Friday, June 30, 2017

Business Spotlight on Certine by Michelle Libby it comes to flatware no one has thought and dreamed more about it than the owners and creators of Certine. With a unique design and thought toward allowing the true taste of food to shine through, co-owners David Muise, Rachel Rodrigues and Bill Todd, have created a ceramic fork, knife and spoon that not only enhance the taste of food, but enhance the table as well. 
When Todd invited Muise to lunch one day, he explained, “We’ve been eating wrong.” Throughout history silverware has been a sign of wealth and prosperity, rather than a way to get food to the mouth. Half of the world doesn’t use metal when they eat, said Muise. With hours of research, the three of them determined that making flatware out of ceramic would be a good idea for many reasons. 

“Certine is a sustainable dematerialization that uses less material from the earth and has more function,” said Muise. The three pieces are made from ceramic, but have a different structure than china or pottery making it stronger and more durable. 

The Certine flatware is non-abrasive, has a diamond shine and is one of the hardest surfaces on earth. They use an advanced tetragonal, a five sided crystal structure to make it stronger.  The utensils can be broken if used inappropriately, to pry a lid or cut through hard cheese. These are made for the eating experience exclusively. 

“Almost everything made these days is ergonomic. Silverware is one of the only things with flat handles,” Muise pointed out. Certine products are ergonomic and light because they are made with ceramic. 

“We realized that ceramic is inert and will not react with bases or acids,” said Muise. People will not get the “galvanic effect” where there is a sharp taste of metal when acidic food reacts with metal fillings in the mouth or a stainless utensil causing a type of electric shock. 

Each piece was created with the needs of the user in mind. The fork is scalloped so that the tines can fit into the edge of a salad bowl to get the last morsel. The head is wider and with the proper fulcrum and the side of the fork can be used to cut things. The name Certine came from the quest to make a fork that had tines that wouldn’t break. 

The spoon can hold 10 mL of liquid. It is tapered to make it easier to go into the mouth. It looks like a spade, Muise said. The deeper volume makes each spoonful a mouthful. 

“They perfected the knife 3,000 years ago. Our knife is much sharper than normal knives,” said Muise. The knife can be used to slice butter or cut steak. 
Five piece silverware sets are a “misuse of materials,” said Muise. It’s based on meaningless traditions and the 100,000 pounds of smog made from the production of stainless steel makes the process environmentally unfriendly, he added.  

Metal silverware gets tiny, micro abrasions that collect bacteria and particles that can affect children, the elderly and those who are immune compromised. 

Although the products have only been on the market for a year, the owners have been working on the perfect set for four years. Through much research, they found that the flatware had great potential in the healthcare industry, said Muise. The way the product is made helps with dysgeusia, where everything tastes like metal. 

This helps people undergoing chemotherapy, who are the ones most affected, to taste and enjoy their food, said Muise. 

People with arthritis have a difficult time holding heavy metal instruments that can tend to be hot or cold. Certine products don’t get hot sitting in soup or coffee. 

“It turns out people were already looking for us,” he said. Sets of Certine flatware are available in specialty kitchen stores in Maine, New York City, New Orleans, Connecticut and online including Amazon. The sets will now be sold in groupings of four. 

There is a guarantee that under normal use, washing in the dishwasher and regular wear and tear, it will not break. There will also be new products available like a chef’s-tasting-spoon and something new for the holiday season. 

Certine was chosen for season three of Greenlight Maine on NBC. Filming will begin in two weeks.
For more information on the company, visit, email or find them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. See the product locally at Mills and Company in the Don Rich Plaza off Route 302.

Friday, June 23, 2017

How Well Do You Know Your Social Security Benefit? By Edward Jones Financial

Recent survey highlights misconceptions

Today, 88% of Americans age 65 and above receive Social Security benefits and this income keeps approximately one-third out of poverty. More than one third of the future Social Security beneficiaries (ages 45-64) questioned in a recent AARP® / Financial Planning Association® (FPA®) survey* expect their benefit to make up more than half of their retirement income. And, that same survey showed that the many rules and intricacies of this program may not be well understood, and these misconceptions could have a significant dollars and cents impact for those same respondents.

Social Security may play a major role during your retirement years. How does your knowledge rank? The answer may surprise you. Ultimately, understanding the role of your Social Security benefit in your retirement income strategy can help you to prepare for what lies ahead. But thankfully, there are steps you can take now to educate yourself about your Social Security benefit choices which lie ahead as well as the impact of those decisions on your loved ones.

It is important for you to work with the Social Security Administration for a full discussion of your available benefits and options. Work with your financial advisor to position your income needs throughout retirement.

Business Spotlight: Maine Roots Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine by Michelle Libby most people hear the word acupuncture there is a moment of hesitation. Isn’t that needles? At Maine Roots Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine, owned and run by Kimberly Bickford, LAc.DiPL.O.M., professionalism and education are combined with Chinese medicine that has been used successfully for hundreds of years. 
“Acupuncture is used when the chi is out of alignment to help the body fix itself. It redirects the chi and blood flow to areas that need to be corrected. The body is really incredible at healing itself,” Bickford said. Through the use of thin, hair like needles, she is able to help correct issues her patients are having. 

“The body almost opens up for it, instead of slicing and cutting,” she said. The needles are very different than the ones used in a doctor’s office. 

Bickford works out of Raymond RediCare, 1278 Roosevelt Trail in Raymond, and has been there since last October. “I love it here,” she said. She has been treating patients for four years.
“In the military I broke my back,” she said. She tried acupuncture treatments because she wanted to be able to ride her horse again. After five treatments, she was back on her horse. Her back issue is completely resolved and only occasionally does she need touch ups if it gets reinjured.
In her practice she treats a lot of pain, Bell’s palsy, gynecological issues like infertility, digestive issues, Crohn’s Disease, IBS and heartburn. It is also effective for seasonal allergies, stress and anxiety. 

“It’s starting to become a little more popular,” she said of the treatments. In addition to acupuncture, she also does cupping, Qi-Gong and Gua Sha on injuries. 

Bickford has an undergraduate degree in professional holistic development and two master’s degrees in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. 

In the herbal component to the practice, Bickford combines formulas from 487 single herbs that have been around for 200 years and modifies the blend for each person. It can be a pill form or granules, depending on what she is treating. The tinctures and herbs are sent from a manufacturing plant before given to the patients. 

Bickford recommends the acupuncture first and then try herbs if that isn’t effective.
“The benefits of acupuncture are so wonderful. I think putting more things in the body isn’t necessary,” she said.  

The intake process lasts approximately an hour and a half to two hours to help her create a plan to treat the whole person. By looking at the tongue or palpating pulses, she can create a treatment plan for each individual. 

“With Chinese medicine, there’s no typical…everyone is different,” she said. The treatment varies
with each person being seen. “Acupuncture is very good at keeping people healthy,” she added. “It’s preventative medicine.”  

“Everybody can benefit,” Bickford said. “It’s really not as scary as it seems.”  She has worked on over 100 patients. Some feel better with one treatment; others require a few to get the energy moving. The typical patient is better in 10 treatments or fewer. With a diagnosis of stress, the patient may need a few more treatments when new issues arise. 

“Eighty percent of people fall asleep on the table, which allows their body to do what it needs to do,” she said. 

Her advice is “come in”. She’s had many patients who said they don’t like needles. 

“I determine the fear level and work with that,” she said. Most people leave saying, “That was so relaxing” or “who thought getting stuck with needles could be so relaxing.” 

She does not treat patients with seizure disorders. However herbal medicine can work for those patients. “I'm also careful with patients on blood thinners.” 

Maine Roots Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine accepts a lot of insurances including Workers Compensation, Harvard Pilgrim, Anthem, Aetna and Cigna. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 312-4237, email or visit

Friday, June 16, 2017

Business Spotlight: Mary Jane’s Smoke House by Michelle Libby

Entrepreneur Karl Butterfield from Raymond has had many businesses during his 11 years in Maine. In October 2016, he answered a call from the Standish community and opened Mary Jane’s Smoke House at 140 Ossipee Trail. 
“People in the community wanted me. I get a lot of nice people in here,” Butterfield said. Mary Jane’s Smoke House carries different types of glassware for medical and recreational marijuana. He does not sell marijuana as it is not legal to sell it until 2018. 

Most of his customers use medical cannabis for pain, he said. He doesn’t judge his customers and is free with his advice and education of what he sells. “Who knows, maybe I’ll need it for that someday,” he said. “They say it helps absolutely. I learn a lot from my customers every day.”  He estimates that 90 percent of people in the area smoke pot. The more accessible it is the more comfortable people are with coming into his shop. 

When he first opened, people would leave their cars running, quickly come in the shop, buy what they wanted, jump back in their car and speed off. Now people feel more relaxed about entering the store and browsing. 

A lot of his customers are caregivers from the area. The shop carries glass cleaner, rolling papers, flavored rolling papers, grinders, scales, water pipes, bubblers, bongs and oil rigs. He also carries metal, glass, and wooden pipes in all shapes and sizes. Many of the products are brought in from Colorado or California, he said.

“If things aren’t right, I make it right,” he said. “I give the best service I can give them and give them the best product I can.” 

Mary Jane’s Smoke House does not sell tobacco because there’s too much competition, but Butterfield does have a tobacco license.
Standish has been very business friendly, said Butterfield. They let him do his business without issues from the town. 

Customers must be 18 and older to purchase items from Mary Jane’s Smoke House. Butterfield is very easy going, but he follows the law. 

The store is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. 

Find more on the website at or find them on Facebook. Butterfield answers Facebook messages and people can also call the store at 642-1012.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Business Spotlight: Mulberry Farms by Michelle Libby is much more than planting something in the ground and watching it grow or caring for animals. At Mulberry Farms on North Raymond Road in Raymond, sandwiched between Gray and Poland, owners Farmer Frank Pecoraro and his wife Debbie, have a passion for providing good food to the community and educating them on where their food is coming from. 
“We wanted to provide good food to our family, kids and the whole community. It’s good food you can count on. We’re not as confident in the food distribution as we were in the past,” said Farmer Frank, who has spent most of his life in the food industry. 

Food at grocery stores is generally chosen because it travels well, and because it travels well it doesn’t taste as good, Farmer Frank explained. 

Mulberry Farms is an all organic farm, using natural ingredients to enrich the soil and help retain micronutrients and minerals that are native to Maine soil. As stewards of the land, the Pecoraros do everything they can to protect the property by rotating crops and fields when necessary. They use no pesticides and leave fields farrow occasionally. They admit they will never get rich from farming, but for them it’s more than making money, it’s making a difference. 

“It’s about giving back to the community,” said Farmer Frank, as he is referred to on social media and by everyone he knows. 

Farmer Frank, his wife Debbie and son Mike
Mulberry Farms has a farm stand on North Raymond Road where they sell their produce and other local products like honey and maple syrup. They have seen women fight over the last cantaloupe in the store, and others return moments after they left to buy another box of berries to actually bring home because they ate the first one they bought. 

There are U-Pick strawberries, high bush blueberries and raspberries. They grow cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuces, squash and so many more vegetables. This year they officially rolled out a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, where 77 families bought a basket of produce a week for 16 weeks. Farmer Frank describes the program as giving the community a chance to become invested in the farm. When the crops grow well, the CSA baskets contain more food, when the crops don’t do as well the CSA members might not get as much. 

“They’re sharing in the pain or sharing in the gain of the farm,” said Farmer Frank.
The CSA is partly about education. Through a newsletter, the CSA members are educated on everything from fertilizer to crop rotation. “It’s kind of a complete experience,” Farmer Frank said. Fresh vegetables are getting kids hooked on the taste of the food. Whether it’s snap peas or carrots, there will be a vegetable that will be the “gateway vegetable” to the rest of them. 

The farm sells product to RSU14, Good Life Market in Raymond, Future Foods in Mechanic Falls and Shop & Save in Gray. They also deliver to 10 to 14 summer camps in the area.
Only 11 acres of the farm is used to grow produce. Two hundred and forty acres are in a farmland trust meaning that they can never be developed. The Edwards family requested that as part of the purchase. 

Those from the area remember the property as the Edward’s Farm. Carlton Edwards dedicated many years to the Town of Raymond in public service, said Farmer Frank. 

Farming isn’t all about the vegetables, but also the paperwork that Farmer Frank and Debbie have to do to earn the organic seal from Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, and to keep their plantings on schedule. 

“Today’s farmers are significantly more literate. They’re smarter and clever. You have to be a mini CEO to be a farmer,” said Farmer Frank. 

The biggest challenge to owning a farm is, “the weather. You can’t do anything about it,” said Debbie. “It’s not just seeds and tractors.” 

The best part is giving back to the community and working with a network of farmers who are very willing to give their knowledge to the new folks on the farm. 

For more about Mulberry Farms, visit , find them on Facebook and Instagram or call 207-317-1101. Starting June 15th the farm stand is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and on the weekend from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Business Spotlight: Star Nails by Michelle Libby Nails, an award winning nail salon in Windham, is constantly looking for ways to improve and enhance the experience for their customers. Keeping current on styles and trends is only part of what owner Quang Nguyen has done to keep his salon competitive. 
“Quality, value, cleanliness of the place,” is how Nguyen described Star Nails. “It’s a friendly environment where they get treated like they’re family.”

At the beginning of the year Star Nails renovated putting in new flooring, seven new pedicure chairs, updated technology and modernized the salon with new furniture. With an eye toward safety and cleanliness, the new pedicure chairs have a liner in each bowl so that the water is not contaminated by a previous guest. 

“It makes me feel better to sell to clients $2 extra for the price of a pedicure. Customers can see the value on it,” said Nguyen. 

Star Nails has been providing great service to customers for years. Recently it has added chemical free polish and powdered nail polish called dipping powder, which doesn’t chip or peel off. “It makes nail bed healthier because of the formula,” said Nguyen. The newest technique is ombre, which is the merging between two colors and a look called marbling.  

“We watch new product videos every week, and then help each other learn new techniques. We can’t have everything out there, but we keep it reasonable to make it worthwhile for us and the customers,” Nguyen said. 

A 50- minute reflexology and pedicure treatment can have health benefits, he said. In the summer many people look to get a pedicure every two or three weeks to feel better and make their nails healthier. 

“In the summer people are tired of the long winter,” he said. They schedule appointments to get their feet in shape for sandal season. There is a summer special running now, a manicure and pedicure for $40. 

Quality work is important to all of the employees at Star Nails. They want their customers to leave happy and ready to show off their nails. If there is an issue, the employees and Nguyen communicate with the clients and stay on top of it until the customer is happy. 

“We expect that we make mistakes sometimes, but we fix it,” he said. 

In addition to manicures and pedicures, Star Nails offers acrylic nails and waxing for eyebrows and bikini areas. Nguyen is also planning on having an organic pedicure option with natural herbs, lotions and organic polish with no chemicals involved. 

Manicures can help make people more confident especially when they are in public speaking, said Nguyen. 

Clients return to Star Nails from their homes in Bridgton, Casco, Raymond, Westbrook and even Florida to be pampered. “It’s a positive surprise when they see what we’ve done. They see the value.”
Star Nails donates to different causes and events to be a part of the community, Nguyen said. “We do it because people who come here are local.” 

Nguyen is happy that he is able to create jobs and opportunities for his family. In Vietnam his relatives might earn $100 a month, but here they can learn a trade and send money home to Vietnam. They are not a burden on American society. “It makes me feel good,” he said. “Ten years ago, I didn’t speak English and now I’m creating jobs, working and supporting each other. It helps the whole family.”  The work they do supports the community they come from. Nguyen’s cousin, Jo Vo, is the manager of the salon. 

Star Nails is located at 864 Roosevelt Trail in Windham. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are preferred. Wait times can be longer in the summer as more people are coming in for appointments. 

Star Nails is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The last walk in appointment is at 6:30 p.m. For more on Windham Star Nails, find them on Facebook, or call for an appointment at 207-892-7799.