Girl’s Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide helps women keep on driving

Engineer creates women’s car care clinic and guide to help women perform basic car fixes and maintenance

Patrice Banks’ Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide is just the kind of book my father wished I’d had when I got my first car, and second, and third, and so on. Instead of calling him up or bringing my car to my parents’ house every time I had an indicator light come on or I heard a new rattle or thump, I could’ve referred to this book and maybe even have found an easy fix I could do myself.

The guide aims to help women who are not mechanically minded to never feel powerless again by learning to maintain their ride, think like a mechanic and learn the basics so they can get down and dirty under the hood. The sassy and casual tone of the book makes it fun to learn things like what you can and can’t touch, the meaning of all those lights on your dashboard and which ones you can ignore, how to change a flat tire, correctly jumpstart a car, and first aid for your engine if it overheats. Tips also include the signs when it’s time to get a new vehicle.

The book has lots of easy-to-follow instructions with illustrations, tips, tricks and information that the author says every woman must know about her car to make her a confident driver and smart consumer. Banks, the founder of Girls Auto Clinic, worked for 12 years as an engineer and then went back to school to learn auto repair and began leading car care workshops. She now runs an auto repair shop/salon outside Philadelphia staffed by female mechanics. Girls Auto Clinic is published by Simon and Schuster, available on Amazon in paperback for $17.

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Kids learn music and coding through gameplay with Osmo

Coding Jam is the latest gameplay system that teaches kids to code while they play

The other day my son commanded Google Home to play a custom playlist he had created on a Pandora. Two things occurred to me about this. First, wow. The digitally connected future vision of the The Jetsons was coming true; and then, my more mundane thought was, “That music is awful. My 10-year-old child could write better arrangements,” and thanks to Osmo, he can.

Like many other kids who love video games, my son craves leveling up and learning how to improve his skills, and Osmo has harnessed this excitement in a new technology experience, Coding Jam, that allows kids to create music through basic coding. Using colored building blocks and a system that interacts with an iPad or iPhone, kids can arrange and play musical notes in strings and sequences to write their own tunes.

The coding system, designed for kids 5-12, was created by former Google techs as the next generation of award-winning Osmo STEAM-fueled hand-on gameplay that helps children learn valuable coding skills that they can build upon to understand more complex coding, i.e., become the next genius engineers to save the world, or at least they can have fun and create some cool music.

The system works by helping kids learn music fundamentals such as chord progressions, leading into patterns and sequences. As they get to know coding’s creative side, they develop an ear for rhythm, melody and harmony. And more good news for parents: new research finds that high-school students who studied music appreciation scored 61 points better on their verbal SATs and 42 points better on their math SATs.

Once their arrangements are composed, kids can safely share their jammer mixes with family and friends. As they build the system with more blocks, they can create literally millions of combinations and programming options.

Here’s a short glimpse at what the experience is like: https://youtu.be/E9eAMARTnAk.

Osmo system are available at Amazon, Target, ToysRUs and online at the Osmo store.

 

Messick’s Market and fall festival is a cornucopia of fun

Country market offers fresh farm fare and fun

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It’s that time of year when the pumpkin patches start sprouting up all over Fauquier County. Each year it seems to be more competitive, with local farms endeavoring to create the most circuitous corn maze, the scariest haunted hayride, and of course, the largest market of pumpkins of every size shape and orangeness and shades thereof to attract kids and families to celebrate the harvest season.

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While I will always be loyal to our family favorite of Cox Farms, which is one of the original fall festival farms in the area, I recently discovered another delightful pumpkin patch on some back roads heading home to Warrenton from Bealton, drawn in by a roadside sign for fresh blueberry custard.

I pulled off to discover Messick’s Farm Market, which features a adorable walk-up ice cream bar with a covered wood deck patio in front, and a whole cornucopia of fresh vegetables and dairy inside the joining farmers market, opening up and back to a farm fantasyland of activities for kids.

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One of the main attraction for my 10-year-old son was a huge jumping pillow, sort of like a trampoline but filled with air. For the price of three dollars my son got a wristband to join his fellow jumpers, performing flips and other aerial feats that kept him entertained for a good 40 minutes before he staggered off exhausted and parched, gasping for water. This for me was a good thing, as it meant one of us — which means two of us — would get a good night’s sleep that night.

While we came by at sunset, and the hayride and other activities had closed down for the evening, we could see the signage and glimpse the entrance to the corn maze and other activities. After all of his jumping, my son was too tired anyway to do anything else, so lucky for us the festival will go on for another month, and we will be back!

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Vint Hill Fall Festival celebrates a new season

Annual event showcases beauty of the former grounds of Vint Hill Farms Station U.S. Army Base

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There are many small town festivals, but Vint Hill Fall Festival is one of the loveliest I have attended, mostly due to its beautiful surroundings and its rich history. The festival was held this year on September 23 on the grassy grounds of what used to be a US Army base, Vint Hills Farms Station, which has been transformed into a beautiful community gathering area around the historic Vint Hill Inn.

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The event featured gourmet food trucks and traditional fair food like funnel cakes and cotton candy, booths featuring local craftspeople and their wares, community organizations showcasing their services and educating about their causes, a children’s park of fun activities such as a rockclimbing wall, laser tag, a wipeout-style challenge, inflatable slides and more. There were also a couple stages with live music, dancing entertainment and other performances.

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Local merchants such as the popular Old Bust Head Brewery as well as newcomers like the Vint Hill CrossFit gym enthusiastically promoted their growing businesses, and the Vint Hill Village developers were present to share their vision of the future of the area as a town center, complete with a Main Street with shops, restaurants, and new homes.

The setting for the festival is especially beautiful and welcoming thanks to the gracious shade of many old-growth trees that form a natural canopy across the grounds where festival attendees could sit, eat, socialize and play and enjoy the bucolic surroundings.

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It was my second Vint Hill Fall Festival I have attended since moving to the area from Los Angeles last year, and it will be something I mark on my calendar to attend with my family as an annual event where the local community and visitors come together to appreciate all our burgeoning community has to offer.

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Check the back seat when heading back to school

More children get left in cars during back-to-school season

GMC has announced a new vehicle feature to help prevent caregivers from accidentally leaving children in cars, which can be a fatal mistake in hot weather. GMC’s “Rear Seat Reminder” is an industry-first technology intended to help remind the driver to look in the rear seat before exiting the vehicle under certain circumstances.

GMC’s protective feature will be standard in the new 2018 GMC Terrain.  The technology does not actually detect objects or people in the rear seat but monitors rear door usage for up to 10 minutes before or during a trip, and when the driver turns off the vehicle.  An alarm sounds five chimes and displays a warning on the driver information center screen, prompting a second look in the back seat. A GMC staff engineer and mother of two, Tricia Morrow, led the development of the technology.

It is as tragic statistic that about half of the heatstroke deaths of children under age 14 occur because caregivers mistakenly leave children in cars. Since 1998, more than 660 children across the United States have died from heatstroke when unattended in a vehicle. During September’s back-to-school season and Baby Safety Month, Safe Kids Worldwide warns that changes in caregivers’ routines can lead to children being forgotten in cars.

Young children are particularly at risk as their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s.  When a child’s internal temperature gets to 104 degrees, major organs begin to shut down. And when that child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees, the child can die.

Safe Kids Worldwide, an organization of 400 coalitions across the U.S. and funded by General Motors, developed a system called ACT to help remind caregivers not to leave children in cars.  The acronym focuses on avoiding heatstroke by never leaving a child in a car, creating reminders that a child is riding in the car, and taking action by calling 911 if a child is left alone in a car.

Safe Kids warns that children get left behind by loving, caring parents simply because they become distracted, and that these accidences are more common with new parents who are sleep-deprived or when a parent’s routine is disrupted.

10 essentials for the end of the summer season

Gear up for the last days of summer

A hot Indian summer can last for weeks, or longer, after Labor Day, so don’t give up yet on fun in the sun. For summer’s last hurrah, do it right with these 10 essentials for entertaining and enjoying the outdoors. Gear up and get outside, while you can.

Beach head

Violet Love chic headbands ($17 and up) and bandeaus ($24) that stay in place, at the beach, riding in the convertible, or wherever you head out or bust a move. This playful line of headwear, strapless bra tops and other accessories and apparel items features fun prints and styles and soft, stretchy lightweight fabrics that are comfortable, cute, and functional.

Throw on the towel

Distinguish your base camp on the beach with colorful Lacoste beach towels (Macy’s, $42). These stylish, crocodile-emblazoned towels are lightweight yet plush and absorbent, and their large size makes them a cross between a towel and blanket, to wrap up in after splashing in the water, or for sandphobes who want spacious ground cover when basking in the sun.

Blow up your kayak

If you’ve always wanted a kayak but didn’t think you had the space to store one, Innova Kayaks has a solution that blows traditional kayaks out of the water. These inflatable kayaks are lightweight and constructed of heavy duty natural and synthetic rubber that will last for years, even decades.  They blow up in minutes with a high-capacity foot pump, and after the adventuring they fold up compactly and can be carries away in an oversized backpack and loaded into even a compact car. One-person and three-seater models available, with capacity up to 900 pounds. Available at dealers nationwide $399 to $1,299.

Hot or not

Need to Facebook while you are on the beach? Stop being a lame-o and enjoy the beach, but if you do need your phone for an emergency, take along ClimateCase ($34.99) insulating smartphone case. The lined pouch protects your phone against extreme temperatures that can cause a phone to stop working.  The case features a multi-layered thermal system comprised of 7 mm of Neoprene and gel infused materials. Pop it in the fridge for four hours before using (or in the microwave for 20-25 seconds in cold weather), to keep your phone safe; or if the worst happens, you can restore an overheated (or frozen) phone in less than 60 seconds.

Skeeter-free

Mosquitos don’t stick to any calendar when it comes to biting season, so keep them away from you and your patio party with Thermacel Patio Shield.  ($39.99, at retailers nationwide). This sleek little portable-speaker-sized mosquito repeller burns an insect repellent mat that creates a 15’ x 15’ protection zone, perfect for a small outdoor area. It uses butane cartridges (four included, to last 48 hours) and two AA batteries to operate.

Coolest cooler

You’ve got your hands full, with beach chairs, blankets, boogie boards and kids. Free up a hand by strapping your cooler on your back, with the IceMule ($49.95 to $69.95), a portable insulated backpack that will keep your food and drinks icey cold for up to 24 hours. These padded sacks feature a heavy-duty inner and outer skin, a range of sizes and a ventilated backpack strap system.

If you dare wear skort skirts

In between summer and fall, it’s the perfect time to wear something in between shorts and a skirt. The Royal Robbins Jammer Skort ($60) is a sporty and comfortable skirt with stretchy built-in shorts underneath that allow you to be active and lady like at the same time.

Shoe be do

Step out in fashion forward and comfort-driven Off the Beaten Track sandals. You can stride in style the best thing next to bare feet, on the boardwalk, at the theme park, shopping, strolling, or anywhere you want to wander in these casual go-anywhere, do-anything earth-inspired leathers, with attention to detail that will make you want to put your feet up, to show them off.  The line also features shoes and boots for all seasons, $79 to $179.

Hydrate, or dry

If summer’s sun had taken a toll on your skin, hydrate and refresh it with Vichy’s Mineral 89 ($29.50), a skincare formula comprised of 89% Vichy Thermal Water, derived from mineral-rich volcanic territory in Vichy, France, plus the addition of hyaluronic acid which ramps up the performance of the mineralizing water to boost skin’s resistance to daily aggressors, for year-round healthy-looking skin.

Snack on

When you are tossing some treats into your tote for an outing, its hard to find nutritious and yummy snacks that won’t melt into mush on a hot day. All-natural KUTOA snack bars ($23.99 fo r12-pack)are not only delicious, they are perfect for packing along to the beach or pool, soccer game, or other outing, and you can feel good about eating these oatmeal bars because they are non-GMO verified, vegan, gluten, and contain no dairy, soy, wheat, preservatives or added sugar, plus for every bar that’s purchased, KUTOA helps feed a children in need around the world. Flavors include Chocolate Banana, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Blueberry Almond, Chocolate Espresso Bean, and Cherry Cashew.

A bedroom retreat for all seasons

Beautify and refresh your bedroom, any time of year

Many a travel-weary soul has exclaimed, “There’s nothing like being home in your own bed.” Your bedroom is your private sanctuary, so make it an inviting place where you can rest, sleep and feel restored, surrounded by pure comfort and beauty.

Blooming bed

Bring a lasting bouquet beauty of seasonal blooms into your bedroom with Ted Baker London floral bedding.  The designer known for its rich, vibrant hues and elaborate prints is launching a new line of luxury linens for spring, including the Blue Beauty collection, inspired by souvenir photographs taken by the designer on a bicycle ride around Holland’s tulip fields. The tonal blues create a striking statement against a pristine white backdrop.

The soft 100-perfect cotton comforter sets, coverlets, and decorative pillows are available at Nordstrom.com, priced between $65 to $285.

Counting sleep

Sleeping in total comfort not just a dream. PONS bedding has made it their mission to create the ultimate environment for perfect sleep. The PONS mattress (starting at $599) will help you rest well not just because of its gel infusion for cooler sleep, its breathable knit cover for airflow and its body-conforming foam with three levels of pressure point relief for restful shuteye, but you will sleep well knowing the materials under you are 100-percent eco-friendly and CertiPUR-US certified from head to toe.

The mattress contains no ozone depleters, mercury, lead, and other heavy metals, or formaldehyde or phthalates, and low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) emissions for indoor air quality (less than 0.5 parts per million). PONS made the perfect match to its mattress in a bedframe ($1,199) equipped with USB ports for recharging while you sleep. Soon PONS promised to offer cooling and ultra-dry sheets, comforters and pillows.

Airbn-be-better

Nature’s bounty of trees, plants and flowers, as well as our beloved animals, bring us beauty and joy that make our house a home, inside and out; but they also bring into the home pollen, dander and other indoor pollutants that can be harmful to our health and comfort. Blueair Classic 405 ($599) air purifier filters out the polluting particles to clean unhealthy air in your home environment. It operates quietly, and its modern design discreetly blends in with home décor. Integrated smart technology allows it to be operated remotely with a smartphone.

The clean-air companion to the Blueair air purifier is Blueair Aware ($199), a sleek, small air monitor that continuously measures indoor air quality and quickly detects airborne pollutants, including ultrafine particulate matter (PM2), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde and benzene and carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2). You don’t need to know what any of these chemicals and contaminants are – just that when the Blueair Aware indicator shines blue, the air you breathe is A-OK. If the indicator light turns orange, it’s time to shut the windows or eliminate other sources of air contaminants.

Clean case

Feeling good under the covers begins with a fresh, clean bed and pillows. Cover your mattress and pillows with an allergen-barrier to keep down dust mites, pollen, pet dander and other household allergens. AllerEase Ultimate zippered mattress protector ($55.99) and pillow protectors ($9.99) fully encase mattresses and pillows in antimicrobial, hypoallergenic fabric to reduce exposure to irritants; and because the top fabric is soft and pliable, the covers do not alter the feel or breathability of your sleep surface. As an added benefit, the waterproof coverings offer protection from spills, and they can be machine washed and dried for easy care.