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Holiday gift pools: five great reasons to opt for collective gift giving

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There are a number of reasons, financial and otherwise, to team up with friends, family members or co-workers for your Christmas shopping. Here are five of them.

1. You save money
Pooling together to buy a gift is an especially good option when the recipient lives in another city. You’ll save money on the costs for packaging, transport and, if shipping internationally, then duties as well.

2. You save time

You and the others involved in the pool will spend less time figuring out what to buy by brainstorming as a team. You’ll also be able to divvy up the work involved in researching, purchasing and sending the gift.

3. You can give a more original gift
Make use of each person’s creative talents to craft a Christmas present that’s handmade or highly personalized. Or, if you plan to buy something from the store, simply put your heads together to come up with a truly unique gift.

4. You can give a more extravagant gift
Pooling resources means having a larger budget for the gift you buy. You’ll have the option of spending more to get something beyond what you could afford on your own. This might be a sophisticated gadget, a new home appliance or even a spa weekend

5. You’ll avoid giving duplicate gifts
There’s nothing quite as awkward as giving the same gift to Uncle Bob as your cousin Jane. Working together ensures that there will be no duplicates.

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Which kind of food should I choose for my pet?

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When choosing the right food for your cat or dog, base your decision on the animal’s age, weight, breed and lifestyle. A kitten and an adult cat, or a Chihuahua and a Labrador, don’t have the same nutritional needs. If your pet is overweight, choose food that will allow it to regain a healthy weight.

It can also help to talk to your veterinarian in order to make an informed choice. He or she will be able to recommend a good-quality product containing the right proportions of all the essential nutrients your four-legged friend needs. Just because a product’s packaging lists various nutrients, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are present in sufficient quantities; some products contain a lot more grains than meat. Lastly, keep in mind that the more costly canned pet foods don’t necessarily have all the healthy nutrients your pet needs. Ask your veterinarian for more detailed information.

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5 types of summer camps your kids will love

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There’s more than one type of summer camp for kids. If you’re looking for one for your children, here are five types that may pique their interest.

1. Traditional. If your children like spending time outdoors, they’ll love a traditional summer camp. They’ll spend their time swimming, canoeing, camping, hiking and more.

2. Historical. Kids that are fascinated by history will enjoy a camp where they can dress up in historical clothes and learn about how people lived before the advent of modern conveniences. Whether they’re interested in the Middle Ages or the Victorian Era, your child is sure to learn a lot.

3. Language. Let your child become immersed in learning another language by sending them to a language camp. They’ll acquire a valuable life skill while having fun and making new friends.

4. Farm life. Kids that love animals and nature will enjoy spending their time learning how a farm works. Not only will they spend their time caring for farm animals, but they’ll also learn about agriculture and how to maintain a vegetable garden.

5. Academic. There are a variety of learning camps for kids. Whether your young academic wants to immerse themselves in a particular topic (there are camps devoted to coding, robotics, science, engineering, writing and more) or explore a range of subjects, there’s a camp that’s right for them.

No matter what kind of summer camp you choose to send your children to, they’re sure to create meaningful memories and make lifelong friends.

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Things to consider before building a garage

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If you don’t have a garage, but are thinking about building one, here are some things to consider.

Zoning laws
Before you begin your project, check with your municipality. Many towns and cities have regulations concerning the size and placement of garages.

Attached vs. detached
Some homeowners appreciate parking in an attached garage that leads directly into their house, especially in inclement weather. Others, however, prefer not to distract from the look of their home and opt instead for a detached garage.

Function
Are you planning on simply parking in the garage, or will it also be used as storage? Or, perhaps you want to use the space as a workshop, gym or office? Regardless, make sure to plan accordingly in terms of insulation, lighting and other features.

Ventilation
If you’re planning on parking your car or storing paint and other toxic substances in your garage, a proper ventilation system ensures that the air remains safe to breathe.

No matter what type of garage you build, be sure to hire reputable contractors. In particular, garage door installation can be dangerous and should be done by an expert.

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Two common kitchen problems and how to solve them

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In many homes, the kitchen gets the most traffic. Consequently, an issue in this room is likely to be acutely felt. Here are two common kitchen problems and some tips on how you can solve them.

1. Not enough storage
The ideal way to approach this issue is to entirely remodel your kitchen and thereby create the space and storage you need. However, if this isn’t currently feasible, you should consider implementing one or more workarounds.

For example, you can add hooks under the cabinets to store mugs and thereby free some precious cabinet space. Or, you might want to invest in a professional storage system with racks and drawer dividers to make the most out of the space you’ve got.

2. Not enough counter space
Not having enough counter space makes it hard to prepare meals and keep the room tidy. One solution to this problem, if you have the space for it, is to install an island. Alternatively, you can buy a small cart that will give you more surface area to work with.

Freeing up the counter space you have is also essential. Be sure to stow your toaster, coffee maker and other appliances in your cabinets when they’re not in use.

Once your kitchen problems are solved, you’ll be surprised just how much better the whole house will run.

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How to ace your wedding day makeup

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All eyes are on the bride on her wedding day, and all cameras are too. Here are some makeup tips to ensure you look your best.

Be yourself
Your wedding isn’t the right time to try out a new look. Instead, strive for a slightly enhanced version of the makeup you normally wear. For some, this may be dark eyeliner and a bold lip and for others, it may be a natural but radiant look.

Do a test run
Try out your wedding day makeup in advance. If you’re doing it yourself, run through applying it a few times. If you’re hiring a makeup artist, schedule an appointment a few weeks before the big day. Doing a test run will ensure you’re happy with the results.

Use the right products
Even if you’re not usually the emotional type, plan for tears on your wedding day. Opt for waterproof mascara, high quality liquid foundation and lipstick that won’t smudge.

Don’t forget to pack a kit that includes concealer, blotting papers and your lipstick for touch ups throughout the day.

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How to apply the principles of sustainable design to your home renovation projects

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Adopting sustainable design practices is a key component in fighting climate change. Here’s how the average home¬owner can make their renovation projects greener.

What is sustainable design?
The guiding principle behind sustainable design is that the negative environmental impacts of erecting and maintaining modern buildings can be minimized by implementing certain practices. These include curtailing waste, reducing the consumption of non-renewable resources, conserving water and creating healthy, functional spaces.

Building an energy efficient home with recycled materials is a prime example of how sustainable design methods can be used to construct residential buildings.

How can I apply these principles?
Homeowners who are renovating can implement sustainable design practices in a number of ways. Here are some ideas:

• Flooring options. Reclaimed wood, such as from scaffolds, is a great way to revamp your floors. Plus, they’re pre-seasoned and won’t warp once installed.

• Paint options. Eco-friendly paints, which contain no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a good option. For an even greener choice, seek out retailers who sell recycled paint.

• Surface options. Countertops made from recycled materials are increasingly popular and vastly more sustainable than those made from man-made materials such as engineered stone. Some companies also offer ceramic tiles made from recycled television screens.

• Plumbing options. If updating a bathroom, opt for low-flow toilets, faucets and showers.

• Furniture options. Consider looking for reclaimed furniture, or furniture built from recycled and upcycled materials.

Where can I find sustainable materials?
Most hardware stores carry at least some of these materials. Low-flow fixtures, for instance, are readily available. In addition, there are suppliers and artisans who specialize in offering sustainable and recycled products.

Did you know?
North America produces nearly 600 million tons of construction waste per year, most of which ends up in landfills.

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Upcoming Events

Feb
16
Sun
1:30 pm Service of Christian & Racial Unity @ Church of the Rock
Service of Christian & Racial Unity @ Church of the Rock
Feb 16 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Service of Christian & Racial Unity @ Church of the Rock
Service of Christian & Racial Unity – “Power of Love in Warren County” Sunday, February 16th, 3:30pm (community meal served at 1:30pm) Sponsored by: FRWC Ministerial Association
Feb
17
Mon
8:30 am Bring a Friend to School Day & O... @ Wakefield Country Day School
Bring a Friend to School Day & O... @ Wakefield Country Day School
Feb 17 @ 8:30 am – 4:00 pm
Bring a Friend to School Day & Open House @ Wakefield Country Day School
Come visit Wakefield Country Day School for our Open House/Bring a Friend to School Day. For the entire school day, students may bring a friend with them to school. Parents may join in on the[...]
10:00 am R-MA February Open House @ Randolph-Macon Academy
R-MA February Open House @ Randolph-Macon Academy
Feb 17 @ 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
R-MA February Open House @ Randolph-Macon Academy
Randolph-Macon Academy invites you to come discover what “The Power of Rise” can do for your child at the next open house on Monday, February 17th. Tours begin promptly at 10:00 am and 1:00 pm.[...]
Feb
18
Tue
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 18 @ 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
19
Wed
8:45 am Reaching Out Now Career Day @ Skyline Middle School
Reaching Out Now Career Day @ Skyline Middle School
Feb 19 @ 8:45 am – 2:30 pm
Reaching Out Now Career Day @ Skyline Middle School
Reaching Out Now (RON) together with Skyline Middle School to host its 1st annual Career Day, “Passport to Success.” Joining with area business leaders, Warren County Public School, as we come together to empower our[...]
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 19 @ 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
20
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 20 @ 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
21
Fri
9:00 am Entrepreneurship Workshop @ Luray-Page County Center
Entrepreneurship Workshop @ Luray-Page County Center
Feb 21 @ 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Entrepreneurship Workshop @ Luray-Page County Center
Are you considering independent, corporate, or social entrepreneurship, or being groomed to take over a family business? Then, this workshop is for you! Topics to be covered: Characteristics of a Successful Entrepreneur The Importance of[...]
Feb
22
Sat
11:00 am Art Stars @ Samuels Public Library
Art Stars @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 22 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Art Stars @ Samuels Public Library
Art Stars is a special needs art discovery program. This program is for ages 8 and up. Registration begins January 22. Participants should have a caregiver or attendant present in the program.
1:00 pm Moving Mindfully: Finding and ke... @ Ruby Yoga
Moving Mindfully: Finding and ke... @ Ruby Yoga
Feb 22 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Moving Mindfully: Finding and keeping your footing @ Ruby Yoga
Join Ruby Yoga and Deborah Romero of Optimal Posture LLC for a series of workshops on moving more mindfully through life using the principles of yoga and the Alexander Technique. Slated for Saturday, Jan. 25,[...]