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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

‘Tis the season for giving! Below is a list of local places to donate toys (new and unwrapped) as well as warm clothing and blankets for those in need.

There are always organizations looking for food, but I’ve covered that a lot over the years. This is a great way to get kids involved in learning about donating and helping others.

Toys

The Vienna police department is teaming up with other agencies for Santa’s Ride, where Santa on a motorcycle brings cheer to children in local hospitals. You can help by dropping off new & unwrapped toys and books to the Vienna Police Department, The Community Center or Town Hall by 8 a.m. on Monday, December 13.

Foster’s Grille also has a Toys for Tots donation box in the front of the restaurant.

Winter Warmth

My company, McEnearney Associates, has teamed up with Share of McLean and the City of Fairfax Police Department to collect warm clothing (gloves, jackets, scarfs, etc.) and blankets to distribute to those in need. The force will keep them in their car and be able to distribute to those they see in need when they’re out and about on shifts. Donation location is 1320 Old Chain Bridge Road Suite 350 McLean, Virginia OR you can email me and I’ll be happy to pick it up from you.

Next week I’m going to do my Holiday List map again! If you want to make sure an address is included, please email me [email protected] or you can find me on social media @GuidingYourMove!

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

Okay, okay… I know you’re not at all thinking about your home right now as we enter the thick of the holiday season, but I’m here to remind you that your home needs love too!

There are so many lists out there of things to do to keep your home in tip top shape, but I’m going to give you the top 5 you really should do right now.

  1. Schedule your gutter cleaning (try Maple Leaf Gutter Cleaning or Gutterman Services)
  2. Clear leaves and debris from any drains around your house (think basement stairs)
  3. You were supposed to change your smoke detector batteries when we did the time change, if you forgot, check them! And also make sure you have a fire extinguisher in the house.
  4. Get your HVAC serviced (I use Mannix HVAC) and change your filters
  5. Winterize your hose bibs

Quick and easy little things really help keep your house running!

If you’re going to the Church Street Stroll tonight, have a great time!

Photo via Callum Hill/Unsplash
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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

Naturally this time of year, I start to reflect on the year and everything that has happened.

We returned to in-person school 5 days a week (probably the thing I’m most grateful for this year above everything else), saw some normalcy return to our daily lives and endured a roller coaster of a year in the real estate market.

I’ve met a lot of people who read this weekly column and I’m so grateful and appreciative of the support.

I hope you all enjoy a full table of family and friends this Thanksgiving.

Photo via Kit Ishimatsu/Unsplash
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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

One week to go until Thanksgiving!

A lot of the traditions around Northern Virginia that I absolutely love start now. If you’re looking to make some new ones or change up your plans for visitors, check out one of these tried and true happenings, or add one of the newcomers!

Holiday cookies (Photo by Yulian Karadzhov via Unsplash)
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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

I recently shared that one of the hacks my family employs during Thanksgiving is to get a turkey spatchcocked (less amusingly called a butterflied turkey), which means getting the backboned removed.

It lays flat and cooks in less than 2 hours thanks to Alton Brown. So my question for you this week is this: what’s your favorite hack to make it easier? Prepared foods, favorite dessert to pick up, easy side dish? Please share with me and I’ll compile a list to share with our readers!

You can email me at [email protected] or find me on Instagram @LauraSchwartzRealtor.

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

Went to bed two hours later than normal and up at the same time this morning. Sound familiar? Hope your kids had a great Halloween evening trick-or-treating or hanging out with friends!

I have some random bits of information and advice to pass along on this sunny Monday morning!

Candy Donations

If you looked at the pile of candy last night and saw future cavities waiting to be drilled, fear not! Many of the local dentists, some PTAs, libraries and other organizations will collect the candy to ship off to troops stationed overseas. I know Merrifield Pediatric Dentistry and Ghaffari Orthodontics usually collect, but please call both before you show up.

Photo by Sebbi Strauch on Unsplash

Thanksgiving Catering

If you’re considering skipping the cooking the year, I highly recommend you make reservations for dining out or catering orders ASAP. Many restaurants are doing hot or heat-at-home to go orders for the big day, but they’ll book up fast.

Here’s a list of some places doing take out that I’m aware of at this time:

  • Founding Farmers
  • RPM Italian
  • Rose’s at Home (Rose’s Luxury)
  • Bazin’s on Church

Also, Holiday Light Show tickets start soon!

Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights tickets are already on sale and the first night is November 11! They usually sell out and I’m sure with the warmer temps the earlier dates will go quickly.

Bull Run Festival Of Lights begins on November 11 also and you can buy tickets online now.

We’re lucky to have a lot of events that happen this time of year in Northern Virginia. My post next week will have a more extensive list of festive options, but I wanted to get these two popular events out to you now so you get a jump on ticket sales!

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

This year the 75th Annual Vienna Halloween Parade will take place on Wednesday, October 27 at 7 p.m.

The theme this year is “The Roaring Twenties.” The parade is about half a mile long and lasts about 1.5 hours. The parade route runs from the intersection of Branch/Maple and ends at the library at Center/Maple.

If you’ve never been, here are some tips to help you make the most of the experience!

  • People set out chairs and blankets early in the day to reserve their spot. If you want a front row view, I suggest you do the same. The town asks that no one does this before noon on the day of the parade and that revelers stay clear of the sidewalk and benches during the day.
  • If you have a flat bed truck, you can back into parking spaces at the shopping centers and sit high to get a better view.
  • Some of the groups in the parade are very loud. If you have someone who is noise sensitive, consider bringing something to help them enjoy the parade without the noise.
  • There are no food vendors except for the nearby restaurants so plan to bring food if you need it or support a local restaurant.
  • Kids in costumes can walk in the parade with an adult if they want to. Participants meet at 6 p.m. in the parking lot at United Bank (374 Maple Avenue E).
  • Depending on what part of town you live in, you should be able to find parking to easily get out. Many people park at Vienna Elementary, the library, the Giant shopping plaza, side streets, Walgreens shopping center, or the Fresh Market parking lot.
  • The Town will be giving away 1,000 Halloween Goody Bags at the end of the parade near Vienna Elementary while supplies last (no candy or items will be allowed to be given out on the parade route).

The parade is one of my favorite Vienna events!

Bring extra blankets in case it’s cold. You can grab hot chocolate and food at the Vienna Shopping Center and Caffe Amouri is open until 7 p.m., so grab your hot chocolate on the way.

Here’s a map of the parade route and road closures (the first year we lived in Vienna I had no idea this was a thing and we tried to get take out that night… big mistake!)

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

This is Halloween, Halloween, Halloween! It’s getting close to trick or treating time, which means the town is looking spooky and festive!

If you’re looking to view Halloween decorations, check out some of the addresses listed below. If I have missed any must see destinations, please leave it in the comments!

  • Hill Road (dead end street)
  • Meadow Lane Park (the house across the street from Ware Street SW) has TONS of blow ups
  • Hickory Circle SW (mix of blow ups and other décor)
  • Cottage Street between Plum Street SW and Yeonas Drive SW (multiple homes with blow ups, great skeleton display)
  • Park Street/Elmar Drive SE (great skeleton display)
  • 326 Adahi Roadd SE (skelton display)

And of course, fan favorite Ni Family Lights (2512 Drexel Street) which has a lineup of 7 new songs plus This is Halloween. Their light show runs Sunday-Thursday 6:30-9:30 p.m., and 6:30-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

October is a ADHD Awareness Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Mental Illness Awareness Week also runs from Oct. 3 to 9 with World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10.

I think it’s important to recognize that the pandemic has caused undue stress, grief, anxiety and depression for many, many people. Adults, kids — it doesn’t matter. Everyone has been impacted in ways we probably won’t know for years to come.

We live in an area that has some of the most amazing doctors and medical care. Please don’t be afraid to ask for help. And don’t forget to get your mammogram — it might just save your life.

Also, don’t rely strictly on the schools to screen your children for learning disabilities or mood disorders — pay attention to them. I’m not an expert, but I am Dr. Mom, so realize kids display symptoms of things like depression, bipolar, ADHD and other illnesses in different ways.

Here are some resources I’d like to share with you:

  • You can ask the school to evaluate your child. They’re required to do so within 60 days, and it’s free. You can also do a private neuropsych evaluation, but that can cost a few thousand dollars.
  • Fairfax County Public Schools has to screen your children for speech, voice, language, fine and gross motor skills, vision, and hearing. But PLEASE don’t just rely on them. I’ve heard so many stories from other parents of missed diagnoses for years. Advocate for your children, because if you don’t, nobody will.
  • If you’ve recently had a baby, please ask people if what you’re feeling is what they’re also feeling. It can be overwhelming, scary, moody and so much more. Talk to someone. Talk until you find the right someone.
  • For a mammogram, Fairfax Radiology Breast Center of Fairfax has weekend appointments available, so you have no excuse not to go.
  • You always have the option of finding a therapist. Fairfax County offers Behavioral Health Services for Adults, and some services are offered through insurance or on an ability to pay scale.

All of this to say, you don’t need to suffer alone. I have noticed the more I talk about REAL issues as a mom, the more other people are willing to share their stories as well. We’re all just looking for connection, and if someone says their life is perfect, you don’t want to be their friend anyway. Perfection doesn’t exist. We all carry something with us. You deserve help in carrying that load.

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

Next Monday is Indigenous Peoples’ Day and also a three-day weekend for many. I feel like this comes right at a critical point of exhaustion, and the idea of getting away for a day or two sounds really nice.

In this article, I’m throwing out some ideas for nearby getaways for the long weekend, especially since the weather is still so warm.

Outdoor Getaways

  • Colonial Beach, Virginia: Colonial Beach is about 90 minutes away from Tysons. It has easy parking, is on the Potomac River (so very few waves), has shallow water and there’s a fishing pier. You’ll find a cute snow cone and ice cream spot, too. (Try the chocolate éclair ice cream!)
  • Aquia Landing Park in Stafford, Virginia: About an hour from Tysons, this is a popular fishing spot and beach for swimming. Note there’s a fee for parking.
  • Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis, Maryland: An hour from Tysons, Sandy Point is a popular beach before the Chesapeake Bay Bridge with lots of space for distancing. This is a great spot if you just want to escape for a day.
  • Mason Neck State Park in Lorton, Virginia: This small hidden gem is located under an hour from Tysons and offers fishing plus canoe and kayak rentals. Be sure to call ahead for a reservation. You’ll also find spots for swimming and walking trails.
  • Lake Anna State Park in Spotsylvania, Virginia: About two hours away, you’ll find lots of sand and water for swimming and playing, camping grounds for overnight stays, and walking trails. Tents are not allowed on the beach.
  • Calvert Cliffs State Park in Lusby, Maryland: Located about 90 minutes from Tysons, Calvert Cliffs is a Maryland state park featuring fishing, swimming and walking trails. It’s $7 per car for day use if you’ve got Virginia state plates.
Lake Anna State Park (via Lake Anna State Park/Facebook)

Noteworthy Stays

  • Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Virginia: Here you’ll find a spa, restaurants, wineries, an infinity pool, hiking trails, zip lining and, for golf fans, access to the club at Creighton Farms.
  • The Inn at Little Washington, Washington, Virginia: Find a top-rated restaurant at The Inn, and the quaint town of Washington is perfect for exploring.
  • Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michaels, Maryland: On the beautiful Chesapeake, Inn at Perry Cabin has a spa, restaurants, pool, fitness center, golf and tennis.
  • The Inn at Vaucluse Spring in Stephens City, Virginia: This is a romantic bed and breakfast perched along the Shenandoah Valley.
  • Nemacolin Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania: Nemacolin has many types of lodging, a spa, golf, ax throwing, zip lining and tons of restaurant choices.
  • The Omni Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia: Filled with historic charm, this huge spa features hot springs, a water park, golf and lots of other family-friendly activities.
  • The Tides Inn in Irvington, Virginia: Find a spa, wine trail, sailing school, golf and newly redesigned rooms that open today!
  • The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia: This resort contains a spa, a casino, pool, arcade, bowling and so many other activities to keep you busy!
  • Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, Virginia: Located in historic Leesburg, Lansdowne Resort has a spa, golf course and more.
  • Tidewater Inn in Easton, Maryland: Explore the spa, luxury accommodations, historic Easton and Hunters’ Tavern.

Got plans for the upcoming three-day weekend? Share them in the comments below!

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