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How to choose your next range

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Are you thinking about upgrading your stove? If so, here are some things to consider before choosing a new range.

The space you have
If you’re not completely renovating your kitchen, you’ll need to purchase a range that fits into the available space. On the other hand, a renovation means that you have more options. Perhaps a separate cooktop and oven would be a good option? In either case, you need to know how much room you’ll have for your new appliance.

How you’ll use it
Someone who doesn’t cook much may be happy with a basic range, but those who love to create in the kitchen will probably prefer a gas model. Alternatively, a parent may appreciate an induction stove, which works quickly but doesn’t get hot to the touch.

Your kitchen’s style
A sleek, stainless steel range is well suited to a modern kitchen, while a white enamel one complements a more traditional esthetic. If you have the budget for it, you can also order a custom range in a color of your choice.

No matter what type of range you select, be sure to opt for one with an Energy Star label. This certification guarantees that your new cooker is energy efficient and eco-friendly.

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5 tips for improving your credit score

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Whether you’re looking for a car loan, submitting a rental application, or applying for a mortgage, it’s important to have a good credit score. If your current credit score is suboptimal, here are five things you can do to rebuild it.

1. Pay your bills on time. Always pay bills in full before the due date. If you can’t pay the total amount, at least make the minimum required payment.

2. Don’t max out your cards. It’s best to use no more than half of your available credit (for example, don’t put more than $500 on a credit card with a $1,000 limit). If you always max out your card, lenders will consider you a high-risk loan candidate. Also, never surpass your credit card limit.

3. Be a loyal customer. Don’t switch credit cards or financial institutions unnecessarily. The age of your credit history impacts your credit score.

4. Get credit checks infrequently. If a lender or company files a request to view your credit report, which is known as a hard inquiry, it’ll impact your credit score. Conversely, checking your credit yourself, which is known as a soft inquiry, won’t affect your score.

5. Have multiple types of credit. Using more than one type of credit (for example, a credit card, line of credit, and mortgage) tends to improve your credit score. Just be sure that you’re able to pay back everything you borrow.

To get more advice about building up your credit score, reach out to a qualified financial adviser.

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2 creative pastimes to discover

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Are you looking for a way to explore your artistic side? While there’s an abundance of interesting pastimes to choose from, here’s a look at two lesser-known visual art forms that encourage self-expression and creativity.

Calligraphy
More than an elegant form of handwriting, calligraphy aims to communicate meaning in a way that’s similar to other art forms like painting and sculpting.

In calligraphy classes, you’ll learn to produce beautiful lettering and arrange them in a way that evokes harmony and rhythm. As you progress, you can explore different writing styles, such as Italic and Gothic, using various tools including fountain pens, quills, and brushes.

In addition to fostering relaxation and concentration, calligraphy can be used to create personalized greeting cards, invitations, place cards, and more.

Creative journaling
Inspired by art therapy, many people use this blend of writing, drawing, and collage as a personal development tool.

Your creative journal can be a place to doodle, write poetry, record your thoughts, paint, jot down snippets of conversation, create mood boards, and more. You can also incorporate various mediums such as fabric strips, pastels, calligraphy pens, and textured paper. In addition to giving free rein to your creativity, this type of journaling promotes judgement-free self-exploration and reflection.

If you’re curious about these activities, calligraphy and creative journaling classes are available in various formats including group workshops, private lessons, and online courses. Contact web-based services or art schools in your area to find an option that works for you.

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Should you be worried if your parakeet sneezes?

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As a caring pet owner, you might have some concerns if your parakeet starts to sneeze. In some cases, it could simply be the result of spending time in a dusty environment and your bird is just trying to clear its nostrils.

If the sneezing persists, however, it could indicate that your bird has a cold, sinusitis, or another type of virus affecting its airways. In this case, it’s likely that your feathered friend will need veterinary care to treat the illness.

In addition to sneezing, there are several other symptoms you should look for that might indicate your parakeet has a respiratory infection. These include open-mouthed or noisy breathing, fatigue, nasal discharge, facial swelling, and a loss of appetite.

In short, if your parakeet sneezes often and acts differently (lethargy and depression are also signs of infection), it’s best to have your bird examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Antibiotics may be needed to clear the infection and delaying treatment by even a day or two can reduce your parakeet’s chances of recovery.

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3 factors to consider when choosing after-school activities

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If you want to register your children for after-school activities, there’s no shortage of fun and educational options. However, with choices ranging from soccer, dance, and martial arts to acting, drawing, and music lessons, you might be uncertain what to pick. Here are three factors to consider before you make a decision.

1. Your children’s preferences
You can certainly suggest activities that play to your children’s natural abilities or teach them new skills, but if you want to ensure your children will be motivated and have fun, the decision should largely be left up to them. Do your best to respect their wishes, even if the activity isn’t one you would have chosen or strays from your children’s usual interests.

2. Your budget

Some activities are more expensive than others, especially if the lessons are private or require a lot of materials or equipment. Keep in mind, however, that items such as skates and piano books can usually be purchased second-hand to cut costs. If you simply can’t afford your children’s top choice, suggest cheaper alternatives and ask them to pick another activity.

3. Your family’s schedule
Spending most weekday evenings rushing to and from activities can be stressful for the entire family. Before you settle on an activity, find out when it’s offered during the week. Depending on your situation, you may need to take into account your work schedule, your other children’s activities, and your custody arrangement with the other parent. You should also ensure that activities don’t end too late so your children can get to bed on time.

Finally, keep in mind that unstructured playtime is also vital to your children’s development and happiness, so avoid packing their schedule with too many after-school activities.

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4 reasons you should have a family board game night

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Interest in board games is on the rise. Here are four reasons they’ve become a go-to pastime for so many families.

1. They offer a break from screens
Many people spend a large part of their day in front of a computer, smartphone, or TV screen. Family board game night provides everyone an opportunity to unplug, put away their devices and enjoy each other’s company.

2. There’s a wide variety of options

In addition to a host of classics, new board games are released every year. From simple roll-and-move types to games with elaborate storylines that have you collect cards, complete quests, and solve puzzles, there’s something for everyone.

3. They provide numerous health benefits
Playing board games challenges the mind and improves memory, concentration, and problem-solving skills. This encourages healthy brain development in kids and helps slow cognitive decline among older adults. Plus, the opportunity to interact and laugh with loved ones can relieve stress, facilitate communication, and reduce isolation.

4. The whole family can participate
There are board games available to suit all ages and accommodate groups of nearly any size, which ensures no one is left out. It’s also possible for a young child to partner with an adult.

For a seemingly endless selection of board games, visit the toy stores and specialized shops in your area.

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Alternative uses for hand sanitizer

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Got buckets of hand sanitizer around? You’re not alone. And while it’s useful to have around, most of us (thankfully) don’t need our 2020 supply levels.

But what can we do with it aside from sanitizing our hands?

Here are some ideas from around the internet:

* Clean your glasses.

* Start a fire. A disaster survival website says you can dab a small amount on your kindling or tinder and light it with a spark, and that it works in rainy or windy weather.

* Remove stains. The alcohol works well at removing blood, ink, or drink stains. Remember to dab, not rub. You can also pre-treat stains with a bit of sanitizer.

* Clean your table or desk. Use a clean cloth and wipe down the surface. Do the same for your filthy keyboard.

* Remove stickers. Price tags are notorious for leaving a sticky substance behind. Hand sanitizer to the rescue!

* Ease the itch of mosquito bites.

* Clean your phone’s screen using a soft cloth and a bit of sanitizer.

* Polish silver. Now that company’s coming, squirt some hand sanitizer on a soft cloth and polish the silver.

* Try it in place of deodorant. Kill the bacteria, kill the smell. We’ll leave it at that.

* Use as a dry shampoo. Squeeze a little onto your fingertips and massage into your roots.

* Clean your flat iron. Ditto for the hairspray on your mirror.

* Remove permanent marker from a whiteboard.

* Remove nail polish.

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Upcoming Events

Feb
25
Thu
6:30 pm Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
Feb 25 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
The Warren Coalition, in partnership with Northwestern Prevention Collaborative, will offer area residents two opportunities to take a free, virtual Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training in February. This course is designed to provide information about identifying[...]
Feb
27
Sat
6:00 pm Parent’s Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Parent’s Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Feb 27 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Parent's Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Help Code Ninjas Front Royal celebrate our Grand Opening! We are hosting our first Parent’s Night Out! $35 per child, space limited to 5! – Drop them off. Go have fun. Just remember to pick[...]
Mar
1
Mon
9:00 am Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Mar 1 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free tax preparation will be available again this year through the AARP Tax Aide at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Front Royal, Monday and Wednesday mornings beginning Feb. 15th. To make an appointment, please call[...]
Mar
3
Wed
9:00 am Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Mar 3 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free tax preparation will be available again this year through the AARP Tax Aide at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Front Royal, Monday and Wednesday mornings beginning Feb. 15th. To make an appointment, please call[...]
Apr
17
Sat
all-day Shenandoah Epic @ Caroline Furnace
Shenandoah Epic @ Caroline Furnace
Apr 17 all-day
Shenandoah Epic @ Caroline Furnace
This tried and true Epic 24-hour AR will test your biking, paddling, trekking, and navigation skills as you explore two state parks (one of them brand new!) and national forest lands. Join soloists and teams[...]