Tuesday, July 21, 2009

No Matter How Unique

No matter how unique your situation or your needs, please remember I am here to assist you and your friends, relatives and colleagues with all your real estate needs!
To remind you of this, I wish to share with you this video, found on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erPLr16Zzjc
While these homes are found who-knows-where, with your help, I'd like to put together a photo collection of the strangest homes/buildings in Northern Virginia. Send me a photo of the funniest most unique home you can find, by August 31st, for each picture of a home that is used in our video, you'll be paid $100; for commercial buildings, you'll earn $50.
And, remember, your business is important to me, and your referrals are the lifeblood of my business. Call me today with any real estate questions!
Vicky Chrisner
Keller Williams

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tasting Farm Life

Even though we live in town, Loudoun County is well known for its horse farms and agricultural heritage. So, living in Loudoun, it seemed fitting that my daughter at least get to sample some aspects of this.

This summer, I found a nearby farm that offered a riding camp, one that had reasonable prices, and hours that worked with my schedule. My goal was for Rachael to learn a bit about horses and get a bit of experience riding. But, she learned far more than that! She got a little taste of farm life, and, as she discovered, it's pretty different from her "normal" life.

For seven hours a day, for five straight days, she was emersed in the everyday happenings on a horse farm. The kids at the camp cleaned stalls, fed and groomed the horses and, handled other farm chores. It was summer, and it was HOT, and the kids were outside all day.

If it's been awhile since you've been in a barn, I'll remind you - it is not just hot, it STINKS. One reader commented that the smell of a barn in the summer is like Christmas to horse lovers. I had to chuckle at that. I love my dog, but sometimes I do not love the smells she makes. And, I prefer Christmas smell more like cinnamon and pine. But, ...to each their own!

After seeing (and smelling) Rachael at the end of the day, I was reminded that living and working on a farm is seriously hard work... I guess I had forgotten that when I told her it would be "fun".

You see, I used to spend part of my summers on my uncle's dairy farm. Looking back, I realize that I had been somewhat romanticizing my own memories of those times. But, it's something everyone should experience. On a farm, you get a true appreciation for work, for the land, for animals and how we're all tied together. Without the experience, you really just can't get it.

I am grateful for those times. I just wouldn't be the same person without them. The rule was, kids stayed out of the house during the day, from sun up to sun down. When we weren't herding, feeding or milking the cows, gathering eggs, cleaning stalls, or picking veggies from the garden; we had a lot of fun. Where else can you sprain your ankle jumping from the top of the silo into the grain, play hide and seek in a cornfield, admire momma animals with their new babies, chase chickens (and then by chased BY chickens), and wade in the river and catch trout with your bare hands?

Rachael's experience was quite different from mine, but she was just as dirty and sweaty at the end of the day as I used to be. And, just as tired.

Being as social as Rachael is, it was kind of a tough week for her. She was out of her element, and was probably the youngest in the camp. She really only bonded with one little girl. But, she definately bonded with the horses. She very much liked giving me the end of day tour and lectures on which horse likes what and who I can pet and who I can not. After 7 hours of being the one who listened and took orders, she had the opportunity to show off a bit and be the one to teach someone else. It was nice to be a bit of an "expert".

At the end of the week, did she like it? Well, there are mixed reviews. She wants to go back and see the horses, but she has not asked to go back the camp next year. Maybe she'll feel different in time, maybe she'll start to romanticize the memories, too. Either way, she may not be a true farm girl at heart, but she will carry with her special memories from the experience for the rest of her life.... THAT week, the week she tasted farm life.
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Main Tree charges only $335 per week and the hours are 9 to 4; and you provide all drinks, snacks and lunch. Although there is a house there; the kids don't go into it. They are out in the elements all day - no air conditioning at all. The bathroom is a port-a-potty outside the barn. There is a shed of sorts they use to store their foods and clothes and where they can change. They sometimes eat their lunch by the pond at the neighbors' place and feed the ducks. A few afternoons, they go swimming in the private pool there on the farm. On Friday, they have a bar-b-que and everyone brings a dish to share. Like I said.... a little taste of farm life.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Quick Beach Getaway

We have many great attractions here in Loudoun County. Even so, everyone must have a change of scenery now and then. One of my family's favorite weekend or vacation getaways is the beach; we go once a year. The closest beach to us is Ocean City, Maryland, about a 3 to 4 hour drive from Loudoun.
Although Ocean City is often criticized for being overly commercial; it just so happens that I like to have lots to do on my vacation! No matter your likes or budget, there is no reason to be bored.

OC has some of the finest ocean front hotels, although during peak season (and with the kids) we now opt to rent a condo on the bay side. Our favorite place is Sunset Island, a new gated community with tons of amenities. Condos are generally half the price of a hotel room and double the space; and since we have a full kitchen, we save on meals, too. Off peak, when it is easier to get a bargain, or for quick romantic weekend getaways, my hubby and I still stay in an ocean front room so we can enjoy hearing and seeing the ocean from our balcony. But, watching a sunset over the bay is awfully nice, too.

In season, FREE family entertainment is offered every night of the week. On the boardwalk, on the beach, in the parks... you'll find roaming entertainers, concerts, magicians, movies, family games and more.
One of our favorite past times is simply walking the boardwalk. At night, the place lights up like Vegas. It's a great place for window shopping, people watching and checking out the latest beach trends and funny T shirts. You can rent bikes or take the trolley up and down the boards… and the kids love to bring extra bread and feed the seagulls.

Boardwalk food includes such specialties as Dumpser's banana shakes (my favorite), Dolle’s carmel popcorn, Candy Kitchen's fudge and the world famous Thrasher's boardwalk fries.....it may not be health food, but it is way too good to be called "junk food".
You'll find several arcades to compete for your business. A long standing tradition in our family includes the "quarter sock" where we save quarters as we near vacation time (and yes, we keep them in a sock - I don't know why, ask my husband). Those are the quarters that are used to play arcade games in OC, which pay out tickets that can be saved to purchase prizes. For the weeks preceding our trip, when the kids act up, my husband just grabs and shakes the sock – and their behavior magically improves.

This year, with a 3 and 6 year old we skipped the arcade and headed to the 2 amusement parks: World Famous Trimpers Amusement Pier which has been in place for over 100 years; and Jolly Rogers Amusement Park which boasts itself as OC's largest Amusement Park. Both feature carnival like rides and games. Jolly Rogers has a second location off the boards; and also operates Speed World (a park of go karts and race tracks) and Splash Mountain (a water park).
If you like water sports, you'll have no trouble here. You can rent pontoon boats, wave runners, or jet skis to ride in the bay. You can jump aboard the OC Rocket (a large speed boat); take a chartered fishing trip or a nature cruise...options abound- pick up any local coupon book or map and you'll find a list. I personally like the sunset dolphin tours. The nature cruise to Assateague was very nice, and educational, This year, we opted for a Pirate Adventure, where the kids became pirates for a bit and joined the ranks of the crew aboard The Gypsy. The pirates fought off the bad guys and found the treasure; and had a lot of fun doing it.
Another highlight for us is visiting the wild horses (referred to as ponies) at Assateague Island, a nature sanctuary (both a state and a national park) just about 15 minutes from Ocean City. You can arrive by boat or car; and camping or picnics are allowed. There, wild ponies roam, along with deer, many birds and other types of wildlife. You can rent a kayak to explore the back bay, rent bikes to explore the island, walk along the beach or trails or just drive through....you can generally get a few good looks at the wildlife, even from the car. This beach is less frequented than the one in OC, and is therefore a great place to find sea shells.

Even though we're penny savvy, we always go out to dinner - there are so many great places to choose! Mackey’s is one of our favorites. It's on the bay, and we eat at outdoor tables in the sand. The kids can play in the water while we enjoy a beverage and watch the sunset.
And, what is vacation without dessert! Donuts from Dunkin Donuts are a family favorite, but OC is better known for ice cream and specialty candy shops. Ocean City is truly a delicious place!

Oh, but wait - did I forget to talk about the beach? Yeah, they have one... and it is great. In season, come early to get your spot among the sandcastle builders and the sun-worshippers.

Resting on the shore, soaking in the sun and listening to the waves crash is one of my favorite past times. The kids enjoy feeding the seagulls chasing the waves and burying each other in the sand. If you're a swimmer, be careful - the Atlantic can be quite moody.

No matter how diverse personalities are in your family, OC is sure to have attractions for everyone - night life, relaxing beaches, nature sanctuaries, amusement parks, water sports, gourmet foods, history and museums... the list goes on. All this is available, just a short drive from Loudoun, keeping it easily accessible, even for the occasional day trip.

Make some time and visit soon! …. And, stay tuned to learn more about Living In LoCo!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Pop!Bang!Boom! Loudoun Is Celebrating This Weekend!

It’s time to celebrate America’s Birthday and no one is more proud of our heritage than Loudoun. All across the county, our residents will be celebrating in style! There are at least 10 public fireworks displays; and many other festivities being hosted in our various towns, villages and communities.

Everywhere you turn this weekend, you’ll see red, white and blue. The air will be scented with the smell of charcoal. Quiet meadows will come alive with make shift stages and homegrown music. Our local parks will be filled with families and friends. Little boys and their dads will be catching crayfish in our streams. Children will be playing ball, riding bikes, and climbing trees. Fishermen (real or wanna-be's) will crowd our riverbanks. Our waterways will look like marinas, with boaters positioning themselves for the best view of the fireworks. Pools, public and private, will be overflowing. Fireworks – legal and otherwise – will inevitably fill the nighttime heavens.

Pop! Bang! Boom! Get ready… Loudoun is celebrating this weekend!
We kick it off early here in Loudoun with 6 celebrations on Friday the 3rd!

Lovettsville starts us off right with a hometown parade followed by activities at the Community Center ball field; a concert by DC3, and awesome fireworks. Festivities begin at 5:30. Tickets are $3 for kids, $4 for adults.
Landsdowne, just east of Leesburg, will hold their Sounds of Summer show from 7:30 to 10:30 with fireworks starting at 9:20.
South Riding begins festivities at 6 with a parade from Center Street & South Riding Blvd, making a right on Upper Clubhouse to South Riding Golf Club. Bikes, trikes, small floats, and wagons are welcomed. Food will be available for purchase during the King of Swing concert beginning at 7. Fireworks start at 9:30, and blankets, lawn chairs and picnics are encouraged.
Sterling Park has fireworks beginning at 9:15.
At the Old Stone School in Hillsboro, see the Blue Ridge Thunder Cloggers perform, hear live music by Hewn By The Mountain. There's a BBQ dinner, bake sale, and free ice cream and picnics are welcomed. Kids will enjoy the moon bounce, games and prizes. Then, the family can settle down to watch the fireworks display at dusk.
The Town of Waterford is so hyped, they are having a 2 day party! At 4pm on Friday the 3rd, the town will host a softball game at Waterford Elementary. At 6, the music and potluck dinner starts at Bond Street Tanyard; followed by fireworks at Water Street Meadow.

On the 4th, festivities really get rockin!
Waterford continues their celebration with an 11am parade down Factory Street to the Bond Street Tanyard. At 11:45 there will be patriotic songs and remarks; more music, photos, and of course... more food. Then, the Greystone pool will be opened (fee for non-members).
Nearby Paeonian Springs also has a parade beginning at 11. It starts at the upper end of Highland Circle and ends at the McLaughlins' at the lower end. Motorized vehicles are prohibited. All are welcome to join in the "after party" at the McLaughlins'.
The Celebration here in Leesburg, in the county seat, will begin at at 10am on the 4th, with an old fashioned Independence Day Parade in the downtown area. The parade will start at Ida Lee park and travel down King Street to Fairfax Street (just before the intersection with Catoctin Circle). Residents are encouraged to dress in their very best Red, White and Blue outfits! Then, it’s off to enjoy your favorite summer time activities. Ida Lee rec center and AV Symmington Aquatic Park will be open for all to enjoy. At 6, the gates at Ida Lee will open for the evening celebration where your family can enjoy Jimmy Buffet tunes played by the Land Sharks (a nationally recognized band featured with Jimmy Buffett at Margarittaville). Be sure to bring a little cash – there is usually a suggested entrance donation; and the concession stands there are the bomb! Be sure to line up early for the funnel cake; one year I nearly missed the fireworks waiting for mine! Fireworks begin at 9:30 and are synchronized to explode in time with a medley of patriotic songs. The combination of “hearing” and “seeing” synchronized celebrations of patriotism truly adds to the experience. If you can’t be within hearing distance, but are watching the display from elsewhere, check the local Leesburg radio station – Wage AM 1200, as they usually broadcast the songs, too! Don’t miss the full experience.
Ashburn Village has an entire day planned. At 10:30, you're invited to join in the one mile parade, which begins at Fincastle Field featuring residents with decorated bikes, wagons and strollers. At 11, the party gets going with inflatables, food, swimming and games at the Sports Pavillion. Just after 7, the music kicks into gear, with the Suburban Rush band. At dark, they'll finish off the night with a "low flying" fireworks display from the island in Ashburn Lake.
At Claude Moore Park in Sterling, from 10:30 to 3:00 there is an old fashioned July 4th celebration with live music, crafts, nature and reptile exhibits, historic tours, and even pony and wagon rides. All this is offered for a small suggested donation of only $5 per family. The Heritage Farm Museum at Claude Moore will have an open house, offering free admission throughout the day. They will also have a special celebration for our “Heroes on the Homefront”; in recognition of the contributions of Loudoun Farms during WWII.
In Middleburg, the Community Center pool will be open from 11 to 6; and the family can enjoy evening music, games, and contests. Fireworks there begin at dusk.
Purcellville’s Franklin Park hosts the Polka Dots, a local folk group, and Acoustic Burgoo, the headlining bluegrass sensation. Fireworks begin at dark. Gates will open at 6; admission is $5 per car.
Please, make this a wonderful weekend. Keep re-applying the sunscreen – especially on the kids. Make sure everyone stays hydrated. Keep the potato salad refrigerated. Carefully supervise the use of personal fireworks, and keep it legal for your own safety. Have a designated driver, and don’t over indulge in the spirits. Your pets will be scared, so keep them inside.

Loudoun is a great place to visit, and an even better place to live. Although we have high quality emergency response teams and very good hospitals; I really want you to never have to know it. Be safe and be well… Happy Birthday, America!

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For more information on public festivities offered by the Town of Leesburg and Loudoun County Parks and Rec, visit http://www.leesburgva.gov/index.aspx?page=568 and http://www.loudoun.gov/Default.aspx?tabid=328&fmpath=/Current%20Activity%20Guides .
To learn about our local real estate market, please visit http://www.therealestatewhisperer.blogspot.com/ or http://www.vickychrisner.com/.