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Piedmont Real Estate: How to Reduce Home Showing Stress


How to Reduce Home Showing Stress

This is the second column by Rappahannock County real estate agent Amy Sloane Timbers. Have a question about real estate matters? Write Amy at

By Amy Sloane Timbers

Selling a house can be a very stressful process.  Sellers can be under pressure to move due to job transfers, or re-location demands. Buying or selling a house can be one of the most stressful events in life.

One thing a seller can do to reduce the pressure is to ensure the house is in good showing order. The house should be spruced up, cleaned-up, and picked-up so buyers can roll in at a moment’s notice.

It’s not easy to maintain a house in showing order but the following tips may help.

Sprucing up is the most time consuming and money consuming. These are the type of things that can be done in advance that will last: including re-painting rooms, fixing delayed maintenance items, fixing drippy sinks, up-grading outdated appliances, and landscaping.  Projects like this will put the property in the best light. Prospective buyers can be turned off by a home when they see gutters that don’t drain, a 1970’s green stove, peeling paint in the bathroom, or a dead lawn mower in what was once a yard. The buyer might fear this indicates the seller hasn’t taken care of the house, and there could be other, perhaps expensive things in disrepair.

The seller also needs to clean up. This is the de-cluttering or de-personalization part of the job. Closets and cabinets should be cleaned and organized. The garage should be turned back into a garage instead of a storage area. Personal items and personal touches should be reduced.

Personally, I find this hard to do, but when it is done buyers will be able to see the house and not the seller’s personal belongings. This helps buyers to visualize their things in the house. However, it is possible to go too far in the clean up. Sellers don’t want to create an “unlived in” feel.  Their house needs to retain some of their personality, just not too much.

Picking up is the day-to-day cleaning that so few of us really do day-to-day. I think of these things as something anyone would do when expecting guests. The problem is these guests, the buyers, want to see everything.  When having guests over for dinner, I don’t worry about how the laundry room or the master bedroom looks.  When prepping to sell your house every room counts, even the basement. The buyer will want to look everywhere. Bathrooms and kitchens are very important—no rings or dishes. If the seller has children, this can be almost an impossible task.  Toys should be contained and crayon marks cleaned. Buyers should make allowances for children and most do so.  Sellers also need to ensure there is no pet odor or hair.  Pets, like children, make things trickier and each case is special.

Major repairs or updates are items that should be examined individually. Some repairs, such as a leaking roof or basement should be fixed. This type of repair might not make the property sell for more but it will surely sell for less if it isn’t done. Some updating is optional, such as re-doing the guest bath. However, some buyers many not want the guest bath re-done so they can put their own touch on the house.

Deciding whether to put on new wallpaper or re-painting children’s rooms are also debatable updates. You might want to discuss items like this with your agent first. Some of them are purely a matter of style so it can be difficult to decide if it is worth the time and money.

If the seller can spruce up and clean up, then the pick-up will be faster and easier.  This will reduce some of the stress. It is even better if the seller can get into a routine of a quick pick up. That way you can be confident the house looks good when an agent calls and wants to show the house in 15 minutes to an out of town buyer.

Fauquier Health Foundation Launches Make It Happen!  

First grants open November 18

WARRENTON —The Fauquier Health Foundation announced today the launch of its first community grants program on October 20.  Make it Happen! will begin accepting grant applications on Tuesday, November 18. Because this is a rolling grant process, there are no fast deadlines for the submission of requests.

Make It Happen! grants were created to energize the creativity of engaged citizens working with organizations to accomplish small-scale, high-impact, quick turnaround projects.  Applicants can request funding of $2,000 to $10,000 for ideas that can be turned around in 90 days or less.  The application process is simple, and applicants will receive a quick response as to whether or not they’ll receive funding.

The goal is to engage the community and create success stories. Eligible grant applicants include 501(c)3 non-profits, religious institutions (for non-religious purposes) or local government entities in Fauquier, Rappahannock and northern Culpeper counties.  The proposed project should have the potential to inspire and motivate the community and must benefit people and organizations within the Foundation’s service area.  Benefits must be concrete and tangible.

“We’re hoping that Make It Happen! will be a catalyst for community leaders and residents who are passionate about improving our communities and the region’s quality of life,” explained Christy Connolly, president and CEO of Fauquier Health Foundation.  “The program was developed to light a spark in area residents who have great ideas to impact positive change.”

For those who want to learn more about Fauquier Health Foundation grants and the process, there is a review day on Friday, November 7, at 10 a.m. in the Sycamore Room at Fauquier Hospital (500 Hospital Drive, Warrenton, Va. 20186).

To register for this event, as well as for more information on Make it Happen! and the Fauquier Health Foundation, visit

Fauquier Health Foundation was established through a joint venture between Fauquier Health and LifePoint Hospitals and was formed in 2013.   The purpose of the Foundation is to promote healthy communities today and in the future.

About Fauquier Health Foundation

With a legacy of community philanthropy stretching back to 1954, the modern Fauquier Health Foundation was created in 2013 through a joint venture between Fauquier Health and LifePoint Hospitals. The resulting foundation manages the assets of this multigenerational gift to promote healthy communities today and in stewardship for our children’s grandchildren.

Contact: Amy Petty, 540-316-2602

Kick Off the Montpelier Races with a Delicious Tailgate Recipe

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Testing One’s Culinary Mettle

By Laurie Beth Gills

…And they’re off! A flame has sparked on this day as I sit in front of my computer typing initial notes, and conjuring up flavors and ingredients for the big day on November 1.

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Montpelier Hunt Races on the historic grounds of James Madison’s lifelong home, Montpelier, in Orange County, Va.  Along with the races comes a most anticipated event that I can’t seem to get enough of…the time honored tailgating contest!

“Why plan so early?” friends ask. “Really, are you kidding me?” is usually my standard thought or reply. For me, the Montpelier Tailgating Contest provides the ultimate cooking challenge—testing one’s culinary mettle and more. It measures and spurs my courage, creativity and backbone (the latter quite literally). Despite the formidable challenges the event provides, I find myself returning year after year.

Do we live in a competitive, showy food culture? Take a quick glance at your smart phone, or pick up any magazine and you’ll quickly find the answer is yes. What’s not so clear is just how far a chef will to go to win first place in a competition. Many will run the distance as I have witnessed in previous years, seeking to quell the competition. Others will own a different attitude with a less-stress, easy-going approach. The latter, less stressful approach is the one I try to adopt, but there will always be moments of chaos that are out of your control. Expect the unexpected, and perhaps you’ll gain an edge!

So do you think you have what it takes to step into the winner’s circle? With a pinch of moxie and a zest for cooking, success can be had! Just know that once the decision has been made to enter the tailgating contest, the competition has begun and it’s time to start planning.

Personally, I think that the initial planning process is tons of fun, with my favorite part being the menu writing. Planning the menu gives me the perfect excuse to browse through my favorite cookbooks, cooking blogs and magazines more than I already do.

There are many reasons to join in the competition, and I’d like to encourage you to do so! For me, the creative process of making high-caliber food and being judged by exemplary chefs is what drives me to compete. I’m also driven by the innate passion I’ve had for food ever since I was a child making mud-based meatballs!

Of course, there’s also a teensy-tiny part of me that loves the competitive nature of the event. No matter where your motivation comes from, every reason to compete is a good one. Be it the competitive edge, a mad passion for cooking, or just spending the day sporting at the races with family, friends and good eats.

In order to engineer a successful event, you must begin planning early. If you’re planning on participating in the competition this year (and I do hope you will!) the following tips are things I’ve learned through my experiences at the races in years past.

  • First things first. Visit the official Montpelier Hunt Race website at ( Read all there is to read about the contest. You’ll find a complete listing of the official rules, and there’s also a phone number posted on the site so you can contact the office directly with any questions.
  • Remember that when crafting your menu, pay close attention to the selected theme. Each year judges choose a unique theme for their spectacular event. Last year, 2013, celebrated the year “1938” in honor of Marion du Pont Scott’s beloved horse, Battleship, who became the first American horse to win the British Grand National. Keeping the theme for the year in mind, your menu should reflect the times, the people, and naturally the food. Also recognize the lead judge. A new judge is recruited each year, so take notice – some rules/requirements can shift a bit as well.
  • You’ll notice that table décor can be quite elaborate at the hunt races, but when it comes to judging food, I’d like to think that this holds little weight. It is about the food, so focus on the food. Don’t be intimidated by the elaborate tablescapes and think you need to spend a fortune on décor. As a matter of fact, during the years I’ve competed, there was a separate prize awarded to the best table design. So if you’d like to compete in this particular part of the competition, know that the table display should also relate with the year’s select theme. Again, make certain to check the Montpelier website for the complete scoop.
  • There is one key factor that is completely uncontrollable and will effect the quality of the whole day; Mother Nature. Rain or shine, frigid cold or even a foot of snow, the race is guaranteed to continue on, and so will you. A warm, comfortable pair of boots, cozy sweater, and a bottle of your favorite libation are highly recommended.
  • For all practical purposes, it’s best to prepare as much food as you possibly can ahead of time. And seriously, don’t think that you need to be a caterer or chef extraordinaire. You just simply need to be well organized and a good cook with a good attitude. Trust me, a crazy adrenaline rush that magically appears about three days prior to the event will quickly put an end to any lackadaisical tendencies.

There is no better place to trumpet one’s fine food and creative design than at the Montpelier Hunt Race and Tailgating Contest. Whatever drives you to the horse race, rest assured, you’re guaranteed a winning day. I hope my tale of tailgating will inspire and coax you into coming out and enjoying this magnificent day and all it has to offer. See you on November 1!

Here’s a winning recipe from last year’s event. Pissaladière. The classic French “pizza” tart with caramelized onions and anchovies. The judges enjoyed it and I hope you and your family do too!



Serves: 4 to 6


2 TBS unsalted butter

¼ cup olive oil

2 lbs yellow onions – thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves

1 bouquet garni

Pinch of salt

1 quality pizza-bread dough (roughly 28 oz)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

12 to15 anchovies – soaked in milk for 30 minutes if too salty; halved lengthways

25 small, black, pitted olives (preferably Niçoise)

Fresh, young thyme sprigs



Melt butter with the olive oil in a heavy saucepan and add the onions, garlic and bouquet garni. Season lightly with salt. Cover and cook gently over low heat for 45 – 50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened but not browned. Discard the garlic and bouquet garni. Let cool at room temperature. Drain off excess oil.

On a lightly floured counter, roll dough to roughly fit a 13 ½ x 10 ½ inch shallow baking tray. Press the dough all over the pan to make a thin, even base. Chill for 20 minutes before baking. (For a crispier crust, simply bake dough directly on a hot pizza stone.)

Pre-heat the oven to 400°F. Use a fork to spread out the onions lightly and evenly over the entire pizza base. Lay the anchovies in a lattice pattern over the onion and then arrange the olives inside the lattice diamonds. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the dough is cooked and lightly browned. Sprinkle with the remaining thyme and cut into squares. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

About the Author: Chef Laurie Beth Gills is the owner and Executive Chef of LB’s Classic & Contemporary Cooking, a culinary instruction and catering service. She is the founder of Fredericksburg’s first fine dining group, LB’s Foodies, which organizes exclusive dinners at local fine dining establishments. Additionally, she has earned certification as a Master Gardener, and currently volunteers as a Gardener Ambassador for Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Gardens at Monticello. Her unique combination of culinary and gardening expertise have lead her to offer garden consulting services, with an emphasis on gardening for the kitchen.

Congratulations to our 2014 photo contest winners!

Congratulations to the winners of the  Piedmont Virginian’s annual photo contest for 2014. We received many stunning photos that captured the beauty of the Piedmont. Thank you for your submissions. Start shooting photos for next year’s contest!

All photos are property of the photographers. Please do not download, copy,  crop or edit in any way.


Classic Piedmont 

Old Waterloo Bridge, Fauquier/Culpeper Counties by Coy Ferrell.


The Great Outdoors 

Hazel River, Rappahannock County by Gary Anthes.


Pets *Grand Prize Winner* 

Boundless Joy, Free Union by Grace Elliff


Conservation and Farm Life 

Dawn Suprise, Castleton by Gary Anthes


New Autumn Issue Available

covers for slideshow


Pick up a copy of the Fall 2014 issue, on newsstands now! Click the following link to find the closest location to you:

Our newest issue includes our annual fall art guide with artwork from around the Piedmont.

Featured stories include Virginia’s Moonshiners, Hot Air Ballooning in the Blue Ridge, lamb recipes, two local art clubs: The Loudoun Sketch Club and Firnew Farm’s Artists’ Circle, photo contest winners and more!

Take a peak at other featured articles on our homepage:


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