Day: January 1, 2020

Pets, Places, & Things, Urban Garden

Increase Indoor Garden Success with Proper Watering

By Melinda Myers Increase Indoor Garden Success with Proper Watering Too much of a good thing can mean death for indoor plants. Overwatering is a good example of this and a common problem for indoor gardeners. For others it’s the opposite extreme, allowing plants to go too dry. Knowing when to water your indoor plants can increase gardening success and eliminate the stress of uncertainty. The first step is to throw away your watering schedule. Start watering plants based on their individual need not the date on the calendar. Consider the type of plant, container material and size as well as other growing conditions. Get to know your plants by checking the plant tag, online resources and books. Those native to tropical climates or wet soils such as peace lily, baby tears and papyrus prefer moist soil. Plants from drier locations like cacti, succulents, Chinese evergreens, ponytail palm and snake plants do best when the soil dries between watering. Evaluate the indoor growing conditions. Plants located in bright light and warm homes where the humidity is low lose moisture faster and need more frequent watering. Cooler homes, higher humidity and lower light conditions mean longer stretches between watering plants. Adjust watering as the seasons change. Shorter, often gray days of winter mean plants dry out more slowly. When the heat and air conditioner are turned on, the humidity level drops and plants dry out more quickly. Plus, many plants rest in winter and prefer drier soil. Check plants growing in small pots, breathable terra cotta containers and fast draining growing mixes more often and water as needed. Plants growing in larger containers and those made of plastic, glazed ceramic and similar materials dry out more slowly. Use your finger to determine when plants need to be watered. Stick your finger…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

Starting the New Year Right for Your Pets

Starting the New Year Right for Your Pets By Steph Selice We all greet every January with high hopes and the best of intentions, and many of us resolve to ensure this new year will be the best one ever. To rephrase Mark Twain’s famous quote, instead of paving hell with annual good resolutions to ourselves in 2020, how about focusing on what we can do for our pets? We’re much more likely to keep our promises to our beloved animals! Taking Even Better Care of Your Pet This could be the year you help your cat lose weight or get your dog out to the puppy park more often. A veterinarian we asked ran through the checklist of what pets need us to provide for them continually.  (This is also a good checklist for anyone who has not had a pet but needs to be reminded of the daily responsibilities that come with the fun.) This includes spaying or neutering for longer, healthier lives—not only cats and dogs, but also rabbits, ferrets, and chinchillas, among other small mammals. The vet reminded us about appropriate food and treats, regular exercise, routine vet visits and vaccinations, grooming (including washing, hair or fur maintenance, nail trims, and ear cleaning), and updated medications and vitamins as needed. She also mentioned taking pet photos regularly, getting collars and name/vaccination tags, and microchipping or otherwise IDing your pets as other ways to protect them in case they are lost or taken. As part of an annual home safety check, security experts recommend planning how you would move your pets out of your home in case of an emergency and how you would travel with them if you had to leave immediately. Preparing for who would care for your beloved critters if you couldn’t is also…

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Pets of the Month, Pets, Places, & Things

January 2020 Pets of the Month

January 2020 Monroe, Senior, Neutered Male, Brown Tabby with White Domestic Short Hair Hello, my name is Monroe. Some of my friends say I’m a very large cat, but I still consider myself lap-sized. Some of my friends also say that I am the most handsome cat they’ve ever met, but I suppose that subjective. However handsome or large you consider me to be, I’ll consider you my friend if you take the time to get to know me. I’m not a kitten who will rush over to you immediately but a reserved gentle-mow who will ask you how your day was and be a constant companion by your side. So what do you say? Am I the feline for you? Adoption profile: Adoption information: Queen, Adult, Spayed Female, Brown Australian Shepherd Mix Hi, everybody, meet Queen!  Queen’s a pretty girl and gets a lot of compliments on her unique tail.  She enjoys sniffing and loves to sing like a good hound.  She’s also a robust and energetic young dog who would love a long walk or a romp in a yard.  She settles down once she gets through her initial excitement, but would benefit from some instruction on loose leash walking.  Once she settles down, she loves a good ear rub and is attentive and focused.  Queen would prefer to be the true Queen of her castle and would like to be the only dog or kid in the home. Queen already has a beautiful sit and will work for hot dogs! Stop by the shelter and meet Queen today! Adoption profile: Adoption information: Pepper, Senior, Spayed Female, Black Domestic Short Hair Petite Pepper promises pretty pouts and panther pounces.  (Say that five times fast!) Our mature lady is looking for a soothing environment that allows her to relax…

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Arts & Entertainment, High Notes


By Ron Powers FIVE UP-AND-COMING EDM STARS TO WATCH IN 2020 I found myself listening to a lot of EDM last year and thought it would be fun to end 2019 by telling you about the top five up-and-coming artists to watch out for in 2020. There is so much great music coming from the EDM community today, be sure to explore beyond this list. My top five presented below are too hard to rank one to five so let’s just call them the Top Five. But the first I will mention is Netherlands duo, ANOTR. ANOTR have been making a name for themselves throughout the EDM scene since 2015. Although electronic based, ANOTR’s music transcends the concept of genre. They have proven time and again that they are beholden to nothing but their own creative impulse when it comes to their music. ANOTR even started their own label (NO ART) to drive the point home. They have enjoyed rapid fan growth through high energy performances and a consistent stream of amazing music. The boys in ANOTR are currently in the studio working on new music. Look out for them on all major digital music platforms. The Los Angeles based Progressive & Techno artist “i_o” is another artist that has made an indelible impression on me. The stage name i_o belongs to producer Garrett Lockhart. Formerly known as Fawks, Lockhart has solidified his brand and style as i_o. Influences such as deadmau5 and UMEK can be heard in i_o’s music, but his unique creative flavor is unmistakably present throughout his work. Lockhart’s music has been described as “dark electro sounds with heavy techno grooves and deep evolving melodies”. That sound has resonated with millions of listeners and concertgoers around the world who are helping i_o become one of EDM’s high-profile…

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Go Fish, Pets, Places, & Things

Consumption Assumption

By Steve Chaconas Consumption Assumption Blue catfish were introduced into the Potomac River as a gamefish in the 70s and 80s. Capitol Catfishing Captain Jason Kintner operates a year-round trophy catfish charter business. Can you eat blue catfish out of the Potomac River? Yes and not really. The River flows through the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland and all have consumption advisories with a sliding scale on numbers, size and amounts that are “safe” to eat. They vary, but all suggest only eating limited quantities of smaller fish and avoiding larger fish altogether. Dietary allotments are based on 8 ounce meals per month. Since the 1970s, Maryland, Virginia and District of Columbia natural resource and environmental quality agencies have suggested limiting consumption as there is a presence of heavy metal and PCBs contaminants in fish tissue. These can pose a potential health risk to those who eat them. Small fish absorb the hazardous materials and bigger fish that eat absorbing more as they continue to grow, eat and target older larger prey. They continue to accumulate until they are themselves consumed by the top of the food chain, people. In humans, they can accumulate in body tissue over long periods of time and may negatively affect the nervous system of a developing fetus and may lead to more difficulties with tasks associated with memory, learning and thinking. Potomac jurisdictions suggest eating smaller fish will help reduce the intake of the contaminants as they accumulate in fish as they get older and bigger. For those who catch and eat fish, they also suggest consuming different types of fish caught from different locations to decrease the chance of being exposed to the same contaminant. Cooking methods that drip away fat, like baking, grilling, or broiling cut down on PCBs remaining in the…

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Beauty & Health, Fitness

New Year – New Resolutions!

By Nicole Flanagan New Year – New Resolutions! Do you have a New Year’s Resolution? Well, if you’re like most, you have at least one resolution, and, if you are like the majority of these promise-makers, your resolution is probably related to health and fitness. While resolutions are well-intentioned, unfortunately most people fail at keeping them. With all the hype surrounding these promises, it’s easy to get caught up in them without really taking them seriously. We live in a throw-away society and even our resolutions, I’m afraid, are not immune. However, especially for promises that include improving our health it’s in our best interest to not take them lightly. So, what’s the secret to successful resolutions? While you can’t wave a magic wand and make your resolution come true, there are some easy steps to take to make it easier to fulfill your promise to yourself. Choose an obtainable goal. Resolving to look like a super model is not realistic for the majority of us, but promising to include daily physical activity in our lives is very possible. Avoid choosing a resolution that you’ve been unsuccessful at achieving year after year. This will only set you up for failure, frustration and disappointment. If you are still tempted to make a promise that you’ve made before, then try altering it. For example, instead of stating that you are going to lose 30 pounds, try promising to eat healthier and increase your weekly exercise. Create a game plan. At the beginning of January, write a comprehensive plan. All successful businesses start with a business plan that describes their mission and specifics on how they will achieve it. Write your own personal plan and you’ll be more likely to succeed as well. Break it down and make it less intimidating. Rather than…

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Beauty & Health, First Blush


IN SEARCH OF HAPPY HAIR DAYS IN THE WINTER by Kimberly Putens As if the cold, blustery weather of winter isn’t enough to make most of us want to crawl under our covers and not come out until spring, the havoc it wreaks on our hair is, well, hair-raising. Static electricity, moisture depletion, and not-so-nice texture can make for very bad hair days. To combat the winter hair blues, its best, in theory, to start in the fall before the winter blast hits. Developing a strategy of move frequent trims and treatments in the fall will ensure smooth sailing into winter. The best strategy is to whack off those dead ends in the fall so that the hair has a fighting chance by starting off healthy.    Like most of us, that’s all well and good, in theory. So, what to do? First off, it’s never to late to get your hair trimmed. So, book an appointment with your stylist to get your ends trimmed and looking healthy again. That in and of itself will instantly give the hair a boost because dryness starts at the ends. Other things to consider are avoiding and repairing the dryness that winter brings upon our hair. Most of know that the dryness outside causes dryness to our hair, but it’s also the dryness inside that exacerbates the problem. Going from the cold, dry climate of the outside to the warm, dry climate of the inside puts a lot of stress on the hair. One strategy for keeping hair looking good starts with a hat. Yes, a hat. We all know how keeping our head covered is key to keeping warmth in our bodies; the same is true about maintaining moisture levels within your hair. Wearing a hat to prevent split ends and breakage…

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Financial Focus, Pets, Places, & Things

How to Raise Kids with Money Smarts

By Carl Trevisan and Stephen Bearce Parents have a responsibility to teach their children about finances—and that’s true for wealthy families and less affluent families alike. Kids are smart enough to pick up on signals that their family may have more than others. But if the conversation stops at the benefits that money can bring, you’re missing out on important life lessons. They’re not really being taught how to be financially responsible once they leave the house and become independent. What steps can parents take to teach both sensitivity and responsibility about money? Step 1: Find teachable moments.    It can be difficult to find time to sit down and talk specifically about wealth, but natural opportunities to teach pop up every day. For example, you can incorporate financial responsibility into an impromptu math lesson about money: If you find something that originally cost $100 and it’s on sale for 30% off, you can ask kids how much the new price is—and, now that they are only spending $70, what they might do with the $30 that’s left. Step 2: Take a lifelong view toward financial literacy. Every child, and especially those who will one day inherit substantial wealth, should have a tool kit of basic financial literacy skills by age 18, including concepts such as how to spend, how to save, how to give, and the value of a dollar. This can start very early with an exercise as simple as a three piggy banks analogy. You encourage the child to divide any money he or she receives into three piggy banks: spending, saving, and community/charity. This shows the concept of different types or purposes of money as opposed to all being for spending. Repeating this exercise can help ingrain the habit of saving regularly. By late childhood or…

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Exploring VA Wines, Wining & Dining

Clean Competition raises the bar!

By Doug Fabbioli Clean Competition raises the bar! When we play by the rules, respect the balance of the system and have a positive goal, we all win! The other day at our Saturday start up meeting in the tasting room, Anne (who creates the tasting bites for our daily tastings), mentioned how the specialty drinks that we create each month keep getting better. Anne expressed a need to step up her game in order to keep her creative expression at the best level possible. Colleen, who creates the drink special, continues to create interesting and diverse wine based cocktails. Who wins this competition? The consumer and the business! The Virginia Governors Cup Wine Competition is coming up again next month. This is by far the most intense competition that we participate in. Imported judges, the well promoted Governors Case, tight restrictions on fruit sources and required quantities available are just a few parts that make this competition notably above the rest. In my humble opinion, this competition has helped many wineries strive for a higher level. There always seems to be a few new rules each year to keep the balance and message clear for the participants, the industry and the consumer. It’s not easy to keep a competition fair and balanced, but emphasizing fair play over “win at all cost” will keep the participants rising up. This concept plays out in many other areas of our world as well. Sports is an arena where the win is the goal but it seems like the cheating aspect outplays the good sportsmanship lately. These players and teams are idolized by their fans, both young and old. By showing respect for the rules, the referees and the opposing team, the message of fair play is passed on to those influential fans….

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Fireside Dining Around Old Town

By the Gastronomes Fireside Dining Around Old Town We decided to step outside of the box going into the new year and instead of featuring the food and beverage from one local eatery we decided to impart some information to you all about the fireside dining that we have available in and close to Old Town Alexandria. While this is certainly not a complete list of those in the entire city of Alexandria, it is a good start. Look for addresses and contact information in the Dining Guide in this issue. Chadwicks The fireplace in this joint sits back in a corner at the front of the bar and is accessible to fireside dining when you sit and one of the high tops. This is the place to enjoy good old bar food and a cold beer and talk to the locals. Charthouse Probably the most unique fireplace in Old Town, the Charthouse version is a beautiful copper circular version with the flames visible all the way around. This is the only place in Old Town that you can sit by a fireplace and have a waterfront view at the same time. Il Porto Il Porto is an Old Town icon that serves traditional Italian food in a cozy atmosphere complete with a traditional fireplace. This is the only eatery on the north side of 100 King that has a fireplace. Magnolia’s on King Magnolia’s is one of the newer establishments in Old Town and the fireplace is on the second floor so some of you may not have realized that they have one. The cuisine has a southern flair and the small bar is also on the second floor but worth the trek up the stairs. Murphy’s Irish Pub The oldest Irish pub in Old Town, Murphy’s has been…

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