Your Guide to February

Love and luck mark this month. 

 

 

Chinese New Year

 

It’s the Year of the Pig. People born under this sign are said to be seekers of status who enjoy life and have good luck.

 


 

Home Warranty Day

 

Take time today to learn more about this special insurance coverage for the appliances and systems inside your home.

 


 

Valentine’s Day

 

Whether you go for chocolates and flowers or dinner and diamonds, love is love, no matter how you show it!

 

 


 

 

Presidents’ Day

 

Add Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays together and you get Presidents’ Day, honoring our country’s leaders.

 


 

 

National Love Your Pet Day

 

It’s a great day to volunteer at your local shelter or to consider adopting a new fur baby into a forever home.

 


 

 

The Oscars®

 

The 91st Annual Academy Awards is a great excuse to dress in your red carpet best and throw an Oscar-themed party.

 


 

 

February is the only month that can have no full moon.

February 1911 saw the first use of fingerprints to convict a criminal.

St. Valentine was thought to be a Roman priest in the 3rd century who secretly married couples against the orders of the Emperor.

February is the birth month of Nathan Lane, George Romero, Thomas Edison, and Rosa Parks.

Warm for the Winter: How to Heat Your Home While Saving Energy and Money

Do you get chills just thinking about your utility bills during wintertime? If your answer to a drafty home is to simply crank up the furnace, you’ll not only pay for it, but you could also be wasting energy and depleting more natural resources in the process. Instead of making your heater work overtime, here are ways you can reduce your energy consumption and still keep your home warm and toasty this winter.

  

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), heating accounts for 45% of energy use in homes and pumps out 292 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions each year. The more CO2 we release into the atmosphere, the more we hinder the earth’s ability to maintain balance, which has a variety of negative implications. That’s why, the less energy you use to heat your home, the better it is for Mother Nature (and your wallet!).

 

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration.

 

Seal Drafty Areas

Air leaks are the primary culprit for excess energy consumption. If air is able to escape out or in, your furnace will just keep pumping out heat relentlessly. Get to the root of the problem by sealing these areas.

  • Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows, including your attic, basement, and garage access doors.

  • Caulk openings around plumbing, ductwork, and electrical wiring.

  • Apply foam sealant on larger gaps around windows and baseboards, and place foam gaskets behind outlet covers.

  • Add baffles around recessed lights if yours are not airtight.

  • Install double-pane windows or cover single-pane windows with storm windows. For a cheaper option, purchase a plastic film insulation kit.

  • Seal gaps around the fireplace with sheet metal/sheetrock and a high-temperature silicone caulk. Also, ensure your flue is closed when  not in use.

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends getting a professional blower door test to detect the source of air leaks, but in the interest of saving money, they also provide tips on how to identify air leaks yourself.

  

 

Check Your Insulation

 

According to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA), 90% of U.S. homes are under-insulated. This is especially true for older homes, but it can even apply to newer ones. The EPA estimates that homeowners can save an average of 15% on heating and cooling costs by sealing air leaks and adding insulation in attics, crawl spaces, and basement rim joists. VisitEnergyStar.gov to learn how to perform a DIY insulation check for your walls and attic and to find out which insulation levels are recommended for your region and climate. If you’re not comfortable with the DIY route, hire a professional to assess your insulation needs.

  

 

Let the Light In

 

Using the sun’s natural light is an easy, environmentally conscious (and completely free!) way to heat up your house. As the sun beams down on your windows, it produces a greenhouse effect that traps heat inside. This works in your favor during the winter months, so be sure to open your curtains each morning to let the sun work its magic. On the flip side, remember to close your curtains at night (consider thermal drapes) to keep the warmth in.

 

 

Turn Down the Thermostat

 

As you begin implementing the energy-saving tips provided above, your home should start to warm up and retain heat more efficiently. That means you shouldn’t need to keep your thermostat set super high. During the cooler months, the U.S. Department of Energy suggests setting your thermostat to 68°F while you’re at home and awake, and setting it lower when you’re asleep or away. By turning your thermostat back by 7°-10°F from its normal setting for eight hours a day, you can save around 10% per year on heating and cooling costs.

 

 

Program Your Thermostat

 

In addition to choosing the right temperature, a smart or programmable thermostat can make a big impact on your home’s energy efficiency. You can program your thermostat for time-of-day usage, so you don’t have to remember to turn the temperature down when you’re gone or up when you get home from work. More advanced heating systems may even be configured to only heat rooms that you use, or to kick on or off when you enter or leave a room.

 

 

 

Decreasing your energy consumption is an important first step in minimizing the impact that heating has on the environment, and in reducing your energy costs. But we shouldn’t stop there. Rather than relying on fossil fuels (like natural gas) to heat our homes, adopting renewable energy sources such as solar, geothermal, and biomass technologies can even further reduce your home’s environmental footprint. While they may not entirely replace your current heating methods, these technologies can easily integrate with your existing system and supplement its heat production.

 

 Learn more about renewable heating options and their costs at EPA.gov.

By taking steps to reduce the amount of energy you use this winter and adopting renewable heating alternatives, you’ll save money, improve the comfort of your home, and make a positive impact on the planet. Those benefits alone are enough to make you feel warm on the inside, as well as the outside!

Your Guide to September

Looking for things to do this September? Mark your calendars, because this month’s theme is all about giving back, and there’s no shortage of opportunities to get involved.

September 7 — National Food Bank Day

Did you know 41 million people in the U.S. struggle with hunger? Chances are, you know someone — a neighbor, a coworker, a classmate — who faces hunger every day. Food banks across the country play a pivotal role in providing meals to families in need, and they rely on people like you and me to help. On National Food Bank Day, do your part to help close the food gap in your community by donating food, time, or money to your local food bank. Visit FeedingAmerica.org to find a food bank near you.

 

 

 

September 11 — Patriot Day 

 

One of the best ways we can honor the victims, survivors, and responders of the 9/11 attacks is by sharing kindness and spreading hope to those around us. On this National Day of Service and Remembrance, join with your fellow Americans to pay it forward by taking part in a volunteer activity. Head to NationalService.gov to discover how you can get involved.

 

 

 

September 16 — National Working Parents Day

 

Along with meetings, deadlines, and navigating career growth, working parents are also tasked with being home chef, chauffeur, housekeeper, boo-boo fixer, and much more. Every day, these unsung heroes go above and beyond to provide for their families, and it goes without saying that they deserve a little recognition. Think of ways you can lighten the load for the working parents in your life, and if you’re one of them, give yourself a pat on the back for all the hard work you do!

 

 

 

September 17 — Constitution Day and Citizenship Day 

 

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day commemorates the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787, and recognizes all people who were born as or have become American citizens. Think you could pass the test to become a naturalized citizen today? Take the civics practice test to check your knowledge of U.S. government and history.

 

 

 

September 22 — National Public Lands Day/First Day of Fall

 

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or not, we all benefit when our natural resources and public lands remain safe, resilient, and cared for. National Public Lands Day is the perfect opportunity to connect with your community through environmental stewardship, and it just so happens to fall on the first day of autumn! With activities such as trail refurbishing, tree planting, and trash removal, you can help keep our recreational areas, wildlife refuges, and national parks thriving for years to come. Find a volunteer opportunity  at neefusa.org.

Your Guide to August

 

It’s hard to believe summer is drawing to a close! Soon the kids will be back to school (whew!) and your vacation will be just a memory (aww). But while we’ve still got a bit of summer left, be sure to enjoy it to the fullest with these great upcoming events!

 

August 9 — National Book Lovers Day

Are you always looking for an excuse to drop everything and curl up in a comfy chair with a good book? Then this day is for you! Bookworms across the country, get ready to stock up on reading material, turn off your cell phone, and settle down for a full day of page-turning indulgence!

 Want to support child literacy in America? The Reading Is Fundamental charitable organization has been around since 1966. Learn more and contribute at rif.org.

 

 

August 18 — National Honey Bee Day 


Bees are more than just chubby striped bugs that might sting you. In fact, the health of the entire planet may be affected by the recent drop in the bee population. One-third of the world’s food production depends on bee pollination, and the population of bees in a given area is a strong indicator of that area’s overall environmental health. Here are a few ways you can help save the honey bees:

 

  • Plant flora that bees like. Clover, flowering trees, and blue, purple, and yellow flowers are favorites.

  • Stop using pesticides. A survey of 800 independent scientific studies concluded that the recent alarming bee die-offs were caused, in part, by the use of chemical pesticides.

  • Donate to the Pollinator Partnership. This nonprofit is dedicated to protecting and supporting pollinators around the world.

 

 

 

August 19 — World Humanitarian Day

Every day, humanitarian aid workers help ease the suffering of millions of people around the world. The United Nations created this day to honor the humanitarian workers striving to make the world a better place and to remember those who have lost their lives in conflict.

 

 

 

August 26 — Women’s Equality Day

Sufferin’ suffragettes! Did you know there was a time when women could not own property, sign contracts, or even cast a vote to help shape the country they lived in? Thanks to the suffragettes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, prohibiting voter discrimination on the basis of sex and giving women the right to vote.

 

 

 

August 27-September 9 — 50th U.S. Open

Tennis, anyone? With a new logo and a new stadium, the U.S. Open is celebrating its 50th birthday in a big way! We’re all set to watch the game we love, and it’s not our fault we couldn’t get tickets. Check out this year’s schedule so you don’t miss any of the action.

Your Guide to May

As you’re busy juggling your spring to-dos, be sure to check out what’s happening this month … and don’t forget to stop and smell the roses!

“The world’s favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May.”
– Edwin Way Teale

May 1 — May Day/International Workers’ Day

This twofold holiday celebrates both the spring season and the rights and achievements of working people. So whether you want to spend more time in your garden or stand in solidarity with your fellow workers, there’s no wrong way to celebrate!

If you’re not familiar with this holiday, here are some fun facts to get you up to speed:

  • May Day traditions can be traced back thousands of years to ancient Celtic and Roman cultures, where they held festivals to celebrate the coming of spring.

  • The holiday took on a different meaning in the U.S. in the late 19th century, when laborers joined forces to fight for safer working conditions and an eight-hour work day.

  • The distress signal “Mayday! Mayday!” has nothing to do with May Day, but is actually an adoption of the French word m’aider, meaning “help me.”

May 4 — Star Wars Day

PYou don’t have to be in a galaxy far, far away to get in the Star WarsTM spirit on May 4th. This is a day for fans everywhere to revel in all things Star Wars. From hosting a movie marathon to cosplaying your favorite character to trying weird things like this blue milk recipe, there are a million and one ways to celebrate the beloved saga. Find more ideas at starwars.com.

May 5 — Cinco de Mayo

 

Officially a celebration of Mexico’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla, this lively holiday has become a fun and popular way to honor Mexican culture and heritage. Take part in the fiesta by heading to your nearest Cinco de Mayo festival, where you can enjoy traditional Mexican food, dance, art, and other cultural treasures.

May 13 — Mother’s Day

 

Let the moms in your life know they’re loved and appreciated, not just on Mother’s Day, but every day. Whether it’s quality time, a home-cooked meal, or a day at the spa, think of ways you can give Mom a break and make her feel extra special this Mother’s Day.

May 28 — Memorial Day 

On Memorial Day, we pause to remember those who bravely gave their lives for our freedom. Please join me in honoring the memory and sacrifice of our nation’s fallen heroes.

Catch some fireworks!

Upcoming fireworks displays in Massachusetts. This list, sorted by date, shows professional supervised fireworks displays for which permits have been filed with the Office of the State Fire Marshal. Information is as of June 23.
Community Date Time Location Rain Date
Auburn
6/29/2017
9:30 PM
Pappas Recreation Complex – 203 Pakachoag Street
6/30/2017
Dracut
6/29/2017
9:00 PM
Dracut H.S. – 1560 Lakeview Avenue
N/A
Somerville
6/29/2017
9:15 PM
Trum Field – Franey Road
7/6/2017
Holyoke
6/30/2017
9:15 PM
Holyoke Community College – Campus Road
7/1/2017
Mashpee
6/30/2017
9:30 PM
Mashpee H.S. – 500 Old Barnstable Rd.
7/1/2017
Northbridge
6/30/2017
9:00 PM
Lasell Field – 171 Linwood Avenue
N/A
Worcester
6/30/2017
9:00 PM
Bell Hill – 170 Belmont Street
7/1/2017
Acton
7/1/2017
9:00 PM
Behind Nara Park – 25 Ledge Rock Way
7/2/2017
Ayer
7/1/2017
9:00 PM
Pirone Park – 36 Bligh Street
7/2/2017
Braintree
7/1/2017
9:30 PM
128 Town Street
7/2/2017
Chicopee
7/1/2017
9:30 PM
Szot Park – Front Street
7/2/2017
Greenfield
7/1/2017
9:30 PM
Poet’s Seat Tower – Mountain Road
7/2/2017
Halifax
7/1/2017
9:00 PM
Halifax Elementary School Field
7/2/2017
Pepperell
7/1/2017
9:30 PM
Nissitissit Middle School – Chase Ave.
7/2/2017
Salisbury
7/1/2017
9:30 PM
Salisbury Beach
N/A
Webster
7/1/2017
9:00 PM
Memorial Beach on Thompson Road
7/2/2017
Marion
7/2/2017
9:20 PM
The Kittansett Club – 11 Point Road
7/3/2017
Marion
7/2/2017
9:15 PM
Barge off Silver Shell Beach – Front St.
7/9/2017
Mashpee
7/2/2017
9:30 PM
Golf Course – 20 Red Brook Road
N/A
Methuen
7/2/2017
9:30 PM
Barge on Merrimack River – Essex Rowing Club – 656 Lowell Street
7/7/2017
Middleborough
7/2/2017
10:00 PM
Battis Field/Pierce playground – Jackson Street
7/3/2017
Oakham
7/2/2017
9:30 PM
Barge on Lake Dean – 203 Bechan Rd.
7/5/2017
Orleans
7/2/2017
9:00 PM
Barge off Rock Harbor Beach – 11 Bay View Drive
7/6/2017
Amesbury
7/3/2017
9:00 PM
Woodsom Farm – 223 Lions Mouth Rd.
7/7/2017
Andover
7/3/2017
9:20 PM
Andover H. S. – 80 Shawsheen Rd.
7/5/2017
Attleboro
7/3/2017
9:20 PM
Parking lot at Cyril Brennan MS – Rathbun Willard Drive
7/5/2017
E. Longmeadow
7/3/2017
9:30 PM
H.S. Athletic Field – Maple Street
7/5/2017
Fitchburg
7/3/2017
10:00 PM
Rollstone Hill – access from Pratt Road
7/7, 8 or 9
Foxborough
7/3/2017
TBD
Patriot Place – Two Patriot Place – Parking Lot 51
N/A
Freetown
7/3/2017
8:00 PM
Hathaway Park – Carleys Way
7/8/2017
Gloucester
7/3/2017
8:30 PM
Fort Area – Stage Fort Park – 1 Hough Ave.
7/7/2017
Harvard
7/3/2017
9:15 PM
Fruitlands Museum – 102 Prospect Hill Rd.
7/7/2017
Haverhill
7/3/2017
9:15 PM
Riverside Park – 163 Lincoln Avenue
7/5/2017
Lawrence
7/3/2017
9:30 PM
Field across from H.S. – 71 N. Parish Rd
7/5/2017
Lexington
7/3/2017
9:30 PM
Lexington HS Baseball Field – Worthen Road
N/A
Lynn
7/3/2017
9:00 PM
Barge near Red Rock – 76 Marine Blvd.
7/6/2017
Milford
7/3/2017
10:00 PM
Clark Island near Cedar St. – Dilla St.
7/5/2017
Millbury
7/3/2017
9:45 PM
Lot behind True Value – Howe Avenue
7/4/2017
Needham
7/3/2017
9:30 PM
Needham HS Parking Lot – Admiral Gracy Drive
7/5/2017
New Bedford
7/3/2017
9:00 PM
Barge off Jetties Beach – 7 Fish Island
7/5/2017
North Andover
7/3/2017
9:30 PM
Hayes Stadium – 495 Main Street
7/8/2017
Randolph
7/3/2017
9:30 PM
Randolph HS baseball field – 70 Memorial Parkway
7/5/2017
Sandwich
7/3/2017
9:00 PM
Ridge Country Club – 70 Country ClubRd.
N/A
Sharon
7/3/2017
9:30 PM
Barge on Lake Massapoag – 196 Pond St.
7/9/2017
South Hadley
7/3/2017
9:30 PM
100 Mosier Street
7/5/2017
Stoughton
7/3/2017
9:30 PM
West School Athletic Complex –Pearl St
7/8/2017
Walpole
7/3/2017
9:30 PM
Joe Morgan Memorial Field – 220 School Street
7/5/2017
Bellingham
7/4/2017
9:00 PM
Bellingham H.S. – 60 Blackstone Street
N/A
Beverly Farms
7/4/2017
9:15 PM
Barge 800’ off West Beach – 43 Water Street
7/5/2017
Bridgewater
7/4/2017
9:30 PM
Legion Field – 200 South Street
7/5/2017
Burlington
7/4/2017
9:00 PM
Behind Recreation Bldg. – 61 Center St.
7/5/2017
Canton
7/4/2017
9:15 PM
Irish Cultural Center – 200 New Boston Rd.
7/5/2017
Edgartown
7/4/2017
9:15 PM
Edgartown Harbor – Oak Bluffs Ave.
7/5/2017
Hadley
7/4/2017
9:30 PM
Behind McGuirk Stadium – Stadium Dr.
7/5/2017
Hyannis
7/4/2017
9:00 PM
Barge in Lewis Bay – 670 Ocean Street
9/2/2017
Lanesborough
7/4/2017
9:15 PM
30 Swamp Road
7/8/2017
Lincoln
7/4/2017
9:15 PM
Codman Field – Ballfield Road
7/5/2017
Lowell
7/4/2017
9:00 PM
Pedestrian Walkway – Aiken Street
7/5/2017
Marblehead
7/4/2017
9:30 PM
Barge in Marblehead Harbor –Commercial Street Wharf
7/5/2017
Mashpee
7/4/2017
Dusk
Willowbend Country Club – 130 Willowbend Drive
7/5/2017
Millbury
7/4/2017
9:45 PM
Lot behind True Value – Howe Avenue
7/5/2017
Newton
7/4/2017
9:00 PM
Albermarle Field – 250 Albemarle Road
7/5, 6 or 7
Nahant
7/4/2017
9:00 PM
Bailey’s Hill Park – Bass Point Road
N/A
New Bedford
7/4/2017
9:15 PM
Barge off Falmouth Beach – 7 Fish Island
7/5/2017
North Adams
7/4/2017
9:15 PM
Joe Wolfe Field – 400 Curran Highway
7/5/2017
Pittsfield
7/4/2017
9:30 PM
Pittsfield Cemetery Property – 203 Wahconah St.
7/8/2017
Plymouth
7/4/2017
9:30 PM
Town Wharf – Plymouth Harbor
7/5/2017
Provincetown
7/4/2017
9:00 PM
Provincetown Public Pier – 24 MacMillian Wharf
N/A
Salem
7/4/2017
9:15 PM
Derby Wharf – Derby Street
7/5/2017
Salisbury
7/4/2017
9:30 PM
Salisbury Beach
N/A
Sandwich
7/4/2017
9:00 PM
Old Town Cemetery – Grove Street
7/5/2017
Springfield
7/4/2017
9:30 PM
Memorial Bridge – West Columbus Ave & Boland Way
7/5/2017
Wakefield
7/4/2017
9:15 PM
End of Beacon Street – Beacon Street
7/5/2017
Waltham
7/4/2017
9:00 PM
Leary Field – 19 Athletic Field Road
7/5/2017
Winthrop
7/4/2017
9:00 PM
Coughlin Park – Bayview Avenue
7/5 & 7/8
East Brookfield
7/8/2017
9:30 PM
Old Landfill – Connie Mack Drive
7/9/2017
Salisbury
7/8/2017
9:30 PM
Salisbury Beach
7/9/2017
Uxbridge
7/8/2017
9:00 PM
McCloskey M.S. – 62 Capron Street
N/A
Sandwich
7/14/2017
9:30 PM
365 Quaker Meeting House Road
N/A
Clinton
7/15/2017
9:10 PM
Veterans Athletic Complex – 275 West Boylston Street
7/16/2017
Salisbury
7/15/2017
9:30 PM
Salisbury Beach
7/16/2017
Pittsfield
7/21/2017
9:30 PM
Pittsfield Cemetery Property – 203 Wahconah St.
7/29/2017
Salisbury
7/22/2017
9:30 PM
Salisbury Beach
7/24/2017
Salisbury
7/29/2017
9:30 PM
Salisbury Beach
7/30/2017
Turners Falls
7/29/2017
9:00 PM
Franklin County Boat Club – Unity Park
N/A

In honor of flag day!


As a child of career military father, a flag was always present at our home and I proudly display mine at my home.

People show their love for America by displaying flags along streets, hanging them from porches, and proudly carrying them in the town parade. Old Glory is everywhere. But did you know there are official rules on properly displaying the U.S. flag? This guide from USAGov, based on the Federal Flag Code, can help you show respect for the flag:

  • When: You can display the flag outside from sunrise to sunset. If you want to fly it after dark, it will need to be lit. Don’t fly the flag during bad weather, unless it’s an all-weather flag.
  • On the porch: The union of the flag–the blue section with white stars–should be placed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half-staff. When the flag is suspended from a rope on a pole extending from a house, the flag should be hoisted out, union first, from the building.
  • On the wall or the window: When the flag is displayed on a flat surface like a wall, the union should be at the top left.
  • On the street: The flag should be suspended vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street or to the east in a north and south street. The flag should never touch anything beneath it, so make sure it’s hoisted at the proper height.
  • At the office: Suspend the flag vertically with the union to the observer’s left upon entering. If the building has more than one main entrance, the flag should be suspended vertically near the center of the corridor or lobby with the union to the north when entrances are to the east and west, or to the east when entrances are to the north and south. If there are entrances in more than two directions, the union should be to the east.
  • On a vehicle: The staff should be fixed firmly on the right side of the vehicle. Do not drape the flag over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle or a boat.
  • Half-staff: During periods of mourning, it is common to see the flag flying at half-staff. Only presidents can proclaim such periods for a national remembrance. Governors can also declare mourning periods at a local level. In some cases, heads of federal agencies can order the flag flown at half-staff on grounds under their supervision. Traditionally, states and local governments follow the president’s proclamation during a period of national mourning.

Take care of your flag. Many dry cleaners will clean U.S. flags for free during the months of June and July. Store your flag in a well-ventilated area. If it gets wet, make sure it’s completely dry before storing it. If the flag is damaged or worn out, it should be burned and disposed of with dignity.  Many American Legions will hold a disposal ceramony on flag day if you need a place to drop of your old flags.

This Flag day, show your patriotism by proudly displaying the old Red, White and Blue!

How to fold the Flag

Step 1

To properly fold the Flag, begin by holding it waist-high with another person so that its surface is parallel to the ground.

Step 2

Fold the lower half of the stripe section lengthwise over the field of stars, holding the bottom and top edges securely.

Step 3

Fold the flag again lengthwise with the blue field on the outside  .

Step 4

Make a triangular fold by bringing the striped corner of the folded edge to meet the open (top) edge of the flag.

Step 5

Turn the outer (end) point inward, parallel to the open edge, to form a second triangle.

Step 6

The triangular folding is continued until the entire length of the flag is folded in this manner.

Step 7

When the flag is completely folded, only a triangular blue field of stars should be visible.