Shop Local in 2017!

We talk about giving back to our community a lot in Bella, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to shop local. The holidays are behind us, and too often at this critical time of year we fall into the slump of making purchases that are convenient at stores where items are on sale. That habit, though all too common, hurts both small businesses and the consumer.

With a simple swipe of your card, you are making a decision. It’s the old adage “quality versus quantity.” You aren’t going to find the same quality items at department stores that you will with local business owners. So, here are some simple ways you can change your habits for the benefit of the community this year:

Buy a new rug. When cold weather comes, we find ourselves redecorating the interior of our homes. One small change can mean a lot for a room. Start by finding the perfect rug at Oriental Rugs Gallery. You can count on your investment lasting for years, and it may be just what you need to enjoy all of the seasons to come.

Try new ingredients. You’ve found some great recipes to start of the new year, but you have no idea where to begin with the oils you need to purchase. Oliveto can help! Their oils are great for bread dipping, salad dressing, as a marinade, in place of butter or vegetable oil, and more! They also have balsamic vinegars that are perfect drizzled over fruit (and the occasional pastry!).

shop_localFind the perfect outfit. It’s never too early to get ready for Valentine’s Day. If you’re already searching for the right dress, Punch Boutique has you covered. (P.S. Ladies, you’ll never go wrong with blue—it stands out in a sea of red!) Pair your gorgeous outfit with a pair of boots or dress shoes from Yarid’s. Anyone who has ever purchased accessories from this amazing store knows that they are quality statement pieces that last for years.

Finally, don’t forget to stop at Chocolate Paper! Whether you’re going for a small, unique gift to give a friend, that planner you forgot to buy before the New Year, or a little chocolate reward for yourself—this is the place to find what is perfect for you!

Most importantly, don’t let the New Year and after Christmas sales at department stores trick you. They only exist to clutter our homes with things we don’t need. Shop with a purpose where your money does the most good for both you and your neighbors!

Oriental Rug Gallery
5999 Franklin Road
Roanoke, VA 24014
540-776-2808

Punch Boutique
3117 Franklin Road SW #6
Roanoke, VA 24014
540-904-6743

Yarid’s Shoes
4714 Starkey Road
Roanoke, VA 24018
540-266-7750

Oliveto
3565 Electric Road
Roanoke, VA 24018

Chocolate Paper
308 Market St. SE #3
Roanoke, VA 24011

Healthy Skin in Winter

With a new year before us, it’s time to get away from the bad habits we developed during the end of the year chaos. We don’t know about you, but we’ve noticed that our skin is certainly paying the price. Let’s start 2017 with a fresh, clean slate by committing to taking better care of it with these easy steps:

Put some thought into the products you are using as part of your daily routine. We are in love with charcoal soaps. They help draw out skin impurities and make room for your moisturizer to do its job effectively. It’s also great if your poor dietary choices over the last month (ahem…guilty) are showing as blemishes on your skin. Our current favorite is by Apotheke. The handcrafted bar soap is stirred, poured, cut, and wrapped by hand. To top it all off, it is made with natural ingredients like coconut, olive, and palm oil. Find it on www.apothekeco.com.

obagiOf course, it should be obvious that you need to moisturize. Hydrate facial moisturizers by Obagi Medical are great for rejuvenating the skin after cleansing. It also doesn’t hurt to visit a professional and develop a regime that works best for you. For that, we place all of our trust in the ladies at Skin Care Consulting (www.skincareconsultinginc.com).

Protect the fruits of your moisturizing by taking one extra step before bed. Sleep with a humidifier. Not only will it help with your sinuses and even snoring, it also comforts your skin after a day in the cold, dry air of winter. When you wake up, you will retain some of that moisture in your face, lips, and even your hands.

Make sure you aren’t sabotaging all of your effort by putting the wrong things into your body. If you want that glowing, smooth complexion to return now that all of the holiday cakes and cookies are gone, think of each meal like cleansing and moisturizing. Our favorite solutions in the winter months are adding more salmon to our diets and committing to juicing every day. Try tossing two carrots, a beet, some ginger root, an apple, and just a splash of lemon into your juicer for a drink that will boost your energy and help your skin.

Use an infuser water bottle to really get the serving of fruit that you need every day. An extra bonus? It makes drinking water a lot more satisfying. If you’re trying to cut out soda (which, let’s be honest, everyone should do), this is a great way to ease yourself into the habit of drinking water instead. You should try to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day, so add some blueberries and strawberries to those servings and pretend it’s summer!

Giving Back

We are currently compiling our list of ways to give back in the coming months. Beginning in February, we will replace “Giving Back” with an active volunteering article. The goal is to promote a general understanding of the commitment many nonprofits need to survive and help those in need right here in Southwest and Central Virginia.

To begin this series, we want to tell you about smaller efforts we are making as a staff to brighten up the world around us. We hope that they will inspire you to complete random acts of kindness in your own life so we can all work together to make our community a better place.

We adore the girls over at Project Goodness (www.withgoodness.com). They are “a community dedicated to noticing and adding to the goodness in and around us.” Their interactive signs are popping up all over the country, and encourage passersby to take a random act of goodness to complete during their day. They send PDFS out for free, and you are welcome to contact them or us (editorial@beckmediagroup.com) for copies of your own! (Just make sure to ask permission before you hang them!)

We are also captivated by the Craftivist Collective community. Created by activist Sarah Corbett, it allows artists to approach activism in a gentle, respectful, yet target manner. Sarah’s goal is to explore global issues “using craft for critical thinking.” Check out some of their awesome projects like “Stitchable Change-makers” at www.craftivist-collective.com.

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the information and resources available for the cause you want to support most, but don’t let it distract you from your purpose. A simple, random act of kindness or a moment spent learning and reflecting on the lives of others can help you achieve the personal growth you seek on a daily basis. Give one (or both!) of these a try and stay tuned for our volunteer adventures in 2017!

A Recipe for Comfort (from Well Fed Farm)

Well, I am hoping everyone made it through the holiday season with minimum trauma and maximum enjoyment. While I am not big on proclaiming resolutions, I am a proponent of taking stock and putting everything in order for the days, and year to come. One of my favorite parts of doing this out here on the farm is seed catalog time! When I finally get a chance to grab the big stack of catalogs that have been trickling in from the mailbox, my garden notebook from the season before, a few pens, a hot cup of milky homemade chai, a small bowl of popcorn, and then make my way to the sheepskin covered couch I am prepared to settle in and breath everything else out. As the big red woodstove burns through another round of locust inside the farmhouse and just through the window I can see the garden all tucked in and dormant, I am in my happy place. Oh, the possibilities.

img_2272While I do save many types of seeds year to year (there is an ox-heart type tomato that came from a friend years back, known simply as “Orange-It’s So Good!”) the excitement of new varieties has a hypnotic pull and I know I am not alone here. Sometimes it’s tracking down that elusive variety you sampled the summer before: a tomato that woo-ed you or those perfectly salty pan-fried Shishito peppers you cooked up after bringing them home from the farmers’ market. Other times it’s adding a vegetable variety just for the novelty of it. Mexican Sour Gherkin cucumber, anyone? (BTW they are not truly cucumbers and totally worth growing because they are adorable, as well as, delicious). The magic, and its ensuing promise is all there inside these catalog pages full of images and convincing descriptions. There’s the gorgeous scarlet colored Rouge Vif D’Etampes pumpkins, the ever sexy and otherworldly looking Tardivo radicchio with it’s deep burgundy white ribbed leaves, and the early ripening Liebesapfel sweet pepper with it’s lovely ruffled shape. I always end up circling more than I could ever realistically plant, grow, and harvest.

Flipping through these pages and circling the garden workhorses along with the “well, why not give it a try?” choices reminds me of why I do what I do.  Dreaming of all those fresh meals that lie ahead and all the folks you look forward to sharing them with is good winter cheer indeed. As I hear the kids stomping ice off their boots on the front porch and gaze out at the beautiful belted cattle standing around the round bale hay feeder looking like dusted sugar cookies in the snow I feel grateful indeed.

img_1458Stove Top Duck Fat Popped Corn
with Sumac, citrus zest, and Nutritional yeast
(Serves 4-6)

1 ¼ cup quality popcorn kernels
¼ plus 1 Tbsp. rendered duck fat*
Zest of one half (well rinsed) orange or zest of one full clementine*
Several healthy pinches of sumac*, nutritional yeast*, + salt

Method: Melt 1 tablespoon of duck fat in a small container and set aside. Set a tall, heavy bottomed stockpot over high heat. Add remaining ¼ cup duck fat and swirl pot to keep fat moving as it melts. Once melted, add in popcorn kernels all at once and cover pot with lid. Using a kitchen towel to hold the stockpot by a handle, begin to shake it gently keeping the bottom of the pot on your burner. Very soon you should begin to hear the corn start to pop. Keep moving the pan every ten seconds or so. The pops will start to speed up and then begin slowing back down. This all only takes 2 minutes or so. Listen for the popping to taper off and then immediately pull the pot over to another cool burner and remove lid. Pour popped corn into a large bowl or clean paper bag and add remaining tablespoon melted fat along with sumac, zest, salt, and yeast. Give a few good shakes and taste, adding more sumac or salt as you please.

Notes:
Yes, I am the type of gal that takes having various fats on hand for cooking as serious business. No ball dropping allowed here. I usually have farmstead lard, rendered duck fat, and raw cultured butter in the fridge at all times. Not to worry though, if your shop doesn’t stock duck fat plenty of online retailers these days do or you can substitute coconut oil, grape seed oil, or even saved bacon fat!

~Please use this recipe as a guide and adjust measurements + ingredients as necessary.~ 

Use organic citrus if possible. A Microplane rasp makes zesting a breeze. Sumac, which imparts a tangy tart and (to me) entirely moreish aspect to the popcorn, can be found at an ethnic grocery store. Nutritional yeast can be found in bulk at your local co-op or online. It is a powerhouse of B vitamins and is NOT the same as brewers yeast. I use Himalayan pink salt.

Written by Aaren Nuñez 

The Safety Pin I’m Wearing

There are a lot of opinions floating around on social media about the donning of a safety pin on one’s apparel. Some would agree that it is a visible sign that the person wearing it will help provide a safe place for people who identify as a member of the many targeted groups who have experienced hate crimes throughout history. Others have argued that it is something of a shield—an easy way for the wearer to escape any real action helping the same marginalized groups while still identifying themselves as one of the “good guys.”
I would like to respectfully address the latter.
I understand the argument comes from a place of anger, and perhaps the writer’s own embarrassment. Believe me when I say, I’m embarrassed also. I’m embarrassed that, despite my belief that those in the LGBTQ community should always enjoy the same rights and freedoms I occasionally take for granted, I let their recent victory in the Supreme Court make me lazy.
I’m ashamed that I took my extra money over the last few months and bought coffee or treats for myself while women in more conservative states feared that key resources like Planned Parenthood would disappear because of the life-saving, professional services they offer to some patients who choose not to carry their pregnancy to term for whatever reason.
I’m furious with myself for not engaging with those on social media who posted memes about gun control, subtly and not-so-subtly identifying Muslims as the force behind the violence we’ve witnessed in recent months. Additionally, I’m horrified that pressing a “delete” button or demurring from the “sensitive” topic of immigration and violence against minorities was my choice approach for so long. It was such because I believed that we lived in a country where yes, fear has a voice, but compassion, kindness, and acceptance were so close to eradicating it.
I’m embarrassed, but not by my safety pin.
We are surrounded by distractions that let us fall into the monotony of modern life without considering the hate and discrimination befalling humans across this planet and across our nation. A tragedy occurs and we change our profile pictures to represent our sympathy, but by the following week things are back to normal unless you are directly affected by the incident. Nothing is ever going to change unless we realize that we have a responsibility, as humans, to stand up for one another. Even when it is uncomfortable. Even when our newsfeeds are filled with engagements, babies, and accomplishments.
If my safety pin tells you that I am a safe space, that is a wonderful thing. I will stand next to you, and I will give you a shoulder on which you can cry, lean, or use to climb up and achieve your dreams.
But that little silver trinket is not, nor will it ever be, a plea for recognition or a pat on the back.
It is a reminder that history, in fact, does repeat itself if we aren’t careful. The Emmett Tills and Matthew Shepards of this world are still out there suffering. And when I look at my wrist, I make a promise to them that I will never let myself get lazy again.

Books We Love: Sound the Deep Waters

Enjoy classic works of literature, poetry and art with editor Pamela Norris’s compilation book, Sound the Deep Waters: Women’s Romantic Poetry in the Victorian Age.

This book of poetry consists of four major sections, sorted by genre, and presented in a way that highlights both the comforting and relatable tones of the dynamic, romantic relationship: “Love’s Bitter Sweets,” “Moments of Delight,” “Dreams and Realities,” and “Last Songs.” Each sections provides readers with 12 poems and prints of artwork to absorb and enjoy.

fullsizerenderFeatured in the book are works from well-respected poets and authors: Emily Dickinson, Emily Jane Bronte, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, George Elliot, Christina Rossetti and many more.
Together these poets bring emotions of love and longing to the surface of each reader’s heart, aided by the classic and intricate illustrations of artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Evelyn de Morgan, and John Everett Millais. These reproductions of Pre-Raphaelite paintings will draw in readers, fully immersing them into the Romantic and Victorian eras of love; depictions of queens, stormy seas, fruitful gardens and angels drape across the pages, bringing the poems to life.

With over 52 color illustrations and 48 poems to explore, Sound the Deep Waters offers an array of classic, Romantic and Victorian poetry. Share this book with your sweetheart, a dear friend, or someone close to your heart to let them know you care. Whether it is for an anniversary, special occasion, birthday, or just because, this compilation of delicate art and literacy will certainly communicate that you care in a refreshingly classic, romantic way.

 

Written by Emily McCaul

New Year’s Eve Fashion

New Year’s Eve is nearly upon us and with the champagne and the festivities comes the headache of deciding what do wear this year. From my extensive research of Pinterest and fashion blogs a-like, sparkle has been the trend for last couple of years.

While it may make some glitter enthusiasts skin crawl, I’ve got to share it. Sequins itch. It’s not the most comfortable way to spend the night. This year we’re going to explore an alternative to the sequins trend.

For the more extravagant office affair you’ll want to be regal and put together, a touch of (faux) fur and metallic fabric. You’ll look timeless and modern all in one fair swoop.

new-years-office-partyYou can have this exact look for approximately $140, or you can model your own unique look off this inspiration set!
What I especially like about this piece is the incorporation of the expected shininess associated with the New Year’s, while still employing one’s own unique style. You’ll fit in when the lights hit you, but you’ll stand out with the metallic material offset of the beautiful dress and gold purse by the softness of the gray shawl and shoes.

If this look is just too much for your New Year’s Even plans we have an alternative for the more casual get together.

new-years-eve-party-partyThis exact inspiration set costs approximately $120!
This outfit is a simpler party style, but still employs a similar effect as the previous one. There is still a hint of sparkle and pizazz, without the onslaught of too many sequins. The plain black, lace, jumper is the perfect piece to dress up or down. The silver, metallic, purse and elaborate silver earrings will catch the light focusing the attention on you. The maroon shoes with gemstones are my personal favorite of this outfit, the pop of color is essential and perfect for the holiday season.

 

Written by Nicole Brobston

VeganVille: The Holiday Blues

I love winter and all its holidays: Three Kings’ Day, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, you name it (and please do, the more I learn about, the more I can party). Everything is all warm and sparkly and if you knew me you would know I’m nothing if not a giant, crumpled ball of tinfoil, at least emotionally. I can relate to winter holidays.

What I don’t love, however, is that all holiday parties seem to revolve around mother lodes of meat. And I hate to admit it, but even though I’ve been vegan since well before Al Gore invented the internet, there have been times when I have caved and brought meat, at the host’s request, to some shindig or other. As you no doubt can guess, that always turns out badly in the end.

Most recently, for example, I had a boss that I shall call Mistress Congeniality for the purposes of this reminiscence. She asked us, her minions, to attend an optional (not-optional) holiday party/team-building at her house. She said she would provide the vegetable sides and desserts, and assigned the other necessary items to the rest of the celebrants. I was asked to bring a tray of tendons, or at least that’s what I heard her say.

Trusting, gentle tenderfoot that I am, as I roamed the supermarket on the way to the fete, not having eaten all day, I ignored the delicious displays of olives, loaves of artisan bread, freshly-cut trays of crudité, and pint after pint of non-dairy frozen desserts with names like Caramel Calorie Cowabunga and Buttbusting Brownie Deliciousness.

She was providing non-meat food, she said, and, so I bought only what the Minister of Toil told me to bring: something that used to have a face. So after considering the possibilities that were available that wouldn’t gross me out excessively, or involve me having to do any touching or preparation, I grabbed the first grizzled, oil-soaked lump I came across:  something aging in the rotisserie. I’m guessing it was a chicken, but the chickens I know have beautiful feathers. Still attached. Along with their heads.

Anyway, I remember thinking sarcastically as I entered the Bastille that evening that I could always eat my freshly manicured nails if there was nothing else—they were glittery, silver and matched my tiara perfectly.

So when I put my contribution of crud next to everyone else’s unrecognizable piles and lumps, I became mildly alarmed when a quick scan revealed…no crackers, no spreads, no vegetables, no sides, no dessert..WAIT!  I spoke too soon—at the end of the counter was three small dishes that weren’t loaded with ground Buzzard or minced bandicoot: a miniature plate of gherkins, a small bowl of chow chow and a plate of onion and tomato slices. I’d been HAD!

Wow. Not only did Santa NOT give me a present that year, he used my life as a reindeer rest stop and didn’t bother to clean up after the rascals. At least my fingernails were delicious.  And let me reinforce that you don’t team-build very well on an empty stomach.

Happy Merry!

 

Written by Ginger Rail*

 

(*Ginger Rail is the pen name of our favorite vegan writer in Southwest Virginia. She spends her spare time entertaining her friends and family with her hilarious adventures–and now she’s sharing them with us!)