Wishing for Hope– A Little Girl and Her Unicorn

Claire Cordell, a 4-year-old girl battling Ewing’s Sarcoma, received a gift from Unbridled Change on Saturday, May 21 that every child longs for– a magical unicorn.

Unbridled Change is a nonprofit Equine Assisted Therapy center in Boones Mill, Virginia. They provide interactive mental health therapy and Equine Assisted learning for families and veterans. Unbridled Change first heard about Claire’s wish from an email from her mother. Kimberly Cordell reached out to Michelle Holling-Brooks, Founder and Executive Director of Unbridled Change, to see if they could help grant this special wish. Claire was in the middle of treatment for her rare cancer when they received the anticipated response.

Claire began her heroic fight with cancer in September 2015. Her Ewing’s Sarcoma was growing off her nasal clavicle bone and wrapping around her brain stem. Her wish was granted in March 2016 after many efforts to make her wish perfect. The little girl described a specific pink unicorn that lived in the forest with many fairies. She recalled the unicorn’s name to be Sparkle Toes, because of its memorable pink,sparkling hooves.

During her explanation of her wish to Michelle, Claire asked, “Do you know how to talk to the fairies that know unicorns? If you do, can you ask them to use their magic in their horns to take the cancer ball out of my head?”

The task of granting this wish required creativity from many helping hands. They selected a pony named Puzzle to serve as Sparkle Toes. Puzzle was dyed head-to-toe with hot pink non-toxic chemical free semi-permanent dye that a local organic salon, Creekside Salon, helped them find. After 16 bottles of dye, eight bottle of spray dye for the mane and tail, one bottle of glitter for the hooves, and of course the magical horn, Puzzle was transformed into Sparkle Toes!

image3When the day came for Sparkle Toes to meet Claire, she received incredible news from her doctor. The 4-year-old’s cancer was gone and the treatments had worked to heal her back to health. Claire was convinced that Sparkle Toes must have healed her with its magical horn. The unicorn walked into the arena where Claire was patiently waiting and her face lit up with joy.

“Wow, you do know Sparkle Toes! But be careful. Don’t touch her horn, if you do she will lose her magic and not be able to help other people get better and be happy too!” Claire said, with a smile on her face.

Claire spent the next 30 minutes riding Sparkle Toes and talking to the unicorn about her journey with cancer. She knew that Sparkle Toes was going to help more people with its healing horn and never lost her smile during the whole ride. Claire thanked Unbridled Change with her dazzling spirit and everyone else that granted her one special wish.

Unbridled Change’s mission is to help people overcome obstacles that may come up in their lives. Michelle told the family to not use Claire’s official wish on them.

“I love my job, the smiles and hugs we received today from Claire and her family will be with me and our staff for the rest of our lives!” stated Holling-Brooks.

Unbridled Change wanted to do this wish for the little girl because of the complications she has faced in life with cancer. They didn’t receive any compensation for completing her wish and they simply wanted to help Claire overcome trauma. The work they do for people is made possible by the community and local foundations. For those seeking more information about Unbridled Change and their programs can visit www.UnbridledChange.org.

Written by Stacy Shrader

Healthy Snacks: Brussel Bytes!

Looking for a healthy alternative to traditional, salty road snacks? Try something outside the realm of cheese doodles and pretzels this summer, and take a look at Brussel Bytes from Wonderfully Raw Gourmet Delights. These up-and-coming veggie bites can be found along the shelves of any Target or online through Wonderfully Raw’s website.

The bags ring up at $5.99, and are available in three flavors: Cheezy Herb, Chili Pumpkin Seed Crunch and Tamarind Apple Crunch. The variety of savory and sweet tastes provide customers with the option to satisfy any range of cravings–not to mention these veggies are chalked full of healthy Vitamins A and C.

cheesyfront_81f18979-c7d5-4af7-87c7-66b7323706d0_1024x1024Perfect for that extra boost while you’re out and about, settling in after a long car ride, or on the Amtrak to the city, Brussel Bytes are organic, gluten free, non-GMO and vegan-friendly. They are made with organic kale, carrots, pumpkin seeds and brussel sprouts.

Throw them in your lunch box before work or take them on a hike with friends one afternoon. Each bag provides two servings, making it a great snack to share with a hungry travel partner.

Brussel Bytes excludes additives, preservatives, stabilizers and artificial flavors from its snacks. They are made with all natural ingredients, and because of this, snacks will reach an earlier expiration date than other comparatively preserved snacks. If the snacks are not satisfactory, Wonderfully Raw Gourmet Delights will replace the product free of charge to guarantee freshness.

 

Written by Emily McCaul

Introducing Emily!

Our new intern, Emily McCaul, will be with us for the duration of the upcoming summer. We are very excited to have her! Learn all about Emily, in her own words, from her sophomore year reflections below.

This past year at Virginia Tech was one filled with unthinkable opportunities, spontaneous travels, belly-hollowing fits of laughter, and tragically normal nights of Netflix-watching – because yes, Michael Scott truly is the man. Every day was different, sometimes stressful, yet always there were opportunities provided to smile with friends, drink good coffee, and contribute to a conversation with substance. It was a year of many firsts, some enjoyable, others less-than-bearable, but overall, it was a year of self-discovery.

In addition to my busy schedule as a sophomore at Virginia Tech with a double major in multimedia journalism and creative writing, I had a variety of experiences this year that contributed to my personal growth including:

I moved into my first apartment.

IMG_1303I received my first DSLR camera (it was a Canon, for some saucy specification and standard imagery), then my first tripod, and then my own Tascam recorder. And wow – had I ever truly felt like a journalist before that moment? It was questionable.

I covered a concert for Brad Paisley, Jenny & Tyler, and (my third concert for) Juxtaposition, one of the all-male, award-winning a cappella groups of Virginia Tech – the group is incredibly gifted, and I did shamelessly cry during their rendition of Coldplay’s “Fix You.”

I also cried from stress, from heartache and from finals this year; I’m a college girl with a lot on her plate, like many of my other classmates, so I tell myself it’s justified.

I survived finals, aided by my lovely friends from Starbucks, Keurig, Mill Mountain, EspressOasis, Bollo’s and Dunkin’ Donuts. Also, before you ask, yes, I do take coffee with my coffee.

I snapplaused to poetry in a safe place, and yes, I did love it.

IMG_3548I experienced New York City at Christmas, standing on top of Rockefeller Center in the middle of the night, with my sister and best friend.

I screamed over the madness that was a near upset in Met Life Stadium, four days before Christmas, as the undefeated Panthers nabbed three (unbelievable) points in overtime over the New York Giants – still cringing.

I applied for an internship with The New York Times during the first round of finals weeks, and two days later received an interview, then an offer to join the team as Virginia Tech’s Collegiate Representative.

I discovered a budding love for videography, which I fed through the creation of multiple, amateur videos of friends and promotional footage for the Times.

IMG_5334I learned to make time for the friendships that meant something to me, and without anticipating it, met a few new friends in the process.

I wrote an article that went viral over the time span of one weekend. It was about Disney Channel. I was not ashamed.

I got a bad hair cut, on a whim, and cried before reaching the car. I’ve since grown out the bad haircut, and it’s okay now.

I rode on a bus for 14 hours to Panama City where I got to play with steel wool on the beach at night, feet sinking into the sand, laughing into the warmth of the sparks, and tucking away the memory for future story telling.

I interviewed Paula Deen in Roanoke when she visited to promote her new furniture line at Grand Home Furnishings. She was incredibly sweet, and I was given the opportunity to share the story of how she overcame her struggle with agoraphobia.

I interviewed the New York Times’ best selling author, critically-acclaimed poet, Grammy nominee, and Virginia Tech professor, Nikki Giovanni, whose humble words of encouragement will forever imprint a perspective upon me I hope to share with others.

IMG_2483I met a boy in line at a coffee shop one night, impromptu and unexpected, who ended up sitting down and talking with me until the shop closed at midnight. That boy is now my boyfriend, and he is incredible.

I witnessed Elton John live in concert, belting out the high-pitched lyrics to Benny and the Jets with hundreds of other women.

I went kayaking for a few hours during the second round of finals week with my best friends, and it was one of the best few hours of my sophomore year.

I consumed far too many caramel cheesecake milkshakes from Cookout.

I watched my best friend graduate from Virginia Tech this spring, pick up her diploma, and hug me through tears and the daunting, ringing thought of ‘….wow, this is real, isn’t it?’

I received a phone call from a starstruck little sister who was named the valedictorian of her high school, of whom I am incredibly proud and look forward to attending school with next year at Virginia Tech, as a freshman in engineering.

IMG_3443And finally, this year I decided I was going to fulfill my dream of becoming a writer in New York City, who is proud of her work, changing lives for the better, and bringing a voice to the profound and voiceless people of today.

That’s what I did this year. It was a year of many firsts, some enjoyable, others less-than-bearable, but overall, it was a year of adventurous and unexpected self-discovery!

Stay tuned for more articles and memorable adventures from Emily this summer!

Summer at Chateau Morrisette!

We all recognize “the dog” while walking through the grocery store and can’t help but wish that we were spending the afternoon at one of the prettiest wineries in Virginia, Chateau Morrisette! Since first crafting wine in 1978, Chateau Morrisette has made a name for themselves through their involvement in the community and their dedication to excellence. Whether you prefer red, white, sweet, or dry they have the perfect bottle just for you. If you’re celebrating, they have extra-dry sparkling wine for that too!

13062912_10154186638468410_9010191299281807122_oA short drive to Floyd is all that stands between you and one of Chateau Morrisette’s weekend-long festivals. Be sure to check out the entire calendar of events on their website so you don’t miss out on some of the best happenings of the summer! If you would rather do something a little more low-key than one of the music festivals, then you can pay them a visit for lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch and enjoy a flawlessly prepared meal with a perfectly paired glass of wine. Or, if you really just want a day away from all of the hustle and bustle, you can make a reservation for a tour of the wine cellar or vineyard with a tasting of ten different wines of your choice.

These tours are so beautiful and enjoyable as you get a better insight into the hard work that is put into making a great product. Lastly, during the warmer months many wedding and private parties are hosted at the vineyard because of the beautiful scenery and great atmosphere. Chateau Morrisette is unique because any and all well-behaved dogs on a leash are always welcome in the tasting rooms! You’re more than welcome to bring your K9 friend to keep you company as you sip some of the Valley’s finest.

11695375_10153513433463410_8644791396166027466_nChateau Morrisette also has great suggestions for specific flavor profiles to pair your selected wine with at home. If you have purchased a bottle and you just don’t know what to serve it with, you can find suggestions on their website, or you can use one of their recipes that they have published for the sole purpose of taking your meal to the next level. However, if you have visited the winery and you don’t live close enough to pay a visit or pick some up at the store, you can order it directly from them to arrive at your doorstep!

For the Bella girls, we love the fact that whether we’re entertaining friends, enjoying an afternoon at the vineyard, or just drinking a glass on the couch, we are spending our money locally. Book a tasting now and tell us what you’re drinking!

 

Written by Kathleen Duffy

Go Red for Women Luncheon

Join us for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Luncheon tomorrow, May 12 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Hotel Roanoke. This luncheon is a wonderful way to learn more about how millions of women have united to raise their voices about their number one killer, heart disease. With your help, many more lives can be saved.

2016 Bella Banner Ad“I’m honored to be involved with the Go Red for Women campaign,” says Donna Littlepage, 2015-16 Go Red for Women Chair. “It is very important to educate women on the dangers of heart disease and stroke and to continue AHA’s support of research in this area.”

Find out how you can join the American Heart Association in the fight to raise awareness and save lives by attending the luncheon. Visit their website for details.

A Hero for Your Super Hero!

“Look, up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, …its Superman!”  When it comes to super hero’s we often think of mighty men of valor fighting evil vigilantes combating threats against humanity.  To honor your super hero make them a supersonic hearty meat and cheese filled hero sandwich, guaranteed to make them think they can “leap tall buildings in a single bound!”

No matter who your hero is they will love this hearty meat and cheese filled sandwich.  Crusty sesame seed bread is spread with mayonnaise and Ranch jalapeno dressing with layers of peppered turkey, black forest ham, hard salami, thinly sliced sopressata, hard salami, mortadella, and provolone cheese.  Shredded iceberg lettuce sprinkled with dried oregano, salt and pepper is drizzled with an oil and vinegar dressing.  Thinly sliced ripe tomatoes and fresh raw red onion rings are added to the meat layers then covered and smothered with the dressed lettuce.  To keep this monstrosity of a sandwich together, a cherry tomato with sweet pickle chip are skewered with a long toothpick equally spaced on top of the sandwich.

A note about Sopressata and Mortadella; both are Italian cured sausages to make a pepperoni style meat that is found in genuine Italian hero sandwiches. These meats are usually made from pork fat and other miscellaneous sources of pork pieces. The sopressata is becoming the new pepperoni on pizzas in large city pizzerias.  If your local deli does not have sopressata or mortadella, select the hard salami and pepperoni for a wonderful Italian hero sandwich.
Served with the hero sandwich are spiced potato chips. Heat potato chips on a baking sheet for a few minutes until the chips begin to shine, add your favorite herbs and spices toss and coat. Our chips were coated with Montreal steak seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. The steak seasoning on the chips compliment the jalapeno dressing on the sandwich.

Every super hero has to have a dessert and what hero doesn’t love a rich dark dense caramel coated chocolate brownie?  Melted caramel bits, chopped pecans and dark chocolate morsels are added to the ‘just out of the oven’ warm brownies. The brownies are refrigerated until set and cut into 2 x 2 inch squares before serving. These brownies will be eaten in a flash!

Who is your super hero?  I’m sure it is not a sandwich, but a true super hero.  A super hero is a person who is admired for their achievements and noble qualities, a warrior, or it can be an ordinary person facing extraordinary circumstances that acts with courage, honor and self-sacrifice. Sometimes a super hero lives in the hearts of children fighting big battles. Be determined to be someone’s super hero.

 

151Super Hero Sandwich
1 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons Newman’s oil and vinegar dressing
1-14 “ loaf Italian bread with sesame seeds
2 teaspoons Hellmann’s mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Lite house Jalapeno Ranch dressing
2 cups finely shredded iceberg lettuce
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 small red onion rings, separated
5 oz. thinly sliced hard salami
5 oz. thinly sliced peppered turkey
5 oz. thinly sliced black forest ham
5 oz. thinly sliced Sopressata
5 oz. thinly sliced Mortadella
5 oz. thinly sliced provolone cheese

In a small bowl, whisk together Newman’s oil and vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper. Add shredded iceberg lettuce, toss to coat. Set aside.
On a work surface, place a long piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper and position the bottom half of the cut loaf over the wrap. In small custard cup, mix together mayonnaise and ranch dressing. Stir to combine and spread over the bread. Layer ham, turkey, sopressata, mortadella, and salami, provolone cheese, tomato slices, onion rings and shredded lettuce. Top with sesame seed top crust. Wrap sandwich in plastic wrap or parchment paper and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 4 hours to develop the flavors.
To serve, unwrap sandwich and garnish with cherry tomato with pickle slice skewered with a frilly toothpick. The picks will keep the sandwich together while cutting. Cut sandwich into desired portions.
Yield: 4- 6 servings

Spiced Potato Chips 1-www.lizbushong.com - CopySeasoned Potato Chips
1-8.5 ounce package wavy potato chips or kettle chips
2 teaspoons Grill Mates Montreal Steak seasoning
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons chili powder

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spread potato chips on a large baking sheet.  Bake in oven until chips are slightly heated and appear to be shiny.  In small bowl, combine spices to blend. Remove chips from oven and sprinkle with seasoning mix.  Toss to coat. Store in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.  Serve as desired with or without a dip.
Yield:  6-8 servings

Caramel Pecan Brownies-www.lizbushong.comCaramel Pecan Brownies
1-18 ounce package Brownie Mix, eggs, vegetable oil as per package
1-11 ounce package Kraft Caramel Bits or 25 unwrapped caramels
2 teaspoons half and half
2 cups chopped pecans
1- cup dark chocolate morsels

Line an 8 x 8 inch square pan with aluminum foil. Lightly grease foil and coat with flour. Remove excess flour and set aside. Follow instructions on brownie mix and pour into prepared pan. Bake brownies 50-55 minutes. Remove brownies from oven and keep warm.
Meanwhile, melt caramel bits and half and half in microwave for 1 minute or until melted. Pour melted caramel over warm brownies covering entire surface. Garnish caramel with chopped pecans and dark chocolate morsels. Refrigerate brownies to firm before slicing.
Yield:  16-2” brownies

 

Liz Circle 2013 smallHelping you Make a Statement, Make it Sassy and Make it Yours!®
Liz Bushong is an expert in the three-dimensional art of entertaining. She transforms simple dining occasions into beautiful and memorable moments by adding a touch of her own “sassy” style. For the past several years Liz been entrusted to decorate the White House for several Holidays. She is a featured monthly guest chef/designer on Daytime Tricities, Daytime Blue Ridge and other television shows. Liz is the author of the Just Desserts and Sweets & Savories cookbook as well as a contributing writer for VIP SEEN and Bella Magazine. For more information about Liz go to www.lizbushong.com/www.serveitupsassy.com.

Making Small Spaces Spacious

If you’re struggling with feeling claustrophobic when you go home because you have too much stuff, or you live in a smaller house and you’re dying for more space but there’s no chance of moving any time soon, hang in there because we’re here to help! Sometimes we don’t realize how many unnecessary items we have collected over time until suddenly one day we look around and feel overwhelmed! Other times we just haven’t utilized the space that we do have in the right way. Here are some ideas on how to make those small spaces feel spacious!
Work with white!- First off, if you live in a small house and you’re thinking about painting your walls a dark color, put the paintbrush down! Work with lighter colors, these kinds of colors will open up your small areas more than you might think. Instead of slate black or navy, stick to bright whites, light grays, sand colors, or even a fun seafoam green!
Accent colors!- If you’re really set on a darker color in a room, use it as an accent instead. For instance, you could use a dark color for your lampshades, couch pillows, or throw blankets. These pops of color will add character and are a fun way to show off your style without making you and your guests feel like you’re living in a shoebox. Or, if you are just dying for a dark color on the wall, you can use that color on a single wall to create an accent wall! Doing this will help make the room seem deeper and will create a focal point. An accent wall is an opportunity to show off your style and personality because the options are limitless! You can use one solid color, horizontal stripes, or even polka dots! Horizontal stripes are a great idea because they will create the illusion that the room is wider than it actually is. Or, if that’s not quite your style, you can create an accent wall by placing multiple works of art on the same wall. This is neat because you can use photos, canvases, or paintings that are meaningful to you as a focal point of a room and a conversation starter!
living-room-421842_1920Embrace the light!- Another common problem in rooms that feel small is a lack of light. For goodness sake, open those curtains! If simply opening the curtains doesn’t give you enough light and the room still feels like it’s underground, grab a lamp! Another way to maximize light in a room is to add mirrors. A great place to add a mirror is the wall right across from the window. Doing so will directly reflect all of that wonderful sunshine that is coming in through that window and will make the room seem brighter. You can also add a fun or unique mirror to your accent wall to show off your style and brighten up the room at the same time! You might not even realize how dark your home is until you start adding light in order to create a more desirable atmosphere for you and your family.
Declutter!- We hope that these decorating ideas help your home to feel comfortable and inviting again, but none of these will help you if you continue to hold onto those items that you don’t use or need anymore. In order to decorate you have to declutter! No, you really don’t need six remotes and four blankets in every room. For the things you do need, look into fun and functional storage units to prevent your house from feeling cluttered and messy. For the things you don’t need or don’t use often, downsize, throw it away, or donate it!  (Check out our monthly minimalism column in Bella for decluttering ideas!)

Written by Kathleen Duffy

Hudson Henry Baking Company

Photo Credit: Tyler Darden Photography

In 2012, Hope Lawrence and her husband, David, returned to Virginia in search of a way for Hope to go back to work and stay at home with their young sons Hudson, 8, and Henry, 5. After many months of searching, they found the perfect farmhouse for their family just outside of Charlottesville in early 2012. It included a separate commercial kitchen, and the Lawrences realized this presented a unique opportunity for Hope to be with her family and start the bakery she had been dreaming of for years.

Named after their sons, Hudson Henry Baking Company is the sole source of income for the family of four. And it is very much family-owned and operated. Both Hudson and Henry help their parents, and Hudson even accompanied Hope to the LLC meeting with their attorney. He also appeared in their video audition for Shark Tank.
“What is important to us is being home with the boys and working together to provide for our family,” explains Lawrence. “Our business helps us live a good life with our boys.”

When they aren’t baking, packaging, and shipping their delicious granola, the Lawrence family focuses on new ways to give back to others.

This outreach began when the business did. As Hope perused through websites geared towards entrepreneurs, she found several motivational thoughts that she considered putting on posters to inspire her.

HudsonHenry058“Then I thought, what if people read these things in the morning to start their day instead of the news? These sayings should be on cereal boxes!” says Lawrence. She realized she had the perfect way to get those inspirational words in front of her customers and incorporated them into their packaging.“The positive messages are as important to me as the granola,” she adds.

But she didn’t stop there. The Lawrence family works closely with their community by employing stay at home moms and participating in a work-study program with students at a nearby high school. They also put a lot of thought into the suppliers they choose for their ingredients. For example, their maple syrup comes from another family-owned and operated business, Mount Mansfield Maple Products, located in Vermont.

Their goal is to be a family business that helps others be their best. Whether that is through consuming their delicious granola, starting the day with their motivational quotes, or a combination of the two—the Lawrence’s want people to know that whatever their dream, a little positivity can go a long way. Their own success is the perfect example of this mentality. After just ten months of business, Hudson Henry Baking Company was featured on The Today Show in 2013 as one of Kathie Lee’s “Favorite Things.” Additionally, their products are available to a wide customer base throughout the country.

If you’re searching for that perfect Mother’s Day gift, this is it! Hudson Henry Baking Company is extending a special discount code to Bella readers for 10% off during the month of May. To take advantage of this deal, visit www.hudsonhenrybakingco.com and enter the code: bella10 when you check out!