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Three types of gifts that are perfect for college students

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Are you struggling to decide what to get a college or university student for the holidays? Here are a few ideas to help you choose a gift that’s sure to delight — or at least be useful to — the student in your life.

1. Food
Many students living on their own for the first time struggle to find room in their hectic schedules and limited budgets to eat properly. Consider giving a student an assortment of healthy, pre-prepared meals or gift cards for the restaurants near their campus. Plastic containers for storing food, reusable water bottles and portable mugs for transporting tea and coffee are also ideal gifts.

2. School supplies

Students need a variety of materials to keep up with their studies: backpacks, laptops, pens, pencils, textbooks, highlighters and so on. Consider giving the student in your life one or more high-quality notebooks or a professional-looking backpack that they can continue to use after graduation. Another great gift for students? Noise-cancelling headphones. They’re perfect for studying during finals in a way that won’t disturb other students.

3. Entertainment
If you’d rather give a gift that’s a little more fun, choose something to help the student you’re buying for unwind. Concert tickets, a day-pass to the spa or gift cards to popular entertainment venues — like the local movie theatre — are presents that most students will appreciate.

In addition to all the above, clothing can also be a good choice. Just be sure to stick to basics that will suit nearly any style. This way you’ll ensure that your items don’t get returned to the store.

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Half of older Americans have nothing saved for retirement, study says

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Even though the number of people with nothing saved for retirement is grim, it’s better than it was about 12 years ago.

Of those 55 and older, 48 percent have nothing put away in a 401(k)-type contribution plan or an IRA, according to the Government Accountability Office report released in March 2019.

That is better than 52 percent who had nothing saved in 2013.

Of those that have nothing saved, 29 percent had neither a pension or any other financial assets.

The GAO reported that Social Security provides most of the income for about half of households age 65 and older.

As an example: The average Social Security retirement benefit in 2017 was $1,360 per month, or about $16,000 per year. But if a person who has worked for at least 40 years in a medium paying job would probably receive just under $2,000 per month in Social Security.

That income is rarely enough to live on and Social Security was not intended to be a single source of retirement income.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates that 41 percent of households headed by someone age 35 to 64 will probably run out of money in retirement. But that number is down 1.7 percentage points since 2014. So, in other words, more people are getting the message that they must save for retirement.

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The benefits of growing native plants

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Cultivating native plants is an important part of preserving your region’s wildlife and ecological system. Imported plants were popular for many years, but ecologically conscious gardeners are increasingly opting to grow native plants instead.

To be considered native, a plant must be indigenous to the area. In North America, any plant that was here before Europeans arrived is considered to be native. They have evolved alongside local wildlife, and are uniquely able to support the birds, mammals and insects that live here.

Because they’re suited to the local climate, indigenous plants often require much less care than flowers, shrubs and trees that come from other parts of the world. This means that you’ll spend less time watering and fertilizing and more time enjoying your plants. They also don’t require the use of pesticides, which makes them better for the environment.

Having a native garden is far from boring. Plants indigenous to your area come in all sizes, shapes and colors. From tiny groundcover to the tallest trees, you have many options to beautify your yard. As a bonus, your new plants will also encourage visits from local birds and butterflies.

Planting a native garden requires some research. To find out which plants are indigenous to your area turn to gardening clubs, the public library or the professionals at your local gardening center.

PC:
Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is indigenous to North America. It’s fragrant flowers attract pollinators.

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The advantages of gardening with raised beds

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Do you want a garden but have poor soil? Then gardening with raised beds is likely the best solution.

Raised beds are garden plots raised several inches or more off the ground and enclosed on all sides by a frame made of wood or rock. You simply fill your box with rich soil then start planting the desired fruits, veggies, herbs, flowers and plants.

Raised beds are different from planters because they have open rather than closed bottoms. Since raised beds are designed this way, they provide better drainage. Plus, the roots can extend into the ground and seek available nutrients.

Having a raised garden bed has a number of other advantages, notably:

• It provides a strong barrier against weeds and pests
• Its soil doesn’t compact or erode away in the case of heavy rain
• It allows you to plant earlier in the season, since soil that’s above ground is warmer and drains better

Lastly, gardening with raised beds is a great option for people with limited mobility or back problems. If the bed is high enough, you can tend to the garden without bending over.

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Make your family garden eco-friendly

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Gardens aren’t just about petunias, they can also help animals and encourage native plants.

This year when you are planning the family garden patch, you can make a sustainable wildlife garden.

Animals, birds, bees, and butterflies need food, water, cover and a place to rear young. Your garden can be a place where they thrive.

First, plant at least three native flowering plants. Some typical choices, according to nwf.org: Buffalo grass, Prairie Dropseed, Black-eyed Susan, and Common Ninebark.

Install a water feature. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Wet rocks are good for butterflies. Hummingbirds like to take showers in a gentle mist. And all birds need a drink in the summer.

Put up nesting boxes. The sparrows will move in quickly, but you might one day be surprised to find nesting bluebirds, too.

To encourage butterflies, especially monarchs, find a place for nectar plants and milkweed. Milkweed has a bad reputation because it becomes pretty shabby looking by late summer. But it has some things going for it. In late spring and early summer, milkweed delights with a delicious fragrance as the big pink flower clusters bloom. Even when it is looking shabby, that’s an important time for butterflies who use it as a host plant.

Take the long-view of your garden site. Trees are essential for a good wildlife area. Even a small yard can host a dwarf evergreen or deciduous tree.

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Making the most of your small entryway

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If you have a small entranceway, you probably struggle to keep it organized without making it feel cluttered. Here are some tips to maximize the space.

• Wall hooks. Hang your coats, bags and hats in style with an assortment of hooks along the wall. Go for a retro feel with big dots arranged at different heights, or opt for a more traditional style with a neat line of hooks or pegs.

• Bookshelves. Shelving units can do more than just hold books. Put one in your entryway to store shoes, bags and anything else you want.

• Storage bench. This piece does double duty: it gives you a place to stash your outdoor gear and somewhere to sit while you put on your shoes.

• Console table. If you need a place to toss your keys and mail when you come in, a high but slim console table is a great choice. Place decorative boxes underneath to hide things you want to keep handy.

• Floating shelves. A shelf placed high above your hooks, storage bench or console is a great place to put baskets or boxes to hold things you don’t regularly use.

By being smart about how you design your space, you’ll make your entryway functional, organized and stylish.

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Ideas on sibling rivalry and how to handle it

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The kids are fighting and their rivalry is about to drive mom and dad crazy.

Name-calling, arguing, or physically fighting — sibling rivalry can take many forms and escalate quickly, according to the Center for Parenting Education.

House rules are an essential starting point, even though the kids will ignore them. Some examples: words only in a dispute and boundaries for personal possessions and spaces.

Once the rules are in place, walk older children through the stages of conflict resolution: each child expresses their point of view and listens to the other. Then, they generate possible solutions, and decide on one together.

Use a ‘green light to red light’ guideline to decide when to intervene.

Usual bickering or name-calling signifies a green light and parents should stay out of it.

An orange light means that there is a potential of play fighting turning real. Parents should intervene to tone down the emotions.

If physical or emotional harm is about to or has already occurred, this is a red light and demands that the parent intervene immediately, review the rules, and impose consequences.

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Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

May
23
Thu
1:30 pm Portraits for Beginners: People ... @ Art in the Valley
Portraits for Beginners: People ... @ Art in the Valley
May 23 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Portraits for Beginners: People and Pets @ Art in the Valley
Learn to create realistic portraits of people and pets. Students will practice drawing and painting techniques used in portraiture. Class meets once a week for five weeks. Students are required to bring their own reference[...]
3:00 pm The Employer Expo @ War Memorial Building @ Jim Barnett Park
The Employer Expo @ War Memorial Building @ Jim Barnett Park
May 23 @ 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm
The Employer Expo @ War Memorial Building @ Jim Barnett Park
Have you been thinking about a career change? Are you nearing graduation and not quite sure what you want to do, or what your next step should be? Are you a parent of a student[...]
6:00 pm Painting the Landscape with Oils... @ Art in the Valley
Painting the Landscape with Oils... @ Art in the Valley
May 23 @ 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Painting the Landscape with Oils: Late Spring @ Art in the Valley
This class provides a hands-on experience for painting with oils. Students will focus on techniques for painting landscapes. Class meets once a week for five weeks. Students are recommended to bring their own reference photos[...]
6:30 pm Confederate Memorial Day ceremony @ Prospect Hill Cemetery's Soldiers Circle
Confederate Memorial Day ceremony @ Prospect Hill Cemetery's Soldiers Circle
May 23 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Confederate Memorial Day ceremony @ Prospect Hill Cemetery's Soldiers Circle
The Warren Rifles Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy will again lead the annual Confederate Memorial Day ceremony on the anniversary of the Battle of Front Royal. Where: at Prospect Hill Cemetery’s Soldiers[...]
6:30 pm Watercolor Basics @ Strokes of Creativity
Watercolor Basics @ Strokes of Creativity
May 23 @ 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Watercolor Basics @ Strokes of Creativity
Watercolor Basics Thursday, May 23, 2019 at 6:30 PM – 9 PM Learn the basics of watercolor painting. This is a great follow-up class from the watercolor 101 class, learn about techniques and applying techniques[...]
May
25
Sat
1:00 pm Meet the Author: Stephen Hudak @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Meet the Author: Stephen Hudak @ Royal Oak Bookshop
May 25 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Meet the Author: Stephen Hudak @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Of Dreams and Leadership: Learning to lead and sharing along the way by local author, Stephen Hudak In this collection of essays, Stephen Hudak shares his thoughts on Leadership and Learning.
May
27
Mon
10:00 am Design a chair for the SPCA CHAI... @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
Design a chair for the SPCA CHAI... @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
May 27 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Design a chair for the SPCA CHAIR-ity Brunch @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
Calling all artists!! Design a chair for the SPCA CHAIR-ity Brunch and save homeless animals. Pick up a chair from the SPCA Thrift Shop, build a chair, up-cycle a chair, paint a chair, or upholster[...]
May
28
Tue
1:30 pm Watercolor Landscapes: In and Ou... @ Art in the Valley
Watercolor Landscapes: In and Ou... @ Art in the Valley
May 28 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Watercolor Landscapes: In and Out of the Studio @ Art in the Valley
This four week course will focus on learning basic skills to create watercolor landscape paintings: basic composition and use of color and value to create a sense of depth and distance. During the first class[...]
May
29
Wed
2:00 pm Introduction to Floral Painting ... @ Art in the Valley
Introduction to Floral Painting ... @ Art in the Valley
May 29 @ 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Introduction to Floral Painting with Hillary White @ Art in the Valley
Learn to paint flowers in landscapes, vases, close up and loosely! Use your own acrylic paint, watercolor or colored pencils. You must have basic knowledge of your medium. Instructor: Hillary White, MAT, CDA Wednesday afternoons,[...]
6:00 pm CASA Information Session @ Meet in the Middle
CASA Information Session @ Meet in the Middle
May 29 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
CASA Information Session @ Meet in the Middle
Become an advocate for abused and neglected children in your community. CASA Children’s Intervention Services is seeking volunteers who care about children growing up in a safe, permanent and loving homes. Attend an Information Session[...]