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OH, It is WaterFire season again! I love early summer as it means basins will soon be lit and gondola's will be floating by. If you have never been this is, in my opinion, one of the best attractions around. You will love the atmosphere, the vendors, the food, and just the general beauty of it all. These events also raise money for charity and send tons of money into the local businesses that vend there. It really is lovely so if you have not gone or are looking to go again, here is the schedule for the summer. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 18th
Full Lighting – Sunset: 8:24 p.m.
Sponsored by CVS Health Charity Classic and The Providence Journal
Event Details | Music Program

Saturday, July 9th
Clear Currents Paddle at WaterFire
Full Lighting – Sunset: 8:22 p.m.
Sponsored by Amica Insurance with the generous support of the Textron Charitable Trust
Event Details | Music Program

Saturday, July 23rd
Full Lighting – Sunset: 8:12 p.m.
Sponsored by Cox Business
Event Details | Music Program

Saturday, August 6th – C is for Cure: A WaterFire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C
Full Lighting – Sunset: 7:59 p.m.
Sponsored by HepCHope.com
Event Details | Music Program

Saturday, August 20th
Clear Currents: Paddle Night at WaterFire
Full Lighting – Sunset 7:37 p.m.
Sponsored by Fidelity Investments and National Grid
Event Details | Music Program

Sunday, September 4th
Full Lighting – Sunset 7:15 p.m.
Sponsored by the Providence Tourism Council
Event Details | Music Program

Saturday, September 24th
Full Lighting – Sunset 6:38 p.m.
Sponsored by the Confucius Institute & US-China Institute at Bryant University and Nortek
Event Details | Music Program

Saturday, October 1stFlames of Hope: A Celebration of Life™
Full Lighting – Sunset: 6:26 p.m.
Sponsored by Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation and Lifetime Medical
Event Details | Music Program

Saturday, November 5thWaterFire Salute to Veterans
Full Lighting – Sunset: 5:34 p.m.
Event Details | Music Program

Thursday, November 17th – FireBall*
The stellar celebration at the future home of WaterFire Providence!
5:30 – 11:00 p.m. at the WaterFire Arts Center

Did you know that each year WaterFire attracts nearly 1 million visitors to downtown Providence to experience art in the city. Annually, WaterFire activity creates $113 million in economic output for local businesses too so get out and enjoy a wonderful night of vendors and ambiance and help support a great community too.

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It is almost blockbuster time! Each year, when summer rolls round, you can be sure we are in for some great new movie releases and this season is no exception. We are finally having a summer without another Avenger movie and in it's place are some great options. I do have to say I am excited for the Guardians of the Galaxy movie as the first one was really terrific. I am not a huge fan of these types of movies, but it was really good so it made movie #1 on our list.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5 Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' continues the team's adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill's true parentage. This is set to make another Billion this May.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – May 12 Robbed of his birthright, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy – whether he likes it or not.

Despicable Me 3 – June 30 Gru meets his twin brother Dru he never knew about. Everyone loves the adorable minions and this is a great family film to bring the grandkids to.

It – September 8 Children start to disappear in the town of Derry, Maine. The neighborhood children unite together to face Pennywise, an evil clown whose history of murder and violence dates back for centuries. I think everyone is waiting for this remake!

Snatched – May 12 When her boyfriend dumps her before their exotic vacation, a young woman persuades her ultra-cautious mother to travel with her to paradise, with unexpected results. Amy Schumer returns two summers after Trainwreck with Goldie Hawn as her movie mom in one of the most unlikely (and welcome) on-screen pairings of the year, with a screenplay by Kate Dippold (The Heat/Ghostbusters) and Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies/The Night Before) at the helm.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – May 26 Captain Jack Sparrow finds the winds of ill-fortune blowing even more strongly when deadly ghost pirates led by his old nemesis, the terrifying Captain Salazar, escape from the Devil's Triangle, determined to kill every pirate at sea…including him. Captain Jack's only hope of survival lies in seeking out the legendary Trident of Poseidon, a powerful artifact that bestows upon its possessor total control over the seas.

With so many great movies coming out, which one will you be watching? Let us know in the comments!

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Some people by now have their returns, others are waiting for the direct deposit notification or the check in the mailbox. Once you get your refund though, what should you do with it? Save it? Have fun? Invest? There are many avenues to take and none of these are wrong. Which one is the smartest though? The average tax refund was $3,218 in 2015. That's a good chuck of money. Consider how this money could help you in future instead of the present with a few of these options…

Emergency Fund. Start or build an emergency fund. Nearly 3 out of 10 Americans have no emergency savings. Most financial experts recommend that you have the equivalent of at least 6 months' worth of expenses stashed in a savings account.

Invest in yourself. Think about it: You are your biggest income-producing asset. Your expertise, talent, experience, work ethic and reputation for bringing delicious snacks to office potlucks are all part of what adds value to this asset. And unlike stock market returns and interest rates, you can influence your own rate of return by improving your value in the working world. Using your tax refund to pay for additional training, tuition, a work-related conference or membership in a professional organization is an investment that can pay off for years to come in bigger paychecks and greater job stability.

Open an IRA. If you don't have the option to fund a 401(k) or you would rather put your tax refund directly in a retirement account, consider opening or funding an IRA. You can elect to have part or all of your tax refund directly deposited in an IRA on your tax return, so no additional work is required. If this is your first IRA, be sure to do the math on whether a Roth or traditional option will work better to reduce your lifetime tax bill. You may also need to do some research to find a low-cost IRA with great investment options. IRAs have much smaller contribution limits than 401(k) plans, so take care not to over-fund the account. The 2017 contribution limit is $5,500, with a $1,000 catch-up option if you're age 50 or older.

Contribute to a HSA. Another way to get ready for retirement is to prepare for potential health care costs. One way to do this is to fund a health savings account if your health care plan allows for one. A HSA gives you another tax-advantaged way to save, and the money can roll over from year to year and be used for medical expenses at any time. HSA investment options are often limited, and not all health care plans allow for the use of a HSA. But if you have maxed out your other tax-advantaged retirement savings options, a HSA can allow you to bulk up your savings for health care costs.

While all of this is very important, don't forget to do a little something for yourself. This is just as important as anything listed here. Happy Monday!

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Yard Sale season is upon us! The weather is turning, leaves and flowers are sprouting, and yard sale signs are being posted. Some people make it a sport to visit as many sales as they can on the weekends while others just stop when they see one. Whether you are an avid yard saler or the occasional one, there are may great websites now to help aid you in your search for treasures. We will run down a list for you, but please feel free to leave any we do not list in the comments below. Happy searching!

1. Craigslist – of course. Craigslist is wonderful for countless reasons, but one of their best section is garage sales. 90% of people holding yard sales will list them here so it is best to check this one first. Just go to https://southcoast.craigslist.org/search/gms and have a blast!

2. Garage Sale Finder –  http://garagesalefinder.com/yard-sales/ – This is a great site that features a search tool and also has a feature that will send you alerts to new sales in the areas you choose.

3. Yard Sale Search –  http://www.yardsalesearch.com/ – We mentioned this on our Facebook page too. Great website with built in search feature. It comes up first in Google searches so people are more apt to post their sales here.

4.Yard Sales – https://yardsales.net/ – Another great website to check out. Very popular and remember not everyone is going to post their sale on all these sites, so best to peek at all of them before heading out.

5. Garage Sales By Map – This is the big one, tons of sales and a great mobile app that makes it easy to plan your day –  http://gsalr.com/

I hope you all have a great season of treasure hunting! See you out there!

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Easter is surely on it's way. This festive holiday is a favorite in our house and we love to go all out with hunts, activities, baskets, and of course good food and family. I can think of no better blog this week than one filled with what we serve and plan on this special day. We'd love to hear what you bake and play too so please let us know in the comments how you celebrate.

This year I am planning a brunch menu. My menu is finally complete and I am baking the following goodies!

Eggs Benedict Casserole
French Toast Bake
Baked Spiral Ham
Chicken and Egg Salad
Deviled Eggs
Cheesecake Strawberries
Peep Kabobs
Mimosa's
I will also pick up various baked goodies and treats as well.

Here are some inspiration shots for you!
  Image result for french toast bake   Image result for deviled eggs chicks  Image result for peep kabob Image result for crescent carrots

I am also changing things up this year a bit as far as the hunt goes.

First thing in the morning, I am making a batch of 20 plastic eggs that all contain a piece of a puzzle. Once solved, that will lead them to their goodies. Even if you have no kiddies at home, this is a great idea for visiting grandchildren. Hide all the eggs and they have to collect all 20 to have all the pieces of the puzzle and to their basket!


I want to make the back of the clues into a map for the final big egg.:

After that, we hunt! I have decided to assign each hunter a colored egg. Each person participating will be assigned an egg color so when they are hunting for eggs, only the color they are assigned can be picked up by them. This makes for more personalized prizes in the eggs and assures everyone gets the same amount! Feel free to hide some special golden eggs though!


Image result for golden easter egg

I am also going to set out a mason jar full of M&M's and whoever guesses the right amount, takes it home!


Image result for easter m&m jar

What do you have planned for Easter? Let us know in the comments and Happy Easter everyone!

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When you think waterfalls, one does not necessarily think of Massachusetts as a place to see them. I know I didn't, but then a friend told me of a road trip she took that visited a bunch of the waterfalls right here in our state. I was shocked as I had no idea, but sure enough there are a ton of them. I did some research and I thought it would be great to have a list for anyone who wants to go exploring like we did. The weather is getting much warmer so it is a perfect time to plan your first trip of the season.

Lulu Cascade
Berry Pond Circuit (off Cascade Street)
Pittsfield, MA
Located in Pittsfield State Forest

Turkeyhill Brook Falls
Sawmill Road
Paxton, MA
Located in Moore State Park; features a restored sawmill, remnants of other mills, walking paths, and lots of rhododendrons, azaleas and mountain laurel; offers canoeing, fishing, hiking, hunting, cross-country skiing

Peck's Brook Falls
West Mountain Road (or Notch Road)
Adams, MA
Located on Mt. Greylock in Pecks Brook Shelter (off the Gould Trail); 1.3 mile hike up from the West Mountain Rd parking lot; can also be hiked down from Notch Road; There is also a lower falls 600 ft downstream, but it is very dangerous to access

Glendale Falls
Clark Wright Road
Middlefield, MA
Once part of the historic 18th-century Glendale Farm; 1/4 mile trail leads to bottom of the falls; swimming discouraged; seasonal hunting permitted

Goldmine Falls
Route 20
Chester, MA
Located in the Chester-Blandford State Forest just east of Sanderson Brook; the lower falls is about 300 feet from Route 20 on Goldmine Brook; there is no trail, only a wooded hill on the side of the road

Hudson's Chasm
1 McCauley Road (off Route 8)
North Adams, MA
Located in Natural Bridge State Park; features the only naturally formed white marble arch and also man-made white marble dam in North America; walking, fishing, picnicking

Know of another fall not on our list? Type it in the comments or let us know on Facebook!

 

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April is nearly here and that means Spring planting. The soil is warming and now is the best time to plant your vegetable seeds now that the last frost has happened. Start planting both bush and pole beans now that the soil and air are warmed up. Beets and broccoli are next to be planted. If there is any sign of an impending frost, all seedlings must be covered. Planting under row covers or a low tunnel will not only help to warm the soil quicker, but will also protect seedlings from frosts (although a hard freeze, or a long stretch of really cold weather may still be able to kill plants under row covers).

Image result for low tunnel planting

Planting in pots and trays that can be moved outside into the sun on warm days, and brought inside at night, is one surefire way to beat the frost (as long as you remember to bring them inside), and can be a great way to start an early spring garden long before the soil outside is ready to plant. Container gardening is also a good way to start growing some of your own food on windowsills, balconies, or decks, even if you don't have an outside garden plot.

Do not directly sow peppers, tomatoes or eggplant. Start peppers indoor approximately eight weeks before transplanting them outdoors. Remove any buds that appear on your pepper seedlings before transplanting them to ensure that the root system has grown large enough to support a pepper crop. Start tomatoes indoors about six to seven weeks prior to moving them into your garden. Start eggplant in four-inch pots four to six weeks before the last average frost. Do not start eggplant in flats, since these plants are sensitive to transplant shock.

Well known for the amount of vitamin A in them, carrots are popular among gardeners during this time of year because they prefer and grow best in cooler temperatures. Unlike a lot of other vegetable plants, the size of the carrots does not matter when it comes to you harvesting them.

Cucumbers can be planted in the spring but must have warm weather because they are extremely vulnerable to frost. They don’t require much attention after you have planted the seeds, so they’re low maintenance and easy to grow! After they are harvested, you can eat them grated, sliced or even whole, it’s up to you.

Happy Gardening Everyone!

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Even though snow is falling outside, Spring is just 10 days away. What would New England be without one last punch of snow before we roar into Spring? I am not sure about you, but when I think Spring, I think Spring cleaning and organization is a huge part of that. There are a ton of really economical ways to organize. You do not need to go out and spend hundreds on new totes and bins to get the desired result. There are a ton of things around your home that you can use to organize your life and home.

If you are short on space in the kitchen, you can attached bins and trays to the inside of your cabinet doors. Grab an extra magazine rack off your desk and attach it to the inside of one of your base cabinets as seen below. This will free up much needed drawer space and let's face it, do you really need a magazine bin?

Image result for magazine rack inside kitchen cabinet

This next one is my favorite as it can be used in almost any room. You can purchase a clear shoe holder that hangs on the back or any door. These are only a few dollars at almost any store. Use one in your bathroom to store al your soaps, toothbrushes, makeup, or anything else you store in your bathroom. You can also pop one up in your office and put all your supplies in it. Craft room? Don't even get me started…

overthedoor

Another great idea to save base cabinet space is to hang rods across the width of the cabinet. You can then hang your cleaning products from the rod or hanging bins to hold sponges,etc…

rodimage

I also saw this great idea to use an old sled as a pot rack. I LOVE this idea and you can go about it so many ways. Paint it, crackle it, anyway you decide, it will look fabulous.

home-organization-space-saving-organizing-ideas-6

I also love the new trend of magnetic storage. You can hang these super cheap magnetic strips almost anywhere. You can dress them up with fabric or other backings. You can use these to hang knives in the kitchen or bathroom toiletry tools. Jewelry also would be great!

DSC_0472_1-170x170

What do you all do to get ready for Spring? Have any great organizational ideas? Post them in the comments!

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Blessed Spring, it is less than 3 weeks away. March 20th to be exact. What does this mean for you… Spring Preparation! I am not talking outside, I am talking indoor spring cleaning! Am I the only one who gets excited about this? Throwing the windows open and cleaning out the closets just puts me in a warmer state of mind. Admit it, that first time you have the windows open and the breeze comes in…nothing like it.

I start off with the windows. I shut the heat off and open them all up. First thing you need to do is clean those sills out and wash the windows. This can take sometime, but it has to be done after the winter months. It is also time to pop the screens back on, but hose those suckers off first then lay them out to dry in the sun. Yes, the Sun!

Once I have the windows set, I like to start on the wardrobe swap. This is a great time to toss any holey socks or worn items not suitable for donation. After that, start to sort your winter items into pack away or donate boxes. Makes it much easier next winter to see what you need and it is a great chance to purge. Box up all winter coats, hats, scarves, etc.. too along with your boots and any other winter shoes. Please make sure you give everything one last wash before you pack. I also layer febreeze dryer sheets in between layers of clothes so they stay nice and fresh all summer. Really, this small thing makes a difference.

Make sure you do this to every ones bedrooms. This is definitely one of the more time consuming tasks you will have to do, but well worth it!

Next up is the dreaded deep cleaning. I am talking wiping down the blinds, ceiling fans, baseboard molding, and heater covers. Clear out under sinks and toss what you do not use and organize the rest with bins/baskets. Organize your kitchen cabinet draws and pantry and spray the oven cleaner and let sit.

It is also a good time to break out the magic eraser and hit the walls, cabinets, etc.. This is seriously the best cleaning tool I have ever used.

Lastly, pour a glass of wine, you done good!

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There is so much you need to know, take into consideration, and be wary of when doing your yearly taxes. It becomes even more complex when you are a senior. Making sure you are up to date on the latest tax laws and staying clear of scams can be daunting and hard to navigate. Hiring an experienced tax preparer is recommended, but if you are going to file on your own here are a few tips this year to keep you on track.

For starters, make sure you even have to file. Unless you own property or a similar major asset, or you made a major purchase last year, you may be able to avoid preparing a tax return altogether. Consult your tax preparer to find out if you have to file or go online to your federal or state tax website for more information.

If you need to have someone assist you, there are a number of agencies that can help. The IRS-hosted Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program offers tax preparation help to seniors. The program is free of charge to those who qualify. Click here to find nearby centers. The AARP also offers assistance to seniors with low to moderate income.

You also need to be wary of scams and phishing schemes. Seniors are always targeted during tax season and some scams can be very convincing. Head on over to our Facebook page for a great article from USA today describing the latest scam and what to be wary of. Click here for more info: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/seniors-retirees

Also don't forget about the top tax breaks for the senior bracket.

1. Medical and Dental Costs
2. Home Sales
3. Retirement Contributions
4. Investment Expenses
5. Business Expenses
6. Charity Contributions
7. Take the Standard Deduction

However you decide to file, please make sure you do your research and if you do file on your own, make sure you take advantage of every deduction and credit you can.

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