START THE YEAR OFF RIGHT BY REVIEWING YOUR BILLS
The start of the year is a great time to review your finances.
As 2019 starts—hopefully with a bang—it is an ideal time to take a look at all of your bills.
As the past year cruised by you may have added cell phone plans, changed cable and internet subscriptions, and signed up for trial offers (which automatically turned into pay subscriptions).
It is a good habit to look at your bills and inspect them for ways to save money.
Call your services and see if you can take advantage of new promotional offers or remove services that you are no longer using.
Common bills to find new savings on are cell phones, cable TV, internet service, home phone, streaming video services, and any other online subscriptions you may have.
How America Got Its First Christmas Tree
A Christmas tree now sparkles in millions of homes, but did you ever wonder how the tradition began? No doubt there are several stories regarding the start of this custom, and here’s one I’d like to pass along.
“It’s now been more than 150 years since Professor Charles Minnigerode decorated Williamsburg’s first Christmas tree,” says Robert C. Wilburn, president of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
“A German native, the College of William and Mary professor brought the festive tradition with him to the United States. When Nathaniel Beverley Tucker invited Professor Minnigerode to celebrate the holiday season at the St. George Tucker House, he trimmed a tree with candles and fancy paper decoration as a present for Tucker’s children.”
Beverley Randolph Tucker, a descendant, says that “regular sized candles were cut down and fastened on the tree, nuts were gilded, and other ornaments made. Presents were probably not distributed at this time, but there were songs, games, and refreshments.” (Tales of the Tuckers, 1942).
From that humble beginning (and likely similar celebrations with other German immigrants), evolved what is now an American tradition observed in millions of homes.
As to the St. George Tucker house, it was donated to Williamsburg in 1993 after more than 200 years of family ownership. Used now as a donor hospitality center, the home is one of the most unusual examples of original colonial architecture to be found.
St. George Tucker was born in Bermuda and came to the colonies to study law at William and Mary under George Wythe, whom he later succeeded. He was a member of the collegiate Flat Hat Society — a fraternity that evolved into what we today know as Phi Beta Kappa.
In 1788, Tucker bought three lots on the green in Williamsburg near the governor’s palace. This was once the site of the first theater in America (Levingstone’s) as well a small house. Tucker then built a home on the property which was expanded, wing after wing, until he decided to try something different: the house was pushed outward with the result that a visitor now finds parlors that have windows looking over the Williamsburg green as well as windows which look into the home’s central hallway.
Such expansion was a necessity because Tucker had nine children and five stepchildren from two wives. While not all lived to adulthood, a family dinner could include Tucker as well as three children who served in the Congress at the same time: John Randolph (a stepson), Beverley Tucker, and Henry St. George Tucker. His brother, Charles Tucker, a physician, was appointed Treasurer of the United States by Jefferson and served from 1801 to 1828.
When the Revolution began, the British seized the Williamsburg magazine to deprive the colonialists of ammunition and powder. Believing that fair is fair, Tucker sailed to Bermuda, “liberated” the British magazine, and brought tons of ammo back to the colonialists.
After the revolution, Tucker taught at William and Mary, became a judge, and 1803 published an Americanized edition of Blackstone’s Commentaries: With Notes of Reference to the Constitution and Laws, of the Federal Government of the United States, and of the Commonwealth of Virginia. This five-volume set is one of the foundations of our legal system and today is still in print.
Tucker held a number of opinions which are at the core of American law and custom.
On religion he wrote, “Liberty of conscience in matters of religion consists in the absolute and unrestrained exercise of our religious opinions, and duties, in that mode which our own reason and conviction dictate, without the control or intervention of any human power or authority whatsoever.”
Tucker was also a strong believer in the concept of a free press.
“Liberty of speech and of discussion in all speculative matters, consists in the absolute and uncontrollable right of speaking, writing, and publishing, our opinions concerning any subject, whether religious, philosophical, or political….”
Perhaps most remarkably, in a state and a society where the ownership of slaves was equated with wealth and status, Tucker wrote “A Dissertation on Slavery: With a Proposal for the Gradual Abolition of It in the State of Virginia.”
“Whilst America hath been the land of promise to Europeans,” he wrote in 1796, more than 60 years before the Civil War, “it hath been the vale of death to millions of the wretched sons of Africa. The genial light of liberty, which hath shone with unrivalled lustre on the former, hath yielded no comfort to the latter….”
Tucker died in 1828, and it was his son, Nathaniel Beverley Tucker, also a judge and professor of law at William and Mary, who hosted the famous tree in 1842.
No doubt if Mr. Tucker were with us today he would extend to one and all the very best wishes for this holiday season and the coming New Year.
WRITTEN BY PETER MILLER Originally posted by RealtyTimes
FINDING THE RIGHT MATTRESS
You’ve got more options than ever when mattress shopping these days with no shortage of brick-and-mortar and online-only retailers to choose from. Here are the factors you should consider when you’re shopping for a perfect night’s sleep.
- Mattress construction: The most popular types are inner spring, memory foam, and adjustable air. Each has pros and cons when it comes to durability and comfort customization.
- Firmness: Firmness plays a huge role in the quality of your sleep. Mattresses that are too firm or too soft can cause aches and pains, so it‘s recommended that you test a mattress for 10- to 15 minutes in store before making a purchase.
- Sleeping position: Match your sleeping style (side, back, face-down, etc.). You want one that keeps your spine in proper alignment. For example, some are better for side sleepers, while others are better for back sleepers.
- Size: It’s not quite as simple as choosing between a king and a queen mattress. You should also consider your height, as some are a better fit for shorter people while tall people will want a longer mattress so their limbs aren’t hanging over the edge of the bed.
- Stability: For couples, you should consider how the mattress reacts when one person moves, so the other person’s sleep isn’t disturbed in the middle of the night.
FIVE TIPS FOR A GREAT BACKYARD
Summer is here, so entertaining has made the move from the living room to the backyard. It’s the season for barbecues and campouts. Here are five ways to make sure your back yard is everyone’s favorite.
- Make sure there’s a place to cook! The way to your guests’ hearts is through their stomachs. You could have something as simple as a charcoal grill or as elaborate as a fully-featured kitchen, but it‘s essential that you can prepare some food outdoors.
- Lighting matters. At the very least you need enough lighting to keep the party going when the sun goes down. But for a back yard that really pops, add some decorative lighting to walkways, landscaping, or anything else worth highlighting.
- Gather around the fire. This one’s a no brainer. Everyone loves a good place to make hot dogs and s’mores—just make sure you’re not violating any neighborhood ordinances.
- Bring the beach to your backyard. A little water will make everything look better. It could be something as simple as fountain or as elaborate as a waterfall or fish pond.
5. Don’t forget the foliage. Trees, shrubs and flowers are all important for adding the finishing touches to your outdoor entertainment space. The trees and shrubs can provide some much-needed shade when the sun is out, and flowers add just the right amount of color.
STAY HEALTHY THIS SUMMER
A few simple tips for improving your personal health:
Summer is the time for family vacations and road trips, backyard barbecues, and days at the beach. But as the pace of life slows down after the hustle and bustle of winter and spring, it’s also a great time to make some small health-conscious changes that can make a big difference at the end of the day. Here are a few simple-but-effective tips for improving your personal health this summer.
Eat more berries
Eating a cup of mixed berries each day can have tremendous health benefits. Berries are rich with antioxidants, which help prevent tissue damage and lower the risk of age-related illnesses. It’s just a small change to your diet, but a little goes a long way!
Have some fun while exercising
This doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym. Make the most of the summer weather by doing activities that are both fun and keep you moving. Cycling, hiking, swimming, playing games with the kids—these are all great ways to get some exercise without making it feel like a chore that you have to squeeze into your schedule.
Wear your sunglasses
I know this seems like a no-brainer, but there’s a lot more to wearing sunglasses than just fashion. A good pair of sunglasses should block out at least 99 percent of harmful UV rays.
Play in the dirt
Planting and maintaining a garden can be a great stress reliever. Even something as simple as a few flower boxes or potted plants is a good start.
IS HANDS-FREE ACTUALLY SAFER?
A recent poll by the National Safety Council showed that 80 percent of Americans incorrectly believe that using a hands-free device while driving is safer than using a handheld device.
The truth—according to more than 30 studies—is that hands-free devices are no safer, because the brain remains distracted when you’re having a phone conversation.
“While many drivers honestly believe they are making the safe choice by using a hands-free device, it’s just not true,” said David Teater, senior director of Transportation Initiatives at the National Safety Council. “The problem is the brain does not truly multi-task.”
Talking on a handheld device while driving has been banned in 12 states, but there are no bans on hands-free devices, so it’s easy to understand why drivers may be confused about the risks.
For your own safety, try to avoid talking on the phone while driving, regardless of whether it’s handheld or hands-free.
DON’T BE A VICTIM: TRIM THOSE SHRUBS
Crime prevention studies show that burglarized homes have less visual access (overgrown shrubs) than their neighbors who were not burglarized.
Burglars seek to victimize homes with easy access in and out, and most importantly, they don’t want to be seen.
A common thread in burglaries are homes with overgrown trees and shrubbery.
When walkways and windows are covered in green they may look great to you, but they look like “opportunity” to the would-be burglar.
When looking at your home from the street, can you see all access points clearly and easily? If not, make sure you trim the green and keep you and your family safe.
5 THINGS THAT MAKE US HAPPY WITH OUR HOMES
According to a recent survey conducted by houzz.com, here are five things that consistently make people happy with their homes.
- Big windows and comfortable furniture: Nearly 75 percent of respondents listed these two items as major difference-makers. It’s a no-brainer—people like lots of light and a good place to relax.
- A big-screen TV: This is more likely to be a key feature for men than women. 40 percent of men said having a big-screen TV makes them happy with their homes, compared to just 17 percent of women.
- Overall design and layout: 87 percent of the 6,000 people surveyed said the design of the home is a major contributor to overall happiness. If you’re unhappy with your home and there’s a project you’ve been wanting to tackle, get to it!
- Home cookin’: 39 percent of respondents said the scent of good cooking or baking made them happiest. Clearly, it helps to have a capable chef around the house!
- Keep it tidy: 72 percent of homeowners said they’re happiest when their houses are clean and well-organized. If you want to be happier with your home, try having a place for everything, and put everything in its place.
5 MYTHS ABOUT SUN SAFETY
The warm weather is here, and it’s the perfect time of year to get outside and have some fun with your family and friends. But it’s also important to protect your skin. Here are five common myths about sun safety.
Myth No. 1: It’s fine to tan as long as you don’t burn.
A sunburn is certainly more harmful than a simple tan, but any extended exposure to the sun can be harmful, regardless of your skin tone.
Myth No. 2: An umbrella will completely protect you from the sun.
Though an umbrella will go a long way toward keeping your skin safe during a day at the beach, the sand still reflects 17 percent of UV radiation. Wear sunscreen in addition to staying in the shade.
Myth No. 3: You don’t need sunscreen on overcast days.
False! About 80 percent of the sun’s rays still pass through on cloudy days, so you still need sunscreen.
Myth No. 4: The sun can’t pass through windows.
Glass filters out some UV rays, but not all. Be especially cautious if you or your passengers are exposed to the sun on a long car ride.
Myth No. 5: You need sun exposure to avoid vitamin D deficiency.
Extended exposure isn’t necessary—your body will get enough vitamin D from food, multivitamins, and minimal time in the sun.