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Thanksgiving: Then, Now, & Always

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For many Americans, the Thanksgiving meal has become something of a buffet of seasonal dishes to pick and choose from when filling up a plate (for the first or second time). The often copious leftovers eaten in the ensuing days are one of the few similarities between the modern Thanksgiving meal and the original Plymouth feast in 1621 that lasted three days.

The quintessential American Thanksgiving meal includes seasonal dishes such as roast turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. But how this compare to what was likely served almost 400 years ago?

TURKEY

While no records exist of the exact menu, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow noted in his journal that the colony’s governor, William Bradford, sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event. Wild turkey was a common protein for both English settlers and Native Americans. It is likely that the hunters also returned with ducks, geese, and swan.

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Turkey without stuffing? It happened. Instead of a bread-based stuffing, it is reasonable to assume that native herbs, onions, or nuts may have been cooked with the birds for extra flavor.

Winslow wrote that the Wampanoag guests arrived with an offering of five deer. Culinary historians speculate that the deer was roasted on an open spit and that some of the meat was used to create a hearty venison stew.

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

The 1621 Thanksgiving celebration marked the Pilgrims’ first autumn harvest, so it is likely that the colonists feasted on the bounty they had reaped. Local vegetables that likely appeared on the table include onions, beans, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, carrots and perhaps peas.

Corn was plentiful during the harvest season, but it was prepared very differently– no corn on the cob or corn pudding. In those days, the corn would have been removed from the cob and turned into cornmeal, which was then boiled and pounded into a thick corn mush or porridge that may have been sweetened with molasses.

Regional fruits included blueberries, plums, grapes, gooseberries, raspberries and, of course cranberries, which Native Americans ate and used as a natural dye. And the cranberry sauce? The Pilgrims might have been familiar with cranberries by the first Thanksgiving, but they wouldn’t have made sauces and relishes. That’s because the sacks of sugar that traveled across the Atlantic on the Mayflower were nearly or fully depleted by November 1621. Cooks didn’t begin boiling cranberries with sugar and using the mixture as an accompaniment for meats until about 50 years later.

FISH AND SHELLFISH

Seafood was one of the staples of the first meal – the coast was teeming with bass, lobster, clams, and oysters. Mussels in particular were abundant in New England and could be easily harvested because they clung to rocks along the shoreline. The colonists occasionally served mussels with curds, a dairy product with a similar consistency to cottage cheese.

POTATOES

Whether mashed or roasted, white or sweet, potatoes had no place at the first Thanksgiving. It would be over fifty years before these staples of the modern meal were introduced -white potatoes, originating in South America, and sweet potatoes, from the Caribbean, had yet to infiltrate North America.

New England’s native inhabitants are known to have eaten other plant roots such as turnips, squash, and groundnuts, chestnuts in particular. Most of these sides would have been served roasted.

PUMPKIN PIE

While both Native Americans and the Pilgrims enjoyed pumpkin, the possibility of pumpkin pie was out. The colony lacked the butter and wheat flour necessary for making pie crust. Even if they did, the settlers hadn’t yet constructed an oven for baking.

No pumpkin pie?! So what did they do instead? According to some accounts, early English settlers in North America improvised by hollowing out pumpkins, filling the shells with milk, honey and spices to make a custard, then roasting the gourds whole in hot ashes.

Whatever your meal consists of this year, I am thankful to all of my clients, family, friends, and readers and wish you all a wonderful, peaceful, and safe thanksgiving.

 

 

 

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Hope in the Valley

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I am pleased to announce that Valley Hope Counseling Center is one of the newest recipients of Win Win for a Cause donations. At the close of every sale, my clients will have the opportunity to choose Valley Hope to receive a portion of my commission instead of a traditional closing gift.

Valley Hope Counseling Center is a United Way agency and has provided affordable, quality mental health care for the residents of Waynesboro, Staunton, and Augusta County since 1997. Their staff of trained counselors work with patients of all ages and income levels and are committed to the principle that quality care is of greater importance than financial gain.

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The important issues they address include anxiety and depression, relationships, domestic violence, sexual abuse and recovery, substance abuse, eating disorders, parenting, issues, grief and loss, and more. In addition to individual therapy, they also offer some group therapy, including anger management. This vital service helps clients cope with life issues and address them in a healthy way, allowing them to lead more productive lives – affecting more than just individuals, benefiting our entire community.

Valley Hope is hosting a Yoga for Hope benefit event October 1st  at Birdseed YOGA at 504 West Main Street. There will be yoga classes from 9a.m to 3p.m. for all ages and skill levels. 100% of the proceeds go to helping Valley Hope continue their amazing work. Hope to see you there!

Please visit Valley Hope Counseling Center’s website for more information about this wonderful organization and the services they provide in our community.

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Who Made the List? Newest Recipients Chosen!

Earlier in the month, I challenged my readers to help me pay it forward by nominating local non-profits to be the next recipient of Win Win for a Cause donations. I am pleased to say that we received multiple nominations for deserving charities in our area who are making a positive difference in the lives of our neighbors. 

Instead of choosing just one to add to the list of current Win Win for a Cause recipients, I chose them all. The nominations received were all for wonderful organizations doing meaningful work that serves our community in different areas. The next Win Win for a Cause recipients my clients can choose include mental health and counseling services, grass roots organizations challenging injustices, adult day care resources, a non-profit fighting pediatric cancer, and more.

I created Win Win for a Cause to give back to the community and allow my clients to do the same through an alternative to the traditional closing gift. A portion from my commission of closed real estate transactions is donated to a charity or non-profit of the client’s choosing within 30 days of closing.

To see a full list of current Win Win recipients (including our newest!) click here. Over the next several weeks, we will highlight the individual organizations and the work they are doing to improve the lives of others. We are so thankful for their efforts and I look forward to letting my clients share in the joy of giving back to our community.

 

 

Prepping for the Autumn Market

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Did you know that autumn is a fantastic time to sell a home? In fact, it is second only to summer. On the flip side, now is also a great time to start looking for your new home, as many will be coming available soon.

By the time fall arrives, most individuals and families have returned from summer vacations and are resuming normalcy, whatever that means. The kids are back in school and there are several blissful months free of ‘the holidays.’ This more relaxed time affords time and wonderfully cooler weather to let buyers shop the market.

Virginia, The Valley in particular, is priming for an amazing display of vibrant fall foliage to serve as a beautiful stage to sell your home. (Stay tuned for next week’s list of the best places to take in all of the stunning leaf-changes in Central Virginia.)

Here are some tips to bring the autumn shoppers to your door:

Clean Up the Yard

Rake dead leaves, grass, and debris in your lawn. Weed your beds for a polished look. Cutting bushes and tree limbs will let the sun inside and showcase the exterior of your home. Cut away summer vines and cut down dead flowers.

Create Autumn Curb Appeal

The most popular autumn flowers are chrysanthemums (or mums) and they bloom for a long time. I am also partial to marigolds for fall. Both mums and marigolds are available in yellow, which is the number one home selling color.

Plant them in pots or buy arrangements already in decorative pots. Decorate your steps or walkway with the flowers and accent with pumpkins, gourds, or other types of squash.

Window Care

This is good advice any time of the year. Even if not consciously perceived, dirty or smudged windows leave the impression that a home is uncared for.

Make your windows sparkle – wash inside and out and remove screens and hose off debris.

Check the HVAC

Inspect your HVAC and change the furnace filter to ensure you aren’t circulating less-than-fresh air. Have the HVAC system checked before you need to turn on the heat. If you discover problems with your furnace, it’s better to fix them before your home goes on the market, as it will be discovered by the home inspector.

Fireplace Focus

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Fireplaces bring feelings of warmth, family, and home. They also happen to be a great selling point. If you (likely) haven’t used your fireplace in several months, vacuum it and wash it down. Arrange aromatic wood or even candles in your fireplace.

Aroma Enticement

This is a classic. Make your house smell like a home the buyer wants to come home to in the evenings. Simmer hot apple cider on the stove. Put a tray of cinnamon sticks on the counter, dotted with whole cloves. Fill a bowl with crisp red apples.

Utilize Autumn Accent Colors

Bring autumn inside. Use vibrant, warm throw pillows on your couch, toss a quilt or autumn-colored throw over a chair. Create an autumn centerpiece for the dining room table by arranging pine cones and nuts around orange candles, stick in a few leaves from the yard.

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Let there be Light

Light your home as much as possible. When days get shorter, the sun sets lower in the horizon and casts wider shadows. Pull up the blinds, open the shutters, push back the drapes on every window. Turn on every light in the house, including appliance lights and closet lights. Brighten darker rooms with few windows by placing spotlights on the floor behind furniture or on tabletops.

 What are some of your favorite autumn home decorating ideas?

 

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Help Choose the Next Win Win for a Cause Recipient!

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Do you know of a charity or non-profit making a positive impact in The Valley? Help me choose the next addition to the already amazing group of local charities that benefit from Win Win for a Cause donations by leaving a comment.

For any readers new to my endeavor, I created Win Win for a Cause to give back to the community and, hopefully, encourage others to do the same. I vowed to give a portion from my commission of closed real estate transactions to a charity or non-profit of the client’s choosing within 30 days of closing.

I feel that I can make our world a better place. Through Win Win for a Cause, I want my clients to experience that feeling as well. These donations give my clients the opportunity to support a cause that is near and dear to their hearts.

Recipients so far this year include AHIP, Wildlife Center of Virginia, WARM, and the Augusta Regional SPCA. For a full list of current recipients, click here. Scroll through my recent posts to learn more about some of these organizations.

This is your time to bring another charity into the spotlight. Nominate one (or many) of your favorite groups making a difference in the lives of others. As always, I encourage everyone to Pay it Forward through acts of kindness to effect change in the world.

I want to be MORE than your REALTOR… I want you to WIN WIN for a cause.

Who would you like to see join the list?

Add your nominee(s) in the comment section below the title.

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Cultivating Gratitude

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The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. Studies prove that people who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.

Gratitude doesn’t need to be reserved only for momentous occasions like a big raise at work or finding your car keys in the morning even though you ran out of coffee. Find the joy and gratitude in the little things that add texture to life. Like the smell of fall in the air or the feeling of the sun warming your eyelids.

Make a decision to be consciously more grateful. Below are just a few ways to help cultivate an ‘attitude of gratitude.’

Write a thank-you note

You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationships by writing a thank-you letter expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of a person. Once in a while, write one to yourself.

Keep a gratitude journal

I love this – there are even gratitude apps available!  Make it a habit to write down the gifts you’ve received each day. Share them with a friend or encourage someone in a rough spot to stop and make a quick list of things they are grateful for. It can be as simple ‘I am thankful for this pillow to rest my head on after this exhausting day.’

Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. If you are having a difficult time starting, challenge yourself to picking just five things, but certainly don’t limit yourself.

Pray

People who are religious can use prayer to cultivate gratitude. Pray for acceptance of kindness from others, awe in rainbows and the little but amazing joys of life.

Meditate

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Just being present and accepting. Some people may focus on a word or idea, but you can also focus on what you’re grateful for at that specific time (a beautiful sunset, a pleasant sound, etc.).

For many people, gratitude is difficult, because life is difficult. Even beyond hardships, loss, and/or depression, there are many more mundane circumstances in which gratitude doesn’t come easily. Don’t express gratitude only when you feel it. Give thanks especially when you don’t feel it. Then share it.

 

What are you grateful for today? What made you smile today?

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Voices of Hope and Healing

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SARA is another local organization doing truly extraordinary work and one that I am so proud to offer my client’s the choice of supporting through a Win Win for a Cause donation from my commission. Their vision is a community free from sexual violence is one we can all rally behind.

The mission of the Sexual Assault Resource Agency (SARA) is to eliminate sexual violence  impact by providing education, advocacy and support to men, women and children.

Each year they reach approximately 550 survivors and 1,100 students, as well as hundreds more through community outreach and prevention programs. SARA is fully accredited through the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, the only such sexual assault crisis agency in this service area, and has been providing services to the community for over 40 years.

Located in Charlottesville, Virginia, SARA serves residents of Charlottesville, Albemarle, Nelson, Louisa, Fluvanna and Greene. They serve anyone who has personally experienced, or cares for someone who has experienced any kind of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual molestation, incest, sex trafficking, stalking, sexual harassment or unwanted touching.

Services are provided free to all survivors, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, age, economic status, education, parenthood, physical and/or mental abilities, national origin, immigration/documentation status or any other status.

Support Services Include:

24-Hour Crisis Hotline – free, confidential, 24-hour support to survivors, their families and friends, allied professionals, and the public.

Therapy – free and confidential therapy for men, women, and children of all ages who have been affected by sexual violence.

Emergency Room Advocacy -SARA staff members are on call 24 hours every day of the year to accompany sexual assault survivors in the UVA Emergency Room. ER Advocates offer support to the survivor, help to address urgent needs, and ensure that survivors understand their rights and their options.

Additional support services include Legal System Advocacy, Support Groups, Therapeutic Horse and Farm Camp for Young Girls, Counseling and Advocacy for Non-Offending Parents and Families of Abused Children.

Prevention

In an effort to reduce the epidemic of sexual abuse, SARA also provides programs to prevent anyone in our community from becoming a perpetrator of sexual violence.

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SARA’s community education and training efforts increase public awareness about the impact of sexual violence, promote community involvement, foster a multi-disciplinary systems approach to victims of sexual violence, and challenge the prevailing attitudes and dispel the myths which perpetuate the problem of sexual violence. SARA offers free specialized training, workshops and sexual violence prevention programming to the general public, as well as professional groups and individuals in Charlottesville, Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson counties.

There are several ways to help this vital organization achieve and maintain its goals.

A donation of time or money can mean all the difference in the world to a survivor living through one of the worst events of their life.

Donations

 $20 keeps the hotline running for a day.

 $30 provides a new set of clothes for a victim seen at the ER whose clothes are collected as evidence.

 $125 provides a therapy session for a child or adult victim of sexual violence.

 $150 provides a full day of prevention programming to a local school.

Volunteer

Join their team as a Volunteer Hotline Advocate or Community Outreach Volunteers.

By funding these positions, you are supporting a fundamental change in our community, where survivors of sexual violence are supported and heal well, and where the next generation stops sexual violence before it starts.

Is there a local charity you would like to see join the Win Win for a Cause list?