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3 reasons to hire a professional landscaper

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Do you want to turn your yard into a personal oasis? How about boost the curb appeal and market value of your home? Landscaping can do all this, but unless you have ample time, stamina and expertise, it’s probably best to hire a professional landscaper to do the job. Here’s what you can expect.

1. Great ideas
A beautifully designed yard begins with a well thought out plan. Landscapers, also called landscape designers, can help you create a great design from scratch or embellish on ideas you already have. They’ll evaluate your property and use their in-depth knowledge of terrain and design principles to make recommendations specific to your yard. They’ll work with you to form a plan that suits your vision and budget.

2. Horticultural expertise

Landscapers are deeply versed in horticulture. They have extensive knowledge of plant life and understand how terrain and climate impact vegetation. You can therefore count on them to know which plants, flo¬wers, trees and shrubs will thrive in your yard and what each one will require in terms of soil, sunlight, water and general care.

3. Superior execution
An experienced landscaper will have successfully completed a large number of projects and you can be confident that they’ll achieve good results with your yard too. They’ll bring industry expertise to the job and know where to find the best talent and resources. Plus, they’re familiar with the different problems that can occur and the pitfalls that should be avoided.

If you’d like to hire a landscaper, look for one who’s experienced, certified and has liability insurance. Get ready to love your yard like never before!

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5 things to think about when designing an easy-to-clean kitchen

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If you’re thinking about updating your kitchen, it’s worth considering your design choices in terms of how easy or difficult it will be to keep the renovated space clean. After all, the kitchen may be the heart of your home, but it’s also the room most prone to spills and messes. Here are five aspects to carefully consider when redesigning your kitchen.

1. The floor
Linoleum holds up well to frequent cleaning and has the advantage of having no grout lines to scrub. If you prefer ceramic, choose large tiles and make sure the grout lines are kept thin.

2. The paint
Satin and high gloss paints are formulated to stand up to humid environments and are a cinch to wipe clean. Stay away from matte finishes, as they can stain easily.

3. The counter
Manmade materials like laminate and engineered stone can stand up to almost anything and require very little upkeep. Stay away from counters that are too pale or too dark, as these show dirt more than others.

4. The backsplash
The area behind the stove tends to get stained and greasy and can be difficult to clean. If tiles are used in this space, the grout lines will require frequent scrubbing. Instead, opt for a covering like stainless steel or glass.

5. The cabinets
Open storage may be trendy, but items kept on open kitchen shelves will quickly become grimy. Choose neatly organized cabinets with doors that are easy to wash instead. If you design them to reach right up to your ceiling, you’ll never have to wipe down the tops.

Tidy spaces are easier to clean than cluttered ones, so try keep your counters bare. Store your pots, pans and small appliances in cabinets.

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Joint checking accounts right for some, not all

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Joint checking accounts can be a prickly topic, but a bit of thought and planning can be enough to alleviate the misgivings (or convince you it’s not right for your situation).

As a basic premise, joint accounts mean equal access to deposit, withdraw, and transfer money. There are legalities to be aware of regarding survivorship rights and the like — regardless of whether it’s family on the account or not — so always consult with an attorney.

Here are a few scenarios to consider, though there are certainly many more iterations:

* Young and newly married. A joint checking account may help manage scarce resources. However, you must have spending rules and communicate about when bills are paid and who pays them.

If one spouse is in debt, you have to agree that all resources will be used to pay off the debt using the joint account. You must agree to how this will be done and then follow the plan.

* Married later in life, with established separate incomes. A joint account may not be necessary. A combination might work: a joint account to pay bills and separate accounts for personal spending. Or just divide the bills.

* Retirement. An important factor: make sure both spouses are signers if you have separate accounts. This ensures the bills can still be paid if one of you falls ill or is otherwise incapacitated.

Rather than establishing joint accounts, you can take care of people in other ways. Set up accounts to be “payable on death” if you want to name someone as direct beneficiary; Set up durable powers of attorney, which give access to accounts in certain circumstances (illness, incapacitation, etc); and for minor children, set up accounts in trust or UTMA — Uniform Transfer to Minors Act — where you can serve as custodian, but the money is legally the child’s

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How to make a windowless room seem brighter

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Whether it’s a powder room, a basement or an office, a room with no windows can be dark and hard to decorate. Here are a few tips to help you brighten your windowless room.

• Play with lighting. Install overhead pot lights evenly across the whole ceiling. Set up a few table or standing lamps for times you don’t want all the lights on.

• Use the right colors. Opting for pastels or light neutrals will give the room an airy, open feel. Stick with a simple color scheme and avoid contrasting shades.

• Hang a mirror or two. Mirrors reflect light, making the space seem brighter and bigger. Metallic, glass and other reflective surfaces have the same effect.

• Keep it simple. To keep the space feeling open and light, choose streamlined furniture and avoid filling the room with too many decorations.

• Install interior windows. If possible, replace a door or wall between two rooms with a frosted glass window or door. This will allow light from the adjoining room into your windowless space.

Even a windowless room can be light and airy. Follow these tips to make it a space you’ll love to spend time in.

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The best place for your space heater

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An auxiliary heating appliance can help you heat your outbuildings and parts of your home during a cold spell. But where should you put it? Follow these tips to choose the best spot for your space heater.

• Establish a three-foot safety zone. Keep the space heater away from flammable materials like curtains, bedsheets and furniture. Make sure that kids and pets can’t get near enough to touch it.

• Keep it away from the wall. This is both safer and more efficient. Maintaining a small distance between the space heater and the wall allows heat to circulate freely and therefore warms up the room more efficiently.

• Avoid damp locations. Moisture can damage most electric heating appliances. Unless it’s rated for use in bathrooms or kitchens, keep your space heater away from damp locations.

• Put it on the ground. Heat rises, so placing your space heater on a table or shelf won’t make your room much warmer. Keep it on the floor instead.

Space heaters aren’t meant to heat your whole home, so keep them where you need them the most. And be sure to get one rated for the size of the area. One that’s too small won’t heat efficiently, and one that’s too large will waste electricity.

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Starting your teen off with banking

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What’s almost as scary as your teen learning to drive? Your teen with money.

Maybe scary is too strong a word. But as with most endeavors where our children move into independence, there’s some trepidation. Have they learned the lessons we tried to teach them? Will they be mindful?

One rite of passage includes the teen checking account, their first foray into handling money on their own … or semi on their own. If your child is under 18, you’ll likely have to be a joint owner; you’ll be able to monitor transactions and access accounts.

Other options include getting your teen a prepaid debit or credit card.

You could set up an allowance in a checking account into which the teen can also deposit income from work. They can then use a debit card to pay their expenses.

A prepaid credit card will avoid the need for a checking account, but also not teach a teen how to use an account.

Some of the things you’ll have to teach your teen.

* How to write a check. We all sometimes need paper. Still.

* Interest rate and monthly fees.

Some accounts have fees and if your account has them, teach your teen when they apply.

* Overdraft fees and overdraft policy.

Teens must not overdraft their account and, if they do, fees will quickly eat up a teen paycheck. You might want to monitor a teens checking account to make sure they haven’t overdrawn.

Teens have to understand that overdrafts and fees can’t be ignored.

* Mobile Banking. Teens are going to use their phone.

* Text alerts and email can be sent to both the teen and parents.

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Velvet revival: bring fall’s trendiest textile into your home

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Velvet enthusiasts rejoice: home design’s lushest material is en vogue and cropping up on upholstered furniture, accessories and decor pieces across the country.

Once considered difficult to care for and easy to stain, today’s velvets come with a number of low-maintenance characteristics, from machine-washable to fade-, stain- and abrasion-resistant options.

Surprisingly, velvet is versatile. Not only does this plush textile looks fabulous in a range of colors and styles, it also works well in both contemporary and traditional homes.

While velvet has a reputation for being dark and moody, you don’t need to stick to dark hues. Velvet’s lavish texture is well suited to jewel tones like emerald, amethyst and sapphire. However, if these tones are too bold for you, neutrals like grays and creams are more refined but just as stylish.

While it’s easy to fall in love with a velvet sofa, headboard or armchair, not everyone is in the market for new furniture. For a touch of the trend, add cushions and throws made of the fabric to your existing living room furniture. To bring it into the bedroom, choose velvet curtains or a quilt.

Whether you pair this textile with brass and wood for a mid-century touch, or go ultra-modern with clean lines and complementary pieces made of chrome and glass, velvet can fit easily into any home’s decor.

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‘Tis the Season

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Front Royal
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Wind: 7mph NW
Humidity: 52%
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Upcoming Events

Nov
23
Sat
10:30 am Children’s Class: Drawing A Self... @ Art in the Valley
Children’s Class: Drawing A Self... @ Art in the Valley
Nov 23 @ 10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Children's Class: Drawing A Self Portrait @ Art in the Valley
In this class students will learn how to draw facial features and the proportions used for placement of features on a face.  They will complete a self portrait using graphite. Classes are designed for the[...]
2:30 pm The Princess & the “P___” @ Samuels Public Library
The Princess & the “P___” @ Samuels Public Library
Nov 23 @ 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm
The Princess & the “P___” @ Samuels Public Library
Lyla sees no purpose to princes. They’re ugly, stupid—and obnoxious! Why can’t Hagabah see that, and why must the master insist that she keep the prince around three more days? The world would be a[...]
4:00 pm Grounding & Gratitude: A restora... @ Strokes of Creativity
Grounding & Gratitude: A restora... @ Strokes of Creativity
Nov 23 @ 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Grounding & Gratitude: A restorative yoga workshop @ Strokes of Creativity
Whether you have family visiting or the stress of a shortened work week, the week of Thanksgiving can be overwhelming. This gentle, all-levels, restorative yoga class is designed to help you calm anxiety and restore[...]
Nov
26
Tue
1:30 pm Botanical Drawing II: Drawing in... @ Art in the Valley
Botanical Drawing II: Drawing in... @ Art in the Valley
Nov 26 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanical Drawing II: Drawing in Color @ Art in the Valley
Learn and practice the art of botanical drawing in colored pencil with local artist and instructor Elena Maza. This four week course will focus on continuing to build drawing skills as applied to botanicals: students[...]
Nov
27
Wed
1:30 pm Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Nov 27 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with instructor, Elena Maza, will deal with the basic three-primary color palette, different pigments and how they interact, how to mix all colors from three primary colors, how to apply washes,[...]
Nov
29
Fri
10:00 am Studio Sale & Community Art Walk @ Art in the Valley
Studio Sale & Community Art Walk @ Art in the Valley
Nov 29 @ 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Studio Sale & Community Art Walk @ Art in the Valley
Join us for our Holiday Studio Sale and Community Art Walk on Friday, Nov. 29, and Saturday, Nov. 30, from 10am to 6pm. Enjoy a free hot chocolate or a glass of wine (while supplies[...]
7:00 pm Love Revival Thanksgiving Dinner @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Love Revival Thanksgiving Dinner @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Nov 29 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Love Revival Thanksgiving Dinner @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Free Community Dinner for everyone! Amazing Thanksgiving themed food and fun.
Nov
30
Sat
10:00 am Studio Sale & Community Art Walk @ Art in the Valley
Studio Sale & Community Art Walk @ Art in the Valley
Nov 30 @ 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Studio Sale & Community Art Walk @ Art in the Valley
Join us for our Holiday Studio Sale and Community Art Walk on Friday, Nov. 29, and Saturday, Nov. 30, from 10am to 6pm. Enjoy a free hot chocolate or a glass of wine (while supplies[...]
2:00 pm Chess and More @ Samuels Public Library
Chess and More @ Samuels Public Library
Nov 30 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Chess and More @ Samuels Public Library
Meet other kids and teens who enjoy the challenge of a good chess or other board game. For ages 6 and up. Registration begins October 30.
Dec
1
Sun
12:00 pm Outdoor Holiday Celebration @ SPCA Thrift Shop
Outdoor Holiday Celebration @ SPCA Thrift Shop
Dec 1 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Outdoor Holiday Celebration @ SPCA Thrift Shop
The SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke is hosting an Outdoor Holiday Celebration on Sunday, December 1st 12-3PM at the SPCA Thrift Shop located at 1944 Abrams Creek in Winchester, VA. You’re invited to the[...]