow WINTER/EARLY SPRING 2016 | COUNTY LIVING magazine | 51

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Winter 2016 Issue of County Living Magazine

2016 winter clm complete v2  

Winter 2016 Issue of County Living Magazine