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A Brief History Of Earth Day

Earth Day is celebrated each April and draws attention to a range of issues affecting the environment. Earth Day aims to raise awareness in the hope of inspiring change.

Earth Day is observed on April 22. According to National Geographic, the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970. Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson was inspired to begin a national celebration uniting the environmental movement after witnessing environmental activism in the 1960s. With the help of Denis Hayes, a graduate student at Harvard University, Nelson organized the first Earth Day. Twenty million people participated in events across the United States and strengthened support for environmental legislation like the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Earth Day was expanded to a global initiative in 1990 under guidance from Hayes. Nearly 200 million participants in more than 140 countries now join together in the name of protecting the planet. Awareness continues to be raised each year regarding renewable energy and climate change.

One of the hallmarks of Earth Day celebrations is the planting of trees. Researchers estimate roughly 15 billion trees are cut down each year across the globe. By planting a tree every Earth Day, people can make a difference. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen and bolster ecosystems for wildlife. Shade trees can reduce reliance on fans and air conditioning systems.

The main message of Earth Day 2024 is the need to commit to ending reliance on plastics, says EarthDay.org. The goal is a 60 percent reduction in the production of all plastics by 2040. Plastics are bad for the environment a growing body of research indicates they have an adverse effect on the major systems of the body, including immune, respiratory, digestive, and hormonal systems.

Everyone can do their part to promote the ideals behind Earth Day. For 54 years, millions of people have been advocating for change to benefit the planet and human and animal health, and that fight is ongoing.

Tips To Revitalize A Garden This Spring

Gardening is a rewarding hobby that pays a host of significant dividends. Many people love gardening because it allows them to spend time outdoors, and that simple pleasure is indeed a notable benefit of working in a garden. But the National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture notes that gardening provides a host of additional benefits, including helping people get sufficient levels of exercise, reduce stress and improve mood.

With so much to gain from gardening, it’s no wonder people look forward to getting their hands dirty in the garden each spring. As the weather warms up, consider these tips to help bring a garden back to life.

Discard The Dead Weight

Winter can take its toll on a garden, even in regions where the weather between December and early spring is not especially harsh. Discard dead plants that have lingered into spring and prune any perennials that need it. Branches that fell during winter storms also should be removed at this point if they have not previously been discarded.

Test The Soil

Soil testing kits can be purchased at local garden centers and home improvement retailers. Such tests are inexpensive and can reveal if the soil needs to be amended to help plants thrive in the months to come.

Mulch Garden Beds

Mulching benefits a garden by helping soil retain moisture and preventing the growth of weeds. Various garden experts note that mulching in spring can prevent weed seeds from germinating over the course of spring and summer. That means plants won’t have to fight with weeds for water when the temperature warms up. It also means gardeners won’t have to spend time pulling weeds this summer.

Inspect Your Irrigation System

Homeowners with in-ground irrigation systems or above-ground systems that utilize a drip or soaker function can inspect the systems before plants begin to bloom. Damaged sprinkler heads or torn lines can deprive plants of water they will need to bloom and ultimately thrive once the weather warms up.

Tune Up Your Tools

Gardening tools have likely been sitting around gathering dust since fall. Serious gardeners know that tools can be expensive, so it pays to protect that investment by maintaining the tools. Sharpened pruners help make plants less vulnerable to infestation and infection. Well-maintained tools like shovels and hoes also make more demanding gardening jobs a little bit easier, so don’t forget to tune up your tools before the weather warms up.

It’s almost gardening season, which means gardeners can start on the necessary prep work to ensure their gardens grow in strong and beautiful this spring.

Documents to Bring to Your Tax Preparer

In many parts of the country, April marks a return to warm temperatures, landscapes marked by blooming foliage and perhaps even a colorful flower or two. April also signals tax season, a notion that may elicit different reactions than warmer weather and budding plants, particularly among those who do not anticipate receiving a tax refund.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, the deadline to file a 2023 tax return is Monday, April 15, 2024. Individuals who file more complicated returns or those who simply don’t have the time to file on their own typically look to tax preparation professionals to ensure their returns are filed correctly and on time. As the tax deadline draws closer, taxpayers who work with tax preparation professionals can make that partnership go more smoothly by ensuring they bring along these necessary documents and details to their appointments.

Social Security Numbers

Individuals who are filing as single or jointly with a spouse will need to list the Social Security numbers of each person on the return. Taxpayers with dependents will need to provide the full names and Social Security numbers of each dependent as well as their own Social Security numbers.

Identification

A copy of a form of identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, also must be included in a tax return. The identification confirms a person’s identity and the name on the ID provided must match the name associated with the Social Security number provided.

Income statements

Tax preparers need a copy of each taxpayer’s W-2 form, which employers must provide by the end of January. Taxpayers with more than one job must provide a W-2 from each employer. Additional income statements, such as forms indicating gambling winnings or retirement account distributions, also must be provided to the tax prep pro. Taxpayers who have such income should contact their tax preparation pro prior to their appointment to determine which additional income form they need to file.

Tax Deduction Documents

Tax deductions save taxpayers money, and taxpayers may be eligible for a range of deductions. For example, homeowners who finance their home purchases with mortgages will receive a 1098 form from their mortgage provider each January. That form is a mortgage interest statement that can help homeowners reduce their tax obligations. Donations, student loan interest payments and college tuition costs are some additional potential deductions. Charities, student loan servicing firms and colleges or universities should provide tax deduction documents by the end of January, and taxpayers can turn these forms over to their tax preparation professional so they earn all eligible deductions.

Receipts

Some expenses are eligible for tax deductions. Taxpayers can contact their tax preparation professional to determine if any medical bills, business expenses, charitable contributions, or additional expenses are deductible. Receipts may be required, and individuals are urged to hold on to any receipts they might be able to use to earn a tax deduction.

Tax season has arrived, and taxpayers are urged to provide all relevant documents to their tax preparers to ensure their returns are filed correctly and on time.

No-Bake Cheesecake Eggs

Easter eggs in all their pastel glory come to mind when pondering an important holy day on the Christian calendar. Easter eggs are great to hide and fun to find, but when they come in the form of a tasty dessert, celebrations become that much more festive.

“No-Bake Cheesecake Eggs” are a confectionary twist on the chocolate eggs that are popular come Easter. Home chefs can have fun decorating and playing with the flavors of these treats. Try this recipe, courtesy of “Jane’s Patisserie Celebrate!” (Sourcebooks) by Jane Dunn.

No-Bake Cheesecake Eggs

Serves 2

Base

1 medium chocolate Easter egg

35 grams unsalted butter

75 grams digestive biscuits

Filling

200 grams full-fat soft cheese (such as cream cheese or neufchâtel), at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons icing sugar

100 milliliters double cream

25 grams cocoa powder

Decoration

50 grams milk chocolate, melted

Easter chocolates

Sprinkles

Base

Carefully split the Easter egg into two halves.

Melt the butter in the microwave in short bursts or in a small pan over a medium heat. In a food processor, blitz the biscuits to a fine crumb, add the melted butter and pulse a few times until the mixture is well combined.

Divide the mixture equally between the two halves of the Easter egg, and very gently press down, without breaking the shell.

Filling

In a large bowl, whisk the cheese, vanilla extract and icing sugar until smooth. Add the double cream and cocoa powder and whisk again until smooth and thickened. Divide the mixture evenly between the two Easter egg halves and smooth over as carefully as possible. Chill in the fridge for an hour or so until set.

Decoration

Drizzle the melted milk chocolate over the two halves and decorate with some Easter chocolates and sprinkles.

Turn Your Bedroom Into A Relaxing Retreat

Bedrooms are more than places to lay our heads at the end of the day. Bedrooms serve different functions, and not all are conducive to relaxation.

People who use their bedrooms as a work space may find they’re compromising their well-being by introducing activities into the bedroom. The Sleep Foundation says having an office in the bedroom blurs the lines between work and personal life, which can have serious effects on sleep. Rather, people should be looking to turn their bedrooms into relaxing retreats that offer a respite from the outside world.

Remove Blue-Light Emitting Devices

Computers, tablets, smartphones, and other electronic devices emit blue light, which can compromise natural melatonin production in the body that contributes to sleep. Such devices should not be used at night in the bedroom.

Use A Neutral Color Palette

Neutral color palettes evoke a spa feeling. Walls can be painted white, beige or a light shade of gray. This can help the room feel calming and welcoming.

Declutter The Room

A sense of calm can be achieved simply by removing excess clutter. There is some evidence that the brain is more calm near an empty dresser, desk or clothes hamper. Therefore, removing excessive items from the room is a first step to making a nice retreat.

Add Soft Lighting

Adjust the intensity and the color of the lighting in the bedroom. It should be subtle and warming. Dimmers enable homeowners to adjust lighting as needed.

Install An Electric Fireplace

There is something to be said for the relaxing effects of gazing into the flames of a fire. A crackling (faux-wood) fire is an added layer of indulgence in a bedroom.

Add An Area Rug

Even in rooms with carpeting, an area rug under the bed can further define the perimeter of the bed and add extra plushness underfoot.

Invest In Aromatherapy Diffusers

Certain smells can create a relaxing mood. These may be sandalwood, lavender or jasmine. Utilizing their preferred scents, homeowners can employ reed diffusers in their bedrooms to enjoy the aromas of natural oils.

Used Closed Storage

Open shelves and visible closet interiors may not hide a mess. Exposure to clutter can contribute to feelings of anxiety. Store items that shouldn’t be on display behind closed doors or drawers.

Bring In Luxury Linens

Homeowners should not skimp on comforters, sheets, duvet covers, and pillows for their beds. A cozy bed to dive right into can serve as the centerpiece of a bedroom retreat.

Turning a bedroom into a relaxing space can help individuals sleep better and reduce anxiety.

Irish Soda Bread

Irish cuisine may not be as widely recognizable or familiar across North America as Chinese, Italian or Mexican fare. But that doesn’t mean Irish food lacks fans and flavor. As the world prepares to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on or around March 17, individuals who want to include some popular Irish fare in their festivities won’t want to exclude this recipe for “Irish Soda Bread” from AllRecipes.com.

Irish Soda Bread

Yields 1 1/2 loaf (20 servings)

Ingredients:

4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup margarine, softened

4 tablespoons white sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 egg

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup buttermilk

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.

2. Mix flour, softened margarine, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and place on the prepared baking sheet.

3. Combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk in a small bowl; brush loaf with this mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut an ‘X’ into the top of the loaf.

4. Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Check to see if it is done after 30 minutes. You may continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes.

How To Find The Right Real Estate Agent

Working with a real estate agent can give both buyers and sellers an edge in what continues to be a challenging real estate market. Agents, brokers and Realtors® are professionals who have distinct expertise and knowledge of the process of buying and selling homes. That expertise is evidenced by how many people rely on real estate professionals each year. A 2022 Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends report found 88 percent of homeowners choose to list their homes with a real estate agent when it comes time to sell.

Individuals understand that it can be in their best interests to work with real estate professionals, but they may not know where to look as they seek to work with one. Here are some tips for finding the right match in a real estate professional.

Know The Difference In Real Estate Professionals

Real estate agents are required by the state in which they operate to pass a real estate license exam. Real estate brokers take it a step further and undergo additional training, which could bring additional experience to the table. Realtors® are members of the National Association of Realtors® and beholden to its strict code of ethics. These individuals also may have undergone additional training that qualifies them to work with certain types of clients, such as seniors.

Seek Referrals

Friends or family members, or even others in the community, can put people in touch with real estate professionals. When asking for referrals, individuals can inquire about certain professionals and how they handled buying and/or selling a home.

Work With The Right Type Of Agent

Generally speaking, real estate agents either work with buyers or sellers in the transaction. Many will do both, but some specialize in buying or selling. Find a professional who either does both or specializes in your position.

Research An Agent’s Online Presence

Use the internet to see if the agent has a website, a particular philosophy or a specialty. This also may be a place to check online reviews. Don’t be dissuaded by one or two poor reviews. However, if there are many, it may be best to look elsewhere.

Meet and Interview Potential Agents

Individuals should speak with a couple of real estate professionals to see what they offer. This is a good way to determine if there is a connection there, and whether the agent will get the results needed. A well-prepared agent will come with data, including “comps” of properties in the area. Professionals typically have information about the current market trends and a portfolio of the homes they have brokered recently.

Go With Gut Instincts

If it’s between two people of equal qualification, select the person with whom you have a stronger rapport. This person will be guiding you through a sizable financial transaction, so comfort level is important.

Finding the right real estate professional can take some time. But the right professional will guide clients through the often complex and occasionally frustrating process of buying or selling property.

Leap Into These Leap Year Facts

Leap Year typically takes place every four years. The process of adding a day to the calendar every four years was designed to realign the clock and calendar more closely with how long it takes the Earth to rotate around the sun, which is slightly longer than the 365 days attributed to a year. If not for Leap Year, the seasons would slowly shift out of place.

There are many interesting facts to learn about Leap Year, and February 29 is the perfect time to explore them.

· It takes the Earth 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45 seconds to circle once around the sun, says Time and Date. Without leap years, we’d lose almost six hours every year. After a century, the calendar would be off by nearly 24 days.

· Despite 2100, the next turn of the century, being divisible by four, it will not be a leap year. That’s because it is divisible by 100 but not 400, which means it will not be a leap year. This exception to the rule pertains to new century years.

· Forbes reports that it’s likely the calendar will need to be changed again since the Earth’s rotation rate, the axial tilt orientation and the Earth’s orbital motion around the sun is not constant. Various effects, such as earthquakes and something called tidal braking, affect the passage of time.

· Legend states that on February 29 it is alright for a woman to propose to a man, a custom attributed to St. Bridget. Bridget complained to St. Patrick that some women had to wait too long for their suitors to pop the question. As the legend goes, Patrick supposedly provided women this day to propose to compensate.

· Some cultures view February 29 as an unlucky day. In Greece, couples are warned against planning weddings during leap years. In Italy, the phrase, “Anno biseto, anno funesto” (“leap year, doom year”) is uttered.

· Individuals who are born on February 29th are known as leaplings or leapers.

· Leap Day is not considered a legal day. Those who are leaplings have to choose February 28 or March 1 for their official and legal birthdays.

· Individuals who are paid fixed monthly incomes often work for free on February 29th because their wages will not be calculated to include the extra day.

· Guinness World Records indicates the only family it could verify as producing three consecutive generations born on leap days belongs to the Keoghs. The elder Patrick Anthony Keogh was born in 1940, his son Peter Eric was born in 1964, and his granddaughter Bethany in 1996.

Steps To Secure Your Financial Privacy

Safeguarding personal financial data has never been more important, as an increasingly digital world has made online banking that much more prevalent. Cyber crimes are a significant concern. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, no less than 422 million individuals were impacted by cyber crime in 2022, and nearly 33 billion accounts are anticipated to be breached by the end of 2023. Cyber crimes are happening every day, even if the public only hears about the largest data breaches.

Financial institutions as well as retailers and other businesses that require the use of personal financial information are obligated to safeguard customer data. According to the Federal Trade Commission, financial institutions protect the privacy of consumers’ finances under a federal law called the Financial Modernization Act of 1999, also known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. That law governs banks, securities firms, insurance companies, and companies providing many other types of products and services. The law dictates how financial institutions can collect and disclose customer’s personal financial information.

Individuals also have key roles to play in protecting themselves. Though even the best precautions cannot completely secure your financial privacy, every little effort is worth it to reduce your risk of being victimized by data theft. These tips from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority can help individuals safeguard their privacy.

· You have the right to opt out of the sharing of some of your personal information with affiliates and non-affiliates of a financial institution. For example, you can opt out of receiving prescreened credit offers by way of credit bureaus selling information about you to lenders or insurance.

· Increase awareness of phishing scams. These often are emails that appear to come from legitimate firms or financial regulators asking for personal information. These entities would never ask for account numbers, passwords, credit card information, or Social Security numbers through email. Verify all communication with the financial institution by contacting that institution directly at the number listed on your account statement or bill.

· Be aware of where you click online. Never click on a questionable link or download a suspicious email attachment.

· Strong passwords can keep accounts more secure. Resist the urge to use the same password across many accounts. Once that password is compromised, the cyber criminal may be able to try it on your other accounts. Consider using a password manager to suggest and save strong and unique passwords for each account.

· Utilize multifactor authentication whenever it is available. MFA adds an extra layer of protection by using a password as well as a unique code or biometric to unlock the account.

· Conduct all financial business on a personal device on a secure network. Delete the cache and history frequently to avoid leaving a digital trace.

These steps can help protect financial security. Individuals need to be diligent in safeguarding their information from cyber criminals.

Why Regular Car Washes Are Important

Taking care of a vehicle involves more than just maintaining the equipment under the hood. There are a number of steps involved in keeping a car or truck in top form, and that includes regular car washes.

Car washes keep a vehicle shiny and clean, which can help it look good while sitting in the driveway or cruising the highway. However, regular car washes are more than cosmetic.

Protection From The Sun

A car that is routinely and properly washed and waxed is less vulnerable to damage from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

Extend The Life Of Paint

Dirt and debris can build up on the paint surface and eventually lead to scratches and other damage. Bird droppings and sap can be corrosive. Washing will help remove grime and protect the paint in the process.

Preserve The Vehicle’s Value

Drivers who plan to sell or trade in their vehicles in the future should realize that a well-maintained car can bring in as much as 20 percent more for above-average condition, according to Kelley Blue Book. Maintaining a clean and shiny vehicle can protect its long-term value.

Remove Salt

Drivers who live near the ocean or in areas where roads are salted in the winter to melt snow may have cars with high salt corrosion rates. Unless it’s washed off frequently, salt can take its toll, leading to damage.

Improve Fuel Efficiency

Drivers have felt pain in their wallets at the fuel pump in recent years. Dirty cars may be less aerodynamic and less fuel-efficient as a result. Keeping a car clean may improve its fuel efficiency.

Maintain The Interior

Car washes are not only about the exterior. Keeping a clean and tidy interior can help improve the air quality inside of the vehicle and prolong the life of upholstery, mats and interior components.

Car washes should be a routine part of vehicle maintenance. Professional car washes tend to be more eco-friendly than washing a car at home, so drivers are urged investigate their service plans and features.