Tag Archives: central virginia

Virginia Made: The Leather Lotus

Little green sprouts will soon begin to make their debut. The occasional hint of a warm day will bring smiles to faces and a little extra pep to everyone’s step. It may not feel like it quite yet but spring is on the horizon. With the start of each new season comes inspiration and new ideas. Her love of the outdoors is where Taylor Smith finds her own creative inspiration to create handmade jewelry. A reflection of leather and natural beauty, her business The Leather Lotus is taking everyday casual to the next level.

Inspired by the colors of the season, Taylor’s jewelry is designed around a carefully selected stone or piece of metal before various colored leather is chosen to complement the element. The textures and shapes used seem right at home in her favorite photo studio, the great outdoors, as she photographs each piece for her Etsy shop. Taylor still remembers fondly the day she heard “cha-ching!” the sound that has become music to an online seller’s ears. Having no idea what it meant, she looked at her phone and was ecstatic to find notification of her first sale, a leather wrap bracelet. To this day, the sound still evokes the same excitement as if it were the very first.  More than a few products later, the fringe earrings offered by The Leather Lotus are this maker’s must have wardrobe accessory. “Something about fringe just seems like so much fun to me. Pair them with a basic tee and jeans and suddenly I feel excited!”

The best of both worlds is how Taylor describes her life as a stay at home mom and entrepreneur. She takes pride in the two young boys, Grayson (4) and Finn (2) whom she and her husband are now raising in Roanoke. A native of the area and a Hokie for life, there’s no place Taylor would rather be than outside with her boys chasing chickens. Although, a vacation to the small island in Puerto Rico where she and her husband honeymooned or Spain would not be unwelcome. Nap times are for making jewelry and craft shows a welcome break in the routine of full-time wife and mother. It’s a way to connect with amazing customers as well as fellow makers who have become friends. Taylor’s advice to anyone contemplating starting a new business? “Go for it! I had so many hesitations when I started this. It has grown more than I ever thought it would and I love every minute of it.”

This month, we will hosting a giveaway on our Facebook page for The Leather Lotus! Taylor is giving away a $50 gift card to her Etsy page! Stay tuned!
Also, use the code BELLA during the month of March for 20% off in her shop!

Find The Leather Lotus:
theleatherlotus.etsy.com
FB: /theleatherlotus
IG: /theleatherlotus

 

Written by Faith Jones

Playful Fitness

Don’t just exercise.  PLAY!!!

So, whatever happened to recess? Is it really true that adults can’t enjoy fitness as much as kids do?  Not at all! Here are some suggestions to inspire you to think more like an open-minded child whose only job is to play:

  1. Imagination
    Be imaginative. Yes–exercise should be a routine, but not a bore. Create/design your own routine which centers around your own interests, passions, and childhood pastimes. Throw on your favorite YouTube videos and follow along with the choreography. Or, make it a family project! Involve your kids and do games and fitness competitions around the house. For example, “Monkey in the Middle” is a ball game which improves cardio and coordination, and you only need three people to play! Take ownership of your fitness routine by creating it yourself (instead of just copying what others do). You are bound to take more pride in your daily workouts, all while being more accountable to yourself.

 

  1. Interval

As a dancer, I can’t just dance at the studio. I have to do it whenever I feel like it! This might mean sliding around the kitchen floor in-between washing and drying the dishes, or busting out a set of pliés and push-ups on the living room carpet, instead of sitting watching television on the couch. Much like eating five to six small meals a day instead of two or three, it can be equally effective to exercise in short spurts. Everyone’s metabolism is different. Everyone’s motivation is different. Do not compare yourself to your co-worker or the person doing leg press next to you at the gym. Find what works best for you and go for it!  The worst thing that can happen (and the best thing that can happen) is that you will have a good time!  Play with intervals! Over time, your energy and resourcefulness will improve.

 

  1. Intentionality

First things first…OPEN your eyes UP to PLAY! Remember that movie Hitch with Will Smith? Will Smith’s character, Alex Hitchens, has a great line, “Begin each day, as if it were on purpose.” Practice this month waking up and immediately doing something off-the-wall FUN! Practice cartwheels on the front lawn or try belly-dancing in the bathroom mirror.  In my apartment building, there are a set of stairs leading to the basement garage. Early in the mornings, my neighbors often catch glimpses of me climbing the stairs and jumping rope, as if I am training for the Rocky films. The best part is watching the surprised looks on their faces. Be intentional! Even if you look silly doing it.

 

Last, but not least, when you exercise and play, do it in familiar spaces and places. Look for areas that are filled with acceptance, love, encouragement, and accountability. (Hint: that place is not always at your house or at the local gym). Put some nostalgia in your program! Imagine your own schoolyard recess field.
If you don’t find it immediately, keep looking!  You will find it. You are the most motivated in familiar places where you garner the most support. No matter where that spot is, remember to PLAY. Being a child is at the core of who we all are anyway.

 

Written by Bryan Christon

Transitioning from Double to Single-Income

Planned or unexpected, major life changes that result in less income like job loss, illness, or becoming a stay-at-home-parent, bring about many challenges. Not only can they throw you emotionally and even physically for a loop, they also have a big impact on your finances. We’re here to offer tips for handling your finances during this sometimes-inevitable life transition.

Review your household budget. Having an established budget while transitioning from a double- to single-income household is crucial. You need to be acutely aware of how much money is coming in and going out (and to where). This is the perfect time to find every way possible to cut down on extra expenses, like eating out or gym memberships, and truly focus on paying down debts or building up savings.

Consider the extras. If the loss of an income means losing benefits from a former employer, such as health or life insurance, you’ll have to consider the cost of taking on these expenses and add that to your household budget. On the other hand, you can also count on saving money on gas for your vehicle or a workplace wardrobe, for example, since you won’t be traveling to an office every day.

Reevaluate your savings strategy. If your former employer offered retirement savings, it’s in your best interest to figure out alternative ways to contribute to some kind of savings account or investment fund. Even contributing a small amount is better than nothing. And you’ll still want to ensure you have money put away in an emergency fund for unexpected expenses like home repairs or medical emergencies.

Forget about the Joneses. Keeping up with the latest fashion, home décor, and lifestyle trends is expensive! Reducing your household income means making sacrifices, which could include driving older cars, taking cheaper vacations, and searching for free entertainment. If you focus on putting your needs before your wants, you’ll be in much better shape financially.

Supplement your income. If you find that you still can’t make ends meet after cutting every expense possible, consider picking up a side job like tutoring or pet and/or house sitting. You could sell unwanted items at a yard sale or on Ebay, sell crafts on Etsy, or teach online courses. Every bit helps, and it could result in just enough extra funds to make transitioning from a double- to single-income household a little more affordable.

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

Warm Up to Veggie-Packed Soup

When the weather outside is frightful, we could all use a cozy soup for supper. A steaming bowl of Rustic Vegetable-Beet Soup provides instant comfort.

The ease and convenience of Aunt Nellie’s pickled beets can’t be “beet”- no need to spend time peeling or pickling. This colorful mix of antioxidant-rich beets, sweet potato, and carrots joins tender zucchini to create a soup that tastes like it simmered all afternoon; but in fact, comes together in under an hour. The sweet-tangy beets add an unexpected but welcome layer of flavor to this hearty soup.

For the finishing touch, a garnish of vibrant green, lemony gremolata brightens the soup’s flavor. Garlic, lemon and parsley may seem ordinary, but they come alive when combined. Crisp flatbread makes a perfect accompaniment to this meal-in-a-bowl.

For more recipes, or to learn more about Aunt Nellie’s beets and other products, visit www.AuntNellies.com.

 

Rustic Vegetable-Beet Soup
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6

1          jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie’s Whole Pickled Beets, well drained
2          tablespoons olive oil
2          medium onions, coarsely chopped
2          medium carrots, coarsely chopped
1          medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
2          large cloves garlic, minced
2          zucchini (about 5 ounces each), coarsely chopped
2          cans (about 14 ounces each) vegetable broth
1          teaspoon seasoned salt, optional
1          can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper
2          tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2          tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill

 

Gremolata:

1          tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1          tablespoon minced fresh dill
2          cloves garlic, minced
1          teaspoon grated lemon peel

Coarsely chop beets; set aside.

In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions; saute about 5 minutes or until softened. Add carrots, sweet potato and garlic. Saute 3-5 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften, stirring occasionally.

Add zucchini, broth and seasoned salt, if desired. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, about 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add chickpeas; heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper, as desired. Stir in parsley and dill. Stir in beets. Serve immediately topped with gremolata, if desired.
To make gremolata, combine all ingredients.

Nutrition information per serving (1/6 of recipe): 210 calories; 6 g fat; 6 g protein; 33 g carbohydrate; 6 g dietary fiber; 0 mg cholesterol; 2 mg iron; 727 mg sodium; 0.13 mg thiamin; 6981 IU vitamin A;  8 mg vitamin C.

 

Source: Seneca Foods

 

Winter Skin Care on a Budget

It’s no secret that winter weather can be hard on your skin. One of the reasons is that we often forget to change up our routines to accommodate the change in temperatures. Harsh chemicals used to reduce natural oils in the summer can cause more damage in the winter. Our diets can also greatly impact our skin. With many of the winter holidays behind us, it is time to refocus on what we are putting into and on our bodies, and how those things are adding up to create the perfect storm. Here are a few of our favorite products for correcting and preventing dry skin damage:

Coconut Oil
Cold weather can be very hard on your hair, specifically on your scalp. Sometimes over-the-counter dandruff shampoos don’t help with dandruff, and occasionally they can even make it worse. Dr. Axe (www.draxe.com) says that adding five drops of essential oils like lavender, wintergreen, thyme, or tea tree to two teaspoons of coconut oil and massaging it into your scalp after washing your hair can be a great intensive dandruff treatment! Do this 2-3 times per week to keep your scalp moisturized and your hair feeling soft!
You can also apply coconut oil to your skin at night before going to bed. Be aware, however, that the oil may transfer to your sheets. So you may want to cover the affected area before calling it a night.

Eat Right
By now, you probably know that staying hydrated in the winter is important. You know that you should be drinking water like it’s your second job, and maybe even that a humidifier in your bedroom can help keep your skin hydrated. But did you know that what you eat matters too? That New Years resolution to eat right (and maybe add a few juices into your diet) can help in more ways than one. Fruits like watermelon and apples and vegetables like cucumbers and carrots contain a lot of water. Let them help you get the moisture your body needs to be healthy and comfortable.

Don’t Forget Sunscreen
Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean that your skin can’t be damaged by UVA and UVB rays. Even if the sun doesn’t seem as bright, rays penetrating the clouds can reach your skin. Obagi Medical Skin care products are a great way to protect your skin against the harmful effects of sun exposure. We especially love their Tinted Sun Shield SPF 50 line, available in cool and warm shades for different skin tones. For harsh winter weather, you may also enjoy their HydraFactor Broad Spectrum SPF 30. This sunscreen is a dual-function moisturizer with soothing ingredients. Regardless of which sunscreen you choose, make sure to reapply it every two hours of exposure throughout the day. Check out Obagi’s website (www.obagi.com) for more information on where to find their impressive line of skin care products locally.

Choose Wisely
Some face cleansers have ingredients that strip your skin of moisture. Read the labels, and make sure that what you are putting on your skin (aka the largest organ in your body) will not damage it even further. Look for all natural products and those with soothing ingredients, like oatmeal. We love Briar Mountain Farms (www.briarmtnfarm.com). Their goat’s milk soap is great for sensitive skin (and they are local!). Their soap contains high amounts of proteins, vitamins, and minerals. With plenty of scents to choose from, you can’t go wrong!

Treat Yourself!
Schedule a facial with a skin care professional. If you can’t do that, treat yourself to a facial mask twice a week at home. Our editor uses Innisfree It’s Real Squeeze mask sheets (found on Amazon) and loves them! Choose from trouble care, moisturizing, brightening, and nutritious options. Infused with a blend of herb complex water and ingredients from nature, this real mask adds vitality and energy to your skin.

Earth Girl Wellness: Probiotics 101

The gut is the new brain…or so research is suggesting. The profound effects the health of your digestive tract has on your cognitive function is gaining momentum in the nutrition world. Regular elimination and the balance of microflora in your intestines has everyone grabbing for more fiber and probiotics. But what are probiotics? Are they really that important? Or are we falling prey to yet another dietary trap trying to grab money out of our pockets?
Your gut is filled with bacteria of all kinds. There is a delicate balance of more than 1000 types of bacteria living in your large intestines. This balance helps keep your intestines “moving along” and influences mood regulation and emotions. The millions of neurons (nerve endings) contained in our digestive tract are in constant communication with our brain. Keeping that communication open and smoothly transmitting requires a healthy gut. Probiotics and their far reaching effects on the colon aid in maintaining a healthy gut and the complex communication system of the gut-brain axis.
There are a wide range of sources that can provide your body with the appropriate balance of bacteria. Probiotics can be found in many foods, drinks, and supplements. Choosing a proper delivery method depends upon your preferences and lifestyle. Sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, and several other fermented foods, such as sour pickles, are natural food sources that contain the healthy bacteria. Advantages to food sources include their close proximity to nature and lack of unnecessary colors and preservatives. However, not everyone has a desire to eat fermented (and sometimes spicy!) foods every day. Plus, yogurt often contains a large amount of sugar (a no-no on the Earth Girl list).
Kombucha is a fermented tea that provides an excellent source of probiotics. It comes in a variety of flavors and in easy-to-grab bottles. The taste can be too strong and off-putting for some individuals and the price can dent your wallet. Earth Girl suggests you shop around and try a variety of different manufactures to find one that appeals to you. Earth Girls’ favorite pick is the Synergy Trilogy. It is found at most super markets that sell organic foods.
A final source can be found in a supplement. Buyer beware when purchasing probiotics in a bottle. Several items to check for are the number of strains of bacteria (look for more than one strain), the volume of bacteria in the product (look for at least 1 billion per CFU), and when the product was made to ensure the bacteria is still alive (probiotics won’t work if the bacteria contained in them is dead). A few products that have been vetted and reviewed by Reviews.com include Islands Miracle-Ultra-30 Probiotics, MegaFood MegaFlora, Renew Life Ultimate Flora Extra Care 30 Billion, and Dr. Formulas Nexabiotic Advanced Multi-Probiotic.
In final analysis, Earth Girl Wellness recommends everyone consume a daily probiotic. It is a “no-brainer” when it comes to gut health and is simple to add to any healthy routine. Choose a delivery system that makes you happy! You will be healthier whether you enjoy a great Kimchi grilled cheese sandwich, an afternoon glass of kombucha, or throw back a few supplements with your morning glass of water. Your gut (and brain) will love you for it!

 

Written by Tina Hatcher

Virginia Made: The Importance of Self-Care

February is here and we are finally adjusting to writing 2018 instead of 17. It is a month often associated with love and one dedicated to celebrating Black History. As women, there’s one form of love that sometimes finds itself at the bottom of the list. That is self-care. Whether through body, fashion, or art, these women have their priorities in order.

What woman doesn’t dream of soft skin and fragrant products that make you say, “Mmmm…”? Janie Brodie captures that with Herbal Body Blessings in Henrico. Receiving testimonies from customers of how the products have helped them in some way keeps her creating. Janie feels blessed to have her husband, three sons, and goddaughter always ready to pitch in. Body butters, made up of natural ingredients including cocoa and shea butters, combined with scents like coconut lemongrass and honey almond are the company’s best sellers. “Beauty is broad and diverse to me. There is no limit and it can be found everywhere. I find beauty in nature, people, and art. It is truly in the eye of the beholder.” For Janie, self-care involves a cruise to a warm beach. (On Instagram @herbalbodyblessing)

Growing up in England, Nicole Rule became fascinated with garments of her Ethiopian culture. “Even thinking about it now brings back great memories of my mom with a scarf draped over her head as either a fashion statement or to keep warm.” Fast forward a few decades, living in Lynchburg and married with kids, Danicole Accessories was born. Her designs include pieces for infants to adults like headbands, turbans, berets, and bonnets. Nicole also offers specialty pieces such as fascinators, hats, and silk flowers. With a husband and four “love bugs” (five and under) while running a business, life has challenges but Nicole handles them with grace. Her family and serving at church are top priorities while self-care involves sneaking in date night, a delicious meal (dessert included), uninterrupted talk, and a new pair of shoes. (On Instagram @danicoleaccessories)

“I don’t remember having a dream of being an artist, I just was.”

Raised in Lynchburg, Christina (Ball) Davis was homeschooled allowing time to explore her creativity. Growing up in a generation where African-American princesses and strong women figures on posters were few and far between, Christina created her own images. Her (mostly acrylic) paintings reflect emotion through expressive eyes, bold lines, and strong color palettes. Two of the best things about being an artist for Christina are pet commissions and the diversity in creating something unique for each client. Road trips, hiking, good food (Thanksgiving being her favorite holiday), and drinking wine with her new husband are Christina’s ode to self-care. (On Instagram @artistchristinaball)

Written by Faith Jones of The Hill City Handmade.

Extraordinary Women: Xe Jah’Twi

Her voice makes every conversation pause in a venue. Xe Jah’Twi, or Xena, is a lead vocalist with Vibe Riot, an East Coast Indie band with a Bluesy Funk Ragga Rock sound unlike anyone else. She gives her best to every performance, and what results is a remarkable presentation indicative of both her talent and her natural chemistry with the band. Of course, long before Xena took the stage with Vibe Riot, music was her passion.

As a child, Xena watched her father become an integral part of the music world while working in promotions. She fell in love with music in the 1980s, specifically Salt-N-Pepa. Their strong personalities as women, the rapping, the music, the female DJ—to Xena, they had everything.

Dancing began to call to her as well, and ultimately solidified her connection to the art.

“I wanted so badly to be a background dancer,” she recalls. “but I was too shy to bring it up.”

Xena met Jaewar, Vibe Riot’s frontman, while living in New York. At the time, she was a student, working hard to provide for her two children. She received a phone call from a friend asking if she wanted to contribute vocals to a song. Xena did a little research on the band and agreed.

Melody Robbins Photography

“I said, ‘If I do this in the first take, you guys owe me something. I want a treehouse in Haiti and some sushi.’ And I did it. The next time I heard from Jae was when the record was done, and the second time was when I came to Virginia to do the video. When we saw each other, it was like we never dropped the ball. With your best friend, it’s always a comfortable situation.”

Jaewar and Xena started exchanging ideas, and the encouragement helped her overcome any of the remaining hurdles that often accompany shyness.

To see her on stage now, you would never know that this dynamic performer was once too shy to be a background dancer. She fits perfectly into Vibe Riot’s family of compassionate and outgoing band members.

“I’m just me,” she says. “Xena means hospitality. When you have people who are accepting of you, it helps bring that out. That would be the one trait all have that is the same. We are just personable people.”

Prior to performing, she interacts with fans and makes real connections. When she returns to the stage, it is not only with the support of her fellow musicians, but of everyone else in the building. The positive energy creates a relaxing environment so the performers and the audience can truly vibe out to the music.

“We tell stories and talk about the political atmosphere to a certain degree. We show the cohesiveness and people coming from different backgrounds. It’s not the typical hip hop you would hear. The sound is different. It connects to heartbeat of a person,” she explains.

Xena hopes that audiences will relate to the music, and consider the responsibility we all have as citizens to encourage authentic discourse regarding current issues.

“You see a cohesiveness and understand that communication is possible any time a group of people come together on a small scale, like a household; on a medium scale, like a band; and on a large scale, like a government. It is one of the number one factors that contributes to wellness. If you can’t respectively communicate, then how do you expect anything else to be eradicated?” she asks.

As Xena continues her journey with Vibe Riot, she is excited to be included in more of the writing process. A lyricist by nature, she is enjoying her growth as a writer as much as she treasures what they have created on their latest EP, True! Raw Honey.

This is only small taste of Xe Jah’Twi’s phenomenal and inspiring story of tenacity, strength, and talent. It is all the more reason to attend one of Vibe Riot’s upcoming performances. Get there early, and you may have a chance to hear more of her story in person!

Check out Vibe Riot’s tour schedule here for more information. Roanoke fans, get ready! Vibe Riot is scheduled to perform at Martin’s Downtown on Saturday, February 17 at 10pm.

 

Photography by Melody Robbins Photography.