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  • Staying Hydrated This Summer

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    With the hot summer days approaching us, it is very important to stay hydrated. Whether you’re at work, exercising, playing sports, traveling or just lounging in the sun, it’s especially important to take precautions to stay hydrated.Many people tend to forget that during exercise we experience increased sweat loss (compared to day-to-day activities like working at a desk or watching TV).As summer arrives, make a conscious effort to increase your fluid intake to counteract the warmer temperatures and elevated humidity.

    Drink Up With These Helpful Hydration Tips

    • Bring a reusable water bottle to work- and continuously fill it up throughout the day.
    • Stay away from energy drinks- energy drinks contain large quantities of sugar and stimulants that can be counterproductive and dangerous especially when trying to stay hydrated.
    • Look for a 2-pound weight loss – weigh yourself after using the bathroom in the morning. If you are two pounds less than normal and not actively trying to lose weight, you’re likely dehydrated and should drink before doing anything strenuous.
    • 20-30 minutes before exercise- drink at least 8 oz. of water if exercising indoors and at least 12 oz. if exercising outdoors.
    • During exercise- consume 8-12 oz. of water every 15-30 minutes
    • Turn to fruit- when looking to snack, choose a fruit to enjoy. Most fruits are a great source of electrolytes and fluids.

    If these tips are followed, chances of becoming dehydrated will be low.

    Know the Signs- Avoid Dehydration

    If you are feeling thirsty, your body is needing fluids. Listen to your body and drink water throughout the entire day during the hot summer days. Always watch for potential signs of dehydration:

    •  Dark yellow or amber-colored urine (urine that is clear or very light in color is an indicator that you are hydrated)
    • Constipation
    • Feeling thirsty
    • Constant fatigue or sleepiness
    • Headache or lightheadedness
    • For infants, no wet diapers for three hours

    Stay cool and well hydrated during the these warm summer days!

    Cleaning Tip

    Place mats strategically at each entrance to collect dirt that would otherwise be tracked in from the outside onto carpets and floors. Encoutage friends and family to wipe their feet before entering the house.

     

  • How Often to Water Your Garden

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    watering

    Many people wonder how to water a garden. They may struggle over questions such as, “How much water should I give my garden?” or “How often should I water a garden?” It’s really not as complicated as it seems, but there are some things that should be considered. These include the type of soil you have, what your climate or weather is like, and the types of plants you are growing.

    When to Water Gardens

    “When and how often should I water a garden?” While the general rule of thumb is about an inch or two of water each week with deep, infrequent watering as opposed to the more frequent shallow watering, this really depends on a number of factors.

    First, consider your soil. Sandy soil is going to hold less water than heavier clay soil. Therefore, it’s going to dry out faster while the clay-like soil will hold moisture longer (and is more susceptible to over watering). This is why amending the soil with compost is so important. Healthier soil drains better but allows for some water retention too. Applying mulch is also a good idea, reducing watering needs.

    Weather conditions determine when to water garden plants as well. If it is hot and dry, for example, you’ll have to water more often. Of course, in rainy conditions, little watering is needed.

    Plants, too, dictate when and how often to water. Different plants have different watering needs. Larger plants need more water as do newly planted ones. Vegetables, bedding plants and many perennials have more shallow roots systems and also require more frequent watering, some daily–especially in temps over 85 F. (29 C.). Most container plants need watering on a daily basis in hot, dry conditions — sometimes twice or even three times a day.

    When to water gardens also includes the time of day. The most suitable time for watering is morning, which reduces evaporation, but late afternoon is okay as well provided you keep the foliage from getting wet, which can lead to fungal issues.

    How Much Water Should I Give My Garden Plants?

    Deep watering encourages deeper and stronger root growth. Therefore, watering gardens about 2 inches or so once a week is preferable. Watering more often, but less deep, only leads to weaker root growth and evaporation.

    Overhead sprinklers are often frowned upon, with exception to lawns, as these also lose more water to evaporation. Soaker hoses or drip irrigation is always better, going straight to the roots while keeping foliage dry. Of course, there’s also the old standby—hand watering—but since this is more time consuming, its best left for smaller garden areas and container plants.

    Knowing when and how to water a garden correctly can ensure a healthy growing season with lush plants.

    Cleaning Tip

    If you don’t need or like something in your house, give it away, dispose of it, or recycle it rather than having it around the house.

  • How to Make a Fairy Garden

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    fairy garden

    Step by Step: How to Make a Fairy Garden in a Pot

    ‘Fairy Garden, fairy garden…fairy garden…’, it’s all you can hear now….the enchanted realm is calling, the fairies are itching for you to get started and your children keep asking for one. Now is the time!

    At Garden Sparkle HQ, I regularly receive messages from fans with requests for information on how to get started. Such a very good question indeed! In this tutorial I will show you how to make a fairy garden in a pot. Of course you are welcome to free-style it however if you’d like a step by step guide, here you go.

    Ready to get started?

    The most important thing to remember when embarking on this journey is that with fairy gardening there are no rules (yes NO RULES…you can sigh with relief now!). Of course there are more traditional approaches to miniature fairy gardening, however through my eyes and experience it is a joyful, creative, exploratory and almost meditative process that is sure to fire up the imagination of all involved. It is a chance to be swept up in the magic of childhood, enchanted miniature worlds and fanciful fairy tales – no matter your age!

    Step 1: Prepare

    First up there are a few things you need to consider?

    What sized pot/container will you use? 

    Fairy gardens can be created in pretty much any sort of container (traditional gardening pot, wheel barrow, old roasting dishes, old sink, plastic sandpit container, bath tub etc.). Just make sure that there are drainage holes. Remember the larger the surface area the more room you will have to create your fairy garden landscape. The pot I used in this project has a diameter of 55cm.

    Location, location, location?

    Where do you plan to position your fairy garden? Indoors or outdoors? For an outdoor fairy garden a sheltered area is recommended e.g. on your veranda, patio or under some sort of roof which will help to protect your accessories from the harsh elements. The best location will also depend on the plants you choose and their growing requirements (sun/shade & water). For indoors you will need to make sure you position your pot where there is adequate sunlight. I intend to place my garden in a sheltered area on our patio which receives morning sun and shade for the rest of the day.

    Fairy garden accessories

    Rest assured that I have handpicked the very best for you in the Garden Sparkle range so your task of choosing accessories will be so much easier!  TIP:  If you still feel swamped for choice, sometimes it can help if you choose a theme (like you would for a birthday party!) e.g. enchanted woodland, rainbow, country garden, tea party or a certain color etc. This can help to fire up your imagination and narrow down what you want. It can also help to dream up what you think the fairies will need in their new home and the activities they’d enjoy. An eating area with a table setting, mini playground, mail box for letter writing, wheel barrow and watering can for gardening or a water feature etc.

    I suggest you start off by choosing the following:

    1. Center piece + key features: Choose a center piece (focal point) for your fairy garden e.g. a fairy house or fairy door plus a few key features. I was keen to create a whimsical woodland fairyland so chose the Woodland Cottage as my center piece, a medium pond as a water feature, and a woodland arbor and cobblestone pathway for the magical entrance.
    2. Accessories & accents: Select extra accessories and accents depending on your budget and what you’d like to provide for your fairies. I chose a leafy table set, acorn tea set, opening mail box, acorn lamp, fairy garden ladder, a sunflower see-saw, and a set of fairy garden toadstools.
    3. Fairies & Friends: Then choose your fairies and friends. I absolutely adore Cicely Mary Barker Flower Fairies so chose my favorite, the gorgeous Red Campion Fairy as well as a pet dragon and two garden elvesVisit your local nursery/gardening center to choose suitable plants and supplies. Keep in mind what grows well in your area and climate. Choose plants which have the same growing requirements (VERY IMPORTANT!). Because fairy garden accessories are the key focus of your garden, select plants that will set off the accessories and make them stand out. Choose plants of varying heights, shapes and colors that way you will be able to create an interesting fairy garden landscape with elements of contrast
    4. Fairy Garden Plants

    Keep it simple when choosing plants:

    1. A tree for your fairy garden (miniature of course) to give height. I chose one of my favorites, a Cuphea hyssop folia ‘Compacta’.
    2. A couple of small shrubs (mid height) which can be used to create an element of repetition in your landscape and help tie it all together. I decided to choose a mix of different colored Hypo Estes. A decorative foliage plant with green leaves splashed with pink, rose and white. Great for a splash of color and contrast.
    3. Ground cover which can add patches of greenery either in the form of a low growing vines, succulents, live moss or grass. I absolutely love using Ficus Pumila which is a miniature creeping fig with crinkly, heart-shaped leaves. Vines can easily be woven into arbors (as pictured below), arches and other structures.
    4. Fairy folk also love flowers so you might like to choose a miniature tree or smaller shrubs which will flower (in this case I opted for a flowering Compact Cuphea with pretty pinky purple flowers).

    TIP: Remember you don’t want to over crowd your pot so be selective and remember to give your plants room to grow.

     Gardening supplies

    You’ll want to make sure you are kitted out with some basic supplies for fairy gardening. You might already have these at home or may need to purchase them from your local nursery/gardening center.

    •  Good quality potting mix
    •  Gardening gloves and a mask (remember to use whilst handling the potting  mix)
    •  Gardening trowel/or substitute
    •  Watering Can
    •  Natural found objects can also help to create that special themed setting. Have fun collecting interesting rocks, pebbles, shells, seed pods, pine cones, driftwood etc.
    • Natural and or colored pebbles
    • Faux moss rocks or faux moss (if you like!)
    • Step 2. Dream & Plan
    • Once you have chosen your accessories it can be fun to brain storm and map out your ideas of where they will be positioned in your fairy garden. The whole family can get involved! You don’t have to follow your plan exactly but it can be a great way to spark up your imagination and help to generate ideas. You might even end up creating something completely different but whatever happens just let it flow….

    Step 3. Planting

    • It’s GO time! Fill your pot/container with potting mix and plant your plants. I prefer to plant the tallest plant (miniature tree) towards the back of the pot, shrubs to the side and ground cover at the front. TIP: You might like to play around with the arrangement of your plants while they are still in their pots. If necessary add your fairy house or door at this time to work out the right placement for your plants.

    Step 4. Add the main features, pebbles and extra natural materials.

    • Add your center piece fairy house or door and the key features. Then use pebbles to fill in areas. I like to use a mix of colored and natural pebbles to create contrast. Whole areas can be blocked in with pebbles, it depends how much soil you want showing. Pathways can also be marked out with pebbles. Extra natural materials can be added to create interesting areas in the landscape e.g. a dry river bed, a mini cliff top or cave etc.

    Step 5. Add accessories, fairies and friends

    Step 6. Add fairies and their friends

    Step 7. Water your plants and add special touches + a fairy blessing

    • Water your plants to help them settle in. Add special touches by collecting flowers to decorate window boxes, water features and other areas. My fairies regularly leave little gifts in the miniature mail box for me…fresh flowers, little letters and treasures. Bless your fairy garden with a sprinkling of magic dust and sparkles.

    Remember fairy gardening is an ‘evolving’ process. It can be a real joy to watch your fairy garden change and develop over time especially with the creative input of the whole family. Enjoy the journey of fairy gardening!fairy garden 2

     

  • Foil Packet Dinners

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    With the children back into school, everyone is looking for easy dinner options, with easy clean up. What’s easier than a foil packet dinner? Foil packet dinners have small prep times with little to no clean up. Foil packet dinners can be cooked in the oven or even on the grill. Here are some foil packet recipes to try.

     

    Grilled Parmesan-Ranch Chicken Foil Packs

    chicken

    • Prep Time 45 min
    • Total Time 45 min
    • Servings 4

    Ingredients

    • boneless skinless chicken breasts (4 to 5 oz each)
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt-free garlic-herb blend
    • 1/2 cup reduced-fat ranch dressing
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 2 cups quartered small red potatoes
    • 1 cup ready-to-eat baby-cut carrots, cut in half lengthwise
    • 1/4 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
    • 1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

    Directions

    • 1.  Heat gas or charcoal grill. Cut 4 (18×12-inch) sheets of heavy-duty foil; spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken with garlic-herb blend; place 1 breast on each sheet of foil. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the dressing over each breast.
    • 2. In medium bowl, mix remaining 1/4 cup dressing and the water. Stir in potatoes, carrots and green beans. Divide vegetables among chicken breasts. Sprinkle with cheese.
    • 3. Bring up 2 sides of foil so edges meet. Seal edges, making tight 1/2-inch fold; fold again, allowing space for heat circulation and expansion. Fold other sides to seal.
    • 4. Place packets on grill over medium heat. Cover grill; cook 10 minutes. Rotate packets 1/2 turn; cook 5 to 15 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender and juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is cut (170°F).
    • 5. To serve, cut large X across top of each packet; carefully fold back foil to allow steam to escape.

    Low Country Shrimp Foil Packs

    shrimp

    • Prep Time 25 min
    • Total Time 40 min
    • Servings 4

    Ingredients

    • 1 lb small red potatoes, halved
    • 4 pieces frozen mini corn on the cob, thawed, cut in half
    • 2 teaspoons oil
    • 2 teaspoons Old Bay™ seasoning
    • 1 lb uncooked peeled deveined extra-large shrimp (16 to 20 count)
    • 12 oz fully cooked andouille sausage, sliced
    • 1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

    Directions

    • 1. Heat gas or charcoal grill. Cut 4 (18×12-inch) sheets of heavy-duty foil. Spray with cooking spray.
    • 2. Place potatoes in microwavable bowl. Microwave uncovered on High 5 to 6 minutes or until potatoes are just tender. Add corn to potatoes; drizzle with 1 teaspoon of the oil, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the seasoning; mix until evenly coated. Place shrimp in medium bowl; toss with remaining 1 teaspoon oil and remaining 1 teaspoon seasoning; mix until evenly coated.
    • 3. Place equal amount of sausage on center of each sheet of foil. Dividing evenly, arrange potato and corn mixture around sausage. Divide shrimp evenly over sausage. Squeeze 1 wedge of lemon over each pack.
    • 4. Bring up 2 sides of foil so edges meet. Seal edges, making tight 1/2-inch fold; fold again, allowing space for heat circulation and expansion. Fold other sides to seal.
    • 5. Place packs on grill over medium heat. Cover grill; cook 6 minutes. Rotate packs 1/2 turn; cook 5 to 7 minutes longer or until shrimp are pink and sausage is heated through. Remove packs from grill, cut large X across top of each pack. Carefully fold back foil; sprinkle with parsley, and top with remaining lemon wedges

     

    Grilled Meatloaf Dinner Foil Packs

    dinner3

    • Prep Time 15 min
    • Total Time 45 min
    • Servings 6

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
    • 1 package (1 oz) onion recipe and dip soup mix (from 2-oz box)
    • 1 egg
    • 3/4 cup milk
    • 1/2 cup Progresso™ plain bread crumbs
    • 1/3 cup ketchup
    • 1 bag (1 lb 4 oz) refrigerated new potato wedges
    • 3 cups ready-to-eat baby-cut carrots
    • Fresh parsley, if desired

    Directions

    • 1. Heat gas or charcoal grill. Cut 6 (18×10-inch) sheets of heavy-duty foil; spray with cooking spray. In medium bowl, mix beef, dry soup mix, egg, milk and bread crumbs. Shape into 6 loaves, 4×2 1/2×1 inch. Place 1 loaf on each foil sheet; top each with about 1 tablespoon of the ketchup. Place about 1/2 cup potatoes and 1/2 cup carrots around each loaf.
    • 2. Bring up 2 sides of foil so edges meet. Seal edges, making tight 1/2-inch fold; fold again, allowing space for heat circulation and expansion. Fold other sides to seal.
    • 3. Place packets on grill. Cover grill; cook over medium heat 25 to 30 minutes, rotating packets 1/2 turn after 15 minutes, until vegetables are tender and meat thermometer inserted in center of loaves reads 160ºF. To serve, cut large X across top of each packet; carefully fold back foil to allow steam to escape. Garnish with parsley.

     

    Grilled Beef Fajita Packs

    dinner-4

    • Prep Time 20 min
    • Total Time 40 min
    • Servings 4

    Ingredients

    • 1 lb boneless beef sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
    • 1 medium green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch strips
    • 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch strips
    • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch strips
    • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
    • 1 package (1.25 oz) fajita seasoning mix
    • 1/3 cup water
    • 8 Old El Paso™ flour tortillas for soft tacos & fajitas (from 10.5-oz package)
    • 3/4 cup Old El Paso™ Thick ‘n Chunky salsa, if desired
    • 3/4 cup sour cream, if desired

    Directions

    • 1. Heat gas or charcoal grill. Cut 4 (20×18-inch) sheets of heavy-duty foil. In large bowl, mix beef, bell peppers, onion, seasoning mix and water.
    • 2. Place 1/4 of beef mixture on center of each foil sheet. Bring up 2 sides of foil over beef mixture so edges meet. Seal edges, making tight 1/2-inch fold; fold again, allowing space for heat circulation and expansion. Fold other sides to seal.
    • 3. Place packets on grill over low heat. Cover grill; cook 13 to 18 minutes, rotating packets 1/2 turn after about 6 minutes, until beef is cooked to desired doneness and peppers are tender.
    • 4. To serve, cut large X across top of each packet; carefully fold back foil to allow steam to escape. Serve beef mixture with tortillas, salsa and sour cream.

     

    Grilled Lemon and Salmon Foil Packs

    dinner-5

    • Prep Time 15 min
    • Total Time 29 min
    • Servings 4

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups uncooked instant rice
    • 1 3/4 cups Progresso™ chicken broth (from 32-ounce carton)
    • 1 cup (from 10-ounce bag) matchstick-cut carrots
    • 4 (4 to 6 ounces each) salmon fillets
    • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
    • 1 medium lemon, cut lengthwise in half, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices

    Directions

    • 1. Heat coals or gas grill for direct heat. Spray four 18×12-inch sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil with cooking spray.
    • 2. Mix rice and broth in medium bowl. Let stand about 5 minutes or until most of broth is absorbed. Stir in carrots.
    • 3. Place salmon fillet on center of each foil piece. Sprinkle with lemon pepper seasoning salt and salt; top with chives. Arrange lemon slices over salmon. Spoon rice mixture around each fillet. Fold foil over salmon and rice so edges meet. Seal edges, making tight 1/2-inch fold; fold again. Allow space on sides for circulation and expansion.
    • 4. Cover and grill packets 4 to 6 inches from low heat 11 to 14 minutes or until salmon flakes easily with fork. Place packets on plates. Cut large X across top of each packet; fold back foil.

     

    Cleaning Tip – Ovens

    For light soil on an oven door, use dishwashing liquid or a mild all-purpose detergent and hot water. Do not use an abrasive powder or an abrasive pad or steel wool. Oven shelves are usually too large to fit in the dishwasher; instead hand wash in the sink or the bathtub. Always check the manufacturer’s care manual before you begin. The type of oven you own will determine how you clean it.

    Self-cleaning ovens – These ovens will turn spills into a powdery, gray-ash residue that you wipe off with a damp cloth at the end of the cycle. Ventilate the kitchen during the cleaning cycle to reduce smoke and fumes in the room. If vaporized soil leaks through, use the mildest nonabrasive cleaner to scrub the oven’s door seal. Avoid scrubbing the gasket itself. Never use commercial oven cleaners, harsh abrasives, or scouring pads. Porcelain- coated racks, a feature on some ranges, can be left in for cleaning during self-clean cycle. Metal oven racks can be left in but will discolor and become hard to slide, so it’s generally recommended to remove them. If you decide to leave them in, after the cycle completes try coating the side edges with a light coating of vegetable oil to ease sliding.

    Non-self-cleaning ovens – Wipe up standard ovens after use with a hot, damp cloth or non-abrasive scouring pad. Clean up spills on the oven floor immediately so cooked-on food will not build up. Loosen grease by placing a cup of ammonia in a warm oven. Turn the oven off and close the oven door. Leave it sit for several hours or overnight, then wipe the interior out using a sponge dipped in hot water and detergent. For stubborn stains, use a commercial oven cleaner and a plastic scrub pad or brush. Wear gloves and be sure to have proper ventilation.

     

     

     

     

  • Administrative Professionals Day

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    Administrative Professionals Day highlights the important role of administrative professionals in all sectors of the modern economy worldwide. It is on the Wednesday of Administrative Professionals Week, which is on the last full week of April.

    Celebrate Administrative Professionals Day

    Administrative Professionals Day and Administrative Professionals Week are widely observed in many workplaces in the United States and other countries around the world. Many employers and supervisors arrange events to show their appreciation of the work carried out by administrative professionals, to highlight their importance to the organization and to enhance their work-related skills.

    Public Life

    Administrative Professionals Day is an observance but it is not a public holiday in the United States.

    About Administrative Professionals Day

    During World War II, there was an increased need for skilled administrative personnel, particularly in the United States. The National Secretaries Association was formed to recognize the contributions of secretaries and other administrative personnel to the economy, to support their personal development and to help attract people to administrative careers in the field. The association’s name was changed to Professional Secretaries International in 1981 and, finally, the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) in 1998.

    These changes in name reflected the changing nature of the tasks, qualifications and responsibilities of the members of the organization. IAAP now has an international orientation and continues to provide education and training and set standards of excellence recognized by the business community on a global perspective. The organization’s vision is “to inspire and equip all administrative professionals to attain excellence”.

    The first National Secretaries Week was organized in 1952 in conjunction with the United States Department of Commerce and various office supply and equipment manufacturers. The Wednesday of that week became known as National Secretaries Day. As the organization gained international recognition, the events became known as Professional Secretaries Week and Professional Secretaries Day. In 2000, IAAP announced that names of the week and the day were changed to Administrative Professionals Week and Administrative Professionals Day to keep pace with changing job titles and expanding responsibilities of the modern administrative workforce. Many work environments across the world observe this event.

     

  • Tax Day

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    Many United States residents mark Tax Day as the deadline to file their income tax details to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The date is usually on or around April 15. However, this deadline may be extended to accommodate holidays or extreme weather conditions.

    What Do People Do?

    A large proportion of residents of the USA have to inform the IRS of all income that they received in the previous fiscal year. Some groups, particularly veterans, pensioners and some low-income families, do not have to file a tax return unless they wish to qualify for certain types of income subsidy. Others may wait until the last moment to file their tax return and pay any money they owe. Some people may find that filing a tax return is complicated, while others may feel that they should not have to pay income tax. In the United States, income tax returns may be filed on paper or electronically. Now, people are encouraged to file a return via Internet as this is efficient and reduces the risk of mistakes being made or documents being lost in the mail.

    Public Life

    Tax Day is not a federal public holiday in the United States. Schools, post offices, stores and other businesses and organizations are open as usual. Public transport services run to their usual schedules and no extra congestion on highways is to be expected.

    Background

    Income tax was first introduced in the United States of America in 1861. A rate of three percent was levied on incomes above $800 per year and the resulting revenue was used to help fund the American Civil War effort. However, income tax was seen as unconstitutional and the law was repealed in 1872. The idea of a tax on personal income, at a rate of two percent, was reintroduced in the Revenue Act of 1894, but the legal status of this kind of tax was still unclear. In 1913, the “Sixteenth Amendment” to the Constitution of the United States was ratified. This cleared the way for the modern income tax system in the USA.

    The details of the income tax system have changed greatly since 1913. The top rates of tax have varied enormously and were particularly high during the First and Second World Wars and the Great Depression. Individuals and families with very low levels of income do not have to pay income tax and may receive some subsidy via the tax system.

    In 1913 Tax Day, or the filing deadline, was fixed on March 1. However, it was moved to March 15 in 1918 and April 15 in 1955, where it has remained since then. If April 15 falls on a Saturday, Sunday or a civil holiday, such as Patriot’s Day, the deadline is extended to the next working day. An extension due to a holiday may only affect certain states. In 2007, the residents of some states were granted an extension due to the disruption to public life in many areas caused by a huge Nor’easter storm. In some years in Washington DC, Emancipation Day may be the reason to extend the deadline for filing an income tax return (Tax Day). In 2007, the observance Emancipation Day in Washington DC had the effect of nationally extending the 2006 income tax filing deadline from April 16 to April 17. This 2007 date change was not discovered until after many forms went to print.

  • Easter

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    Easter ~ He Is Risen

    Easter, the celebration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead, is Christianity’s mot important holiday. It is called the moveable feast, because it doesn’t fall on a set date every year, as the other holiday’s do. Instead, Christian Churches celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox. Therefore, Easter is observed between March 22nd  and April 25th every year.

    The exact origins of this religious feast day name are unknown. Some sources claim the word Easter derived from Eostre, a Tuetonic goddess of spring and fertility. While, other accounts trace Easter to the Latin term hebdomada alba, or white week, which is an ancient reference to Easter week and the white clothing worn by the people who were being baptized during that time. Through a translation error, the term later appeared as esostarum in Old High German, which eventually became the word Easter in English. In Spanish, the word Easter is known as Pascua and in French as Paques. These words are derived from the Greek and Latin words Pascha or Pasch meaning Passover. Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection happened after he went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. That is when Pascha eventually came to Easter.

    Easter is an entire season of the Christian church year, as opposed to a single day observance. Lent, which is the 40-day period leading up to Easter Sunday, is a time of reflection and penance. Those 40-days represent the days Jesus spent alone in the wilderness before starting his ministry, at a time in which Christians believe he survived various temptations by the devil. The day before lent starts is known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday and is the last hurrah of food and fun before the fasting begins. The week that proceeds Easter is known as Holy Week and includes Maundy Thursday, which commemorates Jesus’ last supper with his disciples. The Friday before Easter is know as Good Friday and honors the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. The Saturday before Easter is Holy Saturday and focuses on the transition between the crucifixion and resurrection. The 50-days following Easter Sunday are called Eastertide and include a celebration of Jesus’ ascension into heaven.

    In addition to Easter’s religious significance, there is also a commercial side that is filled with mounds of jelly beans and marshmallow chicks, which appear in stores year after year during Easter time. Also, every year over 90 million chocolate Easter bunnies are made. Over the centuries various folk customs and pagan traditions like Easter eggs, bunnies, baskets and candy have become a standard part of the Easter holiday.

    Easter~ Eggs 1                 

     

     

  • Spring Cleaning

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    House Cleaning #5            

     

    Spring is arriving upon us and with that comes flowers blooming, fresh cut grass and the chore of spring cleaning. Spring cleaning is a tradition that allows you to freshen up your home. Spring cleaning helps you focus on the parts of your home that have been neglected all winter long. Listed below you will find some tips to help you get the job done with special attention given to seasonal chores for the springy time of year.

    The Kitchen

    • Dust down the ceiling and corners of the walls
    • Dust and clean the ceiling fan
    • Take down curtains and/or blinds to wash them
    • Apply oven cleaner and clean the oven
    • Clean out old food from the refrigerator and freeze, then clean inside
    • Wipe down kitchen appliances
    • Clean out kitchen cabinets and drawers
    • Run the dishwasher empty
    • Wash out trash can
    • Wipe down wall, doors and baseboards
    • Wipe switch plate covers and door knobs

    The Dining Room

    • Dust down the ceiling and corners of the walls
    • Dust and clean the ceiling fan
    • Take down curtains and/or blinds to wash them
    • Wash down dining table and chairs
    • Wipe walls, doors and baseboards
    • Wipe switch plate covers and door knobs
    • Clean carpet

    The Living Areas

    • Dust down ceiling and corners of the walls
    • Dust and clean the ceiling fan
    • Take down curtains and/or blinds to wash them
    • Dust and clean out the furniture
    • Dust down lamps and lampshades
    • Wipe walls, doors and baseboards
    • Wipe switch plate covers and door knobs
    • Clean carpet

    The Bedroom

    • Dust down the ceiling and corners of the walls
    • Dust and clean the ceiling fan
    • Take down curtains and/or blinds to wash them
    • Wash all bedding
    • Flip your mattress
    • Dust down lamps and lampshades
    • Wipe walls, doors and baseboards
    • Wipe switch plate covers and door knobs
    • Clean carpet

    The Bathroom

    • Dust down the ceiling and corners of the walls
    • Dust vents
    • Take down curtains and/or blinds to wash them (shower curtain included)
    • Wash inside and outside of the medicine cabinet and linen cabinet
    • Wipe down walls, doors and baseboards
    • Wipe switch plate covers and door knobs
    • Shake out and/or wash rugs
    • Wash out trash can

     

    These are just some of the tips for spring cleaning that you could do in your home. If you need help in your spring cleaning endeavors, you could always hire a local cleaning company to come in and help you. The smallest amount of help could make a world of difference. Happy Spring and good luck with your spring cleaning adventures.

  • April Fool’s Day

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    April Fools’ Day, sometimes called All Fools’ Day is celebrated every year on April 1st by playing practical jokes and spreading hoaxes. The jokes and their victims are called April Fools. People playing April Fool jokes expose their prank by shouting April Fool.

    April Fools’ Day has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, its exact origins remain a mystery. Some historians have speculated that April Fools’ Day, dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar. The people who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1st and continued to celebrate it during the last week of march through April 1st became the butt of the jokes and hoaxes. Historians have also linked April Fools’ Day to ancient festival known as Hilaria, celebrated in Rome at the end od March and has people dressing up in disguises. There is also speculation that April Fools’ Day is tied to the vernal equinox, or the first day of spring, when Mother Nature fooled people with unpredictable weather.

    In the modern times, people have gone great lengths to create elaborate April Fools’ Day pranks. Newspapers, radio and TV stations and even Web sites have participated in the April 1st tradition of reporting outrageous fictional claims that have fooled audiences. For example, in 1985, Sports Illustrated tricked many of its readers when it ran a made-up article about a rookie pitcher named Sidd Finch, who could throw a fastball over 168 miles per hour. Another example would be from 1998, when Burger King advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper,” which tricked tons of clueless customers when they requested the fake sandwich. That is just a couple of the pranks that big companies have played on people.

    The practice of April Fool pranks and hoaxes are controversial and there are mixed opinions of the critics. There are both positive and negative sides to April Fools’ pranks. The positive side of April Fools’ can be good for one’s health, because it encourages jokes, hoaxes, pranks and good old belly laughs. With the laughter brings the benefits of stress relief and reducing strain on the heart. The negative side describes April Fools’ hoaxes as creepy, manipulative, rude and a bit nasty. Sometimes, April Fools’ jokes or hoaxes are misinterpreted, like stories that are intended as jokes are taken seriously. With the negative can come adverse effects, such as confusion, misinformation and even legal consequences. Just be careful with your April Fools’ pranks and think of others before you do them.

     

     

     

  • Spring is Near!

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    Spring ~ Tulips #3Spring is arriving upon us and with that comes flowers blooming, fresh cut grass and the chore of spring cleaning. Spring cleaning is a tradition that allows you to freshen up your home. Spring cleaning helps you focus on the parts of your home that have been neglected all winter long. Listed below you will find some tips to help you get the job done with special attention given to seasonal chores for the springy time of year.

    The Kitchen

    • Dust down the ceiling and corners of the walls
    • Dust and clean the ceiling fan
    • Take down curtains and/or blinds to wash them
    • Apply oven cleaner and clean the oven
    • Clean out old food from the refrigerator and freeze, then clean inside
    • Wipe down kitchen appliances
    • Clean out kitchen cabinets and drawers
    • Run the dishwasher empty
    • Wash out trash can
    • Wipe down wall, doors and baseboards
    • Wipe switch plate covers and door knobs

    The Dining Room

    • Dust down the ceiling and corners of the walls
    • Dust and clean the ceiling fan
    • Take down curtains and/or blinds to wash them
    • Wash down dining table and chairs
    • Wipe walls, doors and baseboards
    • Wipe switch plate covers and door knobs
    • Clean carpet

    The Living Areas

    • Dust down ceiling and corners of the walls
    • Dust and clean the ceiling fan
    • Take down curtains and/or blinds to wash them
    • Dust and clean out the furniture
    • Dust down lamps and lampshades
    • Wipe walls, doors and baseboards
    • Wipe switch plate covers and door knobs
    • Clean carpet

    The Bedroom

    • Dust down the ceiling and corners of the walls
    • Dust and clean the ceiling fan
    • Take down curtains and/or blinds to wash them
    • Wash all bedding
    • Flip your mattress
    • Dust down lamps and lampshades
    • Wipe walls, doors and baseboards
    • Wipe switch plate covers and door knobs
    • Clean carpet

    The Bathroom

    • Dust down the ceiling and corners of the walls
    • Dust vents
    • Take down curtains and/or blinds to wash them (shower curtain included)
    • Wash inside and outside of the medicine cabinet and linen cabinet
    • Wipe down walls, doors and baseboards
    • Wipe switch plate covers and door knobs
    • Shake out and/or wash rugs
    • Wash out trash can

     

    These are just some of the tips for spring cleaning that you could do in your home. If you need help in your spring cleaning endeavors, you could always hire a local cleaning company to come in and help you. The smallest amount of help could make a world of difference. Happy Spring and good luck with your spring cleaning adventures.