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Tasty ways to make legumes a lunchbox staple

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Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils and beans are a great source of essential minerals, fiber and protein. However, they’re not always popular with kids, so you may need to get a little creative in the kitchen. Here are some ideas for incorporating them in meals, snacks and even desserts.

Snacks
Hummus and crackers are a classic lunchbox snack. Additionally, you can mix pureed legumes with plain yogurt to make a savory dip for carrot sticks and other veggies.

Another way to nosh on legumes is to roast them. Season chickpeas or edamame beans and then cook them in the oven for a crunchier snack that may become as coveted as potato chips.

Meals
If your kids don’t like legume salads or lentil soup, you can add navy beans to stews, chickpeas to couscous and kidney beans to white rice. You can also replace some or all of the meat in spaghetti sauce with lentils or make a legume-infused chili.

Desserts
A great way to make desserts healthier is to substitute a bean puree for some of the ingredients. Pureed black beans make great brownies, for instance. Thanks to their subtle taste, your kids won’t even notice they’re in there.

With a little creativity, you can make legumes a staple of your children’s diet. With the huge variety available, there’s almost an endless array of possibilities.

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The best dog breed for your family: 4 factors to consider

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If you want to adopt a dog, the first step is to determine which breed would best suit your family and lifestyle. Since owning a dog is a long-term commitment, it’s vital that you do your research. Here are four factors to consider.

1. Size
The amount of space you have at home will help you determine the size of the dog you can accommodate. This includes how much green space you can offer your pup. Breed size might also be a deciding factor if you have small children or other pets.

2. Energy level

Reflect on whether you’re looking for a running buddy or a couch companion. Energetic dogs need plenty of exercise, otherwise, they can become bored and destructive. Ideally, your dog’s activity level will match your own.

3. Temperament
Since some breeds are naturally good with children while others tend to be skittish, you might want to opt for a family-friendly dog if you have little ones running around. Calmer breeds are also a better fit for most seniors.

4. Grooming needs
You’ll likely need to spend more time grooming if you opt for a long-haired dog. These breeds typically shed more, which might be a problem if you have allergies or an aversion to vacuuming.

If you make an informed decision and have the resources to properly care for a dog, you’ll be sure to enjoy a long and happy friendship with your canine pal.

Kid-friendly pups
From beagles, boxers, and border terriers to poodles, pointers, and pugs, there are plenty of dog breeds that are great with children.

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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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Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

Mar
3
Wed
9:00 am Community Blood Drive @ Front Royal Fire and Rescue Department
Community Blood Drive @ Front Royal Fire and Rescue Department
Mar 3 @ 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Community Blood Drive @ Front Royal Fire and Rescue Department
The Front Royal Police Department is sponsoring a blood drive on Wednesday, and all eligible donors are encouraged to log onto redcrossblood.org to schedule a donation of the GIFT OF LIFE! Jeff Farmer and the[...]
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[...]
Mar
9
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 9 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Mar
13
Sat
10:00 am HSWC Polar Plunge @ Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center
Mar 13 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center
The Humane Society of Warren County “Polar Plunge” delayed from February 20 due to “too-polar” weather here in northwestern Virginia has been rescheduled to Saturday, March 13 – Don’t worry, it will still be a[...]
Mar
16
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 16 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Mar
23
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 23 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Mar
28
Sun
2:00 pm Pictures with the Easter Bunny @ Warren County Community Center
Pictures with the Easter Bunny @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 28 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Pictures with the Easter Bunny @ Warren County Community Center
Come join the staff of Warren County Parks and Recreation and get your picture taken with the Easter Bunny! Pictures will be taken and printed on site; upon departure you will be given an Easter[...]
Mar
30
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 30 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Apr
3
Sat
12:00 pm Egg-stravaganza! @ Sky Meadows State Park
Egg-stravaganza! @ Sky Meadows State Park
Apr 3 @ 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Egg-stravaganza! @ Sky Meadows State Park
Eggs are popping up all over Sky Meadows State Park. Visit our egg-laying free-range chickens by taking our Chicken Walk. Go on an egg-citing Geocache adventure. Kids, use your scavenger hunting skills using clues from[...]
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[...]