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Ask Adam: Preparing to Sell

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — November 25, 2014 at 2:30 pm 0

Ask Adam header

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. We are planning to list our Arlington house for sale right after the holidays (early January). What are some things we can do now to get our home ready for the market? 

A. Below are five things you can do now so you hit the ground running in January:

  1. Coming Soon – our local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) just added the ability to advertise your home as a “coming soon” listing. You can also advertise your home on Zillow as “coming soon.” I highly recommend asking your Realtor to list in both of these locations before going live in January. You can also post a coming soon/for sale sign out front. It’s a great way to test the market and generate interest. Be prepared, you may attract someone who wants to see or even buy your home right away. It’s a good idea to have a plan in place for how you want to treat these situation.
  2. Your Network – get the word out to your social network that you plan to sell your home. You never know who may know someone looking for a house like yours. It’s helps to include photos, number bedrooms/baths, square footage, lot size, location and a short list of feature highlights.
  3. Prep The Home Inspection – make sure anything that may come up in a home inspection is addressed now. You may even want to have a home inspector come through for a preliminary inspection to help you identify items that will come up. You can also check out an article I wrote back in May of 2013 about preparing for a home inspection.
  4. De-Clutter – you are going to be packing up everything to move eventually, so get started early on the things that do not need to be out. Do not just shift everything to the garage or basement. You want the house to appear as if there is ample storage space. If needed, you can rent some of those temporary storage pods.
  5. Professional Photos — if you are going to be advertising your home as a “coming soon” listing, you should go ahead and get photos taken as soon as you are done with your home prep. Please don’t skimp on the photos. If you take them with your iPhone, the rooms are going to look small, dark and unattractive. Insist that your Realtor invest in professional photos. Photos are going to help potential buyers determine whether your home is worth seeing so putting your best foot forward is of major importance.

Happy thanksgiving!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

 

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — November 25, 2014 at 12:00 pm 0

Washington, D.C. area airports are making big changes to bring first class finds to savvy travelers and just in time for the holiday travel season.

Don’t arrive to your destination empty-handed. You can now jet to the newest stores for your gifts on the go.

Arlington’s “local” airport has plenty of new retail and restaurant options to choose from — and an offer that will reward you for your patronage.

Reagan National Airport has recently added the following to its shopping and dining mix:

  • American Tap Room
  • Ben’s Chili Bowl
  • Brighton
  • Brooks Brothers
  • CNBC Smartshop
  • Five Guys
  • Forbes
  • Hudson News
  • Lacoste
  • Legal Sea Foods
  • NBC4
  • Pinkberry
  • Spanx
  • Starbucks
  • Vineyard Vines
  • Washingtonian

The following eateries are opening at DCA before the end of the year:

  • &pizza
  • Grille District Bar
  • Taylor Gourmet

Looking forward to checking them out? Or visiting an old favorite? Good news: it could get you a gadget that will come in handy while going home for the holidays next month.

If you spend $100 or more (pretax) at any combination of stores and restaurants at the airport in December, you’ll be eligible for a FREE portable USB battery pack charger for your smartphone or other device.

The charger has a retail value of $30. To get it, present your receipts at any of of the following pre-security redemption stores: Brooks Brothers, Fine Leather Works, iRelax-n-Massage or Lacoste. Limit one per customer, while supplies last.

by Ethan Rothstein — November 24, 2014 at 1:40 pm 317 0

Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

The Credit Junction team in its ÜberOffices spaceA startup that’s focused on connecting “small and medium industrial supply-chain businesses with private investors” is not going to win a sexy pitch competition, but it’s already growing fast in its new Rosslyn office.

The Credit Junction is based in Rosslyn’s ÜberOffices and has raised $2 million in seed funding to fund its online marketplace. Founded by CEO Michael Finkelstein with Chief Strategy Officer Sergio Rodrigueira, the company is “60 to 90 days” from launching its platform.

The concept is relatively simple: The Credit Junction is an online marketplace. Small manufacturing and industrial companies — the types that supply equipment and materials to large multinationals — who need capital investments sign up. TCJ’s technology platform, as well as its six-person staff, vets the company, assesses its value and potential and can get approval for a loan from its network of lenders also on the platform.

“We thought there was a way to use technology and data to create a better credit model,” Finkelstein, who is based in New York, told ARLnow.com. “The use of data creates a better understanding of a company. We use tech as an enabler, but there are lots of human elements too. This allows you to look at different sources for a company’s opportunities.”

Finkelstein and Rodrigueira met a year ago at a conference in Chicago. Finkelstein isa 15-year veteran of startups, beginning in Silicon Valley just a couple of years before the dot-com bubble burst. Rodrigueira spent four years in Navy active duty before joining the re-election campaign of President George W. Bush in 2004. He worked for Bush before deploying to Afghanistan as a Naval reservist. When he returned, he worked for Rep. Eric Cantor and in cybersecurity and finance policy in the House of Representatives.

The Credit Junction logoRodrigueira also worked on the Dodd-Frank financial reform act, and after leaving the public sector, he thought “there’s got to be a better way to do this” when it came to banks and financing. When he met Finkelstein almost exactly a year ago, and heard his idea, Rodrigueira said “I want to come work for you.”

Although the concept isn’t complicated, the problem The Credit Junction purports to solve is. The companies Finkelstein and Rodrigueira are targeting have relied on local banks for financing “since the beginning of time,” Finkelstein said.

“In 2008, the world changed,” Finkelstein said, referring to the global recession. “Lenders are cutting back and there are fewer options for these companies.”

Not only does Finkelstein say TCJ can give a response to a loan application in two weeks — whereas traditional banks or government agencies can take two months or longer — but he also says the system provides more transparency during the waiting period.

The Credit Junction Founder Michael Finkelstein“We’re able to create transparency and efficiency in the process,” Finkelstein said. “A borrower knows where he or she fits. They know whether they qualify extremely quickly. That’s a big deal.”

GLI Finance led The Credit Junction’s seed funding round, and, for the company’s launch, is also the primary capital investor in the marketplace. Over the next few months, the company will target borrowers in industries, and grow both sides of the marketplace slowly.

Part of The Credit Junction’s challenge is to find companies that want to borrow. Considering the industry’s inherent need for capital, Finkelstein and Rodrigueira are confident the demand is there.

“Holistically, our biggest challenge is education,” Finkelstein said. “But there are plenty of opportunities to help their business.”

“What’s exciting about the space is how broad and diverse the options are,” Rodrigueira said. “There are companies not just building ships or plans, but now they’re building things like drones … To get the word out to businesses, that’s the exciting part. Once companies hear what we can provide, their eyes light up.”

by Nick Anderson — November 21, 2014 at 1:30 pm 410 0

Your Beermonger logo

Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

Thanksgiving is simultaneously the most- and least-forgiving meal of the year for beverage pairing: gauging the sweetness levels of the dishes being served along with the palate preferences of the diners can be the difference between everyone having a rollicking good time, and being berated as a “snob” because everything you have to drink is “too dry” (I’m not reliving any Thanksgiving traumas here, I swear).

Here are some great beer options for every crowd:

For the macro drinkers: Your guests don’t know the difference between Ales and Lagers, and they don’t care. They don’t know from IBU, hop varieties, or yeast strains; they just want to have a couple pops. Nothing wrong with that — none of us would be into beer if we felt any different — but maybe you don’t want to reward the ad budgets of the giant breweries. So stock up on some of the outstanding easy-drinking Lagers currently being made right here in Virginia: Vienna Lager from Devils Backbone; Hardywood’s new year-round German Style Pils; Port City’s Downright Pils; or Blue Mountain’s lush Classic Lager. Shake things up a little with light, crisp Pale Ales like Bravo Four Point from Devils Backbone or The Great Outdoors from Three Brothers (4.4 percent and 4.8 percent ABV, respectively).

Couch-to-table: All of the beers I mentioned above would transition well to the table under the Cardinal Rule of Beverage Pairing — drink what you like, and you’ll never be disappointed. If you’re trying to be more mindful of how your beers will hold up with dinner, look to maltier Ales and Lagers; the touch of sweetness from the malt will play right into Thanksgiving sides. Heritage King’s Mountain Scotch-style Ale, Blue Mountain MacHayden’s Scotch-style Ale, and Mother Earth Dark Cloud Dunkel-style Lager could all work here. English-style Ales work, also: Left Hand Sawtooth Nitro is flavorful but not overpowering, and Sam Smith’s Winter Welcome is a touch hoppy, but still malt-driven and a great choice.

Kolsch! Yes, Kolsch-style Ales are great ‘compromise’ beers by nature; light and easy on the palate like Lagers, but with the fruitier yeast tones of Ales, they make excellent Thanksgiving options. Schlafly is a great choice, but try any of the many Virginia-made versions (Blue Mountain Kolsch 151, Champion Killer Kolsch, Parkway Majestic Mullet Krispy Kolsch) for a complex beer anyone can enjoy.

Don’t be afraid to go big: If you are of a mind to do so, give yourself and your guests a couple options and throw something a bit heavier out there. Doppelbock (Ayinger Celebrator, Lickinghole Creek Creator ‘Hoppelbock’, Troeg’s Trogenator) brings a pleasant combination of warming heat and rich malty flavors. Hardywood Hoplar and Brooklyn Blast! would serve well for the hopheads among us.

Finish strong: Dessert gives us the excuse to break out the big guns, and you can set out some robust Imperial Stouts and Barleywines right alongside the Ruby and Tawny Ports if you like. Founders Breakfast Stout is a classic, and not too overpowering. I always like to open a bottle of The Bruery’s Autumn Maple at Thanksgiving; the sweet potato, maple, molasses, and spice flavors are right at home with dessert. Also just in and worthy of a nightcap are North Coast Barrel-Aged Old Rasputin, Deschutes Mirror Mirror, and the all-new (very limited) Brooklyn Hand & Seal bourbon barrel-aged English-style Barleywine. These are great bottles to break out and share among friends and relatives while enjoying various pies, tarts, and cookies.  (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — November 20, 2014 at 5:00 am 483 0

Winter is approaching and the perfect way to stay warm, active and get a little more social this season is with United Social Sports!

United Social Sports’ winter season registration is open and now is the time to sign up for team and bar sports in Arlington and Northern Virginia.

United Social Sports continues to give Arlington residents a chance to “get out and play.” Bar Sports featuring glow bocce, skeeball, cornhole, and shuffleboard are back! From volleyball to soccer and dodgeball, we’ve got you covered with our Team Sports too.

We’re continuing to expand our Arlington leagues, offering those who live, work or play here plenty of opportunities to mix, mingle and play!

This winter season USS has both indoor and Polar Bear leagues:

Bar Sports: Full Lineup

GLOW Bocce: Full Lineup

Cornhole: Full Lineup

Dodgeball: Full Lineup

  • Thursdays @ Gateway Sport & Health — Crystal City

Shuffleboard: Full Lineup

  • Monday @ Light Horse — Old Town
  • Tuesdays @ Bungalow Sports Grill — Shirlington

Skeeball: Full Lineup

Polar Bear Soccer: Full Lineup

Indoor Volleyball:  Full Lineup

  • Sunday @ Gateway Sport & Health — Crystal City
  • Wednesdays @ Dunbar Alexandria Boys & Girls Club
  • Thursdays @ Gateway Sport & Health — Crystal City

United Social Sports caters to a growing population in Arlington who love to stay active and who put an emphasis on having fun and being social over hardcore victories.

Registration closes for Winter team sports on Tuesday, January 13 or when leagues FILL! and for Bar Sports on Tuesday, January 20. Register today to snag your spot!

The preceding article was submitted by an ARLnow.com sponsor.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — November 19, 2014 at 2:30 pm 821 0

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Mathew B. Tully of Tully Rinckey PLLC, an Arlington firm that specializes in federal employment and labor law, security clearance proceedings, and military law.

Q. With everything happening in Iraq and Syria, people in my office have been expressing their disapproval of my Islamic beliefs. At what point does this become discrimination?

A. Several years after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in EEOC v. Sunbelt Rentals, Inc. (2008) pointed out that Muslims had become “targets of gross misapprehensions and overbroad assumptions about their religious beliefs.” But while the events of 9/11 “shook the foundations of our buildings, [they] did not shake the premise of our founding — that here, in America, there is no heretical faith.”

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects employees from religious-based harassment that creates a hostile or abusive work environment. As abhorrent as anti-Islamic or anti-Semitic statements are, not all of them will violate Title VII. For a co-worker’s or supervisor’s anti-Islamic comments to create a hostile work environment, they must be unwelcome and “sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of employment and create an abusive atmosphere.” Further, it must be shown that the employer engaged in, or did not take adequate steps to stop, the harassment, according to the 4th Circuit.

Harassment can be religious-based when co-workers or supervisors use religious epithets or other offensive religious terms, such as “Taliban” or “towel head,” or when they tease a Muslim employee about his kufi (traditional headgear) or beard, the court noted in Sunbelt Rentals. It is important for the employee to file an internal complaint in accordance with the employer’s anti-discrimination policy. This action would clearly establish that such discriminatory comments are unwelcome and place on employers the responsibility of countering such misconduct.

Initially, a district court dismissed the religious discrimination claim raised by the Muslim employee in Sunbelt, saying the co-workers’ comments were merely part of the “coarse behavior that goes on in the workplace.” The court also said some things the employee complained about, such as the hiding of his time card, had no connection to his religion. It also did not believe the co-workers’ comments were sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a hostile work environment because the employee did not mention the “explicitly religious incidents” in his written complaint to human resources.

On appeal, however, the 4th Circuit disagreed with the lower court’s decision, saying the employee persistently suffered from religious harassment of “the most demeaning, degrading, and damaging sort.” Key to this finding was the fact that the discriminatory conduct was “persistent, demeaning, unrelenting, and widespread.” The court stressed, “[W]e cannot regard as ‘merely offensive,’ and thus ‘beyond Title VII’s purview’ … constant and repetitive abuse founded upon misperceptions that all Muslims possess hostile designs against the United States.”

Employees who believe they are being harassed because of their religion and are working in a hostile work environment “must clear a high bar in order to satisfy the severe or pervasive test,” the appellate court said. That is why it is crucial for employees to consult with an experienced employment law attorney who can gather the testimony and other evidence necessary to pass that test.

Mathew B. Tully is the founding partner of Tully Rinckey PLLC. Located in Arlington, Va. and Washington, D.C., Tully Rinckey PLLC’s attorneys practice federal employment law, military law, and security clearance representation. To speak with an attorney, call 703-525-4700 or to learn more visit fedattorney.com. 

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com — November 19, 2014 at 12:00 pm 796 0

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Mason, a rescue dog that “likes other dogs,” but loves people.

Here’s what owner Kristina had to say:

My name is Mason! I was named after George Mason and am a 4-year-old rescue from a shelter in West Virginia. I think I am a Belgian Shepherd mix, but others tell me that I am also part Akita. I’m not really sure — but I do know that I’m cute!

I like other dogs… but I love people. My favorite activity is relaxing in my yard and looking at the squirrels and occasional deer that walk past my fence. I try to jump over the fence to play with the deer but my large torso won’t quite make it over the top of the fence, so just I watch standing on my two hind legs.

I love to travel and have a favorite toy that I carry around everywhere. I am not easily offended and can do several tricks (one of which is an army crawl), but my favorite trick is taking naps all day long. I also love to sit inside my house and bark when packages are delivered by strangers.

Want your pet to be considered for the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email office@arlnow.com with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet.

Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks. Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Arlington and Northern Virginia.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — November 18, 2014 at 2:30 pm 494 0

Ask Adam header

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. We recently purchased a home and are loving it so far. We haven’t had any problems with flooding and hopefully never will, but being worrywarts we are wondering if we should purchase flood insurance for our home.

A. Interestingly, you are the third person who has asked me about flood insurance in Arlington during the last month. Typically this is the type of question that comes up more in Alexandria where flooding is more prevalent. Maybe the hard rains we had this summer have caused some concerns.

Almost all lenders require flood zone certification prior to them lending you money to purchase a home. They want to be sure that you have flood insurance in place if your home is in a flood zone as determined by FEMA. It sounds like your concern goes beyond just the minimum standard of protection.

I shared your question with insurance expert Max Olson at Nationwide Insurance. Below is what he had to say:

A great place to look to see the likelihood of a flood for your property is www.floodsmart.gov. This website will tell you what the likelihood of a flood is for your property and will even give you ranges on the cost of flood insurance as long as you type in your address. People think that floods only happen in high risk flood zones, but 20 percent of all flood claims occur in low to moderate risk flood zones.

On the other hand, keep in mind that certain scenarios people call “flooding” would already be covered under most home insurance policies (like a pipe bursting and ‘”flooding” a basement or a sump pump failing and “flooding” a basement). Your insurance agent can go through all the different scenarios and what would be covered under a flood policy vs your home insurance policy.

Below is contact information for Max incase you have additional questions or need a great insurance agent.

Max Olson
Olson Insurance Agency
Nationwide Insurance
(571) 438-6902 office
olsonm13@nationwide.com
nationwidemax.com

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — November 18, 2014 at 9:00 am 506 0

John Nguyen HeadshotThe following article was written by John Nguyen. John is a lifelong Arlingtonian and the Managing Partner of Clarendon Wealth Management, a financial advisory firm focused on comprehensive wealth management for high net worth individuals, medical professionals and small business owners.

With the holidays fast approaching, now can be a great opportunity to perform a comprehensive review of your financial situation and plan for next year. Use this year-end financial checklist to focus on where you stand and make any adjustments necessary for the New Year. Spend a little time now and make your holidays brighter knowing you’re on solid financial footing.

Budget and SpendingReview your spending and fine tune your budget. Take a look at your 2014 spending. Are there areas where you were consistently over budget? Were there unanticipated expenses? Did you meet your savings goals? Use this year’s fresh figures to prioritize your expenditures for next year.

Determine your net worth. This is a worthwhile yearly exercise to find out where you are — and where you need to go. Simply add up what you own (home, car, savings, business interests, personal property, investments, etc.) and subtract what you owe (mortgage, loans, credit cards, etc.). Your net worth can be used to track your progress each year and incentivize you to save more or reduce debt.

Add more to your 401(k). You can contribute up to $17,500 to your 401(k) for 2014 ($23,000 if you’re over 50).  You have until December 31st to reach that limit. The contributions must be made through your employer’s payroll deduction.

529 College SavingsContribute to a 529 college-savings plan before December 31st. The beneficiary of the account (your child, grandchild, etc) can use the money tax-free for college tuition, room and board and fees. In many states, you get a state income tax deduction for your contribution. Many 529 plans require you to make your contributions by December 31st to count for that tax year.  For details, see SavingforCollege.com.

Rebalance your portfolio. Market movements may have resulted in portfolio drift altering your targeted asset allocation. Check to see if your portfolio still reflects your goals and risk tolerance. If not, bring it back to your target allocation by reducing your over-weighted asset classes and increase the underweighted classes.  If you’re retired, this is a good time to set aside money for next year’s cash needs.

Take your required minimum distributions. If you’re older than 70½, you generally need to take required minimum distributions from traditional IRAs, 401(k)s and other retirement-savings plans by December 31 (except for the year you turn 70½, when you’re given an extension until April 1 to make your first withdrawal; also, you don’t need to take RMDs from your current employer’s 401(k) while you’re still working).

Taxes and CharityStart tax planning. It’s not too early to think about taxes. If you’re selling stocks to rebalance your portfolio, consider harvesting your losses to get a tax break. Capital losses can be used to offset taxable capital gains, plus up to $3,000 in ordinary income ($1,500 for married couples filing separately). Losses you can’t use this year can be carried over into future tax years.

Giving money to charity before the end of the year is a great way to boost your deductions if you itemize. You may be able to deduct various kinds of charitable contributions, including cash, appreciated stock and non-cash donations.

Update your estate plan. New baby? Newly married or divorced? Make sure your beneficiary designations are updated to reflect any changes. Don’t have an estate plan? Make that a new year’s resolution!

The preceding article was submitted by an ARLnow.com sponsor. Please consult a tax advisor for all tax-related information.

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Advisor. Fixed insurance products and services offered by Clarendon Wealth Management. 3033 Wilson Blvd. Suite 430, Arlington, VA 22201. Phone: 571-257-3252.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — November 17, 2014 at 1:35 pm 405 0

The Scratching Post banner

Editor’s Note: The Scratching Post is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff at NOVA Cat Clinic.

Cats are true, obligate carnivores and should be treated as such. Walk into any grocery store or pet store today and you can find a vast variety of cat food available. So much variety it is difficult to choose what can be considered an extraordinary diet vs. just a good diet.

Commercial cat food started in the early 1900s and gained popularity in the ’30s and ’40s with dry food due to World War II’s metal rations, and a few select companies producing pet food. Step ahead a century later, and there are so many brands it can make your head spin. No longer are cats just eating birds, squirrels or anything else they can hunt for, they have their human counterparts they can count on!

For the past decade, there has been a rise in feeding “natural” cat diets vs. stuff in the bag that is full of cornmeal, byproducts, pillow fluff and staples (just kidding about the last ones). Now you have whole meats, veggies, omega fatty acids added etc… to make them more nutritionally complete.

But what makes a good diet vs. a bad diet? Why are we not feeding cats a raw diet based on ground up mice, squirrels and birds?  They have berries and grains in them too. They must be the perfect diet! It can be if you are an outdoor cat and can manage to hunt five-to-six rodents per day; they sure can sustain a cat easily.

Many cats that hunt leave behind the digestive tract of the rodent, and other parts they find less appealing, so saying they eat the whole thing is not a true statement.  I have yet to see a commercial pet food company jump on the bandwagon on making foods with the names of “Chipmunk Stew and Robin’s Delight.” It is expensive and time consuming to create diets based on a true outdoor, natural diet, not to mention a public outcry on grinding up songbirds and other fuzzy critters.

Commercial diets are readily available and they are easy to feed, which is why the public likes them vs. making a homemade or raw diet. Commercial pet food must meet the minimal AAFCO standards on nutrition as well. A company cannot just dump in a bunch of ingredients, hand it to the consumer with a smile and say “There you go! Enjoy the food! Your cat will live a long life thanks to us!”

They must go through rigorous testing and formulations to meet the minimal standards. If a company wants to go above and beyond those standards, they can and that is what makes the premium diets popular, and a good majority is grain free!

This is where the huge controversy on cats that should not be eating grain takes place. While it is true that cats are carnivores, in some situations carbohydrates can help ill cats by being a source for fast energy or assisting in treating a metabolic disease. So carbohydrates do have their places in cat diets. Not all carbohydrates are bad. 

For those people who wish to feed a raw diet, there are two options. Purchase one that is made correctly and meets the safety standards for creating these diets, or make one at home. While you do feed less with a raw diet, it is expensive and time consuming, but those who feed it find it totally worth the price and labor involved. (more…)

by Ethan Rothstein — November 17, 2014 at 12:30 pm 1,228 0

Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Ageit Yourself co-founders Michael Volz, left, and Bryan OlsonMichael Volz and Bryan Olson look like kids in a candy store in Volz’s kitchen, filled with jars of differently colored and aged liquors, with wood charring in the oven and a German shepherd peeking his snout in for smells of the activity.

This is ground zero for Age it Yourself, the company Volz and Olson started this year that allows anyone with their kit to barrel-age whiskey — or any liquor, for that matter — without waiting years and using giant, or even small barrels.

The method is simple. Each kit comes with a mason jar and freshly charred American oak, from fallen trees in the backyard of Olson’s family’ home in Great Falls. The oak is cut in a specific way to maximize the long grain wood – the only part of a real barrel liquor touches – and charred in a custom oven Volz built with his carpenter father.

The wood, jar, a special glass bottle, a flask, a funnel and instructions are then shipped, ready to use. Whoever buys the kit simply has to add the liquor, which can be anything from moonshine, to create a standard aged whiskey, bourbon, to age it further, or even cocktails like Manhattans. The kits sell for $50, and each batch of oak can be used about three times.

Age it Yourself's sample batchesTo help launch the company, Volz and Olson created a Kickstarter with a goal of $10,000 to buy more glass, fulfill orders faster and generate buzz. Volz admitted that he and Olson have slaved over the method and recipes so much that they haven’t focused much on the digital marketing side of the business — the Kickstarter has 12 backers and $731 donated with 17 days to go — but the Kickstarter is just one component of the business.

“We’re sort of going at it with three tiers,” Volz said. “There’s the retailers and customers and, there’s the wholesalers to push it to more people, and one thing we’re seeing that we didn’t expect is the producers, the distilleries, have interest.”

One distillery, Iowa Legendary Rye, is already in contact with Volz and Olson. The market is there, as Olson said, because “If you want to start a new liquor company, and you want to sell aged liquor, you can’t sell it until it’s aged. You need to age it quicker.”

The Age it Yourself kitVolz and Olson met at law school at George Mason University in Arlington, and both graduated this spring right as they were developing the idea. Volz is a veteran of the D.C. bar and restaurant scene, and he’s used his connections to place Age it Yourself in a few locations, including The Liberty Tavern in Clarendon, that want to barrel-age their cocktails on the bar.

The interest from businesses along the supply chain of the liquor market gives the pair confidence that regardless of the Kickstarter, they have a viable path to move forward as a successful endeavor.

Of course, the big question with a company like Age it Yourself: how does it taste? How does it work?

Volz and Olson indulged ARLnow.com with a brief tasting session, starting off with a sip of moonshine “to see what we’re starting with.” After that, it was on to the whiskey, aged in the jar for just over a week. The first difference was the color: the spirit starts to brown within hours after contacting the oak. After a week it’s a deep, translucent color, and it tastes sweeter, and, like Volz described, a little like a campfire. (more…)

by Nick Anderson — November 14, 2014 at 2:45 pm 543 0

Your Beermonger logo

Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

There were two beer releases beer geeks like me were buzzing about this week. The first was the arrival of Hardywood Gingerbread Stout in Northern Virginia for the first time, followed (about three and a half hours later at Arrowine at least) by the departure of Hardywood Gingerbread Stout. The good news is that more will be rolling out over the next couple of weeks, so if you missed out this week you haven’t missed out completely.

The other big debut this week is the long-awaited arrival of Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery in Virginia. Part of craft beer’s “Class of ’88″, Deschutes has been producing some of the most renowned beers in the U.S. on its way to becoming one of the top 10 craft breweries in the country (number six on the Brewers Association Top 50 list of 2013).

For decades, Virginia beer lovers have been waiting to get a hold of Deschutes’ Black Butte Porter, Mirror Pond Pale Ale, and special releases like The Abyss, The Dissident, Mirror Mirror, Hop Henge among so many others. Now, the wait is over — or, at least part of it is.

I say that because initially, year-round beers Black Butte, Mirror Pond, and Fresh Squeezed IPA will be available only on draft, and other Deschutes stalwarts like Obsidian Stout will roll out with time. Don’t expect to see six-packs until spring 2015. As far as bottles go, an earlier-than-expected shipment of Black Butte XXVI (anniversary version of the standard Black Butte with cocoa nibs and aged in Bourbon barrels) and Not The Stoic (a punchy oak-aged Belgian-style Quad) was snapped up by some of the big box stores in the area late last week.

More widely available right now are Zarabanda; a Belgian-style Saison made in collaboration with Chef José Andrés, and the aforementioned Mirror Mirror — a recreation of Deschutes’ first Reserve Series beer. Mirror Mirror is, essentially, a double batch of the Mirror Pond Pale Ale recipe, making for a robust Barleywine that is pretty approachable for something clocking in at 11.2 percent ABV.

It’s a bit of an odd way to enter the market for sure, but we’ve waited a long time for Deschutes to get here — I ain’t complaining. If you’ve never tried any of the Deschutes Brewery beers, give them a try when you see them; there’s a good reason for their success. Until next time!

Nick Anderson maintains a blog at www.beermonger.net and can be found on Twitter at @The_Beermonger. Sign up for Arrowine’s money-saving email offers and free wine and beer tastings. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com. (more…)

Rental Report: Closet Shock

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — November 13, 2014 at 2:30 pm 883 0

Rental Report header

Editor’s Note: This biweekly sponsored column is written by Rick Gersten, founder and CEO of Urban Igloo, a rental real estate firm that matches up renters with their ideal apartments, condos or houses. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

As you sit in your new living room surrounded by dozens of boxes, the shock sets in and you think to yourself, “Where am I going to put all my stuff?” The thought crossed your mind during your apartment search, but finding that great place, close to the Metro and your favorite restaurant, all within your budget was really all you dreamed of, so you can handle a tiny closet.

The key to putting a lot of stuff in a small space is organization and creativity. Here are our top tips for getting organized in your new space.

Sort – What items do you use every day, week or month? What items are occasional? What are “keepers” no matter how often you use them? Are there any more items that you can live without? Prepare your occasional and keeper items to go into a secondary closet, hide-a-way storage, or a storage unit, and then get them out of the way.

Baskets, Baskets, Baskets – Find them in all shapes, sizes and materials. If you are on a tight budget, get crafty. Make baskets from boxes and fabric, or cover a cheap, plastic basket with rope of twine for a varied look. Check out the clearance baskets whenever you head to Target — they always come in handy. Place baskets around the house on shelves, next to furniture, under furniture, and anywhere you can find a place to stash your every day items. Baskets also help in the kitchen to organize a pantry, and for your items under the sink.

Bins and Space Bags – Space bags are your new best friend. Those occasional items, including your warm winter blankets, can get tucked away in a space bag, placed in a storage bin, and stuck under the bed until you need them. Space bags squish everything down to a much smaller size, allowing you to pack much more in that storage bin than usual.

Other Organizers – Treat your self to a housewarming gift at the Container Store or Ikea. They have so many choices in custom closet organizers to maximize your space. Be sure to take measurements of your space and make a list of exactly what you need (shoe storage, accessory storage, etc.) to make these trips more seamless.

Maximize Furniture – Get creative with what you already have, and don’t be afraid to step outside the norm. If you have to store towels in your nightstand, go for it. Cover a small table with a tablecloth, and store your cookbooks or your serving pieces underneath.

Take advantage of the storage spaces in your building. Sometimes they are included with your rent, but generally the charge is about $25-50 per month for a space in the building, which can be less expensive than a storage unit outside the building.

Spend an hour on Pinterest getting ideas of inexpensive, DIY storage ideas. But most of all, do your best to downsize and donate as much as you can. Moving to a smaller space is a great excuse to get rid of things you rarely use. Call Good Donor to come pick up your extra items.

Remember the rule — if you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it! Then sit back, and enjoy your organized home.

Have a rental-related question you’d like Rental Report to answer? Email it to info@urbanigloo.com.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — November 13, 2014 at 6:00 am 682 0

Two local, female entrepreneurs have transformed their love of gifting into a business. The Trendy Ribbon, an online gift company in Arlington, offers a fresh and stylish take on the traditional gift basket — turning it into something you can confidently give and happily receive.

The creative owners of the one-year old company focus on providing customers high-quality products (no fillers) and unique packaging and presentation. For example, instead of traditional wicker baskets, they use rustic and modern crates designed to be reused or displayed.

“Gift giving is personal and we want our arrangements to capture the personality of each recipient, artfully highlighting life’s special moments,” said the company’s co-founder Ashley. “We deliver a hand crafted, custom feel by getting to know our clients and incorporating thoughtful touches that make our gifts truly unique.”

You won’t find cookie cutter arrangements when it comes to this company. Unlike most gift basket companies, The Trendy Ribbon offers customization every step of the way – from brainstorming the initial look and feel via a gifting consultation, to personalizing specific elements to create memorable, one-of-a-kind arrangements.

“We pride ourselves on attention to detail and a keen ability to understand the client’s needs, style and taste,” said the company’s co-founder Kerry. “We have a true passion for designing inspired, relevant gifts and treat each project as though it was for our own friend, loved one or colleague.”

This commitment to artful gift design and customer service is the underpinning of The Trendy Ribbon brand and at the heart of every arrangement they do. If you ask the owners to describe their favorite creation, they can’t point to just one. Instead they talk about memorable crates that tell a story -the teacher appreciation gift with a gardening theme; a pig themed crate for a catering manager; a Bliss spa arrangement with a special “Have a Bliss-filled Holiday” notecard; an elegant wedding crate to pamper the bride-to-be; a baby crate for the owner of Clarendon-based salon Urban Halo featuring a custom hairdryer applique onesie and specialty infant hair care items. The list goes on, and the clients are impressed.

The Trendy Ribbon’s custom gift baskets are perfect for every gift and occasion,” said Urban Halo stylist Hillary Kellet. “It is so easy, the crates are filled with awesome treats, and you can stay in your budget. I recommended The Trendy Ribbon to absolutely everyone! There isn’t one person who wouldn’t benefit from the service.”

The company has a lot to offer this holiday from home-based gifting parties for you and your friends to corporate, pre-arranged and custom gift crates featuring high-end, gourmet products. Corporate offerings include logo branded ribbon, chocolate, coffee and more.

It is evident a high-level of thought and care goes into every Trendy Ribbon creation. In their own words, “We take great pride in knowing our personalized gifting service creates gifts that capture special stories, events and milestones to be cherished for years to come.”

Check out their website www.thetrendyribbon.com or send them an email at sales@thetrendyribbon.com for information on how to arrange a custom, corporate or personal gifting consultation.

Reference the ARLnow piece to receive 10% off your first order.

Happy Gifting!

The preceding article was submitted by an ARLnow.com sponsor.

by ARLnow.com — November 12, 2014 at 12:00 pm 593 0

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Brody, a rescue dog in Shirlington who can be found running laps at the Four Mile Run dog park.

Here’s what owner Jeanna had to say about her playful pup:

Brody is a 5-year-old rescue living in Shirlington Village. Before Arlington, Brody attended James Madison Univesity where he helped his mom finish up grad school before making the transition to city life. Brody’s favorite past time is chasing tennis balls and running laps at the Four Mile Run Dog Park. His least favorite thing is the baths that occur after running and swimming at the park!

When not outside playing and chasing squirrels he can be found napping on the couch, gnawing on his favorite bone, or giving thousands of licks to anyone who will sit and stay for him. Brody truly thinks he is a lap dog and all he wants to do is cuddle!

Brody is happiest when surrounded by his human family and dog cousins, Molson the Lab and Sophie the Puggle. It is Brody’s wish to one day have an adopted brother of his own to share in his park adventures and naps with.

Want your pet to be considered for the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email office@arlnow.com with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet.

Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks. Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Arlington and Northern Virginia.

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