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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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3 non-toxic disinfectants

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Kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities, and other surfaces need to be kept clean. Here are three non-toxic disinfectants that’ll kill germs without harming you or the environment.

Accelerated hydrogen peroxide
You’re probably familiar with hydrogen peroxide, a disinfectant that breaks down into water and oxygen. Accelerated hydrogen peroxide contains stabilizers and compounds that reduce surface tension, increasing both its germ-killing properties and shelf life.

Plant-based disinfectants
Botanical disinfectants have been on the market for a while. One example is thymol, an oil extracted from thyme that’s used in a variety of household cleaners. It’s been found to have a very little environmental impact.

Silver dihydrogen citrate
The antibacterial properties of silver have been known for a long time. Silver ions combined with a citric acid solution is commonly used as a non-toxic antibacterial agent in cosmetics, but it could also serve as a household cleaner.

Keeping your home clean doesn’t need to involve potentially toxic chemicals, even when it comes to the surfaces in your bathroom and kitchen.

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Coronavirus and investments: Don’t worry, be happy

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The stock market dropped on the news of the coronavirus Covid-19.

Dizzy yet?

Investment experts at Market Watch say ignore the headlines.

The market will go up and down during the virus crisis, but no experts think it will stay down.

Long-term investors need not worry
Those with a 401(K) or IRA are probably still doing well compared to the same time last year or even the year before. If you have some time before retirement, take a deep breath. You made a lot of money in the last three years, and you are probably still ahead.

Don’t let bad news make you sell good stocks
Headline risk. That’s what stock advisers call short-term bad news that panics some investors into selling.

Don’t panic.

Apple, for example, was selling for around $146 in 2018 but soared to more than $330 before the virus crisis. During the crisis, it dipped to around $220. But, even though in the short run, sales will be slower and the supply chains crazy, it’s still Apple. Still a great company to own.

Opportunities arise
Plus, in the meantime, as stock prices sink, buying opportunities arise. Buy the bargain. A short-term crisis offers lots of buying opportunities.

One caution from Market Watch: Don’t try to guess when the market will be lowest. No one can. Buy when the bargain seems good.

It might be time to look at your portfolio and consider rebalancing your ratio of stocks to bonds, according to Market Watch.

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Top 13 eco-friendly ideas

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1. Recycle as much as you can

In addition to recycling paper, glass and cardboard, be sure to drop off your no-longer-wanted electronics, batteries, ink cartridges, light bulbs, and building materials at a recycling depot or other drop-off point.

2. Rent instead of buy

Some types of equipment only get used occasionally. If you don’t need them regularly, consider renting instead of buying items like compressors, lawn aerators, pressure washers, ATVs and RVs. This will help reduce over-consumption.

3. Plan your route wisely

Reduce your carbon footprint by using public transit, carpooling, cycling, walking, using a carshare service or swapping your gas guzzler for an electric vehicle.

4. Choose certified goods

From cleaning products to clothing, food, cosmetics, and building materials, you’ll find many items on the market with easy-to-recognize environmental certifications. Look for them in stores near you.

5. Support local businesses

When you buy locally-made goods, both you and the products you purchase spend less time on the road. This means that there’s less fuel consumed and fewer greenhouse gases generated. Additionally, local products tend to require less packaging.

6. Renovate with sustainability in mind

If you’re renovating your home, consider making it more energy efficient by insulating the basement, installing Energy Star windows, switching to geothermal energy or installing a green roof. You should also consider using recycled materials if possible.

7. Reduce the amount of water you consume

Install a low-flow showerhead and toilet, repair leaky pipes, collect rainwater to water your garden, take short showers and keep water chilled in the refrigerator instead of running the tap.

8. Avoid overpackaged products

If you buy products in bulk, you’ll generate less waste. Many communities have zero-waste retailers that allow customers to fill their own bottles and bags with products such as shampoo, vegetables, dish soap, and even windshield washer fluid.

9. Upcycle broken or unused items

Find a new purpose for broken and unused things. For example, you can transform a chipped teapot into a vase, get your furniture reupholstered and drop off toys and clothing that no longer get used to charities that will redistribute them.

10. Endorse eco-friendly businesses

Many companies have taken steps to become more environmentally-friendly or have adopted programs to reduce their carbon footprint. Take the time to search for and support such businesses.

11. Save paper

When you must print documents, use recycled paper, print on both sides and reduce margins and font size to fit more on each page. To reduce paper consumption even further, be sure to sign up for electronic bills.

12. Use electricity wisely

Choose energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs, turn off the lights when you leave a room, turn down the heat at night and plug your electronics into smart power strips

13. Choose reusable products

Opt for reusable versions of disposable products when possible. Straws, sandwich bags, water bottles, sanitary napkins, and makeup removal pads all come in reusable formats that can be washed and reused repeatedly.

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Composting 101

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Composting lets you turn your kitchen scraps into fertilizer for your garden. Here’s how to do it.

• Place the compost on the ground. Either bare earth or grass works. You want worms and other beneficial organisms to get in to aerate it.

• Add green and brown compost in layers. Green compost consists of mostly table scraps, tea bags, and coffee grounds. Brown compost includes leaves, grass cuttings, newspapers and paper towels, among other things.

• Keep the compost damp. It should be the consistency of a moist sponge. If you don’t get a lot of rain in your area, sprinkle it with water periodically.

• Turn it every few weeks. This helps distribute oxygen throughout the heap, which enables the compost to decompose.

Within a few months, your compost pile will be full of nutrients and ready to incorporate into your garden.

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How to tackle YOUR student loan debt

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For more than 15 years, the government has recognized April as National Financial Literacy Month in an effort to teach Americans how to reduce debt and make better financial decisions.

Unfortunately, one of the highest sources of consumer debt in the United States is student loans. Totaling nearly $1.6 trillion, this debt burden doesn’t just affect young adults. More than three million Americans over the age of 60 are still paying off their student loans.

If you’re one of the nearly 45 million Americans struggling to pay off their student loans, here are some ways to reduce your debt.

• Understand your repayment options. There are eight federal plans with varying time frames and monthly payment sizes. You can change your plan at any time to better suit your evolving financial situation.

• Ask for forgiveness. Nurses, government employees, military personnel and teachers in low-income schools might be eligible for a loan forgiveness program. The government will also forgive your remaining debt after 20 or 25 years if you’re enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan.

• Consider consolidation. You may be able to save money by combining your existing student loans into a single loan and negotiating a new interest rate and loan term based on your current credit score and income.

Keep in mind, a proactive approach to paying off your student loans will put you in a better financial situation to reduce credit card debt and save for retirement. To pay off your student loan quicker, consider tightening your budget, using windfalls to make additional payments and if you can manage it, getting a second job.

Last year, the Financial Literacy and Education Commission urged higher education institutions to provide mandatory financial literacy courses, in part because studies show many borrowers don’t fully understand the repayment obligations when they obtain a student loan.

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4 ways jobseekers can stay motivated

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It’s easy to get discouraged during a job search, especially if you’ve gone weeks without hearing back from potential employers. Here are four things you can do to stay motivated.

1. Make a schedule
Establishing a routine will ensure you remain productive. Every morning, get up, get dressed and have breakfast around the same time you would if you were working. Set aside time each day for the job hunt and for household tasks. Don’t forget to give yourself a lunch break.

2. Set goals
Setting measurable goals will help you stay on track. For example, make it a point to apply for two jobs every day, or try to make one new contact in your industry every week.

3. Use rewards
Don’t wait until you’ve landed a job to applaud your efforts. Instead, be sure to celebrate minor achievements like being contacted for an interview with a small reward like a latte from a coffee shop you like or a hot bubble bath at the end of the day.

4. Find a coach
Appoint a friend or family member as your job search coach. They’ll make sure you meet your daily goals and give you a little push when you need it.

Finally, don’t forget to get outside help. Reach out to an employment agency or organization in your area to help you find leads for potential jobs.

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King Cartoons

Front Royal
45°
Rain
06:5519:37 EDT
Feels like: 43°F
Wind: 4mph E
Humidity: 91%
Pressure: 29.84"Hg
UV index: 0
TueWedThu
min 39°F
55/38°F
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Upcoming Events

Apr
1
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 1 @ 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, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]
Apr
2
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 2 @ 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, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]
6:00 pm FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
Apr 2 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly Modern Millie @ Front Royal Christian School
3 exciting shows: APRIL 2 – 6pm, April 3 – 7pm, April 4 – 6pm. Bring the family! Filled with fun flappers and a villainess that audiences will love to hate, Thoroughly Modern Millie JR.[...]
Apr
3
Fri
6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Apr 3 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
6:00 pm FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
Apr 3 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly Modern Millie @ Front Royal Christian School
3 exciting shows: APRIL 2 – 6pm, April 3 – 7pm, April 4 – 6pm. Bring the family! Filled with fun flappers and a villainess that audiences will love to hate, Thoroughly Modern Millie JR.[...]
Apr
4
Sat
8:00 am Troop 53 Annual Mulch Sale @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire and Rescue
Troop 53 Annual Mulch Sale @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire and Rescue
Apr 4 @ 8:00 am – 1:00 pm
Troop 53 Annual Mulch Sale @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire and Rescue
Spring is approaching, and Troop 53 is preparing for their annual mulch fundraiser. The funds raised will help support troop activities and send our Boy Scouts to summer camp, where they learn valuable skills in[...]
6:00 pm FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
Apr 4 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly Modern Millie @ Front Royal Christian School
3 exciting shows: APRIL 2 – 6pm, April 3 – 7pm, April 4 – 6pm. Bring the family! Filled with fun flappers and a villainess that audiences will love to hate, Thoroughly Modern Millie JR.[...]
Apr
7
Tue
10:00 am Focus on Health Employment & Edu... @ LFCC | Science and Health Professions Building
Focus on Health Employment & Edu... @ LFCC | Science and Health Professions Building
Apr 7 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Focus on Health Employment & Education Fair @ LFCC | Science and Health Professions Building
Two sessions: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. Different vendors at each session. Held in the Science and Health Professions Building at LFCC’s Middletown Campus. Contact Taylor Luther for more[...]
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 7 @ 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, March 17 –  Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! This[...]
Apr
8
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 8 @ 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, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]