Category Archives: Bella Features

Keep the “Happy” in Your Happy Holidays

Savvy Tips for Stress-free Seasonal Spending

Article courtesy of Member One Federal Credit Union

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—and for many of us, it’s also the most expensive. We’re here to help with tips for maximizing the festivities while minimizing the financial frustration this holiday season. 

Use credit sensibly. Starting the new year with new debt is enough to make a Scrooge out of anyone. If you’re going to put your seasonal spending on a credit card, you need a plan in place to pay it off quickly. That means setting a shopping limit and sticking to it, as well as budgeting money each month to pay down the balance. Opt for a low-interest card and/or one that offers cash back rewards to get the most bang for your holiday buck. 

Shop securely. Not much can put a stop to your seasonal cheer faster than falling victim to credit card fraud or an online scam. While you’re busily scoring online deals, take a moment to ensure that any website you order from is secure by checking for “https” plus a padlock symbol at the beginning of the site’s URL field. Any device used for online shopping should be protected by up-to-date anti-virus software. Consider using PayPal, or if you choose to shop with a card, make it a credit card instead of a debit card to safeguard your bank accounts. 

Give experiences, not things. Cut the consumerism and the clutter this year by sharing experiences instead of exchanging stuff. Our local community is filled with activities that would make great gifted experiences. Consider giving tickets to a Rail Yard Dawgs hockey game or a Mill Mountain Theatre performance, paying for a YMCA membership, or treating a friend to an art class at the Taubman Museum. 

Volunteer. Stay in the spirit of the season with a group volunteer activity. In lieu of a holiday party, ask friends if they’d be interested in getting together for a cause. It’s less money spent on food, drink, and decorations, but more importantly, it’s a refreshing reminder of the real reasons behind the holidays and a chance to bond with your buddies while doing something meaningful. Volunteermatch.org is a good place to start looking for ideas. 

Save. Get ready for next year with a Christmas club savings account. The holidays will be back upon us sooner than we might imagine—just think how quickly 2018 went by! Starting a dedicated savings account early in 2019 can make next year’s holiday season even easier. With a Christmas club account, you make regular deposits from your paycheck each month, in any amount you choose. Then, you withdraw those funds at a specified date, usually in October, and begin your pre-budgeted holiday shopping. The trick: if you try to withdraw money before the set date, it will cost you a fee. Try keeping your receipts this holiday season to get an idea of how much to budget for 2019.

Join Member One here each month for more money-saving tips and financial advice! Be sure to visit their website, www.memberonefcu.com, for more info on their products and services. Member One Federal Credit Union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration. 

A Fitting Snack for Holiday Festivities

Accommodating all Your Guests Tastes

The to-do list for holiday hosts seems to be a never-ending one, starting with planning, guest lists and preparation then ending with goodbyes and cleanup. The hours of work that go into a festive get-together are almost always worth it in the end, and family members surely appreciate the hospitality—especially when it comes to food. 

When hosting for the holidays, it can be a challenge to accommodate all of your guests’ favorite tastes while factoring in dietary preferences and restrictions. Building out a balanced menu, like other parts of hosting, starts with devising a thought-out plan. 

To help accomplish this task without cooking up personal dishes for everybody in the house, consider these simple tips: 

Request that guests RSVP. Assuming you have a basic understanding of which friends and family members adhere to special diets, knowing exactly who is coming can be a major help before heading to the store. 

Think back to past festivities. Try to remember which dishes were hits at last year’s party, and which ones were hardly touched. Maybe the appetizers that disappeared in a flash will be good ideas to repeat this year. 

Create dishes that fit (almost) everyone. While you can’t control guests’ flavor preferences, it is possible to whip up snack trays, main courses, desserts and more that fit a multitude of dietary restrictions. For example, these Bacon, Baked Brie and Cranberry Holiday Melts feature Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers for a gluten-free, non-GMO, low-sugar, tasty crunch. Because they’re made with wholesome ingredients, these simple snacks are crafted to fit nearly every healthy lifestyle. Plus, if multiple family members adhere to vegetarian lifestyles, you can simply omit the bacon. (Crunchmaster Crackers can be found at EarthFare.) 

Add “warning” labels. Despite your best efforts, it can be nearly impossible to create foods every single person can enjoy. If you make a dish containing a common allergen, such as peanuts, simply place a card next to the bowl, tray, plate or pan that informs guests of the ingredients included. 

For other recipes, coupons, tips and nutritional information, visit www.crunchmaster.com

 

Bacon, Baked Brie and Cranberry Holiday Melts 

Prep time: 10 minutes    Cook time: 5 minutes   Servings: 6 

 

24 Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers, Sea Salt flavor 

24 small slices Brie cheese 

1/4 cup prepared cranberry sauce 

2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled 

Heat broiler to high and position rack in center of oven. Arrange crackers in single layer on foil-lined baking sheet. 

Top each cracker with slice of Brie, 1/2 teaspoon cranberry sauce and sprinkle of bacon. Broil 1-2 minutes, or until cheese is melted. 

Tip: For vegetarian option, substitute chopped hickory-smoked almonds or pecans for bacon. 

Nutritional information per serving: 200 calories; 13 g fat; 7 g saturated fat; 45 mg cholesterol; 350 mg sodium; 11 g carbohydrates; 1 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 10 g protein.

5 Hacks for Holiday Hosting

Simplify your holiday entertaining. 

It may feel impossible to fit even more into already jam-packed days, but when the holidays roll around, entertaining and celebrating always find a way. Fortunately, you can find some shortcuts when hosting that offer plenty of festive style while also helping you avoid stressing over every detail. 

This year, rely on some time-saving hacks so you’re not just throwing the holiday party, but enjoying some seasonal fun of your own. 

Repurpose with purpose. There’s no need to make time for a trip to the store or to spend a bundle on party supplies. A pretty, oversized flowerpot or planter that has been cast aside for winter makes a perfect tub for icing down beverages. When it comes to decor, you can cover any old box with some of last year’s leftover holiday paper to add some colorful touches around the home. A similar idea: wrap canvas art or other frames in pretty paper to extend the theme up the walls. 

Make easy attractive. Most holiday celebrations center on the food, but it’s still an area where you can shave some time. For example, a simple but attractive option is to forgo the family china and opt for gorgeous disposable plates and utensils. (Chinet Classic White has a wide range of products designed for practical use. They do not bend, fold or leak, and are strong enough for extra helpings no matter the occasion. And for a more elegant affair, the Chinet Cut Crystal collection is the only fully coordinated line of disposable plates, cups, cutlery and wineglasses.) Guests will barely realize they’re not using the good china, but you’ll definitely notice when you’re able to skip time at the sink to spend more precious moments with your loved ones. 

Fill the freezer. Whether your holiday entertaining is more impromptu in nature or you host a single sizable shindig, keeping a well-stocked freezer can help make hosting a cinch. Dedicate an afternoon to preparing items you can easily defrost and serve later, like casseroles, appetizers, side dishes and desserts. 

Forgo fussy food. An elegant sit-down meal isn’t the only way to enjoy a holiday gathering. Guests may even appreciate a break from traditional heavier fare. Simple food stations, finger foods and even store-bought meals are all time-saving alternatives. Another time-saving option: dressing up store-bought food as part of a larger spread. For example, you can top side dishes like mashed potatoes with olive oil or butter and sprinkle with cheese or embellish a main course such as ham with rosemary sprigs and fresh fruit. 

Keep cleanup simple. For a festive, yet deceptively easy table, consider using kraft paper as tablecloths and let some of that leftover wrapping paper do double-duty as table runners. Simply cut the wrapping paper to your desired length and fold the edges under to create clean seams. Match the DIY table coverings with a coordinated line of disposable tableware to make cleaning up a cinch. 

Explore more hacks to simplify your holiday entertaining at www.mychinet.com

Top Three Hikes Within an Hour of Lynchburg

By Rachel Van Tuyl

As summer draws to a close and November ushers in cooler temperatures, Lynchburg residents and students may find themselves looking for some beautiful hikes in the area. With so many natural areas around the city, it isn’t difficult to find hikes to fit any level of difficulty.

Husband and wife team Adam and Christine Anderson, who run the website Virginia Trail Guide, have grown up hiking Virginia trails, and offer advice to hikers who may not be very familiar with the area.

Sharp Top Mountain

Thirty-four miles to the west of Liberty University’s campus lies Sharp Top Mountain, which is visible from Liberty’s campus. The 2.6 mile hike is a steep uphill all the way to the top, so this trail will definitely give hikers a workout. A series of steps forms most of the trail, for a total of a 1,227-foot elevation gain.

Despite the trail’s difficulties, it still seems to be a popular destination among hikers.

“The trail is a little rocky and there are some stiffer uphill sections, but it is well worth the effort,” reviewer Dave Phillips wrote.

Adam Anderson has been hiking Sharp Top since childhood, and he has noticed more people taking the hike over the years.

“I always recommend (starting) a hike up Sharp Top early in the morning, so you can take in the beautiful view with a bit of solitude,” Adam Anderson said.

Crabtree Falls

Located just 45 miles from Liberty, Crabtree Falls is the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi River. It is a moderate hike with few challenges.

“Crabtree Falls is probably one of the easiest waterfall hikes in the Mid-Atlantic,” reviewer Melissa Moore wrote. “The waterfall is only a few hundred feet from the parking lot via a flat, paved path, (and) the viewpoint for the falls is right there next to the falls.”

However, Christine Anderson said that more experienced hikers who want a challenge can continue hiking beyond Crabtree Falls to either Spy Rock or The Priest.

“Both of those spots offer amazing views and are challenging add-ons to the Crabtree Falls Hike,” Christine Anderson said.

Although the falls are a beautiful location, they are not without their dangers.

“It also has the misfortune of being one of the deadliest spots in (George Washington National Forest),” Christine Anderson said. “The rocks are very slippery, but hikers keep leaving the trail and climbing out toward the waterfall.”

According to a sign at the falls, the rocks are slippery because of clear algae growing on them. But Christine Anderson said the hike is safe if hikers stay on the marked trails.

McAfee Knob

Perhaps one of the most well-known trails is the McAfee Knob hike, located about an hour from Liberty. The 8.8 mile hike, with its picturesque views, offers visitors unique photo opportunities. Thousands of hikers visit the area every year to have their picture taken atop the knob jutting out from the mountain.

For many, McAfee Knob holds special memories.

“I spent my birthday backpacking across McAfee Knob a couple years ago,” Christine Anderson said. “I got to sit on the ledge and dangle my feet over the view. It’s a gift to have a birthday in such a glorious spot.”

Since the Appalachian Trail crosses McAfee Knob, the area sees many visitors, and it is the most photographed area on the entire Appalachian Trail, according to Christine Anderson. She believes that the hardest part of the hike isn’t the trail itself, but rather trying to find a parking spot.

“With the rise of Instagram and other social media, casual hikers are choosing to visit this iconic spot in increasing numbers,” Christine Anderson said. “It can be hard to find parking, and the trail is often quite crowded.”

Hikers who want to try McAfee Knob can visit Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club’s website, which offers tips and other information on this hike.

“We’re lucky to be in a state that has so many wonderful hiking trails,” Christine Anderson said. “No matter what trail you choose, you’re going to see something great.”

Whether hikers choose to scale a mountain or visit waterfalls, it is important to plan ahead for hikes. This includes checking the weather, and having a trail map, first aid kit, water and snacks. Hikers can also look for a list of 10 essentials for all hikers.

“Looking at some of the sights you see on these three hikes will naturally cause you to pause and reflect on the beauty of nature,” Adam Anderson said. “With the crazy world that surrounds us on a daily basis, we could all use some of that to help ground us and think about our place in this world.”

Profile: Peacock Soap Company

Beyond the Gift

The unique origins of locally-owned Peacock Soap Company

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

To celebrate her 10-year anniversary, Kristie Paxton and her husband spent a week driving along the west coast. One night, they found themselves at a cute, very hospitable, Bed and Breakfast in Oregon. The owners had one room left to offer the Southwest Virginia couple, and it had a bathtub, but no shower.

“They felt so guilty about it that they stocked the room with soaps and lotions,” Kristie recalls. “They didn’t really sell them, but they allowed me to purchase some. I brought them home, used them up, and requested more.”

Soon after, Kristie decided to start making her own soaps for personal use. With a little help from the Bed and Breakfast owners and a few books, she quickly found that her new hobby yielded enough product to sell to the community as well. She opened Peacock Soap Company, lovingly named for her grandmother’s affinity for raising peacocks. For the past eight years, she has made and sold soaps, lotions, and other toiletries at local stores and the Grandin Farmers Market. Recently, she expanded her line to include beeswax and soap nuts.

“[Soap nuts] are literally a nut grown on a tree,” Kristie explains. “The nuts are grown in India. I buy them and package them. They are a really interesting alternative to laundry detergent.” Kristie has started using soap nuts in her home as well. “They are completely reusable,” she adds. “You can throw them in the washing machine five or six times and then compost them.”

Peacock Soap Company stands out from the competition with unique scent offerings. Their beer and wine soaps actually contain beer and wine, and the sugar content makes each soap extra sudsy. (This would be a great stocking stuffer for the wine or beer lover in your life!) Additional scents for the winter season will include Crackling Firewood, Ginger Snap, Evergreen, and the signa-ture Peacock Bar.

Kristie also makes hand and body lotions, lightweight face lotions, lip balm, and liquid soaps. You can find her, on occasion, as a fill-in vendor at the Grandin Farmers Market. Her products are
also sold at Downshift and the Treehouse Collaborative. Additionally, Kristie will participate in the KrisKindle Market at the Clifton Forge School of the Arts this month! Stay updated on Peacock Soap Company and purchase directly from a link to their Etsy page by following them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/peacocksoapco. Finally, if you see Kristie at the Grandin Farmers Market, be on the lookout for a special touch on her table!

Another nod to her grandmother, Kristie displays her packaged soaps on her grandmother’s china. “It’s kind of sweet because I get that question a lot about where my name came from,”she says. “It’s nice to be able to tote her along.”

Hayleigh is a freelance writer, independent author, and writing consultant. In 2017, she published her first novel, The Huntsman: A modern retelling of Red Riding Hood. She spends a lot of time traveling and exploring new regions for inspiration, but Roanoke will always be her home. www.hayleighworgan.com.

Save Smarter

Money Master or Financially Challenged?

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

With the inevitable uptick in holiday spending in sight, it’s high time to check in on your money management know-how. Many people might think they have a solid grasp of their finances, but there are certain key pieces you should have in place to truly be considered a financial pro. Below are five checkpoints to help determine if you’re really the money guru you think you are.

You’re aware of your income and expenses. If you track how much money is coming in and going out each month, consider yourself a smart money manager. Failing to be in tune with your income and expenses can lead to over-spending and debt, or missed opportunities to make the most of your money through investing. If you need to improve in this area, start by tracking your monthly income and expenses over a period of time and watch for trends. Ideally, you’ll have money left over at the end of a month to put into savings or in-vestments. If you’re consistently left in the negative, find ways to cut down on expenses.

You have a savings plan. Not only does this include having funds on hand to pay for emergency expenses, this includes long-term investments for a secure financial future. If your employer offers an investment plan like a 401(k), participate—especially if they match your investment. If you’re not investing and don’t know where to begin, your local bank or credit union is a good place to start. They can direct you toward low-risk investment opportunities. It’s never too early (or late) to begin investing.

You’re debt-free or making progress on paying off debt. There’s good debt, like a mortgage that provides a roof over your head, and bad debt, like credit cards near their maximum limit. Having some debt is fine, but it should mostly fall into the good category. If you have bad debt, get rid of it as quickly as possible by devising a plan to pay it off. Start by tackling the largest balance with the highest interest rate first.

You’re aware of monthly bills. Similar to an awareness of your income and expenses, you should know what bills you’re incurring each month. Even if you have automatic payments established, you should know when bills are typically deducted from your account, the amount, and the terms of the purchases. Billing mistakes can happen, and it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re paying the correct amount or take action to correct the charge if necessary.

You think about the big financial picture. When do you want to retire and what investments will help you get there? How many years are left on your mortgage? How will you pay for your children’s education? You don’t have to make all the big financial decisions right now, but you should remain mindful of your overall financial health. If you always consider how every major purchase or investment impacts your overall finances, you’re more likely to make smart money choices.

Join Member One here each month for more money-saving tips and financial advice! Be sure to visit their website, www.memberonefcu.com, for more info on their products and services. Member One Federal Credit Union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration.

Virginia Made: RIOT Rooster

Holiday Shopping

Support local artisans and small businesses while celebrating RIOT Rooster’s 10th Anniversary!

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

To say we are excited about RIOT Rooster is an under-statement! This month, RIOT Rooster will celebrate its 10th year, and will host their two-day event at 16 West Marketplace. Come on out to shop small, relax, and celebrate with your favorite Bella girls on Friday, November 16 from 5-10pm and Saturday, November 17 from 9am-6pm!

As returning fans of this event already know, there are many reasons to love and support RIOT Rooster. In addition to the importance of supporting local, small businesses, RIOT Rooster is a place that puts the fun back in holiday shopping. Unlike other shopping events in the area, it is open to the public with no admis-sion fee! Community is the main focus here, and you’ll find that in the details. Always family-friendly, special features include a fire-pit lounge and the Cactus Joe Choo Choo, which will offer free down-town rides to attendees.

Several artists participating this year are making limited edition items to commemorate the 10th anniversary of this special event. First up, one of our personal favorites: Piper Lane, of Magpiper Metalworks (www.facebook.com/magpipermetalworks), is creating a “ring for the resistance”. She will offer ten of these limited edition, adjustable rings, exclusively for RIOT Rooster.

Next, Giant Star (www.facebook.com/giantstarco), a collaboration between Josh Gibson of Giant Step Design and Stratton Delany from Starlight Bicycles, will offer a limited edition RIOT Rooster tee available only at this year’s event. They will also sell their popular stock designs of regional natural assets such as McAffee Knob and The Cove.

Finally, Robin Gross and Andy Dillon of Transcendent Glass (www.facebook.com/TranscendentGlass), a knitting and glass-making business, will create their own limited edition collaborative piece for RIOT Rooster. Keep an eye out on social media for more details as they are available!

With what we know about RIOT Rooster, 16 West Marketplace will be filled with talented artisans, and there will be something special for everyone! This is the place to find handmade, upcycled, recycled, and odd and useful gifts for all of the people who are hard to shop for on your holiday lists. Set aside time to browse and enjoy the environment—you won’t even have to leave for food and beverages!

Existing businesses will be open inside 16 West Market-place, including Little Green Hive and Wok n Roll Kitchen. The Roanoke City Democratic Committee will also serve craft libations on both days, with all proceeds benefitting the West End Center.

This event is eagerly anticipated by those who attend every November, so don’t miss your opportunity to get there on Friday night and take advantage of swag while you shop for the limited-edition items throughout 16 West Marketplace! Stay tuned to RIOT Rooster’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/RIOTRooster) for vendor updates, giveaways, and more!

 

Hayleigh is a freelance writer, independent author, and writing consultant. In 2017, she published her first novel, The Huntsman: A modern retelling of Red Riding Hood. She spends a lot of time traveling and exploring new regions for inspiration, but Roanoke will always be her home. www.hayleighworgan.com.

Bella Eats – Fermentation Revolution

Transform the Ordinary into the Extraordinary

Fermentation is one of the hottest kitchen trends of the past several years, and for good reason —it allows us to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary (delicious pickles, olives, ginger beer). But, more than that, fer-mented foods enhance nutritional value, aid in digestion and help regulate our immune systems. Contrary to what you may think, fermenting doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult or over-whelming. You don’t have to disinfect your entire kitchen or worry about weird things growing in your pantry. Home fermentation is an inexpensive way to prolong the life of your food, multiply its nutritional properties tenfold, awaken your taste buds and liven up every meal. Canadians Sebastien Bureau (a food scientist) and David Cote (an organic restaurant chain founder) have written the perfect book providing 70 easy and cost-effective recipes for everything from fermented vegetables, fruits and sugars to milk, grain and legumes. Fermentation Revolution covers the science behind fermentation, as well as types of fermenta-tion processes and useful equipment. Fermentation Revolution is an excellent book to get you started on the road to in-home fermentation. With 70 easy, healthy recipes for sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi and more, this is THE book to help you get started, even if you’re just mildly curious.

www.revolutionfermentation.ca