Peak bloom is here: DC cherry trees reach final bloom stage

Peak bloom is here: DC cherry trees reach final bloom stage

It’s happening, people! The famous D.C. cherry trees have hit peak bloom.

The National Park Service said that the blossoms are open and “putting on a gorgeous show.”

The final of six stages could not happen on a better day, with warm temperatures in the 70s and a breeze.

The area around the Tidal Basin has already been swarmed with crowds and visitors are urged to take walk, bike or take Metro to cut back on traffic.

This story is developing. Check back with WTOP for updates.

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Brivo Expands Mobile Credentials With Employee Badge in Apple Wallet

Brivo Expands Mobile Credentials With Employee Badge in Apple Wallet

Brivo Expands Mobile Credentials With Employee Badge in Apple Wallet | SDM Magazine

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Fly fishing retreats offer men with cancer chance to enjoy nature, learn, share journey

Fly fishing retreats offer men with cancer chance to enjoy nature, learn, share journey

Reel Recovery is a national non-profit organization that conducts free fly fishing retreats in Virginia for men living with cancer.

Standing knee-deep in a pristine stream and basking in sunshine, surrounded by the peaceful sounds of nature, is a dream day for someone who enjoys fly fishing — but the experience can produce a lifelong, and perhaps life-saving, effect on men diagnosed with cancer.

Reel Recovery is a national non-profit organization that conducts free fly fishing retreats for men living with cancer.

reel recovery syria, va
Men participating in a Reel Recovery fly fishing retreat, in Syria, Virginia. (Courtesy Stan Golub)

Co-founder Stan Golub says the “benefits are many,” for cancer patients who spend a weekend fly fishing in a remote locale, with other men who are in similar situations. The next local retreat is May 1 through May 3, near the Shenandoah Mountains in Syria, Virginia.

“Getting men out into nature is very important when they’re often confined to hospital rooms or  their homes dealing with treatment,” Golub tells WTOP. “Most of our retreats are in beautiful places very peaceful, very calm, and that in itself is a healing experience.”

Golub said most of the men on the retreats have never tried fly fishing, but they’re paired with an experienced fly fisherman. “Just being able to learn something new gives them a new perspective on their life — that’s there’s still things to live for.”

Immersing themselves in trying to snag trout is freeing, said Golub.

“During that time, they’re actually cancer free in a sense — cancer is out of their heads, and they’re not thinking about it in their bodies,” he said. “They’re paying attention to fishing to the nature to the birds flying by and it really shifts the focus.”

In addition to enjoying nature and the sport of fly fishing, “Perhaps most importantly, we have what we call ‘courageous conversations,’ where they can share their stories with other men who are going through similar experiences.”

Besides the often-grueling physical challenges of cancer treatment, Golub said the emotional effects can be overwhelming.

“Many, many men have never really talked to others about their cancer journey,” said Golub. “They feel very alone. They’re tough — they’re men — and they don’t like to talk about this stuff.”

During the retreat weekend, in addition to fishing, men share their stories, fears, questions and hopes.

“Despite the travails that they’re going through, and the suffering and pain that they may experience, they can find those moments … where they can actually experience joy and pleasure and keep living,” said Golub.

The next Virginia retreat is May 1 through May 3, and applications are still available on Reel Recovery’s website, said Golub. Any man, who has ever been diagnosed with cancer is eligible to participate. Each retreat involves up to 14 men.

“Our retreats are held at Graves Mountain Lodge in Syria, which is right at the base of the Shenandoah mountains and is just a beautiful, beautiful place,” said Golub. “We fish on a private river called Rose River Farm.”

Golub said the program is completely free for participants.

“All you have to do is get there, and then all the meals, lodging, fly fishing equipment and instruction is all taken care of.”

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How to Clean Your Dutch Oven, According to Experts

How to Clean Your Dutch Oven, According to Experts

From stovetop to oven and back again, a good Dutch oven is the heavyweight champion of cookware. Because they’re known to evenly distribute and retain heat, Dutch ovens are excellent at searing and slow-cooking everything from short ribs to meatballs to stews. Once you learn how to cook with a Dutch oven and keep it clean, you’ll never have enough Dutch oven recipes in your dinner lineup.

If you take proper care of a cast iron or enameled cast iron Dutch oven, it can last a lifetime. Hot water, dish soap and a swipe of the sponge are usually all it takes to clean a Dutch oven after meal prep. But if the heat gets too high or you’ve left food unattended inside for too long, you may be staring at stuck-on bits or stains that leave you second-guessing.

To make sure you’re removing food residue without removing the seasoning or accidentally scratching the surface, follow these step-by-step instructions carefully for the type of Dutch oven you have at home.

Expert Tip: Though many Dutch ovens are technically dishwasher safe, we recommend washing by hand to avoid dulling. Cast iron Dutch ovens are also prone to rust, so avoid the dishwasher and dry them promptly after washing.

potato chicken soup

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How to Clean a Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Cast iron Dutch ovens are incredibly durable and easy to bring back to life if they get rusty or dull, but they do require more TLC than other types of Dutch ovens since they need to be seasoned to help food release easily when cooking and cleaning. If you’re wondering if it’s okay to use soap on cast iron, the answer is yes! While today’s dish soaps can dissolve fresh grease, they won’t remove the layers of seasoning on their own.

What You’ll Need

  • Paper towels
  • Plastic food scraper
  • Water
  • Baking soda
  • Non-metal cooking utensil
  • Non-abrasive sponge or nylon scrubbing pad
  • Dish soap
  • Dry dishcloth
  • Cooking oil
  1. Wipe away grease and food bits. Use a paper towel or plastic food scraper to remove any stuck-on food and grease from the Dutch oven once it’s cool. If you can easily wash away what’s left, skip to step three.
  2. Loosen stuck-on food on the stove. Avoid scrubbing with steel wool or soaking in water, which can damage the seasoning. Instead, fill the Dutch oven halfway with water and add baking soda (about 1 tablespoon for every 1 cup of water), then bring to a boil on the stovetop. This will help release bits of food and stains so you can rinse them away. Use a non-metal cooking utensil to agitate the surface as needed, then pour the baking soda water solution down the drain. Let cool completely.
  3. Gently remove any remaining residue. Use dish soap and a nylon scrubbing pad or the scrubby side of a kitchen sponge to remove any food or residue that’s left and rinse well with running water. Never use steel wool or steel sponges!
  4. Dry immediately with a dishcloth and heat. If water sits on a cast iron Dutch oven it can cause surface rust. To prevent this, wipe away visible water droplets as soon as you’re done washing, then place the Dutch oven back on the burner for about 30 seconds to evaporate any leftover water completely.
  5. Season before storing. If your Dutch oven looks dull, apply a light layer of cooking oil to the inside with a paper towel while it’s still warm, then pop in a 350ºF oven upside down for about an hour to set. (Don’t forget to add a tray or foil underneath to catch any oil drips.) Once cool, buff away visible grease and store in a dry place.

Expert Tip: When you store a cast iron Dutch oven, keep the lid off to prevent a buildup of moisture which can cause the cookware to rust.

How to Clean an Enameled Dutch Oven

Enameled cast iron Dutch ovens are popular because they are non-stick, easy to clean and don’t require seasoning. Always hand-wash an enameled Dutch oven and avoid abrasive cleaners, which can leave surface scratches that compromise the coating.

What You’ll Need

  • Paper towel
  • Plastic food scraper
  • Water
  • Dish soap
  • Baking soda
  • Non-abrasive sponge or nylon scrubbing pad
  • Dry dishcloth
  1. Wipe out the inside with a paper towel. As soon as your Dutch oven has cooled, use a paper towel or plastic food scraper to remove any leftover food or grease. If you wait too long, you may face more scrubbing.
  2. Fill with hot soapy water. Adding cold water to a hot pan can cause the enamel to crack, so take care. Let the Dutch oven cool completely before adding warm water, or let the water run hot before you add it to still-warm cookware. Let it soak for anything from a few minutes to overnight to help loosen stuck-on foods and make cleaning easier.
  3. Gently scrub away leftover food. Apply a squirt or two of dish soap to your kitchen sponge then scrub in a circular motion. Target stubborn spots with a plastic scraper or nylon scrubbing pad. Enamel can still scratch, so steer clear of abrasive cleaning tools like steel wool. Rinse well with warm water.
  4. Dry promptly with a dishcloth. While the enamel inside the Dutch oven won’t rust, the cast iron rim can, so you need to towel dry it quickly and completely. Like cast iron Dutch ovens, make sure you store it in a dry place away from water.

Expert Tip: Remove stains promptly. As soon as you see stains on the inside of your enamel Dutch oven, fill it with a mixture of 3 tablespoons of household bleach per quart of water and soak for 2-3 hours. Wash thoroughly and rinse.

    How to Clean a Ceramic Dutch Oven

    Like enamel, ceramic coatings are sensitive to temperature changes so it’s important to let a ceramic Dutch oven cool completely and heat up slowly. Ceramic Dutch ovens can be cleaned following the same step-by-step instructions above, except you can let your ceramic Dutch oven air dry since it’s not prone to rusting like cast iron.

    How to Clean a Non-Stick Dutch Oven

    Since non-stick cookware is designed so food slides right out of the pan, it should be very easy to clean. Follow the same enamel and ceramic Dutch oven cleaning steps, avoiding the use of scouring pads, steel wool or abrasives. If you find that cooking oils leave a residue on the nonstick surface, fill the Dutch oven with water and 1/2 cup white vinegar and it bring to a boil. The residue should float to the top. Skim it off with a paper towel, pour out the liquid, then wash according to the directions above.

    How to Clean a Stainless Steel Dutch Oven

    Without any natural or synthetic coating, stainless steel Dutch ovens can be tougher to clean. But the good news is that there are GH-tested stainless steel cleaners that can help you get the job done quickly.

    What You’ll Need

    1. Remove grease and food bits. With a paper towel or a plastic food scraper, scrape what you can into the trash, then rinse with warm water to loosen what’s left.
    2. Start scrubbing with dish soap. A squirt of your regular dish soap may be all the cleaning power you need. Rub a nylon scrubbing pad or the scrubby side of your kitchen sponge in a circular motion to remove any food residue. If larger pieces of food remain stuck on, fill the Dutch oven with warm soapy water and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes before scrubbing again.
    3. Tackle stubborn stains. If you’re still left with spots or stains, you may need to call in a stainless steel cleaner like Brillo Cameo Cleaner or Barkeepers Friend. Both are designed to target tough stains and restore shine.
    4. Rinse and dry before storing. Use warm water to rinse away soap and cleaners completely and dry with a dishcloth to avoid water spots, then return your Dutch oven to storage.

    Expert Tip: Stainless steel cookware can still scratch. If you’re storing another pot inside your Dutch oven, use a pan protector to protect the surface between uses.

    How to remove rust from a Dutch oven

    Rust can be removed with a non-metallic scrubber and a mild dish soap like GH Seal star Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid. Scrub in a circular motion, then rinse well and quickly dry completely. When all of the rust is removed from a cast iron Dutch oven, place it back on the stovetop to evaporate any remaining water droplets, then follow the steps below to season it to prevent future rust from forming.

    How do I season my Dutch oven?

    Seasoning a cast iron Dutch oven creates a natural non-stick coating on the surface, which is essential for cooking and cleaning. Some cast iron Dutch ovens come pre-seasoned, while enameled cast iron and ceramic Dutch ovens don’t require seasoning at all. If you have a cast iron Dutch oven that needs to be seasoned, first heat it on the stove so the pores open and allow for more absorption of oil. Use a paper towel to apply a thin layer of neutral oil across the entire surface of the Dutch oven, inside and out. Pop the pan in the oven upside down at 350ºF for an hour with a baking sheet or foil underneath to catch any oil drips, then let cool completely. Wipe away excess oil before storing it to avoid a buildup of residue.

    How do you store a Dutch oven properly?

    For cast iron and enameled cast iron Dutch ovens, it’s important to dry them completely before returning them to storage. Heating the pan on the stovetop after washing can help ensure water droplets completely evaporate. Cast iron Dutch ovens also need to be properly seasoned before storing to prevent rust, which can form simply due to air exposure. It’s also a good idea to store the Dutch oven lid separately so moisture doesn’t build up inside.

    Headshot of Taryn Mohrman

    Taryn Mohrman is a freelance writer with over 15 years of experience writing for major consumer magazines, retailers and digital outlets, including buybuyBABY, Woman’s Day, Parents and Redbook. She also specializes in content strategy and business development for B2Cs and startups, and has served as a consultant for companies in the home, fashion, beauty, tech, kids and gifts industries.

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Van Leeuwen ice cream shop opens Thursday in Union Market with $1 scoops

Van Leeuwen ice cream shop opens Thursday in Union Market with $1 scoops

It is officially spring, and as temperatures start to warm this week, an ice cream chain with national acclaim is opening the doors to one of its three planned scoop shops in the D.C. area.

New York-based Van Leeuwen will celebrate the opening of its Union Market neighborhood location Thursday with $1 scoops between noon and 4 p.m.

The company is collaborating with local chef Johnny Spero to revive his beloved “Birch” ice cream flavor that originated at his award-winning restaurant, Reverie. The special collaboration flavor — Birch Bark with Raspberry Jam — will also debut on Thursday.

The scoop shop is located on 418 Morse Street in Northeast D.C.

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Homeowner considers removing wife from living trust, adding her to title

Homeowner considers removing wife from living trust, adding her to title

Q: I am 76 and my wife is 58. I own our home outright, and she will inherit the house when I die through a living trust. Is it to her advantage to maintain the situation the way it is from a capital gains perspective, or should I add her to the deed now? I am thinking of the step-up in valuation of the house when she inherits it to minimize her capital gains tax if/when she sells the house.

A: It sounds like you have an estate plan. Which is a good thing. It sounds like you hired an attorney to create a living trust for you to hold your home and other assets.

We’re just not sure why you’d want to change the setup at this time. Especially, if you were married at the time you set up the living trust. We’d be interested in knowing what has changed since then to make you think otherwise.

We suspect that you’ve owned your home for some time — perhaps even before you were married. You didn’t provide any reason why you would want to put your wife’s name on the title to the home. So, let’s unpack some of the options and opportunities.

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Under current federal tax law, when you die your wife will get the home at a stepped-up basis. This means that if you purchased the home for $100,000 and it’s worth $1 million on the day of your death, your wife will inherit the home at that valuation.

If your wife turns around and sells the home around the time of your death, typically within a year, she’d pay no federal taxes on the sale of the home. That’s because she inherited the property and sold the property at the same value of one million dollars.

Is this your primary residence? The Internal Revenue Service allows homeowners to sell their primary home and exclude up to $250,000 of profit from federal income taxes. Of course, there are rules you must follow: You must have lived in the home for two out of the last five years, and you can only use that exclusion once every 24 months. Married couples can exclude $500,000 in profit from federal income tax.

So if you purchased the home for $100,000, and the home is now worth $250,000, and you decide to sell today, you’d be able to exclude that profit from federal income tax.

Are you thinking about what happens after you die? Perhaps you imagine that by placing your wife on the title to the home today, she’d automatically become the owner of your home upon your death without paying an attorney to go through probate. You could be right, but you might still need to hire someone to prepare the deed now to put your wife on title to the home. The fee you pay now could be about the same as what she’d pay later.

Unless you have a clear understanding of why you might want to add your wife to title, you might discuss this issue with the estate attorney who helped prepare your living trust. Remember, there are pros and cons to every decision and you’ll want to examine all the options before you decide to move forward.

(Ilyce Glink is the author of “100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask” (4th Edition). She is also the CEO of Best Money Moves, a financial wellness technology company. Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Contact Ilyce and Sam through her website,

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