Archive for August, 2011

Kitchen Corner: Gluten Free Goodies

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Kitchen Corner: Gluten Free Goodies

By Carol Edmondson, Innkeeping Specialists,

How do you provide special treats to guests who cannot eat things made with wheat flour or other grains that contain gluten?  Rather than resorting to pre made gluten free treats which are often tasteless loaded with additives of dubious food value and otherwise unhealthy, why not surprise your guests with a homemade treat that everyone will love.  Try making these great do ahead almond coconut macaroons that are bakery window beautiful and truly a healthy treat.  Nuts and coconut are a great replacement for gluten based products.  Almonds, pistachios and walnuts get high marks for their healthy nutrition profile and they taste great as well.

Favorite Almond Coconut Macaroons

This is a great do ahead cookie dough.  It keeps in the fridge for two weeks and bakes up as needed in 15 minutes.  Grind the almonds in a food processor until they resemble corn meal.


  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons grand marnier or cointreau orange liquor
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • ½ cup sugar (or Splenda)
  • 1 cup finely ground whole almonds
  • 2 ½ cups shredded baking coconut
  •  1/3 cup dark chocolate chips to melt and drizzle over cookies (optional).



In a large mixing bowl whisk whole eggs till well mixed.    Add all of the remaining ingredients except the chocolate chips.  Mix well and allow to sit for at least 1 hour at room temperature or, refrigerate covered for up to two weeks.

Scoop by the tablespoon or with a cookie scoop onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the tips of the coconut shreds are deep golden brown.  Immediately remove to a rack and cool completely before drizzling melted chocolate over the cookies.

Allow chocolate to dry for 30 minutes before serving.   To add even more flavor add ½ cup finely chopped dried cherries to the dough.

No one will be thinking “healthy treat” but they will be back for more.


Carol Edmondson owned and operated an award winning 14 room B&B Inn on Cape Cod for 12 years. Carol and her husband Tom, a commercial real estate broker, formed Innkeeping Specialists in 1994. Their consulting partnership focuses on finding inns for clients and teaching their “Innkeeping from the Innside” seminar. Carol has developed and presented several PAII conference workshops, currently chairs the Cape Cod Bed & Breakfast Committee, and is a member of the PAII Advisory Board. She was formerly a marketing executive with a Fortune 500 high-tech firm and holds a degree in finance and marketing. Contact Carol via email at or visit her website at

Taking PAII From Good To Great! By Jay Karen, PAII CEO

Friday, August 19th, 2011

On My Mind – Taking PAII From Good To Great!
By Jay Karen, PAII CEO
So, I’ve read through some of the 262 responses from our innkeeper members to the survey we sent earlier this week, asking you what you thought about the work we are doing at PAII, what we should be doing and how we are stacking up against our vision.  I’m going to use my column this month to give you the preliminary results, provide some commentary and share some of the more thought-provoking or laugh-inducing innkeeper comments.

We asked innkeepers to rank the importance of the areas of work that we do on behalf of innkeepers, and here are the results (on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 being most important):

Advocacy 5.62
Industry PR and Marketing 5.43
Continuing Education 4.79
Community Building and Networking 3.55
Research 3.29
Troubleshooting Innkeeper Problems 3.27
Connecting Innkeepers with Vendors 2.90

This was the clear winner.  Most of the supporting comments expressed the need for a group like PAII to address issues that really could not be done by individual innkeepers.  I was encouraged by this response, because it gives our staff and leadership the mandate to put more effort behind advocacy.  The purpose of this survey was to provide some clarity for us, and this did it.  Advocacy can come in many forms, such as working with TripAdvisor and other review sites to affect change, lobbying our elected officials to enact good legislation or to oppose harmful legislation, or to stimulate public discussions on issues that are impacting our industry.

Some interesting comments on advocacy…straight from the survey results:

  • You might need to change the name – take out the “I” for “international,” unless you can figure out a way to advocate everywhere in the world a B&B might exist.
  • Room for improvement would be getting petty innkeepers to loosen up and make our industry great!  Only then can you advocate confidently for the industry.
  • You should be an advocate for our industry, not individual innkeepers.  That would drive you nuts!
  • Our “industry” is poorly defined and when there are definitions, they often conflict between authorities.  Working towards a national standard would support branding and ease of doing business.

There were other suggestions for advocacy issues, while most of the comments encouraged us to continue working on TripAdvisor.

Industry Public Relations and Marketing
For years, PAII was not active in pushing out messages about our industry, let alone promoting our industry to the traveling public.  We would basically respond to media inquiries and send the occasional press release when we had something interesting to share with the world.  And we left any industry marketing to the B&B directories and state/local associations.  Once we determined the amazing opportunity to get more travelers to gravitate our way – and learned about the unbelievable assumptions and misperceptions about staying at B&Bs – we felt we needed to do more in the area of PR and marketing.  Plus, countless innkeepers who dropped their membership over the years have said they would support us if we did more to get heads in beds.  My take has always been that PAII helps make smarter innkeepers, and smarter innkeepers know how to get more heads in beds. But in order to move the dial our way, more direct work must be done.

Here are some comments:

  • With a significantly larger budget, I could really see this being powerful.  As it stands, it pales in comparison to the big box hospitality marketing.
  • Someone needs to represent the industry.  When a person has a bad experience at one B&B, they believe all B&Bs are like that.  We need a voice.
  • There is a need here, and we hope the Better Way to Stay program makes a difference.
  • We need our best and brightest working on changing the antiquated ideas and myths of what B&Bs are, and instead get us to someday not only be thought of as often as hotels, but maybe even more.

No question, this is the area that generates the most excitement and enthusiasm.  Marketing is fun and sexy!  The others – not so much, even though they are important.  It also generates the most impatience!  Innkeepers what to see us to more and more with Better Way to Stay – and now!  With our limited resources, though, it takes more time to build the program.  We can’t just throw a ton of money at it and get everything we want in a matter of 12 months.  But, at the risk of repeating myself, it is coming!  Step by step, we are making some nice progress.  And there is no question that what has been seen through the campaign is not totally appealing or agreeable to some innkeepers, and yet very agreeable and appealing to others.  We are going to continue to take risks and implement all kinds of approaches – some traditional and some not so traditional.  It must be remembered that this is a marathon, not a sprint.  Try not to judge the entire marathon on what’s happening in the first mile.

Continuing Education
I figured this might be the highest-ranking area of work, because it is generally what we are best known for – facilitating and providing high quality education and information on successful innkeeping.  But now that our industry is matured, I think there is a strong population of innkeepers out there who don’t think they need as much continuing education (i.e. I’ve got this innkeeping thing licked…).  In addition, PAII is not the only source of education in our industry.  Workshops, seminars, webinars and more are conducted by very knowledgeable vendors, B&B directories, internet marketing gurus, etc.  Because it still scored well, though, you can count on us focusing a lot of our energy and resources on this.  The world is changing too fast to sit back on our heels with education and information.

Some comments from innkeepers:

  • I get most of my continuing ed elsewhere.  However, your programs cover good topics.
  • This is what keeps me on top!  We just won an award from Google as a result of information we got at PAII in January!
  • I think digital learning and readable content are the most important vehicles here.  Face-to-face should be at a state or regional association meeting.
  • Let someone else do this.
  • This is why I belong to PAII.

Community Building and Networking
The definition of being an association is being a community of people that have something in common, so this is a natural area of work.

  • Done a good job of herding cats here.
  • Love the Forums.
  • I think this will happen as it does, no money should be dumped into it besides the website.  Most community should be happening on a state or regional level.
  • Just stumbled upon the forums recently, and now not a day goes by that I don’t read what’s new.
  • Use technology to minimize staff time – forum, etc.

Most of our research has come in the form of our annual Innkeeping Operations and Finance study, which has been quite valuable mostly to consultants, realtors, bankers and aspiring innkeepers.  Innkeepers have found it to be interesting and informative too.  Trade associations are expected to be sources of research and information, but there hasn’t been a strong calling from the membership to conduct more research than we are.  If there is a need, we will try to meet it.

Comments from innkeepers:
Your research programs help me to do reality checks on how my business is doing.
Important. Interesting.  But less needed than the other areas right now.
As far as I can tell, PAII really does more reporting than research.
Someone needs to do some thorough research into the demographics of current guests, how they vary by geography, market, etc., what are the different age groups looking for, etc.  And I mean thorough research, polling thousands, not polling 100.  I nominate PAII!

I think we could be collecting and reporting some of our industries vitals, such as ADR, RevPAR and occupancy, on a more frequent basis (i.e. quarterly or monthly).  I think the need for information surfaces from time-to-time, and it’s nice living in an age when we can gather information from our base pretty swiftly.  Thus, I can foresee more impromptu data collection for timely needs, rather than more of the “big” studies.

This is an interesting one, because it scored relatively low, but the expectation is very high when there is a call for our help.  In other words, if you’ve never gone to PAII to help with an individual challenge or problem, you might be more likely to rank this low.  But if you’ve come to us for help, and we were able to help you, then you might see this as the reason you’ll pay dues as long as you’re an innkeeper.  It’s kind of like insurance – you don’t really value it unless you have to use it.  That being said, it would be hard for us to just “turn off” this part of serving the membership.  Pat Hardy and Jo Ann Bell built PAII on the expectation that innkeepers could call PAII to help with just about any problem – they’d do their best to take care of you.  But, it was also when our industry was much younger and less professional – there were a lot more folks out there finding their way in a new industry.  Today, innkeepers have so many more resources available to help with their challenges – knowledgeable vendors, fellow innkeepers, limitless information on the internet, etc.  Nevertheless, there are times when an innkeeper needs extra help, and PAII is often turned to.  We must dedicate our staff’s time and energy to help solve those problems.  We often encourage innkeepers to go to the forums for advice, but some either have done that or are embarrassed to put their problems out there for everyone to see.

Some interesting comments about troubleshooting from survey participants:

  • Seems like this could get out of hand with as many innkeepers and potential issues out there.
  • This sounds like micromanaging and I’m surprised that innkeepers would ask a national agency for help with individual issues.
  • I think state associations might be a better way to handle individual complaints or concerns.
  • If PAII was big enough and could afford this luxury, a staff member dedicated to troubleshooting for members would be great.
  • That is what the innkeeper forum is for and should not be a focus for PAII involvement.  Let the members help each other out with their issues/questions.
  • Very time-consuming, but if PAII doesn’t do it, who will?
  • Important…and I appreciate all your help…but when we need it, we get impatient, I know.

So, I have to say that there is no way to escape troubleshooting, and nor should we.  I think we need to figure out a way to handle this better, because we can spend a long time helping just one innkeeper on one problem.  When you have a staff of 6 (each with different responsibilities) serving a membership of more than 2,000, it certainly gets tough.  But we learn so much from trying to help solve individual problems. One member put it well when he/she said, “If one innkeeper is having an issue, I’m sure there are a dozen who are also experiencing the same problem.  Translating this help into continuing education and advocacy work benefits all members.”  What a fantastic piece of insight!

Connecting Innkeepers with Vendors
Unfortunately, we just realized that we omitted the opportunity to provide additional comments about this area of work (mea culpa)!  Seeing that it scored lowest, I’m sure most of the comments would have been about spending our time on the other priorities.  Nevertheless, we know that the vendor support and involvement is critical to PAII’s success.  Some of the brightest and most progressive contributors to our education and leadership come from the vendor community.  A great deal of PAII’s funding comes from the vendor community.  I think innkeepers also value vendors and PAII for being the place where so many of those connections can be made.  I think if asked if you’d like more members-only discounts and deals from vendors, most innkeepers would say, “Sure!”  Would you like to see a greater variety of vendors at our shows?  Sure!  We will continue to try and facilitate a relevant and vibrate marketplace, because innkeepers and vendors appreciate it, and it’s an engine that keeps PAII going.  We are also asking vendor members similar questions about what we do or could be doing for them.

I have yet to read all the comments about what else PAII could be doing or how we are stacking up against our vision statement.  I look forward to reading all of that and reporting back.  The responses validate the work we are doing, give me some needed clarity and tell us we have more to do.

Thanks to everyone who has filled out our survey!  We are keeping it open through the weekend.  Click here to fill it out, if you haven’t already.


Are You Ready for a Crisis?

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Are You Ready for a Crisis?

by Michael Swain


Fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, windstorms, earthquakes, hailstorms, gas leaks—no matter where your B&B is located, your business could experience a crisis at some point.

Although you can’t predict when a crisis will occur, you can be prepared. This article gives you tips you can use to recover from a crisis and suggestions to enhance your property before a disaster strikes.

Create a Crisis Management Plan
A crisis management plan helps you determine how you will manage during and after a crisis. Here are some pointers to help you get the most out of your plan.

  • Practice your plan. Assign specific responsibilities, such as evacuating guests and shutting down gas and water, to specific people. Know what you need to take with you in an emergency. Keep critical files and equipment where they can be easily evacuated.
  • Protect vital records. Preserving your records makes it easier to get your B&B up and running after an emergency. Vital records include financial and insurance information, personnel and guest files, and administrative information.
  • Improve your technology. You can store critical information on compact discs or jump-drives. Ship your data to offsite locations or storage facilities that are located away from coastal areas and flood plains.

Practice Fire Evacuation
Every B&B owner should be prepared for a fire, which is an all too common occurrence in historic buildings.

  • Practice evacuating the building blindfolded. In a real fire, heavy smoke will severely limit visibility.
  • Practice staying low to the ground when exiting.
  • Learn to stop, drop to the ground, and roll if clothes catch fire.
  • Check your smoke detectors and fire extinguishers regularly.

Prevent Water-Damage Losses
Water can destroy carpets, floors, and walls, and can also ruin computers, fax machines, sound systems, and phone systems.

Water damage often occurs when heavy rain causes roofs to leak or when pipes freeze or wear out. You can help prevent these damages by regularly inspecting your property. The Institute for Business & Home Safety ( provides these recommendations:

  • Check plumbing for leaks and drips, (including fire sprinkler systems), clogged drains, and defective water-drainage systems.
  • Inspect foundations and exterior walls for cracks and gaps in expansion joints. Have a professional building contractor inspect significant gaps or cracks.
  • Check interior walls and ceilings. Water stains on the ceiling or walls may be the sign of a big problem. If left untreated, the ceiling or wall may collapse.
  • Inspect flashing and sealants around windows, roofs, and doors. If they are brittle or there are noticeable gaps in spaces, reseal them or apply new caulk.
  • Check roof drainage systems and ventilation systems. Ensure roof drains and gutters are free of debris and that water drains away from buildings.
  • Check your roof. If it is in poor condition, you will need to replace it. It’s a good idea to hire a roofing contractor to inspect your roof on a regular basis.

In winter, a heavy load of snow and ice can damage your roof, causing water leaks inside your building. After a heavy snow, check your roof from the ground. If you see heavy accumulation, ask your snow-removal contractor to remove it—don’t do it yourself!

Learn About Lightning
Lightning strikes can be devastating to your building as well as to electrical equipment inside your B&B. According to the National Lightning Safety Institute, damage from electrical surges, often caused by lightning, is one of the leading causes of electrical equipment failure. Surges can come from a variety of other sources, such as fax machines, copiers, and air conditioners.

You can protect your equipment by:

  • Installing properly-sized surge protectors on all electronic equipment.
  • Keeping cable lengths short and straight to minimize the resistive path of the circuit to ground.
  • Consulting with a licensed electrician to ensure that your electrical distribution system is grounded correctly.

Check with your insurance agent to confirm you have proper coverage for your equipment before a loss occurs.

Trim Trees
Take a walk around your property and pay special attention to trees that may need trimming. Tree branches can weigh several hundred pounds and can cause extensive property damage and severe injury if a branch falls and strikes someone.

The Agricultural Extension Service of the University of Tennessee provides these recommendations:

  • Check your trees, especially the large ones. Complete one inspection during the summer while the leaves are on the tree and one in the winter.
  • Look for cracks, seams, dead branch stubs, and large, older wounds. These may be signs of tree decay, which increases the likelihood of tree or branch failure.
  • Remove trees that lean more than 15 degrees from vertical.
  • Use binoculars to inspect higher parts of trees. Walk completely around the tree, and document what you see. This will help you track the tree’s health and evaluate whether it should be removed.

Contact a tree removal specialist for assistance in removing any tree. Confirm they have proper insurance before hiring them.

Reduce Slip-and-Fall Accidents
Although not usually considered a disaster, slip, trip, and fall accidents are one of the most common causes of loss for B&Bs. Here are some tips to help prevent these accidents:

  • Check floors regularly for spills, and clean them up immediately.
  • Remove or repair tripping hazards, such as pinecones, tree stumps, uneven surfaces, and worn carpets.
  • Increase lighting in stairways and outside your building.
  • Use a sweep schedule to document your sweep activities. These records can make or break your defense if you go to court.
  • During bad weather, place mats with a non-slip backing at all entrances.
  • Use high-traction cleaning products with a Coefficient of Friction (C.O.F) factor of 0.5 or greater.
  • Inspect stair railings frequently. Make sure they are securely affixed to the wall or in the ground.
  • Educate all employees about your floor safety procedures and expectations.

If a slip, trip, and fall accident occurs at your B&B:

  • Show guests that you are truly concerned about their well-being.
  • Write an accident report. Include the guest’s version of the accident, injuries, names of witnesses, and photos of the accident scene.
  • Report the claim within 48 hours. You can initially file a claim report as record only, which is used for information purposes only. This is a good practice because it shows guests you care and helps prevent fraudulent claims.

For more information about emergency management planning, go to

Having a crisis management plan in place before a critical situation occurs will help you get back to business as soon as possible. Should an event occur at your inn or B&B, be sure to report it immediately to your insurance agent or company, so the claims adjustment process can get underway quickly. You can help to mitigate and prevent many types of crises by regularly inspecting your property, making repairs as needed, and keeping your crisis management plan updated. These efforts go a long way in preventing crises from occurring at your inn or B&B.

Michael Swain is Senior Loss Control Specialist for Markel Insurance Company in Richmond, Virginia. Markel specializes in insurance for B&Bs and inns.

Survey Reveals Key Leisure Travel Trends for Americans

Friday, August 19th, 2011
Survey Reveals Key Leisure Travel Trends for Americans PDF Print
Published by Ozgur Tore
Sunday, 14 August 2011 01:23
Make today matter: that’s the mantra of today’s resourceful and increasingly experiential travelers, according to the newly released Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2011 Portrait of American Travelers(SM).

online-travelThis national survey of just over 2,500 adults tracks the emerging travel habits, preferences and intentions of American leisure travelers and provides valuable insights into the motivations that guide their planning and purchasing behavior.

At the core of this year’s findings is the sustained sense of “new resourcefulness” embraced by travelers, a response to Americans’ unwavering commitment to travel despite persistent economic concerns. Americans treasure their leisure and vacation time – citing travel as their number two passion behind family, the survey found. These travelers are also savvier and more self-reliant since the arrival of the Great Recession, however. Also enabled by the continued growth of the Internet, they are more determined than ever to obtain the most value from their travel purchases – though their definition of this is no longer based on price alone.

What does this mean for the year ahead in the travel industry? The 2011 Portrait of American Travelers(SM) reveals the following key trends:


• More than three-quarters of U.S. consumers (77 percent) agree they “have become a much smarter shopper thanks to today’s economic situation;”

• Among leisure travelers who have used the Internet to obtain travel information or to make a reservation, more than eight in ten say the most desirable features in a travel-service supplier website are the ability to check the lowest fares/rates (84 percent) and the lowest price/rate guarantee (82 percent);

• Fully three in ten (30 percent) leisure travelers took a “staycation” – an overnight trip within a 50-mile drive radius of their home – as an alternative to a vacation requiring a greater travel distance within the past 12 months, a significant increase from 26 percent taking such a trip in 2010;

• Nearly two in three travelers (64 percent) say they are willing to pay full price if they are guaranteed the quality and service they believe they deserve;

• Experience-based travel involving family and friends rules: the leading types of leisure trips remain visiting friends and relatives (50 percent) and family vacations (42 percent);

• Roughly one-half of leisure travelers (44 percent) have participated in outdoor activities such as a beach/lake trip, camping/hiking/climbing, snow skiing/boarding, fishing, golf, adventure/outfitting or hunting on a vacation during the previous year;

• Fully seven in ten leisure travelers (70 percent) have taken a “celebration vacation” in the past 12 months, coincidental with the recognition of a significant “life event” such as milestone birthday or anniversary;

• Nearly one-third of leisure travelers (30 percent) have taken a last-minute leisure trip (booked, on average, six days prior to departure) during the past 12 months;

• Two in ten (20 percent) leisure travelers purchased a travel service as a result of a flash sale – a time-sensitive offer delivered through an unexpected email from a travel-service supplier;

• The Caribbean (34 percent), Europe (33 percent) and Mexico (26 percent) remain the top international destinations visited by American travelers during the past two years;

• The percentage of travelers who have downloaded a smartphone travel app jumped from 19 percent last year to 28 percent in 2011;

• The majority of leisure travelers belong to one or more frequent-flyer (68 percent) or frequent-guest programs (57 percent);

• Roughly two in ten active leisure travelers (18 percent) utilized the services of a traditional travel agent in the past 12 months, and younger travelers (Millennials) are slightly more likely to book through a travel agent than their older counterparts;

• Social media are gaining credibility as a trusted information source: among those who have visited an online community, travel forum or blog to seek and/or review information about a destination or service provider, three out of five leisure travelers (61 percent) visited TripAdvisor prior to booking a hotel reservation, while one in five (18 percent) visited YouTube in the past 12 months;

• One-third of travelers (33 percent) have visited an online community, travel forum or blog to seek and/or review information about a destination or travel-service supplier during the past 12 months.

The Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2011 Portrait of American Travelers(SM) is a national survey of 2,539 U.S. households that was conducted in March 2011. The results provide an in-depth examination of the impact of the current economic environment, social values and media practices on the travel habits of Americans with an annual household income of $50,000 or more who have taken at least one leisure trip of 75 miles or more from home requiring overnight accommodations during the previous 12 months.


Friday, August 19th, 2011
C. Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D.
I have written before about probiotics, which I consider one of the most essential nutrients.  I have long consumed buttermilk and yogurt.  Recently, one of my subscribers mentioned that most commercial buttermilk is pasteurized after it is cultured—destroying its primary purpose.  So, I bought a gallon of whole milk and experimented. 
I get out a clean one quart glass jar. Pour into it about a cup of milk. Then I pull apart 5 Gr8-Dophilus capsules, dropping the powder directly into that milk, swishing it around a bit, and fill the jar with milk.  I then cover the jar and let it sit at room temperature 24 hours.  Almost instantly, the best, mildest yogurt I have tasted.  I have now done it enough to be certain it works every time.  Of course you could play with 4 capsules for a slightly more drinkable buttermilk or 6 for a slightly thicker yogurt. Actually you can eat the 5 capsule batch with a spoon or drink it. THE COST IS ONE-FOURTH THAT OF COMMERCIAL YOGURT!!  No additives.  No sugar.  I drink or eat two eight ounce cups daily.  There is great evidence that people who eat yogurt daily have healthier immune systems, healthier intestines and are far less prone to weight gain.  Of course you can add fresh fruit for an even greater taste treat. And you can make it with fortified skim milk (added dried milk powder): the consistency is the same as with whole milk.  If you want a thicker yogurt, you can pour the mix into a funnel with a coffee filter, but I am happy with the courrent consistency.

Hastings Museum Receives Highest National Recognition

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Hastings Museum Receives
Highest National Recognition 

Accreditation from the American Association of Museums acknowledges
Hastings Museum’s commitment to excellence and professional standards.



Click here to download hi-res image.

HASTINGS, Neb., Aug. 10, 2011 – The Hastings Museum announced today that it has achieved accreditation from the American Association of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition for a museum. Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies and to the museum-going public.


“We are extremely excited to share this announcement,” said Becky Matticks, the Museum’s director. “Many wonderful people have worked very hard to achieve this recognition. Those who volunteer, serve as staff, Trustees or Foundation Board members and supporters all deserve considerable credit for the museum’s success.”


AAM Accreditation is the museum community’s primary vehicle for quality assurance, self-regulation and public accountability, and earns the Hastings Museum national recognition for a commitment to excellence in all that it does: governance, collections stewardship, public programs, financial stability, high professional standards and continued institutional improvement. Developed and sustained by museum professionals for 35 years, AAM’s Museum Accreditation program strengthens the profession by promoting practices that enable leaders to make informed decisions, allocate resources wisely and provide the best possible service to the public.


Of the estimated 17,500 museums in the United States, less than 5 percent meet the professional standards and best practices required by accreditation. The Hastings Museum joins this exclusive club and is only the sixth museum in Nebraska to be accredited. Other accredited Nebraska museums include the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, the Museum of Nebraska History, the Sheldon Museum of Art, the University of Nebraska State Museum in Lincoln and the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Grand Island.


“Accreditation assures the people of Hastings and all of Nebraska that the Hastings Museum is among the finest in the nation,” said Ford W. Bell, president of AAM. “As a result, the citizens can take considerable pride in their homegrown institution for its commitment to excellence and for the value it brings to the community and region.”


Accreditation is a rigorous process that examines all aspects of a museum’s operations. To earn accreditation, a museum first must conduct a year of detailed self-study, then undergo a site visit by a team of peer reviewers. AAM’s Accreditation Commission, an independent and autonomous body of museum professionals, then review and evaluate the self-study and visiting committee’s report to determine whether a museum should receive accreditation. While the time to complete the process varies by museum, it generally takes three years.


“The accreditation process really helped us develop a clearer sense of purpose and better understanding of our strengths, goals, priorities and mission within all areas of the Hastings Museum, including exhibits, programs, the theatre and planetarium,” Matticks said. “It was a great opportunity for everyone connected to the Hastings Museum to be more thoughtful about their efforts and raise the bar even higher.”


Founded in 1927, Hastings Museum in Hastings, Neb., is the largest municipal museum between Chicago and Denver. Featuring a giant screen theatre and planetarium, the Museum houses dozens of animal species set in their natural habitats. It also chronicles the history of the early inhabitants of the Nebraska plains and how Kool-Aid, the famous soft drink invented in Hastings, came to be such a success. For more, go to


The American Association of Museums is based in Washington, D.C., and has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. For more, visit


Recipe: Huevos Rancheros

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Recipe: Huevos Rancheros

Add a little Spanish flavor to your eggs this week

Eggs are a great source of protein and perfect for anytime of the day.

This quick cooking protein is nutrient dense and has a good combination of fats and protein to keep you full well after your meal.

This week we spiced up our eggs for the makings of a breakfast taco that looks as good as it tastes. Packed with flavor, this recipe provides a morning kick, lunch time fiesta, or fresh dinner in under 15 minutes.

4 Small Corn Tortillas
4 Eggs
1 Can Black Beans, drained
1 Cup of your favorite Salsa
1 Clove garlic, crushed/minced
¼ Cup Red Onion, diced
2 Limes (1 for garnish)
2 Tbsp oil
¼ Cup Crumbled Feta
Salt & Pepper to taste
Optional: 1 Avocado

Small Saucepan
Wooden Spoon
1 Paper Towel


  1. Rinse Black beans and place in a small sauce pan over medium heat, stirring often. After 1 minute, add garlic, salsa, juice of one lime, half of the onion, and a splash of water before letting simmer on low heat. Continue to stir periodically
  2. Coat surface of skillet with oil. Fry each egg to your liking (about 1-2 minutes per side, depending on how you like your eggs. Scrambled is definitely an option as well).
  3. Wrap tortillas in a damp paper towel and heat for 15 seconds in microwave.
  4. On each tortilla, spoon some of the bean-salsa mixture, add the egg on top, sprinkle with Feta and garnish with red onion and cilantro.

Serve with sliced avocados if you would like, and enjoy!

Eight New Businesses Certified by Greener Nebraska

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Eight New Businesses Certified by Greener Nebraska


LINCOLN, NEB. (Aug. 8, 2011)—Eight Nebraska businesses recently earned certification from Greener Nebraska by meeting green performance standards.


The eight businesses qualifying for certification were:


  • Nebraska Nature & Visitor Center, Wood River
  • Western Nebraska Segway Experience Center, Scottsbluff
  • Lincoln Children’s Museum, Lincoln
  • Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary, Gibbon
  • Green Acres Motel & RV Park, Red Cloud
  • Best Western Settle Inn, Omaha
  • Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center, Denton
  • Mom’s Pantry, Ogallala


Greener Nebraska, developed by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development’s Travel and Tourism Division, strives to reduce the tourism industry’s impact on the environment and to attract travelers interested in visiting green destinations. Its certification process previously had been restricted to tourism-related businesses along Nebraska’s nine Scenic Byways; the program expanded this year to help businesses across the state become more environmentally friendly.


Now that the program is open to businesses throughout the state, getting certified through Greener Nebraska is a simple and free way to promote your conservation efforts.


Visit our website,, to learn more about the program and to begin the certification process.

4 Things you might not have known about your Cell Phone

Thursday, August 18th, 2011
4 Things you might not have known about your  Cell Phone
For all the folks with cell phones. This should be printed and kept in your car, purse, and wallet. Good information to have with you.
There are a few things that can be done in times of grave emergencies.
Your mobile phone can actually be a life saver or an emergency tool for survival.
Check out the things that you can do with it:
The Emergency Number worldwide for  Mobile  is 112. If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile network and there is an Emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly, this number 112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked. Try it out.
SECOND Hidden  Battery  Power
Imagine your cell battery is very low. To activate, press the keys *3370#. Your cell phone will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your cell phone next time.
THIRD How to disable a STOLEN mobile phone?
To check your Mobile phone’s serial number, key in the following Digits on your phone:
  *#06# .
A 15-digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe.
If your phone is stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. You probably won’t get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can’t use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile phones.
And Finally.
FOURTH Free Directory Service for Cells
Cell phone companies are charging us $1.00 to $1.75 or more for 411 information calls when they don’t have to. Most of us do not carry a telephone directory in our vehicle, which makes this situation even more of a problem. When you need to use the 411 information option, simply dial:
(800) FREE411   or (800) 373-3411     
without incurring any charge at all.  Program this into your cell phone now.
This is sponsored by McDonalds.

Is Aspartame a Poison?

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Is Aspartame a Poison?

You may know it under its new name, AminoSweet, or NutraSweet. It is everywhere, in chewing gum, yogurt, cereals, and of course in soda drinks and ice cream.

Aspartame is a sweetener made from amino acids that can change levels of chemicals in the brain that affect your behavior. Scientific testing to establish aspartame’s safety prior to FDA approval resulted in:

  • depression
  • menstrual irregularities
  • constipation
  • headaches
  • tiredness
  • general swelling
  • brain tumors and grand mal seizures
  • multiple sclerosis

When exposed to heat, aspartame breaks down into toxic methyl alcohol. This may occur even at temperatures reached by diet sodas during regular storage.

Aspartame can be found on the ingredients list in the following products:

Soft drinks, over-the-counter drugs & prescription drugs (very common and listed under “inactive ingredients”), vitamin & herb supplements, yogurt, candy, breath mints, cereals, sugar-free chewing gum, cocoa mixes, coffee beverages, instant breakfasts, gelatin desserts, frozen desserts, juice beverages, laxatives, milk drinks, shake mixes, tabletop sweeteners, tea beverages, instant teas and coffees, topping mixes, wine coolers, etc.

Please check labels carefully. Many people make the mistake of not checking labels carefully and continue to poison themselves. In addition, many people do not realize that their children may be given aspartame or other artificial sweetener-containing foods or drugs at school, without their knowledge. Talk to the school staff to assure that this does not happen.

In some countries such as Australia, the word “aspartame” may not appear on the label, but the phrase “Phenylketonurics: Contains Phenylalanine” appears instead.

Many people find it much easier to avoid toxic sweeteners by shopping at the local, large health food store when possible. Many health food stores have banned artificial sweeteners (especially aspartame) for obvious reasons. But it is still important to check labels as some health food stores are unknowingly selling aspartame, acesulfame-k, and sucralose!

Take the 60 day aspartame test. Give up all aspartame for 60 days and note the changes in your health. I expect that you will be pleasantly surprised.

To your health!

Martin Pytela

Life Enthusiast Co-op


P.S. Concept fifty three: there is no such thing as good sugar. The worst of it are the artificial sweeteners, but the HFCS – high fructose corn syrup is quite damaging as well. Even refined beet or cane sugar is no friend. There have been some attempts to make the more natural sugars seem “healthy”, and they are in comparison. They include turbinado cane sugar as well as maple and agave syrups – they are nicer, because they can be slow cooked to evaporate most of the liquid. And then there is stevia, either in concentrate, or the whole leaves. All of the above are either toxic, or high glycemic index foods that should be used very sparingly as condiments. Not 9 teaspoons at a time as found in a can of cola.

Here is a neat alternative: fructo-oligo-saccharides known as inulin that you can add to cereals or drinks. Agave Powder is a natural sweetener (with a low glycemic index), a source of Inulin. It is the leftover from the manufacture of Tequila. This “Super Fiber” has a neutral, clean flavor and many nutritional properties to add to your diet. It’s used increasingly in foods, because it has unusual nutritional characteristics.

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