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Customers want more original content from Netflix and others

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During the early days of digital streaming, services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video offered access to entertainment that had previously aired on network television or through an established movie producer.

In February 2013, however, that changed as Netflix released its first original television show, House of Cards. The series went on to win several Emmy and Golden Globe awards, according to IMDB.

That success inspired other original projects.

Netflix has released 88 percent more original content during the first eight months of 2018 than it did during the same time in 2017. The company will spend at least $13 billion on programming this year compared to the $6.3 billion in 2017, according to Forbes. About 85 percent of that spending goes towards producing original shows and movies such as Orange is the New Black, Narcos, and Stranger Things.

Although some data shows that the vast majority of users are streaming network shows, it also points out that new subscribers are joining the network to get access to the new content.

Recent data from Deloitte’s Digital Media Trends Survey shows that a full 55 percent of Americans had subscriptions to a streaming video service in 2017 with this number expected to grow in 2018.

Of Netflix subscribers specifically, an impressive 62 percent feel that its original shows are one of the most significant factors in their decision to keep subscribing in the future. Similarly, about 61 percent of those surveyed would likely drop their Amazon Prime subscription if they no longer offered original content.

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How to take great photos on Christmas morning

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One of the best parts of Christmas morning is watching your kids — or grandkids — open their gifts. It’s a magical moment to experience but also to preserve. Here are some great tips for capturing those special moments this Christmas.

Be prepared
Get your camera or phone ready beforehand. On Christmas eve, take a moment to make sure that the battery is charged and that you have enough memory available for new photos. Get the room you’ll be spending Christmas morning in ready too. Make sure you’re happy with the decor and that the lighting is suitable for taking pictures. As a rule, try to have as much natural light as possible.

Be in the right place
The little ones will probably be down on the floor as they open their gifts. You might want to follow suit. To get the best photo of that awe-struck or beaming face, make sure the camera lens is level to it.

Bonus tip: if you want to best capture the dramatic moment when your kids first enter the room and see the gifts under the tree, position yourself beside it so that you can photograph their faces.

Tell a story
The moment when your kid sees their new toy might be the climax, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Get pictures of them curiously weighing a wrapped box, trying on the sweater they discover inside and hugging grandma to thank her for the gift. Not only are these photos wonderful on their own, but they also tell a great story when placed side by side.

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Buying a snowblower: types and features

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Are you on the hunt for the perfect snowblower? Wondering which one you should buy? Here’s what you should know about the different available types.

• Electric shovels: ideal for small areas like balconies, sidewalks or very small driveways. They can remove snow up to four inches deep.

• Electric snowblowers: best for small, flat driveways. They’re typically unable to remove icy or heavy snow.

• Single-stage snowblowers: also best for small driveways with trouble lifting icy and heavy snow. They can remove up to eight inches of snow.

• Two-stage snowblowers: suited for long, wide or sloped driveways. They have no problem moving over eight inches of snow, even if it’s heavy or mixed with ice. However, they take up a lot of room, so make sure you have sufficient storage space.

• Three-stage snowblowers: perfect for large driveways and areas that regularly get huge amounts of snow. They can be up to 50 percent more powerful than two-stage snowblowers.

Now that you’ve determined the type of snowblower you need, you can start looking at the different models that are available. Some have heated handgrips. Others come with power steering, a feature that makes using a big machine much easier.

It’s best to invest in a popular brand because if replacement pieces are ever needed, they’ll be more readily available.

Always buy the best model of snowblower you can afford. Inexpensive ones tend to require more in the way of maintenance and repairs.

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Three must-see Southern Christmas festivals

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Want to soak in some Southern holiday charm? Here are three amazing Christmas festivals to check out this year.

1. Natchitoches Christmas Festival: Natchitoches, Louisiana
What began as a one-day event more than 90 years ago has turned into a six week Christmas extravaganza. The town turns on its holiday displays before Thanksgiving and the festival officially begins the first weekend of December with a parade and fireworks. Stroll through the historic district, drink the town’s signature eggnog daiquiri and soak in some southern, Christmas charm.

2. Christmas Town USA: McAdenville, North Carolina
Every December, this small town on the outskirts of Charlotte transforms itself into a Christmas paradise. All of its public spaces get dressed in red, white and green lights and most private homes do too. The Yule Log Parade opens the annual Christmas Town Festival, where the first 1,000 visitors every evening are given free hot chocolate and kettle corn.

3. Bavarian Christmas: Helen, Georgia
Change things up a bit and celebrate Christmas the Bavarian way. This alpine-styled mountain town celebrates Christmas in a big way. Santa and Mrs. Clause make a visit every November to light up the town. Later, Santa comes back for the annual parade that winds its way through cobble¬stone streets. Don’t miss the Christkindlmarkt, a traditional German Christmas market¬where you can shop for unique gifts for your family and friends.

Whatever festival you attend, be sure to get a photo taken with Santa. Nothing says Southern Christmas quite like a pic of you high-fiving the big guy while wearing shorts or a sundress.

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One week till Christmas

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It’s almost here — there’s only a few final details to work out.

To buy
• Fresh produce

• Snack foods
• Hors d’oeuvres

To do
• Cleaning the house so everything looks impeccable.
• Shoveling and deicing the driveway, walkway and stairs, if necessary.

To bake
• Christmas cookies for Santa (you can also prepare a batch for the reindeer who pull his sleigh).

To plan
• Where guests who’ll be spending the night at your house will sleep (both planned guests and those who may end up staying over unexpectedly).

And voila, everything is ready for your yuletide festivities; all you have left to do is welcome your guests and let the good times roll.

Merry Christmas!

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Mature Living: Volunteer work: the feel-good way to spread holiday cheer

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Is the spirit of the season inspiring you to spread goodwill and be more charitable? If you’ve got a bit of time to spare and the inclination to do so, why not give back to your community? Over the holiday season, homeless shelters, hospitals and local organizations need volunteers more than ever. You don’t have to look far to find ways to do good works and there are countless opportunities to help others. Some ways you can give back include:

• Wrapping gifts to raise money for charity
• Preparing, serving and delivering meals on Christmas or New Year’s Day

• Collecting donations for food banks or toy drives
• Visiting people who are alone
• Answering letters to Santa Claus

No matter whether you want to help children in need or provide company to lonely senior citizens, the holiday season is the best time to get involved in your community. Your local charitable organizations will be happy for the help.

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Mature Living: Advantages of wireless headphones

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Did you know that gradual hearing loss affects 30 per cent of people aged 65 and older? If you constantly need to turn up the volume on the TV or radio, you may be losing your hearing. Luckily, wireless headphones can help you watch your favorite shows and rediscover the music you love.

There are many different types of wireless headphones on the market. Larger, on-ear sets can be used be those who wear hearing aids, while smaller, in-ear options are best for people who wear glasses. Some in-ear headphones are even small enough to carry in your pocket or purse.

Regardless of the type of wireless headphones you choose, you’ll benefit from their advantages. Wireless sets are:

• Easy to use. Simply make sure the battery is fully charged, turn them on and set the Bluetooth settings on your TV or stereo to connect to your headphones.

• Agitation free. No annoying, tangled wires to unravel.

• Able to provide clear and crisp sound. For the best audio experience, you’ll need to invest in a higher-quality set.

• Non-intrusive. You can watch TV or listen to music at the volume you need without bothering anyone around you.

The price range for wireless headphones varies greatly between makes and models, which means there are options to suit nearly every budget. Pick out a pair that you think you’ll like and give them a try. You won’t have to struggle to hear the television anymore and you’ll enjoy your favorite music like you haven’t in years.

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Dec
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3:00 pm St. Luke Community Clinic Annual... @ St. Luke Community Clinic
St. Luke Community Clinic Annual... @ St. Luke Community Clinic
Dec 20 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
St. Luke Community Clinic Annual Holiday Open House @ St. Luke Community Clinic
STOP IN FOR A FOR HOLIDAY COOKIES AND TREATS, MEET THE STAFF, AND TOUR THE CLINIC!
6:30 pm Oil painting for the non painter @ Strokes of Creativity
Oil painting for the non painter @ Strokes of Creativity
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Oil painting for the non painter @ Strokes of Creativity
Come join Gloria Howarton, self taught artist, and explore the rich medium of oil painting. This is a 4 week Thursday Evening Class from 6:30-9:00 pm. The dates are 12/06/2018, 12/13/2018 , 12/20/2018 and 1/3/2019[...]
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10:00 am Paper Sculpture Party: Koi Fish @ Art in the Valley
Paper Sculpture Party: Koi Fish @ Art in the Valley
Dec 24 @ 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Paper Sculpture Party: Koi Fish @ Art in the Valley
Create your own 5″ x 7″ koi fish paper sculpture with your friends! Schedule your own party for up to 8 people (3-person minimum). No drawing skills are necessary. Artist Tiffany Budzisz will walk you[...]
2:00 pm Annual Community Christmas Dinner @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptarment
Annual Community Christmas Dinner @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptarment
Dec 24 @ 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Annual Community Christmas Dinner @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptarment
This is the fourth year of the Annual Community Christmas Dinner being held! It is on Christmas Eve, December 24th from 2 to 7pm at Front Royal Volunteer Fire Dept. A hot meal is provided with turkey[...]
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9:00 am 2019 Dare to Dream Grant Applica... @ Front Royal Women’s Resource Center
2019 Dare to Dream Grant Applica... @ Front Royal Women’s Resource Center
Dec 25 @ 9:00 am – 11:00 am
2019 Dare to Dream Grant Application @ Front Royal Women’s Resource Center
Front Royal Women’s Resource Center (FRWRC) Now Accepting Applications for 2019 DARE TO DREAM GRANTS (Take classes, start a business, purchase a computer, learn a new skill, train for a profession, start a non-profit, anything[...]