Category Archives: Bella Magazine

Extraordinary Women: Janet Scheid

Janet Scheid is one of the most inspirational women we know. Since her retirement five years ago, she has given much of her time and energy back to our community as a volunteer with several organizations and as a Vinton Town Council member. She is passionate about helping the town of Vinton grow and flourish as a place for both residents and visitors.

How did you become involved with the Vinton Town Council?
One of the council members, Wes Nance, had to leave council last July. He moved to Bedford, where he is the Deputy Commonwealth Attorney. His term will expire at the end of June, so council decided to appoint someone to fill his unexpired term. They sent out an advertisement, took applications, interviewed people, and selected me.

It’s been nine months since, and the term that I’m filling will expire at the end of this month. Last month, I was re-elected by the Town of Vinton to continue serving on the council.

What have you learned since you joined the town council, and what are you most passionate about as a member?
When I started, there were those who said, “You’re retired. You don’t need this.” However, I’ve always believed that if you want to see something change, you have to be willing to work and make that change. My mother always said, “If you’re going to whine then do something about it.” There isn’t a lot that needs to be changed, but there are some things and it is an opportunity for me to step up to the plate and make those changes happen that I think are important. Vinton is a wonderful small town with a great small town feel to it. In order to keep Vinton a place to live and raise a family, I think we need to invigorate the downtown area. That is starting to happen with some redevelopment projects in town that are going to bring people to live here. I think it will lead to the demand for more shops and restaurants.

IMG_1673You grew up in Washington, D.C. How did that influence who you are today?
Well, even back then, the first restaurants I can remember visiting were Chinese restaurants. This was in the early 1960s. There is a proliferation of them now, but back then there were very few. I was exposed to a lot of food from different cultures—French food, German food. I was also exposed to a lot of different ethnicities. My dad worked for the government and he was also a student getting his master’s degree. He had a whole network of foreign students that had come to DC to go to school, and he would have them all over to the house for the 4th of July. I think my exposure to so many different cultures just gave me a view of the world that maybe is bigger.

What organizations are you currently involved with and how did you get started volunteering with them?
I’ve served on the board for Susan G. Komen for the last five years—two of which were as president. I also served on the board of the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy for 18 years. Currently, I am the secretary of the Virginia Museum of Natural History. Public service has always been important to me. My dad was proud of the fact that he was a government employee. He instilled in me that giving back is important. It’s one of the reasons that I retired as early as I did. I wanted to spend more time doing volunteer work.

Years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Today, I am proud to say that I am a 20-year-survivor. It is an important part of my life, and there is no doubt that it changed my perspective when it happened. I had a great job, but I was ready to start paying it forward and doing all of these things I wanted to do with various organizations. The thing is, I know I get more out of it than I give. I’ve met wonderful people. It definitely keeps me busy.

What advice would you give to women who seek to be more involved in their community?
There is a lot to do. Now that I’ve been doing it for five years, it is amazing to me how much there is to do. I can’t imagine how some of these organizations will keep going without a dedicated core of volunteers to help do things. My advice is to jump in with both feet. Meet people, ask questions, and go to events. For me, Susan G. Komen came naturally and the land conservancy did too because I had an environmental background. You have to find what you are passionate about. Maybe it’s animals, church, or maybe it’s children. There are just so many opportunities out there for volunteering.

What’s next for you?
I am excited to continue serving on town council, and I have another year and a half or so on the Komen board. I’m going to be figuring out what’s next for me over the next couple of years. Some things are going to start to end, and I’ld like to branch off into some new areas. I haven’t figured out where the’s going to be. I know I’ll be busy. It’s not in my nature to sit. However, I am learning to say no. It’s an art I haven’t mastered before—but I’m getting there.

Extraordinary Women: Betty Branch

Betty Branch is a world-renowned artist whose travels throughout the years have expanded and reinforced her knowledge of art history and techniques. Her studio here in Roanoke is a magical place where thirty years of artwork, much of it focused on the female form, creates an environment of self-reflection and personal growth. Five of her eight children are also artists and showcase their creativity within the space. The family shares an affinity for exploring the complexity of femininity through different mediums. Betty and two of her daughters, Bonny and Katey, shared their thoughts with us on this process.

Isabel, part of the Taubman Museum of Art’s permanent collection, is elegant, a muse, and her expression reflects that she too may be captivated by something unseen. What was your inspiration when you created her?
Betty: “She was the first female figure that I have done that was something other than straight realism. Isabel is an impressionistic sculpture that represents my impressionistic realism. What I had in mind with the pose was an introspection. I wanted the piece to be a meditative piece, but it also had to do with the centering of the self in the female.”

Betty in Workroom close-up 2015What have you been able to share with your daughters as an artist?
Betty: “I would say that I’m pretty convinced that all of the girls saw my delight in the art. There was never any question that I was exercising a great love and freedom in doing it. I was part of that period that was on the edge of feminism. I was not espousing feminism per say at the time, but I still very strongly needed to exert for myself the power that I felt was due to women. My daughters have come along and fully exercised that without any need to worry about any repercussions.”

A Friend for Life, outside of the South County Library, captures the moment that literature opens the realm of possibilities for children to pursue their interests. What was that moment for you as a child?
Betty: “I am an only child, and we moved around a lot. I was in 15 different schools growing up. Reading was my main source of entertainment. That was the thing that was very important to me. Early on, I was fortunate to have access to nursery rhymes and fairy tales. That, I am quite certain, is a very solid foundation upon which much, if not all, of my work is based. The sense of possibilities of mythology, all of that is very empowering. That is what fairy tales are all about—empowerment or the lack of it.

I have painted and drawn for as long as I can remember. It never occurred to me that it could be a career until all of my children were in school and I was without that major focus of child-bearing and raising them. There was a sudden void in my life and the art was there. It really burgeoned.”

FullSizeRenderAs your children began to develop their own artistic interests, how did you encourage their development?
Betty: “Obviously, they have a gift that is undeniable. They saw what art meant to me. I took them to classes with me way before I was making sculpture art as a career. I would take anything that I could get myself into—weaving, paper-making, or pottery. It was pottery that led me to sculpture because I had not experienced real clay before that time. My pots sprouted faces and arms. It was through that experience of piling all the kids that were at home in the back of the station wagon, and driving to whatever little art festival there was to spend the day that they saw other artists with the things they had brought. Those were really special good times. I think it’s just in them. Every one of the eight could have been artists had their lives taken just a slightly different turn.”

Bonny: “When I was nine, Mom and I traveled to Greece for the summer and I was given an old brownie camera. I fell in love with the old door knockers on Crete and used my camera to record the variety of brass hands adorning the ancient wooden doors. I didn’t know I had a passion for photography until I returned from a once-in-a-lifetime trip to New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, and Thailand. The images I captured thrilled me because I could show exactly what I saw with others and I used those images in my first art exhibit.”

Much of your family’s work focuses on the feminine form—both young and old. What about that resonates with your family?
Katey: “ I am blessed by powerful women, like my mother, who have forged the way through a time dominated by men, to create a way for those who have followed to have less barriers when they step out in the world to follow what has heart and meaning with more vulnerability.”

Betty: “It’s very meaningful to us. Katey teaches a course in self-realization and she’s done large scale canvas paintings of women that are used at that conference. All of them are very conscious of the necessity for there to be a legitimate equality in the exercise of power. It’s not that anyone wants to flip it over and say that women should rule the world, but if half of the rulers were women, then we would probably have a different result.”

For more information on Betty Branch, her family, and her art (which is exhibited all over the world), visit www.bettybranch.com.

Extraordinary Women: LeeRay Costa

As LeeRay Costa wraps up her spring semester as a professor at Hollins University, she looks eagerly towards summer and the fourth year of Girls Rock Roanoke—a volunteer-run, community-based organization that she began in 2012. The week-long day camp is part of a larger global network called Girls Rock Camp Alliance. It is a place where girls and gender non-conforming youth form bands, write their own songs, and perform at a final showcase. They also participate in workshops on topics like women’s music history, body confidence, and stage performance. This incredible experience is changing lives right here in the Roanoke Valley.

What made you want to bring Girls Rock to Roanoke?
Our family knew about the Girls Rock concept for a long time. We watched the documentary when our daughter, Tallulah, was young. When she became old enough to attend camp, we found one in Durham, North Carolina. We planned our summer vacation around camp so she could have that experience. She played keyboard for several years, but at camp she discovered the drums. Through working with the band, she found she had a real skill for it. At the end of each day she couldn’t wait to tell us everything she had learned.
Her excitement was inspiring, and I started talking to the organizers of the Durham camp because I wanted youth in Roanoke to have these opportunities and experiences.

Photo by Siobhan Cline
Photo by Siobhan Cline

How does Girls Rock Roanoke help empower its participants?
Some people think of us mainly as a music camp, but music and creativity are mediums for developing other skill sets. For example, campers learn risk-taking, because in one week campers learn an instrument, write an original song, work with a people they may not know, and then perform their creations live on stage. We live in a culture that tries to mold girls into a certain way of being. They are expected to be cute and silent. This crushes their potential in many ways. We want to create fertile ground for their potential to grow.

Has the camp opened doors for you to explore your own interest in music?
Yes. A few volunteers, including myself, attended Women’s Rock Retreat through a Girls Rock camp in North Carolina because we thought, “If we are going to ask the girls to do this, we need to put ourselves out there and see what it’s like.” I played bass and sang for the first time. At the end of the three-day camp, we played at the Pinhook. There I was, in my 40s, up on stage singing a punk rock song called, “Hormone Whiplash.” It was scary but very empowering at the same time.

How do you balance Girls Rock Roanoke and your work as a professor?
One important factor is the support of my partner, Andy Matzner. Not only does he happily claim the label of feminist, but he truly walks the talk in sharing all the responsibilities of being in a partnership and raising Tallulah. He was the first person to encourage my dream of bringing Girls Rock to Roanoke, and he has been there every step of the way.
Furthermore, Girls Rock is a team effort. It would be irresponsible for me to take credit for the tremendous labor and deep love that many others have contributed to Girls Rock camp over the years. Our program director, Lucy Coronado, our volunteers, and our Board work year round to make camp a success. Together with our campers, they inspire me to make Girls Rock a priority.

If you would like more information on Girls Rock Roanoke, go to www.girlsrockroanoke.org.

There are two camp options available this summer: one week for ages 8-11 (July 11-15) and a second week for ages 12-16 (July 18-22). This year’s theme, “Rocking for Change” will incorporate social justice issues into camp activities. Be sure to pick up our June issue for LeeRay’s interview and the interviews of nine other extraordinary women we are celebrating this month!

Extraordinary Women: Krisha Chachra

For our 10th birthday (our first issue premiered in June 2006!), we profiled 10 local women who, against odds or in the face of uncertainty, raised the bar, achieved success, and continue to inspire those around them every day.  Interviews will be posted throughout the month, and you can pick up a copy of our June issue to read all 10! Enjoy!

In local government, it is important to have strong women who represent the community and advocate for diverse interests. That’s why we love Krisha Chachra. Krisha is currently serving her second term on Blacksburg’s Town Council. In 2013, she became the first Indian-American and first under 40 professional to serve as Blacksburg’s Vice Mayor. She continues to be heavily involved in the community through her duties as a council member and by serving on several committees. She also published a book of essays about her experiences while growing up in Blacksburg entitled, Homecoming Journals: Dreaming big in a small town. When she isn’t attending to her professional commitments, Krisha enjoys spending time with her husband, Derek, and their 11-month-old daughter, Mina.

What makes you passionate about investing your time, energy, and education in Blacksburg?

Blacksburg is my hometown, and I think that no matter how far you travel and how much you explore, it is always important to remember where you came from. I was very interested in community service and running for office, and there was no better place than my hometown to pursue both. The people here helped me become who I am, travel far, and experience different things. I knew I would enjoy being able to give that back to the community. 

KrishaWhat obstacles did you encounter as Blacksburg’s Vice Mayor? How did you overcome them?

I felt like I had to prove myself because I was younger than everyone that has ever held the position. I wanted to make sure people knew I was the real deal and that I had a vision for Blacksburg that was shared by many people in the community. I listened a lot and asked a lot of questions so I could represent my community in a very authentic manner. When I first got elected, some people were skeptical and had the wrong impression about what I stood for, but I just stayed focused and worked hard to build relationships. At the end of the day, the criticism faded and I was re-elected as Vice Mayor. 

Making connections with local businesses is very important to you. Can you tell us more about why it is one of your main objectives?

The small business sector of the economy is Blacksburg’s future in terms of job providers and bringing the type of creative employees and professionals that we want to be the future leaders of Blacksburg. It is very important that we support small businesses so they can be successful and hire people who want to live, work, and build a life here. This will allow for a more creative and diverse economy for years to come.

What advice do you have for young professional women who are looking for additional ways to give back to their communities and better ways to manage their time?

All of us are busy. Everyone is doing things that are important to their families, communities, and career paths. Saying you’re busy is not a good excuse for not doing things that you are passionate about or not being involved in your community in a meaningful way. 

Being organized, present, and having a sense of visualization helps me get through my day. In addition to that, I think it is important for women to know they don’t have to take on everything to be successful. It is better to do one or two things really well than to spread yourself too thin and do many things for the sake of being involved. You’re not going to be your best that way. 

Krisha and DerekWhat is one thing that people may not know about your background?

My family was one of the first Indian-American families to come to Blacksburg and make this town our home. There were only a handful of Indians when we first came, but now it is very diverse. Back then, a lot of people didn’t know too much about where we came from. When I would tell people my family was from India, they would ask me what tribe! Back then I definitely stood out in my classroom, but I always took it as an opportunity to exchange ideas, learn about other cultures, and teach people about mine. I was never offended by people who didn’t know where I came from or who I was. When people are brave enough to ask, it is important to answer with respect. 

My life is richer for that experience, because I can connect with people from different backgrounds since I have enough respect to take interest in them. I think we need more people to show more interest about other cultures respectfully. The easiest way to do that is just by asking people questions about their origins. We have such a diverse community and we could really learn from each other if we just talked to each other more instead of assuming that we know people’s experiences. 

Visit to www.blacksburg.gov for more information on Krisha’s background and accomplishments!

Hudson Henry Baking Company

Photo Credit: Tyler Darden Photography

In 2012, Hope Lawrence and her husband, David, returned to Virginia in search of a way for Hope to go back to work and stay at home with their young sons Hudson, 8, and Henry, 5. After many months of searching, they found the perfect farmhouse for their family just outside of Charlottesville in early 2012. It included a separate commercial kitchen, and the Lawrences realized this presented a unique opportunity for Hope to be with her family and start the bakery she had been dreaming of for years.

Named after their sons, Hudson Henry Baking Company is the sole source of income for the family of four. And it is very much family-owned and operated. Both Hudson and Henry help their parents, and Hudson even accompanied Hope to the LLC meeting with their attorney. He also appeared in their video audition for Shark Tank.
“What is important to us is being home with the boys and working together to provide for our family,” explains Lawrence. “Our business helps us live a good life with our boys.”

When they aren’t baking, packaging, and shipping their delicious granola, the Lawrence family focuses on new ways to give back to others.

This outreach began when the business did. As Hope perused through websites geared towards entrepreneurs, she found several motivational thoughts that she considered putting on posters to inspire her.

HudsonHenry058“Then I thought, what if people read these things in the morning to start their day instead of the news? These sayings should be on cereal boxes!” says Lawrence. She realized she had the perfect way to get those inspirational words in front of her customers and incorporated them into their packaging.“The positive messages are as important to me as the granola,” she adds.

But she didn’t stop there. The Lawrence family works closely with their community by employing stay at home moms and participating in a work-study program with students at a nearby high school. They also put a lot of thought into the suppliers they choose for their ingredients. For example, their maple syrup comes from another family-owned and operated business, Mount Mansfield Maple Products, located in Vermont.

Their goal is to be a family business that helps others be their best. Whether that is through consuming their delicious granola, starting the day with their motivational quotes, or a combination of the two—the Lawrence’s want people to know that whatever their dream, a little positivity can go a long way. Their own success is the perfect example of this mentality. After just ten months of business, Hudson Henry Baking Company was featured on The Today Show in 2013 as one of Kathie Lee’s “Favorite Things.” Additionally, their products are available to a wide customer base throughout the country.

If you’re searching for that perfect Mother’s Day gift, this is it! Hudson Henry Baking Company is extending a special discount code to Bella readers for 10% off during the month of May. To take advantage of this deal, visit www.hudsonhenrybakingco.com and enter the code: bella10 when you check out!

Celebrating the LEAF Festival!

Festival season is right around the corner, and we couldn’t be more excited! We can’t wait for North Carolina’s LEAF Festival, a four-day event benefitting local artists and musicians, from May 12-15.
The 42nd LEAF Festival will take place in Black Mountain, North Carolina. For over 20 years, each May and October, an intergenerational family of 12,000 people join together upon the beautiful Lake Eden land to experience the power that music, art, and culture has to transform lives, strengthen community, and foster unity.

Sponsored by LEAF Community Arts, a nonprofit organization, all festival profit and donations go towards music and arts education programming both locally and globally. According to their website, since 2004 LEAF Schools & Streets has served over 45,000 youth with programs in over 20 Western North Carolina locations while LEAF International features cultural preservation programs in over 10 countries worldwide.

maxresdefaultThis year, LEAF’s theme is “World Fusion with Cuban Spice.” The lineup includes Juan De Marcos & The Afro-Cuban All-Stars, Shovels & Rope, Fatoumata Diawara, Danay Suarez, Dakha Brakha, Sarah Jarosz, Marchfourth!, Perdition Martinez, and more!

Guests will also have the opportunity to experience over 50 free of charge healing arts workshops. They include yoga, dance, martial arts classes, nutrition workshops, diverse healing traditions, ancient earth skills, and plant walks.

If you’re like us, one of the things we look forward to the most about this time of year is festival food. You’ll find many delicious local options throughout festival grounds, where vendors are divided into the following culinary sections: Boathouse, Shipside, Lakeside, Eden Hall, Roots Family Stage, The Barn, and Meadow Green. One vendor, Homegrown, has a menu that includes a fried chicken sandwich, a smoked trout wrap, a pimento cheese wrap, and smoked pork tacos with slaw. Start the day with organic fair trade coffees, hot chocolate, cookies, muffins, cinnamon rolls, or cake made with 100% organic flour and all-natural or organic ingredients from Bus Station & West End Bakery. Adults can also purchase local brews from Highland Brewing Company, New Belgium, and Pisgah Brewing Company. Of note, you can not bring outside alcohol to the festival—but you can buy fairly-priced ice and beer by the case and/or boxed wine at the Eden Field Camping drop-off.

LKVFacePaintFancyHM-copyThe LEAF festival is also kid-friendly! Family activities include crafts, educational arts, performances, a Jelly Dome Adventure, and a variety of sports in the World Wide Play Field.
If you are interested in learning more about LEAF, go to www.theleaf.org. You can also download their app. This option is perfect for festival attendees because it works offline and offers a schedule of events, dates and location information, and a map of the event layout.

Head over to our Facebook page for information on how to WIN tickets!

Spring Cleaning Tips

It’s time to open the windows, take in a breath of fresh air, and bust out those buckets, mops, brooms, and rags because spring is here! We all know that with spring comes spring-cleaning, which some of us dread and some of us anticipate, but those pesky dark corners of our homes that get neglected every winter aren’t going anywhere. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of spring-cleaning tips that will ensure your home is left spotless!
It always feels good to declutter and deep clean after the painfully long winter and an easy place to start is your closet! Whether you’ve kept your weight loss resolutions and you can’t wear a lot of your clothes anymore, or you’ve changed up your look, we all have clothes that we bought and hate or just don’t wear anymore. When cleaning out your closet try to be as objective as possible. Don’t say “what if” or “but”… if you haven’t worn it in the past sixth months, put it in the donate bin! If you’re honest with yourself, when you’re done there will be a huge difference! The great thing is, after you’re done you’ll have an excuse to go shopping and get a new spring outfit to celebrate!
Another great way to get a jump start on your spring cleaning is to tackle those baseboards that have collected a startling amount of dust and grime over the cold months! We all hate grabbing that bucket of soapy water and a rag only to get down on our knees for the thankless task of scrubbing the baseboards, but you’ll notice a huge difference when you’re done! Even your floors will look cleaner after scrubbing your baseboards until they’re squeaky clean. If crouching down on your knees for what seems like forever is just too much, check out Pinterest for all kinds of creative ideas on how to avoid squatting!
Next on our list is ceiling fans… out of sight out of mind, right? We always seem to forget these guys until one day, after we’ve opened up those windows and it’s a little warm, we turn them on full blast only to receive in return a prompt rain of dust on the entire room. Don’t let this happen to you! Just grab a small step stool and a warm damp rag and wipe off the tops of the blades. Depending on how long you’ve neglected them, you might have to go over them a few times, but it’s worth it knowing that you’re keeping dust out of the air and off of your clean floors!
One of the more creative ideas that we’ve come up with is to, while your scrubbing those baseboards and ceiling fans, take your AC vent covers, place them in the dishwasher without soap, and hit “start” to get them squeaky clean*. You don’t even need soap, the hot water will be enough to wash away the grime from the winter! Then, by the time you’re done with your other projects, all you’ll have to do is take them out of the dishwasher and put them back in place!
slice-of-lemon-953987_1920Lastly, don’t make spring cleaning harder than it needs to be! To cut grease and grime in those extra tough places, use a lemon wedge! After you go over the area with the lemon, wipe with a damp rag to clean up any extra. We love this for areas like stovetops and microwaves. It’s especially nice to know that you are using something totally natural and free of harsh chemicals to clean the areas where you prepare food for your family!
As you start to dive into your cleaning don’t forget those tough spots, be objective, and keep in mind that it is SO worth it when you’re done! There’s no better way to kick off spring than with a clean and refreshed space for you to spend time with your family. The Bella girls would love to hear what your favorite spring cleaning tip is, so share with us on Facebook!

*Only do this if your AC vents are metal.

Written by Kathleen Duffy

Gardening Without Breaking the Bank

Ladies, it’s just about time to break out those watering cans! Summer is just around the corner and we know what that means… fresh vegetables and flowers straight from the garden! We wanted to help you make the most out of your gardens this year while still being able to stay within your budget. Also, we have a few ideas to keep you out of those annoying hardware stores buying gallons of chemical-filled products for your garden, and instead spending more time enjoying your garden by making your own products at home!
First, did you know that you can actually regrow some vegetables like lettuce, celery, onions, tomatoes, carrots, and even potatoes from the scraps left in your own refrigerator? This is a huge time and money saver because you’re regrowing from something you have already purchased and you’re starting from a base instead of a seed! So, stop throwing them away and find a planting pot, fast! For flowers, you and your neighbors can share and propagate cuttings from your larger flower bushes/plants in order to save one another money.  Plus, this way everyone has beautiful flower beds while building stronger relationships with their neighbor! Another super easy way to save money is to, instead of waiting until the middle of the day when it’s the hottest to water your flowers or vegetables, do it first thing in the morning or after the sun has started to go down. This saves money because you end up using less water because plants will need more water in the middle of the day to prevent becoming wilted. However, if you water them in the morning or the evening, then they already have all the water they will need to make it through the day! While this may seem like a difficult time of the day to squeeze another task into your morning/evening routine, spending quality time in your garden during the most peaceful times of the day is good for the soul. You might even find that it puts you in a better mood for your day by just spending a few extra minutes in your garden each morning/evening.
gardening1Making your own organic sprays or fertilizers in order to avoid spraying your flowers or vegetables with potentially harmful chemicals is a great alternative! Even better is that making your own organic sprays prevents you from going into those overwhelming home improvement stores trying to sell you unnecessary things in order to have a successful garden. If you are active on Pinterest you can find tons of recipes for both organic pesticide sprays and fertilizers here. Our favorite organic pesticide spray to use on vegetables and flowers is from LavenderandLime.com and contains only the best ingredients to keep pests and chemicals out of your garden! For more ideas on how to have a successful garden and how you can get an early start, pick up our March issue out now!

Written by Kathleen Duffy