Eve Thompson

Don't fear red wine at your holiday party

Have you ever been to a holiday party where the host doesn’t serve red wine, or any dark liquids actually, to avoid staining the carpet? I have and I always want to take the host aside and say you don’t need to worry. After years in this business, and seeing a whole lot of different stains on carpets, I know you can get stains out.

I found this video on YouTube, and I think it does a great job of describing one of the easiest methods to spot clean your carpets. It really works, so you don’t need to fear red wine anymore! This method works on all different types of stains — wine, urine, red Kool-aid, chocolate (assuming any of that ever makes it to the carpet). It also works on all different types of carpet. Just follow his instructions to make sure you don’t damage the carpet during the cleaning process.

Here are the supplies you need.

  • hairdryer
  • cup of hot water
  • grease-fighting dishwashing liquid and a teaspoon for dispensing it
  • steam iron
  • bucket of clean water
  • clean cotton rags
  • ShopVac (or any type of wet/dry vac that you can use to suck up moisture)

The ShopVac is likely the only thing on this list you don’t already have. I recommend getting one. They are not horribly expensive, ranging from $50 to $100. It’s the kind of item that, once you have one, you can’t imagine how you survived without it.

Now that you know how to clean up carpet stains, go enjoy that red wine!

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The Best Holiday Light Shows in NoVA

Photo: Bull Run Festival of Lights, photo by Linda M. TokiOne of my favorite things about this time of year are all the lights everywhere. It is so cheerful and festive! Of course Lake Anne and Reston Town Center put out the lights, and it’s lovely. But there is nothing like a lights show to really make you smile. We are lucky to have three great ones nearby, and each is worth the trip. I suggest going to all of them!

Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

This is my favorite, and it happens to be closest to Reston—just a 15-minute drive over to Vienna. Fodor’s named it the #1 Botanical Garden with "Wow-Factor Winter Transformations." The garden is magical any time of year, but for this, it is transformed into a half-mile, animated walk of lights. There’s the Lakeside Lights, the Fountain of Lights, and the Holiday Nature Walk, along with new displays each year. At the end of the walk, you can gather around the bonfire and roast marshmallows while sipping hot beverages.

It actually started in November, and it will run until Sunday, January 7, 2018. It’s open every day from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. (last tickets sold at 9:30 p.m.) and it’s only $13 for adults if you buy your tickets online. Children under 3 are free and ages 3-12 are $8. Timed tickets are required, so that’s another reason to purchase your tickets online. Use promo code SOCIAL17 for $2.00 OFF admission January 1-7, 2018.

Bull Run Festival of Lights and Holiday Village

This is another annual favorite and is great for people who want to stay in their car as they enjoy the lights, which on cold winter nights is very appealing. The Bull Run Festival of Lights is 2.5 miles of illuminated glory. You turn off your headlights and follow the magical glow and the variety of displays. When you’re done, stop by the holiday village to enjoy rides, refreshments, and photos with Santa Claus.  Monday through Thursday you can get discounts and avoid the long weekend waits.

It’s open every night from until January 7, 2018: Monday – Thursday is 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Friday - Sunday and Holidays is 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The cost of driving through the light show varies from $20 - $25, depending on the day you attend (note: vans w/ 15-34 people and motorcoaches cost extra - visit website for details

Winter Lights Festival at Seneca State Park

This one is a little more of a drive (it’s in Gaithersburg, Md., which means you have to cross the bridge!) BUT, it’s worth it. It’s a 3.5-mile drive through the enchanted setting of Seneca Creek State Park. There are 380 illuminated displays and 65 animated vignettes. So many lights! Themes include Winter Woods, Teddy Bear Land, Victorian Village, the North Pole, and much more. This one runs until December 31, 2017, so get there soon!

The hours are Sunday - Thursday: 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. and Friday – Saturday: 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. It’s closed Christmas. Price is $12 per car Mon-Thurs; $15 per car Fri-Sun. CASH ONLY. See the website for van, bus, and limo rates.
 

Photo: Bull Run Festival of Lights, photo by Linda M. Toki

What is my home worth right now?

home worthIt’s almost that time of year when the county sends around tax assessments, which gets homeowners wondering what their house is worth today. This is when I start getting calls from clients and friends asking for my opinion—an opinion I am always happy to provide.

I was thinking about this when I came across an article on Realtor.com (How Much Is My House Worth? Tools to Help You Determine Your Sale Price).

The article outlines a few ways to assess your home value:

1. Comps for the area. What similar homes have sold for is a good indication of what your home is worth. Realtor.com’s Just Sold feature is a great place to start. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code, and click "Search." A list of recently sold homes in your area will pop up, along with their sale price. The thing to remember is this may or may not be an accurate reflection of your home’s value: home improvements, mortgage rates, the economy can all factor into your selling price. But comps will give you an idea.

2. Home improvements. Things like an updated kitchen and bathrooms impact price. For example, if you are likely to get 66% return on investment from a bathroom remodel (spend $10,000 and add $6,600 to your list price). But will that be the tipping point to make a buyer choose your home over another? Who knows. And will you get the same return from a new deck or replacing the windows? Not necessarily. Those things will definitely improve marketability, but may not translate into dollars. Does that mean you shouldn’t bother? No. Make improvements that will make you happy while you live in the home. Just know you may not recoup the cost when you sell.

If you want to list your home, the best thing to do is call your realtor and set up a meeting to discuss your strategy—anything you need to do to improve marketability, timing, and listing price.

Sell During the Holidays? Are you sure?

selling during the holidaysThanksgiving is in two short days, and that means Chanukah, Christmas and New Year’s Day are approaching fast. Now is the time for home sellers to hunker down and wait until Spring, right?

Wrong.

Selling at this time of year can actually be very beneficial to the seller. Here are three reasons to list your home NOW (from an article on Realtor.com that discussed 10 reasons why you can sell your home during the holidays).

  1. Seller competition is lighter during the holidays
    There are plenty of buyers out there right now. But with sellers reluctant to list their homes during the holidays, there is a shortage of inventory. Take advantage of that.
  2. People buying during the holidays are VERY motivated
    The average American home buyer who isn't relocating doesn’t usually have a timetable. But those who are actively searching during the holidays are extremely motivated buyers. Think about it: they're willing to alter their holiday schedules and brave bad weather to get into a home. These buyers want to move right away and are willing to spend significant money to make it happen. These are the kinds of buyers home sellers want.
  3. Internet searches during the holidays surge
    Many home buyers spend a lot of time house hunting online during the holidays, as opposed to seeing homes in person. Real estate website traffic kicks up significantly when the overall market sales might be slowing down. That means to have your home discovered during this timeframe, it must be on the market and, thus, showing up on line. Homes advertised correctly online during this time get significantly more exposure than the average home, and those sellers that are taking a break from being on the market are as good as non-existent to the online buyer.

Read the article for more insights as to why this is a great time of year to sell your home. Or call me and I can help you get ready.

For Singles and Young Families: Woodcrest Cluster in North Reston

What could be more perfect for singles or young families than adorable two or three levels townhomes? Not too big, not too small—just right. That’s Woodcrest Cluster.

This is a small cluster with only 63 homes. The quaint colonial style townhomes have an average of 1,000 sq feet of living space, two bedrooms, and 1 ½ or 2 baths.

Several of the homes also have fireplaces, and many have fenced-in back yards—perfect for letting the dog out! Surrounded by wooded areas, they afford privacy and are light and bright.

Located in North Reston, North Point Shopping Center (grocery store, restaurants, and more) and Lake Newport pool are both easy walking distance. The surrounding Reston Association walking paths provide easy access to outdoor activity.

The proximity to Reston Parkway, Fairfax County Parkway, and Route 7—and Dulles Airport for those who travel—make commuting a breeze from this location. Armstrong Elementary School is walking distance, and Herndon Middle School & Herndon High School are a short ride away.

 

Thanksgiving Weekend Reston Style

Thanksgiving greetingsThanksgiving feels so early this year! But there is still plenty of time to plan your fun holiday weekend activities. Here are my picks for Thanksgiving weekend in Reston.

Before the big weekend:

Thanksgiving Food Drive, November 1 to 20

Every year, the Reston Community Center, the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, and Cornerstones join to help families in need by collecting non-perishable food and other items. Cornerstones is a wonderful organization providing a range of services for families in need, and supporting them is always a priority for me. From November 1 – 20, you can drop you items off at Reston Community Center Hunters Woods and Lake Anne facilities, the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, and a variety of other drop-off points throughout the community (located on the website). Visit the website for a list of items needed.

Martin Luther King Jr. Christian Church - 2017 Christmas Bazaar

This free family event is Saturday, November 18, 2017 from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM. Get a start on holiday shopping with unique handcrafted gifts. Stock up on holiday treats like gourmet peanut brittle, homemade baked goods and preserves. There will be a raffle for a beautiful Christmas basket and fun activities for the kids. Proceeds will benefit the Martin Luther King Christian Church Building Fund. Follow the link for the address.

Thanksgiving Day

Turkey Day 5k

November 23 at 8:00 AM at South Lakes High School.

What better way to prepare for your Thanksgiving feast than run, jog or walk in a fun-filled 5k race? There will be a run for everyone…. 5k, 1-Mile Fun Run, and even a FREE Tot Trot! The race will start and finish on the NEW South Lakes High School track.

Bring an old, clean coat to donate to One Warm Coat, whose mission is to provide anyone in need with a warm coat, free of charge. One Warm Coat’s vision is that they become a part of the American lifestyle; that when a coat is no longer needed, people will think of them and donate it; that donors will be warmed by the knowledge that their coats will go directly to children, women, and men in need.

Register here.

Thanksgiving Friday

27th annual Reston Holiday Parade

The holiday season at Reston Town Center is always festive, and Thanksgiving Friday launches it all. The 27th annual Reston Holiday Parade starts at 11:00AM with Macy’s-style balloons, musicians, dancers, antique cars, characters, community groups, dignitaries, special guest emcees — and Santa and Mrs. Claus in a horse-drawn carriage. It’s always fun to see who shows up! Before the parade begins, spectators will get their own jingle bells so they can make some festive noise. Since 1991, rain or shine, the parade has been an annual tradition on the day after Thanksgiving. After the parade, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be available for photos.

The fun doesn’t stop after the parade. There will be Mini-Train rides until 4:30PM and street entertainment. The Clauses will return for the Fountain Square Tree Lighting and Sing Along at 6PM. Afterward, horse-drawn carriage rides continue from 6:30 until 10PM. Proceeds from the photos and rides benefit local charities. The acclaimed Ice Skating Pavilion is open all day and every day from November until March.

Schedule:

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.: Reston Holiday Parade – 27th Annual – Hometown Holidays!

12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.: Santa & Mrs. Claus, visits and photos; Mini-Train Rides

6:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.: Tree Lighting & Sing Along

6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Horse-drawn Carriage Rides

Thanksgiving Saturday

Thanksgiving Craft Beer & Wine Festival

On Saturday, November 25, 2017, head over to the Tysons Biergarten from 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM for the craft Beer & Wine Festival! Tickets are only $20. The festival features 50+ beers and wines from local breweries and wineries. There will also be live music, delicious food, contests and prizes. Best of all—this is a dog friendly and kid friendly event! Buy your tickets in advance and get there early!

 

5 Tips for Boosting Your Curb Appeal

New door knobWondering when the best time to list your home is? The answer is right now. Fall is actually a great time of year to put your house on the market. It’s not really a matter of when to do it; it’s a matter of what you need to do to prepare.

First impressions matter, so making sure your home has curb appeal is really important. I’ve had many clients refuse to look inside the house simply because they didn’t like the way the outside looked. Here are five things you can do to make your home more appealing to prospective buyers.

  1. Power Wash Your House and Decks
    Over time, your house and deck can start looking grungy. Sometimes a new coat of paint or stain is called for (you should do that every six or seven years), but often a good power washing is more than enough to make your house look brand-spanking new. Your house will look so fresh, you may wonder why you’ve never done this before!
  2. Replace Rotted Wood
    Many of the homes in Reston have wood exteriors and HOA requirements forbid any other type of siding. In our moist climate, wood will sometimes rot—especially around window casings. The good news is that fixing it may not be as costly as you think. Sure it’s not as quick a fix as planting flowers, but it will drastically boost your curb appeal.
  3. Clean the Gutters
    Cleaning the gutters really doesn’t take that long. Whether you do it yourself or pay to have it done, it will help make your house look more inviting. Something about weeds growing out of gutters just looks untidy.
  4. Do Some Landscaping
    Flowers and a nice lawn…boy do they make a house look good. This time of year there are still flowers you can plant, and it’s not expensive. Whether they’re in flower boxes, hanging baskets, or berms, they provide a huge boost to your curb appeal. Planting flowers is one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to make a big impact. Then make sure you don’t have any lawn dead spots around your trees. Plant some shade loving flowers or plants around the shady spots (hostas do particularly well here), or just mulch. You will be amazed at how clean and appealing your yard looks with these simple changes.
  5. Upgrade the Hardware on Your Door
    Another super simple upgrade is to change the hardware on your door. Styles change over time, so make sure your door looks current. Swapping out old light fixtures and mailboxes (if you have one by your door) can also add new life to your entrance.

There are many more things you can do to boost your curb appeal, but these five things will drastically improve how your house looks to potential buyers and will make them want to come in and see more.

(Photo credit: Designed by Freepik)

Easy Access to All the Things

West MarketThere is something to be said for being able to walk everywhere. That’s part of why people love living in West Market, a community across the street from Reston Town Center. In fact, West Market residents can walk to the grocery store, restaurants, the movie theater, the W&OD trail, and anything else they could need (even Target is walking distance).

One of my favorite West Market amenities is the private pond that has a walking trail around it (it’s about 1/2 mile total around the pond). You can do the loop several times, take the trail to the W&OD trail, or sit on one of the benches and read a book on a gorgeous day. It’s peaceful and lovely.

West Market was built in the late 1990’s. Five builders came together to create this architecturally diverse community. Most people first notice the rounded exteriors that are unlike anything else in Reston. Spacious common areas include a clubhouse, which includes a main hall and kitchen for meetings and gatherings, a fitness center and sauna, and an outdoor pool.

The dwelling units comprise two condo communities: The Lincoln Park community has 104 luxury, 2-story townhome style condos. Madison Park has 122 condominium units (24 of which are townhouses) within seven buildings.

West Market is a great choice for anyone wanting to live in the Reston Town Center area without actually being in Town Center.

Hook Road and Its Recreation Area

hook road recreation areaThe Hook Road neighborhood off Fairway Drive is a sweet little pocket of homes built in the 1960s. In case the road names don’t give it away, this small community backs up to the Hidden Creek Country Club golf course. Those are some very nice views from back decks.

The Hook Road homes are classic contemporary style, most with three or four bedrooms, are typically two story, and many have brick exteriors.

The homes line only one side of the street. The inner space of the horseshoe houses a baseball diamond for little league, RA tennis courts, and a basketball court provide entertainment all summer. And there is plenty of room among that green space to lay out a blanket for a family picnic.

But that may change.

Reston Association is currently assessing how the Hook Road Recreation Area could be improved, and the time for community input is now (specifically tomorrow night, October 10, and October 24). RA’s goal is to present a proposal to the RA Board of Directors early next year.

The Hook Road Recreation Area was originally developed in 1965 with tennis and basketball amenities added in 1973. Since that time, the recreation area has remained relatively unchanged.

In 2016, the RA board approved a new capital project methodology called “Full Facility Enhancements,” focuses on revitalizing facilities as a singular unit instead of replacing individual amenities. If you use the recreation area, or just want to know what the plan is, attend the meetings. You can find out the locations on the RA website. You can also sign up to for email updates about the project: Email HookRoadInfo@reston.org.

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    2017 Labor Day Weekend in Reston

    I’m still wrapping my mind around the fact that Labor Day is this weekend! But it is, and that means one of my all-time favorite events is happening. That’s the annual Jazz & Blues Festival at Lake Anne on Saturday. On Monday, head to downtown Herndon for the annual Labor Day Festival. In between, enjoy your last weekend at the pool!

    11th Annual Jazz & Blues Festival

    11th Annual Jazz & Blues FestivalThis free music festival is fun for the whole family (and the dogs). Every year, the stellar entertainment features acclaimed artists. The performances take place from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday (September 2). The Lake Anne Merchants, Reston Community CenterReston Association and Aperture Reston Station sponsor this event. For the full schedule of events/times, visit www.lakeanneplaza.com. Here is the line up:

    • 1 p.m. Cheick Hamala Dibate
    • 2 p.m. Sam Gunderson
    • 3 p.m. John Lee & Michael Pavone
    • 4 p.m. Integriti Reeves
    • 5 p.m. Mykle Lyons – Sextet
    • 6 p.m. Gigi MacClaughlin
    • 7 p.m. Kriss Funn
    • 8 p.m. Crush Funk Brass

    Herndon Labor Day Festival

    Technically not Reston, but still close and a lot of fun. There is something for everyone on the Labor Day outing. The downtown Herndon festival features Virginia wine tastings, craft beers, great music, a craft show, outstanding sponsors, delicious food vendors and lawn games. The event is on Monday (September 4) from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Tastings and beer sales end at 4 p.m.) Visit the website for ticket prices and information.