5 Spot: Don’t thwart your retirement


    When financial times get tough, some people make regrettable decisions — such as taking early withdrawals from 401(k) accounts. The number of Americans doing so hit a record in 2010, and in 2011 the IRS collected about $5.7 billion in penalties on roughly $57 billion withdrawn early.

    Early withdrawals can do more long-term harm than short-term good. The longer you leave your money alone to grow, the more powerful your compounded growth becomes. Check out what time, patience and an average 10 percent return can do to a steady series of $10,000 annual investments: After 10 years, you have $175,000. After 20 years, $630,000. After 30 years, $1.8 million.

    That’s the good news. The bad news is that all your impressive gains can quickly fizzle if you start taking money out of your retirement accounts.


‘I feel so energetic and full of life’


Editor’s note: In a little more than two years, Nicole Cook has lost 146 pounds. She answered some questions about how she did that for Focus on Fitness.

May 2012 I began to change my life. Not just the physical me, every part of me. At 341pounds I was miserable, unhappy and knew I had to change my life. I was now a second-time mom and with a 3-month-old and a 6-year-old, and if I wanted them to have a fighting chance at a good childhood I had to get healthy. After just having my fourth knee surgery in March I started the long, rewarding, wonderful and painful road to getting healthy.


10 things to do with all those tomatoes


There’s that day in late summer when you find the first truly ripe tomato in your garden. Maybe you pop it into your mouth right there, and think, with a satisfied sigh, “Wow.”

Then there’s that day a few weeks later when you find 127 more ripe tomatoes in your garden. Maybe you stand there, and think, with an overwhelmed sigh, “Wow.”

Yes, it’s that time of year — the time when ambitiously planned gardens suddenly start producing way too many tomatoes. Here’s a quick list of 10 ideas on how to make sure they don’t go to waste:

Your Home

    Wooden it be lovely?


    Working with wood comes naturally to New York interior designer Dan Faires. He grew up in an old farmhouse and has been developing his carpentry skills for much of his life.

    So in any house or apartment he occupies, he finds creative ways to decorate with this natural material. To rehab an apartment in Arkansas recently, he covered the dark pine floor with coats of glossy white paint, instantly brightening the room and making it seem larger.

    But many homeowners have no experience working with wood, so they don’t realize, Faires says, how easy it is to make a home more beautiful by improving the existing wood or creatively adding new wood to walls, floors and even ceilings.


    The Maker’s Place


    PITTSBURGH — The triplex of row houses in the city was notorious for its active crack scene before the Rev. John Wallace’s church bought it in 2005 and renovated it.

    Today, the triplex is, among other things, The Maker’s Place, a hub of production for middle and high school students in the Oasis Project.

    Oasis was created last year as an outgrowth of after-school programs that began three years before. An arm of the Bible Center Church, Oasis encourages community development with a focus on youth being the drivers of their own economic development.


    Stop, look, listen


    There has been a lot of talk about homelessness in Kenosha lately. Megan Jekot wants that talk to become a conversation.

    Like the conversation with 20-year-old Talevikin Peebles, whose family dynamics have rendered him homeless for the past four months.

    Or the conversation with Joeseph Herman, intermittently homeless for 13 of his 29 years.


    Kids can explore science in these books


    Preschoolers are naturally curious, and what better way to satisfy their curiosity than through science. Here are some great authors to share for learning more about the natural world:

    — Lois Ehlert: Ehlert’s books about the natural world stem from some of her own early experiences with nature growing up in Wisconsin. “Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf,” a story of planting a maple tree, is a perfect example of this. In simple language, Ehlert takes the reader through the entire process of planting a tree from seed to sprout to garden center to hole in the ground to watching the leaves change with the seasons, each scene made to feel familiar through the different objects and textures used in her illustrations. More detailed explanations of the parts of the tree and the steps in planting a tree are provided at the end of the book. Ehlert’s other nature titles include “Snowballs,” “Planting a Rainbow” and “Feathers for Lunch.”

    —Steve Jenkins and Robin Page: Jenkins is known for his vividly detailed illustrations of animals done in torn- and cut-paper collage. While there are many outstanding examples of his work, “My First Day,” made in collaboration with wife Page, is a great introduction to some of the common and some of the more unusual animals he profiles. Each page or spread presents a different animal and a fact about what it can do on its first day in the world, showing just how amazingly diverse the animal kingdom is. Additional facts about each of the animals can be found in the back of the book for those curious to know more about their fascinating ways of life. Jenkins and Page’s other collaborations, “Time to Eat,” “Time to Sleep” and “Time for a Bath” are definitely worth checking out as well.


    Kringle anyone?


    In the world of pastry production, Danish kringle ranks among the most difficult and time-consuming of challenges. To do it right takes three days from start to finish.

    That’s because of the number of times dough is rolled, folded with butter and set aside to rest. “The best quality kringle require patience,” notes a Food Network online recipe, for advanced bakers.

    The result is a light, flaky, oval-shaped delicacy of up to 32 buttery layers, in addition to a fruit, nut or other filling.

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