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.

Celebrate America’s Birthday with a bang

Get your red, white and blue on for the holiday

Independence Day is around the corner, so get ready to celebrate in style and spirit. Be a star at your July 4th party with festive food, drink and Americana accoutrement made for entertaining and enjoying your holiday.

Hole-in-won!

You can’t miss with a flag themed bean bag toss game. This stars-and-stripes Americana Edition of the popular corn hole game comes with two 24″ x 35″ boards and red and blue bean bags for two or four players, with a built-in compartment to store the bean bags and Velcro fasteners to keep the boards together for easy storage and carrying. Available at TJMaxx for $79.99.

Spirit wear

Dress in indie spirit with patriotic themed Trucks Surf & Co. swim suit or a R, W & B Life is Good T-shirt ($7.99 – $14.99), available at TJ Maxx. Dress up or dress down with a versatile and comfortable Discovery skort from Royal Robbins ($55), with a zipper pocket, built-in UPF 50+ sun protection, and a wicking quick-dry fabric perfect for outdoor fun, trekking or travel.

 

Music go-round

Keep up the beat wherever you are, with the Yatra Aquatune 5712 ($34.99), a small but booming weatherproof wireless Bluetooth speaker that can jam up to 12 hours on a charge. It’s so compact it can clip on a belt or beach bag so you can bring along the tunes on the go. www.shopyatra.com.

A-la more

What’s more American than apple pie and ice cream? Scoop on the red, white and blue with Turkey Hill All Natural ice cream in pure vanilla bean and new flavors of raspberry chocolate chip and blueberry.  Like all 20 flavors in the All Natural line-up, all flavors are made with only milk, cream, sugar, and natural flavors, and they include no artificial colors and no stabilizers. Available at select grocers and convenience stores wherever Turkey Hill products are sold.

Not your grandma’s camp chair

Rock out while you view the fireworks in a GCI Outdoor FirePit Rocker ($60) that will make you the envy of everyone sitting stiff in their old-school camp chairs. This low-ride spring-loaded rocking camp chair lets you lean back and look up at the fireworks, and for camping it’s the perfect height for an evening around the campfire, with a mesh backrest and padded armrests for cool comfort, and a beverage holder to keep your drink close-by. Available at national sporting good retailers.

Take out the sting

Keep the skeeters and other pests from biting at your picnic or fireworks party with Nobitech insect-repellent performance wear. Their collection of Skintex-treated T-shirts and long-sleeve pullover sand hoodies ($19-$35) are suitable for the sports-minded athlete but also stylish enough for regular folk and can help ward off Zika-carrying mosquitos and Lyme-disease carrying ticks.

Pop star

Break out the Popcornopolis and make your Fourth of July party really pop.  Popcornolpolis chef-designed artisan popcorn one-ups America’s favorite snack food with decadent gluten-free, non-GMO confection varieties like Zebra, drizzled with premium chocolate; Chocolate Stripe carmel corn drizzled with dark and white chocolate; Chocolate Peanut Butter caramel corn; and White Chocolate Macadamia; or try the Popcornolpolis new line of organic popcorn Nearly Naked; Herbed Butter; Three Cheese; Pesto Mozzarella; Avocado Lime; Kettle Corn; Karamel Kiss; and Chocolate Macaroon. Available at Popcornopolis stores, grocery and club stores, sports stadiums, movie theatres and at www.popcornopolis.com.

Mix it up

 

When it’s hot as a firecracker outside, quench your thirst with a sparkling refreshing beverage from Zevia.  The zero-calorie, zero-sugar Zevia drink varieties include flavored bubbly waters, like Cucumber Lemon, Lime and Mandarin Orange. If you want a little punch in your drink, add your favorite spirits to Zevia mixers, perfect for cocktails or mocktails in Dry Lemon Lime

Ginger Beer, and Tonic flavors. If old-school pop is more your style, step up your health game with Zevia’s sodas, naturally sweetened with stevia, exploding with taste in flavors beyond cola including Black Cherry, Grape, Grapefruit Citrus, Lemon Lime Twist, Mountain Zevia, Orange and Strawberry.

 

Come share the wine

Invite friends over and chill out with your Little Black Dress on the table. No, not with a lampshade on your head, but with LBD wines. For a refreshing summer wine, try LBD Pinot Grigio, with aromas of apple, melon and lemongrass before a zesty tangerine finish; or for something a bit more complex, there’s the Pinot Noir, with layers of cherry and clove with soft floral notes, hints of strawberry jam and pomegranate; or everyone’s favorite party wine, the LBD Chardonnay, a crisp and fruit-forward wine with flavors of apple and pear, and creamy accents of vanilla and oak.  Available in wine stores, bars and restaurants and select grocers including Safeway, Wegmans and Harris Teeter.

Sit a little

When America’s poor tired huddled masses come to call on the Fourth, be ready with a little extra seating.  Sit in style with Dar Living Folding Stool, in red, blue and other colors. When your guests leave, the chairs fold up compactly for quick storage, and the built-in handle makes for easy carrying. Get the stools in a four-pack ($35) so all your company has a place to rest their laurels. Available on Amazon and home goods retailers nationwide.

REVOQ: The fidget spinner to end it

REVOQ creators dazzle with fully loaded fidget spinner that just won’t stop


The hot new fidget spinner REVOQ from WeFidget is the best thing I’ve seen since the faux Cartier diamond encrusted solid gold spinner on SNL. https://youtu.be/iN6df0twmJQ

Though I’m not a connoisseur of fidget spinner’s, my nine-year-old son he is. He and his friends are so addicted to them that they got banned from using them at school.

My son’s collection of fidget spinners is vast, including one constructed from a recycled motorcycle chain, custom spinners with Batman style wings, several cheapies purchased at Wegman’s and a few homemade devices, including a couple he fashioned from the bearings of a salvaged old skateboard. He has watched countless YouTube videos on spinners and how to make them, such as instructional videos on making edible fidget spinners. He also has fidget cubes and a fidget stick, or “roll-over toy.”

So now that we have established his qualifications, here is what he has to say about REVOQ’s premium spinner.

“This is the best spinner in the whole world.”

For boys and spinners, faster and longer matters, and this one spun nonstop for over five minutes. The website for REVOQ says it can go up to seven minutes, which perhaps was initiated by more forceful spin, in perfect conditions.

The only people other than my son and his friends I have seen more passionate and serious about spinners are developers from WeFidget, who on their Kickstarter page have a mini documentary featuring a number of grown adults explaining how the fidget spinner will replace rattling keys in their pockets or twirling hair or other compulsive fidgeting acts.

While teachers and developmental specialists have pretty much debunked the idea that fidget spinners are actually helpful in increasing attention span, the folks from WeFidget and their followers still believe that this true, at least for them. for most fidgetier, spinners are pure fun, and a competitive challenge to make faster and better and to perform tricks. There are even books like Fun with Fidget Spinners: 50 Super Cool Tricks and Activities to help guide users in making the most of their spinners.

For my son, the spinners have become like Pokémon cards, something to collect, compare, share and trade. This one he won’t be trading though.

What he likes about it: among other thigs, its weight. This is one heavy fidget spinner. Its solid metal construction gives it a satisfying heft to hold. It is also loaded with bells and whistles – or rather switches and levers to feel and flick. In addition to simply spinning, this fidget device has buttons and balls that click and roll to occupy the user’s hands.

My son likes these extras, thought he did note that the levers could be rounded, so they were smoother and more tactfully pleasing. Keep in mind, his is a prototype, and our feedback hopefully be used to improve later productions.

While he liked the balls embedded on one side, that he can roll with his fingers, the protrusion of these balls keep the fidget spinner from lying flat on one side. For avid fidget spinners, laying the spinner on its side to measure its speed and length of spin is important. While one side was impeded by the balls, by placing the spinner on a flat surface on the other side, the spinner did indeed spin freely.
For added tactile interest, one side the spinner has an oblong groove that feels good when the user places their finger in it or rubs across it. It also has jagged sunburst-style grooves around the center button on one side, to provide some tactile stimulation.

Of course, looks are important too. And this regard that we fidget excels. Its shiny beauty and its sleek two-wing styling makes it stand out from the typical three-prong colored-plastic spinners.

One aesthetic that my son objected to was the exposed screw heads on one side, but this was a double edge sword, because while he would like a more finished appearance, he also likes access to the inner workings of his spinners, so that he can disassemble, examine and cannibalize them if he wishes, but this is one he will be displaying, and not dissecting.

The REVOQ will retail for $45

Car care before you hit the road for summer

Protect your paint and interior and keep all systems go for summer road trips

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Just like your Mom told you, even if the sun is behind the clouds, UV rays can be damaging to your skin; but bet she didn’t mention what those rays can do to your vehicle.  Sun, heat, salty sea air and other harsh environmental elements can take a serious toll on your car or truck, inside and out, and under the hood.  Get your car ready for summer vacation with these DIY maintenance tips.

  • Check your tires. There’s nothing worse than a flat tire on your road trip. Be sure to check for proper inflation pressure, especially since under-inflated tires consume more energy, therefor giving you poorer gas mileage.
  • Protect your car from the sun. Similar to protecting your skin with sun tan lotion, it’s important to shield vinyl, plastic and rubber surfaces on your car from the sun’s harsh UV rays. You can use a product like Meguiar’s Ultimate Protectant, which creates a rich shine & darkness on interior surfaces, while bringing new life to exterior trim, moldings & tires.

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  • Wash and wax your car. Your car’s finish can easily fade and rust from the salty air and sunshine. Be sure to give your car a solid wash and don’t forget to wax before heading toward the shore. You can use Meguiar’s Ultimate Fast Finish, the easiest and fastest way to wax your vehicle in just 10 minutes. Simply spray and wipe with a microfiber towel and your vehicle will have a slick, protective top coat that will deliver up to one full year of water beading protection—no buffing required.

  • Clean the underside of the hood. Any salt and grime build-up remaining from the winter months along with added beach salt could harm electrical connections and fuel and brake lines. Spray Nine Heavy-Duty Cleaner/Degreaser can help wipe away bugs, tar and other unwanted hitchhikers on surfaces and can also help control mold and mildews as well as fungicidal growth.

  • It’s hot out there…don’t forget about your cooling system. The last thing you need on your relaxing trip is a problem under the hood. It’s important to inspect your antifreeze/coolant to make sure it’s free of debris and contaminants. If you notice an issue, flush and fill your system with a mixture of 50 percent concentrated antifreeze and 50 percent distilled water. If your reservoir is low, you can easily top off with Prestone® 50/50 Prediluted Antifreeze/Coolant with patented Cor-Guard® corrosion inhibitors.

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  • Wipers! Even if you have not used your windshield wipers in a while, they need regular replacing due to dry rot that can make them ineffective when you need them.  Rain-X Arch beam blade wipers are a step up from standard wipers as they have a curved design engineered to improve pressure distribution on the windshield and a graphite coating, so that they wipe smoothly and chatter-free, plus they are simple to install with nearly all wiper arm styles.

Three amazing DIY ways to transform a room

Bring out your inner interior decorator and give a room a new look, in a day, or minutes

Giving a living space a new look does not always require a major renovation, or a contractor.  Here are a few DIY ideas for refreshing and reviving a room with a fresh new style, no home improvement experience required.

Cut a rug

Do-it-yourself and rug are not usually terms that go together, but FLOR is changing that. This innovative flooring company allows anyone to design their own unique rug, one square at a time, using self-adhesive carpeted tiles that can be laid in custom sizes and shapes, using a huge variety of gorgeous patterns, styles and colors with many textures and piles.

The beauty of the system is that the options are limitless. FLOR tiles can be arranged to fit odd spaces, such as hallways or a room with a nook or a jagged floor plan, or the tiles can be placed to create an area rug or seamless-looking wall-to-wall rug to fit any room. Designing an inspired and creative custom rug is made easy with FLOR’s online Design Studio tool, or you can choose from a selection of pre-designed signature pieces.

For those who like to change up a room’s look often, the tiles can be taken up and moved much easier than an installed carpet; and in areas like kitchens or kids’ rooms, where floors suffer the most spills and stains, individual soiled tiles can be replaced, rather than an entire rug. Available at flor.com. Prices range from as low as $11.49 to $24 and up per square.

Throw some shade

Recessed lighting has its benefits, but it can lack variety and versatility. Make a room with recessed lighting stand out with EzClipse, stylish shades that fit around recessed lighting fixtures that can transform the look and feel of a room within minutes. A lackluster flat ceiling in any space can be instantly upgraded from traditional to modern.

The shades come in several styles, including metallic and fabric options, and in round and square shapes and several colors and profiles. The covers can be used on an entire ceiling, or only on selected lights or areas to add an element of style, draw attention to an area, highlight artwork or furniture, or give a feeling of separation between multiuse rooms, such as a living room that doubles as an office.

The inner fittings of the shades can be adjusted for the size of the recessed light opening, and even if the existing rims are plastic, self-adhesive magnetic holders can be installed without any tools. Installation is so easy that you can remove and change the covers whenever the mood strikes. EzClipse are available on Amazon or at EzClipse.com and also at Costco in Canada. Prices start at $13.99.

Launch pad-ding

There is another way, besides painting or adding artwork, to dress up plain walls. Vänt Wall Panels give an instant new look to a room with a wall décor system of padded panels that snap into a track that anyone can install, no special skills required.

Each wood-backed panel is 1.75” thick and either 30” or 39” long. The panels are filled with foam padding and batting for comfort, and covered with a variety of easy-care materials in a variety of collections of different colors and textures, such as Vintage Leather Finish in Black Coal, White Dove, Saddle Brown, Grey Pewter or Dusty Taupe; and Cotton Weave Finish in Black Denim, Midnight Blue, Toasted Wheat Ash Gray, and Gray Mist.

The panels are ideal as a back board for any size bed, or for use in living rooms to add an inviting softness to a room, in a dining room to add a sleek sophistication, in offices and dens to make a stylish statement, and in kitchens, kids’ playrooms or any room to cover an entire wall or as an accent to enhance the look of a room. The panels can be arranged in a solid-colored configuration, or colored panels can be mixed and matched to create unique, custom configurations to transform the style and ambiance of a room in minutes.