Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season!
Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season!
Winter Preparedness Information
With the likelihood of winter weather impacting our area, Loudoun County Fire and Rescue reminds residents to take additional safety precautions for your home and personal safety. Some critical information to remember during extreme winter weather include:
Winter Preparedness Information
Life-Saving Safety Tips for Smoke Alarms
Smoke alarms may be the cheapest, easiest and most effective means for protecting your family and your home from a fire – as long as they’re functioning. According to the National Fire Protection Association, three out of four in-home fire deaths occur in homes without a working smoke alarm. We’ve gathered some great information to help you avoid becoming a tragic statistic. You’ll learn where to put your smoke alarms, how to maintain them and when to replace them. We’ll also show you some cool new options available for homeowners.’
Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years. Most manufacturers list the date a smoke alarm was made on the back. That’s helpful information if you remember to look for it. Give yourself a proper reminder, and write the date you installed the alarm in big, bold letters on the base plate so you’ll notice it every time you change the batteries.
Three things you need to do:
Excessive dust and paint overspray can wreak havoc with a smoke alarm’s sensors. Before starting that messy remodeling project, temporarily cover or remove any alarm in harm’s way. And if you are painting the ceiling, don’t paint over the alarm—that will probably destroy it. Make cleaning your smoke detector part of your post-project cleanup routine.
If a fire triggers an alarm in the basement, will you be able to hear it from your second-story bedroom? Interconnected alarms provide better protection because if one goes off, they all go off, and early detection is key to safely escaping a house fire.
Smoke alarms in new homes are required to be hardwired or interconnected, but now you can get the same protection in your old house with smoke alarms like this one that speak to one another wirelessly. They cost more than a standard alarm, but they’re a much cheaper option than installing new wires all throughout the house.
Not all smoke alarms operate the same. Three chirps every minute may indicate “low batteries” for one unit and “end of life” for another. Save the instruction manual so you won’t have to guess what your alarm is trying to tell you. Keep the manual in a place you’ll remember. If you don’t have a file or drawer for manuals, start one. If you have an unfinished basement, nail one up right next to the alarm itself.
Where to install smoke alarms
Positioning is critical
Walls, 4 in. to 12 in. from the ceiling Near the peak of a vaulted ceiling (within 4 in. to 3 ft.)In accessible areas (for easy battery replacement)Not in the garage – but make sure there’s a self-closing door between the garage and house Not in the attic Not in the utility/furnace room
If you don’t like the look of smoke alarms, then smaller is better. Smoke alarms don’t have to be big to be effective. This little guy from First Alert is called the Atom. It’s a fraction of the size but performs just as well as its larger cousins. Consider a smaller alarm in highly visible areas such as your living room (especially if you have a fireplace).
People who can’t hear an alarm need an alarm they can see. Some strobe alarms include smoke detection. Others are strobe lights only and need to be connected with a compatible smoke alarm.
You should always make sure you’re minimizing your risk of home fires, but smoke alarms are your last line of defense, so you need to make sure they’re clean. Dust can cause a smoke alarm to malfunction. Run a vacuum fitted with a soft brush over them every time you change the batteries, at least once a year.
Wiring up a smoke alarm is pretty easy, but connecting it in a harness plug is even easier. When you need to replace your hardwired alarms, take along an old one to the store. Save a bunch of time and buy new alarms that will accept the wiring harness on the old ones. That way all you have to do is plug in the new ones and maybe replace the base. Some new models come with wiring harness plug adapters, which makes matching easier. If your alarms are interconnected, never mix alarms made by different manufacturers
Painting or retexturing a ceiling is no fun. If you have a hole from a hanging lamp, or a small water stain, cover it up with a smoke alarm. Who cares if it’s not interconnected with the other hardwired alarms? There’s no such thing as “too many” smoke alarms – definitely make sure you have one near your dryer.
Kitchens are particularly susceptible to “nuisance” alarms. The horn on a typical alarm won’t stop sounding until there’s no more smoke to detect, which in a kitchen could take a while. Nuisance alarms are one of the main reasons people disable smoke alarms, and that’s not a good idea, especially in the kitchen where the majority of fires start. Now there are smoke alarms available that have a “hush” button on them. Pushing it will kill the noise long enough for you to air out the room.
Some sensors are more sensitive than others, even if they’re the same model. Before you go buy an alarm with a hush button, try swapping out the one in the kitchen with one from another part of the house.
by Alex Russel, All About Lawns Columnist
As winter approaches, gradually lower the mowing height of your mower. Winter should begin without any young, tender growth that makes your lawn more appealing to winter diseases.
Besides, new growth on the lawn is vulnerable to dry out after the first winter winds come through, which will give you a brown winter lawn. So for the sake of lawn maintenance, as winter approaches, begin to gradually reduce the cutting height on your mower, until you are almost, but not quite, shaving the lawn. However, be sure to do this in several steps to avoid suddenly removing all the green leaf tissue and damaging the turf.
In late fall, be sure to give your lawn a final fertilization. Inactive during winter, your lawn won’t use the fertilizers immediately. Much like mammals bulking up for the cold, your lawn will store these nutrients in its root system and take full advantage of them at the first signs of spring.
Clear your lawn of any debris like logs, toys, or gardening equipment. Once snow comes, these objects can smother your grass, damage your turf, and leave your lawn more vulnerable to diseases.
Be sure to aerate your lawn before the first freeze. Thatch will only get worse with the affects of winter. A good aeration, along with a round of fertilization, will set the stage for bountiful spring growth.
Winter is a great time to learn more about your garden and your lawn in particular. Take this time to buy some lawn maintenance books and research the Internet for tips on how to keep a beautiful lawn and garden.
The Town of Leesburg invites locals and visitors to enjoy “the most wonderful time of the year” and experience a little holiday magic in Historic Downtown Leesburg.
Rockin’ with Rudolph and Friends!
Friday, December 16th – 6:30pm – 8:00pm
Children up to the age of 8 years old are invited to this wonderful event at Ida Lee. Bring your camera and dancing shoes! Santa will be on hand for picture opportunities and to hear wish lists. Then join Rudolph and Frosty as they rock out to holiday favorites and other kid’s tunes while dancing the night away! Pre-registration is required for this event. $12 for children 2 years old and over and $8 for under 2. Registration can be complete through WebTrac, in person at Ida Lee or via phone.
Victorian Christmas Celebrations
Saturday, December 17th – 11:00am – 5:00pm
Historic downtown Leesburg will be dressed up in its finest holiday décor to welcome visitors to celebrate the season. Story time and photos with St. Nick, carriage rides, Dickens carolers and other holiday characters will having the young and old feeling the holiday magic!
For more details about Holidays in Leesburg or any of the activities, please call 703-777-1368 or contact the Leesburg Downtown Business Association at www.downtownleesburgva.com. Plan to catch your holiday spirit in downtown Leesburg and celebrate the most wonderful time of the year!
Bacon Parmesan Popovers Recipe
Run a table knife or small metal spatula around edges of cups to loosen if necessary. Immediately remove popovers from pan; prick with a small sharp knife to allow steam to escape. Serve immediately.
Mini Mac and Cheese Crescent Cups
Christmas Tree Recycling
Each year, Loudoun County allows curbside waste collection service providers to bring the trees they collect to the landfill for free recycling, but many of the trees that arrive are contaminated with decorations, strands of lights, wire, tree bags, etc…items that eventually end up as little bits of plastic and metal in our mulch. Any guidance you may provide residents regarding proper curbside set out procedures would be helpful and greatly appreciated. The announcement will also serve as a good opportunity to let people know when the trees will be collected for recycling, any other waste reduction/recycling info, and that the County will be offering drop off locations for those who miss the curbside pick-up. The county’s website link is www.loudoun.gov/recycle-trees.
Here is an example from the Town of Leesburg:
Please keep the following in mind when preparing your trees for collection:
Also please note that free recycling of Christmas trees is only available to the waste collection companies that pre-register with the Loudoun County Department of Construction and Waste Management at 703-771-5514. So far, Con-Serv Industries (CSI) (which is the trash collector at Sycamore Hill HOA, Trash Away and Patriot Disposal are the only companies to register this year. If you community receives regular service from another company not listed here, you may wish to contact them to inquire if they plan to participate. Notification about the program was sent from this office in November to all collectors operating in Loudoun County.
Department of Construction and Waste Management
Christmas tree Care Tips
Christmas tree Care Tips
Do not remove the burlap and strapping (unless it is plastic). This keeps the root ball solid and secure. In the instance of a plastic cover, cut the cord and roll down the plastic at least half way prior to planting. Tap the tree container of a potted tree and remove prior to planting. Do not attempt to remove soil from the root system. Earth removed from the original hole should be backfilled around the root ball. Mulch heavily over the top of the planted root ball to prevent it from freezing. Water only as needed: a flooded tree may not survive.
It takes 4-15 years to grow a tree to a height ready for sale. During this time, the tree creates a thriving habitat for small ground creatures, birds and insects. Christmas tree farmers are responsible land stewards, planting 2-3 seedlings for each tree harvested.
Poinsettia Care Tips
As human populations continue to rise and move into traditional wildlife habitat, human/wildlife contact is becoming more prevalent. This section provides general information and techniques for Virginia property owners when wildlife becomes a problem.
Below are some easy techniques which will usually solve the problem and prevent it from re-occurring:
If these techniques do not solve the problem, you can contact a licensed trapper or a critter removal service which you can find in your local phone directory.
If you are experiencing a problem with wildlife, please dial our toll-free wildlife conflict helpline at 1-855-571-9003.
Brussels Sprouts with Ham and Caramelized Onions
4 ounces country ham, thinly sliced
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 pounds fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
2 pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1. Sauté ham in 3 Tbsp. hot oil in a large skillet over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes or until crisp; remove with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels.
2. Add Brussels sprouts to skillet, and cook, stirring occasionally, 7 to 8 minutes or until light brown and crisp-tender; toss with 1 tsp. salt. Transfer Brussels sprouts to a bowl. Wipe skillet clean.
3. Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in skillet over medium-high heat; add onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes or until light brown and tender. Stir in honey, next 2 ingredients, and remaining 1 tsp. salt. Add Brussels sprouts, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Top with ham.
Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts: Preheat oven to 425°. Increase olive oil to 7 Tbsp. Heat a 15- x 10-inch jelly-roll pan in oven 10 minutes. Prepare recipe through Step 3, omitting Step 2. Toss sprouts with 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, and 1 tsp. kosher salt. Place sprouts, cut sides down, in hot jelly-roll pan, and bake 20 to 25 minutes. Toss with ham and caramelized onions.
Roasted Root Vegetables
From Southern Living
1 pound turnips
1 pound rutabagas
1 pound carrots
1 pound parsnips
3 shallots, halved
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
8 garlic cloves
Preheat to 400°. Peel first 4 ingredients; cut into 1-inch pieces. (If your carrots are small enough, leave them whole.) Toss with shallots and next 4 ingredients. Place in a single layer in a 17- x 11-inch jelly-roll pan. Bake 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Add garlic; bake 45 minutes or until tender, stirring at 15-minute intervals.
Note: You can prepare 4 hours ahead: Cool in pan 30 minutes or to room temperature; bake at 450° for 10 to 15 minutes or until hot.
8 ounces carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1. Process carrots in a food processor 15 seconds or until finely chopped.
2. Combine 2 1/2 cups water and broth in a microwave-safe measuring cup. Microwave at HIGH 5 minutes or until very hot.
3. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots and onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until tender. Add orzo and garlic, and cook 1 minute.
4. Slowly stir hot broth mixture, salt, and pepper into orzo mixture. Cook, stirring often, 15 to 18 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
5. Stir in Parmesan cheese, chives, and thyme until blended. Serve orzo immediately. Garnish, if desired.