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Prepare for the expense of having a baby



Having a baby is one of the most profound human experiences, but it does cost money. Having a solid plan in place makes a big difference, according to The Simple Dollar.

The first year of care for an infant can run from $5,496 in Mississippi to $16,549 in Massachusetts with factors like child care and hospital costs being the most significant variables.

U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics on the cost of raising a child look daunting: $245,340 to age 18. This works out to about $13,600 a year or $1,133 per month, which seems at least a little more doable.

The critical costs include healthcare, child care and housing.

Start with a quality healthcare plan. Those with different options through an employer should look carefully at their premiums, deductibles, and maximum out of pocket dollars for each plan to determine the best choice. Those without coverage at all will still be able to take advantage of insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace during open enrollment because these plans cannot consider

a preexisting condition and there are no waiting periods. Consider saving for the deductible for eight months during pregnancy so you will be ready to cover the cost.

Lifestyle choices count. Calculate the cost of one parent staying home instead of working and paying childcare, which can add up to more than $1,500 per month in some areas.

Plan ahead for housing. For instance, new parents might not opt to stay in a trendy one-bedroom condo when a small house would be more manageable.

Once the baby has arrived, there is a long list of items that new parents want to buy, but only a small portion of them are actually essential to the health and happiness of a newborn. A car seat, for instance, is absolutely required and, in fact, the hospital will not let the baby leave without one. Similarly, the baby will need food and feeding equipment, diapers, basic clothing, a bath, a sleeping area such as a bassinet, and some baby care items like shampoo, towels, and a thermometer.

But, you can save big on clothing, toys, and many accessories at secondhand stores or at garage sales. Thrifty parents can find high-quality items for pennies on the dollar. Let grandparents and friends buy the new stuff.

Another big savings is in breastfeeding which is not only healthy for baby and mother, but can also save between $1,100 and $1,700 during the first year, according to What to Expect.


How to choose the perfect paint for your walls



Are you thinking of giving your walls a fresh coat of paint this spring? Having a hard time deciding what colors to choose? Here are some tips for selecting the perfect shades.

• Decide on the room’s entire look before selecting your paint. This will allow you to really pull the room together with color.

• Once you’ve settled on the design of a room and chosen the furniture and accessories, take inspiration from a color featured in a favorite area rug or throw. This will ensure your room looks pulled together.

• If you’re painting rooms that open into each other, make the transition seamless by choosing colors that are two or three shades apart on the same paint chip.

• Choose a neutral paint for rooms where something else is the focal point. Bold hues work best in rooms where everything else is understated.

• A tiny paint chip isn’t enough to let you know if the color will work in a given room. Instead, buy a sample and paint a small area so you can see the color during different times of the day.

No matter your style, following these tips will help you find the perfect new color for your walls.

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How to get rid of clutter and organize your home



A tidy and organized home can feel like a refuge at the end of the day. If your home has become cluttered and disorganized, take the time to declutter and sort it out.

Going room by room, the first step is to get rid of anything you don’t need. It may seem overwhelming at first, but removing unwanted and unneeded things will be liberating. You may even find yourself throwing out more than you originally planned.

If you’re not sure where to begin, start by getting rid of items that don’t get used and articles you have multiples of. Donate things that others can find a use for and throw out anything too damaged or heavily used to be donated.

Keep in mind that the amount of things in a home needs to correspond to the amount of storage available. People who live in small apartments will end up keeping fewer things than those who live in single-family homes.

Once you remove the excess items from your home, organize everything else using storage containers, baskets and boxes. Articles that don’t have a home will probably end up being piled on your table or kitchen counter. Designate a place for everything in your home and make it a point to put belongings away as soon as you’re done with them.

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Spring cleaning: three key items to deep clean



Cleaning your home this spring? Don’t neglect these three things.

1. Curtains
If your curtains are made of a lightweight, washable material, all you have to do is run them through the washing machine. For heavier fabrics, or those that need to be hand washed, a steam cleaner with an upholstery attachment will do the job while your curtains are still hanging.

2. Carpets

Whether they’re starting to smell, they’re stained or you just plain can’t remember the last time you washed them, don’t put off cleaning your carpets. The best and easiest way is to hire a professional carpet cleaner. They’ll have the right equipment and products to make your carpet look as good as new.

3. Oven
Your oven’s self-cleaning function fills your kitchen with smoke, and chemical oven cleaning products are enough to make anyone woozy. Here’s a more natural way to make your oven shine like new: remove the racks from the oven, make a paste of baking soda and water and spread it on all of your oven’s surfaces except the heating elements. Let the solution sit for 12 hours (wash the oven racks while you wait) and then scrape off. Wipe with vinegar and water a few times until it sparkles.

Once your curtains, carpet and oven are clean, make their upkeep a part of your regular routine to avoid needing to deep clean every spring.

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Update your bedroom with new curtains and bedding



Does your bedroom need an upgrade? Change the look of the room with new curtains and sheets. Here’s how to choose the perfect new linens for your room.

When selecting curtains, think about the look you want in the room and then find a fabric that corresponds. Linen and cotton blends are more casual and cheerful, while silk and velvet are refined and regal.

Next, think about the color and pattern you’d like. You can match your curtains to the color of the wall and use pattern and texture to make them stand out. Alternatively, you could hang a multi-colored pattern and make them a focal point.

You don’t need to match your bedding to your curtain, but they should coordinate. You can pull a color from the pattern on your curtains or use a contrasting colors. If you’d like to use different patterns for your curtains and bedding, stay in the same color palette.

When buying your sheets, invest in high-quality, natural fabrics. Egyptian cotton is classic and comfortable, while silk feels luxurious and has the added bonus of being gentle on your hair and skin.

By changing the linens in your bedroom, you’ll wake up feeling like you’re somewhere new.

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Families connect at home meetings



Busy family members can meet up and speak up at special weekly meetings.

According to Aha! Parenting, family meetings help kids to feel more important within the family. They also give everyone the chance to talk about their triumphs, disagreements, schedules, or any other topic of concern that they want to bring to the table. Meanwhile, everyone else has the chance to listen.

Try to schedule the meeting at the same time every week so everyone can plan to be free. Plan a fun snack to lure the reluctant and to keep the mood relaxed.

Be sure everyone in the house is invited — even the little ones.

Adults should plan to discuss schedules, school dates, appointments, holiday plans, and news of the week.

Kids can fill-in the schedules with upcoming events. It’s a good way for parents to iron out transportation plans.

Develop your own strategies for starting the meeting and keeping order.

Consider taking turns offering a prayer or creating a fun ritual like a song or poem that everyone can participate in together.

Some families make a talking stick to pass around so that speakers can speak and nonspeakers won’t interrupt.

Move through the agenda and be on the lookout for any problems that seem to be festering under the surface.

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Nibbling in the garden? Edible flowers abound



Most anyone who owns a cat can tell you that felines go crazy for flowers. But did you realize that humans also like to nibble on them?

In the popular TV show The Great British Bake Off, contestants have used edible flowers for several seasons.

They look great on cakes, but can be delicious in other ways, too. Perhaps you remember your grandfather sauteing some dandelion leaves in a little olive oil and garlic and serving them with fried eggs, long before it was trendy.

The website The English Garden gave edible flowers a shout-out in an article about new flowering plants for 2019. The post was highlighted by a radiant photo featuring a mix from Thompson and Moran that included calendulas, nasturtiums, dianthus, and violas.

Southern Living Magazine published an article listing the 10 best edible flowers. The list included a bunch of blossoms which taste like cucumbers (and work equally well in salads as in cocktails); hibiscus, whose cranberry-like flavor is great in teas and, again, cocktails; nasturtiums, with a slightly peppery taste much like watercress; and pansies, roses, and violets.

Beware of picking flowers that have been treated with pesticides. If in doubt, wash them in cold water and let dry on a paper towel. And if you are thinking about trying it out, do your research and make sure the flowers you choose are edible — not all of them are.

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10:00 am Humanity Day @ Main Street Gazebo
Humanity Day @ Main Street Gazebo
Apr 20 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Humanity Day @ Main Street Gazebo
This Saturday, April 20th, will be the 1st Annual Humanity Day sponsored by SONA Bank and the Habitat for Humanity. The event will take place at the Gazebo on Main Street in Front Royal from[...]
1:00 pm Dawn McCarty – Book Signing @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Dawn McCarty – Book Signing @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Apr 20 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Dawn McCarty - Book Signing @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Thanks to the efforts of VGSR volunteers, Mickie was surrendered to the rescue and started a new adventure. Mickie was very special and it was not because of his feet. He was a fabulous companion[...]
1:00 pm Jeff Ryan – Book Signing @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Jeff Ryan – Book Signing @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Apr 20 @ 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Jeff Ryan - Book Signing @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Author, speaker, photographer and avid hiker Jeff Ryan was born and raised in Maine. His love of the outdoors was evident early in life. He was skiing at the age of three and spending at least[...]