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Into the woods

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Come September, there’s no shortage of reasons to venture into the woods. The leaves are changing color, the days are getting cooler and wildlife is on the move.

If you’re a hunter or fisher, grab your gear. Enjoy a brief escapade in the wilderness and then return home with food for your family to feast on. Or, if you have a free weekend and a tent, you could turn your hunting trip into an overnight excursion.

Is adventure your middle name? Then consider hitting the trails on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or a dirt bike. If you want to do so with your spouse or partner, take the wheel of an off-road utility vehicle (UTV); it has room for more than one.

Do you prefer a quieter, more contemplative experience? Then enjoy the serenity of the local flora and fauna from a canoe or kayak. If you want to stay on dry land, consider hiking, mountain biking or horseback riding through the woods.

Studies have shown that spending time in nature can improve your mood. So, what are you waiting for? Go head out into the woods!

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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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The fireplace as focal point: how to make it work

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If styled right, a fireplace can be a stunning focal point that pulls a room’s entire esthetic together. Here are some ways to dress yours up.

Paint it a bold color
This is a great place to try out a bold tone that you wouldn’t normally use to paint a room. Because of the relatively small size of a fireplace, the color will stand out without overpowering the space.

Wallpaper the space flanking it
Paint the fireplace a neutral color and apply eye-catching wallpaper to the wall space on either side of it. Choose a design that invokes the room’s style or theme.

Hang striking artwork
A large piece of art that occupies both the horizontal and vertical space above the fireplace is sure to draw the eye. The piece you choose will affect the room’s overall feel, so be sure to select something you love.

No matter how you style your fireplace, your choices will make an impact. Carefully consider the impression you want to make and design the feature accordingly.

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Safety tips for snowmobile season

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January 18 to 26 is International Snowmobile Safety Week, and the theme is Safe Riders! You make snowmobiling safe. Here’s a rundown of some of the most important safety practices to follow when operating a snowmobile.

Precautions to take before leaving
Plan your trip in advance and practice staying safe by adhering to the following:

• Choose trails that you know well or that you’ve researched in advance.

• Bring a map of the area.
• Make sure your snowmobile is tuned up.
• If it’s your first time using a snowmobile, don’t take it out until you’ve familiarized yourself with how to use it. Be sure to take it slow during your first ride.
• Avoid snowmobiling alone and give someone who won’t be in your company an itinerary that includes your route and the duration of your ride.
• Ensure that you’ve memorized the hand signals used to communicate between snowmobilers.

Staying safe on the trail
Snowmobiles are definitely powerful, which is part of what makes them fun. However, they can also be dangerous should you fail to take the needed precautions. Here’s what you should do:

• Know your limits and the limits of your snowmobile.
• Respect signage and be attentive to your surroundings.
• Stop completely at intersections and look both ways before proceeding.
• Stay on the trail and respect private property.
• Be extra careful when driving at night. Adjust your speed so that you don’t “over-drive” your headlights.

For a more comprehensive list of safety tips, visit the website of the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association at snowmobile.org.

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Upcoming Events

Jan
23
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 23 @ 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, December 18 and Thursday, December 19: Something we all enjoy this time of year is giving and receiving gifts. Our stories, songs, and craft will[...]
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
28
Tue
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 28 @ 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, January 7 – Based on books about Balto, we will learn more about service dogs this week. For ages[...]
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, December 18 and Thursday, December 19: Something we all enjoy this time of year is giving and receiving gifts. Our stories, songs, and craft will[...]
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, December 18 and Thursday, December 19: Something we all enjoy this time of year is giving and receiving gifts. Our stories, songs, and craft will[...]
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.