Author: Miranda Boutelle

How can I lower my electric bill when I’m away on vacation? Just like you, the equipment in your home is hard at work getting through the daily grind. While you are off enjoying a new adventure or time away, give your home’s equipment a vacation, too. Doing so can reduce unnecessary energy waste and unneeded wear and tear on your heating and cooling system, appliances and more. Here’s how to set your home to vacay mode. Your heating and cooling system keeps you comfortable. If you aren’t there, it doesn’t need to be quite so comfortable in your home.…

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Oftentimes I reflect on the journey that led me to where I stand today. Like other veterans, I’ve traversed battlefields, experienced triumph and endured hardship. Some veterans continue to face the invisible scars of serving and the reality of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an unwelcome companion that lingers long after the battle is over. PTSD Awareness Month serves as a beacon, illuminating the path toward greater support and understanding for those battling this invisible adversary. We must shatter the stigma surrounding mental health in the military community and beyond and foster a culture where seeking help is not a sign…

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In honor and remembrance of my dad this Father’s Day, I have planned a seven-day road trip — with my mom. The intention is to Thelma-and-Louise-it (without the violence and their unfortunate demise) to experience as many National Parks in Utah as possible. My dad loved the southwestern part of the U.S. and this was an area he did not have a chance to fully explore. Family road trips in the ’60s and ’70s with my dad at the wheel and mom “navigating” were epic. Between dad’s exceptional defensive driving skills and mom’s questionable sense of direction, my siblings and…

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Twin Valley-sponsored team of Labette County High School (LCHS) students competed in the SunPowered Student Challenge in Topeka on Feb. 5. The development of this STEM learning opportunity was initiated by Pitsco Education in Pittsburg, Kansas, and several Kansas electric cooperatives. It was designed to educate future students about responsible energy consumption, local jobs in the electric industry (whether it’s in the field, manufacturing, dispatch or even sales and distribution) and even degrees obtainable in our local colleges. Last fall, each team was given a kit with parts to construct a miniature solar array, along with written materials outlining the…

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I would imagine most of us vividly remember the red poppies popularized by the American Legion Auxiliary, handed out to us by teachers in grade school, shared with the congregation after Sunday church services, and given to passersby on our town’s Main Street in exchange for a small donation. On Memorial Day and Veterans Day, millions of red crepe paper poppies are distributed across the country, as they have since 1921, in exchange for donations that go directly to assist disabled and hospitalized veterans in our communities. Wearing a red poppy visually reminds us of the courage and selflessness of…

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Art comes in many forms — paintings, sculptures, glass creations and pottery — and is subjective to its viewer. Kansas is fortunate to be rich in art galleries and museums featuring well-known artists such as Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt and Louise Nevelson in the Wichita Art Museum (www.wam.com) and less-explored artists enlightening and enriching at smaller museums statewide. In Kansas, anyone who loves art has the opportunity to view the creations of its talented citizens, masters from another time, and traveling exhibits. Kansas is fortunate to have such a large art community. Several museums offer free…

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Ah, the maypole. The grade school physical education activity equivalent to trying to teach 18 fifth graders how to braid hair, on one person’s head — at the same time. Readers of a certain age may recall dancing, or in my case, stumbling and bumbling, around a maypole with a ribbon in hand and classmates relying on each other to follow directions. The end goal was, I think, to create an intricate woven pattern of the ribbons, which were generally red, white and blue. Instead, we ended up with tangled masses of fabric resembling macabre modern art of some sort.…

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While enjoying the colors of spring as the gardens come alive, it’s a good time to add new plants to the landscape. Many options provide a colorful show in the fall and planting them now offers time to establish a healthy root system before summer heat and the winter freeze. Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) is a large (60 to 100 feet tall), deciduous tree with needle-like leaves that turn bronze in the fall. Baldcypress are native to the swampy southeastern U.S. and do well in moist, well-drained soils. They are noted for their above ground root development known as, “knees.” This…

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Slow-Cooker Chicken and Noodles My grandma mostly worked without a recipe, adding and adjusting seasonings, tasting and timing everything out until her dishes were right. I have attempted here to recreate slow-cooker chicken and noodles in the spirit of what she made, but Grandma’s will always be the best. Keep the kitchen cooler (and low-stress) and save time for other activities by putting the slow-cooker to work. 2 lbs. uncooked boneless skinless chicken breasts or a combination of breasts and thighsSalt and pepper1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning1 small onion (diced)2 sticks celery (sliced)2 medium carrots (sliced)1 clove garlic (peeled and…

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May is the month of mothers, and as much as my own mom enters my mind during this time, I also think of my grandmother, who went by her middle name of Mae. My May trips home — a favorite time to be in Kansas, when the green finally took hold and the sun was just the right amount of warmth — usually involved, if not a couple of short visits with Grandma Mae, a longer Sunday visit that meant attending church and having lunch with her. We would meet at grandma’s house, nested in a crop of woods perched…

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