Blog :: 2014

Celebrate the new year in Reston

The holiday season will be winding down shortly. As I make my final Christmas preparations, I'm already thinking ahead to what I want to do this New Years. Here are some ideas for celebrating the New Year in Reston.

Cocoa and Ice Skating

new year in Reston

Enjoy a warm cup of cocoa while skating at Town Center.

I do love watching the children skate while I sip a cup of hot cocoa. And you don't have to leave Reston for this one; just head down to the Reston Town Center Pavilion. The rink is open New Years Eve until 8pm. As for the cocoa to enjoy while you watch the children skate, there are several options. Starbucks and Panera have it of course. But you may want to try Ted's Bulletin or Pitango as well. Actually, you're celebrating the new year in Reston...try one from each place and see which is your favorite!

First Night Celebrations

Family friendly first night celebrations are among my favorites. Falls Church has a wonderful (free) one called Watch Night featuring live entertainment, activities for the kids and great vendors. Sure, it isn't Reston. But it is a lovely event, and it's just a quick trip down the Dulles Toll Road and 66.

Holiday Lights

One of my favorite things to do is enjoy holiday lights. We're lucky in this area to have two wonderful displays to visit: the regionally renowned Bull Run Festival of Lights (Tickets are $20 per car) or the extraordinarily breathtaking Meadowlark Garden's Winter Walk of Lights (tickets are $8 to $13 on New Year's eve. Click here to order). Both are open through January 4th.

Whatever you decide to do on New Years Eve this year, have fun and be safe.

Happy Holidays!

Should You Sell Your Home Now? (as in, during the holidays)

Chanukah begins today, and Christmas is approaching right on its heels with New Years around the corner. With everything going on this time of year, many sellers opt to wait until well into the new year to list their home. Some believe summer is the best time to sell, and others simply don't want to interrupt their favorite holiday traditions. Should you sell your home now?

Selling at this time of year can actually be very beneficial to the seller. I recently came across an article on Realtor.com that discussed 10 reasons why you can sell your home during the holidays. There are three points in particular that I like.

  1. More international buyers The number of home buyers from other countries has increased dramatically--especially in Reston. These buyers don't observe the same calendar of events as most Americans.
  2. 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.
  3. You don't have to forgo holiday decorating or take phone calls during the holiday feast. You can set boundaries about when you show your house (and even set up black out dates), and decorations don't turn off most buyers. But having your house listed means it will be on the website, and during the holidays the number of online searches soars. This means your house will be viewed virtually, and that's a good thing.

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.

Lawyers Road, South Reston

Lawyers Road Reston VA

Lawyers Road, Reston VA.

When you're driving down Lawyers Road in Reston, VA, it is easy to forget that you are in the midst of a thriving and crowded metropolis. This twisting, winding, hilly and tree-lined state road embodies the beauty of Northern Virginia. The few homes with a Lawyers Road address sit well of the street, surrounded by woods (and the occasional horse paddock).

There are several charming streets that house tight-knit communities of people who take pride in their neighborhood--such as November Lane, Steeplechase, Myrtle Lane, Charlestown, and more. Each street has it's own style and community feel and range from small "starter" homes to larger estates. What they all have in common is natural beauty and friendly neighbors. Each neighborhood has easy access to Reston's walking paths--making it perfect for families that enjoy the outdoors

Not too many years ago, Lawyers Road was the primary way to get from Reston to Vienna and Fairfax--in fact the road leads straight to the county courthouse (which may give you a clue to how it got its name). It's still the fastest and--if you enjoy driving--the most fun way to get to old town Vienna.

But that's only if you choose to leave Reston. Lawyers intersects with Twin Branches, making it a quick jaunt to Lake Audubon, Lake Thoreau, and South Lakes Village Center. Or jump on Soapstone for a quick trip to the Walker Nature Education Center and South Lakes High School. It also ends at Reston Parkway at Fox Mill Center.

If you're looking for a community of single-family homes that is in Reston, but slightly removed from the hustle and bustle, look at the areas surrounding Lawyers Road.

Celebrate #GivingTuesday in Reston

I love Thanksgiving. Spending time with my family always fills with me with joy. And then the immediate consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday kind of sully that good feeling. Not that I don't love a good deal, but wouldn't it be nice to enjoy the gratitude and good will of Thanksgiving a little longer? Now that those two shopping days are behind us, we can get back into the holiday spirit with #GivingTuesday.

#GivingTuesday is a global day dedicated to giving back, and it's today. Today charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

How can you participate? Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Below is a list of some of the more than worthy organizations in Reston and Fairfax County. Choose the one(s) you want to support, then tell everyone about how you are giving--this is where that hashtag thing really works. Use #GivingTuesday.

  • Cornerstones: Cornerstones promotes self-sufficiency by providing support and advocacy for those in need of food, shelter, affordable housing, quality childcare, and other human services.
  • Let's Give Back: Let's Give Back provides GiveBackPacks(TM) that contain items people may need when their child is admitted to the pediatric ICU. Receiving a GiveBackPack is comforting and helpful to the family in need.
  • Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter: More than 5,000 animals, including cats, dogs, small mammals, reptiles and livestock, come to the Fairfax County Animal Shelter each year. The shelter opens its doors -- and its heart -- to care for each and every animal. But, the shelter can't do it alone. Through donor and volunteer support, the Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter provides medical care, food, supplies and so much more to help the shelter care for these loving animals.
  • Friends of Reston: Friends of Reston supports Reston Association in performing charitable, educational and scientific projects. In addition to raising $1.5M to help fund the Nature House, ????organization has an RA Camps Scholarship Program and has organized the Re-energize Reston challenge with Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP).

These are just four of my favorites, but there are hundreds of charities in the area that could use your help. The Great Nonprofits website also lists some lesser known charities in the area.

 

Happy holidays!

What to do for Thanksgiving in Reston

Thanksgiving Reston

Happy Thanksgiving from some real turkeys (who, no lie, showed up at my friend's house on Thanksgiving day!)

I love Thanksgiving weekend--there is so much to do and so much fun to be had. I wish it could last longer. If you're new to Reston, or just want some new ideas about what to do this weekend, here are some of my favorites.

Donate Food to Those in Need

Before the weekend, consider donating food to Cornerstones--a fabulous Reston-based organization that makes a real difference in people's lives. The Reston Community Center, Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, and Cornerstones have joined to collect food. You can drop off non-perishable food and other items from November 1 - 24 at the Reston Community Center's Hunters Woods and Lake Anne facilities, the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, and a variety of other drop-off points throughout the community. Visit the web page for a list of items they really need.

Dinner Out

If you don't feel like cooking this Thanksgiving, I suggest visiting Vinifera at the Westin Reston. They are offering a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday buffet for a reasonable price: $49 per adult; $20 per child ages 5-12; and $7 per child ages 5 and under. They're located at 11750 Sunrise Valley Dr, Reston, VA (703) 234-3550. Call for reservations. Or if you have a hankering for something else, check out this list of Northern VA restaurants serving Thanksgiving dinner.

Reston Holiday Parade

An annual tradition on the Friday after Thanksgiving, the Reston Holiday Parade has grown in every way. Macy's-style balloons, musicians and marching bands, dancers, antique cars, community groups, and more make up this one-of-a-kind, one-hour procession welcoming the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus for the season. The 2014 Parade Theme -- "Home for the Holidays" -- invites adults and kids alike to join the fun to celebrate home, family, and freedom! Come early to get your free sleigh bells. The fun starts at 11:00 a.m. at Reston Town Center.

Tree Lighting and Sing Along

After you've warmed up from your morning at the Holiday Parade, come back to the Reston Town Center for the annual tree lighting and sing along at 6:00pm. Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive in a horse-drawn carriage to magically light up the huge Christmas tree in Fountain Square. After that is a traditional holiday sing along led by The Reston Chorale and brass quintet. From 6:30 until 10 pm, horse-drawn carriage rides are available, embarking from outside of Talbots on Market Street. All proceeds benefit local charities.

Shop for Gifts from the Heart

Shop at the annual "Gifts from the HeART" from December 1 to January 5 to benefit Cornerstones. Sales of original works of two- and three- dimensional art in many mediums including watercolor, oil, acrylic, clay, mixed media, photography, and fiber are available--and make great gifts. Come to the Reston Community Center at Lake Anne and find the perfect gift!

That should do it--after all, you need plenty of time to lounge around and visit with your family and friends!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Hickory Cluster, Reston, VA

Hickory Cluster

Photo courtesy of the Reston Museum.

Urban planning and architectural students study Reston, VA for a reason--some of Reston's early designs were groundbreaking. Hickory Cluster, the first development in Reston, is one. Designed by the famous architect Charles Goodman, they represent why Goodman's early designs changed the way developments were planned.

Architectural historian Elizabeth Jo Lample noted in Housing Washington:  " ... The appeal of living in a Goodman house is enormous to those who share his avant-garde spirit, plus his ideals for openness, engagement with nature, and liberal social values. ... To those who are fortunate enough to obtain them, his dwellings feel like highly livable works of art, glazed conduits to the natural world."

One of Goodman's trademarks is the way he used the land. In Hickory Cluster, he arranged groups of townhouses around intricately paved terraces, which in turn are leveled into a wooded hilltop. Overlooking Lake Anne Village Center, the Hickory Cluster townhomes features sharp changes in the rooflines, varying sizes, and contrasting textures. The homes come in a variety of designs with 2, 3 or 4 bedrooms, rooftop terraces, balconies, playrooms, private studies, family rooms and recreation rooms.

Parking is ample: there is underground garage parking or carports for some models and large parking areas for others. The cluster backs up to Reston Association path and is just a short walk to Lake Anne, Reston Town Center, and Lake Anne Elementary School. The new Reston Station, Silver Line Metrorail, is a five minute drive and Dulles International Airport is within 15 minutes by car.

Visit the Hickory Cluster website to learn more about this historic, and beautiful, Reston community.

Mom and Pop: The Wine Cabinet, North Reston

Wine Cabinet, North Reston

Sipping a glass of wine from the Wine Cabinet is one of life's many pleasures.

Is there any better way to spend a crisp fall evening than out on the deck, sipping a lovely glass of wine (or craft beer)? Most Restonians don't think so. And neither does Rande Jenus, owner of the Wine Cabinet specialty wine and gourmet store in Reston's North Point Village Center. That's why he sells the perfect wines for any occasion--whether you're enjoying an evening on the deck or hosting a special dinner party.

Rande believes there is a place between the big "box stores" and the small wine shops where good value, excellent knowledge, and discerning selection meet with professional business management to create shops of extraordinary taste and ambiance. The Wine Cabinet is proof of this.

Everyone at the Wine Cabinet is committed to creating a comfortable experience for every customer. You don't need to know anything about wines to come out with the perfect bottle--the knowledgeable staff enjoys helping you find the right wine for your event (and budget). And if wine isn't what you want, the craft beer selection should do the trick. The Wine Cabinet's customer contract says it all: We place great value in the selection of wines, food and giftware and have a good wine at the right price for every budget and every palate.

The Wine Cabinet has become a gathering place for people who love fine wines, craft beers, cooking demonstrations, and culinary tools. There is always some fun event happening--all the more reason to come back time and again! You will see Rande and his staff out in the community too--they are a small, local business completely committed to the Reston/Fairfax community.

Whether you are a wine lover or not, stop into the Wine Cabinet. It is always an enjoyable experience...and you'll always find some treasure to bring home.

Wine Cabinet

1416 Northpoint Village Ctr Reston, VA 20194 703) 668-9463

Hours of operation Mon - Sat: 10AM - 8PM Sunday: 12PM - 5PM

Hunt Club Road, North Reston

Hunt Club Road, North Reston

Hunt Club Road, North Reston

Living in Reston is about being close to everything. For people who love the outdoors, but still value easy access to Route 7 or the Toll Road, Hunt Club Road is worth a look. Located adjacent to Lake Fairfax Park, the neighborhood has quick access to miles of hiking and biking trails (you won't feel like you're in a developed area). If water parks are more your family's speed, the Water Mine is right there too.

The long, winding street is the local's secret short cut to Baron Cameron--connecting with Ring Road, it takes you up to the entrance to Lake Fairfax Park, just off Baron Cameron. Built in the early 70s, the street has a mixture of Colonial, split-level, and ranch single family homes. Hunt Club Road is very well-maintained and the homes tend to maintain their value over time.

If you want to do more than explore the miles of park trails, you can pop over to the nearby RA tennis court, basketball courts, and one of the most popular RA pools in Reston--the Uplands pool, which has a wonderful water feature for children.

This neighborhood tends to attract urban sophisticates--people who are well traveled, well educated, and enjoy the arts. Neighbors here know each other, and it's common to hear stories of frequent get-togethers (I know of at least one dinner club that makes me wish I lived in the neighborhood).

If you're looking for a single-family home in a friendly and beautiful neighborhood, Hunt Club Road is worth a look.

7 Steps to Boost Your Curb Appeal

First impressions matter. And that means the curb appeal of you home influences whether a prospective buyer even wants to look inside. Boosting your curb appeal doesn't have to break the bank. Here are seven simple things you can do to make your home more appealing to prospective buyers.

  1. Install lights along the sidewalk

    Lights lining the path to your home are cheery and inviting...and not very expensive. Lighting can also emphasize your landscaping and any other features you want to highlight. And, lights improve security. Solar lights are perfect for this job. Since they don't require running electrical cable or extension cords, you can put them wherever you want--down the sidewalk, around a tree. All you have to do to install them is stick them in the ground. There are so many designs today that they can add a nice, decorative touch. It's a small thing that has a big impact.

  2. Plant Flowers

    Need I say more? Just thinking about flowers makes me smile. And I'm not alone. 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. We have tons of nurseries in the area that can recommend exactly what to plant for your yard conditions. It won't take long or break the bank, and it will make you happy.

  3. Cover Up Dead Spots on Your Lawn

    Oh how we love our trees in Reston. Alas, we don't love their constant shade, and the inevitable dead spots that surround them. I say surrender to the dead spots. Rather than fight them by constantly planting grass that will never grow, cover them up. Plant some shade loving flowers or plants around them (hostas do particularly well here). An even easier solution is to mulch them. You will be amazed at how clean and appealing your yard looks when you cover the dead spots!

  4. Upgrade the Hardware on Your Door

    Another super simple upgrade is to change the hardware on your door. Styles change, even for door handles and locks. Swapping out old light fixtures and mailboxes (if you have one by your door) can also add new life to your entrance. And while you're at it, painting the door will add new vibrancy. You can refresh the entire entrance to you home with those simple fixes.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

There are many more things you can do to boost your curb appeal...some small, some more involved. But these seven things alone will drastically improve how your house looks to potential buyers and will make them want to come in and see more.