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Interesting Things You Need to Know

Christmas checklist

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To avoid holiday mayhem, you need to remain organized in the days and weeks leading up to the main event. Here’s a checklist that will help you keep track of everything that needs to be done before Christmas.

Entertaining
• Choose a theme for your party if you’re having one

• Make reservations (caterer, event space, restaurant, cleaning crew, Santa Claus)
• Send out invitations
• Decide on a menu (don’t forget to consider your guests’ allergies and dietary restrictions)
• Make separate grocery lists for what can be purchased weeks in advance and what must be bought in the days before
• Start cooking (make dishes in advance and freeze them)
• Make a seating plan and choose the table decorations
• Obtain any extra dishes, napkins or chairs you need
• Choose the music and plan party games
• Clean the house from top to bottom
• Prepare a room for overnight guests
• Make sure your driveway and walk¬way are clear

Buying gifts
• Organize a gift exchange
• Start shopping early to avoid crowds
• Make note of what to buy for each person on your list
• Write Christmas cards and send them out early to ensure they arrive before the holiday
• Help your kids write their letters to Santa and send them off
• Buy wrapping paper, ribbons and bows
• Wrap gifts as you buy them to avoid doing it all at once, and hide them until the big day

Decorating the house
• Go through your decorations and throw out and replace anything that’s broken
• Hang outdoor decorations before the cold weather arrives
• Decorate the inside of your house
• Don’t set up your natural Christmas tree until a week or two before the day (or it will be dry by the time Santa arrives)

Getting yourself ready
• Make your appointments early (hair, esthetics, makeup, nails) to be sure you get the time slot you need
• Shop for your party clothes and visit the tailor if adjustments are needed

Keep this checklist handy to make sure you don’t forget anything this season.

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Interesting Things You Need to Know

Easy but awesome photo booth ideas

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Are you planning to set up a photo booth at your wedding? If you do, your guests will love hamming it up in front of the camera, and you’ll wind up with a slew of fun, candid mementos. Here are some backdrop ideas for a photo booth you’ll love.

• Sequins. For an old Hollywood feel, choose white, silver or gold. Or put a modern spin on it and choose reversible sequins that your guests can play with to change the look.

• Flowers. A wall of flowers is the perfect romantic backdrop. Match the blooms to your wedding colors or opt for white or red roses. Alternatively, create an ombre effect from light to dark using a variety of flowers in an array of hues.

• Balloons. The trick to nailing a balloon backdrop is to use balloons in various sizes and shapes. Choose pastel tones for a soft look or go for bright colors for a more whimsical touch.

• Wood. A wall of wood planks decorated with ivy and twinkle lights will make your guests feel like they’re hanging out on your back porch. This backdrop is well-suited to a rustic or country themed wedding.

Don’t forget to include props to take photos with. Frames, hats and mustaches on sticks are classic, as are comic book-style word bubbles with fun messages on them.

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For the love of singing

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You don’t need to have the voice of Pavarotti or Celine Dion to join a choir. All you need is a love of singing, because this is an art that can be learned. The voice is an instrument, just like the guitar or piano; all you have to do is learn how to use it. With practice, you can develop your musical ear and vocal abilities.

Some choirs are open to all who share a love of singing, regardless of ability. So, even if you are a beginner, it is possible to find a choir ready to welcome you. Singing in a group is also a great way to improve rapidly, as it allows you to draw on the experience of others. In addition, choral singing, unlike private singing lessons, develops a sense of harmony—both musically and socially.

There are choirs for all musical tastes. Some sing popular music; others sing from a liturgical repertoire, or classical or folk music. And if you loved Whoopi Goldberg in the comedy movie Sister Act, you’ll love singing in a gospel choir!

Singing in a choir is also an opportunity to share your passion for music, to work as part of a team, to socialize, and to surpass yourself. In a way, music is like a sport; it requires you to work your breathing and posture, it is excellent exercise for the back, and it is an activity that uses many different muscles in the chest and throat.

Do you like humming in the shower? Do you enjoy singing at the top of your voice during your solitary car rides? What are you waiting for? Join a choir!

You want to share your passion for music? Join a choir!

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Science of VDOT: Highway Safety

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Learn how VDOT works to improve safety on Virginia’s roads.

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Snowboarding 101: tips for beginners

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Are you thinking about taking up snowboarding this winter? If so, here are some tips to make learning this sport a little easier.

• Take lessons. Snowboarding isn’t an easy sport to learn on your own. A professional will teach you the basics of skating (propelling yourself using one foot), turning, stopping and controlling your descent.

• Avoid crowds. Choose runs that aren’t too busy, even if they’re a little more challenging than the overcrowded bunny hill. Having more room to maneuver will allow you to learn at your own pace, without worrying about getting in anyone’s way.

• Wear protection. Frequent falls are to be expected the first few times you hit the slopes on a snowboard. Protective gear like helmets and wrist guards will help you avoid serious injury.

• Learn to fall. Besides wearing protection, knowing how to fall is the key to not getting hurt. If you feel yourself pitching forward, keep your arms close to your body and try to land on your elbows and forearms. If you’re falling backwards, crouch and put your hands behind your neck to protect it.

You probably won’t master snowboarding on your first day out, but that’s okay. Most people need a few sessions or even a whole season to be truly comfortable on a snowboard. Take your time, have fun and keep trying.

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Cost of retirement: More expensive than you might think

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The cost of retirement can vary dramatically depending on where you live and what choices you make before you retire.

Ideally, you want to have enough social security and investments to maintain your current lifestyle.

While investment advisors routinely say $1 million in investments will ensure a happy retirement, this is not necessarily true. In high-tax states with high cost of living, a big retirement pot is probably essential. But, in lower tax states with lower cost of living, retirees might need about a fourth of that amount.

The key question is how you prepare before retirement.

– Run the numbers. Check with Social Security for an estimate of retirement income. But, remember your medicare and taxes will be deducted from social security, so that number will be lower.

For other income, you will be paying cash for taxes. Look at all your expenses. Medicare plus supplements and prescriptions could run more than you think. For example, some prescriptions could cost $100-$300 per month, even with a prescription plan.

– Get out of debt. The best strategy is to be out of debt before retirement. Aim for zero credit balances.

– Pay off the mortgage. In some cases holding a mortgage might be financially wise, depending on how much your investments are making as opposed to the interest rate on your mortgage. But good general advice is to pay off the mortgage before retirement.

– Transportation. Plan to have a late model car that is paid off before retirement. A car payment soaks up retirement funds.

– Emergency fund. Build one with at least 3 to 6 months of expenses. Emergencies won’t stop just because you are retired and you won’t have money coming in. You must avoid credit card debt.

– Long-term care insurance. Plan early to buy long-term care insurance when prices will be lower.

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4 tips for a hassle-free holiday

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Are you planning a trip? If so, here are four things you can do to ensure your holiday goes smoothly.

1. Book everything early
Reserve your hotel, motel or campsite as early as possible. The same goes for all plane tickets and car rentals. By booking things in advance, you guarantee that you have the best possible experience at the lowest possible price.

2. Double-check your documents
Make sure your driver’s license, passport and travel insurance are all up to date and won’t expire any time soon.

3. Think about your health
Visit your doctor to make sure you’re healthy and in good enough shape to travel. Depending on your destination, you may need to get one or more vaccines to protect yourself against foreign pathogens. Also, it’s imperative that you have enough medication for the duration of your trip.

4. Make sure your home is safe
While you’re away, mitigate the risk of your home getting burgled. Put your lights on a timer and have someone pick up your mail and perform basic upkeep so the place looks inhabited. Alternatively, you can get someone you trust to housesit. You should also avoid sharing information about your trip on social media until you’re back at home.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy your trip to the fullest.

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Upcoming Events

Jan
29
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 29 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, January 29 and Thursday, January 30: Puppies are cuddly! Puppies are cute! Our stories, songs, and craft will be about our friends, the puppies! Siblings[...]
Jan
30
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 30 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, January 29 and Thursday, January 30: Puppies are cuddly! Puppies are cute! Our stories, songs, and craft will be about our friends, the puppies! Siblings[...]
Jan
31
Fri
7:00 pm Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Jan 31 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Love Revival - FREE Monthly Community Dinner @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Free Community Dinner for everyone! Come enjoy a hot meal on the last Friday of every month at Love Revival Ministry Center.
Feb
1
Sat
10:00 am Books and Barks @ Samuels Public Library
Books and Barks @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 1 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Books and Barks @ Samuels Public Library
Come to our extremely popular monthly program that gives developing readers the chance to read and relax with a trained therapy dog.  For beginning readers and up.  Choose a time slot at registration, which begins[...]
11:00 am HSWC Polar Plunge @ Northern Virginia 4-H Center
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Northern Virginia 4-H Center
Feb 1 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Northern Virginia 4-H Center
The Humane Society of Warren County will hold their 1st annual Polar Plunge event on February 1st at the Culpeper Lake, located at the Northern Virginia 4-H Center in Harmony Hollow. “Plungers” are asked to[...]
2:00 pm World of Lego @ Samuels Public Library
World of Lego @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 1 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
World of Lego @ Samuels Public Library
Children ages 5 and up are invited to explore all the amazing things you can do with Legos.  Registration begins January 1.
Feb
4
Tue
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 4 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, January 29 and Thursday, January 30: Puppies are cuddly! Puppies are cute! Our stories, songs, and craft will be about our friends, the puppies! Siblings[...]
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 4 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, February 4 – Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! After[...]
Feb
5
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 5 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, January 29 and Thursday, January 30: Puppies are cuddly! Puppies are cute! Our stories, songs, and craft will be about our friends, the puppies! Siblings[...]
Feb
6
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 6 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, January 29 and Thursday, January 30: Puppies are cuddly! Puppies are cute! Our stories, songs, and craft will be about our friends, the puppies! Siblings[...]