Midlothian Living

Opening doors to life in Midlothian, VA

Leave a comment

Make it a Brew-stastic Event


For decades, the American beer scene has been dominated by domestically-brewed beers by large companies that have built their business and reputation on marketing their beers as part of Americana. Slowly and steadily, as the demographics of the country changed, so did the choices in brews. International beers started to filter into bars and restaurants throughout the country.

Then came the beer revolution. Home brewers began to spring up around the country, and with that came new and exciting flavors and tastes. Thus was born the craft brewing industry. From the pacific northwest to the north east and finally making its way down along the east coast, craft breweries have taken root, and their popularity has only gained in full-steam ahead.

If you have visited downtown Richmond (take a trip through the revitalization of Scott’s Addition), the countryside of Powhatan and Goochland, further out to Charlottesville (once only known for its vast number of wineries), and east to Williamsburg and on to the coast of Norfolk and Virginia Beach, you will see patrons flocking to craft breweries.

If event planning and hosting is one of your favorite past times, and you like to introduce new flavors to your scene, why not add a local craft brew to the mix. The following article from blog.virginia.org will head you in the right direction.

10 More Breweries To Tap For Your Next Event

by Stephanie Kenney | Posted: Aug 6, 2018 | Updated: Aug 8, 2018


Virginia craft breweries are quickly gaining in popularity and many weddings, birthday parties, corporate events and retreats are being held in their incredible tasting rooms and private event spaces. Many breweries will even take you behind the scenes on a tour upon request.


Billsburg Brewery—Williamsburg

Photo credit: James City County

Billsburg is a destination brewery and venue in the heart of Williamsburg/Jamestown, VA. With rotating beers, there is always something new to try. They are able to accommodate group tours of up to 35. For larger groups, multiple tours are available. Indoor and outdoor event space is available. Read more.


Ono Brewing Company—Chantilly

Ono Brewing Company is a family-owned brewery with a unique tropical-themed tasting room and self-serve beer wall. Guests have a unique opportunity to be their own bartender and pour as little or as much of the beers in a true tasting room atmosphere. The tasting room has a 139 person capacity and is available for large and small group events and celebrations. Private tours are available upon request. Read more.


Solace Brewing Company—Loudoun

Flagship beers include a wit, session IPA, and a brown ale.  The watermelon summer ale is most popular.  The tap room has a designated space for families, with parlor games like ping pong and darts.  Sitting at the bar, you get a beautiful view of the production brewery through over 600 square feet of glass. Also available is pet-friendly outdoor patio space. Read more.


Brick and Mortar Brewing Company—Suffolk

Situated inside a nearly 4,700-square-foot historic building in Downtown Suffolk that dates back to 1914, Suffolk’s first brewery features more than a dozen unique brews, a tasting room with impressive 20-foot ceilings, a window to observe the brewing process, a private party/meeting space for up to 150 and outdoor seating. Read more.


Ballast Point Brewing Company—Daleville

Ballast Point has an extensive listing of beers, a menu which lists daily specials and foods sure to please the palate. There is also an outside patio with spacious seating, fire pit and a wonderful view of the mountains and a small lake to enjoy. Event space is available to groups of up to 150. Brewery tours are available upon request. Read more.


Smartmouth Brewing Co.—Norfolk and Virginia Beach

Smartmouth has helped shape the Hampton Roads craft beer scene with unique styles, quality ingredients and an emphasis on flavor over flash. Their Norfolk facility is the primary location for brewing, packaging and distribution while the Pilot House in Virginia Beach offers additional private event space, a tasting room and a small-batch brewery system for making more unique and experimental beers. Read more.


Starr Hill Brewery & Tap Room—Crozet

The Starr Hill Brewery Tap Room is the ideal location for your next event or get-together. Combine unique and inviting industrial space with world-class beer on tap to ensure an unforgettable time for you and your group. The flexible capabilities of the Tap Room fit up to 125 people, feature a stage for live music entertainment, and include state-of-the-art A/V equipment. Food trucks or catering services are available to meet any culinary needs. Private brewery tours and guided tastings are also available as part of your event. Read more.


Strangeways Brewing—Fredericksburg

Strangeways Brewing Fredericksburg is a 10,100 square-foot production brewery that is open to the public daily. It houses multiple tasting room spaces, and has 96 draft lines, split between the inside tasting room and the outdoor Biergarten. Two fully temperature-conditioned private event spaces each have a different vibe to easily host anything from a smaller, more intimate gathering, to large 200+ person groups. A sizable arcade and free board game area provides fun and entertainment for all ages, and an art gallery and lounge showcases the work of local artisans. Read more.


Hardywood Park Craft Brewery West Creek—RichmondHardywood West Creek

Photo credit: Kate Magee Photography

Hardywood West Creek includes a public taproom with a built-in stage, a mezzanine-level private event space with conference room and balcony, an outdoor patio and beer garden, a food truck plaza and — coming soon — regulation-sized bocce courts & a natural amphitheater for live performances. A digitally interactive self-guided tour will further explore Hardywood’s mission to brew with purpose, while guided brewery tours will be offered regularly with advanced booking available online. Read more.


Chaos Mountain Brewing—Callaway

Located in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, Chaos Mountain features a 3,000 sq. ft. tasting room where they serve some small batch brews totaling 6-10 different styles at any time. The tasting room can accommodate groups of up to 249. Get a behind-the-scenes look at their brewery and learn more about the brewing process! Schedule tours in advance for larger groups and special occasions. Read more.





Leave a comment

Joys of Summer’s End


Summer days are coming to a close, and with that, sometimes the thought of a quick weekend getaway fades as school, sports, and other fall activities start up. So, why not take advantage of the few remaining summer weekends to take to the road and enjoy some last-minute adventure.

The tourist crowds have died down, and there are some late season deals on weekend packages in many favored areas. So, go forth and and find your summer’s end retreat. American Lifestyle Magazine has some excellent ideas for places to visit:



Leave a comment

Buyers and Sellers


Image: sellanyhome.com

In the real estate business, you often hear that the market is hottest in late spring and early summer. It’s typically when the largest number of sellers are ready to sell their homes. This may be due to many factors: the weather has warmed up, landscape is in bloom and green, making for better curb appeal, it’s a better time of year to get those outdoor spaces ready for viewing, and many people prefer to make transitional moves when children are out of school on break so as not to disrupt schedules. This is a great upside for sellers.

For buyers, this can be a downside as they are competing for those homes on the spring/summer market. This can result in paying full price, and in some cases, over list price for some properties, especially in multi-offer situations.

However, late summer and early fall can also be great transitional times to make a move. And for buyers, this can a be a win-win situation. The following article from American Lifestyle Magazine offers some great sell and buy tips for a late summer market.




Leave a comment

Summer Storm Threats


We like to think of summer as the time of year when the sun shines brightly and the days are warm to sultry, depending on the area of the country you live in and where the temperature is that day. Heat can also bring some pretty miraculous summer rains to help keep things wet but humid, especially along the east coast.

Generally we worry about spending too much time in the sun without protection, trying to prevent sunburns, or staying sheltered during rains. But summer can bring about some rather intense weather as well. Hurricane season in the Atlantic starts to kick up in June and typically intensifies as the summer progresses. Hurricanes or tropical storms created out over the ocean can bring anything from days-long heavy rains to massive winds combined with lashing rain that can cause flooding and downed trees or lines as well as flying debris.

The opposite can be said for areas that experience long periods of drought in summer, leading to the severe threat of fire. Under extreme dry heat conditions where ground, brush, and trees are like kindling, it only takes a small spark to start what can become a fire that sweeps through acres of  land while destroying all in its path.

To avoid becoming a victim of major summer storm damage there are a number of precautions to take. The following article from houselogic.com outlines some important steps to help you stay safe and healthy going into the fall season.

9 Ways to Disaster-Proof Your Home Against Summer Storms

Turns out a tidy yard and clean gutters do way more than just look nice.

Sure, cleaning your gutters and trimming your trees may not seem like heroic tasks, but hey, when a thunderstorm is doing its worst outside, those mundane little jobs are your home’s armor.

So suit-up the whole place. These nine tips will get your home ready for summer disasters, like water damage to your home, power outages, and fires. (You’ll save yourself a pretty penny, too.)

#1 Clean Gutters to Prevent Water Damage

It’s a fairly simple task, but so easy to put off. Who wants to schlep out a ladder for an afternoon of gutter cleaning?

But clogged gutters mean storm water can overflow, saturating — and possibly penetrating — your home’s foundation. Gutter build-up can also contribute to water seeping into your attic and damaging walls.

While you’re scooping debris, check the downspouts for clogs by flushing them with water from a garden hose.

Or skip the hassle and hire a pro.

#2 Protect Your Roof from Storm Damage by Trimming Trees

You know what happens in severe storms. Tree limbs break away and fall. If huge tree limbs are dangling over your house, you’re at risk for major roof damage. Cut back limbs to reduce their weight.

Also, make sure they’re at least four feet above the roof. Tree limbs make great balance beams for critters to tumble into your attic; don’t make it easy on them.

#3 Install a French Drain to Keep Storm Water Away

Prevent fires with a French drainImage: Aquatarkus/Getty

French drain — named after a guy named French, not the country — is a lightly sloped trench (1 inch per 8 feet) filled with round gravel and a pipe that diverts water away from your house.

The drain can be shallow or deep depending on whether you’ve got a soggy lawn or a bigger problem with water entering your basement during heavy storms.

#4 Prepare for a Power Outage with a Generator

An hour in the dark is an inconvenience, but a power outage of a day or two — especially when it’s 100 degrees outside — can be hazardous to your health (and pricey, as all your refrigerated and frozen foods spoil).

Invest in either a portable or standby generator, depending on how much you want to spend and how much power you need.

Generators vary by wattage output — the amount of power they can generate at one time. So check appliance needs: a four-slice toaster might use a whopping 1,650 watts – way more wattage than a portable AC unit (often under 500 watts).

Related: How to Prepare for a Power Outage with a Standby Generator

#5 Prevent Fires with Hardscaping and a Tidy Yard

Hardscaped back yard to prevent firesImage: YinYang/Getty

And you thought a well-maintained lawn and that flagstone patio were just for fab curb appeal (and to make the neighbors jealous). Au contraire. Stone doesn’t burn.

You can also deprive flames of fuel by keeping the grass short and irrigated, removing dry leaves and dead plants, and pruning dead branches. If you needed extra motivation to get off the patio and get that yard work done, there you go.

Related: How to Prevent Fires in Your Fireplace

#6 Install Impact-Proof Doors and Windows

Think a door is just a door? When it’s rattling on its hinges mid-storm, you’ll change your mind.

Impact-resistant windows, doors, and garage doors can inhibit high winds that cause structural damage from entering your home.

Bonus: Impact-resistant features can also Save on InsuranceImpact-resistant windows and doors may get you a discount on your home insurance.protect your home from intruders, reduce outside noise, and stop warm or cool air from escaping.

#7 Update Your Insurance

Sometimes you really do need to read the fine print.

Once a year, review your homeowners insurance to make sure you can rebuild your whole house in case of a disaster. See if you’re adequately covered for things like flood damage, too.

Plus, make updates based on recent home improvements, like that fancy burglar alarm you just installed, and ask about any new discounts for bundling with your car insurance.

#8 Check Fire Extinguishers

Scary stat alert: 660 people died in home fires in just the first two months of 2018.

While a fire extinguisher doesn’t technically expire, it’s possible for its seal to weaken over time, causing the pressure to drop and rendering it useless. Check that the locking pin is intact and the pressure gauge or indicator is pointing to “full.” (Sometimes this is a green bar.)

And did you know you’re supposed to keep a fire extinguisher on each floor? Or that different rooms require a different type of extinguisher? If not, a fire-safety shopping spree might be in order.

#9 Pick Wildfire-Wise Plants

Prevent fires with fire-resistant plants like hydrangeImage: Shippee/Getty

Speaking of fires, homeowners too often don’t consider how their plant choices help or hinder them.

Plants with stems that contain wax, terpenes, or oils are super flammable — as are junipers, hollies, eucalyptus, and pines.

Particularly if you live in a wildfire-prone area, choose fire-resistant foundation plantings like azalea, boxwood, hydrangeas, and burning bushes. (Ironic, right?)

Succulents, like sedum, have high water content and are less flammable. If you use bark mulch, which is highly flammable, keep it moist. Less flammable mulches are gravel, decorative rock, or bark-and-rock combinations. You can find a whole bunch of plants appropriate for your area at Firewise.org.



Leave a comment

Time to Tackle those August Tasks


August is the perfect month to tackle all those end-of-summer outdoor projects and indoor organization. Take advantage of still having long days to work outside and having all hands on deck before the kids head back to school. There are plenty of preparations to make before the cooler weather moves in and lives get busier with fall activities.

The following tips from Houzz.com will help get you started on your way to a more orderly and organized home and property. There might even be some tasks you have not thought of.

As summer winds down, take these steps to get your home and family organized for fall

August 1, 2018
Houzz Contributor. I cover decorating ideas, Houzz tours & the monthly home maintenance checklist. My favorite pieces to write center around the emotional aspects of home and savoring life’s simple pleasures. Get The Simple List, my short & sweet weekly email:https://www.lauragaskill.com/thesimplelist/
This article is from our Most Popular stories file.

With the transition from summer travels to the beginning of a new school year (and maybe some back-to-work blues), August can feel like a sudden downshift from the fun of vacation. Stretch out these last days of summer by squeezing in a few more home projects, savoring simple pleasures and, when the time comes, cleaning up the beach toys and preparing the house for a busy fall. Pick from these 13 to-dos to create your perfect August plan.

Leave a comment

State Park Fun for Kids

watf6mibg2owmebfofabImage: pinterest

We are well into summer by now, and perhaps you live in an area of Virginia where children will be heading back to school in a couple of weeks. For the majority of us however, we can still expect to enjoy another five weeks or so of summer fun.

If you have not planned out the remaining weeks of summer and are looking for a way to keep children entertained, why not take to the outdoors. Virginia’s state parks offer a world of outdoor activities and exploration. Take them on hikes, fishing, geo-caching, scavenger hunts, and state park water parks. There are so many opportunities at your fingertips.

The following state park information is provided by the travel experts at blog.virginia.org. Make some plans, get outside, and have fun!

10 Cool Things For Kids To Do This Summer: Little Angels

by Virginia State Parks | Posted: Jul 4, 2018          

Summer is right around the corner, so it’s not too early to find cool stuff for kids to do at Virginia State Parks.

In part 1 of our series we’ll explore fun stuff for our Little Angels, age 7 and under, to do. Here are 10 activities to help get you started with your summer plans:


First Landing State Park has 20 miles of trails and 1.5 miles of sandy Chesapeake Bay beach frontage. Swim at your risk in the Chesapeake Bay; no lifeguards. There are no designated swimming areas at the Narrows or boat launch. The beach is used for swimming, fishing, crabbing, and you’ll could see boating, kiteboarding, and kayaking. Pets are allowed if kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Pocahontas State Park’s Aquatic Recreation Center is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 7p.m. on weekends and holidays from the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. Click here for park fees. During summer months, enjoy a day of free swimming for each night of overnight camping for registered guests.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

The Children’s Discovery Area at Sky Meadows State Park is conveniently located next to the picnic area and surrounded by the Virginia Master Naturalist’s “Outdoor Laboratory.” The Children’s Discovery Area offers a safe space where you and your kids can explore, play, and hike together. Create your own fun at different play stations or grab a TRACK Trail brochure to start your hiking adventure. The trail is designed so that each time you pick up a different brochure, you experience something new along its .7 mile length.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Kids love the hands on activities at the Farm and Forestry Museum at Chippokes Plantation State Park. The museum explores the lives of Virginia farmers at one of the oldest continuously used farms in the country. See how tools, techniques and even crops themselves changed over time in five exhibit halls. Museum staffers care for donkeys, pigs, goats, chickens and a rabbit. Learn more about them and help with their care at one of our ranger-led Pasture Pals programs.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Pick up a 24 hour park exploration backpack at the Visitor’s Center at James River State Park, and enjoy an entire day of adventure. We offer three fun-filled packs including: Pond, Birding, and Field and Forest Explorer. Each pack is full of books, maps, nature logs, and tools to explore and identify the flora and fauna in the area of your interest. Learn about the unique Wetland plants, the fish at Green Hill pond, or the birds of prey who live near the river. Checkouts are on a first come first serve basis. Free.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

A light glows beneath the surface of Holliday Lake. Watch as insects are first drawn from the darkness to the bright light, followed by minnows, then bigger fish, and eventually turtles. This evening program illuminates what lies in the depths below and sheds light on the active nightlife under the water at Holliday Lake State Park. Participants are encouraged to bring a flashlight, bug spray, and a light jacket for the cooler nights. The underwater lights will stay on for the entire hour.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Long before there was a York River State Park, or even a York River, 6,000 plus years ago, marine creatures swam here in a shallow sea. Early whales, porpoises, sharks, clams, scallops, and snails all left traces of their existence which we now find as fossils. Join us in discovering relics of these very old creatures as we hike to a fossil beach. Please call to make reservations.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Teach a kid to fish and they will…make you bait the hook! Join the rangers at Claytor Lake State Park for a morning of fishing as we learn about local aquatic life. We’ll learn how to cast, catch fish, different ways to rig bait, and common fish species. Fishing rods and bait, such as worms and corn, will be available for use.

9. | SNAKES 101


Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

While the eagles in the park are the celebrities of the sky, the snakes commonly found along the trails and in the marsh are one of the most talked about animals at Mason Neck State Park. Join a ranger for a guided walk along the Bay View Trail to learn more about why these animals have developed a bad reputation, and how they actually play an important role in our ecosystem. This is a short quarter mile walk down to the marsh.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Get ready to catch gold fever at Lake Anna State Park. Mosey on over and join our interpretive rangers on a quest for this elusive mineral. You’ll discover the history of gold in Virginia and learn the finer points of placer mining and how to work a pan. Then we’ll head down to the edge of Old Pond and see what washes up. Space is limited, so please pre-register.


Visit our events database here to find more fun events for your Little Angels at Virginia State Parks. You can search by date, park or event type.

If you’re interested in a specific program listed above, please go to the park’s webpage or give them a call for the details. Reservations may be required for a program, so they’ll know how many to anticipate.Be sure to follow us on Facebook here so you won’t miss Part 2: Tweens, and Part 3: Teens.

To find a place to escape the heat, click here to search swimming at Virginia State Parks.


Learn more about overnight stays in our campgrounds, yurts and camping cabins here. If you would like to spend a few nights in a cabin or group lodge, click here.

Call 800-933-7275 to reserve your family getaway today.

Written by Shellie Anne for Virginia State Parks.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Leave a comment

Create Show-Stopping Curb Appeal


Image: pinterest.fr

If you have ever sold a home, you know that curb appeal can make a difference in attracting viable buyers. When buyers are looking for a new home, how a home stands out visibly from the street can be very important. Many buyers like the idea of moving into a home where it is apparent that the owners have taken time and effort to create a self-sustaining yard and landscape.

Seasonal and annual maintenance of yards and landscaping can add value to your home as well as beauty that can put you ahead of the competition on first appearance. That alone can get more people through the front door. Meticulous outdoor maintenance of a property can often mean that even better treasures await inside.

So, why not give your property a boost by keeping the exterior well-maintained? It can certainly pay off in the long run. The following article from http://www.houselogic.com offers some great tips for doing just that.

4 Super-Easy Curb Appeal Projects to Max Out Your Home’s Value

The yard of your dreams just might be more achievable than you thought.

You’ve been spending so much time on projects inside your home (like that new shower you have to drag yourself out of), that your front yard is starting to scream for a bit of attention.

Poor neglected, thing.

You know your yard has some super curb appeal potential, but where to begin?

Check out the Remodeling Impact Report: Outdoor Features from the National Association of REALTORS®. It’s got some interesting data on how landscaping affects home value, especially those with tons of curb appeal. They beat out most indoor projects when it comes to adding value to your home!

Below are four projects with so much curb-appeal juice, any money you invest in them is likely to pay you back much more.

#1 Add or Replace a Few Landscaping Basics

Every few years, you overhaul your closet, replacing your worn-out basics with a few new pieces to ramp up your wardrobe. Why not do the same with your yard? Give it a basic makeover so it has some good, classic, value-boosting “bones” to build upon.

Nicely landscaped front yardImage: Night and Day Landscape Design

Landscape design basics like:

  • A winding flagstone walkway
  • A couple of stone planters (6 feet by 2 feet)
  • A few flowering shrubs
  • A deciduous tree about 15 feet tall
  • Quality mulch

Why you can’t go wrong: The median cost for this makeover is $5,000. But the recoup (how much more your house would sell for after doing this project) is $4,000! Pretty sweet, right?

#2 Take Care of Your Trees

Dead or dying trees definitely hurt resale value. And if you remove dead trees and take care of your healthy trees, you won’t be throwing money away.

REALTORS® who advised their clients to do some tree triage before putting their home on the market say their clients almost always get their money back.

Related: The Best Trees to Grow Curb Appeal

The typical cost to pay a pro to remove a dead tree and take care of the healthy ones with fertilizing, pruning and trimming is $2,000. And if you sell, you can expect 100% return on your investment in most cases, according to the RIR report.

Why you can’t go wrong: Just three trees in the right location can save up to $250 a year in heating and cooling costs, says the source for energy-saving stats: the U.S. Department of Energy.


#3 Build a Deck If You Don’t Have One

If you’re spending sunny days admiring the great outdoors from indoors, it’s time for a change to get you outside… like finally building that deck you’ve been dreaming of.

Gray and white painted concrete patio floorImage: Jill Bennett

Why you can’t go wrong: A new deck costs about $10,000 and recoups 80% at resale. Plus, how can you put a price on all those evening cookouts and Sunday brunches al fresco?

#4 Heap Loads of Love on Your Lawn

Yep, you read that right. Especially if you know you’re going to sell in the next year or so.

It’s the easiest project to do — and it has a whopping ROI of 267%!

Slate walkway in home's front yardImage: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

Lawn maintenance is simple:

  • Fertilize
  • Aerate
  • Weed
  • Rake

Why you can’t go wrong: It’s the cheapest project to do with an annual cost of only $375. Every year, you’ll reap the benefits of a lush, barefoot-friendly lawn.

(But note that unlike the other landscaping features listed in this article — deck, patio, hardscaping, trees, etc. — you’ll only get that fabulous 267% ROI on your maintenance costs for the year right before you sell. That’s because lawn maintenance has to be repeated annually, unlike the other projects).

Related: Awesomely Easy Landscaping Projects