Category Archives: Bella Magazine

Meet Erica Snipes of Imagination Station!

When did you decide to start working for Imagination Station?
I needed a fun part-time job, and I have a twelve-year-old so we spent a lot of time in the toy store in Blacksburg. The owner put up a notice and said she was looking for help, so I decided that was a sign! Then, about half a year after I started working for them we decided we were going to move to Roanoke so my daughter could go to school here. The owner asked if I wanted to manage a toy store in Roanoke if they opened one. I thought about it, and a couple months later I said I would do it.

What is one important lesson that you’ve learned along the way as a manager?
Unlike some other retail businesses, you are growing up with the families and the kids. Establishing a relationship is really important. We are more than a place to come and shop. Upstairs we have a room that has toys, games, and books that we call our “chill out” room. You can just hang out; you don’t have to buy something. Go to Cups, grab a coffee, and bring your kids here.

With the technology we have available, why is this type of imaginative play still so important?
We are passionate about helping parents, caregivers, and teachers find ways to keep children engaged. With the advent of technology, it is so easy for all of us as caregivers to just hand over the cell phone or the iPad. There needs to be more tactile person-to-person play. For example, building blocks used to be the core of play. Everybody had building blocks, but people don’t really buy them anymore because they have so many pieces. They say their child doesn’t really know what to do with them. However, they need to be bored and build something because it helps with learning physics, gravity, and trial and error.

Find Imagination Station at www.imaginationstoys.com.

Meet Katy of GypsyPalooza Too!

What led you to the idea for GypsyPalooza Too?

When I first started, I was making jewelry, and I thought the space I rented in Salem would be my studio. Then I decided I really wanted a store. I love clothes and jewelry, and I love being around women who come in looking for something to make them feel pretty. [Opening a store] wasn’t my original intention, but it completely organically happened and I followed it.

What do you hope that your customers take away from their experience with you?

We do way more than sell dresses. We give women confidence and help them try on things outside of their comfort zone. I had a lady whose husband sent her with his credit card because he loved the way she looked when she went home. We are so hard on ourselves, and we need to be nice to ourselves and kind.

Who are your biggest inspirations?

Iris Apfel (fair to say, she is also one of our biggest inspirations) and Magnolia Pearl

Do you have a favorite quote that guides you in your role as a business owner?

“Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.” Minor Myers

What is your favorite up incoming style?

I love layering up lacy summer pieces, or dressing them up with clothes for colder weather! For example, adding a cozy sweater and a funky pair of boots. I love vintage hats too!

Find GypsyPalooza Too on Facebook!

Kids & Interior Design in Southeast Roanoke

The story begins with Mike Eaton, who lives in Southeast Roanoke with his family, contacting me about painting the interior of his home. A few days later, Joey Coakley, Bella publisher, is in a car with me driving to Mike’s home. Joey is to be their paint color consultant!

So, is it true you haven’t done any upgrades since you bought your home 9 years ago?
Mike: Yes, with the exception of painting the kids’ rooms, we haven’t done much of anything in the house. And let me tell you it was a long nine years–did you see the hideous purple living room walls? From the Barney-colored living room to the pea green dining room, the house was in desperate need of fresh paint and modern upgrades to truly make it feel like a home.

We bought the house with the intention of updating and painting, but the reality was after we moved here–me, my wife, Armendia and our 10 year old son, Lewis–life became very busy for us and home improvements were put on the back burner. And before you know it 9 years have gone by.

What happened? Let me guess, more children?
Mike: Yes. We started being foster parents. Our first one, Addy, was such a sweetheart. It breaks your heart learning of the environments and experiences these kids have lived through. We have the space and feel compelled to give a home to these children. We ended up adopting Addy.

Since then we have had numerous children stay with us, mostly for a brief period. In December of 2015 we received a call for two-day-old James. To make a long story short we ended up adopting James and his four-year-old brother, Donny. Now our home AND our hearts are full. As a matter of fact our home is so full we are planning on adding an additional master bedroom/bathroom to our home!

What’s it like, fostering children?
Mike: We 100% love it but it can be emotionally hard. Armendia was working outside the home until recently but now she works full-time with the kids. She has the patience of a saint because it can be stressful at times but there are also tremendous amounts of joy with these precious little ones. The children have had rough backgrounds and like with any kids, life isn’t predictable with them. But truly we consider it a blessing and honor to be bringing them into our family. We wish we could have more.

How does someone become a foster parent?
Mike: Start off by contacting your local Department of Social Services. Training consists of nine weeks of PRIDE classes. Basically, boot camp for prospective foster parents. The classes contain a lot of good information. There is tremendous need in the Roanoke Valley for qualified foster parents to provide a safe, loving home to these wonderful children.  

Can I become a foster parent?
Mike: Anyone can! But for you, I recommend adopting a cat or two first to “get your feet wet!”

Tell us a little bit about your background. Are you Roanoke natives?
Mike: Armendia is, but I’m originally from New Jersey. After being stationed in Norfolk for five years with the U.S. Navy we moved to Roanoke to be closer to her family. I was fortunate to get a job as an electrician at Norfolk Southern. Our day to life is very routine. I pack my lunchbox, go to work, and clock in. When the bell rings, I leave and come home to my lovely family in a quiet neighborhood in Southeast Roanoke–just like in the movies!

At the time our budget led us to the Southeast section of Roanoke. We were able to find a bigger home on a smaller budget in the quaint Waverly Place neighborhood.

Moving to the present, you now have a beautifully colored interior for your home. How did you come up with this color combination?
Mike: We knew we needed help! We wanted something timeless, yet trendy and modern. With Joey Coakley Beck’s guidance we now have wonderful new colors that highlight our home’s interior. It truly feels like a new place. The interior is bright and airy where before it seemed dark and cramped. It’s great! Thank you, Joey!

By way of closing, Armendia says, “Please contact me if you have any questions at all about foster parenting. My email is mendieaton@gmail.com

Click here for more information on fostering a child within Roanoke.

Information is also available here for Salem and Roanoke County residents.

 

Interior paint colors:
Living and family rooms: Sterling
Dining room: Fresh Willow
Kitchen: Tinfoil
Trim: Ultra Pure White
Ceilings: Matte White

All paints by Behr Marquee.

Written by River Laker

 

 

 

 

What We’re Reading

Stories from the Holocaust by Nancy Wright Beasley

Nancy Wright Beasley Photo Credit: Jay Paul

Izzy’s Fire: Finding Humanity in the Holocaust is about the “miraculous journey that finally led Edna Ipson and her family from the heel of the Nazis to ‘the other side of hell.’” The Little Lion is the story of Laibale Gillman, a teenager living in Lithuania who showed courage beyond his years by devising a plan that helped several of his family members escape Kovno Ghetto, where they were forced by Nazi troops. Nancy Wright Beasley, author of both books, sat down with us to discuss what led her to these stories and why it is important to tell them for generations to come.

Why do you think this time period is covered now more than ever, and why is that important?
Firsthand history is quickly diminishing. Most Holocaust survivors are quite elderly, even if they were children or just born at the end of the Holocaust, they are now in their 70s. The firsthand accounts, memoirs, and gripping stories are so important because [the Holocaust] had horrendous consequences and always will. We will not live long enough, I don’t think, to outlive the consequences. Think of what was taken from our world. How many great writers, physicians, inventors, and scientists? I think we owe it to them to tell their stories.

What led you to these specific stories out of so many from the Holocaust?
I’ve always said that Izzy’s Fire chose me. The decision was made for me to write about the Holocaust in Richmond at the Emek Sholom Holocaust Memorial Cemetery. Every November, they have a Kristallnacht ceremony to remember the “Night of Broken Glass.” I went to the ceremony one year, and I heard a beautiful service that November day. At the end, the survivors walk to the microphone and say the names of family members that did not survive. Alan Zimm was the last one. I counted on my fingers as he said the names, and I ran out of fingers before he ran out of names. I went up to him afterwards and I told him he had changed my life. I had to write about the Holocaust.

How did The Little Lion come about after writing Izzy’s Fire?
The Little Lion is a character in Izzy’s Fire. I could not tell his story at the same time, because it would have deviated from the story I was trying to tell in Izzy’s Fire. I went to my friend, Neil November, and he asked what I had in mind next. A friend of mine told me I needed to go to Hollins University. I went to see Neil, and he thought I should enroll and financed it. He had no idea what I was going to write and neither did I. I thought it would be a children’s storybook, and what it became was a young adult novel based on Laibale Gillman.

The Little Lion was adapted for the stage by Irene Ziegler, and the world premier was held January 30 through March 5, 2016 at Swift Creek Mill Theatre in South Chesterfield, Virginia. A stage reading will take place at Mill Mountain Theatre on Friday, September 8 at 7pm, and Saturday, September 9 at 8pm. Beasley will be available following both performances to sign books. She will also be speaking at the South County Library in Roanoke on Saturday, September 2 at 2pm, and will be selling signed copies of her book afterwards.

If you are interested in learning more about Beasley’s career, including her trips to Lithuania and the descendants and survivors behind her stories, purchasing her books, or subscribing to her newsletter, visit www.nancywrightbeasley.com.

Make Your Money Work for You!

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

From a young age, you’re told to save money for the future. But when it comes time to actually put learning into practice, many of us just don’t know where to begin. A savings account is a great start, but are you aware of how easy it can be to earn more on the money you already have? Here are five tips to get going with investing.

Do your research. You can read books and online articles, listen to podcasts, and even attend classes to learn more about investing. While it’s important to arm yourself with knowledge, nothing beats face-to-face advice, especially if you’re new to investing. Meet with your financial institution to see what they offer and to get that personal, expert guidance.

Start with low-risk options. Money market accounts and share certificates are examples of low-risk investments that are available at most financial institutions. These can be good ways to jump-start your investment goals because the chances of you losing any money are minimal.

Save for retirement now. Whether it’s a long way off or could happen in a few years, it’s never too early (or late) to think about retirement savings. One of the best ways is to invest in your employer’s retirement package. Speak to the human resources department to understand how the package works and if your employer is willing to match contributions. If they do, max it out so you don’t leave any money on the table.

Budget for investing. This is where setting a budget comes in handy because it can help determine how much you can afford to allocate toward investments. Five percent of your take-home income is a good place to begin. You might need to make some adjustments or take money from your discretionary fund to get to that five percent, but don’t take this amount from your fixed expenses like bills, emergency fund, or savings goals.

Give it time. Keep in mind that there are many paths to building wealth. It generally takes years of disciplined and strategic financial planning to get there. If you have dreams of retiring, start saving as much as you can as early as you can. Set a goal and keep that in mind throughout your saving and investing journey. You’ll be making some sacrifices now, but it will be worth it when you retire someday.

 

Spoonie Essentials Box

(featured photo credit: Momma Without a Clue)

Spoonie Essentials Box is not like other subscription boxes you’ve seen before. Behind every box is a community for chronic illness warriors around the world to turn to for support and validation. This amazing group of people seek to make sure every chronic illness warrior knows that they are seen, heard, and loved. The core mission of Spoonie Essentials Box is a personal one to the entire staff, who all volunteer. Each of them has been inspired to do so by their own battles with chronic illness. CEO Brittani Daniels has battled DRESS Syndrome, Lupus, severe Crohn’s disease, and colon cancer all while running Spoonie Essentials Box.

“I realized there was a need for something tangible for people to feel like they were not invisible,” she explains. “This was greater because it doesn’t just give you a box. It gives you a community to belong to.”

We are giving away one Spoonie Essentials Box to a chronic illness warrior in southwest Virginia on our Facebook page on Monday, August 7. You can also purchase a box for the chronic illness warrior in your life by visiting www.spoonieessentialsbox.com. Pay close attention to what comes in those boxes, whether you are personally impacted by a chronic illness or not. You may learn something.

“Once you become educated on chronic illness you will become an advocate with us. You don’t just stand idly by while people are being mistreated and looked down upon,” Brittani says. “When you teach someone about what you’re going through, they can better understand you and help other people.”

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.

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.

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