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Brought to you by John Sciarra, Bernard's Garage - AUTOMOTIVE INSIDER -

BERNARD'S GARAGE - John SciarraSummer's imminent arrival means your vehicle's air conditioning system will soon be under serious strain.

If your A/C isn't as frosty as it used to be, but it's still blowing cold, the system may need to be recharged.

Manufacturers used to use a type of refrigerant known as R-12, or Freon, until researchers found it caused ozone depletion. As such, it's illegal to use Freon in vehicles built after 1994. Now, manufacturers use R-134a to keep things cold in the cabin.

Working on an air conditioning system is about as much fun as sticking your hand in a blender. Twice.

Unless you are skilled in vehicle maintenance, it’s safest to take the job to a professional.

An AC compressor is usually driven by your vehicle's serpentine belt, and as it spins, it pressurizes the system's refrigerant. It's this change in pressure that cools the air coming into your cabin. The best way to keep your compressor from failing is to have your A/C system serviced once a year.

If your compressor needs replacement, most responsible shops will recommend swapping out a number of periphery components at the same time.

Why? The easy answer is working on an air conditioning system is about as fun as sticking your hand in a blender. Twice.

To avoid draining your refrigerant, removing your compressor, installing a new unit and refilling the system with new cool stuff — only to have you come back in a week and say it's still not cold enough — it makes sense to replace the necessary components.

Bernard’s Garage

2036 SE Washington St., Milwaukie



Brought to you by Mike Nielsen of Snap Fitness - FITNESS INSIDER -

SNAP FITNESS - Mike NielsenAs the inspirational saying goes, “Live less out of habit and more out of intent.”

While it’s true that starting a fitness routine can be difficult, I offer the following tips to get you in the gym door and on the road to good health.

Assessment — New SNAP Fitness clients receive a free jump-start session, including consultation with a trainer. The assessment determines the client’s baseline, helps us guide their first steps, and is an opportunity to discuss adding personal training.

Cardio — The national recommendation for exercise for all ages and fitness levels is to get to the gym at least three days per week, and to do a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio per visit. Working out with a friend will make it more fun, help you feel more accountable, help you stay at the gym for more months and achieve a higher level of success.

Strength training is key to replacing fat with muscle, becoming leaner, stronger and improving balance. Do two to three sessions of strength training per week.

Nutritional guidelines — Instead of eating three large meals per day, eat five to six small meals. This will fuel your energy throughout the day and avoid post-meal sluggishness. Also drink 96 ounces of water daily.

Online help — SNAP has a complete online nutritional program and training center. Free with membership, it provides a personalized workout plan, sample menus and a complete library of instruction videos.

Snap Fitness

Milwaukie: 4200 SE King Rd.



Oregon City: 19703 S. Hwy. 213, Ste. 170



Brought to you by Mike Nielsen - Snap Fitness - Fitness INSIDER

Mike Nielsen, Snap FitnessStrength training is an essential part of an exercise program, even for someone who hasn’t been active in a while.

Lifting weights, using weight machines and doing core work increases muscle mass and bone density.

As we age, our muscles deteriorate (called sarcopenia) and bone density decreases.

Research shows that seniors are more susceptible to bone breakage that younger adults. As people age, their metabolism slows down. We are seeing more and more seniors joining gyms.

If we take the average adult between the ages of 40 and 50 and do basic strength-training three to four times per week for 90 days, the outcome can be life-changing.

Here’s a myth-buster: Muscle does NOT weigh more than fat! A pound is a pound. 

Muscle is, however, more dense than body fat and takes up less area than fat. If you were to start an exercise program complete with strength training, you would increase your lean body mass and decrease body fat.

The body takes up less space and metabolism speeds up, resulting in a higher BMR (base metabolic rate, the amount of daily caloric intake needed to maintain LBM and weight.) This reverses sarcopenia and increases bone density.   

Not everyone walks into a gym and knows exactly what to do. Snap gives new members an opportunity to meet with a Certified Personal Trainer, who assesses their body and their goals. 

Let’s get started.

Snap Fitness

Milwaukie: 4200 SE King Rd.



Oregon City: 19703 S. Hwy. 213, Ste. 170



Brought to you by John Sciarra, Bernard's Garage - AUTO MAINTENANCE INSIDER

John Sciarra, Bernard's GarageRegular maintenance on your car is, quite simply, a good investment.

For example, when you bring your car in for a timing belt — typically needed at 90,000 to 100,000 miles— it costs in the range of $400 to $500. But if it breaks, it might be $1,800 to $2,000.

At our shop, when we do it, we do it right. With the timing belt, we also replace the timing belt tensioner, idler pulleys, camshaft seals, water pump and coolant.

Mileage interval maintenance, which is only done by shops, should be done at 30,000, 60,000 and 90,000 miles.

The ideal scenario is to get the car into the shop about three times per year for inspections, which will find things like rodent damage, which is more common than you might think. It’s mainly squirrels in this area.

An inspection will also uncover leaking coolant or oil, as well as plugged-up air filters. Once a year, you should get a brake inspection.

We do complete automotive repair, including pre-purchase inspections for $150. That’s a comprehensive inspection, which can detect unforeseen problems and save you from buying a compromised vehicle.

Our average cost for an oil change is $38; $58 for a brake inspection.

It’s a small investment. We do it properly and can save you a lot of trouble and expense down the road.

Bernard’s Garage

2036 SE Washington St., Milwaukie



Mike Nielsen - Snap Fitness - Fitness INSIDER

SNAP FITNESS - Mike Nielsen“We are a friendly, success-oriented fitness center,” says Mike Nielsen, vice president and co-owner of Snap Fitness locations in Oregon City, Milwaukie and Canby. “We’re like the ‘Cheers’ of the gym world, where everybody knows your name.”

Nielsen has been a certified fitness coach for 13 years and has been with Snap for eight years. He says being a fitness coach is all about helping individuals achieve the best version of themselves.

“It’s not just something that’s done at the gym, but it’s a lifestyle change,” he said of Snap. “We focus on not only the physical but also the mental and emotional aspects of everyday life, to make sure we are able to achieve long-term success.”

He says Snap gyms have a family feel and a personal touch.

The gyms are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with monitored access for safety. Snap has more than 1,500 locations nationwide.

The fitness centers offer cardio, personal training, weight-loss programs, a health center, strength training and Olympic lifting. An online web page for members offers nutrition counseling and an online training center.

“Our members are our greatest assets,” Nielsen added. “We do all we can to make sure they have not only the best facility and equipment, but a wonderful experience.”

Snap Fitness


Milwaukie: 4200 SE King Rd.


Oregon City: 19703 S. Hwy. 213, Ste. 170


Canby: 1109 SW 1st Ave.


Brought to you by John Sciarra - Bernard's Garage - AUTOMOTIVE INSIDER -

BERNARD'S GARAGE - John SciarraAfter nearly 100 years of providing excellent full-service automotive repair and maintenance, Bernard’s Garage is a classic Milwaukie institution trusted by generations of customers.

Founded in 1925, old timers and area residents still remember Joe Bernard Sr., who would design and build custom car parts when his customers’ vehicles needed it. Joe Bernard Jr., a former Milwaukie mayor, helped modernize Bernard’s and continued his father’s tradition of excellent customer service.

The current owner, Jim Bernard, another Milwaukie mayor and current Clackamas County commissioner, has computerized Bernard’s—turning his father’s mechanics into today’s technicians.

Besides providing free pickup and delivery, Bernard’s offers DEQ repair and adjustments, check-engine light diagnosis, manufacturer-scheduled maintenance, brakes, steering and suspension repair, timing belt tune-ups, radiator and water pump work, as well as engine, transmission and air conditioning service.

“We are straight shooters and will let you know what the problem is and what the cost is upfront,” Operations Manager John Sciarra says.

Sciarra, an 18 year veteran of Bernard’s, has attained numerous specialty vehicle class certifications. With 26 years in the industry overall, Sciarra is our INSIDER for automotive excellence.

Bernard’s Garage is a 17-year-long supporter of the Milwaukie Farmers Market, a Milwaukie First Friday participant and frequently donates to the Annie Ross House, Milwaukie Senior Center and other local schools and events.

A member of the Clackamas County Chamber of Commerce since 1955, Bernard’s has been named Business of the Year twice since 2000, and has received the BRAG award from the county for practicing responsible recycling and waste management.

Bernard's Garage 

2036 SE Washington St, Milwaukie, OR.

(503) 659-7722


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Where the 'wool hits the road'


The Traveling Ewe puts together fiber-focused adventures -

Alpacas, lunch, yarn and wine — a day trip with The Traveling Ewe is all that and more. In fact, it is where the "wool hits the road,” said J.J. Foster, owner of this new business, dedicated to taking fiber-arts enthusiasts on daylong “wild and wooly” adventures.

by: PHOTO BY MICHELE BERNSTEIN - Thomas Betts, co-owner of Hood River's Cascade Alpacas of Oregon, demonstrates the ins and outs of weaving with alpaca wool.Foster and her mother, Linda Bell, opened Wynona Studios, a fiber-arts studio/shop in downtown Oregon City in 2010. It closed last year, so Foster began kicking around ideas about what to do next.

The Traveling Ewe evolved, “because a lot of knitting excursions can be expensive and lengthy, so I thought it would be really fun to do little day trips, and keep them under $100,” Foster said.

She started talking to people about possible destinations, and realized that there is an “embarrassment of riches” of yarn shops and fiber farms in the Pacific Northwest.

by: PHOTO BY MICHELE BERNSTEIN - A mama alpaca hangs out in the pasture with her babies at Cascade Alpacas of Oregon in Hood River.In late June, Foster took a group of 25 people on what she called the Columbia Gorge Adventure — and it was a huge success.

The group met in Gresham, where they boarded a chartered coach, which “serendipitously had a license plate that said 'yarn,'” Foster said, and the bus headed out for Hood River.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - J.J. Foster, founder of The Traveling Ewe, never misses an opportunity to knit; here she is making a black sock.First stop was Knot Another Hat, a family-owned yarn shop, dedicated to providing yarn-arts enthusiasts with quality products. Half the group shopped there, while the other half ate lunch at nearby Celilo. Then the groups switched places.

The next stop was Cascade Alpacas of Oregon, owned by Thomas and Connie Betts.

“As we pulled into the driveway, we saw a pasture full of mama and baby alpacas. Then half the group listened to Connie talk about raising alpacas and half watched Thomas give a weaving demonstration,” Foster said. Alpaca yarn was available for purchase at the shop.

“I had to pull people away from there. It was the highlight of the trip,” she said.

The final stop was the Hood River Winery for wine tasting, then the group gathered inside the coach for the trip back and showed off their purchases.

Michele Bernstein, who has a knitting blog called pdxknitterati, said her favorite thing about the trip “was the easy camaraderie among the participants. Several people came with a friend, but I didn't actually know any of the people except for J.J. We were all chatting and knitting like old friends as soon as we boarded the bus.”

She added, “J.J. did a great job choosing a nice mix of places to visit for interesting activities, and the pacing was perfect. We had just the right amount of time to enjoy each stop without feeling rushed or out of things to do.”

Civil War trip

Foster is calling her next fiber adventure the “Civil War trip, because we are going to Corvallis and Eugene on Aug. 16,” she said. That trip will leave from Wilsonville and costs $99, which includes “everything but the yarn,” Foster said.

Spots are still available, but Foster advises people to register early.

“On the bus, we will have Happy Rock coffee from Gladstone, and Marsee Baking pastries. Our first stop will be Stash, a darling shop in downtown Corvallis, with a nicely curated collection of yarns, including the new, hip yarns,” Foster said.

Next stop will be Day Spring Farm, owned by Linda Hanson. If the weather cooperates, Hanson will do a herding demo with her sheep and sheepdogs. Yarn from Bellwether Wools will be available for purchase.

Then group will head into Eugene for lunch at the Cannery, and stops at Soft Horizons, an older yarn shop in a Victorian house with more traditional types of yarn, and Textiles a Mano, which specializes in hand-dyed yarns.

“We’ll do show-and-tell on our way home,” Foster said.

Future plans

Foster, who has been crocheting since the fifth grade and knitting for years, already is planning a fall adventure in the metro area in October, call “Behind the Skeins.”

She will take the group to Ashland Bay, a yarn wholesaler in Tualatin, and to the Knitted Wit, a studio on Sandy Boulevard in Portland, to visit with a young woman who is an independent dyer.

Foster is in talks with another site, where the owners import yarn and yarn accessories and have a “sustainable business model,” she said.

She also is thinking about setting up house parties, where she and the group will rent a large house on the coast and have a casual weekend with knitters, crocheters and instructors in a nonstructured environment.

“It would be less expensive than a knitting conference and would be a great way to hang out,” she said.

Although Wynona Studios has closed, Foster teaches at Yarntastic in Sellwood and works on Thursdays at Wool ’n Wares in West Linn.

Visit her webpage at thetravelingewe.com to register for upcoming trips and more information.