Northern Virginia Real Estate and Community News

Jan. 19, 2021

14 Ways to Make Working Out at Home More Effective


With 2020 behind and KNOWING we will probably still be at home more for a while, it’s time to find new ways to stay active in Northern Virginia!


Working out at home has a lot of advantages compared to visiting a gym. You cut down on driving, you skip the long lines, and you control the playlist. Plus, regardless of the weather, you can remain warm and dry. And, let’s not even mention the fact that COVID has closed or limited many local gyms and exercise facilities anyway.


Maybe the only thing that would make staying home even more rewarding would be making your exercise sessions extra effective.



Try these suggestions for creating and using a home gym that will help you to become slimmer and fitter in less time.


How to Design an Effective Home Gym:


  1. Designate a space. Being able to set aside an entire room may be ideal, but you can make any layout work. If you’re short on space, arrange a gym in one corner of your basement or studio apartment. You can even put your equipment out of sight when you’re done.
  2. Clear away distractions. Make it easier to concentrate by storing work materials and children’s toys elsewhere. Turn your phone off if you’re tempted to text.
  3. Stock up on equipment. There’s plenty of gear that you can pick up even on a tight budget. Maybe you want a deluxe treadmill or just some resistance bands and a yoga mat.
  4. Go online. For endless variety, use your phone or set up a monitor so you can watch fitness videos. Sign up for a CrossFit program or visit your library for free titles. YouTube, Amazon Prime, and even Netflix have exercises online that you can indulge in.

How to Use Your Home Gym:

  1. Focus on whole-body movements. Compared to exercises that target single muscles, compound movements are more efficient. You may want to spend more time doing push-ups instead of bicep curls.
  2. Be comprehensive. Train for strength, heart health, flexibility, and balance. Vary your workouts instead of sticking to just the exercises that you like.
  3. Try interval training. You may have seen studies that show that interval training increases the benefits of exercising. To get started, alternate between high-intensity activities and less demanding movements. Gradually make your workouts more challenging by increasing the intensity, pace, or resistance.
  4. Find a buddy. When you workout with a friend, you can share feedback, encouragement, and laughs. Invite a neighbor or coworker to join you. You can even “Zoom” to workout together if need be.
  5. Set goals. It’s common to reach a plateau after you’ve been working out for a while. If you want to stay motivated or keep making gains, give yourself targets to strive for. You might decide to work out for at least 30 minutes at least 3 days a week or take an inch off your waist within 30 days.
  6. Track your progress. Once you establish goals, you can measure them. Keep a journal about your workouts and performance. Reward yourself when you reach each milestone.
  7. Have fun. Remember to have a good time. If you love training with kettlebells or watching nature shows while you’re running on the treadmill, you’ll be more likely to stick to your workout program.
  8. Use good form. Protect yourself from injuries by doing exercises properly. If you’re a beginner, you may want to take a class or work with a trainer to receive the instructions you need.
  9. Rest up. Giving your body adequate time to recover will also help you to stay safe and strong. If you have no signs of overtraining like fatigue or persistent muscle soreness, you may prefer active rest like going for a gentle walk on your days off.
  10. Talk with your doctor. Discuss any individual concerns with your physician. That’s especially important if you’ve been sedentary or you’re trying to manage a chronic condition.


Enjoy the comforts of home while you maximize your workouts. A well-planned space and a balanced exercise program will help you to shape up faster than you expected.


Do you have a favorite online video or local place to get some exercise? Let us know about it.


Robin Butler,

“Your Friend In The Real Estate Business.”

Remax Gateway



Posted in Community Events
Jan. 12, 2021

Robin Explores HMart in Fairfax


We all love H Mart, located at 11200 Fairfax Blvd in Fairfax. 

Have you been to their food hall?  If you see me there, sit down and I'll buy you lunch.  

Watch as I explore everything they have to offer.




Robin Butler,

“Your Friend In The Real Estate Business.”

Remax Gateway




Posted in Community News
Dec. 22, 2020

Roofing Maintenance (for the homeowner)

When you own a home, it's usually your most important and expensive investment. It's important to keep everything working well and one of the most important aspects of your home outside of the foundation is the roof. If the roof is not kept in good order you can suffer leaks which can escalate into bigger problems inside your home. (And that’s all water-related so bear with us.)


Pretty much any time you're outside your home you need to train yourself to take a look at your roof. You never know when something can happen that you just weren't aware of such as trees touching your roof, branches falling on your roof, or other debris. Even the existence of black streaks on your roof can be a sign that you need roof work done. 


Most people use the season of spring to check their roof, this is a good rule of thumb to use since most people do their spring cleaning at that time and the weather is not too hot or too cold. But, it’s never too late to start keeping an eye on your roof. The last thing you want is to have a hole or leak in your roof during the winter. Here are a few things to keep an eye out for.


Check for Overgrown Trees

Overgrown trees can cause a lot of problems with your roof. They can scratch it, gouge it, and even fall onto your roof. They can puncture your roof, scratch your roof, and make holes in your roof. The falling leaves can also clog up your gutter causing water to back up and run down the fascia causing mold build-up and other problems. Any low hanging tree branches should be removed and cut enough that they are not close enough to your home to drop their leaves in the guttering or touch and scratch your roof.

Check for Mold

If you have black discoloration on your roof it is more than likely algae, fungus, or worse, mold. If you live in a humid area or have humid times of the year like we do this is a danger. These bacterias can eat away at the roofing material and eventually lead to leaks. Plus, the discoloration is unsightly. If you trimmed your trees to provide more sunlight to directly shine on your roof this can be a natural way to repel the growth of algae, fungus, or mold. You can also have zinc strips installed after you've cleaned and scrubbed the roof, which will create zinc oxide during rain which will retard the growth of these deteriorating conditions. 


Survey Your Roof for Actual Damage


If you see shingles that are flapping in the breeze or actually missing, it's important to get this repaired immediately. It's only going to get worse and cost more if you don't fix it right away. Fixing a few shingles yourself is not difficult. Just pull the bad shingle off carefully and put a new one in place. If you have a tile roof it might be best to hire someone to do it for you. But a shingle roof you can easily do yourself if you are handy. Here’s a video from This Old  House with some good direction.


If you do at least an annual inspection each year, and you train yourself to always look up at your roof when you are outside doing something else you can avoid issues. Just because they say a roof lasts for 15 or 30 years does not mean you may not have damage from low lying trees, storms or rain damage. Keep diligent about your most important investment and it will be in good repair for a lifetime.


Check out my latest video for more information.



Robin Butler,

“Your Friend In The Real Estate Business.”

Remax Gateway



Posted in Community News
Dec. 11, 2020

Holiday Fun in NOVA


While many Holiday celebrations may be on hold or pared down this year due to COVID precautions, there are still plenty of festive activities that you can take part in.  And the best part of these is they are outdoor, so with the cold a mask may be a welcome accessory.


Bull Run Festival of Lights. Nov.6-Jan. 10

While the Holiday Village and Carnival is canceled this year, the lights will go on!

What a perfect year for a festive drive through 2.5 miles of lighted holiday displays. 

  • Bull Run Regional Park, 7700 Bull Run Drive, Centreville, 
  • They are open every evening from 5:30 to 9:30 Monday-Thursday, and until 10:00 Friday-Sunday and holidays.  
  • Tickets are $25 weekdays/$35 weekends per car or van (1-14 people)
  • * *prices may be higher on peak days.
  • Larger vehicles with more than 15 people are $50
  • You can use coupon code WEB20 for $5 off the weekday prices.
  • Buy tickets on the NOVA Parks website
  • Buy tickets on the Eventbrite page

Tickets are timed so make sure you plan accordingly and show up at your allotted time


Meadowlark Gardens Winter Walk of Lights.  Nov. 11-Jan. 3

Enjoy a half-mile walk through the lighted displays of the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens.  The walk begins at the Visitor Center where you can purchase light-up necklaces, wands, and fun activity sheets to keep the kiddos entertained. 

  •  Vienna, VA
  • Hours are 5:00-10 pm
  • Tickets are $10 for ages 2-12 and $16 for 13 and older.
  • Tickets must be purchased online and they are timed.
  • For current information and to buy tickets go to the NOVA Parks website
  • Buy tickets on the Eventbrite page

Because this is an outdoor event masks are required and please practice social distancing.


Winter Glow at Mount Vernon  Weekends from Nov. 27-Dec. 28

Want a little history to go with your festivities?  During this event, George Washington’s Mount Vernon offers holiday lights and Christmas carolers.


  • 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon
  • Hours are 5:30-8:30
  • Members are $25/youth $40/adult.  Non-members $30/youth $45/adult
  • Buy your timed tickets HERE

Christmas Village at Leesburg Animal Park  Weekends and Dec 22,23

The park offers an evening Christmas Village with holiday lights, a live animal nativity scene, pony rides, animal encounters, and of course pictures with Santa.

  • 19246 James Monroe Hwy, Leesburg 
  • Hours 5-9.  Pictures with Santa from 6:30-8:30
  • Tickets are $10.95 and must be purchased online.  The weekend tickets go on the website the Tuesday before. 
  • Some activities have an extra fee

Because this is an outdoor event masks are required and please practice social distancing.


Ice and Lights--The Winter Village at Cameron Run  Nov. 20-Jan. 3

Take a walk around the beautiful holiday displays and then stick around for some ice skating.  Perfect family fun to get you into the holiday spirit

  • 4001 Eisenhower Ave, Alexandria
  • Hours are 5:00-10:00.
  • The ice rink will be open weekends and holidays 11:00-5:00 from Jan 9-Feb 28
  • Admission is $7.95 for general admission.  $19.43 with 1 hour of skating
  • The ice skating tickets are timed and the rink will be cleared of all skaters during the time switch.
  • Buy your tickets HERE   

This event closes nightly at 7:15 and reopens at 7:45.  Please pay extra close attention to your ticket’s timed entry and departure times

Because this is an outdoor event masks are required and please practice social distancing.


Check out other local skating opportunities HERE


Some other fun activities:

Breakfast with Santa at the St. James. 

Join Santa for a socially-distanced breakfast and photos on December 19th.

  • 6805 Industrial RoadSpringfield
  • Tickets are $10 for members/ $15 for non-members.  Plus a $2.25 fee
  • The tickets are timed every ½ hour from 9 AM to 12:30 PM
  • Buy tickets HERE

Masks are required


Train Rides at Reston Town Center


Enjoy a festive ride around Reston Town Center.  Tickets are $20 and selling fast.  There are still open slots available for December 20th so act fast.  


Ring out the year in style -- New Year’s Eve at the First Night Alexandria

Trying something a little different this year...the event will be drive-in style.  There will be two pre-recorded shows of music and comedy projected on the big movie screen.  There will also be giveaways and local food trucks to help you celebrate.   And if you want the fun but not the cold, enjoy the show virtually in your own living room.


  • 5001 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria
  • Shows are 6:30 and 9:30
  • Tickets are $60 general/$75 VIP per car.  $20 for the virtual link
  • Buy Tickets HERE


And, of course, start the new year off with First Day Hikes.  Information is still being updated so check in HERE to plan your day.


Does your neighborhood do anything special for the holidays?   I’m always interested in finding more holiday displays to enjoy, leave a comment on where I might find some.


Robin Butler,

“Your Friend In The Real Estate Business.”

Remax Gateway


Posted in Community Events
Nov. 19, 2020

This Holiday Season, DON'T Party like it's 1999!


Many of us in Northern Virginia were hoping to use the Holiday Season as a way to make up for all of the missed events of 2020.  But, true to form, 2020 has thrown a wrench into our plans.  With the COVID-19 epidemic worsening it may be smart to rethink how we spend the holidays this year.    


If you were planning to travel for the holidays, the CDC suggests you consider staying home.  That is truly the best way to protect yourself, and others. But, if you must, then travel smart.  And, be sure to check the guidelines for both Virginia and the state you are traveling to regarding quarantines, etc. 

**You can stay up to date with help from the Virginia Department of Health.

  • Driving to your destination will limit your exposure to the virus.  
  • If you need to take public transport then, if your schedule allows, consider traveling during non-peak times.
  • And of course, pack plenty of hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and extra masks.
  • If your travel includes being a guest in someone’s home make sure you and your hosts have a clear plan of what is expected of you.  
  • Change out of your travel clothes upon arrival and store your belongings away from common-use areas.

Some of these suggestions may seem overly cautious, but having a clear plan can lead to a peace of mind.


If you are playing host to overnight guests then make sure you and your guests are on the same page as to what’s expected.

  • Keep plenty of hand sanitizer for them. 
  • Provide them with disinfectant wipes to clean hard surfaces after they use them.
  • If sharing a bathroom set a schedule for bathing and make sure it gets cleaned after each use.
  • Ask your guests to wash their own dishes or place them in the dishwasher themselves.  

If your guests see that you take their health seriously then hopefully they will return the favor.


If your plans include a gathering:

  • Keep the gathering small so there can be some social distancing.
  • Weather permitting, have the party outside. You could plan for earlier in the day to increase the chances of warmer weather. Keeping in mind that a tent with closed sides has less ventilation than being inside
  • If inside, keep windows and doors open to improve ventilation.
  • Put the air conditioning/heating on continuous circulation and consider upgrading your filter to the highest-rated.
  • Avoid using area fans as this will just blow air from one person to another.
  • Have ALL GUESTS WEAR A MASK except when eating/drinking.  And make sure guests keep their masks to themselves when they aren’t wearing them.
  • This year skip the family sing-along.  And have the ambient noise down so guests don’t have to shout at each other to be heard.  Singing and yelling increase the range that particles can travel.  
  • Quarantine the pets while company is in the house.  There have been cases of pets being infected with the virus, though the chances of them spreading it back to people is low.  But, for Scruffy’s sake, err on the side of caution.

There is no current evidence that the virus is spread through food, or through the handling and serving of food.  The possibility comes in with multiple people handling the food containers, or serving utensils. 

Here are some tips to help reduce any possible spread at dinnertime: 

  • Consider having guests bring their own meals/drinks.  The point is to be together.
  • If cooking for the group, have one person do the preparation and wear a mask/gloves.
  • Don’t do buffet style.  Have one person responsible for the serving, rather than multiple people touching the utensils.  Have them wear a mask.
  • Use disposable utensils/plates/cups and make everyone responsible for their own clean-up
  • Don’t spare the disinfectant wipes--use them liberally on all commonly touched areas.
  • Keep an open trash can so guests don’t have to touch the lid.

Many of these precautions may seem daunting, but really it all comes down to the suggestions you’ve heard all year:


If it all seems too much, there is no shame in staying home this year.  Or planning something small with just the members of your household.  Go for a socially distanced intimate gathering and save the big celebrations for next year.


And, boy, what celebrations we’ll have!!


Robin Butler,

“Your Friend In The Real Estate Business.”

Remax Gateway


Nov. 12, 2020

4Q Market Update

What's going on in the Real Estate Market?  

Is now the time to sell?  To buy?

Watch my latest video to find out!


Robin Butler,

“Your Friend In The Real Estate Business.”

Remax Gateway




Posted in Real Estate News
Nov. 9, 2020

Small Business Saturday--Nov. 28, 2020



While all businesses took some financial hits this year, it’s the small businesses that could really use your help.  Many of them don’t have the resources or infrastructure that was required to weather the coronavirus storm.   That’s why, this year more than most, it’s important for you to remember the little guy and shop local for your holiday needs.


One great way to kick that off is with Small Business Saturday on November 28!


Small Business Saturday was started, and trademarked, by American Express in 2010 to help small businesses compete with Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  In an effort to promote the event AmEx bought Facebook advertising and then gave it to their small business clients to use for their stores.  And they continue by rewarding their cardholders for using their AmEx cards on the day in small businesses.


The first year was such a success that in 2011 the US Senate passed a resolution in support of the day.  And, in 2013 the UK adopted their own version.  According to data compiled by AmEx 110 million consumers spent $19.6 Billion dollars last year, and in its history, $120 billion has been spent during Small Business Saturdays.


One key thing to remember--Small businesses are a part of the neighborhoods so most of that money stays within the community where it is spent.  Approximately 67 cents of every dollar you spend at a small business stays within the community.  And, because that money goes to the business owner and the employees they also tend to spend it locally. (


Small businesses are also more likely to be involved within the community by donating to local charities and partnering with local school/youth activities.  So supporting your local small businesses is a win for everyone!

Here are some local events to help you plan your day out:


If you are a small business and want to participate there are a few key things you need to do to make it a success.

  • Make sure you are web-ready and your social media presence is up to date.
  • Start your day with a Kick-off Event and extend your hours for late shoppers.
  • Offer incentives and give ‘check-in’ rewards.
  • Focus on customer service.  One advantage small businesses have over the big box stores.
  • Team up with other small businesses in the neighborhood and celebrate each other.
  • Donate a portion of your day’s proceeds to a local charity.
  • Don’t try to compete with the big box stores by slashing prices.  Your customers are coming to you for the local experience and to support the community.  Play to your strengths and don’t damage your bottom line.

***If you are a small business owner leave a comment or drop me a text/email and I will be happy to promote your Small Business Saturday Events on my social media.  As a small business owner myself, we are all in this together, so it is our duty to help lift each other up!


As always I am here for your Real Estate Needs.


Robin Butler,

“Your Friend in the Real Estate Business”

Remax Gateway



Oct. 23, 2020

Mindfulness Yoga and Coaching with Robyn (and Robin)

What is your usual fitness plan?

COVID 19 has been hard on all of us.  Today is a good day to make a new commitment to your health!


Have you wanted to try out yoga but didn't know where?  My friend Robyn has amazing classes.

Check her out here:

Or on Facebook:



And, as always I am here for all your real estate needs.

Robin Butler,

"Your Friend in the Real Estate Business"

Remax Gateway



Posted in Community Events
Oct. 21, 2020

Oct. 21: National Check Your Meds Day

I Work for Older Americans and Their Needs

Did you know that I’m a Senior Real Estate Specialist in Northern Virginia? It’s one of the certifications that I have because of the passion I feel to assist older Americans with their home needs.  There are a lot of reasons to use a Realtor with the SRES designation. In general, we are uniquely qualified to help the over 50 crowd with their real estate needs. The older real estate consumer has different priorities than a first-time buyer or seller and the Fairfax buyer/seller is no exception to that rule. 


Today, it’s National Check Your Meds Day. While this isn’t necessarily a day just for the elderly (seriously, that’s hard for me to use that word since I’m falling into the over-50 category 😉) it is a day that’s great for all of us to “celebrate.” It’s a chance to hook up with your local pharmacist to go over your meds and supplements to be sure you are taking them correctly and that there are no negative interactions. If you see more than one doctor, it’s especially important to make sure your pharmacist reviews all your medications to make sure they can all “play nice” together. 


Did you know there are various resources available in our local community to help as we age?

Here are just a few:

Fairfax 50+ Podcast

Golden Gazette Local Newspaper for those 50+

Older Adults Events Calendar


Getting older doesn’t have to be stressful. Many resources are available to draw from. Here are some other blogs on my site that specifically apply to us.


If you or a “senior” you know are looking to buy or sell real estate, you might want to download a free copy of my Senior Housing Guide. Get that HERE.


As always, if you have any questions or need help, I’m here for you.

Robin Butler,

“Your Friend In The Real Estate Business.”

Remax Gateway



A Seniors Real Estate Specialist®, or SRES®, is a

REALTOR® who has received extensive training in helping

50+ home buyers and sellers. Let me help you through the

process of buying or selling your home, making the

transaction less stressful and more successful.





Posted in Community News
Oct. 13, 2020

Decorating Your Home for Fall on a Budget

The price of seasonal decor is on the rise. So what's a stylish decor maven to do when trying to decorate for a Northern Virginia fall? Take on a DIY project, of course! 

Whether you're working on a shoestring budget, or simply trying to save a dime, with a bit of ingenuity and time, you'll be well on your way to fall home decor that even Martha Stewart deems worthy. Try these inexpensive decor ideas to jazz up your home for fall: 

Pine cone wreath. 

Greeting your guests at the door with a pinecone wreath ensures a warm and stylish welcome. Rather than paying the standard price of $50 to $100 for a pinecone wreath, make one yourself for under $10! Before shopping and starting, be sure to peek on Pinterest for a little inspiration. 

Take an afternoon to collect pine cones with your children or grandchildren. Two small shopping bags of pinecones should be enough for a large wreath. Next, purchase a Styrofoam wreath for approximately $1, a glue gun for around $2, and a piece of ribbon for $1. 

● Use a glue gun to adhere the flatter side of the pine cones to the wreath. The pine cones should be pointing upwards, rather than laying flat. Continue gluing pine cones until the Styrofoam of the wreath is no longer visible. Then, loosely wrap a long ribbon around the top of the wreath and tie. 

● You can display your pine cone wreath by hanging the ribbon on your doorknocker or simply using a wreath hanger that can be purchased at most big box stores for $5. 

Photo links to:

Pressed Leaf showcase. 

With the help of Mother Nature and some everyday items you already have around the house, you can make photo frames that display your beautiful pressed leaves. This fall staple is the epitome of autumn decor and packs a big punch for a small buck! 

● Place a piece of wax paper in the middle of a heavy book, such as an encyclopedia, and lay several leaves on the wax paper without overlapping leaves. Place another sheet of wax paper over the leaves, and then close the book. Let stand for approximately 12 hours. 

● Use a piece of scrapbook paper with colors that are reminiscent of fall and fit it to your photo frame. Place a dot of hot glue on the center of the paper and press your leaf onto the glue. Then, carefully slide your pressed leaf and scrapbook paper combo into your photo frame and display! 

Simple switch. 

Changing your smallest accessories can provide both the biggest bang for your buck and visual stimulation. Swap out your regular throw pillows, curtains, throws, and vases in favor of ones that are laden with fall-friendly hues. 

● Orange, red, brown, bronze, and even green are generally colors associated with fall. 

There's no need to replace your existing decor; just adapt what you already have! Attach a fun orange or brown pompom trimming to your curtains with Velcro. Rather than ditching your existing throw pillow, simply sew a flirty and autumn-friendly cover for the fall. 

Whether you're working with a $100 budget or a $10 budget, you can effectively decorate your home for the fall. When on a tight budget, your most important ally will be your imagination. Remember, where there's a will, there's a way. 

Take inspiration from magazines, decorating shows or even snap photos of pieces you see in department stores and try to recreate them at home. If you're open to trying something new and taking the time to take on some DIY projects, the sky truly is the limit to what you can do!

Robin Butler,

“Your Friend In The Real Estate Business.”

Remax Gateway



Posted in Community Events