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How to have an eco-friendly Thanksgiving

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The holiday season is upon us and good times and great food undoubtedly lie ahead. Unfortunately, there’s an environmental toll to pay for our annual celebrations. Here’s how to make your Thanksgiving more environmentally friendly.

• Make your meal from scratch. Instead of buying pre-made stuffing, canned pumpkin puree and gravy from a package, try your hand at making these things yourself. This will this cut down on the amount of packaging used and tends to be less expensive and tastier to boot.

• Don’t toss your leftovers. Ask your dinner guests to bring reusable containers with them so that they can take home a portion of the leftovers. To use up what gets left behind, find recipes that allow you to reinvent your Thanksgiving dishes. And don’t toss the turkey carcass or vegetable trimmings either. Use them to make soup broth instead.

• Buy locally sourced food. Head to your favorite farmers’ market for locally grown fruits and vegetables. Purchase your turkey from a farm or butcher shop in the area.

• Skip the disposables. Use regular plates, glassware, silverware and serving dishes instead of disposable ones. If you don’t have enough dishes for all your guests, borrow some or head to a local thrift shop to pick up what you need.

• Use “green” decorations. Repurpose things you already have around the house when creating your centerpiece and other decorations. Alternatively, head outside to gather leaves, acorns and pinecones to create something that’s charmingly rustic and results in zero waste being created.

By taking these small but impactful steps, you’ll reduce your carbon footprint and help make Thanksgiving in America a little more environmentally friendly.

Did you know?
Each year, Americans throw away close to $300 million worth of food on Thanksgiving. This is enough to feed New York City for over 100 days.

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2 key things to ask before knocking down a wall

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Are you considering knocking down a wall? Whether it’s to modernize your home’s layout or create more space, this isn’t a renovation to be taken lightly. Here are some things to consider before hiring a contractor to demolish a wall.

1. Is the wall load-bearing?
Demolishing a wall that’s a structural part of your home could be disastrous. While it’s possible to replace these walls with a beam or column, you’ll need to consult an engineer.

2. What’s behind the wall?
Even if the wall isn’t load-bearing, there may be components lurking behind the drywall that you can’t see. Pipes, wiring and HVAC systems may need to be moved before the wall can be taken down.

The most important thing to keep in mind if you plan to knock down a wall is that it’s not a job you should attempt on your own. Always hire a professional when making structural changes to your home.

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The right dog breed for your lifestyle: 5 factors to consider

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Are you adopting a dog and wondering which breed is best? Here are some factors to think about when making your choice.

1. Temperament. Every dog is an individual with its own personality, but generalizations can be made about the various breeds. Some are known to be patient and docile, which is ideal for young families. Others, however, can be stubborn and require an experienced owner with a strong hand.

2. Time. All dogs require attention and at least a couple of walks every day. If you don’t have the time to devote to your pooch, you may want to think twice.

3. Size. Do you want a tiny pet that can cuddle up on your lap? Or would you prefer a big dog that can handle some roughhousing? Be careful to not equate size with energy level, however. Some big breeds are happy to lounge around all day while some small ones are very active.

4. Energy level. Do you want a couch potato to relax with or a pooch that you can take on your daily jog? The dog you adopt should be able to keep up with you and vice versa.

5. Grooming needs. All dogs need to get their teeth brushed and toenails trimmed on a regular basis, but some require more grooming than others. If you’d rather not brush your pup’s fur every day, choose a short-haired breed. And to avoid needing to vacuum dog hair on a daily basis, opt for one that doesn’t shed too much.

While you may have a better idea of what to expect when you adopt a purebred puppy, mixed-breed dogs are just as worthy of your affection and tend to have fewer health problems. Regardless of breed, consider heading to your local animal shelter to adopt your new dog and be wary of unethical breeders.

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5 money-saving tips for your home renovation projects

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It’s no secret that renovating can be expensive. Here are some simple ways to save.

1. Plan carefully
It’s best to have a detailed plan before you renovate. This will help you see where you can cut expenses, allow you to stay on budget and ensure that the work gets done quickly and efficiently.

2. Choose the right contractor
Hire people that come with the best recommendations and who provide you with a detailed estimate, even if they charge more than some competitors. A contractor who quotes a cheaper price than everyone else may not be reliable.

3. Do some of the work yourself
What you can contribute to the project will depend on your abilities. Some may be comfortable tiling a backsplash or painting walls themselves. Others might prefer to simply clean up after. Every bit helps to keep costs down.

4. Give old items a second life
You can save money by reusing and repurposing materials you already have at home and buying some items second hand. In addition, hardware stores now offer recycled paint, which is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than new paint.

5. Sell old materials
In addition, be sure to recoup some of your losses by selling old materials. Recycling centers often pay for copper and other scrap metal, and other items can be sold at yard sales or online.

Finally, make sure any contractors you hire are fully certified and insured. Otherwise, you’ll be liable for any accidents and damages that occur during the renovations, which is likely to wreck your budget.

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The zero-waste grocery store: what you should know

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Thanks to the rising consumer demand for sustainable products and services, zero-waste grocery stores are popping up worldwide. If you’re unfamiliar, this kind of supermarket is one that offers the same types of goods found at a regular grocery store, minus all the packaging. Here’s what you should know.

Why recycling isn’t enough
Though packaging materials can usually be recycled, producing them requires a combination of raw materials and energy. In addition, recycling itself isn’t a completely green process, as it requires a considerable amount of water and chemicals. Reusing and reducing are greener practices by far.

How zero-waste stores operate
The main objective of zero-waste grocery stores is to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. Here’s how it works.

• You’ll need to bring reusable bags to carry your fruits, vegetables and bread home.

• You’ll also need Mason jars or another type of container to transport your dried goods, sauces, cleaning products and other items.

• You’ll need to weigh your empty containers and write their weight down so it can be deducted when you pay at the cash.

• It’s recommended that you fill your bags and containers with only as much as you need.

If you don’t already have the reusable containers you need, most zero-waste stores carry them.

Are you ready to reduce the amount of waste your household produces? If so, look for zero-waste stores, farmers’ markets and bulk stores in your area.

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Lighting dos and don’ts

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Lighting plays a big role in how interior spaces look and feel. Make sure your home is beautifully lit by following these dos and don’ts.

Do tailor the lighting to the room. Kitchens and bathrooms require bright task lights, while bedrooms and dining rooms should have ambient lights.

Don’t exclusively install hanging lights in the dining room. Chandeliers look equally great in entranceways, bedrooms and even bathrooms. Just be sure the one you choose is the right size for the space and that it’s hung at the correct height.

Do use dimmers. Adjusting the brightness in a room is a great way to either add ambience or have more light to see.

Don’t forget to think about your lightbulbs. Task lighting should be bright and stark, while ambient lighting should be soft and warm.

Do use a combination of floor lamps, table lamps and overhead fixtures. Not every room needs all of these but aim to use at least two types.

Don’t forget to match your lampshades and light fixtures to the decor in the room. They should complement and enhance your design choices.

Above all, be sure to call an electrician if you’re moving light fixtures around or need to replace switches. They’ll make sure the work’s done properly, thereby reducing the risk of an electrical fire.

Dimmers don’t just add atmosphere. They also reduce energy consumption and will help your lightbulbs last longer. In addition, some LED bulbs, which are already highly energy efficient, now work with dimmers.

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Five types of activities to do with your grandchildren

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When you retire you’ll finally have plenty of energy to devote to your family. Here are some suggestions for activities that will allow you to spend some quality time with your grandchildren.

1. Outdoor activities. What could be better than an outing to the park for some family fun? A picnic, Frisbee, ball games, and blowing bubbles will be a hit no matter their ages.

2. Games of all kinds. To keep children busy on rainy days, pull out the board games and card games. And hide and seek never gets old.

3. Arts and crafts. Crafts, drawing (with colored pencils inside or chalk outside), coloring, painting, or modeling clay are all great for developing creativity. You could also make a story book, read a good book together, or just invent stories to tell each other.

4. Knowledge sharing. Share your passions with your grandchildren. Depending on their interests, you can share family recipes with them, teach them to play the piano or sew, or take them out to the garage to poke around in the car engine.

5. Fun things to do. For something out of the ordinary, take them out for a day at the zoo, museum, or farm. You could also go ice skating, eat out, or go see a movie.

There’s no lack of ideas for having fun with your grandchildren. Camping in the backyard, a trip to the library, a day at the beach, or a movie night at home—they are all small pleasures the children will remember for years to come. Retirement allows you to spend quality time with your family.

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Upcoming Events

Jan
24
Fri
9:00 am Veterans Services Meeting at Abl... @ Able Forces
Veterans Services Meeting at Abl... @ Able Forces
Jan 24 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Veterans Services Meeting at Able Forces @ Able Forces
Able Forces Foundation will once again be hosting a visit by Andre Miller, Resource Specialist, Virginia Veteran and Family Support, Department of Veteran Services, Commonwealth of Virginia, and Danielle Cullers, Homeless Veteran Advocate-Volunteers of America[...]
Jan
25
Sat
11:00 am Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 25 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
A Story Ballet. Join us in a celebration of classic literature through dance! The whole family will enjoy this ballet performance, presented by the Northern Virginia Academy of Ballet.
1:00 pm Moving Mindfully: Finding and ke... @ Ruby Yoga
Moving Mindfully: Finding and ke... @ Ruby Yoga
Jan 25 @ 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,[...]
2:00 pm Aspiring Artists @ Samuels Public Library
Aspiring Artists @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 25 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Aspiring Artists @ Samuels Public Library
Are you aged 7 or older? Do you enjoy art? If so, please join us for our children’s art class. Using the classic scissor cutting art of Scherenschnitte, we will make silhouettes in a nature[...]
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.