Whether you are ready to move-in now or would prefer to personalize a new home from the ground up, Brookfield Residential is here to help make owning a brand new home that fits the needs of your family a reality.

At Snowden Bridge located near Winchester, you can find beautiful single-family and townhome designs and take advantage of Brookfield Residential’s Mix and Match Savings opportunity, which provides flexible financing options that make owning a new home even more affordable.

A New Home on Your Terms

You will save big on spacious single-family homes and low-maintenance townhomes at Snowden Bridge with thousands in free* options and upgrades. Brookfield Residential’s Mix and Match Savings also lets you select an additional financing incentive that fits your unique financial needs.

The first option provides buydown financing with below-market mortgage rates. Rates start from 4.99%* in year one of your mortgage, 5.99%* in year two and 6.99%* with the ability refinance for free* in year three.

The second option lets you keep more cash on hand with paid closing cost assistance.* This reduces out-of-pocket costs at the purchase of the home, plus this option allows for free refinancing* at any time within the first three years of the loan.

No matter what you choose, you’ll save thousands when you purchase at Snowden Bridge!
*Terms and conditions apply and are subject to change without notice.

Why Buy at Snowden Bridge?

The Shenandoah Valley is one of the most beautiful areas to live in Virginia. With stunning geography framed by the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians, the Potomac River and the James River, you’ll enjoy a stunning backdrop year round. Plus with outstanding dining, drinking and shopping options, the Shenandoah truly has something for everyone.

Life at Snowden Bridge is built on beauty, style, and endless days filled with fun. Frederick County’s premier master-planned community features traditional and main-level living single-family homes from the $400’s and 3-level garage townhomes from the $300’s. Quick move-in opportunities are available. Snowden Bridge also offers exceptional amenities, including:

  • A neighborhood elementary school and daycare center
  • A swimming pool, dog park and picnic pavilion
  • Playgrounds and scenic walking trails
  • Easy access to major commuter routes
  • An ideal location with downtown Winchester and the retail center Rutherford Crossing in close proximity

To learn more about Snowden Bridge and the incredible Brookfield Residential Mix and Match Savings opportunity, visit BrookfieldOffers.com.

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

Vining Ivy. Photo courtesy Glidden

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

It seems like no time at all since we took a leisurely stroll admiring the calming and soothing colors of last year’s color trends! This year, the biggest names in the paint industry are ready to move things forward and are looking optimistically to the future with new colors that are lush, gorgeous and versatile.

As a full service home remodeling company that focuses on design-thoughtful interior remodels, Synergy doesn’t provide painting as a standalone service. However, we believe painting should be included as part of every home remodel and our Interior Designers will even help you pick out the perfect palette for your space! Not every home remodeler or general contractor includes painting in their scope of services, so be sure to ask the question before you sign a home remodeling contract.

With that said, time to get inspired and take a look at the top color picks by some of the biggest names in the painting industry.

Benjamin Moore  

Benjamin Moore is our go-to paint company when it comes to our home remodels. This year, they’ve named Raspberry Blush (2008-30) as their color of the year. Providing “Joie de Vivre”, it is described as “a vivacious shade of color tinged with pink, this electric hue is the definition of charismatic color.”

One of the most frequently asked questions we get from clients is how to best use color without overdoing it and overpowering the space. This depends on a lot of factors (including your personal design aesthetic when it comes to use of color), but it is possible to paint a room all in the same color, or simply use it as an accent. Benjamin Moore provides some helpful suggestions for using this paint color to maximum effect in different ways:

  • Bring a blushed update to the deep red dining room with Raspberry Blush walls and Onyx furnishings.
  • Create a lively living room with walls and wainscoting. 
  • Add a pop of color to your home with a powder room or ensuite painted in this rich coral.

Farrow & Ball

Based in England, Farrow & Ball have long held a reputation for quality paint and interesting colors (or should we say, ‘colours’) and they are also high on our list of favorites when it comes to paint names! 

This year, they introduced 11 new colors to their collection of high-performance, low-VOC, water based paints. According to Farrow & Ball they are, “inspired by moments of joy, comfort and refreshment to bring delight to your decorating. The first additions to our much-loved colour card in four years, these versatile new shades range from a lively, flame red to a delicate pink. With our signature richness, depth and extraordinary response to light, each one is unmistakably Farrow & Ball.”

This is a big deal for Farrow & Ball who haven’t introduced any new colors for four years. They are retiring 11 of their older colors to make way for these new ones, so if you’ve used their paint in your home in recent years, it might be a good time to look into which colors are being discontinued in case you need a touch up.

“Our relationship with our home has changed so much over the last few years, it felt like the perfect time to introduce these new colours,” said Joa Studholme, color curator for Farrow & Ball, in a press release. “We all feel ready to show off our spaces and personal style.”

Say hello to the new Farrow & Ball colors:

  • Stirabout
  • Eddy
  • Tailor Tack
  • Templeton Pink
  • Bamboozle
  • Hopper Head
  • Selvedge
  • Kittiwake
  • Wine Dark
  • Whirlybird
  • Beverly

Sherwin-Williams

“Minimal”, “calming” and “intriguing”, Sherwin-Williams has chosen Redend Point (SW 9081) as their color of the year. Inspired by connection and care, it is described as a color of “warmth” by the company which, “embraces a spirit of connection with the world around us with this soulful-yet-subtle hue.” Well, I’m sold!

Redend Point (SW 9081). Photo courtesy Sherwin-Williams

Redend Point (SW 9081). Photo courtesy Sherwin-Williams

BEHR®

Fans of a more neutral color palette rejoice! BEHR® has selected Blank Canvas (DC-003) as their color of the year. According to BEHR® it, “sets the tone for relaxation” and allows homeowners to “renew every room of your home.” Erika Woelfel, Behr’s vice president of color and creative services, said, “White is the perfect color for starting fresh. It’s restorative.” 

It is a modern and bright take on an off-white with undertones of brown and gray that make it a true neutral shade. It doesn’t contain yellow so it can easily be paired with other neutrals without looking ‘tired’. This is also a completely new shade from BEHR® as part of a brand new Designer Collection. 

Glidden

Glidden describes their top pick Vining Ivy as a “bluish-greenish-something-in-betweenish” color that “serves up versatile vibes, making it an on-trend addition to any room. No matter if you think it looks more blue or more green, either way, it’s a vibe.” The perfect color for people who can’t decide between blue or green, this one might end up solving a lot of problems when deciding which color to get in the paint aisle!

This color is also another one that puts emphasis on the restorative side of life. According to Ashley McCollum, Glidden color expert, “The overarching theme for 2023 is about reflection on what matters most to us, our relationship with the planet, and how we want to engage with others. Its versatility takes the guesswork out of design, leaving consumers with more time to indulge in the things that matter most to them.”

The color also works well on an accent wall, a front door and can even work in small spaces. Per McCollum, “even the most modest spaces can benefit from the teal treatment. For those short on square footage but big on style, we recommend using this rich hue as a bold contrast to a neutral palette, making a petite room feel plush.”

Vining Ivy. Photo courtesy Glidden

Not ready for a larger scale home remodel but thinking it’s time to freshen up your home with some new paint? Download our free Guide to Paint Finishes to get you started here!

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

Faceframe cabinets with white shaker cabinet doors are warmed up with the birch island in this transitional kitchen in Herndon. Photo courtesy Synergy Design & Construction.

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

I was recently talking to an out-of-town friend who is considering a home remodel. Although her home was built in the early 1970s, her personal aesthetic leans contemporary and she was thinking of a modern makeover for her kitchen.

We were discussing kitchen design and I off-handedly asked, “What style of cabinet doors are you thinking about?” It wasn’t a trick question but, as it turns out, it wasn’t something she’d given much thought. I realized after polling others this is a topic many people don’t really think about or pay much attention to until it comes time to pick them out — often well into the remodeling process when it’s either too overwhelming to research and/or the remodeler they are working with has limited cabinet options.

Depending on the home remodeling company or general contractor you use for your kitchen remodel, your choice of cabinetry may be very broad — or very narrow! At Synergy, we have a number of different cabinetry companies we work with and our preferred partners provide different lines of cabinets at different price points and infinite choices of color and style! We were once even able to match a kitchen cabinet color to a client’s favorite purse. With other general contractors or smaller companies, you might be limited to only three or four door styles and limited color choices. It’s worth asking the question before you sign on the dotted line to ensure you understand what your options are and if it’s the right fit for you.

As kitchen cabinetry will be one of the biggest line items in your renovation budget and can have a big impact on the design appeal of your home, it’s important you get what you want. With that said, here’s a quick guide of kitchen cabinets so you can make the perfect choice for your kitchen remodel.

Don’t know the difference between a home remodeling design build company and a general contractor? Then read this!

Frameless vs. Faceframe Cabinets

Let’s start with the basics: frameless or faceframe cabinets. With frameless cabinets, there is no frame around the cabinet box and the cabinet doors attach directly to the inside of the box. Although there are benefits such as ease of access and storage space, the main appeal is the seamless and more modern look frameless cabinets provide, due to their tiny ‘reveals’ (the space showing around the cabinet doors and drawer heads).

Faceframe cabinets have a frame that covers the edge of the cabinet box and the door hinges attach to the frame itself. Faceframe cabinets tend to be more adaptable to all overlay types (i.e. the way the cabinet frame shows around the doors and drawer heads) and sometimes have the added benefit of being more budget-friendly. However, this is highly dependent on the type of overlay you select (read more below).

There is no right or wrong choice and it’s all down to personal preference. The drawing below shows the difference between frameless and faceframe cabinets.

Frameless cabinets and a contemporary design. Photo courtesy Synergy Design & Construction. See more of this remodel here.

Frameless cabinets and a contemporary design. Photo courtesy Synergy Design & Construction. See more of this remodel here.

There are three different types of cabinet overlays: partial overlay, full overlay and inset. With more traditional partial overlay faceframe cabinets, you see a lot of the frame of the cabinet box. However, newer and more modern faceframe cabinets often have ‘full overlay’ doors. With new finishes and production methods, it’s not always easy to tell the difference between frameless and faceframe cabinets once installed, as seen in the examples below. Full overlay faceframe cabinets, however, are not the same as frameless cabinets. Full overlay cabinets still show approximately a ¼ inch reveal of the frame around the doors and drawers, while frameless cabinets show almost zero frame reveal.

This is an example of a more traditional American faceframe cabinet style. Note, since these are partial overlay cabinets, you can see the ‘frame’ of the cabinet box around the doors. Photo courtesy of Bright MLS.
Faceframe cabinets with white shaker cabinet doors are warmed up with the birch island in this transitional kitchen in Herndon. Photo courtesy Synergy Design & Construction. See more of this remodel here.
Full overlay cabinet doors set the tone for this transitional home remodel in Vienna. Photo courtesy Synergy Design & Construction. See more of this remodel here.

Next comes inset doors. With inset cabinetry, the doors are not sitting in front of the faceframe of the cabinet, but rather they are sitting right inside (‘flush’ with) the frame — the entire frame of the cabinet between all the doors and drawers is exposed for a classic, artisan look. To add further detail and uniqueness to inset cabinets, they are sometimes available with decorative exposed hinges in different finishes. As a general rule of thumb, inset doors will be more expensive.

In this example, inset doors were used on the walls and full-overlay doors for bases and tall cabinets. Photo courtesy Synergy Design & Construction. See more of this remodel here.

Now that you’ve made your decision on frameless or faceframe cabinets, let’s take a look at the most popular door styles.

The go-to Shaker

Shaker cabinet doors are still the go-to choice for many. Their clean lines and fuss-free look mean they are still a popular choice that stands the test of design time. Shaker cabinets fit beautifully with a more transitional design — i.e. design that blends traditional and modern design. Lately, there is a general move away from all white shaker kitchen cabinets. It started with lightly color contrasted islands, but now blue, green and wood elements are all equally at home.

Not sure what “transitional kitchen design” means? Read this!

Faceframe cabinets with white shaker doors and a gorgeous contrasting cobalt blue island! Photo courtesy Synergy Design & Construction. See more of this remodel here.

Slab fronted cabinets

When it comes to a more contemporary look, slab-fronted cabinets are the way to go. Cabinets with slab doors are usually frameless for an ultra-sleek look. They are versatile and can be handle/pull free for an extra modern look but also work with handles and pulls. As with shaker door cabinets, slab-fronted cabinet colors can also be mixed to give contrast.

Frameless cabinets with slab doors in contrasting walnut and white lacquer make this a standout kitchen in this Reston home. Photo Courtesy Synergy Design & Construction. See more of this remodel here.
Frameless cabinets with slab doors and tons of European flair! Photo courtesy Synergy Design & Construction. See more of the remodel here.

Mix n’ match

There is no rule about having to use one cabinet door style in your kitchen design. If you like the look of shaker but want a modern twist, it is possible to mix and match with slab-fronts. The key is to do all cabinet doors in one style and all drawers in another. In the examples below, a shaker style was used for cabinet doors, but with slab drawers for a more contemporary look.

Full overlay framed cabinets with slab drawers. Photo Courtesy Synergy Design & Construction. See more of this remodel here.
Frameless cabinets with shaker doors and slab drawers. Photo Courtesy Synergy Design & Construction. See more of this remodel here.
Frameless cabinets with shaker doors and slab drawers. Photo Courtesy Synergy Design & Construction. See more of this remodel here.
The clients in this home remodel in Reston took a slightly different approach. They used slabs for all of the base cabinets (both drawers AND doors) and shaker for all of the upper cabinets. Photo Courtesy Synergy Design & Construction. See more of this remodel here.

Ready to work with a local home remodeling company who provides a customized kitchen design and interior designers who help you with all the decisions? Our consultations are FREE and there is never any obligation. Learn more about us!

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

This biweekly column is sponsored by The Mather in Tysons, Virginia, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better.

Research has shown that older adults who engage with the arts in a group setting — anything from dancing to a poetry group to singing in a choir — enjoy tangible benefits in multiple areas of health. This has to do with feelings of mastery, and with social connection. 

“This research, combined with Dr. Gene Cohen’s description of life after 50 as a time of potential and inner growth known as the Creative Age, forms a foundation for using creativity to support personal wellness,” says Caroline Edasis, director of community engagement for Mather. Mather is the organization that’s bringing The Mather, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better, to Tysons, Virginia, in 2024. 

Susan Fine agrees. An artist with a studio and gallery in Washington, D.C., she plans to move to The Mather. She explains that, after a successful career in health care, “I went to Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Art Houston when I was 60. And I so enjoyed the experience! You can be more creative the older you get — child-rearing responsibilities and traditional work may recede, and you open up to other things. There are so many directions you can go in art; I focus on painting and mixed media.”

Midge Scelzo, who is also planning to move to The Mather, has a similar story: “I worked in banking for 25 years, then as CFO for tech startups. In 2009, we moved to Florida and I started a new CFO job… but I realized I wanted to get back to art. I wanted to challenge myself.” She joined a group of artists and started painting. “I’m loving it. It uses a different part of my brain. I’m still that finance person — detail-oriented and organized — but art relaxes me, and I can tune out the world.”

 Creativity as Wellness

Mather encourages residents in their existing communities — not just those who are established artists — to try creating new art forms in Open Art Studios. These studios, which position arts engagement as a vehicle for wellness, not just recreation, inviting both lifelong and new artists to explore their own Creative Age in a welcoming group setting. 

“While working in diverse media including ceramics and mixed media/painting, participants often realize alongside their peers that they have an untapped expressive ability, a new love for a specific media, or a personal project to pursue,” says Caroline. “One of our master’s-level facilitators, trained in art and psychology, is present to support each individual’s creative journey, and that person helps transform the group into an uplifting community in which residents learn more about each other and themselves.”

Inquiry-Based Art Viewing

Mather also has a signature approach to art appreciation — one that mirrors how contemporary museum practices are evolving. Rather than teaching or encouraging art appreciation with lectures from an expert such as a docent, they focus on inclusive, inquiry-based art-viewing techniques. 

“Did you know that the average person spends 17 seconds looking at a work of art in a museum?” asks Caroline. “In our visual literacy programs, we often spend a full hour describing an image, sharing stories conjured by the work of art, or even creating group poems in response to the work. These techniques focus on the interests, experiences, and curiosity of viewers to deliver intellectually stimulating content while challenging us to bring culture down from the pedestal and into our lives.” 

“This method is a great way to improve people’s cognition, and their interest and engagement with life,” says Eileen Mandell, who plans to move to The Mather when it opens. Eileen, who is currently the community relations director at 1st Stage theater in Tysons, has been immersed in the world of theater as well as studied and practiced various art media. “I’m looking forward the creative arts programming that The Mather will offer,” she says. “I’m a creative person in general, and I want to act as an art maven there.” 

The Mather has already formed relationships with local arts organizations, and plans to offer inquiry-based art experiences for residents on-site in museums, theaters, galleries, and more.

Mather recognizes that creativity is about much more than visual art. They encourage everyone to recognize aging as a time of great creative potential, whether through music, poetry, storytelling, dance and movement, or even gardening — the sky is truly the limit.

The Mather, projected to open in Tysons, VA, in 2024 for those 62 and better, is a forward-thinking Life Plan Community that defies expectations of what senior living is supposed to be.

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

Our law firm represents federal employees, military personnel and government contractors who have issues concerning foreign influence concerns and their security clearance. Foreign influence concerns have always been a major security concern to the government because there are potential risks when a clearance holder or applicant’s family or close friends are subject to potential duress or influence by a foreign power.

Foreign Influence Concerns Under Guideline B of SEAD 4

Security concerns involving foreign influence are reviewed by federal agencies under Guideline B of the Adjudicative Guidelines in Security Executive Agent Directive 4 (SEAD 4). The specific conditions that may raise security concerns include the following 9 security issues listed in Paragraph 7 of SEAD 4:

  1. Contact… with a foreign family member, business or professional associate, friend or other person who is a citizen of or a resident in a foreign country if that contact creates a heightened risk of foreign exploitation, inducement, manipulation, pressure or coercion;
  2. Connections to a foreign person, group, government or country that create a potential conflict of interest between the individual’s obligation to protect classified or sensitive information or technology and the individual’ s desire to help a foreign person, group or country by providing that information or technology;
  3. Failure to report or fully disclose, when required, association with a foreign person, group, government, or country;
  4. Counterintelligence information, whether classified or unclassified, that indicates the individual’s access to classified information or eligibility for a sensitive position may involve unacceptable risk to national security;
  5. Shared living quarters with a person or persons, regardless of citizenship status, if that relationship creates a heightened risk of foreign inducement, manipulation, pressure or coercion;
  6. Substantial business, financial, or property interests in a foreign country or in any foreign-owned or foreign-operated business that could subject the individual to a heightened risk of foreign influence or exploitation or personal conflict of interest;
  7. Unauthorized association with a suspected or known agent, associate or employee of a foreign intelligence entity;
  8. Indications that representatives or nationals from a foreign country are acting to increase the vulnerability of the individual to possible future exploitation, inducement, manipulation, pressure or coercion; and
  9. Conduct, especially while traveling or residing outside the U.S., that may make the individual vulnerable to exploitation, pressure, or coercion by a foreign person, group, government or country.

Mitigating Factors for Foreign Influence Cases

In terms of potential mitigation regarding foreign influence security concerns, the government considers the following mitigating considerations under Paragraph 8 of SEAD 4:

  1. The nature of the relationships with foreign persons, the country in which these persons are located, or the positions or activities of those persons in that country are such that it is unlikely the individual will be placed in a position of having to choose between the interests of a foreign individual, group, organization, or government and the interests of the United States;
  2. There is no conflict of interest, either because the individual’s sense of loyalty or obligation to the foreign person, or allegiance to the group, government, or country is so minimal, or the individual has such deep and longstanding relationships and loyalties in the United States, that the individual can be expected to resolve any conflict of interest in favor of the U.S. interest;
  3. Contact or communication with foreign citizens is so casual and infrequent that there is little likelihood that it could create a risk for foreign influence or exploitation;
  4. The foreign contacts and activities are on U.S. Government business or are approved by the agency head or designee;
  5. The individual has promptly complied with existing agency requirements regarding the reporting of contacts, requests, or threats from persons, groups, or organizations from a foreign country; and
  6. The value or routine nature of the foreign business, financial, or property interests is such that they are unlikely to result in a conflict and could not be used effectively to influence, manipulate, or pressure the individual.

Work Early to Mitigate Security Concerns Involving Foreign Influence

When a clearance holder or applicant has ties to a foreign country, such as close family or assets, it is very important to evaluate these situations early to attempt to mitigate security concerns. There are many methods available to attempt to mitigate foreign influence concerns, but it is essential to focus on (1) the country involved; (2) the nature of the foreign ties or assets; and (3) why this security concern is outweighed by assets, loyalty, and family in the United States.

Contact Us

When an individual is facing foreign influence security clearance concerns it is important to obtain legal advice and/or legal representation. Our law firm advises individuals in the security clearance process. We can be contacted at www.berrylegal.com or by telephone at (703) 668-0070. Additionally, our Facebook page is located here and our Twitter account is located here.

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

Before & After. (Photo courtesy Synergy Design & Construction)

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

Well, last month’s “Design Elements That Are Dating Your Home” column clearly struck a chord with many local homeowners! We heard from lots of people who shared other items they think are ready for a new, fresh twist. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some other dated items homeowners want to switch up when it comes time for their next home remodel or refresh!

Kitchen Desks

We’ve lost count of how many of these we’ve pulled out of homes in recent years! The kitchen desk seemed like such a great addition when it became ‘in’. However, many homeowners just never used them and they became a dumping zone rather than a work zone. When the COVID pandemic and lockdown happened, most people didn’t want to work at a desk in a small space facing a wall, so the home office/dining room got more attention as a work zone and the kitchen desk was abandoned. If you’re thinking of a kitchen remodel, we say replace the kitchen desk if you don’t use it. Put that square footage to better use!

Closet Pantry

There was a time when homes in this area weren’t built without a closet pantry. Although they are useful, they take up A LOT of square footage and because of their layout (not to mention an added door in a small space), things tend to disappear into the back of them, never to see the light of day again. Closet pantries are now being replaced with pull-out pantry cabinets instead. Got room for a separate pantry? Lucky you! The pantry has become a curated space in its own right and we LOVE it!

Platform Tubs in the Primary Bathroom

We’ve been saying this for a while, but the days of oversized platform tubs are gone. Taking their place are free-standing soaking tubs — or no tub at all! If you love a good soak, then the new style of tub is a great addition to your primary bathroom, but it’s no longer a ‘must-have’. Many homeowners are foregoing the tub altogether and creating large, glass shower enclosures instead. If you simply must have a tub, the trend of having a glass enclosure that has both the shower and the tub in one ‘wet’ zone has also been showing up everywhere in recent years.

When it comes to resale, many prospective buyers may want a tub somewhere in the home for kids (and yes, sometimes, pets!), but it is no longer a requirement to have a tub in the primary bathroom.

Read More

Research shows that practicing savoring positive experiences can improve your life satisfaction, resilience, and overall happiness.

This biweekly column is sponsored by The Mather in Tysons, Virginia, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better.

When you’re having a good day, or even a good moment, do you savor it?

If so, you are actively boosting your overall happiness and even your health. Savoring is defined as the ability to notice positive experiences and engage in thoughts and behaviors that enhance your enjoyment of the experience.

“We don’t always take the time to notice good things that are happening in our lives. Savoring is a way to make the most of positive experiences,” says Jennifer Smith, PhD, director of research at Mather Institute, an award-winning resource for research and information about wellness, aging and trends in senior living. The Institute is the research arm of Mather, the organization that is bringing The Mather, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better, to Tysons, Virginia.

Dr. Smith has conducted several studies on savoring, and one involved surveying 267 older adults to measure their savoring, life satisfaction and self-reported health. “We found that the relationship between self-reported health and satisfaction with life was different for people with high and low savoring abilities,” she says.

“When savoring ability was low, people reported lower life satisfaction when their health was poor. However, those with a high ability to savor reported significantly greater satisfaction with life — even when they were in poor health. This suggests that the ability to savor positive experiences can help people respond more resiliently to health challenges.”

The good news is that you can practice savoring and strengthen your ability to pay attention to positive experiences, appreciate enjoyable or meaningful experiences and build positive feelings. Savoring does not necessarily have to occur during an event — it can occur when you anticipate an upcoming positive event or imagine a future happiness. Savoring can also take place when you reminisce about a past positive event, or when you recall how you felt during a happy experience.

Dr. Smith’s research showed that older adults who practiced simple five-minute savoring exercises twice a day for six or seven days reported higher resilience, greater happiness and lower depression compared to those who didn’t fully complete the exercise. There were three steps to the savoring exercise:

1. Think about a positive experience
2. Pay attention to positive feelings that arise
3. Take a moment to appreciate the experience

Find Your Happy Place

Residents of Life Plan Communities may not have to work as hard at savoring exercises: research shows that they have higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction than other people. The findings, based on surveys of 4,100+ residents in 122 Life Plan Communities around the US, are from the Age Well Study conducted by Mather Institute.

Released in 2021, the Age Well Study findings include:

  • Those who are satisfied with their daily life and leisure activities report greater overall happiness.
  • The personality traits of extroversion and agreeableness are both linked to greater happiness and life satisfaction.
  • People are happier and more satisfied when they have a greater sense of community belonging.
  • Approximately 92% of respondents were highly satisfied with the place where they live.

The Mather, projected to open in Tysons, VA, in 2024 for those 62 and better, is a forward-thinking Life Plan Community that defies expectations of what senior living is supposed to be.

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

Live Fairfax is a bi-weekly column exploring Fairfax County. This recurring column is sponsored and written by Sharmane Medaris of McEnearney Associates. Questions? Reach Sharmane at 813-504-4479.

The fun only picks up as summer turns to fall in our area. Maybe you are new to the area or just need some fresh ideas of how to fully experience fall in Fairfax County and the surrounding areas!

As a Florida girl, I still marvel at the fall foliage at the numerous parks and trails, and I love running as the weather cools down. (Check out my previous trail video!)

And fall festivals are definitely one-stop opportunities to honestly embrace all things FALL. If you are like me with 3 kids in tow, I am all about efficiency in creating memories. Here are few of our favorites!

Photo via Cox Farms
  • Cox Farm Fall Festival: September 17-November 7
    Cox Farms has hayrides, the corny Cornundrum mazes, giant slides, pumpkin smashing and of course yummy apple cider doughnuts — there is something for every age!
  • 46th Annual Falls Church Fall Festival: September 17
    This family-fun event features The Taste of Falls Church, a beer garden, live music, children’s entertainment, and booths from local crafters, businesses and civic organizations.
  • Oktoberfest at The Boro: September 17
    Enjoy a Polka concert, playing games in Boro Park, and crafts there is something fun for all ages.
  • Reston Farm Garden Festival: September 24-October 30
    This Reston tradition will guarantee a day of games, activities, pumpkins and more.

  • Mosaic Fall Festival: September 24-25
    Live entertainment, FRESHFARM Farmers Market, URBNmarket, Caboose Brewing Beer Garden, Wine Garden and so much more. NOVA Fall Music Festival is September 24.
  • Vienna Oktoberfest: October 1
    A day full of fun with a Beer/Wine Garden, food court, live music (including a German band), free children’s activities, children’s entertainment stage, acoustic stage and a festival marketplace
  • City of Fairfax Fall Festival: October 8
    City of Fairfax Fall Festival will have more than 400 arts, crafts, information, food and gourmet food vendors, children’s activities and three stages of music and entertainment for all ages.
  • Clifton Day Festival: October 9
    Marketplace with around 150 artisans, antique dealers, vintage sellers and other vendors. Live music, children’s activities, pony rides, a beer and wine garden, and other delicious food and beverage choices add to the fun.

Explore Fairfax with Sharmane Medaris of McEnearney.

Sharmane Medaris | Live Fairfax | www.soldbysharmane.com | [email protected] | @soldbysharmane | 813-504-4479 | 374 Maple Avenue Suite 202, Vienna, VA 22180

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

Swimming regularly offers a wealth of cognitive benefits.

This biweekly column is sponsored by The Mather in Tysons, Virginia, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better.

Swimming laps is a terrific, low-impact exercise option and a pleasant way to work out… But there’s another reason to consider jumping in a pool: a growing body of research is finding that swimming in particular holds multiple, unique benefits for our brain health.

“These recent studies are fascinating, and the findings are increasingly positive,” says William Wesley Myers, Assistant Vice President of Wellness Strategies at Mather. Mather is the owner operator of The Mather, a Life Plan Community that is coming to Tysons in 2024. “We’re learning that science shows that swimming regularly can improve one’s cognitive function as well as short- and long-term memory, and may help repair damage caused by stress.”

Cynthia Sitcov of Arlington is a lifelong swimmer who is looking forward to moving to The Mather and enjoying the on-site indoor pool there. “I swim five days a week — it’s addictive for me,” she says. “If I go a day or two without swimming, my body craves it.”

A Proven Pool of Benefits

One study of older adults found that those who swam had improved attention and mental speed compared to a group that didn’t swim. And swimming can offer a cognitive boost to younger people: a study of younger athletes (including swimmers and land-based athletes) found that 20 minutes of moderate-intensity breaststroke swimming improved cognitive function. Children have been found to learn better after swimming than after anaerobic exercise or a resting activity like coloring.

“It’s exciting to see this scientific data supporting the benefits of such an accessible activity,” says William. “Swimming and aquatics classes are gentle on joints and don’t require great mobility. Anyone can use aquatic exercise to improve muscle endurance as well as core strength and endurance, while burning an estimated 400 to 500 calories in an hour of exercise.”

More specifically, research shows that aquatic exercise can help with the following:

  • Strengthen the cardiovascular and respiratory systems
  • Improve bone density — particularly in post-menopausal women
  • Boost pulmonary function and blood pressure
  • Increase muscular strength and stamina
  • Improve range of motion
  • Increase circulation
  • Reduce body fat and tone the body

Japanese researchers found that women age 60 to 75 who participated in regular aquatic exercise for 12 weeks demonstrated more strength, flexibility and agility, and had better total cholesterol levels, than a control group.

Swimming and aquatic exercise can also have a powerful effect on mood. Research has also shown that exercising in water is a natural mood-booster, enhancing self-esteem while reducing stress, anxiety and depression.

“Swimming for me is like meditation in motion; I count my laps and don’t think about anything else,” says Cynthia. “Even when I’m having a bad day, I’ll feel better after I swim. I never get out of the pool feeling lousy; I feel like my body was just plugged into an energy source.”

It can also be a social experience: “I’ve been swimming with the same people for 25 years,” says Cynthia. “We’ve solved the world’s problems, talking 10 minutes at a time in the locker room.”

All of the above seem like great reasons for everyone to give swimming and aquatic exercise a try. In other words, everyone in the pool!

The Mather, projected to open in Tysons, VA, in 2024 for those 62 and better, is a forward-thinking Life Plan Community that defies expectations of what senior living is supposed to be. The community’s comprehensive fitness center will include an indoor swimming pool.

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

Kitchen lighting done right! See the Before photo of this kitchen below. (Photo courtesy Synergy Design & Construction)

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

Nobody likes to hear their home is starting to date and look its age, or that a “must have it” design choice they made may have seen its day. But, it’s a fact of life that, as time goes on, interior design trends and aesthetics evolve and what was “in” twenty or thirty years ago is now ready for a refresh. So, let’s take a look at some common design elements that are dating your home — and some ideas for how you can update your space.

Like all things design, if you have any of these things in your home and you LOVE them, let them be. It’s your home; if it makes you happy, enjoy them. But we bet it’s more than likely some of these things will resonate with you and you might even have been thinking about switching them out for a while!

Honey Oak/Orange Toned Stair Banister & Railings

Oh, boy. This is a controversial one as we see this all over Northern Virginia because so many of the homes in the area were built around the same time. We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but it’s time to put a fresh spin on your honey oak staircase and get your paint out!

Replacing the entire floor is one thing, but updating your staircase is a weekend job that will totally transform your space. Don’t believe us? See the examples below!

1980s Ceiling Fans

This one always creates fond memories of flowery wallpaper borders and chintz sofas. For us, it’s all about the details and nothing sticks out more in an updated space than a dated ceiling fan. Even worse? If you haven’t gotten around to replacing that bulb that went out or the chain has broken and is no longer serving a purpose.

There are SO many options available now at really reasonable prices from big box stores and online. But with so many options, how do you know which one to choose? You don’t have to have contemporary tastes to get one you like. A general rule of thumb is the less it has going on, the better. We think this one is an easy fix that you need to put on your list NOW!

Glass Blocks

Guilty! This was SUCH a popular look for such a long time (especially in bathrooms) that it’s hard to let them go. However, it’s time to move on! These days, large clear glass shower enclosures and fuss-free streamlined modern finishes are the way to go.

Removing glass blocks may not be an easy change. If budget allows and it’s an exterior window, it’s money well spent to replace it. If that’s not within your budget, hang a sheer drape in front the glass block window to filter the light and soften the look.  If you have a glass block shower or accent wall and you want to take it down, you’ll likely need professional help. Put it on your wishlist for when it’s time to remodel!

Before & After (Photo courtesy Synergy Design & Construction)

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Lucky Fairfax City! El Pollo Rico is here. You’ve heard about it, now try it yourself.

It’s the marinade.

That was celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain’s conclusion after inhaling half of roasted chicken, skin and all, at El Pollo Rico’s legendary location at Virginia Square in Arlington. He took his camera crew behind the scenes of the always-spinning rotisserie and engaged employees in conversation but none of them would offer what the secret ingredients were to the marinade, which Bourdain said he had never had before.

And now great news: Chicken aficionados in and around Fairfax City are getting their own El Pollo Rico. And as if the regular prices are not reasonable enough — they are! — the new rotisserie restaurant is now open to coincide with the start of Fairfax City Restaurant Week (August 29-September 4).

Fairfax City is the fourth of the independent Peruvian chain’s storefronts since opening the Arlington location in 1984. The fast-casual counter served setting provides convenient inside dining or rapid pick-up, the better to consume in front of drooling co-workers back at the office. (Delivery is available too, via Uber Eats.)

The menu? Chicken, of course with a selection of sides, sodas and deserts.

The tender chicken is grilled over charcoal and served in fractions of a quarter or a half or a whole of dark or white meat. The seasoned skin is roasted to a soft crackle, and even health nuts who ordinarily wouldn’t touch the skin can’t help themselves and devour everything on the plate but the bones.

Insider tip: Dip the chicken meat into one of the two sauces available. Those sauces are called, no kidding, green sauce and yellow sauce.

An extra insider tip: Mix the green and yellow sauces. No idea what’s in them, but ask for extras!

Of course, there the are sides — you get a choice of beans, slaw, rice, fried plantains, fried yuca and fries. There is an assortment of Latin American-style soft drinks — including Rio Grande “Champagne,” coconut juice and the number one soda, Inca Kola — in addition to more familiar brands.

And that’s it! Easy.

Best advice of the day? Get some El Pollo Rico soon!

El Pollo Rico is located at 10801 Fairfax Blvd., in Fairfax City. It’s now open for Fairfax Restaurant Week (August 29-September 4) from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. El Pollo Rico will be open for regular hours starting September 5, open 5 days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Wednesday-Sunday.

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

Regular breathwork, or the intentional manipulation of your breathing, offers many benefits to your physical and emotional health.

This biweekly column is sponsored by The Mather in Tysons, Virginia, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better.

If you’re looking for an easy way to improve your physical health and mood, just breathe. The practice of breathwork, or the intentional manipulation of your breathing has been gaining attention thanks to the widespread popularity of yoga and meditation. However, researchers have been studying the benefits of breathwork for years.

“Breathing is not new — it’s the most essential thing we do for our bodies — but breathwork is a new approach to wellness,” says William Wesley Myers, assistant vice president of wellness strategies for Mather. Mather is the owner operator of The Mather, a Life Plan Community that is coming to Tysons in 2024.

Renee West knows the power of breathwork. “Breathwork is extremely important in yoga. They call it the intelligence of the body,” she says. When Renee, who plans to move into The Mather, retired from her corporate sales career, she pursued certification as a yoga instructor. Today, with an additional teaching certificate in Yin Yoga, she leads classes in a local yoga studio and has her own practice.

“Breathwork has many health benefits,” Renee explains. “You can use it to increase or decrease your energy, to calm your mind and to help you focus, among many things. There are so many techniques.”

Breathwork Benefits

Physical benefits from deep breathing are often instantaneous. There is a direct relationship between breath rate, mood and systems that activate our fight-or-flight or rest-and-restore responses, which directly affect heart rate, respiration and digestion. Deep, mindful breathing carries benefits to these systems and more.

Emotional Health: One study showed that manipulating the breath can cause up to a 40% variance in emotions. Evoke joy by breathing and exhaling slowly and deeply through the nose. Other research shows breathwork can help to treat anxiety, PTSD and severe depression, even in those who don’t respond well to antidepressants.

Blood Pressure: A regular practice of slow, deep breathing is an effective way to reduce blood pressure. 

Stamina: An Italian study found that the lungs of mountain-climbers who practiced slow breathing an hour a day for two years maximized oxygen better, allowing the climbers to forego supplemental oxygen needed by others to summit Mount Everest. 

Focus: Breath-focused yoga can sharpen participants’ attention spans and focus by changing brain chemistry.

Pain Management: Multiple studies have shown that slow, deep breathing can reduce perception of chronic pain or help people cope with discomfort. Breathwork can be especially effective with back pain.

Longevity: Research has shown that breathwork improves metabolism and reduces inflammation — both of which contribute to longer life.

“People can all benefit from doing a little breathwork,” says Renee. “You can do some simple breathing exercises sitting on the edge of a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Even five minutes of breathwork offers benefits!”

The Mather, projected to open in Tysons, VA, in 2024 for those 62 and better, is a forward-thinking Life Plan Community that defies expectations of what senior living is supposed to be. The community is located in the center of a vibrant urban location just two blocks from the Metro and within walking distance to restaurants, retail, and parks.

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

 

If you need furniture NOW at Labor Day Sale prices, Herndon’s Furniture Max is waiting for you.

Great news for Labor Day shoppers: Furniture Max in Herndon is reducing prices like never before. The store-wide Labor Day Sale Event continues through the month with reduced prices and special deals that will appeal to anyone in need of furniture or fixtures for any room in the house.

This announcement comes with a warning: While everything is in stock and ready for delivery tomorrow, quantities at Furniture Max are limited.

While inventory lasts:

  • Buy a leather sofa and receive a matching loveseat — free!
  • Buy any recliner — get the second half off!
  • Buy a five-piece bedroom set, get a Serta mattress — free!

Speaking of Serta mattresses, they are starting at just $599 — while inventory lasts!

Did we make it clear? These sale prices will reduce inventory quickly during the Labor Day Sale event — what are you waiting for?

Herndon’s family owned Furniture Max is the one-stop superstore for all-things furniture, for every room of the house. The store’s collection of living room, bedroom, dining room, entertainment room, and home office furniture is in stock and ready for delivery — at Labor Day Sale event pricing.

Financing is available, even online!

Furniture Max is at 2441 Centreville Road in Herndon. Call 571-459-2333 or email [email protected].

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

At Synergy Design & Construction, we take pride in helping our home remodeling clients repurpose or recycle whenever possible.

Salvaging items that can be reused keeps them out of landfills and it always makes our day if we can put unwanted items to good use. It might not be the first thing on your mind when planning a remodel, but we were wondering how important it is to local residents in general. Let’s find out with a poll.

Community Forklift is a non-profit reuse center for home improvement supplies. They take donated materials and make them available at low cost to the public as well as providing vintage materials for old homes.

Habitat for Humanity’s Habitat ReStores are home improvement stores that accept small and large donations of new or gently used furniture, appliances, housewares, building materials and more.

Homes Not Borders provides required furnishings and household items for newly arriving refugee families. Their moving teams do item pick up 2-3 times a week throughout the DC metro area.

GreenDrop will even come to your door to pick up donations to support a number of different non-profits. They accept small electrical appliances, tools, kitchenware and some electronics in addition to clothes and bedding

Lastly, you might think 123 Junk is just a removal service, but they also partner with a number of non-profits in the DC area to put donated furniture, appliances, clothing and other items to good use.

Next time you are thinking about a home remodel, ask your prospective remodeler if they participate in recycling and repurposing.

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

There are several important issues federal employees should consider when deciding whether to pursue an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint against a federal agency or supervisor.

Potential EEO Claims

Federal employee EEO complaints can involve a range of discriminatory conduct by federal agencies, including discrimination on the basis of age, disability, race, religion, sex, pregnancy, genetic information and national origin. In addition, EEO complaints can also involve hostile work environment, sexual harassment and retaliation.

Example EEO Complaints

Some typical EEO claims brought by federal employees are demonstrated in the following five hypothetical scenarios:

  • Example A: Federal employee is sexually harassed at work by her supervisor. When the federal employee refuses her supervisor’s overtures, she then receives a suspension from the same supervisor. The federal employee brings a claim for sexual harassment.
  • Example B: Federal employee has previously filed an EEO complaint against his supervisor. A year later, the federal employee discovers that his promotion was denied by the supervisor because the supervisor was upset that the federal employee had filed an EEO complaint. The federal employee brings a claim for retaliation.
  • Example C: Federal employee takes sick leave related to treatment for cancer. Upon the employee’s return, his supervisor gives the employee a bad performance evaluation for taking too much time off. The federal employee claims disability discrimination.
  • Example D: Federal employee takes sick leave related to a recent car accident and requires a lot of time out of the office for physical therapy. The federal employee is also unable to perform some of her duties as she recovers, including the lifting of boxes for a limited period of time. The federal employee asks her supervisor for modifications to her duties (a reasonable accommodation), but the supervisor refuses to modify the employee’s schedule. The federal employee claims disability discrimination for her agency’s failure to accommodate her serious medical condition.
  • Example E: 65-year-old federal employee is competing for a promotion to a GS-15 position. Federal employee competes against two other employees, under the age of 40, for the same position. The 65-year-old federal employee is not selected for the position. He later discovers that the selecting official expressed concerns that may have impacted his decision, namely that the 65-year-old applicant might retire sooner than the other two younger applicants. The 65-year-old federal employee claims age discrimination.

EEO Complaint Deadline

Typically, a federal employee only has 45 days from the date of discrimination in which to contact an EEO counselor at the federal agency to initiate the EEO complaint process. If a complaint is not timely initiated, the federal employee may be time-barred from filing the EEO complaint.

EEO Remedies

Remedies for illegal discrimination and retaliation caused by federal agencies and managers involve several types of potential monetary relief, including lost back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees. Non-monetary remedies can include the clearing of negative performance records and disciplinary actions, transfers and promotions.

The EEO Process

Typically, once a federal employee initiates contact with an EEO counselor regarding an informal complaint, assuming there is no earlier resolution or settlement, the next steps include: (1) the filing of a formal EEO complaint, (2) the investigation of the EEO complaint, (3) either a request for a decision on the EEO complaint from the federal agency or a request for a full hearing before a federal administrative judge and (4) proceeding to a hearing on the merits. Most discrimination cases are settled with federal agencies before the EEOC hearing stage. In fact, most cases settle at mediation with the federal agency early in the EEO process.

The EEO and MSPB processes can be intertwined, especially in removal cases. In some cases, federal employees may have what is known as a “mixed” case appeal that would also be appealable to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), so it is important to obtain advice from counsel.

Additional EEO Information

Federal employees can find more detailed information about filing EEO complaints at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) website.

Contact Us

Our law firm represents and advises federal employees in EEO and other employment matters. If you need legal assistance regarding an EEO complaint or other employment matter, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

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