All posts by Guest Writer

Virginia Made: The Leather Lotus

Little green sprouts will soon begin to make their debut. The occasional hint of a warm day will bring smiles to faces and a little extra pep to everyone’s step. It may not feel like it quite yet but spring is on the horizon. With the start of each new season comes inspiration and new ideas. Her love of the outdoors is where Taylor Smith finds her own creative inspiration to create handmade jewelry. A reflection of leather and natural beauty, her business The Leather Lotus is taking everyday casual to the next level.

Inspired by the colors of the season, Taylor’s jewelry is designed around a carefully selected stone or piece of metal before various colored leather is chosen to complement the element. The textures and shapes used seem right at home in her favorite photo studio, the great outdoors, as she photographs each piece for her Etsy shop. Taylor still remembers fondly the day she heard “cha-ching!” the sound that has become music to an online seller’s ears. Having no idea what it meant, she looked at her phone and was ecstatic to find notification of her first sale, a leather wrap bracelet. To this day, the sound still evokes the same excitement as if it were the very first.  More than a few products later, the fringe earrings offered by The Leather Lotus are this maker’s must have wardrobe accessory. “Something about fringe just seems like so much fun to me. Pair them with a basic tee and jeans and suddenly I feel excited!”

The best of both worlds is how Taylor describes her life as a stay at home mom and entrepreneur. She takes pride in the two young boys, Grayson (4) and Finn (2) whom she and her husband are now raising in Roanoke. A native of the area and a Hokie for life, there’s no place Taylor would rather be than outside with her boys chasing chickens. Although, a vacation to the small island in Puerto Rico where she and her husband honeymooned or Spain would not be unwelcome. Nap times are for making jewelry and craft shows a welcome break in the routine of full-time wife and mother. It’s a way to connect with amazing customers as well as fellow makers who have become friends. Taylor’s advice to anyone contemplating starting a new business? “Go for it! I had so many hesitations when I started this. It has grown more than I ever thought it would and I love every minute of it.”

This month, we will hosting a giveaway on our Facebook page for The Leather Lotus! Taylor is giving away a $50 gift card to her Etsy page! Stay tuned!
Also, use the code BELLA during the month of March for 20% off in her shop!

Find The Leather Lotus:
theleatherlotus.etsy.com
FB: /theleatherlotus
IG: /theleatherlotus

 

Written by Faith Jones

Transitioning from Double to Single-Income

Planned or unexpected, major life changes that result in less income like job loss, illness, or becoming a stay-at-home-parent, bring about many challenges. Not only can they throw you emotionally and even physically for a loop, they also have a big impact on your finances. We’re here to offer tips for handling your finances during this sometimes-inevitable life transition.

Review your household budget. Having an established budget while transitioning from a double- to single-income household is crucial. You need to be acutely aware of how much money is coming in and going out (and to where). This is the perfect time to find every way possible to cut down on extra expenses, like eating out or gym memberships, and truly focus on paying down debts or building up savings.

Consider the extras. If the loss of an income means losing benefits from a former employer, such as health or life insurance, you’ll have to consider the cost of taking on these expenses and add that to your household budget. On the other hand, you can also count on saving money on gas for your vehicle or a workplace wardrobe, for example, since you won’t be traveling to an office every day.

Reevaluate your savings strategy. If your former employer offered retirement savings, it’s in your best interest to figure out alternative ways to contribute to some kind of savings account or investment fund. Even contributing a small amount is better than nothing. And you’ll still want to ensure you have money put away in an emergency fund for unexpected expenses like home repairs or medical emergencies.

Forget about the Joneses. Keeping up with the latest fashion, home décor, and lifestyle trends is expensive! Reducing your household income means making sacrifices, which could include driving older cars, taking cheaper vacations, and searching for free entertainment. If you focus on putting your needs before your wants, you’ll be in much better shape financially.

Supplement your income. If you find that you still can’t make ends meet after cutting every expense possible, consider picking up a side job like tutoring or pet and/or house sitting. You could sell unwanted items at a yard sale or on Ebay, sell crafts on Etsy, or teach online courses. Every bit helps, and it could result in just enough extra funds to make transitioning from a double- to single-income household a little more affordable.

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

Warm Up to Veggie-Packed Soup

When the weather outside is frightful, we could all use a cozy soup for supper. A steaming bowl of Rustic Vegetable-Beet Soup provides instant comfort.

The ease and convenience of Aunt Nellie’s pickled beets can’t be “beet”- no need to spend time peeling or pickling. This colorful mix of antioxidant-rich beets, sweet potato, and carrots joins tender zucchini to create a soup that tastes like it simmered all afternoon; but in fact, comes together in under an hour. The sweet-tangy beets add an unexpected but welcome layer of flavor to this hearty soup.

For the finishing touch, a garnish of vibrant green, lemony gremolata brightens the soup’s flavor. Garlic, lemon and parsley may seem ordinary, but they come alive when combined. Crisp flatbread makes a perfect accompaniment to this meal-in-a-bowl.

For more recipes, or to learn more about Aunt Nellie’s beets and other products, visit www.AuntNellies.com.

 

Rustic Vegetable-Beet Soup
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6

1          jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie’s Whole Pickled Beets, well drained
2          tablespoons olive oil
2          medium onions, coarsely chopped
2          medium carrots, coarsely chopped
1          medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
2          large cloves garlic, minced
2          zucchini (about 5 ounces each), coarsely chopped
2          cans (about 14 ounces each) vegetable broth
1          teaspoon seasoned salt, optional
1          can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper
2          tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2          tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill

 

Gremolata:

1          tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1          tablespoon minced fresh dill
2          cloves garlic, minced
1          teaspoon grated lemon peel

Coarsely chop beets; set aside.

In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions; saute about 5 minutes or until softened. Add carrots, sweet potato and garlic. Saute 3-5 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften, stirring occasionally.

Add zucchini, broth and seasoned salt, if desired. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, about 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add chickpeas; heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper, as desired. Stir in parsley and dill. Stir in beets. Serve immediately topped with gremolata, if desired.
To make gremolata, combine all ingredients.

Nutrition information per serving (1/6 of recipe): 210 calories; 6 g fat; 6 g protein; 33 g carbohydrate; 6 g dietary fiber; 0 mg cholesterol; 2 mg iron; 727 mg sodium; 0.13 mg thiamin; 6981 IU vitamin A;  8 mg vitamin C.

 

Source: Seneca Foods

 

Earth Girl Wellness: Probiotics 101

The gut is the new brain…or so research is suggesting. The profound effects the health of your digestive tract has on your cognitive function is gaining momentum in the nutrition world. Regular elimination and the balance of microflora in your intestines has everyone grabbing for more fiber and probiotics. But what are probiotics? Are they really that important? Or are we falling prey to yet another dietary trap trying to grab money out of our pockets?
Your gut is filled with bacteria of all kinds. There is a delicate balance of more than 1000 types of bacteria living in your large intestines. This balance helps keep your intestines “moving along” and influences mood regulation and emotions. The millions of neurons (nerve endings) contained in our digestive tract are in constant communication with our brain. Keeping that communication open and smoothly transmitting requires a healthy gut. Probiotics and their far reaching effects on the colon aid in maintaining a healthy gut and the complex communication system of the gut-brain axis.
There are a wide range of sources that can provide your body with the appropriate balance of bacteria. Probiotics can be found in many foods, drinks, and supplements. Choosing a proper delivery method depends upon your preferences and lifestyle. Sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, and several other fermented foods, such as sour pickles, are natural food sources that contain the healthy bacteria. Advantages to food sources include their close proximity to nature and lack of unnecessary colors and preservatives. However, not everyone has a desire to eat fermented (and sometimes spicy!) foods every day. Plus, yogurt often contains a large amount of sugar (a no-no on the Earth Girl list).
Kombucha is a fermented tea that provides an excellent source of probiotics. It comes in a variety of flavors and in easy-to-grab bottles. The taste can be too strong and off-putting for some individuals and the price can dent your wallet. Earth Girl suggests you shop around and try a variety of different manufactures to find one that appeals to you. Earth Girls’ favorite pick is the Synergy Trilogy. It is found at most super markets that sell organic foods.
A final source can be found in a supplement. Buyer beware when purchasing probiotics in a bottle. Several items to check for are the number of strains of bacteria (look for more than one strain), the volume of bacteria in the product (look for at least 1 billion per CFU), and when the product was made to ensure the bacteria is still alive (probiotics won’t work if the bacteria contained in them is dead). A few products that have been vetted and reviewed by Reviews.com include Islands Miracle-Ultra-30 Probiotics, MegaFood MegaFlora, Renew Life Ultimate Flora Extra Care 30 Billion, and Dr. Formulas Nexabiotic Advanced Multi-Probiotic.
In final analysis, Earth Girl Wellness recommends everyone consume a daily probiotic. It is a “no-brainer” when it comes to gut health and is simple to add to any healthy routine. Choose a delivery system that makes you happy! You will be healthier whether you enjoy a great Kimchi grilled cheese sandwich, an afternoon glass of kombucha, or throw back a few supplements with your morning glass of water. Your gut (and brain) will love you for it!

 

Written by Tina Hatcher

Virginia Made: The Importance of Self-Care

February is here and we are finally adjusting to writing 2018 instead of 17. It is a month often associated with love and one dedicated to celebrating Black History. As women, there’s one form of love that sometimes finds itself at the bottom of the list. That is self-care. Whether through body, fashion, or art, these women have their priorities in order.

What woman doesn’t dream of soft skin and fragrant products that make you say, “Mmmm…”? Janie Brodie captures that with Herbal Body Blessings in Henrico. Receiving testimonies from customers of how the products have helped them in some way keeps her creating. Janie feels blessed to have her husband, three sons, and goddaughter always ready to pitch in. Body butters, made up of natural ingredients including cocoa and shea butters, combined with scents like coconut lemongrass and honey almond are the company’s best sellers. “Beauty is broad and diverse to me. There is no limit and it can be found everywhere. I find beauty in nature, people, and art. It is truly in the eye of the beholder.” For Janie, self-care involves a cruise to a warm beach. (On Instagram @herbalbodyblessing)

Growing up in England, Nicole Rule became fascinated with garments of her Ethiopian culture. “Even thinking about it now brings back great memories of my mom with a scarf draped over her head as either a fashion statement or to keep warm.” Fast forward a few decades, living in Lynchburg and married with kids, Danicole Accessories was born. Her designs include pieces for infants to adults like headbands, turbans, berets, and bonnets. Nicole also offers specialty pieces such as fascinators, hats, and silk flowers. With a husband and four “love bugs” (five and under) while running a business, life has challenges but Nicole handles them with grace. Her family and serving at church are top priorities while self-care involves sneaking in date night, a delicious meal (dessert included), uninterrupted talk, and a new pair of shoes. (On Instagram @danicoleaccessories)

“I don’t remember having a dream of being an artist, I just was.”

Raised in Lynchburg, Christina (Ball) Davis was homeschooled allowing time to explore her creativity. Growing up in a generation where African-American princesses and strong women figures on posters were few and far between, Christina created her own images. Her (mostly acrylic) paintings reflect emotion through expressive eyes, bold lines, and strong color palettes. Two of the best things about being an artist for Christina are pet commissions and the diversity in creating something unique for each client. Road trips, hiking, good food (Thanksgiving being her favorite holiday), and drinking wine with her new husband are Christina’s ode to self-care. (On Instagram @artistchristinaball)

Written by Faith Jones of The Hill City Handmade.

Help Save the Next Girl

Crimes against women are a serious issue. Instead of facing the facts and trying to do something about it, most people turn the other way and blame the victim herself. One of the major issues is girls and women being kidnapped. No one wants to be that girl or women being pulled into a car by a stranger who saw you standing alone. No one wants to be the parent who has to wake up one morning and find that their child never came home, and not knowing if they will be found. This is where Help Save the Next Girl comes in.

Help Save the Next Girl is a not for profit organization that was founded by Gil and Dan Harrington. They were encouraged to start this organization after the kidnapping and murder of their daughter, Morgan. Through Facebook and Twitter, Help Save the Next Girl shares information as quickly as possible so they can spread information of safety, and try to prevent future crimes. They help to spread the news that someone is missing so more people know. Working with Take Back the Night rallies, they bring awareness to college campuses about the existing women’s issues. They have even spoken for Southwest Virginia’s Girl Scouts of America. Help Save the Next Girl has many chapters both on and off Facebook. They currently have 16 college chapters; 24 high school chapters; five middle school chapters; and five other chapters.

Gil Harrington and Jane Lillian Vance, one of Morgan’s last professors, wrote the book Morgan Harrington Murdered Dead and for Good: A Mother’s Quest to Find a Serial Killer and Healing. With journal-like entries from Gil, a few from Dan, and Morgan’s brother, Alex, the process of dealing with a loved one missing is shown. They talk of their worries and thoughts that they experienced through the horrifying ordeal through everything from Morgan’s purse being found to her body being found. This book goes through the process of looking for Morgan with the police department and the community, when they found her, and the aftermath for the family as well as when they found out about a possible suspect.

Morgan’s last words to her mother were, “241, Mama.” ‘241’ is used often throughout this book as well as seen on their website. 241 stands for unconditional love and, as Gil explains, it’s for “I love you TOO much, FORever, and ONCE beyond forever.”

See their website for more information and to see their list of safety tips.

Written by Samantha Fantozzi

February at the Jefferson Center

On Saturday, February 10, at 7:30pm and Sunday, February 11, at 3:00pm in the Shaftman Performance Hall at the Jefferson Center the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra will be performing. The Orchestra presents Vivaldi The Four Seasons and Appalachian Spring. The Four Seasons is a beautiful violin piece that is sure to be memorable. The event will finish with Copland’s music for the ballet, Appalachian Spring. Led by Akemi Takayama, concertmaster of 14 years at the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, the show is sure to be breathtaking.

Joan Soriano will be taking the stage at the Jefferson Center in the Fostek Rehearsal Hall, on Friday the 16 at 8:00pm. Soriano grew up in the Dominican Republican, he made his first guitar out of a tin can and fishing line. Today he has seven recorded albums and is renowned for his blend of modern and traditional bachata music.

Starting at 9:00pm, immediately after Soriano performance, attend the 15th Annual Latin Dance Party inside Fitzpatrick Hall. If you attended Soriano’s show you get a $3 discount on admission to the party! There will be a 30-minute salsa workshop and then a live performance from West End Mambo. You won’t want to miss this lively event!

“An Evening with Andrew Bird,” will take place on Thursday, February 22 at 7:30pm in the Shaftman Performance Hall. Andrew Bird is a talented singer, song-writer, and multi-instrumentalist. As a kid he began playing violin at 4 and ever since then he was drawn to music of all types. Today Bird has released 13 albums and has even been a featured presenter on Ted Talk. A dollar from each ticket sold will be donated to Everyone for Gun Safety.

For more information about all these events and so many more, or to purchase tickets visit the Jefferson Center’s event page. Pick up the February issue of Bella for more information on Melissa Aldana’s concert later this month!

Written by Lilith Turman

Bella Reads: Mod New York

Mod New York: Fashion Takes a Trip was written by Phyllis Magidson and Donald Albrecht. Both authors work as curators for the Museum of the City of New York; Magidson for costumes and Albrecht for architecture and design. Fashion Takes a Trip goes through the important moments and times of fashion history. Walking through the years from the 1940s to the mid 1970s, this book will tell you about Jackie Kennedy and how she impacted the fashion world with the clothes she wore; changes made for youthquake (a time when fashion changed to aim more towards youths); and what New Bohemia was. Its language is simple, and easy to understand and the images used help to play into this as well. Instead of the clothing and styles being described within the texts, images are used to show exactly what was being worn. This also makes it easier to compare fashion between sections and time periods. Followed by images, these sections aren’t too long, and they are straight to the point. Mod New York confirms that fashion is in fact changing all the time, and we are shown this between the matching coat and dress combination of Jackie Kennedy all the way to the colorful, flower printed chiffon dresses of the New Bohemia.

Mod New York: Fashion Takes a Trip is a very informative book about the history of fashion and what impacts it has had, and the added images show you the changes between the years. This book is one that would be beneficial for someone who has an interest in either the history of fashion, or just fashion in general. It shows where fashion has been, and it just might inspire ideas on where it could go next.

 

Written by Samantha Fantozzi