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Combating Allergy Season

March 2nd, 2015 | Comments Off on Combating Allergy Season | Posted in Live Well, Work Well

shutterstock_77193160While most people can’t wait to welcome the end of winter, for millions of others spring’s warmth and rebirth brings debilitating allergies. The most common spring allergy is pollen—tiny grains released into the air by trees, grasses and weeds for the purpose of fertilizing other plants. In allergy sufferers, the immune system mistakes pollen for harmful foreign germs, and triggers hypersensitive reactions that may include red eyes, runny nose, itchiness, eczema, hives or an asthma attack.

Fortunately, when potential hazards are recognized, allergies and asthma can often be prevented or their effects minimized. To reduce your exposure to pollen and other allergy triggers, check local weather reports to find out current pollen forecasts. If pollen counts are high, take allergy medication preemptively instead of waiting for symptoms to start. Stay indoors on dry, windy days. The best time to be outside is after a rainstorm, when the air is mostly pollen-free.

Refrain from gardening or doing yard work. Change your clothes after being outside for a long period of time. Consider taking a shower or rinsing your hair if your allergies are starting to act up. Be sure to use an air filter in your home as well. Don’t let the onset of spring cause you to suffer.

View more Live Well, Work Well tips here.

Student-Driver Away Discount

March 2nd, 2015 | Comments Off on Student-Driver Away Discount | Posted in Discount & Coverage Claims

Do You Qualify?
Student-Driver Away Discounts help you save while they learn

collegestudentsYour child is away at school for the year and not using the family car regularly, so you may think it’s time to drop them from your auto insurance policy. That is certainly an option when your child leaves home, but the student-driver away discounts can be a better fit for your family than taking your child off the plan entirely.

Let’s see if you qualify for student-driver away discounts, why the discount is worth it and how much you’ll save.

Who Is a Student-Driver Away Discount For?
Most auto insurance carriers consider you eligible for a student-driver away discount if your child attends boarding school or college at least 100 miles from home and does not have regular access to a vehicle. Some may also require the student to be under 23 years of age.

Why You Should Get a Student-Driver Away Discount
While it sounds tempting to remove your child from your auto insurance plan while they are at school, there are significant reasons to consider the student-driver away discount instead:

  • Driving During Breaks: Your child will likely come home from school to visit, and while they’re back, they might borrow the family car. Having your child on your policy means they are automatically covered in the unlikely event of a car accident.
  • Financial Responsibility: If you still declare your child as a dependent, then you assume financial responsibility for them. This means that, legally, you are their financial provider, no matter how much pocket money they have on the side. This is important because if your uninsured child drives a vehicle and gets into an accident, you are financially responsible for that accident, even though you weren’t involved. Medical and legal costs can be substantially more than paying for a student-driver away discount.
  • Better Future Rates: Auto insurance companies often give discounts to new clients who were previously dependents on their parents’ policy. Other carriers sometimes charge new clients a higher fee for joining as a young driver without that experience. Keeping your student on your auto insurance plan now can give them a foot up later.

How Can You Validate Your Child for a Student-Driver Away Discount?
Most auto insurance carriers will require verification that your child is at school. Providing your carrier with the correct validation for a student-driver away discount can be very easy. Here are some common ways to prove eligibility:

  • School Address: Providing the address of your child’s boarding school or college to your insurance agent is usually enough verification for some carriers.
  • Current Class Schedule: Providing your child’s class schedule shows that your student is currently enrolled in school.

How Much Money Will You Save?
Student-driver away discount rates can depend on which carrier you have. In most cases, you will save between 10 percent and 30 percent on your auto insurance. Though it might seem like a hassle to keep your child on your policy when they do not drive frequently, it may be smart over the long run.

Secure Your Student-Driver Away Discount Today
With a student-driver away discount, you won’t break the bank, and you’ll help your child start on the path to their own insurance policy one day. As your independent auto insurance agent, we take it upon ourselves to make sure that you and your family can drive safely with the peace of mind that you’re getting the best rates possible. Contact us today to find out if you qualify for a student-driver away discount, as well as other auto insurance discounts.

Source: Hodge, Hart & Schleifer

Maintenance Tips for Spring

March 2nd, 2015 | Comments Off on Maintenance Tips for Spring | Posted in Misc

10 Home Maintenance Tips for Spring

HCRBL102_main-yard-3-house-exterior-after_s4x3.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.1280.960After a long, dark winter, spring’s bright sun and warm winds are, well, a breath of fresh air. The only downside? All that sunshine spotlights your leaf-filled gutters, cracked sidewalks and the dead plants in last year’s flower beds. Dwight Barnett, a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors, shared this checklist to help you target the areas that need maintenance so you can get your chores done quickly, leaving you time to go outside and play in the sunshine.

  • Check for loose or leaky gutters. Improper drainage can lead to water in the basement or crawl space. Make sure downspouts drain away from the foundation and are clear and free of debris.
  • Low areas in the yard or next to the foundation should be filled with compacted soil. Spring rains can cause yard flooding, which can lead to foundation flooding and damage. Also, when water pools in these low areas in summer, it creates a breeding ground for insects.
  • Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows, doors, railings and decks. Make repairs now before the spring rains do more damage to the exposed wood.
  • From the ground, examine roof shingles to see if any were lost or damaged during winter. If your home has an older roof covering, you may want to start a budget for replacement. The summer sun can really damage roof shingles. Shingles that are cracked, buckled or loose or are missing granules need to be replaced. Flashing around plumbing vents, skylights and chimneys need to be checked and repaired by a qualified roofer.
  • Examine the exterior of the chimney for signs of damage. Have the flue cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep.
  • Inspect concrete slabs for signs of cracks or movement. All exterior slabs except pool decks should drain away from the home’s foundation. Fill cracks with a concrete crack filler or silicone caulk. When weather permits, power-wash and then seal the concrete.
  • Remove firewood stored near the home. Firewood should be stored at least 18 inches off the ground at least 2 feet from the structure.
  • Check outside hose faucets for freeze damage. Turn the water on and place your thumb or finger over the opening. If you can stop the flow of water, it is likely the pipe inside the home is damaged and will need to be replaced. While you’re at it, check the garden hose for dry rot.
  • Have a qualified heating and cooling contractor clean and service the outside unit of the air conditioning system. Clean coils operate more efficiently, and an annual service call will keep the system working at peak performance levels. Change interior filters on a regular basis.
  • Check your gas- and battery-powered lawn equipment to make sure it is ready for summer use. Clean equipment and sharp cutting blades will make yardwork easier.

Source: hgtv.com

A Heart-Healthy Diet

March 2nd, 2015 | Comments Off on A Heart-Healthy Diet | Posted in Family Health & Safety

20150223.hearthealthydiet-635-thumb-620xauto-85345Now that Valentine’s Day is behind us—and most of the clearance chocolate has been scoured from grocery aisles—it’s time to focus on a healthier celebration for the heart: American Heart Month.

Heart disease is one of the top deadly diseases in the US, according the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and nearly 50 percent of Americans have either high blood pressure or high LDL cholesterol, or they smoke—all of which can lead to heart disease.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Registered dietitian and longtime American Heart Association advocate Nancy Chapman shares easy tips for cutting back on bad fats and salts to make the switch a little less painful.

Focus on making it simple.

Chapman recommends filling half your plate with fruits and veggies and then adding lean or plant-based proteins. “Starting with fruits and vegetables will lower the saturated fats you add to your plate,” she says.

Using frozen fruits and vegetables is recommended, as they are easily stored, have a long shelf life, and are easy to add to lean-protein dishes, soups, or smoothies.

Be aware of portion size.

“A lot of excess sodium and fat from our diet just comes from eating too much food,” Chapman says. “If we eat more calories than we burn, we gain weight, and that extra weight puts stress on your heart and can raise your blood pressure.”

Also think about balancing your food groups. Fruits and veggies, whole grains, and proteins (especially plant-based proteins) should make up a meal.

Take a look at where you get your oils and fats.

“That which is liquid is better than that which is hard,” Chapman says. Basically: Avoid hard fats, such as the ones you’ll find around meat, or the buttery fats in dairy products. Olive, coconut, and peanut oil are all heart-healthier options to cook with.

To quickly get an idea of the amount of fat your food has, Chapman recommends placing your food on a paper towel, which will wick up the excess fats and oils. “If the food is really greasy afterward,” says Chapman, “that’s a good sign that your food is particularly higher in saturated or trans fats.”

Use more herbs and spices.

“Over two weeks, your taste buds can lose the taste for salt,” Chapman says. To get through those two weeks when you’re trying to cut down on salt, she recommends reaching for powerful flavors like garlic, cumin, turmeric, cilantro, and chili powder.

Be aware of your bad habits.

“We’re frequently influenced by the people we eat around,” Chapman says. If you know your friends or coworkers are going to persuade you to eat that extra cookie or go for the fries, she suggests doing healthier activities with those social groups to balance out the bad eating habits. “Try seeing if they’ll go for a walk with you after lunch—that way you can socialize and get in some exercise to counteract consuming higher-calorie foods.”

Focus on one meal at a time.

“Folks try to change a total day’s menu, and it makes the switch so much harder,” Chapman says. “Take a look at where you have the most amount of control, and then look at where you have the most difficult time making healthy choices.”

Focus on one meal, like lunch, where you can start brown-bagging a healthy salad or sandwich instead of eating out. Once you feel you have that habit under control, tackle something else, like those 3 PM snack attacks or breakfast on the go.

5 Heart-Healthy Recipes to Get You Started

These recipes all have components of a heart-healthy meal: lean proteins with omega-3 fatty acids, plant-based proteins, vegetables, and antioxidant-rich fruits (and chocolate).

Source: washingtonian.com

Home Tricks

March 2nd, 2015 | Comments Off on Home Tricks | Posted in U-Tube

The secret to putting on a duvet and more home tricks

Does putting your duvet on the comforter make your blood boil? Are you always overdressing salads? Have you endured cut after cut after cut trying to slice cheese? It all stops now!

Real Simple magazine’s Sarah Humphreys stopped by Studio 1A to share tips and tricks for tackling some of life’s pesky tasks.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Burrito roll

Stuffing that comforter back in the duvet cover after washing bedding is one of life’s more frustrating moments, but it doesn’t have to be when you follow these steps:

1.  Turn the duvet cover inside out. Lay it on top of your bed with the cover’s opening facing away from where you stand.

2.  Place your comforter on top of the duvet. Make sure all of the corners are aligned. If you have corner ties, tie them together.

3.  Stand opposite of the opening. Begin to roll the comforter and duvet together like a burrito.

4.  Once everything is rolled up, grab one end of the roll and, using the enclosure of the duvet cover, stuff the comforter roll inside, similar to a sandwich bag.

5.  Button or zip the duvet cover closed. Position the burrito/roll on the bed so that the enclosure is aligned with the bottom of the bed.

6.  Begin unrolling and you are done!

Shake it off

Cocktail shakers aren’t only helpful when you need a drink. They can also be used for various other tasks, including sprinkling French toast, cookies and other treats with powdered sugar. Simply put powdered sugar in the shaker and use it as a duster.

Another helpful cocktail shaker task: Put unpeeled garlic inside the shaker and shake it for 20 seconds. The cloves will come out unpeeled!

Spin away

Salad spinners can do more than just remove water from your lettuce. Here are two other ways you can put that spinner to use:

  • If you have overdressed a salad, simply put the salad in the spinner, spin it a few times and the dressing will come off.
  • Remove excess water from sweaters after washing by giving them a spin, then laying them flat to try.

Paint protection

Next time you need to paint a wall, make sure you have a smoothie cup with its dome lid nearby to use as a paint tray. The brush will be able to stand up on its own within the cup.

Peeling cheese

Avoid losing a finger when cutting hard cheese. Instead, grab the vegetable peeler. Simply slide the peeler over the cheese and you will have perfect slices.

Source: today.com

Festivals and Events

March 2nd, 2015 | Comments Off on Festivals and Events | Posted in Spotlight on the Community

St-Patricks-DayThe Washington, DC area and its surrounding communities in Maryland and Virginia host lots of annual festivals and special events. All dates, prices, and activities mentioned are subject to change, so please check the official website or call to confirm information. Please note that most of these events are held each year and the dates are updated as available.

Capital Home & Garden Show
Through March 1, 2015. Dulles Expo Center, Chantilly, VA. Enjoy a one-stop shopping resource with hundreds of exhibits with the latest remodeling and decorating products and services.

National Harbor Restaurant Week
March 2-8, 2015. National Harbor restaurants offer prix fixe lunch and dinner menus at reduced prices.

150th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination
Through May 2015. This year marks 150 years since the assassination of Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC. Commemorative programming will be held at a variety of venues throughout the city including theatrical performances, commemorative ceremonies, an overnight candlelight vigil, walking tours; free panel discussions and much more. Don’t miss the Second Inaugural Address Commemoration Ceremony on March 7, 2015.

Frederick Restaurant Week
March 2-8, 2015. The 7-day promotion features fixed-price lunch and dinner options in the city of Frederick, Maryland and the surrounding area.

Francophonie Cultural Festival
March 5-April 1, 2015. Learn about French culture through a variety of concerts, theatrical performances, films, culinary tastings, literary salons, children’s workshops, and more.  Washington DC hosts the largest Francophone festival in the world.

Washington Wizards Basketball
See NBA games live at the Verizon Center or enjoy the national broadcasts throughout the season.

Washington Capitals
The NHL Hockey team plays at the Verizon Center. Find information on tickets, schedules and more.

Women’s History Month
March is Women’s History Month. Washington, DC is the home to the many important sites that are dedicated to preserving and honoring the contributions of women. This month is a great time to visit these museums and historical sites.

Intersections Arts Festival
Through March 7, 2015. Atlas Performing Arts Center. The arts festival at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington DC, features visual art, film screenings, literary readings and dance, musical and dramatic productions by more than 30 artists and cultural institutions.

Alexandria Saint Patrick’s Day Parade
March 7, 2015. Old Town Alexandria celebrates the Irish holiday with a classic car show, a dog show and a Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. Elected officials; the Irish Ambassador; military commanders; and other local celebrities participate along with local scouts, marines and high school bands.

Annapolis Irish Week
March 7-17, 2015. Annapolis celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with ten days of events including a parade, music, an Irish Coffee competition and more.

Adventures in Travel Expo
March 7-8, 2015. Washington Convention Center. Learn about a wide variety of adventure travel packages and tours, attend educational seminars, meet leading travel writers and participate in free hands-on activities.

Marine Corps Marathon Lottery
March 13-23, 2015. The lottery is open to participate in the annual race in October. Don’t miss your chance to sign up.

Rock and Roll Marathon
March 14, 2015, The Marathon is a 26.2 mile, 13.1 mile or 5K race to raise money for charitable organizations. A Health and Fitness Expo will be held on March 12-13.

Saint Patrick’s Day Parades
Dates vary by location. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at a parade in Washington, DC, Alexandria, Virginia or Gaithersburg, Maryland. Enjoy a day of Irish music, dancing and fun. See also Irish Restaurants and Pubs.

Clarendon Mardi Gras Parade
March 17, 2015. Rescheduled from February snow storm. Wilson Boulevard and N. Barton Street, Arlington, VA. Celebrate Fat Tuesday at the family-friendly parade as it takes over the streets of Clarendon with floats, music, beads and fun.

DC Environmental Film Festival
March 17-29, 2015.Times and locations vary. See documentary, feature, animated, archival, experimental and children’s films from around the world at a variety of venues around Washington, DC.

National Cherry Blossom Festival
March 20 – April 12, 2015. See the blossoming of thousands of cherry trees on the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC. The capital welcomes spring with this annual tradition begun by the gift of 600 trees to the United States from Japan in 1912. Don’t miss the parade, kite festival, concerts, fireworks and cultural events.

Maryland Day Celebration
March 20, 2015. Historical and cultural institutions in Annapolis and southern Anne Arundel County open their doors to the public offering special tours, events, and programming for $1.00 or less.

National Shamrock Festival
March 21, 2015, 1-9 p.m. RFK Stadium, Washington DC. Enjoy a day of family fun at the largest Saint Patrick’s Day party and street festival in the DC area featuring more than 50 live bands.

DC Craft Beer Festival
March 21, 2015. Washington Convention Center. Washington, DC. The American craft beer tasting will feature seminars and food and the spring releases from approximately 75 breweries including 150 craft beers.

Spring Theater in Washington DC
Check out the spring theater scene in Washington DC. With dozens of performances around the capital region, here is the schedule of the top shows for the 2015 season.

CineMatsuri – Japanese Film Festival
March 22-26, 2015. The festival will screen five recent Japanese films, each in a different genre, that showcase the diversity and richness of Japanese filmmaking today.

Annapolis Film Festival
March 26-29, 2015. The Annapolis Film Festival will showcase more than 70 African-American and African films with a focus on black storytelling.

Blossom Kite Festival
March 28, 2015. As part of the festivities at the National Cherry Blossom Festival, kite enthusiasts compete and show off their kite flying skills on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Marine Corps 17.75K
March 28, 2015. Prince William County, VA. The unique 17.75K distance of 11.03 miles will be held just outside Marine Corps Base Quantico taking runners on a course along the wooded paths and scenic roads of Prince William Forest Park.

Source: dc.about.com