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Save Smarter • Live Better • Rockford Region/Freeport 95¢ • December 11, 2013

Right in Our Region

Globetrotters Bring the Fun to Rockford By Paul Anthony Arco

B

ob Crocker loved the Harlem Globetrotters growing up, and as the father of four, he still loves them. “Now to get to see the enjoyment they bring to my kids is priceless,” says the Belvidere resident. “Watching the Globetrotters is a great time for the entire family. The trick shots, dribbling skills, and the jokes they play on the audience never get old.” The Globetrotters will bring their crowd-pleasing talents to Rockford’s BMO Harris Bank Center on Dec. 28, as part of their “Fans Rule” 2014 World Tour.

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In This Issue Right in Our Region: Harlem Globetrotters..................Cover & p. 20 Your Home & Garden Reinforced Deadbolts Deter Break-Ins........11 Inspiration & Worship................................12 Your Kitchen Yummy Gluten-Free Holiday Recipes..........15 . Your Style Stuff Stockings with Beauty Products..........27 Your Health Twelve Days of Pet-Safe Holidays...............12 Your Fun......................................................27 . On the Town................................................29 Tips & Information Questions For Choosing a Contractor..........31 Your Money Be Smart When Buying a Snowblower.......33

Smart L iving Weekly ™

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Bill Hughes Executive Editor Janine Pumilia

Managing Editor/Web Editor Chris Linden Associate Editor/Special Projects Editor Karla Nagy Senior Staff Writer/Promotions Coordinator Paul Anthony Arco Graphics Director Blake Nunes Contributing Writer Jim Killam General Sales Manager Brent Hughes Sales Manager Brad Hughes Account Executives Steve Blachford, Lisa Chatfield, Brian Hughes & Liz Thomas Administration & Circulation Manager Lisa Hughes Website www.NWQSmartLiving.com Published by Hughes Media Corp. 728 N. Prospect St., Rockford, IL, 61107 (815) 316-2300, Fax: (815) 316-2301 lhughes@northwestquarterly.com Smart Living Weekly. Copyright 2013 by Hughes Media Corp., 728 N. Prospect St., Rockford, IL, 61107. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part of any text, photograph or illustration without written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited.

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Fun and Feasting

W

hat a fun season this is for special events! Tons of them are taking place in our communities and homes. At our house, we’re gearing up for the 24th Annual Ethnic Feast. Each year, my extended family gathers a few weeks before Christmas to learn about a different country and cook up a bit of its food. The Feast was originally inspired by a book I received in Christmas of 1988: The Frugal Gourmet on Our Immigrant Ancestors, by Jeff Smith. All of the 20and 30-somethings in our family have grown up associating the Christmas season with international foods. I love it! Both Old World Wisconsin and our own Midway Village Museum (MVM) host ethnic dinners, too, from time to time, to explore culinary contributions immigrants have added to America’s melting pot. If you haven’t yet explored MVM’s “Many Faces, One Community” exhibit, it’s a treat. Among other things, you’ll find recipes handed down by the ancestors of local people. Speaking of melting pots, I’m in a mad search for my fondue pots. What’s a Swiss dinner without fondue? I’ve already learned that Swiss Steak is not Swiss at all, and French fries probably got their start in Belgium. For that matter, “Swiss cheese” is mostly a term used in North America for cow milk cheeses that resemble the Emmental cheese of Switzerland. Who knew? Some of the more memorable dishes from our Ethnic Feasts Past include African peanut stew, Spanish paella, from-scratch Indian naan and ghee (flatbread and clarified butter), Middle Eastern tabbouleh and Norwegian krumkake (wafer-thin, cone-shaped cookies) made with my Norwegian mother-in-law’s vintage krumkake iron. Faith, food, family, friends, fun. What’s not to love? All of us at Smart Living Weekly hope you’re enjoying your own traditions of the season! Janine Pumilia, Executive Editor Smart Living Weekly

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Reinforced Deadbolts Can Deter Break-Ins ByJim Killam

S

pending $10 or $20 on door locks for your home may seem like a bargain – until someone wants to break in. An inexpensive lockset doesn’t offer nearly as much security as something more substantial, says Guy Spinello of I. Spinello Locksmiths, 225-B South 6th St., Rockford. “It just does not have the same material – the strike plate that goes in the door,” he says. “Many times, it’s a very common keyway, so it’s very easy to have duplicated. “Consumers many times feel that if they just have a key that goes in the door, they’re safe,” he adds. “They don’t realize that the little bolt that comes off from that knob lock doesn’t offer much protection.” Forced entry is the most common method used in break-ins. That means kicking in the door, or using common tools like a sledge hammer or pipe wrench to break off the outer knob or

deadbolt cover and gain access to the lock mechanism. One step against a kick-in is two-point locking: adding a deadbolt that takes the same key as the doorknob lock. Most deadbolts will have at least a one-inch bolt. That’s still generally not enough to stop a crook who has a strong foot or shoulder. “The good deadbolts have a box strike – that part that goes into the frame of the door, and they have about three-inch screws,” Spinello says. A box strike encloses the locking bolt in a metal chamber, which is anchored deep into the door framing by those long screws. Especially secure ones will have screw holes not only in the plate that attaches to the door’s edge, but also through the back of the chamber, where the bolt projects when it’s locked, he says. No security system is completely crime-proof, of course, but good,

reinforced deadbolts can provide a better barrier against the guy with a strong foot or shoulder. ❚ Get SLW Your Home & Garden articles every week. Visit NWQSmartLiving.com and start your E-Edition today.

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Who Was Mary? A

side from infant Jesus, no person figures more prominently into the “Christmas Story” than Mary, his mother. What do we know about her? She was likely age 12 or so, when she was betrothed to Joseph, a year or more before their wedding. Both Mary and Joseph were descendants of King David, described by God as “a man after my own heart.” Being a devout Jewish virgin, Mary is naturally shaken when angel Gabriel tells her she’ll soon be pregnant with the Messiah. Gabriel urges her to set aside her fears and focus instead on the great favor God has shown to her. She does just that and courageously, famously responds: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38) Life as Jesus’ mother wasn’t easy; any mother feels pain when her child faces cruelty and rejection. Yet Mary’s faith enabled her to watch Jesus walk straight into danger. She’s the only person scripture places at the beginning, middle and end of Jesus’ life. The agony of witnessing her beautiful, innocent child slowly die on the cross is unimaginable. How joyful she must have been to learn of his resurrection! While scripture doesn’t describe that moment, it does tell us that, after Jesus ascends into a cloud (Acts 1:9), Mary waits in Jerusalem, with the disciples, for the coming of the holy spirit on the Day of Pentacost, just as Jesus instructed. Mary not only gave birth, but witnessed the birth of a Christian church powered by the holy spirit her son made possible. Who was Mary? A woman whose loving obedience to God allowed the greatest story ever told, to unfold. Written by Janine Pumilia Get SLW Inspiration & Worship articles every week. Visit NWQSmartLiving.com and start your E-Edition today.

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Christmas with Kantorei Alumni Chorus and guest musicians

Sunday, December 15 3:00pm Our Savior’s Lutheran Church 3300 Rural St., Rockford

Friday, December 20 7:30pm 1st Lutheran Church 225 S. 3rd St., Rockford

Tickets: $15 adults, $10 students. At the door: $18/$12

Holiday Pops with the RSO Kantorei with Alumni Chorus

Saturday, December 21 7:30pm Sunday, December 22 3:00pm Coronado Performing Arts Center 314 Main St., Rockford Please call the RSO Box Office at 815-965-0049.


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Yummy Gluten-Free Recipes C

reate easy and delicious holiday recipes that everyone can enjoy, including those who don’t eat glutens. One tip is to use pre-made gluten-free dough for all of your sweet and savory recipes. Pillsbury Gluten Free Dough is found in the refrigerated section at most grocery retailers. Here are two holiday recipes by Chef Cat Cora, created specifically to incorporate Pillsbury’s gluten-free dough.

In 12-inch skillet, melt butter over mediumhigh heat; stir in sugar. Cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes, or until mixture begins to caramelize. Stir in apples, lemon juice and cinnamon (caramel will harden). Reduce heat to medium; simmer 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until apples are tender and caramel is dissolved. Cool. Spoon apple mixture into six 6-ounce oven-safe ramekins. Top with crumb mixture. Bake 5 to 6 minutes or until warm. Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Cheddar Apple Crumble, Serves: 6

Chocolate Chip, Raspberry and White Chocolate Trifle, Serves 12

½ container (15.8 ounces) Pillsbury® Gluten Free refrigerated pie dough ½ cup finely chopped pecans 1 tablespoon powdered sugar 2 cups finely shredded cheddar 2 tablespoons butter ½ cup sugar 4 medium apples, diced 1 tablespoon lemon juice ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 400°F. Mix pie dough, pecans, powdered sugar and cheese until well blended. Place crumb mixture on parchmentlined baking sheet. Bake 12 to 14 minutes until golden brown. Cool; crumble.

2 containers (14.3 ounces) Pillsbury® Gluten Free chocolate chip cookie dough 1 pound white chocolate, chopped 1 ½ pints whipping (heavy) cream 2 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened 3 pints fresh raspberries

Heat oven to 350°F. Make and bake cookies as directed on container, then let cool. Crumble cookies and set aside. In 2-quart heavy saucepan, melt white chocolate with 3 Tb. of cream over low heat until smooth. Cool to room temperature. In medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Fold in melted white chocolate.

In large bowl, beat whipping cream until soft peaks form. Fold white chocolate mixture into whipped cream. In a 12-cup clear trifle bowl, layer 1/3 of the cookies, 1/3 of the white chocolate mixture and 1 pint of raspberries. Repeat layering using remaining cookies, white chocolate mixture and raspberries, ending with raspberries. Source: Family Features

Find more of Chef Cora’s glutenfree recipes, like Toffee Pecan Pumpkin Pie or Wild Rice, Chorizo and Gluten Free Bread Stuffing, at pinterest.com/ glutenfree/cat-cora-gluten-free-recipes. ❚ Get SLW “Your Kitchen” articles every week. Visit NWQSmartLiving.com and start your E-Edition today.

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Stuff Their Stockings with Beauty Products S

tuffing stockings is a fun and memorable holiday tradition. This year, celebrate by filling stockings with budget friendly beauty gifts that friends and loved ones will truly adore. Here are a few gift-giving ideas: Scent: Embrace the magic of the winter season with Softsoap’s limited edition body washes, in Wintermint Snowfall and Sparkling Berry Bubbly. The festive scents celebrate the spirit of the season while the moisture-rich formula leaves skin feeling soft and smooth all winter long. Nails: Everyone wants to add a little glitter and glam during the holidays. Give the women in your life a little sparkle with fun festive nail polishes in colors of red, gold and silver. Lips: Women like lip balms that moisturize and shine at the same time. Tuck a few tubes of flavored lip balms into their stocking. Fun flavors include berry, gingerbread champagne or citrus.

Rejuvenation: Create a themed stocking overflowing with special spa gifts. Tuck in herbal tea bags, dark chocolate truffles, a pretty bath loofah and a coordinating bottle of moisturizing Softsoap body wash, which is available in seasonal holiday fragrances and packaging. To see more fragrances, go to softsoap.com. Hair: Head accessories are all the rage, so make sure to include at least one in each stocking. Black or red velvet are both traditional choices. Or, go a little more exciting with leopard prints, neon colors or rhinestones. Both types are fun for all ages. Once you’ve checked stocking stuffers off of your list, throw a few extra items into the shopping cart for yourself. After all, everyone likes to shine, shimmer and smell wonderful during the most magical time of year. ❚ Source: Family Features

Get SLW “Your Style” articles every week. Visit NWQSmartLiving.com and start your E-Edition today.

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Globetrotters Continued from cover

The team’s latest tour started in September and runs through April 2014. During that time, the Globetrotters will play 300 games in more than 250 cities in 48 states, six Canadian provinces and Puerto Rico. The Globetrotters were the first organization in sports to let fans vote on rules, when they introduced the concept last year. The 2014 online ballot included three never-before-seen revolutionary rules: — Hot hand jersey – both teams will have a “hot hand jersey” they can pass among each other. The player who is wearing this jersey will receive double points on baskets made. — Make or Miss – the quarter begins with only two players on the court for each team. When a team scores, a teammate may enter the game. When they miss, the player missing the shot must leave the court, leaving his or her team shorthanded.

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— Trick Shot Challenge – Each coach can challenge the other team to make a trick shot. If the team makes the shot, they earn five points. If they miss, the other team receives five points. “The rules contest was such a hit last year that we decided to do it again this year, with a twist,” says guard Scooter Christensen, a ball-handling wizard who holds the official Guinness World Record for spinning a basketball on his nose at 5.1 seconds. “What makes it fun for us is we never know which one fans are going to pick.” The Globetrotters’ roster features a collection of basketball stars, names like Special K Daley, Big Easy Loften, Flight Time Lang, and Dizzy Grant, as well as female starts TNT Maddox, T-Time Brawner and Sweet J Ekworomadu. Christensen, who’s entering his ninth season with the Globetrotters, never dreamed of playing for, arguably, the most beloved team in sports. In 2004, he was working as a video coordinator for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Often he participated in pickup games with the team’s brightest stars, Steve Nash and Joe Johnson.

One day, he was spotted by some Globetrotter scouts who happened to be in attendance. They were so impressed with his play that the Globetrotters quickly offered Christensen a contract. “At the time, the Globetrotters weren’t really on my mind,” says Christensen, who toiled in minor league basketball after starring at the University of Montana. “Even though I didn’t make it to the NBA as a player, I had the best job in the world with Phoenix. I always wanted to do something with basketball, which is my passion. The opportunity with the Globetrotters just fell into my lap, but it’s been an awesome experience.” Growing up, Christensen never saw the Globetrotters play in person. The first time was on television, during a Scooby Doo cartoon, when he watched in awe the legendary Curly Neal spin a ball on his head. Now that he’s a member of the team, doing similar tricks, Christensen understands just how much joy the Globetrotters provide for fans of all ages. “It’s such a blessing to be here,” says the Las Vegas resident. “When I started,


R  O R I had no idea how big this really was. So many great names – Neal, Geese Ausbie, and Meadowlark Lemon – paved the way for the current players. We get the opportunity to travel the world and make people happy.” As a youngster, Christensen never had the opportunity to travel. But now he truly is a globetrotter, learning about various cultures around the world during the team’s travels. In addition, he and his teammates have made numerous appearances on television shows such as “The Amazing Race” and “The Celebrity Apprentice.” In addition to being famous, the Globetrotters are pretty good at their jobs. In 24,800 games played, many against the Washington Generals, Christensen estimates the Globetrotters have won all but 345 of them. In fact, they’ve never lost a game during Christensen’s eight-year tenure. The Globetrotters work hard to achieve their success. Christensen says they practice every day, both on trick shots and the fundamentals of the game. “When I first started I was competitive,”

he says. “But we’re entertainers, too. If I miss a shot, I can’t be mad. There are kids watching. You have to play to the crowd.” Not all tricks go as planned, however. Recently, Globetrotter William “Bull” Bullard was injured while dunking a basketball, when the backboard landed on top of him during an exhibition held in Honduras. Fortunately, Bullard suffered only minor cuts. “It was scary,” Christensen says. “People think we’re faking, but sometimes things happen.” Scooter Christensen balances a basketball on his head, one After the game, the Globe- of the many tricks the Globetrotters are famous for. trotters often stay on the court Tickets start at $20 and are available to sign autographs and pose for photoat harmlemglobetrotters.com, ticketmasgraphs with appreciative fans. ter.com, the BMO Harris Bank Center “This won’t be your average basketbox office, or by phone at (815) 968ball game,” promises Christensen. “Fans 5222. ❚ never remember the score, but they remember something funny that happened, Get SLW Right in our Region articles or some cool trick we performed. Hopeevery week. Visit NWQSmartLiving.com fully, it will be a night they remember for and start your E-Edition today. the rest of their lives.”

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The Twelve Days of Pet-Safe Holidays W

hile you’re busily gearing up for guests and parties, it’s important to remember your pet’s safety to ensure that a festive season is enjoyed by all. Here are a few things to keep in mind to keep your fuzzy friend safe and jolly this holiday: 12. Covered Cords: Cords used for holiday lights can be tempting to chew for many pets. Take time while decorating to tape down or cover cords to help prevent shocks, burns or other serious injuries. 11. Tempting Table Scraps: Rich scraps such as drippings, gravy and poultry skin can cause pets to suffer from upset stomach, diarrhea and even pancreatitis, which are not only terribly painful but can be fatal. No poultry bones, either. 10. Radiant Ribbons: Cats may be interested in playing with or eating tinsel and ribbons hanging from trees. These decorations should be placed high on the tree or not used at all because they can potentially cause serious intestinal damage if swallowed.

9. Dinging Doorbells: Consider putting your dog on a leash before people start arriving so you can control him if he begins to jump, and better prevent him from running out the door. 8. Tasty Treats: Keep party food out of pet reach, and offer pet-friendly treats such as BLUE Santa Stew Holiday Feast and Santa Paws Snacks. 7. Quiet Corners: Provide pets with a quiet place to retreat so they can choose whether to come out and visit or keep to themselves when company arrives. 6. Patient Puppies: Tell your guests that your puppy is in training, and he needs to be polite before they say “hello” to him. Have your dog sit, using a treat if necessary. Once he’s sitting and calm, let your guests pet him. 5. Perilous Plants: Mistletoe, holly berries and poinsettia plants are all poisonous for dogs. 4. Guarded Glasses: Alcohol poisoning can be fatal. Place alcoholic drinks safely out of reach.

3. Calming Coats: Using a ThunderShirt can calm a nervous dog by applying gentle pressure to the body. There are also cold weather ThunderSweater and ThunderCoat options. 2. Nearby Numbers: Keep contact information for your veterinarian and the nearest emergency veterinary clinic readily available in case of a holiday mishap. 1. Towering Tree: Seasonal trees are sure to attract a pet’s attention and should be secured to keep from toppling over. For more information on keeping pets safe, visit petsmart.com. ❚

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Cannova’s Holiday Dinner Show Dec. 11, 16, 17 & 18. Five-course meal with songs and skits between courses. Hour-long show following dessert, with nine singers and four instrumentalists. 1101 W. Empire St., Freeport, (815) 233-0032. Mamma Mia! Dec. 12, 7:30 p.m. A mother, a daughter and three possible dads are at the center of this musical comedy set on a Greek Island on the eve of a wedding. Coronado Performing Arts Center, coronadopac.org. Singin’ At the King Dec. 12, 5:30 p.m. In conjunction with FHNsponsored Festival of Trees. Enjoy holiday music by local school choirs, at King Community Campus, 511 S. Liberty Ave., Freeport. Christmas in the Country Dec. 12, 15, 17, 19 & 22, 5:30-8:30 p.m. Enjoy the great outdoors this season, with Santa in his sleigh (weather permitting), or in a log cabin. Dress warm. Red Oak, 2907 Richland Road, Freeport. (815) 297-3296. Manheim Steamroller Christmas Dec. 13, 8 p.m. Grammy-winner Chip Davis has put together a show that features not only beloved Christmas music but also dazzling multimedia effects. Coronado Performing Arts Center, coronadopac.org. IceHogs Vs. Oklahoma City Barons Dec. 13, 7 p.m. at BMO Harris Bank Center. More info at tickmaster.com. A Beckman Mill Victorian Holiday Dec. 14, 4-7 p.m. Candlelit tours and costumed interpreters bring Victorian Christmas to life. Hot cider, gingerbread, bonfire, games. $5/$3 children. Beckman Mill County Park, 11600 S. County Road H, Beloit, visitbeloit.com. Holiday Spectacular Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m. Beloit Janesville Symphony, Robert Tomaro, conductor; The Eclipse Center, Beloit, Wis., (608) 313-1200, beloitjanesvillesymphony.org. Home for the Holidays Dec. 13 & 14, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sale of baked goods and other goodies, plus crafts. 1135 S. Oak Ave., Freeport (815) 233-2399. J.R. Sullivan’s Hometown Holiday Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 14 at 3 & 8 p.m.

The holiday variety show, now in its 18th season, includes comedy and popular songs by local and Chicago performers. $30. Sullivan Theatre at Nordlof Center, 118 N. Main St., Call (815) 968-5222 or go to ticketmaster.com. William R. Bear MBB Tournament Dec. 13 & 14, eight-team junior college men’s basketball tournament at Highland Community College Sports Center, 2998 W. Pearl City Road, Freeport, highland.edu. Harlem Globetrotters Dec. 28, 7 p.m. See cover story. Gingerbread House Display Thru Dec. 20, Mon.-Thur., 9 a.m to 8 p.m., Fri. 9 a.m-6 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m-5 p.m. View and vote for People’s Choice, bid on favorites in Silent Auction. Freeport Public Library, 100 E. Douglas St., Freeport. (815) 232-9000, (815) 233-0013. RSO: Holiday Pops! Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 22 at 3 p.m. Featuring pianist Richard Ridenour in his original arrangements of Carol of the Bells, Billy Joel’s Egg Nog Rag, Christmastime is Here, Nutcracker Rock and more. Coronado Performing Arts Center, coronadopac.org. AE: The Gifts of the Magi Thru Dec. 22, see website for times. A lovely musical treat for the holidays. Artists’ Ensemble (AE), Cheek Theatre, Rockford University, 5050 E. State St., Rockford, (815) 394-5004, artistsensemble.org. 25th Annual Festival of Lights Viewing Thru Dec. 31, 5-10 p.m. Fri-Sun thru Dec. 15; nightly Dec. 20-31. Rockford’s annual holiday light display in Sinnissippi Park, available for drive-thru viewing. Donations accepted. Sinnissippi Park, 1401 N. 2nd St., Rockford, rockfordfireandice.com. STOMP Jan. 14, 7:30 p.m. Explosive and provocative percussion that appeals to all ages. Coronado Performing Arts Center, coronadopac.org. ❚ Smart Living Weekly

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2nd Cousins Bar & Grill, 6246 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park, (815) 637-2660: Weekly Wed-Thu DJ Quick Mixin Nick; Fri Live Country Night; Sat. DJ JES ONE; all 9 pm.

Murphy’s Pub & Grill, 501 S. Perryville, Rkfd., (815) 986-0950: Weekly Wed. DJ Sandy Monster; Thurs. DJ Aaron Hodge; Fri. DJ JES-ONE; all 9 p.m.

Big Al’s, 610 N. Bell School Road, Rkfd., (815) 398-6411: 12/13, Big Daddy Woo Woo; 12/14, Radio Stars; all 9 p.m.

On State Bar & Restaurant, 4002 E. State St., Rkfd., (815) 708-6306: 12/18, Frank Calvagna 7-10 p.m.; 12/20 Tim Quartet, 7-10 p.m.; 12/21 Soundscape, 7-11 p.m.; 12/27 Between Planes.

Butterfly Club, 5246 E. County Road X, Beloit, (608) 362-8577: Monthly 1st-2nd Fri.-Sat. Mike Williamson; 4th Fri.-Sat. Phil Ramsey; all 7 pm. Cannova’s, 1101 W. Empire, Freeport, (815) 233-0032: Live Pianist Fri.-Sat. 6-9 pm. Coronado Performing Arts Center, 314 N. Main, Rkfd. (815) 968-0595, coronadopac. org: 12/13 Mannheim Steamroller 8 p.m.; 12/21 (7 p.m.) 12/22 (3 p.m.) RSO Holiday Pops!; 12/13 (7:30 p.m.) 12/14 3 & 8 p.m. J.R. Sullivan’s Hometown Holiday @ Sullivan Center, 118 N. Main, Rkfd. District Bar & Grill, 205 W. State, Rkfd., (815) 977-4524: 12/13 The Hot Sauce Committee 10 pm. Fibs, 105 W. Main, Rockton, (815) 624-6018. Franchesco’s, 7128 Spring Creek, Rkfd., (815) 229-0800. Hope and Anchor, 5040 N. 2nd, Loves Park, (815) 977-8585: 12/13 Harlan Jefferson 7 pm. JustGoods Listening Room, 201 7th St., Rockford, (815) 965-8903: 12/13 Greg Herriges; 12/20 Bittersweet Christmas Band; all 7 p.m. Jax Pub, 4160 N. Perryville, Loves Park, (815) 877-0600: Wed., Fri., Sat., Music w/ Special Guest. Katie’s Cup, 502 7th St., Rkfd., (815) 9860628: 12/17 Christmas themed open mic; Monthly 1st & 3rd Tues. Open Mic Night 6:308 p.m. Kryptonite, 308 W. State, Rkfd., (815) 9650931: 12/13 Phil Stendek; 12/14 The Handcuffs and Hope’s Anchor; 12/17 Songs from Screw City Ernie Hendrickson; all 10 p.m. $5. Mary’s Place, 602 N. Madison, Rkfd., (815) 962-7944: Every Wed. Karaoke; 12/13-14 Michael Whyte Holiday Show to benefit Rock River Valley Food Pantry; all 9:30 p.m.

Onyx Bar & Grill, 1001 W. Lane Rd., Machesney Park, (815) 904-6842: 12/14 The Hot Sauce Committee 10:15 p.m.; 12/21 The Personnel 11 p.m. Oscar’s Pub & Grill, 5980 E. State St., Rkfd., (815) 399-6100: Wed., Fri.-Sat. music. Poison Ivy, 5765 Elevator Road, Roscoe, (815) 623-1480: Live DJ Fri. -Sat. 9 p.m. Rascal’s Bar & Grill, 5223 Torque Road, Loves Park, (815) 636-9207: 12/14 Prime Time; 12/19 3GM; 12/21 Mr. Big Stuff; 12/28 X51; all 9 p.m. Restoration Café, 625 W. State, Rkfd., (815) 9774361: 1/3 Tania Nicholson 6 p.m. Shooters (inside Don Carter Lanes), 4007 E. State, Rkfd., (815) 399-0314: Live Band Sat., 9 p.m. Shooters East (inside Cherry Bowl), 7171 Cherryvale Blvd., (815) 332-5229: 12/13 County Line; 12/14 Stage Fright; all 9 p.m. Shooters North 7742 Forest Hills Road, Loves Park, (815) 6543900: Live Band Sat. Splitters, 5318 N. 2nd, Loves Park, (815) 8776051: 12/13 Mr. Burgundy 9 p.m.; 12/14 Jamie Campbell & Redneck Romeos 10 p.m. ❚

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Dec. 11


T  I

Ask Questions When Choosing A Contractor

By Jim Killam

C

hoosing a home-improvement contractor can be a lot more precise than just opening the phonebook and randomly stabbing a finger. In fact, smart homeowners become part job recruiter and part investigative reporter to conduct tough interviews with potential contractors, says Dan Starry, president of S & R Custom Homes and Remodeling, Inc., of Rockford, and also president of Associated Construction Group Northern Illinois. “Listen to your intuition when you talk to him,” Starry says. “Does he appear to know what he’s talking about? Are you comfortable with him? That makes a big difference.” He suggests a few starter questions: How long have you been in business? Being new in town doesn’t necessarily disqualify someone, but it does mean they may not be a track record. How long have you been doing this kind of work? With new home construction barely moving, “Now, everybody’s a remodeler,” he says. “It’s a whole different game than new construction.” Do you have references I could call or visit? This might be the best way to confidently choose a contractor, yet few homeowners do it, Starry says. “Any company that’s worth its salt and has been around a while has a list of people.” And don’t hesitate to ask someone if you can drop by their house. If the contractor did good work, those people become their best marketers. Finally, educating yourself about the type of work you want done enables you to ask key questions and see if the contractor offers the right answers. If you’re doing, say, a home addition, even watching a TV show or finding online articles or videos can give you the basics. “Just get a little education on what it takes to do this stuff,” Starry says. “The Internet’s an amazing thing to give you some basic knowledge.” ❚ Smart Living Weekly

Dec. 11

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Y M

Be Smart When Purchasing a Snowblower By Jim Killam

I

n the market for a new snow blower this year? Tim Kinney of Lincoln Rent-All & Lawn Equipment Sales, Inc., 3110 Auburn St., Rockford, offers a few tips for buyers. First, know your terminology. Snow blowers come in two basic types: Single-stage. Usually 18 to 22 inches wide, they employ rubber paddles to sweep the snow up and out of a chute in one quick movement. The rubber parts are forgiving on blacktop and concrete driveways, Kinney says. If you’re doing a short, city driveway, a 21-inch, single stage model probably will do just fine. Two-stage. Larger, heavier machines. A metal auger funnels the snow backward inside the machine, where a spinning impeller throws it out a chute at high velocity. Two-stage snow blowers can handle more snow and typically throw it 10-15 feet farther than single-stage machines. Metal skids can be height-adjusted depending on the surface.

“If you’re in an area with a lot of drifting, the two-stage would be better because they have a bigger opening and can handle more snow at one time,” Kinney says. Then, decide what features you need.

“Are they capable of having just a pull start, or do they need electric start?” he asks. “The electric-start doesn’t have a battery so you do have to plug it in, but once it starts, you unplug it and you’re good to go.” Consider engine types. Lincoln sells only Toro snow blowers, which all have four-cycle engines. That means you don’t have to mix the gas and oil, as you would on a two-cycle engine. Finally, if you just need a machine to clean off sidewalks, a deck, or even a very small, city driveway, consider a smaller, allelectric model. They’re not very powerful but are extra-convenient and require much less maintenance. ❚ Get SLW “Your Money” articles every week. Visit NWQSmartLiving.com and start your E-Edition today.

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Smart Living Weekly -- Dec. 11, 2013  

Featured this week: Harlem Globetrotters. You and your family will live smarter and better lives, every week of the year, with this magazi...

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