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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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Families decorate 'homes' at CookingThyme in Happy Valley


by: SUBMITTED - Max and Soren Rodli each choose a side to decorate in a recent gingerbread-house workshop held at CookingThyme in Happy Valley.Joan Browning is passionate about families eating together and spending time together around the table, and those elements come together this time of the year when she hosts her gingerbread house parties.

“This is a fun experience, centered around gingerbread, in an atmosphere that is not part of the rush, rush of the holidays,” she said.

And not to worry, there is still one gingerbread house party left on Dec. 15, but Browning notes that parents need to sign themselves and their children up ahead of time. She teaches the workshop in her Happy Valley home and said that children as young as 3 are welcome to participate.

Browning is the owner of CookingThyme, based out of her home, and she teaches all kinds of classes and workshops, but she particularly enjoys the holiday season.

The period between Halloween and Christmas is her busiest time of the year, she said, noting that she also does Valentine’s Day classes for couples and goody decorating classes for children in February.

What does she like best about the gingerbread house workshops?

She just loves watching parents and children and siblings working together to express their creativity, Browning said.

At a recent workshop, she watched two brothers divide up their gingerbread house.

“They each took a side and it was fun to see how different each side was; it reflected each child’s personality,” she said.

Last year, she watched a twin brother and sister work together on a gingerbread house, building marshmallow snowmen to add to the outside.

“It was so sweet, just to see that family together; I savor those moments with kids,” she added.

The parents either help the children or just watch as they put their house together, and they enjoy meeting the other parents and participating in a relaxed Christmas tradition, Browning said.

“This activity nourishes relationships,” she said, adding that the kids tend to behave better at her house and the parents like the fact that the resulting mess is at her house, and not theirs.

Crystal Rodli’s two sons, Max, 9, and Soren, 5, recently participated in the workshop, and she said she just loved the fact that the two boys could build a gingerbread house, and all the stress was taken off her shoulders.

“Joan gave them structure and instructions, so they knew what to do. But then she just encouraged them to be creative, and told them what a good job they were doing,” Rodli said.

She added that she enjoyed the whole experience and that Browning “went all out for the kids. There was a cocoa bar with fancy cups, homemade treats and Christmas decorations — it was beautifully put together.”


Browning started CookingThyme in 2008, just as she was thinking about winding down her career as a middle school teacher in the David Douglas School District, where she taught family and consumer studies.

The class incorporated both cooking and sewing, and she especially noticed that her students loved to be in the kitchen.

She started her business with cooking classes on Saturdays only, with the help of two of her daughters, and then when she retired in June of 2011, she began working full time at CookingThyme.

The name came about because she knew she wanted to incorporate the thyme leaf in her logo, and when a friend sent her a list with possible business names, Browning spotted CookingThyme and knew instantly that was the right one.

She offers adult cooking classes, catering, family holiday activities and cooking camps for children.

Browning chose to teach most of her classes in her home, because, she said, “I love having people in my house. We live in a time when people don’t invite others into their homes anymore, but I want them to come into my home and realize they can do this at home.”

She is not a trained chef, and knows most people don’t have the time or energy to cook like chefs. Her goal is to teach her classes in a home atmosphere, so that the participants will see her preparing healthy food, and they will realize they can share these skills with the people they love.

In one of her adult classes, called Conquer the Kitchen, Browning teaches participants meal planning and how to organize their kitchens, and even accompanies them to the grocery store to help them stock their pantries.

After-school classes

Browning also does after-school programs, teaching children how to make nutritious breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

Parents often don’t have the time, or they don’t make the time to nurture kids in that way, so she teaches basic cooking skills, child-safe knife skills and how to slice and chop.

“We make snowman pancakes for breakfast, because I try to make it fun,” she said, noting that each child receives a little cookbook with the recipes they’ve made.

“I just rent the space and the parents sign waivers and releases. I don’t use the cafeteria but bring my own griddle and burner,” Browning added.

Her next two children’s classes will take place in January at Mt. Scott and Scouters Mountain elementary schools, although she does not offer the classes through the school district.

“Kids love to do things with their hands, they love to do creative things with food, and they are so proud,” Browning said, adding that the kids often only take one bite of what they’ve made, so they can take the rest home to share with family members.

Fast facts

CookingThyme is located at 9803 S.E. Hillcrest Road, Happy Valley.

For information about upcoming classes for adults and children, visit cookingthymepdx.com or call 503-750-9161.

The last gingerbread house workshop for families is Dec. 15, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Reservations are required; visit the website or call.

Email Joan Browning at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..