Will You Turn Your Lights Off For Earth Hour?

Earth Hour

On March 31, 2012 at 8:30pm, cities all over the world will be plunged into darkness for one hour as they celebrate Earth Hour, a world-wide event which is organized by the World Wildlife Fund.

Business and households will turn off their lights all at the same time for sixty minutes in order to reduce electricity and to raise awareness about the need to take action regarding climate change.

It is a time for people to reflect on their energy consumption. It is only when we try to live our lives without electricity that we really appreciate how much we use it on a daily basis.

How it began

Earth Hour started in 2007, when the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia encouraged 2.2 million people in Sydney to turn off their lights for one hour.

Several other cities and towns around the world were inspired by the success of this first Earth Hour and carried on the lights-out tradition in 2008.

Things to Do During Earth Hour

Are you wondering what you and your family will do while you have turned off the lights for one hour? Here are some great earth hour activities:

  • Go outside and look at the stars. With the streetlights turned off you will be able to see many more constellations than usual.
  • Take a relaxing candle-lit bath.
  • Do some yoga to stretch your body and calm your mind.
  • Sit in a circle with your friends and family and take turns telling stories. Who needs television when you can entertain each other?
  • Go to bed early. Why not use the opportunity to get an extra hour of sleep?
  • Eat a cold dinner, which uses less energy than a hot meal. You can eat things like fresh fruit and vegetables, salads, nuts and sandwiches.
  • Light a fire in your fireplace and gather around it to play a board game with the family.
  • Brainstorm ways that you and your family can reduce your carbon footprint during the rest of the year, such as switching your light bulbs to energy efficient ones, recycling and composting, and driving the car less.

There are many fun things that you can do during your hour of darkness as you celebrate Earth Hour and raise awareness about the fight against climate change. 

The Best April Fools Hoaxes

Do you have any pranks or tricks planned for upcoming April Fool’s Day?

The first of April is known as a day of playfulness and trickery in many countries around the world.  

It is not an official national holiday, but it is recognized by many people who play jokes and pranks on their family members, friends, coworkers, teachers, schoolmates and neighbors.

Also, many news networks and websites post silly and ridiculous materials on April Fools in order to prank their readers. Here are a few of the most outrageous April Fools hoaxes in recent history:

Royal Wedding Cancellation Scare

In April of 2011 the United Kingdom was focused on gearing up for the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

On April 1st British news source the Guardian launched a fake website which claimed to give “live” coverage of the wedding preparations.

However, at 10am on April 1st they announced that the wedding had been cancelled!

The announcement caused an enormous panic throughout the country, and even caused Buckingham Palace to contact The Guardian and ask them to stop, claiming that the website could be contravening the Treason Felony Act of 1848. Oops!

The History of YouTube

Last April Fool’s Day, video sharing website Youtube completely changed their design to imply that the website was founded in 1911 and was celebrating its 100 year anniversary.

They even included a button on all of their videos which allowed users to change them into black and white silent films. A collection of videos which were “old-fashioned” spoofs of popular viral videos were posted.

The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest

This prank dates back to 1957 but it is still one of the most famous April Fool’s Day hoaxes as it was the very first time in history that the medium of television was used to perform an April Fool’s Day prank.

The British news show Panorama broadcast a short three-minute news clip about farmers experiencing a bumper crop of spaghetti in southern Switzerland.

The highly respected anchor of the show, Richard Dimbleby, provided the narration as the video footage showed a Swiss family pulling handfuls of pasta from “spaghetti trees.”

The news story sparked a lot of interest and hundreds of viewers phoned in asking if they could grow their own pasta at home. The BBC replied, “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”

To watch the spaghetti farmers at work, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27ugSKW4-QQ

With these pranks in mind, what do you have planned to fool your family and friends this April Fool’s Day?

Do You Want to Live a Long and Healthy Life?

Do you want to live a long and healthy life?

Here are five tips that will help to extend your lifespan:

Enjoy Time With Your Friends

Many studies have shown that having a strong network of friends, acquaintances and community can help you live a longer and happier life.Active Seniors

Having companions around you will help reduce your stress and give you a sense of belonging. This powerful feeling has numerous effects on your health and mood.

Move Somewhere Else

Did you know that where you live can actually affect your longevity? All of the subtle environmental influences of a particular location such as air and water quality, climate, and other health factors can have an effect on your body over time.

A recent study conducted in St. Louis, Missouri found that low air quality and dirty streets tripled the amount of disabilities that elderly residents suffered later in life.

Keep Your Brain Active

Your brain is a muscle, and you can keep it active and youthful throughout your life span by continuing to use it and challenge it.

If you never stop learning and continue to fill your life with mentally challenging activity this can have very positive effects on your longevity and can help prevent degenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Don’t Retire!

Ok, you can quit your 9-5 job if you really want to, but don’t let old age stop you from contributing to the community in some way.

Start volunteering or become involved in some sort of project or organization. Older people who are involved in their community in this way tend to live longer and retain their health and mental function for longer.

The feeling of taking part in this way brings happiness, vitality, and a sense of purpose.

Stop Smoking

It is common knowledge that smoking is bad for your health, but did you know that non-smokers are twice as likely to live past the age of 90 as those who smoke?

Even if you are already hooked on the habit, quitting will still improve your health and the longer you stay off smoker the more your body will repair the damage done.  

These are just a few ways that you can keep yourself healthier and live a long and happy life!


Workaholic Much? How to Leave Your Work at the Office

Work FrustrationDo you find yourself sitting at the dinner table, lying in bed, or trying to relax on vacation while stressing out about your responsibilities at work?

Is it hard to chill out and enjoy your hobbies without the stress of the workplace and your responsibilities in the back of your mind?

In our culture the workplace is becoming even more important and with how email, cell phones, and other devices have made us more connected it is even harder to leave it behind at the end of the day.

If you want to learn how to leave your work at the office and enjoy your free time more, here are a few tips.

  • Shut off your devices. As soon as you arrive at home, turn off your Blackberry and don’t check your emails until the next morning. The emails will still be there tomorrow and this is not the time to respond to them.
  • Make a happy playlist and listen to it in your car on the way home. Music is a great emotional trigger and when you hear your favourite songs you will feel much better.
  • If you have had a stressful day, ask your partner to allow you 15 minutes to vent. You can set the timer to stay on track and once your time is up, you are not allowed to say anything else about work for the rest of the night.
  • Spend time with your family. Go outside and play a game of soccer with the kids, watch a movie with your partner, or take the family and the dog out for a walk in the park. You will quickly forget about your work worries and focus on the people you love instead.
  • Sometimes we get worn out and stressed because we don’t take enough time for ourselves. Schedule in a hot bath, a favourite TV show, or a quiet moment to sip a cup of tea and read a good book.

The most important thing to remember is that if your workplace continues to be stressful and consumes your thoughts for too long, it might be healthier to seek work somewhere else.

Life is too short to spend feeling stressed out about your job!

How to Deal With an Angry Person

Angry BoyIn a perfect world we would all deal with our issues by calmly discussing them with each other and using logic and understanding to come to a fair conclusion.

However, unfortunately this is not a perfect world and throughout your life you will encounter many people who will take out their anger and frustration on you.

Perhaps it’s your landlord insisting that he has the right to change your rental agreement even when he doesn’t, maybe it’s your boss getting frustrated when something goes wrong at work, or it might even be a total stranger who you accidentally bump into while driving your car.

Perhaps they have a point and often they don’t, but the problem is that they deal with the issue in a way that involves shouting, confrontation, threats, and tantrums of all-out rage.

How can you deal with these intimidating behaviors and make sure that the situation is resolved in a fair way?

Keep Your Cool

Remember that it is likely that most of this person’s shouting and bravado is just a show to try to intimidate you. They will hurl threats and insults in your direction because they are trying to make you scared of them so that they will get their way.

If you stay calm and don’t let what they are saying affect you, this will take away a lot of their power.

Discuss the Plain Facts

When someone is angry they will want to make the issue into something emotional and will be trying to blame you, upset you, or make you angry as well. Try to cut emotion out of the issue altogether and think about the basic facts of what happened.

Either they have a point about what you have done wrong, which is when you can admit to your faults and apologize, or they are wrong and you have not done anything inappropriate. In this case, stand your ground and don’t let yourself get bullied or harassed into admitting fault when you did nothing wrong.

Speak calmly and clearly and defend your position. Hopefully they will soon see the logic in your argument and they will back down.

Protect Yourself

If you are ever in a situation where you feel like the angry person is a threat to you, make sure that you seek safety. Angry people can be dangerous and unpredictable and might become violent, especially if they are frustrated that they cannot use their anger to control you.

Know where you can get help if they start to attack you and remember that if they physically hurt you this is assault and you can call the police.

Good luck dealing with the angry people in your life and resolving your conflicts in a confident and positive way.


How to Boost Your Energy Level

TiredAre you feeling lethargic and tired?

Having low energy levels can make even the most basic tasks seem daunting and can really negatively affect your productivity.

When we are at work and we feel our energy levels start to drop we are more likely to get distracted and be lead off task, or make errors and mistakes in our work.

How can you lift your energy levels so that you can get more done and take on life?

  • Get some exercise. Go for a ten minute walk, do some yoga, or dance around the room to a good song. Getting your body moving will increase circulation, boost happy endorphins and give you a burst of energy.
  • Take a quick nap. This doesn’t work for everyone because some people find that sleeping in the middle of the day makes them feel even groggier. However, if you can lie down for a quick 10-30 minute snooze this can sometimes really reinvigorate you.
  • Talk to someone who inspires you. When you speak to a positive friend this can really boost your energy.
  • Choose something small and easily achievable on your to-do list and get it done. The satisfaction of checking off that item will make you feel great and give you more energy.
  • Avoid reaching for sugary snacks to give you a boost of energy. Sure, they will make you a bit hyper for a while but then you will get a post-sugar-binge crash and that is not pretty. Instead, look for healthy treats such as granola bars, fruit, nuts and water which will give you lasting energy.
  • Breathe deeply! You might be feeling less energetic because you are not getting enough oxygen, so sit up straight and take a few deep breaths in through your nose and exhale slowly out through your mouth.

These are just a few ways that you can revitalize yourself quickly and get your energy levels high again so that you can achieve something great today!

Did You Know Your Friends Can Make You Sick?

Angry GorillaWe all know how having a frustrating friend or negative roommate can be annoying, but did you know that it can actually be bad for your health?

Bad Interactions Increase Inflammation

A study from the University of California in Los Angeles has linked negative social interactions with increased inflammation, an immune system response to fighting infections.

Inflammation itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can lead to health problems further down the road. If the body suffers from chronic inflammation it can lead to several health issues including hypertension, coronary heart disease, depression, diabetes and even cancer.

How the Study Worked

The study had 122 healthy young adults keep a diary of their social interactions, such as conflicts with messy and rude roommates, competition with others at school, and time spent with friends.

They then measured the levels of cytokine in their bodies. They found that the study participants who had the most negative or stressful interactions with others had a higher level of cytokine which is a protein that causes inflammation.

Effects Accumulate Over Time

The researchers hypothesized that repeated exposure over many years to a negative social situation could cause serious health problems especially in people who are genetically predisposed to heart disease or arthritis.

So how can you avoid negative social situations from having an adverse affect on your health?

One strategy is to surround yourself with supportive, positive, and encouraging people who you get along with.

However, you can’t always control who you spend your time with and you might end up with an irritating co-worker or neighbor that you are forced to interact with.

When you do have to deal with a person who grinds your gears, approach the situation as calmly as possible and try not to focus on your negative feelings.

Deal with them in the best way you can and don’t dwell on how much they stress you out.

Are You Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Do you know the story behind this Irish holiday?

The History of St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patricks DaySt. Patrick was born in the 4th century, to parents who were the deacons of the Church. He was kidnapped as a teenager by Irish raiders and made a slave.

He claims that he was visited by God in a dream, who told him to run away from captivity and head towards the coast, where he would find a ship that would take him back to Britain. He later joined the church and became a priest.

Many years later he was called back to Ireland once he had become a Bishop, to convert the Irish people from their native beliefs of polytheism to Christianity.

The shamrock has become a symbol of St. Patrick’s Day because St. Patrick used it to explain the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity to the people of Ireland.

March 17 was the day that he died and was buried at Downpatrick.

St. Patrick’s Day in the USA

Since there are so many Irish descendents in the USA, St. Patrick’s Day is a much-celebrated holiday here.

There are many celebrations all over the country featuring parades, displays of green shamrocks, large feasts, religious observances, copious amounts of alcohol, and lively parades.

People who are participating in Lent are allowed to break their sacrifices for one day in order to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, making this one of the leading days for alcohol consumption in the USA.

The tradition is to wear green clothing on St. Patrick’s Day and those who are caught without an item of green clothing are pinched by their friends as punishment.

Tips for Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

If you are going to be joining in the Irish fun this year, here are some ideas of what you can do on March 17th:

  • Head to an Irish Pub for a drink and a bite to eat. You don’t have to go all the way to Ireland, as almost every city in America will have at least one Irish drinking establishment. Try a hearty glass of Guinness or a fine Irish whiskey to wash down a traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage or Irish stew.
  • Don’t forget to wear green, unless you want to get pinched! Anything green will do, even a scarf or a hat.
  • Go to a parade. There are hundreds of St. Patrick’s Day parades all around the USA, from Boston to New York to Chicago. The city of Savannah, Georgia even dyes its downtown fountains green during the celebration.

Have fun celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this March and enjoy this ancient Irish tradition!

Want Beautiful Skin? Foods to Eat to Make Your Skin Glow

Beautiful SkinHave you ever heard the expression “you are what you eat?”

When it comes to beautiful skin, it couldn’t be truer. The healthier your diet is, the more your skin will look firm, even, clear and healthy.

If you have a poor diet it can leave your skin looking blemished, sallow, dry, red, irritated or otherwise unattractive.

No matter how many expensive face creams and cleansers you spend your money on, changing your diet will have a much greater effect of the overall look of your skin.

Here are a few delicious and healthy foods that will give you glowing and beautiful skin:

Water: The number one change you can make to your diet to improve your skin is to drink more water. It will help your skin look moist and soft, and it will flush out toxins from your body.

Cantaloupe: High in antioxidants, this delicious fruit will help your body to absorb free radicals and reduce skin problems.

Broccoli: This vegetable is very high in Vitamin A, which is the vitamin which encourages your body to create new skin cells. If you eat more broccoli, your skin will be renewed more quickly and the healthy and fresh skin will show through.

Salmon: This tasty fish, as well as other fishes such as tuna and sardines, is full of Omega 3. This is a type of “good fat” which our body needs, and it will help to reduce inflammation in the skin.

Grapefruit:  This zesty breakfast treat is high in Vitamin C, which helps to delay or reduce wrinkles in the skin.

Lean Red Meat: If your skin is looking pale and sallow, you might have an iron deficiency in your diet. Lean red meat which is low in fat is a healthy way to increase your iron intake. If you don’t eat red meat, eggs are an alternate source.

Almonds: This snack is filled with Vitamin E, which protects your skin against sun damage.

Include these healthy items on your next supermarket shopping trip, and see if they make a difference in the health and appearance of your skin!

How to Make Your House Look Clean When Last Minute Visitors Drop By

 woman cleaningThe phone rings. It’s your relatives.

They are in the area and they thought they would drop by to say hello.

Is it OK if they come to visit in about 15 minutes?

You say that is fine and hang up the phone, and then look around in horror at the state of your house. How will you ever make it presentable for guests at such short notice?

While you might keep your house generally clean, there are always times when it is a bit cluttered or grimy. If you have last minute guests on their way and you need to make your house look tidy even when it is not, here are some quick-clean tips:

  • Clean the shiny surfaces of the house, such as mirrors, stainless steel sinks, and stove handles. These shiny objects will make the house look cleaner and will attract attention away from the other not-so-clean surfaces.
  • To avoid streaks on your mirrors, use a squirt of window cleaner and wipe it dry with newspaper.
  • If you need to clear away a lot of clutter quickly before your guests arrive, find a shoebox or some other container and sweep everything into it, then place it out of sight. When you have more time, you can sort out all of the clutter and put it where it needs to go.
  • Your guests will almost always use the bathroom at least once during your stay, so give this room a quick once over. Wipe the sinks and mirrors and give the toilet a quick scrub. Clear away all hair brushes, toothpaste, and other clutter from the counter so that the surface looks more spacious.
  • If you have a pile of dirty dishes and don’t have time to clean them, just hide them in the dishwasher for now. Don’t have a dishwasher? You can hide them in the oven, but don’t forget about them and turn the oven on!

Above all, don’t worry too much. If your guests are stopping by on short notice they will understand if your home isn’t looking absolutely perfect and they will forgive you. Do the best you can, and then relax and enjoy their company.