Happy New Year. Please Pass The Peas.

As the Times Square ball is dropping, friends wearing glittery tiaras and noisemakers are sipping bubbly and counting down until the first moment of the New Year.

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Young kids are excited because they got to stay up past their bedtime eating junk food and preparing for all the ruckus they’ll soon create with mom’s pots, pans and mixing spoons.  An aging couple spends a quiet evening enjoying their once yearly serving of oyster stew and black-eyed peas. For good luck, of course. New Years traditions can look different for every family, at every age and in every country. No matter how the holiday is celebrated, near and far, there is a common thread that weaves these traditions together for families across the globe. The backdrop of these traditional rituals that give meaning to our lives is always centered around home.

Denmark

If on New Year’s morning you wake up to a pile of broken dishes at your front door, consider yourself loved. The Danes throw old dishes at the door of friends’ homes for good luck. The more broken dishes you clean up, the more friends you surely have.

The Southern United States

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Round foods are synonymous with good luck. Many Southerners eat black-eyed peas on New Years for future good fortune. Round foods are traditional for the New Year in many cultures because the circle represents continuity. Since black-eyed peas have two concentric circles they’re considered to be extra lucky.

Armenia

Everyone knows that moms put a lot of love into what they bake for their families. However moms in Armenia add an extra ingredient to a traditional New Years bread, by kneading luck and good wishes into the dough before it is baked.

Greece

Move over St. Nick, St. Basil is the man on New Years in Greece. St. Basil? When children leave their shoes out on New Year’s Eve, St. Basil, who is known for his kindness and generosity to children and the poor, fill them with small presents.

Japan

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The Japanese believe in symbolism and New Years is no exception. Decorated front doors with pine branches and bamboo are the way to health and long life, while fans, seaweed and ferns welcome you home as symbols of happiness and good luck. Children are given small gifts of money called “otoshidamas.” At midnight, celebrations break out as bells and gongs ring out 108 times to chase away 108 troubles, and people laugh to drive away the bad spirits.

Portugal

Children celebrate this holiday by going caroling door-to-door and singing old songs called Janeiros. The children are then thanked by their neighbors with gifts of sweets and coins.

Puerto Rico

The New Year is all about cleaning house. Of evil spirits, that is. Children throw pails of water out the window at midnight to rid their homes of any unwanted houseguests.

Romania

Children wish people a Happy New Year by touching them lightly with a bouquet of twigs from an apple, pear, cherry, or plum tree called a “sorcova.” This country’s tradition is said to bless its countrymen with fertility, health, and purity. Traditionally the twigs would have been placed in water on November 30 so they’d blossom by New Year’s Eve. As a shortcut, people today decorate the twigs with flowers made of colored paper.

Spain

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When the clock strikes midnight, people eat 12 grapes, one for every stroke of the clock and for good luck in each month of the New Year.

A family’s home is not just a building or even just a place to dwell, but it’s where memories are made, celebrations are had and comfort is cultivated. At Miller & Smith, it is our honor to be a part of turning a building, a series of rooms into a home. A place that is visually beautiful, that lives well, that becomes a backdrop for memories and becomes a protected refuge for families.

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It is this spirit of home that makes us proud to do what we do, year after year. 2014 will be no exception. So no matter how you plan to ring in this New Year, Miller & Smith wishes you and yours the utmost comfort of home.

A Tale Of One City. (And Two Communities).

Clarksburg MD New Homes for Sale

Miller & Smith must really like Clarksburg. Maybe it’s the ease of being located in the heart of the I-270 technology corridor. It could be Montgomery County’s vision and its plans for growth and expansion. Certainly the proposed outlet mall doesn’t hurt either. There must be a reason that Miller & Smith has you covered if you’re looking for a new home in Clarksburg. From Gallery Park, fit for first time homebuyers to Grapevine Ridge at Clarksburg Town Center perfect for move-ups, there’s a community for every home and a home for every buyer.

Alright, first time homebuyers. Simply put. Gallery Park is close to everything. Shops, restaurants, employment centers, great schools. You get all of these urban conveniences, while still being surrounded by nature and parkland. Little Bennett Regional Park is your neighbor when you call Gallery Park home. It’s kinda like the best of both worlds.

Gallery Park New townhomes in Clarksburg MD

Check out these new townhomes in Clarksburg with up to 3-bedrooms, 2.5 baths and modern, spacious kitchens featuring the signature Miller & Smith center islands.

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Be forewarned, though. If you’re one of the lucky ones to call this your first home, don’t be surprised when your parents start asking you to host every holiday at your place.

For those looking to move on up, Grapevine Ridge at Clarksburg Town Center gets you the same great city, with even more space and amenities.  This neighborhood offers the complete package with many established community amenities including a Resident’s Club and swimming pool, a fitness center and numerous parks with playgrounds and natural areas. Not to mention it’s location within the Town Center, just steps from shops and restaurants.

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These spacious new single families homes in Clarksburg present a fantastic open design with a spacious great room and amazing gourmet kitchen.

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We do believe in full disclosure, though. When you move-up at Grapevine Ridge, the risk of playing holiday host increases. With up to 4,000 square feet of spacious comfort, you’ll not only be hosting holiday meals, but overnight guests, too.

It certainly worked for six-year-old Susan Walker in the film Miracle on 34th Street. This year, you too could wake up to something a bit unconventional under your tree. Miller & Smith, like in the movie, can make your Christmas wish come true, (sans baby brother, of course). So check out these Immediate Delivery new homes in Clarksburg, MD, just in the Nick knick of time.

 

Holidays, Repurposed. Sanity Saved.

I think we all can agree that this is the most wonderful, albeit busiest, time of the year. From holiday home decorating and marathon cookie baking to finding the perfect gifts and traveling to be with family, sometimes the thought of fighting through the holiday shopping masses is enough to summon a Clark Griswold style meltdown. With the advent of social sharing sites like Pinterest and a growing appreciation of recycling, homemade gift giving is easier than ever. Check out these holiday gift ideas that prove it’s easy being green. 

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Luminaries

These holiday luminaries will warm up any porch, fireplace mantle or front window. Simply remove the label and wash a tin can thoroughly. You can use anything from a small soup can to a large coffee tin. Using the pointy end of a nail, hammer snowflake and star patterns into the outside of the can. When you are satisfied with the design, insert a tea light, cozy up on the couch and enjoy the soft glow of your handiwork.

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 Dressed Up Vases

If you have extra scraps of wrapping paper lying around that are too pretty to throw away, simply wrap the paper around the base of a glass or tin flower vase. Use double stick tape to secure to the vase seamlessly. Arrange your favorite flowers in coordinating colors and dress up your family’s holiday food spread. 

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Candle Holder Masterpiece

If you’re a parent, you are no stranger to the never-ending stream of artwork gifted to you by your child. With only so much refrigerator real estate, finding the perfect place to display it can sometimes be troublesome. That is until you discover the candleholder masterpiece. The perfect grandparent gift, this candleholder displays your child’s artwork in a way that actually can fit into your home’s décor. Simply wrap the artwork, trimmed to size, around a glass holder. Attach with double sided tape for a clean seam and voila!

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Holiday Sweet Treat Boxes & Tins

Probably one of the most universally loved holiday gifts are homemade sweets and treats. You can make that gift even more special by presenting your goodies in beautifully wrapped holiday packaging. Hold onto your tin foil and plastic wrap boxes, as they make beautiful presentation pieces. For extra sturdiness, cover the box in duct tape. Then take your favorite decorative paper and wrap the box securing with craft glue. You can add your own adornments such as twine, buttons or ribbon to accent your package. 

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 For another option, dress up commercial cookie or popcorn tins by lightly sanding, then spray painting with the lid still in tact. A few coats may be necessary to reach the finish you desire. Then simply decorate the box with string, greenery, ribbons, ornaments, etc. The possibilities are endless, so get creative!

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Gift Tags

You are sure to receive baskets full of holiday cards this season. Put them to good use by making gift tags for your holiday packages. Trace your gift tag on the backside of the card and carefully cut out with scissors. Using a small punch, place a hole in the desired location on the tag and secure to your gift with a colored ribbon, sting or twine. 

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Winter Wall Décor

Dress up your walls or give the gift of custom artwork this season. To achieve this look, take lace or paper doilies and place onto a plain, white canvas using spray adhesive. Add a layer of white paint to the surface of the canvas for a uniform, monochromatic masterpiece.

 

‘Tis The Season To Do.

Buy the tree. Decorate the tree. Send the cocktail party invites. Mix the eggnog. Buy the gifts. Wrap the gifts. Hide Elf on the Shelf. Every. Single. Morning. Besides this very typical list of holiday chores leading up to the main event, why not celebrate the best of the season with these festive local activities. From DC to Brambleton, Silver Spring to Fredericksburg, this list has you covered no matter which Miller & Smith community you call home.

Holiday Cookie and Wine Pairing

In celebration of the holiday season, Executive Chef of the Grandale Restaurant has created a fun and festive cookie and wine pairing for the 868 Estate Tasting Room.

Let these wine conossouiers guide you through a tasting where the experience of food and wine, perfectly paired, will elevate both. It’s a favorite of Santa’s, when he’s not driving, of course. And what better way to experience the tastes of the holidays than with a Cookie and Wine pairing, really?

Event Dates: 12/14, 12/15, 12/21, 12/22
Event Time: 11am-6pm
Admission Fee/Ticket Price: $20
Event Time: 11am-6pm
Admission Fee/Ticket Price: $20
Location:
868 Estate Vineyards 
14001 Harpers Ferry Rd
Purcellville, VA 20132
Phone: 540-668-7008
Website: http://868estatevineyards.com/
 

Family Fun Day at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington

Although it’s the one day a year that most local establishments are closed, this year on December 25th, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington is hosting a full day packed with family fun. Bring your swimming suits because the pool is open from 10 a.m. to noon. You can stop by the family gym between 10 a.m and 1 p.m. To complete the family fun, a free viewing of the film “Monsters University” will be shown at 12:30 p.m.

Event Dates: 12/25
Event Time: The Center is open during regular hours 5:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Admission Fee/Ticket Price: FREE!
Location:
6125 Montrose Road
Rockville MD
Phone: 301.348.3712
Website: http://www.jccgw.org/event/family-fun-day/

 Gingerbread House Decorating

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 Making gingerbread houses has become a tradition that the whole family can enjoy together. For families living in our Brambleton community, just down the road at the Lansdowne Resort, two decorating events will be held on one day. To distract the confectionary architects from eating all the building supplies, cookies and a beverage station with hot chocolate, coffee and tea will be available.

Event Date: 12/15
Event Times: 9am-12pm and 2pm-5pm
Location:
Lansdowne Resort 
44050 Woodridge Pkwy
Leesburg, VA 20176
Phone: 703-726-1449 (Ask for Valerie Voltz)
Website: http://www.LansdowneResort.com/holidays
 

Jingle Bell Carriage Rides

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 Get in the holiday spirit and listen to the jingle bells as the carriage rambles through Fredericksburg’s 40 blocks of historic neighborhoods. These evening tours are a great way to view the city decorated in its unique holiday charm, with its cobbled streets and picturesque architecture. On this 50-minute fun-filled carriage ride through historic downtown Fredericksburg, you’ll get to discover the beautiful holiday lights, listen to some holiday music and enjoy some yummy holiday cookies.

Don’t forget to bring some hot chocolate and warm blankets to round out your holiday experience.

Event Dates: November 3, 2013 – January 3, 2014
Event Times: 4:00pm – 8:00pm
Admission Fee/Ticket Price: $100-$120 Depending on carriage purchased for the evening.
Location:
706 Caroline Street
Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Phone: (540) 371-0094
Website: http://oldetownecarriages.com

Seasons Greenings at the United States Botanic Garden

Come in from the cold and enjoy the sights, scents and sounds of an indoor winter wonderland complete with poinsettia showcase, grove of conifer trees and one of the largest, decorated Christmas trees in all of DC. Especially fun for the kids, discover a fantasy train display in the East Gallery, which chugs along more than 800 feet of track and through imaginative structures all constructed out of plant materials. Come on a Tuesday or Thursday and enjoy live, seasonal music

Event Dates: November 28, 2013 – January 5, 2014
Event Times: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Location:
100 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 225-8333
Website: http://www.usbg.gov/exhibits
 

Gaylord National Resort’s ICE!

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 Step inside this winter wonderland created entirely of 5,000 BLOCKS of ice weighing 1.5 million pounds! The ice displays are hand-sculpted by 40 international artisans and kept at a chilling nine degrees Fahrenheit. With a new theme each year, this year families can expect to enjoy “Twas The Night Before Christmas,” with a special bonus scene depicting Christmas in New York City. Bundle up and prepare to be amazed!

Event Dates: November 15, 2013 – January 5, 2014
Location:
201 Waterfront Street
National Harbor, Maryland 20745
Phone: 301-965-4000
Website: http://www.marriott.com/hotel-info/wasgn-gaylord-national-resort-and-convention-center/christmas-on-the-potomac/xyjvxiz/ice.mi
 

Kwanzaa Celebration at George Washington University

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Come and kick off Kwanzaa with a night full of celebration, dance, music, song and rhythm centered on the seven principles of Kwanzaa. In this performance for all ages, Coyaba Dance Theater welcomes the holiday season with live music, exuberant dancing and a true community of dancers.

Event Dates: 12/14
Event Time: 8:00 p.m.
Admission Fee/Ticket Price: $25 adult, 12 child advance; $30 adult, $15 child at the door
Location:
GWU Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre
800 21st St NW, Washington, DC 20052
Phone: (202) 994-6800
Website: http://www.danceplace.org/events/kwanzaa-celebration-2013/

National Christmas Tree

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 For the last 90 years, the National Christmas Tree has been bringing citizens together to kick-off the holiday season. A visit to the White House Ellipse not only reveals the giant Christmas tree, but visitors also can enjoy the Pathway of Peace, which includes 56 smaller trees adorned with handmade ornaments from each of the 50 states. Get a sneak peak at Santa in his workshop as he and the elves make and prepare the toys for all the good girls and boys.

Event Dates: Lighting Ceremony on December 6, 2013 and open for viewing through January 1, 2013
Event Times: 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Admission Fee/Ticket Price: FREE!
Location: The Ellipse near the White House
Website: http://thenationaltree.org/
 

Wolf Trap National Park Holiday Sing-A-Long
Join in and sing Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs with the United States Marine Band vocal groups from the metropolitan Washington area. The audience is invited to bring candles to light during the last verse of “Silent Night,” the final song of the program. There also is a ‘Jing-A-Long’ during the singing of JingleBells, so bring a bell along with your candle. Admission is free and no tickets are required, but attendees are encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy for the Christmastime charity, Toys for Tots.

Event Dates: December 7, 2013
Event Times: 4:00 p.m.
Admission Fee/Ticket Price: FREE!
Location:
1635 Trap Road
Vienna, VA 22182
Phone: (703) 255-1900
Website: http://www.wolftrap.org/Find_Performances_and_Events/Event/Holiday_Sing.aspx
 

ZooLights at the National Zoo

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 The National Zoo presents a seasonal display of thousands of sparkling animated lights, winter-themed crafts, ice sculpting demonstrations, choral groups, and storytellers. This year, ZooLights is brighter than ever! More than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights will transform the zoo into a winter wonderland. Lit animal silhouettes, musical light displays, and a new garden scene light sculpture make for truly magical sights!

Event Dates: November 29, 2013-January 1, 2014
Event Times: 5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Admission Fee/Ticket Price: FREE!
Location:
3001 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: 202.633.4888
Website: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/ActivitiesAndEvents/Celebrations/ZooLights/
 

Holly TrolleyFest

Visitors to this year’s Holly TrolleyFest, at the National Capital Trolley Museum, can ride through town aboard a streetcar with an extra special passenger. That’s right. Santa will be aboard on your ride through Northwest Branch Park. When your ride is through, stop by Santa’s Garden and see the toy train display.

Event Dates: Saturdays and Sundays during December 
Event Times: Noon until 5:00 p.m.
Admission Fee/Ticket Price: Adults: $7.00, Children: $5
Location:
1313 Bonifant Road
Colesville, MD 20905-5955
Phone: 301-384-6088
Website: http://www.dctrolley.org/

Mr. Claus

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Celebrate the joys of the holiday season with a tale of Christmas the whole family will be sure to enjoy. This original musical blends popular seasonal songs from Christmases past and present, with the star of the show, Mr. Claus, of course.

Event Dates: December 1, December 6 – 7, 13 – 15, 19 – 21, 27 – 28, 2013
Location:
5 Willowtree Dr.
Frederick, MD 21702
Phone: 301-662-6600
Website: http://www.wayoffbroadway.com/