Category Archives: Bella Magazine

Tour Roanoke Outdoor Adventure!

Tour Roanoke was the first group to host food and beverage tours in the Roanoke Valley. Of course, our city is rich with history to explore, and that includes the surrounding mountains and rivers. One of the more spirited ways to learn about and fall in love with southwest Virginia is by taking to the water and the trails, so Tour Roanoke decided to try something new. This year, they offer Kayak the James and Craft Beer Trips with Twin River Outfitters. Each trip includes a six mile paddle on the river to one of three local breweries. This section of the James River includes Class I & II rapids.

“All of our tours–food, beer, wine–it’s all about showcasing local Roanoke. So it was not a difficult leap from that to local recreation. The James River is an appealing location because it’s 60 miles of uninhibited river there. It is one of the longest navigable rivers on the east coast,” says Larry Landolt, founder of Tour Roanoke.

The series of three Sunday trips began last month, but they will host another on July 23. They plan for this month’s adventure to include Great Valley Farm Brewery. Located in Natural Bridge, the brewery is not only a place to appreciate local craft beer, but also offers a remarkable view.

“It’s a really cool brewery. It’s on a nice hill overlooking the mountains. You can sit on the patio and drink a beer and look down to see Safari Park,” explains Larry.

Those participating in tours this summer will be picked up at Target (located near Valley View Mall) or the downtown Visitors Center, and transported to Buchanan, where their trip will begin at Twin River Outfitters. The oldest and most experienced outfitter operating on the Upper James River, they have safely conducted paddle trips since 1978. Sign up fees include equipment and instruction provided by Twin River Outfitters, and one pint or flight from the brewery on the trip.

Southwest Virginia is quickly becoming an outdoor recreation destination, and it’s not hard to understand why. With breweries popping up all over the area, the two leisure activities easily go hand in hand. For Larry and so many others, it is an unforgettable experience to escape and unwind. So, why not also take the opportunity to enjoy it with old friends and make a few new ones on the journey?

Or, as Larry says, “Let’s go do something really fun, drink beer, and talk about it.”

Can’t make it to one of the dates online? No worries! Tour Roanoke is also open to hosting private tours for up to 14 people. It’s the perfect adventure for wedding parties, birthdays, company functions, and more!

Visit www.roanokefoodtours.com for more information on how to schedule your trip, or one of their many tour options in Roanoke.

Don’t Lose Sight of Your Money

Millions of people have embraced the convenience of managing their finances online. If you haven’t yet taken the plunge into this digital land, you may wonder how it works, if it’s safe, and why it could be better than traditional methods. Even if you’re savvy online, these five tips could help make it a little easier to manage your money while you’re away from your local branch or your home.

Sign up for online banking. Check in on your accounts from the comfort of your couch, the convenience of your office chair, or when you’re miles away from home. Online banking gives you around-the-clock access and is a great way to monitor activity, check balances, and make transfers, as well as providing other useful features that you perhaps thought had to be done in person at a branch. Contact your financial institution for instructions on how to sign up. 

Get electronic statements. Let’s face it—account statements from your financial institution clutter up your countertop and eventually end up in the shred pile. Stop the cycle and sign up to receive them by email instead. That way, you can opt to look them over and move on, or print them out yourself. Plus, it’s faster than waiting on the mail, and you’re helping the environment by reducing waste.

Enroll in online bill pay. Never forget to pay a bill on time again with online bill pay. This can especially come in handy when you’re away from home. You can schedule automatic payments at the same time each month from any account.

Set up digital wallets. This is a feature on your phone, tablet, or smart watch that allows you to enter your credit, debit, and reward card information to make payments at eligible vendors. Payments are made by hovering your device over the payment terminal, then entering a code or using fingerprint recognition to confirm. It’s more secure than carrying your cards and can be shut down if your device is lost.

Notify your financial institution. Before you hit the road, hit up your financial institution to let them know your plans, including your destination and travel dates. Nothing could ruin a vacation faster than a lack of funds, and doing this helps keep your accounts safe and avoids interruptions in your credit or debit card services while you’re out of town or the country.

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

Rising Appalachia at FloydFest

Rising Appalachia began years ago as the front porch project of sisters Leah Song and Chloe Smith to pay homage to their family. However, the dedication the sisters share to social activism started many years before through their involvement in community justice work and local food movements. Using their talent as a way to both share stories and encourage introspection, the sisters combined their interests to create an experience that is unique and inspiring. Joined by their beloved band, percussionist Biko Casini and bassist/guitarist David Brown, they share their colorful sound all over the world. Born and raised in the concrete jungle of Atlanta, Georgia, Leah and Chloe sharpened their instincts in the mountains of Appalachia, and fine-tuned their soul on the streets of New Orleans. This has resulted in a 6-album career that showcases a melting pot of folk music simplicity, textured songwriting, and “those bloodline harmonies that only siblings can pull off.”

Though it is not without challenges, Leah and Chloe stay true to their passions in the face of a fast-paced environment that has a tendency to push talented musicians into egocentric rockstars. They call their approach the Slow Music Movement.

“We’ve always explored sustainable touring ideas and options. We do everything from alternative travel methods like touring by train, to making sure as much local food as possible is brought to the green rooms and encouraging festivals to have a relationship with farm-to-table food. We don’t use plastic water bottles, and we avoid single-use plastic, encouraging the venue to take that on themselves as well,” explains Leah.

Fans will not find the band at strip malls or in hotel parking lots either. They make a point to seek out lodging near national parks, cabins, or stay with friends in farm homes. Additionally, they often visit urban gardens in the cities, and try to put their time and energy into neighborhoods, communities, and land-based projects.

“We are constantly trying to steal away moments for introspection, writing, and mindfulness. I walk every day, all over the place, wherever I am,” says Leah. “That’s kind of my movement meditation.”

Staying so close to the community keeps their desire to help others and be present as focal points in their journey. The band makes time during their performance to share the power of the stage and introduce audiences to those doing important ground work in social justice and equality efforts. Their tour schedule does not allow them to remain and nurture the impact in any one community, so it is important to Leah and Chloe to make sure the seeds they plant of emotional and environmental sustainability can grow even in their absence. Shifting the power to local faces helps ensure that will happen.

“Music is the tool with which we wield political prowess. We are building community and tackling social injustice through melody, making the stage reach out with wide arms to gather this great family. It has taken on its own personality, carrying us all along the journey,” says Leah.

“I’m really inspired by the beautiful, radical creative folks that show up in our audiences, “she adds. “Night after night, there are so many creative bright lights. We are inspired by our fan base. They have always been powerful, productive, and proactive folks in their communities. I think for our band and interpersonally, it has given us more purpose. We hope [our purpose] is reaching wider than us, and we are all grateful to have this vehicle to express ourselves.”

Rising Appalachia is touring all over Europe this summer, but FloydFest has a special place in their hearts, and is one of few festivals they will play in the United States in 2017. Catch them on stage both Saturday and Sunday, and follow up by learning how to support local farmers, seeking out sustainable resource options, and finding a quiet place to meditate on personal growth.

The best way to keep the feeling of a good show alive is to carry the inspiration from it with you and learn from it long after the audience dissipates. From Leah’s perspective, Rising Appalachia is going to do everything they can to put on a show that feeds your soul and lights that spark.

“At it’s best, [being on stage] is magical,” she explains. “We spend concerted effort trying to make sure we create a radical setting for the audience. We want to a take them on as much of a journey as possible.”

If you can’t make it to FloydFest this year, be sure to check out their new live album, Alive, this fall. Do yourself a favor when you do, and make it a truly immersive experience. Turn off the notifications on your phone, meditate, and enjoy the tapestry of stories woven into song by this talented band.

For more information about Rising Appalachia, visit www.risingappalachia.com.

Meet the Maker: La Bonne Crepe

La Bonne Crepe began in 2012. Owned by Maya Ittah initially, it quickly became a hit throughout the area for the one-of-a-kind crepes inspired by Maya’s upbringing in France. Maya’s mother, Chantal, and her grandmother made crepes throughout her childhood. After moving to the United States (first to New York, then Virginia), Maya began La Bonne Crepe with the desire to share the dish she loved so much with new friends and acquaintances. In 2014, Chantal took over the business so Maya could concentrate on her studies. Today, you can find Chantal serving fresh crepes at the Blacksburg Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays every week. She also sets up at Sweet Donkey Coffee on occasion, and participates in local festivals like Go Fest.

“I want people to experience the difference that wholesome, organic ingredients offer. [Our crepes] have a lot more nutrients. This meal is going to give them energy and strength. That is my goal,” explains Chantal.

“People really like the crepes, and they enjoy watching me making them,” she adds. “They like the healthy version.”

The rich family history and connections behind this business are far from over. Chantal and Maya have plans for a brick and mortar location to offer both delicious crepes and guidance for those trying to eat healthy.

Soon, Maya will earn her Master’s degree. She will open a cafe in southwest Roanoke in September, using her knowledge of nutrition to help customers with specific conditions find food that works for them. Once the cafe opens, Chantal will join her there, still serving her healthy crepes.

Crepes, by the way, that offer something for everyone. Chantal is a traveler, and her adventures inspire creativity. She often adds cultural influences to the crepe fillings, making the experience educational and unique.

“I loved to travel when I was younger. I was fortunate to do that and learn about other cultures. My passion is to discover all the cultures and immerse myself into their traditions and languages. I enjoy what I do so much because people come to my booth from all over the world. We talk a lot, and that’s why I feel like I want to add something different to the crepes. People do [them] differently all over the world,” she says.

Stay up to date on where to find La Bonne Crepe, and the new cafe (coming soon!) by following them on Facebook.

Earth Girl Wellness: Snack Smarter

It is quite tempting to think you are doing yourself a favor when you grab a box of 100­ calorie snack packs. Cookies, crackers, and chocolatey sweets all promise fulfillment in a little snack pack! Before reaching for the supposed convenience in a bag, consider what those 100 calories might actually mean to your health.

Whereas 100 calories seems entirely reasonable when it comes to noshing on a little something, the consequences to your body’s satiety (full feeling) response isn’t what you might expect. Your body expects to receive nutrients that are actually usable whenever food or drink crosses your lips. Many 100­ calorie packs are full of nothing but empty calories. Follow the logic here:

  1. You eat your 100 calorie treat.
  2. Your body doesn’t register any of the nutrition it needs.
  3. Your body says “whoa, where’s my food?”
  4. You grab a second 100­ calorie pack or other calorie filled food to make yourself feel nourished and full. Suddenly, your 100 calories has become 200 calories (or more!) and you still might not feel satisfied.

It would be far superior to snack on 200 calories of real, life­-giving food. Consider healthy options such as air­-popped popcorn, carrot sticks with hummus, or a small nut butter sandwich. Gulp it down with some clean, refreshing water and your body feels satisfied because it can register true, desirable nutrients.

Now, self ­discipline is a wonderful thing! If you are truly able to slowly savor a pack of 100 calorie cookies as your last treat before bed, by all means, indulge! Take care to savor your snack. Tasting each bite, noticing each swallow, and taking a moment to feel the “love” of your indulgence. Some 100 calorie packs can have health benefits, so reach for a pack of almonds or trail mix (without the sweet add ins such as chocolate chips) instead. To save money, create your own 100 calorie packs each week so you have them ready to grab at a moment’s notice. Think about dried fruit, some turkey and cheese, or whole wheat crackers. Your checkbook will thank you as well since most 100 calorie packs are charging for the packaging, not so much the snack!

Earth Girl loves a great snack, but she recommends you choose proper nutrition with life providing calories versus a snack in a pack that has been marketed to trick you into thinking you are doing yourself a favor. Carry on your adventure and snack wisely!

 

Written by Tina Hatcher of Earth Girl Wellness

Meet the Maker: North Mountain Candle Company

Callie Altman, owner of North Mountain Candle Company, has been making candles for twelve years. Her journey began one Christmas while trying to come up with a way to make gifts for the holiday budget-friendly. She decided to take her love of candles to the next level and make a few herself. They were a hit with her friends and family, and over the next year she transformed the experiment into a business that continues to reflect her love of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

North Mountain Candle Company takes its name from an actual mountain in a small former mining community called Longdale, where Callie grew up.

Photo Credit: Brittany Smejkal, Eccentric Photography

“Almost all of my childhood memories involve the outdoors in some way, shape or form,” Callie recalls. “From hiking along the Appalachian Trail to camping at Douthat State Park, or fishing on the Cowpasture River. The main driving force behind my business is to share my love of the Blue Ridge Mountains around the world. It’s a wonderful place to live, grow up, and raise a family. Our scents are inspired by this area.”

With scents like Mill Mountain Magnolia, Hotel Roanoke Spoonbread, and Smith Mountain Lake House, just lighting one of these unique creations is enough to take anyone back to their best memories of Southwest Virginia. Every candle is 100% handmade. Callie and her family try to get everything they use for the candles locally to support local sustainable businesses. They don’t mass produce anything, and there are no machines. Every inch of the process from making the candles to printing off labels is done by hand.

When she isn’t making candles, Callie can be found throughout the community teaching classes at the Omni Homestead or set up anywhere from small school fundraising events to large vintage or antique shows.

This summer, North Mountain Candle Company can be found on and off at the Grandin Village Farmers Market. Currently, they are a fill-in when other vendors are unavailable, but it is a placement that Callie hopes will become permanent in the future. Customers can also find her products in The Hodge Podge across from Lord Botetourt High School, in the Local Artisans section at Natural Bridge State Parks, and The Flower Center in Clifton Forge. Of course, if you cannot make it to any of these locations, you can always check out her selection and order online at www.northmountaincandles.com.

All photos in this post courtesy of Brittany Smejkal, Eccentric Photography. 

Member One: Credit Score Quick Guide

It’s one of the most important numbers linked to your identity: your credit score. But are you fully aware of why it’s so significant, and what constitutes a good credit score? Read on for a brief explanation of what it is and tips for improving it.

What is it? Your credit score is a number that ranges from 300 to 850 and, along with repayment history, is an indication of your creditworthiness. Anything above 700 is generally viewed as good credit and signals to potential lenders that you’re more likely to pay back your debts on time.

Why should I care? A credit score helps determine whether you’re approved or denied for a credit card or loan and your interest rate. On-time payments have a big impact on your score, and just one or two late payments can significantly lower it. If you’ve ever had a bill go to collections, declared bankruptcy, or had a foreclosure, your score will go down. The number of loans in your name matter and the more accounts you have (in good standing), the better, because it shows that multiple lenders have approved you.

How do I find out my score? The three major credit-reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—are required by law to provide you with a free credit report every 12 months. Keep in mind that this is just the report and not the actual score. In order to receive your score, you typically have to purchase it. Visit MyFICO.com to buy your official FICO score. Also, check your monthly credit card statement as some lenders now include your credit score as an added service.

What are some quick ways to improve it? One of the best ways is to consistently pay your bills on time. Other ways include paying down a credit card balance to improve your utilization rate, and keeping lines of credit open with zero balances. Both of these strategies show lenders that you’re able to manage debt and aren’t biting off more than you can chew.

As a general rule of thumb, you should review your credit report along with your score at least once a year. Not only is it beneficial to keep yourself informed and aware, it could help protect against fraud or identity theft.

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

 

Get Outside in Virginia State Parks!

Virginia State Parks provide wonderful opportunities for those who enjoy being outdoors and are looking for ways to use their time outside to give back to the community. Although almost all of the volunteers are users of Virginia State Parks, there are groups that sign up with members who have never visited them before. Both levels of experience are welcome, as all volunteers go through orientation and are supervised.

“There are volunteer opportunities that work for different age groups,” says Andrea Hasenfus, Camp Host Program Manager. “Retirees may be able to do a Wednesday gardening at noon, while someone who works a full-time job may be available to do trail maintenance on the weekends.”

There are also opportunities for young people. The Youth Conservation Corps is a great program for teens 14-17 who want to learn about conservation and working in parks. They spend three weeks living and working in parks around the state, supervised by college-age adults. Although the deadline to participate in this program has passed, visitors to the park may still get to see the group in action this summer. This is a competitive program. In 2017, 800 applications were received to fill 170 spots. If your child is interested in being involved in the future, it may be a good idea to sign up to volunteer and get some experience before the 2018 application process starts on December 1.

Joining a Friends Group is another way to contribute. It takes a lot of work to keep up state parks, and Friends Groups play a huge part in building and maintaining trails, helping staff visitor centers, working on educational outreach programs, and raising funds for park projects and facilities. There are several parks with Friends Groups looking for members. Being part of one of these groups has the potential to create a lasting impact for generations to come, as they also help with advocacy for the invaluable resources offered through the parks.

“Sometimes the most help, if you can’t put your elbow grease in on the trail, is to be an advocate. Whether you are a member of a friends group, or used to doing advocacy in the community, advocates are always great to have on our behalf.” explains Andrea.

For those who want a more immersive and active experience, the AmeriCorps program engages its members in meaningful service in Virginia State Parks by providing extensive training and professional development opportunities. They go through grants, and work on natural resource management in the parks. Some of them last all summer, and those who complete them receive an education award at the end.

There will be a big opportunity for volunteers on June 3 for Clean the Bay Day/National Trails Day. In fact, every park in the Virginia State Parks system will have a need for help that day. Those who wish to volunteer will not have to sign up through the website to be a one-time volunteer for the event. Simply show up at your local park and offer to lend a hand.

Visit www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks for a full list of parks in your area. Click on individual parks to see what they need.