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Lightning in a Bottle

mason-jarsWhat is the appeal of the mason jar? It conjures rustic romanticism and good, homemade food. Some even say that it captures summer in a jar, to be uncapped and enjoyed in the long, cold winter. Perhaps you’ll even be inspired to preserve something tasty in a jar yourself on November 30, Mason Jar Day.

John L. Mason didn’t set out to become famous when he invented the mason jar on November 30, 1858. In fact, he didn’t invent the jar at all but rather the unique two-piece metal screw cap. Mason was, after all, a tinsmith, so he was well-versed in the utility of metal. Heat-based canning as a method to preserve foods was common in kitchens prior to Mason’s invention. The one problem common to this type of preservation was a faulty seal. As soon as air entered the jar or can, food began to spoil. Mason’s airtight lid solved that problem beautifully, advancing the efficiency of the canning process. While his airtight lid kept food fresh, the clear glass jar made the contents appetizing.

The most popular mason jar manufactured today is the ubiquitous Ball brand jar. Ball jars were first manufactured in 1884, and today, they are created at a rate of 17 jars per second. Not only is the glass favored over plastic jars made with synthetic chemicals but these jars are also appreciated for their versatility. A mason jar is no longer singularly used to preserve foods like jam or pickles; the jars are also used as soap dispensers, planters, vases, and drinking glasses—not just for moonshine but for trendy cocktails. A mason jar is as authentic a piece of Americana as a cowboy hat. Collectors even seek out rare and valuable mason jar specimens. The Universal jar is worth thousands. Produced in Buffalo in 1937, only 50 were ever manufactured. Even more highly prized is the extremely rare Buffalo jar made in amber glass by the Ball company, of which only four are known to exist. From the mundane to the magnificent, mason jars have captured both food and the public’s imagination for over a century.

A Bunch of Hot Air

macys-paradeIs there any bigger spectacle than the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade marching down Broadway in New York City? And this big spectacle requires big balloons to capture the attention and dazzle the imagination of millions of onlookers.

The Thanksgiving Day parade did not always boast larger-than-life balloons. The first parade was held in 1924 when R.H. Macy & Co. decided to celebrate the opening of its new flagship store on 34th Street in Manhattan. This massive parade was not meant to celebrate Pilgrims and a feast of turkey but to usher in the Christmas shopping season.

During its first three years, the parade featured live animals from the Central Park Zoo, including tigers, elephants, camels, and donkeys. However, the children lining Broadway were so scared by these beasts that parade organizers decided to feature some “lighter” entertainment: giant balloons in the shape of beloved cartoon characters.

The first inflatable star of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was Felix the Cat, the preeminent cartoon megastar of the silent era. In those early days, the balloons were built by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Plant Company. They were not filled with helium but with air, and wranglers propped them up with long sticks.

In 1929, balloons were filled with helium and wranglers had to both wrestle the gargantuan cartoons and keep their own feet firmly on the ground. Between 1929 and 1932, the balloons were released into the air at the finish of the parade. They could float to the ground anywhere in Manhattan, and the lucky ones who found them needed only to return the tag attached to the lost balloon to Macy’s for a $25 gift certificate. For over 90 years, balloons have floated through New York’s skyscraper canyons. Felix the Cat has stepped aside for Raggedy Ann, Popeye, Snoopy, and current favorites like Iron Man and Pikachu, but the sense of wonder these balloons inspire carries on.

Sacred Heart Villa Hosting Open House Sept 29

Come by Sacred Heart Villa on Saturday, September 29th from 10am - 2pm for our Fall Open House. See our newly renovated private rooms, apartments and suites, enjoy a sampling of our home cooked food, take part in a scavenger hunt, and participate in our free raffle! While here learn about our 24hr licensed staff, concierge transportation, abundance of daily activities, plus much, much more. For more information on our Open House please call 610.929.5751 or go to

Fall Prevention Tips

September is Fall Prevention Month

Did you know that 1 in 4 Americans aged 65+ falls every year? Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. Falls are costly—in dollars and in quality of life. However, falling is not an inevitable part of aging. Through practical lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based programs, and community partnerships, the number of falls among seniors can be reduced substantially.

1. Find a good balance and exercise program
Look to build balance, strength, and flexibility. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging for referrals. Find a program you like and take a friend.

2. Talk to your health care provider
Ask for an assessment of your risk of falling. Share your history of recent falls.

3. Regularly review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist
Make sure side effects aren’t increasing your risk of falling. Take medications only as prescribed.

4. Get your vision and hearing checked annually and update your eyeglasses
Your eyes and ears are key to keeping you on your feet.

5. Keep your home safe
Remove tripping hazards, increase lighting, make stairs safe, and install grab bars in key areas.

6. Talk to your family members
nlist their support in taking simple steps to stay safe. Falls are not just a seniors’ issue.

To learn more, visit

New Medicare Cards

New Medicare ID cards are coming, and people with Medicare in Pennsylvania will be among the first to receive them! The new cards will begin to be mailed in April 2018 and will have one major difference – a new Medicare ID number, which is not based on your Social Security number. To curtail identity theft and Medicare fraud, Social Security numbers will be replaced by a random, 11-digit number that is unique to you. The new cards will be automatically sent to you in the mail by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). If you have moved, make sure to update your address with Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or online with Social Security at

Tips to Remember:

• In Pennsylvania, the new Medicare cards will be mailed starting in April 2018. Mailing everyone a new card will take some time so you may not receive your new card at the same time as your friends’ and neighbors’.

• You do not need to do anything! This change will be automatic. If someone calls you and says they need to confirm your identity, or your Medicare number, or that they need to “register” you for a new card, it’s a SCAM. Medicare and Social Security will not call you. Do not give out your personal information. If you get a call from someone and you’re just not sure, hang up and call Medicare.

• Your benefits will stay the same. The new Medicare cards will not change your coverage, and may be used upon receipt. When you receive your new card, please shred the old one.

• There is no charge for the new card. The card is free. No one should tell you there is a one-time fee, or that you will lose benefits if you don’t pay a fee or answer their questions.

If you have questions, or suspect Medicare fraud, please contact the Pennsylvania Senior Medicare Patrol (PA-SMP) at the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE) at 1-800-356-3606 or visit CARIE’s services are always free and confidential. For more information about the new Medicare cards, please visit:


Berks Encore 2018 Senior Expo

Don't miss Reading and Berks County's largest senior and health fair!

The 2018 Berks Encore Senior Expo will be held on October 30, 2018 from 9 am to 3 pm at the DoubleTree Hotel By Hilton in Reading.
The DoubleTree Hotel provides a streamlined, convention-style space, boasting a state of the art amphitheater and breakout rooms, hotel restaurant with full menu, easy-access loading dock and ample vendor parking, and complimentary WiFi and electrical outlet access.

There is free parking available at the Reading Fightin Phils lot, FirstEnergy Stadium, 1900 Centre Ave, Reading, PA 19601. Shuttle buses will run continuously throughout the day. Parking will not be available at the DoubleTree, except for handicap and vendor placards. The event anticipates 140 vendors and approximately 3,500 people in attendance.

Get Ready for Medicare Open Enrollment

When’s the Medicare Open Enrollment Period?

Every year, Medicare’s open enrollment period is October 15 - December 7.


What’s the Medicare Open Enrollment Period?

Medicare health and drug plans can make changes each year—things like cost, coverage, and what providers and pharmacies are in their networks. October 15 to December 7 is when all people with Medicare can change their Medicare health plans and prescription drug coverage for the following year to better meet their needs.