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How to choose greener toys

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Do you worry about your environmental impact when buying gifts for your children? Fortunately, finding eco-friendly toys is easier than you think. In fact, green toys contain fewer harmful materials and can raise awareness in your children of the importance of caring for the environment. Here are some tips to help you select “greener” toys.

Choose natural or renewable materials
Buy toys made of untreated and unvarnished raw wood or painted with natural substances. On top of being full of character, these toys are durable and can be handed down to future generations.

Natural rubber is excellent for soft toys, whereas their plastic counterparts often get their softness from the addition of harmful substances. It also makes sense to look for natural and organic fabrics and materials, such as cotton, hemp, and linen.

Go for reclaimed materials
Look for eco-conscious brands and logos specifying that the materials used in the manufacturing process come from reclamation. Buying guides specializing in environmentally-friendly products can help you find the most conscientious brands.


Avoid plastics and perfumes
As much as possible, limit the number of plastic toys your child is exposed to. This precaution is crucial for children under three who tend to put things in their mouths. Some plastics, such as PVC, are particularly problematic. Scented toys are also not advisable.

Don’t hesitate to ask the merchant or manufacturer for more information about a toy that interests you.

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How to care for bathroom plants

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If your bathroom has a lot of natural light, giving it a touch of green with plants suited to a damp environment can be fun. Here are some tips to ensure they thrive.

Account for ventilation
Since bathrooms are humid, you need to consider air circulation as you decide on plant placement. If the room isn’t well-ventilated, some species may add to the humidity and cause mold and mildew to grow.

Opt for plants that dehumidify the air, such as ivy or orchids. Tillandsia is also a lovely choice. Commonly known as air plants, these beauties don’t require soil and can be displayed as a hanging arrangement or in a glass jar.

Evaluate your available space
If your bathroom is relatively large, you have a lot of freedom to choose your plants and can mix things up with a variety of species and sizes. If your space is limited, however, you should choose small plants that can be suspended or placed on a windowsill. Consider buying a spider plant, dwarf fig tree, or pothos.


The secret to keeping a plant healthy is to provide it with the correct doses of sunlight, water, and warmth. When you visit your local garden center, determine the needs of the species you like before bringing it home.

 

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Vegan leathers

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The fashion industry generates a significant amount of greenhouse gasses. For this reason, many businesses selling ready-to-wear clothes and accessories are actively seeking ways to reduce their environmental footprint. One way they’re doing this involves selling products made from vegan leather.

Items made of synthetic leather are often preferred by people who practice veganism, a lifestyle that eschews the use of animal products in all forms.

Not to be confused with vegetable-tanned leather, vegan leather can be made of grain, fruit, or vegetable waste. One of the most popular materials is pineapple leather, also known as Piñatex, which is made from the fibers found in pineapple leaves.

Alternatively, vegan leather can be made from eucalyptus trees, cacti, corn, mushrooms, and apple peels. Whether derived from sustainable crops or food waste, these versatile fabrics are increasingly used to create beautiful and supple handbags, belts, watchbands, clothes, and shoes.


Currently, vegan leathers occupy a marginal space in the market. However, they’re attracting more and more interest. Large brands anticipate a growing demand for these products by designers, retailers, and consumers around the globe.

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Keep your dog active when cold weather hits

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It’s dog ownership 101: A busy dog is a happy dog. But when cold temperatures and nasty weather set in, you might have to scuttle your normal walks and trips to the dog park. When that happens, try one of these indoor activities to keep your pet happy and nurture your shared bond.

* Mix a game of tug with a few simple commands. When your dog is riled up from the game, tell her to drop the tug toy and sit. When she obeys, praise her and then reward her with more tugging.

* Challenge your dog’s nose with a scent search. Tell him to sit and stay while you hide his favorite toy. Rub the toy on multiple surfaces to increase the challenge. When you return, release him to find it.

* Practice basic commands. Even well-trained dogs can usually benefit from — and enjoy — a little bit of review. Work on sit, stay, down, and leave it, with lots of positive reinforcement to keep your dog happy and engaged.


* Stuff a Kong toy with peanut butter or other treats and freeze it to keep your dog occupied for as long as an hour.

* Surprise your dog with new toys. When going outside isn’t an option, a new toy gives your dog something to explore and chew on. Keep a couple of toys tucked away, just in case.

* Try doggy daycare. Doggy daycare is a great way to socialize your dog and let them burn off all its pent-up energy. Don’t be surprised if your dog can’t stay awake for the entire ride back home.

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Seven gifts for cycling buffs

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Do you know someone who rides their bike every chance they get? Here are seven great gift ideas for cycling enthusiasts.

1. Gloves
Cycling gloves protect hands from cold weather and provide excellent grip on handlebars. Look for a pair that’s insulated, waterproof, and windproof.

2. Backpack
Consider a backpack designed for the type of cycling your loved one enjoys the most. For example, mountain biking bags have a reservoir that can replace bulky water bottles.

3. Rear pannier rack
This accessory is perfect for urban riding because it allows cyclists to carry items safely.


4. Frame bag
These small bags can hold snacks, a cell phone, and other personal items like keys. Most models can be detached easily when the cyclist needs to take a break.

5. Helmet light
A helmet light will illuminate the road ahead during dark evening outings and allow the cyclist to remain visible to other road users thanks to the included rear light.

6. Sunglasses
Look for a pair of aerodynamic sunglasses that grip the ears and nose.

7. Windbreaker
A thin, compact windbreaker can be packed into a small bag and is ideal for windy rides.

For more great ideas, check out your local bike store.

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Five tips to ensure your reno will last

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Do you plan to renovate your home? If so, here are a few tips to ensure your project stands the test of time.

1. Project yourself into the future
Don’t base your renovation decisions solely on your current wants and needs. If you anticipate expanding your family over the next few years, or if your children are getting ready to leave the nest, consider these eventualities.

2. Invest in quality products
When purchasing or replacing pricier items like your bathtub, stove, or sofa, it’s best to seek out brands with a reputation for reliability. Though they may cost more initially, you won’t have to replace them as quickly, and their longer lifespan will put money in your pocket.

3. Integrate trends economically
If you like to keep up with trends, do it with accessories like curtains, mirrors, and cushions. These items are easy to replace without breaking the bank when they wear out or look dated. You might also want to experiment with paint, which is a relatively affordable way to update a space.


4. Opt for neutral colors
Choose neutral colors for anything you intend to be permanent and for items that are more expensive or difficult to replace, such as a shower stall or ceramic floor. Consider white, beige, or gray, and opt for a design that’ll age well.

5. Consider functionality
Take some time to reflect on your options to ensure your choices are as practical as they are fashionable. Don’t leave things like lighting, storage, and clearance space to chance. These details can make the difference between a successful renovation and one you regret.

To ensure your renovations live up to your expectations, be sure to rely on the expertise of your local contractors, architects, and interior decorators.

 

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Real vs. fake Christmas trees

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Are you looking forward to putting up your Christmas tree and decorating your home for the holidays? If so, you may be wondering whether a real or artificial tree is best. Here’s a short guide to help you make the right choice.

Real
A real tree is an eco-friendly option, especially if it’s grown locally. When properly disposed of at the end of the holiday season, it can be used to make compost and mulch or feed farm animals.

Keep in mind you must regularly water a real tree and vacuum any fallen needles. While pine trees smell great, they have a limited lifespan and aren’t ideal if you enjoy decorating early for Christmas.

Fake
Though artificial trees are manufactured in large facilities that produce pollution, they can last several years. If you reuse your tree for at least 15 years, it may be the more ecological choice.


However, you must carefully store your fake tree to keep it in good condition. This means you must set aside space for it in your home. Make sure to purchase a high-quality tree to ensure the branches and needles don’t fall out prematurely.

To find a Christmas tree for your home, visit Royal Plaza in Front Royal. The Boys Scout Troop 52 will be selling real trees until they sell out.

Hours:
Monday – Friday 4 pm – 8 pm
Saturday – 8 am – 8 pm
Sunday – 12 – 8 pm

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Thank You to our Local Business Participants:

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Aders Insurance Agency, Inc (State Farm)

Aire Serv Heating and Air Conditioning

Apple Dumpling Learning Center

Apple House

Auto Care Clinic

Avery-Hess Realty, Marilyn King

Beaver Tree Services

Blake and Co. Hair Spa

Blue Ridge Arts Council

Blue Ridge Education

BNI Shenandoah Valley

C&C's Ice Cream Shop

Card My Yard

CBM Mortgage, Michelle Napier

Christine Binnix - McEnearney Associates

Code Ninjas Front Royal

Cool Techs Heating and Air

Down Home Comfort Bakery

Downtown Market

Dusty's Country Store

Edward Jones-Bret Hrbek

Explore Art & Clay

Family Preservation Services

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Women's Resource Center

Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce

G&M Auto Sales Inc

Garcia & Gavino Family Bakery

Gourmet Delights Gifts & Framing

Green to Ground Electrical

Groups Recover Together

House of Hope

I Want Candy

I'm Just Me Movement

Jen Avery, REALTOR & Jenspiration, LLC

Key Move Properties, LLC

KW Solutions

Legal Services Plans of Northern Shenendoah

Main Street Travel

Makeover Marketing Systems

Marlow Automotive Group

Mary Carnahan Graphic Design

Merchants on Main Street

Mountain Trails

Mountain View Music

National Media Services

No Doubt Accounting

Northwestern Community Services Board

Ole Timers Antiques

Penny Lane Hair Co.

Philip Vaught Real Estate Management

Phoenix Project

Reaching Out Now

Rotary Club of Warren County

Royal Blends Nutrition

Royal Cinemas

Royal Examiner

Royal Family Bowling Center

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Oak Computers

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Spice

Ruby Yoga

Salvation Army

Samuels Public Library

SaVida Health

Skyline Insurance

St. Luke Community Clinic

Strites Doughnuts

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The Institute for Association & Nonprofit Research

The Studio-A Place for Learning

The Valley Today - The River 95.3

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Vetbuilder.com

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Upcoming Events

Dec
2
Fri
4:00 pm Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Dec 2 @ 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Kickoff for tree sales — Boy Scout Troop 52 is ready to help you find that perfect tree. We are located at the Royal Plaza in front of Rural King. We will be selling trees[...]
7:30 pm “Can’t Feel At Home” @ Court Square Theater
“Can’t Feel At Home” @ Court Square Theater
Dec 2 @ 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
"Can't Feel At Home" @ Court Square Theater
“Can’t Feel At Home” an original play by Dr John T Glick. The story of families displaced from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the 1930’s to allow for the construction of Shenandoah National Park and[...]
Dec
3
Sat
6:00 am 66th Annual Pancake Day @ Warren County High School
66th Annual Pancake Day @ Warren County High School
Dec 3 @ 6:00 am – 1:00 pm
66th Annual Pancake Day @ Warren County High School
Veterans,  Law Enforcement, and Fire and Rescue on duty in uniform eats free!
8:00 am Christmas Bazaar @ Valley Assembly of God Church
Christmas Bazaar @ Valley Assembly of God Church
Dec 3 @ 8:00 am – 2:00 pm
Christmas Bazaar @ Valley Assembly of God Church
Food, Crafts, Bake Sale! Still seeking crafters and vendors: 6 foot tables $15.00, 8 foot tables $20.00.
3:00 pm “Can’t Feel At Home” @ Court Square Theater
“Can’t Feel At Home” @ Court Square Theater
Dec 3 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
"Can't Feel At Home" @ Court Square Theater
“Can’t Feel At Home” an original play by Dr John T Glick. The story of families displaced from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the 1930’s to allow for the construction of Shenandoah National Park and[...]
4:00 pm Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Dec 3 @ 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Kickoff for tree sales — Boy Scout Troop 52 is ready to help you find that perfect tree. We are located at the Royal Plaza in front of Rural King. We will be selling trees[...]
7:30 pm “Can’t Feel At Home” @ Court Square Theater
“Can’t Feel At Home” @ Court Square Theater
Dec 3 @ 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
"Can't Feel At Home" @ Court Square Theater
“Can’t Feel At Home” an original play by Dr John T Glick. The story of families displaced from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the 1930’s to allow for the construction of Shenandoah National Park and[...]
Dec
4
Sun
3:00 pm “Can’t Feel At Home” @ Court Square Theater
“Can’t Feel At Home” @ Court Square Theater
Dec 4 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
"Can't Feel At Home" @ Court Square Theater
“Can’t Feel At Home” an original play by Dr John T Glick. The story of families displaced from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the 1930’s to allow for the construction of Shenandoah National Park and[...]
4:00 pm Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Dec 4 @ 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Kickoff for tree sales — Boy Scout Troop 52 is ready to help you find that perfect tree. We are located at the Royal Plaza in front of Rural King. We will be selling trees[...]
Dec
7
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 7 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]