Find Your Roots: Ireland’s ‘The Gathering’ Beckons

Don’t be surprised if you get an unexpected e-mail or postcard from someone you know – or possibly don’t know – in Ireland in the coming months asking you to “come home to visit.”

It’s part of the unique outreach tied to the year-long extravaganza called “The Gathering: Ireland 2013,” and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. So intense is Americans’ interest in exploring their roots – beginning, often, with immigrant grandparents who passed through Ellis Island – that the National Archives’ website recently crashed after getting 37 million hits on its newly released 1940 census.

Watermelon Kebabs Satisfy Picky Eaters and Make for Healthy School Lunches

As another school year rolls around with new wardrobes and flashy electronics, the war for healthy school lunches  wages on.

“With childhood obesity on the rise and kids eating worse today than they did 20 years ago, it is so important for parents to take their children’s diets seriously,” says Elizabeth Somer, registered dietitian, nutritionist and author of “Eat Your Way to Happiness.”

But, as many busy moms and dads know firsthand, it’s not easy to pack a quality lunch at 6 a.m., especially if your kid is likely to opt for a slice of cafeteria pizza regardless.

Donate Your Skills to an Animal Shelter in Need

It’s staggering to think that each year an estimated 5-7 million companion animals find their way into the care of animal shelters across the United States.

Despite the best efforts of thousands of shelter workers, keeping up with the care of abandoned animals is a daunting task for even the most well-funded rescue organizations. While you may not be able to donate tons of money or time, supporting animal shelters with small contributions can make a huge difference.

Here are some simple ways you can help.

1.     Lend Your Expertise

Audiobook Service Helps Blind Vets Recover Independence

In December 1967, a young soldier lay in a hospital bed after sustaining severe eye injuries from a land mine in Vietnam. Tom Miller, now executive director of the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) in Washington, D.C., was blind, and his mind raced over all of the things he’d never be able to enjoy again. “I’ve spent the past 44-plus years erasing that list, or finding new things I can do.”

Miller says he owes many thanks to the talking-book program of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), part of the Library of Congress.

Moms Deserve a Little "Me Time"

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Moms are the true jacks-of-all-trades. They are the chefs who get meals on the table and lunches packed; the chauffeurs who get kids where they need to be; the doctors who bandage up scrapes; the listeners to problems big and small; the social directors of play dates and parties; and so much more.
With all that they do, moms rarely get a moment to take a break and enjoy a bit of time for themselves.
Dr. Wendy Walsh, busy single mom, TV personality and college professor, understands what it’s like to be busy. Here are her tips for helping other moms sneak a little “me time.”
* All moms should take a guilt-free break during their busy day. Try arriving at school carpool early. Turn off the car engine, tune into a favorite radio station and reach into your bag for a favorite snack — like a Keebler Granola Fudge Bar. The granola bars are 150 calories and contain 3 grams of fiber*.
* Watching kids read can remind moms how relaxing it is to escape in the pages of a riveting novel. Get mom-friends together and form a book club, so there’s always an excuse to take a break. Tell kids you’re doing Mommy-homework, because the book club is meeting soon.
* As the sun sets, parents want to wind down, but sometimes kids, especially colicky babies, wind up. A nice walk is a great way to calm a child down. When the kids get older, keep walking at sunset. It’s a great way to take a break from the chaos of the house and soothe yourself.
From taking a peaceful break to enjoying a favorite snack, the importance of a little break in a very hectic day is key for moms. For more wholesome snack ideas like granola bars, that can be enjoyed by mom and the entire family, visit www.keebler.com.
*contain 5-6g total fat per serving

A Mouse in the House? Tips for Finding a Qualified Pest Professional

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Spring heralds a season of fresh starts and growth — and what better way to start anew than with a little spring cleaning?
Taking the time to get organized can make all the difference — and it can make the most cluttered closets and dirtiest corners a breeze to clean. With the right tools in hand, organizing any messy space becomes a mangeable task. You can save time and money by getting cleaning supplies, like dusters, sponges and automated air fresheners, at places like Dollar General.
Still don’t know where to start? Try these spring-cleaning tips:
* Cover the basics. Take inventory of your cleaning supplies. Some must-haves are mops, brooms, sponges, paper towels, trash bags, disinfectant wipes and bathroom-specific supplies. Make a list of what you need so you can get it all in one shopping trip. Many basic and speciality cleaning products are now available online. For the ultimate in convenience, shop online at www.dollargeneral.com.
* Tackle the clutter in steps. Spring cleaning can be daunting, so take small steps and approach spaces one at a time. Strive to find everything a permanent home. Create “donate” and “trash” piles for items you no longer use or need.
* Use organizing tools. Over-the-door mesh shoe racks are great for storing all kinds of winter accessories — hats, gloves, scarves and coats. Get some sturdy hooks for purses, backpacks and other accessories, and relish the feeling of a clean closet.
* Revitalize your laundry room. Put a stop to the mountain of dirty clothes that grows every week by getting each family member a laundry basket. If clothing doesn’t make it into their bin, it’s not getting washed. Keep your laundry room stocked with detergent, bleach and stain remover.
* Store items in plastic storage containers. Some winter items will be used until the early days of summer, others won’t make an appearance until next year. A variety of belongings can be stored in plastic containers to keep them organized and out of the way.

Moms, Grab Some “Me Time” With These Tips

Moms are the true jacks-of-all-trades. They are the chefs who get meals on the table and lunches packed; the chauffeurs who get kids where they need to be; the doctors who bandage up scrapes; the listeners to problems big and small; the social directors of playdates and parties; and so much more.

With all that they do, moms rarely get a moment to take a break and enjoy a bit of time for themselves.

Dr. Wendy Walsh, busy single mom, TV personality and college professor, understands what it’s like to be busy. Here are her tips for helping other moms sneak a little “me time.”

Create an Outdoor Resort in Your Backyard

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – This year, many people will spend vacations at home instead of traveling. According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), with a few updates to your outside lighting, you can enjoy a mini vacation at home. Believe it or not, it’s easier and less expensive than you might think to transform your existing patio, deck or pool area into a lovely retreat. Rather than buying a costly designer patio set or lounge chairs that will lose their luster by next season, invest in a new lighting scheme that will enhance your existing outdoor furniture and amenities.
“Creating a beautiful landscape doesn’t have to be expensive,” says Rick Wiedemer of Hinkley Lighting. “A few well-placed, low-voltage path or accent lights can make a huge impact on a well-manicured landscape.” No lawn is too small. “Even modest homes or those with limited yards or gardens can benefit,” he says.
All that is needed are some basic tools, a transformer (which reduces standard 120-volt household current to the safe 12-volt level), outdoor low-voltage copper cable and low-voltage lighting fixtures — all of which you can find at your local ALA-member lighting showroom.
“The best thing about using low-voltage lighting outdoors is you don’t have to do everything at once. I recommend purchasing a transformer that is larger than you immediately need,” says Lew Waltz of Philips Hadco. That way, when you are ready to install additional lighting, the larger transformer will already be in place and ready to handle the task. “You only pay for the energy consumed by the fixtures,” says Waltz. “In other words, a 600-watt transformer that only has 200 watts of fixtures on it, uses 200 watts of energy, not 600.”
When laying out your project, remember that a little light goes a long way outdoors. Consulting with a lighting professional at your local ALA-member lighting showroom can help you avoid making the common mistake of too many fixtures in one area. To find more information about lighting all areas of your home, go to www.AmericanLightingAssoc.com.

Cool Roofs Take on Heated Cities

The summer heat has peaked, and blistering temperatures are especially noticeable on scorching city streets. Known as the “urban heat island effect,” this phenomenon labels the way urban environments trap more heat than nearby suburban and rural areas. As a result, increased energy demands and air pollution are often anticipated, yet unavoidable.

“All the concrete and the blacktop warms up faster,” says Lauren Nash, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “So it keeps the city hotter and it stays hotter longer.”

What Is Wrong With Our Justice System?

Despite enormous interest in the outcome of the Casey Anthony trial, more questions have emerged than answers. The truth is that the criminal justice system remains a vast enigma to the majority of the population.

Popular television programs have led juries and the public to expect hard evidence including fingerprints, DNA analysis and other forensic evidence clearly pointing to perpetrators, but the facts are seldom so clear-cut.

According to Greg Little, an experienced psychologist who specializes in criminal treatment, the main problem is that there are so many crimes occurring and the system is clogged with huge numbers of offenders. There is no way that the system can do what the public now expects on each case,