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The Real History of St. Patrick’s Day

March 4th, 2019 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

When you think of St. Patrick’s Day, you probably think of green beer, shot glass necklaces that say “Kiss Me I’m Irish,” and everybody talking about how Irish they suddenly are. That’s all well and good, but I bet you don’t know much about the holiday’s origins, or the saint it celebrates. Well, take off that stupid hat, stop talking like a leprechaun for a second, and educate yourself a smidge.

St. Patrick, considered the patron saint of Ireland, was actually born in Banna Venta Berniae, a town in Roman Britain, sometime in the late 300s AD. That’s right, Patrick wasn’t Irish. And his name wasn’t Patrick either—it was Maewyn Succat, but he didn’t care for that so he chose to be known as Patricius down the line. He actually had many monikers throughout his life: he was known by many as Magonus, by others as Succetus, and to some as Cothirthiacus. But we’ll just call him Patrick since everybody else does. Has a nice ring to it…

His father, Calpurnius, was a deacon in the early Christian church, but Patrick wasn’t much of a believer himself. It wasn’t until he was captured by Irish pirates at the age of 16 and enslaved for six years as a shepherd that he chose to convert to Christianity. While in northeastern Ireland, Patrick learned the Irish language and culture before attempting to escape back to Britain. But Patrick wasn’t very good at escaping apparently, because he was captured again. This time by the French. He was held in France where he learned all about monasticism before he was released and sent home to Britain where he continued to study Christianity well into his twenties. Eventually, Patrick claimed he had a vision that told him to bring Christianity to the Irish people, who were predominantly pagan and druidic at the time, so Patrick he made his way back to Ireland and brought a big ol’ bag of Christianity with him.

When Patrick arrived back in Ireland, however, he and his preaching ways were not welcomed, so he had to leave and land on some small islands off the coast. There he began to gain followers, and he eventually moved to the mainland to spread Christian ideologies across Ireland for many years to come. During this time, Patrick baptized thousands of people (some say 100,000), ordained new priests, guided women to nunhood, converted the sons of kings in the region, and aided in the formation of over 300 churches.

Folklore also tells of Patrick banishing all the snakes from Ireland, but as badass as that may sound, there were never actually any snakes on the island to begin with. Lame, I know. But Patrick may be the one responsible for popularizing the shamrock, or that three-leafed plant you’ll see plastered all over the place today. According to legend, Patrick used it to teach the Irish the concept of the Christian Holy Trinity. They already had triple deities and regarded the number three highly, so Patrick’s use of the shamrock may have helped him win a great deal of favor with the Irish.

These days, Patricius is known to most as Saint Patrick. Though he’s not technically a canonized saint by the Catholic Church, he’s well-regarded throughout the Christian world. But why the holiday? Why always March 17? What’s with the green? And why do we think of a non-Irish, non-snake charmer as a symbol of Ireland?

St. Paddy’s Day started as a religious celebration in the 17th century to commemorate the life of Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. This “Feast Day” always took place on the anniversary of Patrick’s death, which was believed to be March 17, 461 AD. In the early 18th century, Irish immigrants brought the tradition over to the American colonies, and it was there that Saint Patrick started to become the symbol of Irish heritage and culture that he is today. As more Irish came across the Atlantic, the Feast Day celebration slowly grew in popularity. So much so, in fact, the first ever St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in Boston in 1737.

By the mid 19th century, the United States saw a massive influx of Irish immigrants hoping to escape the Great Famine. This transformed the relatively small-scale Feast Day observance into a full-blown celebration that people wanted to be a part of whether they were Irish or not. In 1903, Feast Day became a national holiday in Ireland, and over time it transformed into what is now called St. Patrick’s Day. The holiday has since been celebrated all over the world in countries like the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Russia, and even throughout Asia. As it happens, St. Paddy’s Day is so popular, it’s thought to be celebrated in more countries than any other national festival. What was once a fairly chill day of going to mass, watching a parade, and eating a hearty meal with family has transformed into the biggest party in the world.

If you’re wondering why you’re wearing green right now, there’s more to it than protection from pinching fingers. It goes back to the Irish Rebellion, when Irish soldiers wore green as they fought off the British in their trademark red. Until then, the color associated with St. Patrick and Feast Day was actually blue. The song soldiers sang during the war in 1798, “The Wearing of the Green,” changed all of that and made green, the color of shamrocks, Ireland’s mainstay color. From then on, people wore green on St. Patrick’s Day in solidarity. And when Chicago dyed their river green for the first time in 1962, the practice of wearing and decorating in green became a part of pop culture. It’s now commonplace to bust out your best greens mid-March.

Okay, so why all the drinking then? It’s part historical subtext, part us succumbing to advertising, and part stereotyping. Originally, St. Patrick’s Day, or Feast Day, saw the lifting of Lent restrictions for the day, giving Christians a breather as they made their way to Easter. Basically, it was a day to eat and drink as much as you please in celebration, hence the traditional Irish meal of bacon and cabbage. But imbibing on whiskey and beer was not part of the equation. In fact, pubs in Ireland were forced by law to shut down for the holiday until later in the 20th century, and drinking alcohol on St. Patrick’s Day was greatly frowned upon until the late 1970s.

Then, a huge marketing push from Budweiser in the 80s convinced thirsty revelers that drinking beer and St. Patrick’s Day were one in the same. The rest is drunk history nobody seems to remember, as it’s all been replaced in our heads with quotes from Boondock SaintsMuch like Cinco de Mayo, many people now use the holiday as an excuse to binge drink, which fosters negative stereotypes by incorrectly associating the act of getting wasted with Irish culture. But, at least now you can take a swig of your Guinness in pride because you know the real story. Sláinte!

Update: This article originally linked Saint Patrick’s birthplace of Bannaventa with Banna Venta Berniae, in the Northamptonshire region of England. This is believed to be inaccurate, and the exact whereabouts of his birthplace are uncertain.

The Washington Monument

March 4th, 2019 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

15 Things You Might Not Know About the Washington Monument

It’s the tallest building in Washington, D.C. and it honors the first U.S. president, George Washington. Here are a few more Washington Monument facts to celebrate the anniversary of its dedication on February 21, 1885.

1. BUILDING A MONUMENT TO GEORGE WASHINGTON WAS NOT A UNANIMOUSLY SUPPORTED IDEA.

Today, trumpeting George Washington as a hero and a symbol of national pride isn’t going to start any arguments. In the 19th century, however, Washington’s approval rating was far from 100 percent. The very idea of constructing a monument to honor the former president felt like an affront to the Democratic-Republicans—the opposing party to the Washington-aligned Federalists—who both favored Thomas Jefferson over Washington and decried such tributes as unseemly and suspiciously royalist.

2. IT TOOK ALMOST 40 YEARS TO COMPLETE THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT’S CONSTRUCTION.

After decades of deliberation about where to build a monument to George Washington, what form it should take, and whether the whole thing was a good idea in the first place, the foundation for a great stone obelisk was laid at the center of Washington, D.C.’s National Mall on July 4, 1848. Although the design looks fairly simple, the structure would prove to be a difficult project for architect Robert Mills and the Washington National Monument Society. Due to ideological conflicts, lapses in funding, and disruptions during the Civil War, construction of the Washington Monument would not be completed until February 21, 1885. The site opened to the public three years later. 

3. A COUP WITHIN THE WASHINGTON NATIONAL MONUMENT SOCIETY DELAYED CONSTRUCTION.

In 1855, an anti-Catholic activist group nicknamed the Know-Nothings seized control of the 23-year-old Washington National Monument Society. Once in power, the Know-Nothings rejected and destroyed memorial stones donated by Pope Piux IX. The Know-Nothing affiliation cost the project financial support from the public and from Congress. In 1858, after adding only two layers of masonry to the monument, the Know-Nothings abdicated control of the society. 

4. EARLY IDEAS FOR THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT INCLUDED STATUES, GREEK COLUMNS, AND TOMBS.

Before the society settled on building an obelisk, several other ideas were suggested as the visual representation of George Washington’s grandeur. Among them were an equestrian statue of the first president (which was part of Pierre L’Enfant’s original plan for Washington, D.C.), a separate statue situated atop a classical Greek column, and a tomb constructed within the Capitol building. The last idea fell apart when Washington’s family was unwilling to move his body from its resting place in Mount Vernon.

5. LATER DESIGN PLANS INCLUDED AN ELABORATE COLONNADE …

Even after Mills’ obelisk model had been accepted, a few flashier design elements received consideration as possible additions to the final project. Mills had originally intended to surround the tower with a circular colonnade, featuring not only a statue of George Washington seated gallantly atop a chariot, but also 30 individual statues of renowned Revolutionary War heroes. 

6. … AND AN EGYPTIAN SUN.

Mills placed a winged sun—an Egyptian symbol representing divinity—above the doorframe of the Washington Monument’s principal entrance. The sun was removed in 1885. 

7. THE MONUMENT ORIGINALLY HAD A FLAT TOP.

It has become recognizable for its pointed apex, but the Washington Monument was originally designed to bear a flat top. The monument’s design was capped with a pyramid-shaped addition in 1879.

8. THE ENGINEER WHO COMPLETED THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT ASKED THE GOVERNMENT TO SUPPLY HIS WORKERS WITH HOT COFFEE.

Several years after the 1855 death of Mills, Col. Thomas Lincoln Casey Sr., chief of engineers of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, assumed responsibility for completing the Washington Monument. Among his most memorable orders was an official request to the U.S. Treasury Department to supply his workers—specifically those assigned to the construction of the monument’s apex—with “hot coffee in moderate quantities.” The treasury complied. 

9. DOZENS OF MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS ARE BURIED BENEATH THE MONUMENT.

On the first day of construction, a zinc case containing a number of objects and documents was placed in the Washington Monument’s foundation. Alongside copies of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are a map of the city of Washington, publications of Census data, a book of poems, a collection of American coins, a list of Supreme Court justices, a Bible, daguerreotypes of George Washington and his mother Mary, Alfred Vail’s written description of the magnetic telegraph, a copy of Appleton’s Railroad and Steamboat Companion, and an issue of the arts and leisure magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book, among many other items.

10. SOME OF THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT’S MEMORIAL STONES BEAR STRANGE INSCRIPTIONS.

The vast majority of the 194 memorial stones lining the Washington Monument are not likely to inspire confusion. Common inscriptions celebrate George Washington, the country, and the states they represent. However, a few of the monument’s stones bear engravings of a more curious variety. A stone donated by a Welsh-American community from New York reads (in Welsh), “My language, my land, my nation of Wales—Wales for ever.” Another stone from the Templars of Honor and Temperance articulates the organization’s rigid support of Prohibition: “We will not make, buy, sell, or use as a beverage any spirituous or malt liquors, wine, cider, or any other alcoholic liquor, and will discountenance their manufacture, traffic, and use, and this pledge we will maintain unto the end of life.” 

11. THE APEX WAS DISPLAYED AT TIFFANY’S BEFORE IT WAS ADDED TO THE STRUCTURE.

The men who created the Washington Monument, though reverent in their intentions, were hardly above a good publicity stunt. William Frishmuth, an architect and aluminum magnate connected to the project, arranged for the pointed aluminum top of the monument to enjoy an ornate two-day display at New York City’s luxury jewelry store Tiffany’s. The apex was placed on the floor of the storefront so that shoppers could claim to have walked “over the top of the Washington Monument.” 

12. OPENING CEREMONIES ATTRACTED SEVERAL BIG-NAME GUESTS.

Among the 20,000 Americans present for the beginning of construction in 1848 were then-President James K. Polk, three future presidents (James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, and Andrew Johnson), former first lady Dolley Madison, Alexander Hamilton’s widow Elizabeth Hamilton(John Quincy Adams’ widow was too sick to attend), and a bald eagle.

13. THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT WAS THE TALLEST STRUCTURE IN THE WORLD FOR ABOUT SIX MONTHS.

Upon its official opening on October 9, 1888, the Washington Monument—standing an impressive 555 feet high—boasted the superlative of tallest manmade structure on Earth. The honor was short-lived, however, as the following March saw the unveiling of the Eiffel Tower, which topped out at 986 feet. 

14. IT IS STILL THE TALLEST OF ITS KIND.

As of 2019, the Washington Monument still reigns supreme as both the world’s tallest all-stone structure and the tallest obelisk. (The stone San Jacinto Monument in Texas is taller, but it sits on a concrete plinth.)

15. A FEW DECADES AFTER CONSTRUCTION, THE MONUMENT CAUGHT “TUBERCULOSIS.”

Wear and tear had begun to get the best of the Washington Monument by the early 20th century, prompting an exodus of the cement and rubble filler through the structure’s external cracks. The sweating sensation prompted John S. Mosby Jr., author of a 1911 article in Popular Mechanics, to nickname the phenomenon “geological tuberculosis.”

5 Tricks to Make Spring Cleaning Fun

March 4th, 2019 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

Did you know that 54 percent of Americans are completely and utterly overwhelmed by the amount of clutter in their lives? I totally believe it. That’s why we’re so enamored by Pinterest-inspired cleaning hacks and new ways to make this daunting task seem more…well, not so daunting. And if you’ve ever had to wrangle your S.O. or family into seasonal cleaning then you know how much of a firestorm that can be.

The experts over at VarageSale, the virtual garage sale for your phone, have shared some tips on how to motivate your family to join your spring cleaning decluttering mission this year (without using food as bribery). Take a look!

Turn Clutter Into a Vacay Fund

Promise the family a fun trip funded only by the money made from selling your items online. The extravagance of their trip will be determined by how much they sell.

Show the Kids What Their Clutter is Worth

Ask your children to pick five to 10 toys in their room or play area that they’ve outgrown to sell. Once sold, show them the money they’ve made, and divide the loot into streams of spending and saving.

Do a Decluttering Scavenger Hunt

Give each family member a mission to find items in their room within a list of categories (i.e. one pair of shoes, two shirts, three books, etc). The family member to finish first is the winner.

Let’s Make a Deal: Clutter-Free Edition 

If you buy your child something new, s/he has to find two to five items to part with in exchange. They might start with smaller items, like an old coloring book or just one toy car, and that’s okay. Once the game is established, push them to part with bigger items.

Take the Cake

Start a friendly competition between family members (you can make teams for the little ones) where all sales from their sales go into a communal pot. Whichever team sells the most takes the pot for that contest! Winners get to choose a fun family activity using money from the pot, like going to the movies or getting dinner at their favorite restaurant. The pot starts over the next day or the next time you want to tackle more spring cleaning so kids stay motivated to win.

Dance the Clutter Away

Be realistic and make time for a dance party. Removing the dust and cobwebs of winter can be an overwhelming task. Tackle the job in digestible blocks of time by creating a playlist of four to five of your favorite high-energy songs. Add a sixth song at the end that will inspire you to enjoy a mini dance party break. (Taylor Swift, FTW!)

Source: hgtv.com


How I Reduced My Social Media Use

February 5th, 2019 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

For the past year or so, I’ve watched my friends and media colleagues try various things to curb their social media use: some delete the mobile Facebook app from their phone, disengage from online commenting, only read the news from a physical paper, and cancel their social media accounts entirely.

I, too, found myself checking social media habitually, getting ensnared in low-value conversations and scrolling more than I wanted. So, to solve this problem, I tried something much simpler: app limits, which allow users to create their own time limits on social media use and automatically alert them when they’ve reached it.

I set my social media time limit to 15 minutes a day, and, from the screenshot above, readers can see that I did meaningfully cut my time on Twitter most days after it was implemented (I only learned later that Apple does not give users access to historical app use, so I can’t provide exact numbers, but readers can see how Twitter use fell dramatically).

One of the people who is most influential on social media abuse is Tristan Harris, whose wildly popular TED talk about “time well spent” eventually caught enough momentum to create a new organization, the Center for Humane Tech, which steered the conversation on how tech companies could help users limit addiction and overuse.

I followed the discussion surrounding Harris and other social media critics to see how it would actually land as product or policy. Last year, a number of top tech companies began building more advanced features for self-limits. Intrigued by the Center for Humane Tech’s influence and my own need to curb my social media use, I decided to test this feature on both Apple’s iPhone X internal “screen time” setting and Android’s digital wellbeing product on the Pixel 3 (disclosure: I am a contractor for Tech4America, a think tank in Silicon Valley. I work on economic policy).

These features are pretty simple: when a user is approaching or surpassing their screen time limit, the phone will alert them with a prominent notification.

Now, at any time, I could have just chosen to ignore these limits. Screen time limits don’t engage a lock that can’t be dismissed. And, on occasion, I did ignore them. But, often, when I found myself getting snagged by the temptation to get into Twitter fights during the day, I would see that my screen time limit was coming up and I’d remember that I didn’t really need to respond. Instead, I would close the app and get back to things that were more valuable to me.

During this experiment, I learned that there was hardly ever a time when I needed to constantly monitor social media. Even when I posted something that was popular, I rarely needed to spend more than a few minutes on the app to meaningfully engage. The marginal utility from minutes 5 to 60 on Facebook and Twitter wasn’t much more than the first 5 minutes.

So, I’ve decided to keep screen time limits on my phones (yes, I’ve been using both an Android and iOS device). I’m not going to delete social media from my phones, but I do want to make sure my time is well spent.

Gregory Ferenstein

Gregory Ferenstein

Gregory Ferenstein is the editor of the Ferenstein Wire, a syndicated publication on tech, health, and politics. In his spare time, he teaches Mathematics and enjoys Capoeira, an Brazilian acrobatic martial art.

Source: forbes.com

Teach Your Kid The Value Of Money

January 3rd, 2019 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

Raising a financially literate child doesn’t have to be difficult.

In a world of credit cards, online banking, tax codes, investments and retirement plans, keeping up with money can be tough for adults, and even more so for kids.

So, for the many parents who want to teach their kid economic ideas and prepare them for their financial futures, where the heck is the starting point?

We asked financial experts to break down the best ways to actually teach kids the value of money. Here’s their advice:

Make sure money isn’t “invisible” to your kids.

Chris Whitlow, CEO of financial wellness benefits provider Edukate, described money as “an emotional issue” and “very much a contact sport.”

“It’s like if you were to read academically about football and then go out and try to play football,” Whitlow told HuffPost. “The act of reading about and playing it are two different things.”

That’s why it’s important for families to speak openly about finances when possible ? like their budget, for example ? to encourage questions from their kids and to set them up to be better prepared in their financial future. This means taking a minute after swiping your debit or credit card to explain that the little thing in your wallet is not the source of limitless money.

Whitlow also noted that money conversations with kids are opportune times to discuss the difference between “what you need to have to function in life and what you want to have in life.”

Consider letting your children have some money to work with.

One way to teach kids about money is to simply let them have it, and cash is a great start.

“Cash is a tangible object,” said Gwen Tulin, founder and artistic director of Brain Arts Productions, a group that runs birthday parties, camps and other events that incorporate financial literacy with the arts. “You see it’s there and then it’s not.”

She suggested that caretakers take a few minutes to grab cash from an ATM and pick one store in which they’ll regularly use that money in front of their kids.

“It helps make the idea crystallize in somebody’s mind,” Tulin said. “Then, you can move on to more abstract concepts, but cash is a foundation.”

If you’re uncomfortable letting your kids have actual money, get creative. Whitlow told HuffPost his family made bills featuring one of his kids’ faces that she was able to earn for various tasks.

“It allowed her to do the things we asked at home ? some of them were emotional, like how she interacted with her siblings,” Whitlow said. “But those bucks had a very tangible utility to them.”

“We’ve made money into a foreign language. 401(k) and 529, those are tax code language, and why would we expect the average person to understand the tax code language?”- TANYA VAN COURT, CEO AND FOUNDER OF GOALSETTER

There are also options for parents who are OK with letting their kid manage finances on a spending card. The app BusyKid allows parents to manage their children’s chores, pay them, and put that money on a reloadable Visa card for the kids to use, so they’re the ones seeing the balance adjust with every purchase and every chore.

“I think of it as a kid’s first job with direct deposit,” said Gregg Murset, CEO and founder of BusyKid and a certified financial planner.

The platform also allows kids to buy fractional shares of stocks, if that’s a skill you’d like them to learn early on.

Don’t get overwhelmed with financial language.

Tanya Van Court started Goalsetter, a saving and giving platform for kids, as a way for families to better celebrate birthdays and holidays with their little ones without racking up a bunch of plastic toys that are hardly used. The founder and CEO gets why many parents are intimidated to even start a conversation about money with their kids.

“We’ve made money into a foreign language,” Van Court said. “401(k) and 529, those are tax code language, and why would we expect the average person to understand the tax code language?”

Van Court wasn’t taught financial basics as a kid, so she made sure to introduce it to her own children. To help other families do the same, Goalsetter offers an Urban Financial Dictionary that explains financial terms and associates them with movies, TV shows, song lyrics and more.

Natalia Oberti Noguera, founder and CEO of Pipeline Angels, which promotes angel investing for women and non-binary femme entrepreneurs, noted that it’s important to introduce kids to other economic ideas and to associate money with their lives as adults.

“We’re getting better at having kids think about entrepreneurship,” Oberti Noguera said. “We can talk to kids like, ‘Hey, if you’re interested in start-ups, you can get a job and climb the ladder. You’re actually going to be building wealth and you’ll be able to invest.’”

Don’t forget to explain that money can be a powerful tool to help others.

When talking about money with your kids, you don’t want to leave out the fact that some people are more privileged than others. BusyKid incorporates a list of charities to which kids can donate, and Goalsetter breaks down three different ways in which it lets kids categorize their goals: saving for the future, saving for things and experiences, and sharing with others. The last designation encourages kids to pay it forward with money they’ve earned.

“We not only want the lessons about allocating your money toward things that are important to you,” Van Court said, “but also giving back to other people that don’t have much stuff.”

As Whitlow pointed out, there’s no perfect way to teach kids about financial topics. What you’re aiming for is to “create a certain sense of vigilance about money” so kids will be prepared for their future.

Parenting is harder than ever, and there’s no one way to do it right. So on November 2, HuffPost Life will convene a community of people trying to figure it out together at our inaugural HuffPost Parents conference, HOW TO RAISE A KID. In advance of the event, HuffPost Parents will publish stories on topics that matter deeply to parents of children who are starting to navigate the world on their own: bullying; sex, consent and gender; money; their digital lives; and how to raise compassionate, self-sufficient, creative, emotionally intelligent children. In short — kids who aren’t assholes. View the event site here and be sure to follow HuffPost Parents on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and subscribe to our newsletter, How Not To Raise A Jerk.

Source: huffpost.com

10 Steps to a Clutter Free Life

January 3rd, 2019 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

Ours is a culture of abundance. Even in this time of economic recession – most of us have more ‘stuff’ than we really, truly, need. Clutter, whether it be too many tasks on our agenda, too many thoughts pulsing through our minds, or too many belongings in our homes, seems to be a societal epidemic. When we slow down a bit and take notice, however, we find that more stuff actually creates more stress. Additionally, the state of having too much stuff to care for, clean, and manage means less time for connecting with family and friends, taking care of yourself, and nurturing your soul and creative spirit.

Reducing physical clutter in the home creates a sense of calm, and allows energy to flow freely throughout. New possibilities emerge and creative solutions to old problems seem to appear from nowhere. Here are some things you can start doing now to make it happen:

1. Designate one spot for all incoming mail/paperwork and go through it daily.

2. Unsubscribe from email newsletters, blogs, and retail email lists that no longer interest you. Its YOUR inbox, after all.

3. Before purchasing anything, from new socks to a new smartphone, ask yourself: “Do I love it?” and “Will I use it?” Think twice unless the answer to both questions is a resounding “Yes!”

4. Commit to clearing clutter from one area of your home each day for a week and schedule ten minutes daily to do it. Start with something totally feasible, like your coat rack or medicine chest.

5. Meditate for five minutes each day. This will help de-clutter your mind and give you the clarity to keep what’s essential and part with the rest.

6. Eliminate clothing from your closet and dresser that hasn’t been worn in the last calendar year.

7. Find a home for clutter-prone items, you know, the things that wind up on the kitchen table, living room floor, and bedroom dresser. Designate a place for them and make a habit of putting them there, every single day.

8. Create clutter-free zones in your home. The entryway is a great place to start. If there is clutter in the entrance, 98% of the time there is clutter throughout the house. The kitchen table is another good choice. Keep what you love and use, recycle, donate or toss everything else. Be ruthless!

9. Use “maybe” boxes. If, in the course of de-cluttering, you’re not sure what to do with an item, put it in the maybe box. Note the date on the box and store it out of sight. If you don’t go looking for those items within six months to a year, it’s time to get rid of those things.

10. Evaluate your commitments. Most of us are over-scheduled, which is it’s own form of clutter. Make sure your commitments are reflective of your values and your priorities. Say no to new commitments without guilt and drop whatever commitments no longer serve you. Your life needs space for free flowing energy, just like your home.

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Engagement Ring Insurance 101

December 7th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

RingInsurance101Putting an insurance policy on your engagement ring may sound unromantic, but nothing’s sweeter than peace of mind.

What Ring Insurance Is:

There are a few ways to insure your engagement ring. Ring insurance can be purchased as an extension (also called a “rider”) for your renters or homeowners policy. Renters and homeowners policies cover the stuff in your home, but only up to a certain dollar value. Expensive, special items, like engagement rings, art and electronics, are guaranteed through scheduled personal property coverage—an insurance policy extension that covers particular items. Another option is to insure your ring through a company that specializes in jewelry insurance, which might offer more coverage than a standard homeowners policy (replacing a lost or stolen ring rather than paying a set amount of cash, for instance).

Who Needs Ring Insurance Most:

Any couple with jewelry that has pricey material or sentimental value. Whether your wedding and engagement rings cost $500 or $50,000, an insurance policy is a way of honoring not just their financial value but what they represent. The sentiment behind your rings is priceless, but the rings themselves can be replaced—if they’re insured—in the event that something happens to them.

How Ring Insurance Works:

You’ll need to provide your receipts, as well as an appraisal, which costs a small fee. (You can get an appraisal from a certified gemologist.) And remember: If you move after the wedding, make sure your “ring rider” follows you. Some couples have the ring insured at the bride’s house (or her parents’) before the wedding, but forget to add it to the policy for their new home when they move in together.

If you don’t have a renters or homeowners policy, there’s an alternative way to insure your ring: Certain insurance companies offer policies through jewelers on individual pieces—ask your jeweler if they work with an insurance company to offer ring insurance. These kinds of policies can vary widely company by company (usually a jeweler will offer a policy that’s underwritten by smaller company), so ask specific questions about the level of coverage provided.

Questions to Ask Before You Choose a Policy:

  • Is the ring covered if you lose it accidentally, or only if it’s stolen?
  • How will the company replace the ring—with a check? Or will they require you to purchase a replacement through a specified jeweler?
  • What if it’s a vintage ring or other unique piece? How will the quality and size of your diamond—and that of a replacement if needed—be documented?
  • Is the ring insured to full cost or a fraction of it?
  • How will you need to prove the ring vanished if you make a claim?
  • Are there any circumstances that aren’t covered? (What if your ring flies off at the circus and gets trampled by elephants, for example?)

Average Cost:

The yearly cost to insure your ring is $1 to $2 for every $100 that it would cost to replace. In plain English, this means that if your ring would cost $9,000 to replace, you might expect to pay between $90 and $180 per year to insure it—or slightly more in cities where the risk of theft is higher.

How to Get Your Cost Down:

Buy a vault or safe to keep jewelry in when it’s not being worn. You can also keep paperwork like appraisals in the safe, so you’ll always know where it is if needed.

If You Only Remember One Thing:

When you shop for a “ring rider” policy, make sure to read the fine print. A good policy will cover every potential ring-threatening situation, from theft and damage to accidentally dropping it in the garbage disposal.

Source: theknot.com

Fight the Flu!

December 7th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

What is Influenza (also called Flu)?


The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.

Signs and Symptoms of Flu

People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (very tired)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

How Flu Spreads

Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose.

Period of Contagiousness

You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.

Onset of Symptoms

The time from when a person is exposed to flu virus to when symptoms begin is about 1 to 4 days, with an average of about 2 days.

Complications of Flu

Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

People at High Risk from Flu

Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to the flu can happen at any age, but some people are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children.

Preventing Flu

The first and most important step in preventing flu is to get a flu vaccination each year. CDC also recommends everyday preventive actions (like staying away from people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes and frequent handwashing) to help slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory (nose, throat, and lungs) illnesses, like flu.

Diagnosing Flu

It is very difficult to distinguish the flu from other viral or bacterial causes of respiratory illnesses on the basis of symptoms alone. There are tests available to diagnose flu. For more information, see Diagnosing Flu.

Treating

There are influenza antiviral drugs that can be used to treat flu illness.

For more information, see “Seasonal Influenza, More Information.”

Source: cdc.gov

30 Simple Holiday Décor Ideas

December 7th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

Looking to update your holiday decor? Find more easy holiday decorating ideas here.

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Twist on a Traditional Wreath

Instead of the traditional evergreen, try a homemade wreath of citrus fruits. Start with a circular piece of florist’s foam, then use wooden florist’s picks to secure large items, such as oranges, first. Continue with smaller fruit: kumquats, clementines, limes. Tie with a thick velvet ribbon.

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Sparkly Ornament Display

Place vintage ornaments on a cake stand nested with leaves for a stunningly simple centerpiece.

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Personalized Place Settings

Serving holiday dinner buffet style? Wrap each dish in a sheet of parchment paper and tie with a length of ribbon before stacking it. Guests will be rewarded with a pretty presentation (not to mention a little gift-opening practice).

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Invite Greenery Inside

Lush greenery draped around the house, especially doorways, creates an inviting atmosphere and a woodsy aroma.

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Get More Great Ideas

Visit http://www.realsimple.com/ to see the rest of these awesome decorating ideas.