All posts by Hayleigh Worgan

Kids Square in Roanoke!

The new Don & Barbara Smith Children’s Museum, Kids Square, is a space in downtown Roanoke located on the third floor inside of the Center in the Square. The fun museum is geared towards children ages 10 and under. The exhibits encourage play, education, and motor skills that are important for the development of children in this age range. Children over the age of 10, yes that includes adults, will enjoy their interactive exhibit and other areas within the Kids Square as well.

Let your child’s magic run free with carefully selected exhibits that are geared toward learning through play and discovery! The hands-on exhibits will include a miniature real-life town, a theatre, a building room and much more to be revealed at the grand opening celebration!

Join them for the Grand Opening & Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Tuesday, August 15 at 10am in the Atrium of Center in the Square!

Virginia Western Community Arboretum

The Virginia Western Community Arboretum began 24 years ago when the state college allowed use of the property with the understanding that it would be developed and maintained using private donated funds. The grounds have one full-time and one part-time staff member, and they rely on volunteer assistance to accomplish the many tasks that face them throughout the growing season.
“Our volunteer program is vital to us because of our limited budget,” explains Clark BeCraft. “Right now we have twelve regular volunteers who come out weekly and help us in the gardens. We have six tour guide volunteers that help us with groups that come into the Arboretum.”
Tour guide volunteers also help out with children’s tours, and will often provide assistance with activities like a scavenger hunt or a learning activity with the children that is related to nature or gardening. Additionally, the Arboretum hosts horticulture students though a program that allows them to complete a one semester internship there.
The garden helper is one of their most popular volunteer opportunities. Garden helpers visit the Arboretum twice a week during growing season, and work closely with an Arboretum tech, Sarah Isley, to care for the plants.
“There is no specific skill set needed,” adds Clark. “We help you identify weeds and instruct you on how to plant things if that is part of the task for the day. Sarah and I work with [volunteers] to answer any questions they have.”
A majority of the current volunteers are retirement age, but the Arboretum is open to all volunteers ages 16 and up. Although they have a need for volunteers who can work during the week, they are open to setting up times for those who work on weekdays to volunteer on occasional Saturdays or evenings if there is enough interest. Every volunteer is required to complete a background check as they are acting as an agent of the college.
“Our volunteers look forward to coming to the Arboretum to work. For many, it is the highlight of their week. They enjoy working in the gardens because it is for the community, but also an opportunity to come out and fellowship with one another. We look at it as getting work done, but it is also a nice way for our volunteers to spend time together and work in the gardens,” says Clark.
If you’ve ever visited any of their gardens, you know that the community effort results in an unforgettable experience. That effort includes a partnership with the Roanoke Master Gardeners, who have worked with the Virginia Western Community Arboretum since 2008. In 2016, the Arboretum logged over 700 volunteer hours, showing that the volunteer program is an essential part of their success in serving the community. Many of the volunteers are Friends of the Arboretum as well, contributing both time and money to maintaining the location.
You can also support the Arboretum by attending one of their events. They will offer a Garden Tour to the Gardens of Pennsylvania and Delaware featuring Longwood Gardens September 7-9, and host a Fall Accent Plant Sale on September 23 from 10am-1pm.
To learn more about the Virginia Western Community Arboretum, and volunteer opportunities, please visit www.virginiawester.edu/arboretum

Art by Sharell

Sharell Whipple graduated in 2010 with a degree in animal biology. Soon after, she began a petsitting business.

“I took really nice photos of the pets and left them for the owners to find when they came back. One day, I took one of the photos, painted it, and gave it to the family as a Christmas gift,” Sharell recalls. “That was the first time I experimented with painting, and I fell in love with it.”

After her first piece was complete, Sharell continued painting pets, and eventually expanded into nature scenes, keeping her vibrant, colorful feel.

“I think painting on wood adds that extra element of nature. Also, a lot of the wood I paint on is extra smooth and sanded. It doesn’t have that texture that canvas has, so I can blend differently on wood,” she explains.

Many of Sharell’s nature pieces are influenced by her adventures with her husband. One of her early works was a Blue Ridge Mountain scene. At the time, she was living in California. She painted the landscape with acrylic paint, and added the quotation from John Muir, “The mountains are calling and I must go.” It’s the one piece that she has never sold because she loves it so much, and it now hangs on her bedroom wall.

Sharell can often be found creating art in the bay window her red brick home surrounded by a quiet neighborhood in those same Blue Ridge Mountains she painted just a few years ago. There, she can see deer walking through her front yard. She can hear the creek trickling right outside her window. It provides a connection to nature that translates gracefully into her art. However, sometimes she needs to step outside her peaceful home to spark creativity.

“I feel most inspired to create pieces when I’m away from my studio. When I’m out backpacking in the middle of nowhere and it’s quiet, the fireflies are glowing, and the total tranquility of beautiful sunsets surrounds me. I’ll go back to my studio, and I may not paint the sunset, but I’ll use the colors to paint a completely different subject matter,” she says.

You can find Sharell’s work at The Big Latch on Roanoke at Roanoke College on August 5, Riot Rooster on November 17-18, and locally at Kozy Comfort Kountry Store in Hardy. If you can’t make it to any of these locations, please check out her work on her website, www.artbysharell.com.

Catherine and Whitney of Punch Boutique!

Catherine Justice (right) and Whitney Greene (left), new owners of Punch Boutique!

You all took over Punch Boutique in May. At what moment did you decide that taking over the business was what you wanted to do?
Whitney Greene: I have always had a passion for both the apparel industry and entrepreneurship. When the previous owner approached us about purchasing the business in late spring, we knew at that moment we didn’t want Roanoke to lose such an amazing business in the community. It was an amazing opportunity neither of us felt like we could pass up—and the support from our customers really affirmed our decision. I knew that it was something I couldn’t do without Catherine though, as we both have different backgrounds, personalities and perspectives. I think that really makes us a unique partnership.

Catherine Justice: I have been with Punch from the ground up. Our former boss taught me everything I know and I continuously want to know more! I love Punch and saw this a natural progression. There is nothing else I’d rather do, and no one else I’d rather do it with than Whitney!

What do you enjoy most about your job?
WG: There are so many things! The customers that have become a part of our lives, the fact that each day is different and always requires us to think creatively and problem solve. I also enjoy being able to bring fashion and unique products to my hometown and spread my passion with everyone here. I love being a part of something bigger in the community.

CJ: The relationships. I absolutely love my customers, coworkers, and vendors. I thrive on building and keeping relationships. Finding that perfect outfit together is the heartbeat of my job. Also, the clothes…it’s pretty much every girls dream job right?!

Do you have a favorite quote that guides you in your role as a business owner?
WG: “Always keep your eyes open, keep watching. Because whatever you see can inspire you.” Grace Coddington

CJ: “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” Michael Jordan
You can’t be the best on the team without going to practice or failing!

Who is your biggest inspiration?
WG: My family and our customers. Both are the reason were lucky enough to be in the position we are. My family constantly supports my dreams without question and our customers constantly fulfill my dreams.

CJ: My husband is my biggest inspiration. He works harder than anyone I know. No day is more important, he gives 150% every single day and it is very admirable.

What is your favorite style for Fall 2017?
WG: There is a strong emphasis on sleeves for fall. Dramatic shapes and fresh details make arms key focal points. It’s classically romantic and feminine. I think the diversity in style, silhouette, and substance is what makes fashion great.

CJ: It’s all about velvet! All ages, all styles…you have to have something velvet or with velvet on it!

How do you hope your customer’s experience in Punch Boutique impacts their daily life?
WG: We constantly strive to provide each customer with a personal experience. We are so lucky that many of our customers have become our friends, with whom we share our highs and lows. We wouldn’t have it any other way. We want customers to feel like even though we are a ‘dress shop,’ we truly want to be involved in the process of dressing them for all the occasions in their lives. We want to be a part of helping them feel and look their best for all their needs. We also know that our customers work hard in their daily lives, so we like to ask ourselves how we can make life easier for our customers: by being a one stop shop for clothing, shoes, and accessories. Our customers (hopefully) leave with a friend in our employees (& us), a personalized experience, and a phenomenal outfit.

CJ: I want women to feel confident in their Punch attire. It isn’t shallow or superficial to feel good on the outside because that is the first step to feeling good on the inside. “Retail therapy” is a real thing and I see it happen on a daily basis.

What We’re Reading: Wild

Wild: Endangered Animals in Living Motion (A Photicular Book) shines a spotlight on the mammals, birds, and insects currently threatened with extinction.

With Dan Kainen’s masterful Photicular technology, readers are treated to eight movie-like images of a diverse range of endangered species, including a rare Amur leopard licking its paw, a pair of gorillas at play, a young rhinoceros speeding ahead of its mother, and an elephant bathing in a river. Each scene is paired with an informative profile by science writer Kathy Wollard.

Readers will learn that an albatross can float through cold air currents for hundreds of miles without once flapping its wings, that a leopard can leap about 20 feet into the air, and that there are more than 250 species of bumblebees in existence. They will also learn about the devastating environmental and economic conditions that threaten these animals’ survival, and the steps that conservationists are taking to stop (and in some cases reverse) the damage.

Wild will be available where books are sold on September 5, but you can win a copy over on our Facebook page in August! Stay tuned!

Bella Sips: Sloshies

The temperatures are climbing, and we find ourselves longing for a nice cold drink under an umbrella by the water. If it’s your day to relax, or you’d like to try a new drink by the lake with your friends, Sloshies: 102 Boozy Cocktails Straight from the Freezer has you covered! With everything from tart drinks like Whiskey Smashed, to spiced drinks like High on the Hog, your experience is destined to be unforgettable!

Whiskey Smashed
Give your party an extra kick with this smashing combination of small-batch Kentucky bourbon on top of a citrus blend and minty frozen love.

ABV: 9.77%
Glass: Up & Down
Garnish: mint leaf, lemon wheel, and a floppy hat (for you to wear)

2 3/4 ounces water
9 ounces Simple Syrup
7 1/4 ounces Mint Simple Syrup
6 ounces lemon juice
6 3/4 ounces lime juice
8 3/4 ounces Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Combine
Place the ingredients in a medium-size metal bowl and stir.

Freeze
Pour the liquid into a large freezer bag and place it in the freezer until frozen, approximately 4 hours. Alternatively, pour the liquid into an ice cream maker and proceed per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Serve
When you’re ready to drink, massage the freezer bag by hand until it’s a wet, slushy consistency. If it’s not breaking up, run the bag quickly under hot water and massage some more.

High on the Hog
Bacon is the candy of meats. It’s so delicious, we decided just to build a drink around it. Ginger, maple, and bourbon roll on your tongue while you fight the urge to just eat the bacon garnish first.

ABV: 12.78%
Glass: Up & Down
Garnish: strip of crispy bacon

27 ounces ginger ale
2 ounces Dolin Dry Vermouth de Chambéry
2  3/4 ounces Cabin Fever Maple Flavored Whisky
8  1/4 ounces Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Combine
Place the ingredients in a medium-size metal bowl and stir.

Freeze
Pour the liquid into a large freezer bag and place it in the freezer until frozen, approximately 4 hours. Alternatively, pour the liquid into an ice cream maker and proceed per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Serve
When you’re ready to drink, massage the freezer bag by hand until it’s a wet, slushy consistency. If it’s not breaking up, run the bag quickly under hot water and massage some more.

Makes at least 4 drinks.

Visit our Facebook page for details on how to win a copy of this book!

FloydFest 17: Freedom

Boasting one of the most dynamic lineups ever assembled for a multi-day world music festival, FloydFest 17~Freedom is set to deliver a truly engaging and diverse artistic experience along the magical Blue Ridge Parkway from July 26 to 30. Across nine+ stages over five days, FloydFest 17 welcomes more than 100 bands for its 17th installment, including Thievery Corporation, Michael Franti, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Rising Appalachia, Leftover Salmon, Steel Pulse, Railroad Earth, Marty Stuart, and Xavier Rudd.

FloydFest is located at Milepost 170.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and tickets are available by visiting FloydFest.com. Single- and multi-day general admission tickets are still available, with bundles available for camping. A small number of High-Roller, All-Access VIP tickets are also still available, along with additional ticket options for parking, camping, and outdoor adventure activities. Visit FloydFest.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

A recent recipient of top accolades from TIME Magazine and Fox News — and voted the 11th ‘Best Festival in the World’ and 2nd ‘Best Festival in the USA’ by FlightNetwork — FloydFest 17’s final artist lineup includes Thievery Corporation, Michael Franti, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Rising Appalachia, Leftover Salmon, Steel Pulse, Railroad Earth, Shovels & Rope, Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, Xavier Rudd, White Denim, Turkuaz, Fruition, Keller Williams+, TAUK, The Steel Wheels, The Hip Abduction, Larry Keel Experience+, HONEYHONEY, Vurro, BIG Something, Shook Twins, Baskery, Zach Deputy, The Mantras, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Fémina, That 1 Guy, Dave Eggar Band feat. Sasha Lazard, The Lil’ Smokies, People’s Blues of Richmond, Rebekah Todd & the Odyssey, Jack Broadbent, The Suitcase Junket, Black Masala, Hillbilly Casino, Urban Soil, Blue Mule, Che Apalache, Jordan Harman Band, M.C. Broom & the Jam, T Sisters, Banditos, Jon Stickley Trio, The Tillers, Alanna Royale, The Stash! Band, Strange Americans, Whiskerman, The Brother Brothers, Honey Island Swamp Band, Edward David Anderson, Dead 27s, Davy Knowles, McLovins, Hayley Jane and the Primates, Broccoli Samurai, The Drunken Hearts, Strange Machines, Trae Pierce & the T-Stones, Liver Down The River, Sol Searchers, GOTE, Black Mountain Revival, Lobo Marino, PLF; Galax to Floyd Pickers: David & Mason Via, Aaron Woody Wood, Blake & Jamie Collins, Gina Sobel, Mason Via & Hot Trail Mix; EchoMix Artists: Konrad Kuechenmeister, Boib Funck, JANXX, Brain Hill, Dead Sea Sparrow, Kendra Warren, King Django, John DeCarlo, Gyorgy De Val; Mama Said, The Get Right Band, The Mallett Brothers, Villa*Nova, Dharma Bombs, The Folly, South Hill Banks, Seph Custer & the Papa Tom Band, Chris Ross & the North, Morgan Wade & the Stepbrothers, Mad Iguanas, Claire Hitchins, Bryan Elijah Smith & the Wildhearts, Jaewar & Vibe Riot, The Wildmans, Fernandez Sisters, Einstein’s Monkey, Girls Rock Roanoke, Community High School Band, Jefferson Center Music Lab, Mike Mitchell Trio, Dixon’s Violin; FloydFest Buskers: Brad Collier, Waiting to Exhale, Fason & Cannaday, Seph & TK, Will & Jodie Norton, Flirting with Chemicals; Nicki Calhoun, Howard Falco, Miss Kitty’s Cosmonauts, Lunaversal.hoopz, Oakely the Greenman, 1000 Faces Mask Theater, Ambrosia Farms Puppets, Magician of Life, Becky the Balloon Lady, Gravity Check Juggling, Gypsy Geoff and more.

The unforgettable magic that was FloydFest 16’s Buffalo Mountain Jam returns in 2017 for its second-annual installment. Known for its impromptu artist collaborations, super jams and special guests, the Buffalo Mountain Jam will evoke a ‘freedom’ unique to the 17th annual event—not to be missed.

“The Buffalo Mountain Jam is extremely important to witness — it’s a capstone of the festival, spotlighting ‘new-school newgrass,’” Hodges said. “It’s a free-form jam that speaks to the quality of the musicians that make it happen … a jam that speaks to freedom.”
As always, FloydFest will also include vibrant and varied vendors, quality craft brews and chews, healing arts, workshops and whimsy, children’s activities, onsite art installations and a final lineup featuring more than 100 artists performing on nine+ stages.

FloydFest is located at Milepost 170.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd, Va. Detailed directions, tickets, and additional information are available by clicking to www.floydfest.com.
For more information, call (888) VA-FESTS or email info@floydfest.com . Find FloydFest on Twitter @floydfest, Instagram @floydfestva and Facebook @FloydFestVA.

Embody Progress: The Change Project

We were first introduced to The Change Project when we met a representative from the organization at Roanoke’s Pride Festival in 2016. Their mission is to “elevate the voice of LGBTQ people and advocate for an improved quality of life through the arts, education, and local policy initiatives in the Deep South and Midwest United States.”

The organization was founded by Steven Romeo in 2012. It works with the LGBT+ community in Southern, Midwestern, and rural communities, QTPOC, youth, people living with HIV, and low-income communities. In November 2015, The Change Project was honored by the White House as a “Champion of Change.”

Their campaigns like “Faces of LGBTQ America” and “IAMHIV” pair stories with photos and seek to increase visibility while simultaneously ending stigma. They give power back to the people represented, and create space for a constructive dialogue about what it is like to be part of communities that are often either judged or ignored.

So, how can you support this amazing organization?

First, check out their website. There are great resources there on how to donate and volunteer to help in your community.

You can also visit their shop! Shop Progress creates innovated, fresh fashion that “intentionally seeks to encompass the vast array of identities within the LGBTQ+ community.”

And, if you’re up for traveling in August, they will present Embody Progress, a conference on LGBTQ equality, August 10-13 in Birmingham, Alabama. You can register for the conference by following this link.