Tag Archives: central virginia

Warm Up to Responsible Spending

With warm, sunny days upon us, it’s time to plan for more than just your tan: summer spending. Vacations, airline tickets, dining out, and entertainment—it adds up. If you haven’t budgeted for these expenses in advance, a quick swipe of your credit card takes care of it. But if responsible credit card use isn’t your strength (or you just need a refresher), these tips could help curb the temptation to overspend this summer.

Be selective. There are several factors to look at when picking a credit card. First, you’ll want to see what your limit is. If you don’t think you can handle the freedom of a credit card, start with one that has a lower limit, like $1,000. Additionally, look at the credit card’s annual percentage rate or APR. That interest will add up if you’re not planning on paying off the total each month, so shop around for a low APR. Finally, look out for cards that charge annual fees just for keeping them open.

Monitor your balance. You should keep credit card payments to 10 percent of your monthly take-home income. For example, if your monthly income is $2,000, your monthly credit card payment should not be more than $200. This doesn’t mean your balance should not exceed $200, but make sure your minimum payment is no more than that. Keep in mind, however, that paying off the entire balance each month is in your best interest financially.

Know the benefits. By making purchases with your credit card and paying the balance off each month, you’re proving to lenders that you’re a responsible, creditworthy consumer. It boosts your credit score and will help you in the future if you ever want to get a loan—or another credit card.

Stick to a budget. It’s important to set parameters for yourself when using a credit card. One simple way to do this is to use the credit card for one specific purpose, like gas or groceries, so it’s easier to keep your spending in check. Another way is to get a card with a low limit. This forces you to keep your spending under a certain amount.

Smart credit card use doesn’t have to be a mystery or limit your fun this summer. Follow these simple tips and your poolside lounge session (while possibly chasing the kids) will be that much more relaxing.

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

Go Red for Women Luncheon

Heart disease is the number one killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths every year. The warning signs are not the same for women as they are for men. They can include chest discomfort, shortness of breath, and discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Heart disease and stroke do not discriminate by age, ethnicity or background. It is important to know your numbers and do what you can to prevent permanent or fatal damage from both–even if it means going to the hospital at an inconvenient time to make sure everything is okay.

Learn more about how to stay heart healthy and your personal wellness by visiting your doctor and www.goredforwomen.org.

You can support the life-saving efforts of the American Heart Association by attending their Go Red for Women Luncheon on May 25 at 11 a.m at the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Ijeoma N. Okogbue of Carilion Clinic Cardiology. The event will also include a fashion show by Macy’s, a networking reception with a silent auction, and heart-healthy living demos, education, and lunch.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit their website or call 540-989-2810.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Over the Edge

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Virginia will host their Over the Edge event on May 19-20. Participants will raise $1,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters, rappel 11 stories over the side of the Patrick Henry Hotel, and raise money for local Big/Little matches. One hundred percent of the money raised will stay in our community. The participant who raises the most money will receive tickets to Disney World for themselves and their Little.

To understand how important this event is for those who will benefit from the fundraising, we spoke to participant and Big Sister Sara Guerry. This will be Sara’s first time participating in Over the Edge. She looks at it as a way to raise money while setting an example for her Little.

“I haven’t found out exactly how she might need me yet, because we haven’t been paired very long,” she explains. “I’m getting to a place where I’m learning that she can be a little shy and unsure about new experiences. What better way to show her that it’s okay to be scared, but also to be brave, than by launching myself off a building?”

On a lot of different levels, the Over the Edge event symbolically mirrors that first step into creating a Big Sister/Little Sister relationship.

“The match process for Big Brothers Big Sisters is an extraordinary process,” Sara says. “They take the time to make sure the fit is the right one for both the child and the adult. That helped alleviate a little bit of fear, but at the same time she is someone else’s daughter and her family loves her so much. There is this other person that comes into her world and wants to be there for her. I hope this will show her how much I care about her, and how successful I know she will be.”

Although Sara did some rappelling and rock climbing in high school, she still finds herself getting a bit nervous as the day approaches. The scariest part, she says, will be climbing over the wall of a perfectly good building and realizing that she is about to go over it. However, the reward in the end will be much greater than any of the fear she is facing now. Sara hopes to win the tickets to Disney World for her Little.

“I would love nothing more to give her an experience that she otherwise wouldn’t be able to have,” she adds.

Yet, even if she doesn’t win the fundraising portion of the event, the symbolic gesture of rappelling 11 stories for her Little, her community, and in the face of her fear, is an important example in their relationship. If you’d like to help Sara, or any of the other participants reach their fundraising goals, visit www.bigslittles.org/ote for more information. We wish all participants good luck in this adventure!

Meet the Maker: Thistle Hill Botanicals

Rhonda Withington has pursued natural products since her late teens. She’s passionate about taking care of health-related issues naturally, and has spent most of her life researching her options. Today, that research is something that she shares with the community in addition to handmade products that have changed the lives of her customers. Before she moved to Virginia, she spent time working off room and board on an organic farm in Connecticut, learning as she worked.
“In a way,” she recalls, “the experience pushed me to be independent. I decided to start making a couple of products.”
Her first two, a healing salve and a dental cleaning powder, went over so well that she could barely keep up with the demand. Today, as Thistle Hill Botanicals, she makes and sells these two popular creations in addition to several natural products including Drawing Paste for Bug Bites and Poison Ivy, Foot Soak, Beard and Mustache Oil, Body Scrubs and Butters, Goat’s Milk Soap Bars, Natural Deodorant, and even Dry Shampoo!
Rhonda sells primarily wholesale now, placing her creations in stores around Southwest Virginia and other nearby states. Although she misses the direct interaction of farmer’s markets, what she makes often lasts so long that setting up at one every week is simply not ideal for her business. Fortunately, she’s found that the interaction with the community has not disappeared. Customers still call and request things from her, and she is very active in Floyd, where she lives and works. “The direct customer contact was, and is still, invaluable to me,” she explains. “When customers call to place an order personally, I’m thrilled to talk to them.”
Between the sustainability and quality of her products, and her dedication and appreciation for her customers, Rhonda is making an excellent impression on the community. Floyd has a reputation for being one of the most open and accepting places for diverse groups of people pursuing their dreams, so it is no surprise that they have welcomed her with open arms.
“There isn’t a lot of judgement here, and there are so many people in town that like to help one another. That’s the way the world is supposed to be,” she says.
The Floyd C4 Business Development Series and Competition is proof of that statement. They offer prizes, funded by grants, to local businesses. In 2015, Rhonda won first prize in the com- petition. This gave her a cash prize to boost her business and a discount for a spot in Floyd’s Innovation Center.
“It was a help in expanding the business and making it what it is today,” she says. “Up until then, I was making products in my little yurt. I didn’t have a lot of space. Being able to move it into the Innovation Center, and having money to buy containers in bigger sizes, larger quantities, and redesign labels gave me the push over the edge to get there.”
If you’d like to meet Rhonda and try out samples from Thistle Hill Botanicals, she will be set up at the Roanoke Natural Food Co-Op on Saturday, May 13 from 11am to 2pm. You can also find stores that sell her products via a store locator on her website, or order directly at www.thistlehillbotanicals.com.

Open Studios: Gina Louthian-Stanley

Gina Louthian-Stanley has been a creative person since she was born. In the first grade, she won her first art award for her visual narrative of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.” She continued taking as many art classes as possible throughout school. While she learned techniques in college, most of what she does today is a combination of those techniques used in a totally new and different way.
“Formal training has brought its rewards,” Gina says, “but self-exploration has produced the greatest results. By taking all of the insights  that my teachers have taught me, I’ve been able to merge them to create my own artistic style or styles. Experimental art has always fascinated me.”
Which may be why Gina uses a variety of mediums including cold wax, encaustic, watercolor, oil, monotype and intaglio printmaking, pastel and ink drawing, pottery, and jewelry making. She even mixes the medium at times to “push the limit” of what the medium can do to convey the ethereal atmospheric landscape that she loves.

Which is your favorite medium, and why?
I have two passions at the moment, working in wax and printmaking. I have been a printmaker since the 70s, and working in hot and cold wax at least ten years. With the encaustic mediums, I can utilize photography, printmaking, and painting. I have also been introducing encaustic mediums into jewelry pieces. I am attracted to the natural elements of the damar resin and beeswax. 

What/who are your inspirations?
All of my inspirations come primarily from the earth and nature. I am influenced by artists and writers who are intrigued by nature and natural elements. I am also inspired by music and always have it playing in my studio. 

Would you say that any of your work is a reflection of living in Roanoke? 
Most certainly. I have lived in Roanoke all of my life and have always been inspired by the landscape here. I have a particular piece, Bent Mountain Marsh, that was created from a memory of a place. I was there on a clear blue day and the reflected blues of the sky in the glass-clear water against the textured brown grasses on the bank etched in my mind. I had to paint it. 
For me, driving to work and seeing a heavy mist rising just above the earth in the early morning sunlight–that moment, you take a deep breath and all is right in the world.

Gina’s work will be available alongside participating artists through Open Studios Roanoke, beginning on April 29-30. Visit www.openstudiostourroanoke.com for more information on Gina and participating artists!

 

Open Studios Artist: Meridith Brehmer Entingh

Meridith Bremer Entingh developed a fascination with textiles when she was very young. She started knitting at age seven, and continued to explore the things she could do with fiber. In the 60s and 70s, she worked with embroidery, macrame, and needlepoint. Under the guidance of her father, she switched her major from textiles to business in college, but she never lost her love for working with fiber.

“In the mid-1990s, I became friends with a wonderful weaver, Jane Kinzler Anthony. She had a studio in her basement where she wove beautiful tapestries she sold as office art, as well as functional weaving,” Meridith recalls. “Just seeing what she wove inspired me.” Meridith began taking classes at an arts studio in Old Town Alexandria, and volunteered to work in their yarn shop. She purchased her first loom within the year.

How long have you lived in Roanoke?
We moved here 11 years ago. Part of the criteria for purchasing our home was that there be a room for my weaving studio. Our house has this great little room, 11×11 with built-in cupboards. There was room for my loom and plenty of storage. I quickly outgrew the room with the purchase of my second floor loom in 2007. So, in 2013 , we built a new weaving studio. I bought another large floor loom this year, so now it has two large floor looms, and it is bursting at the seams. 

How long have you been involved with Open Studios?
This is my fourth year on the tour. I asked to be involved in 2014 when my new studio was completed. In my travels around the area to do demonstrations, people are fascinated with how the loom works and they want to know about the process. For this reason, I felt that my studio would be a good addition to the tour. By visiting the studio, people can see all of the tools and the process from start to finish.

Do you have a favorite piece? Why is it your favorite?
My favorites evolve over time. One is the first scarf I ever made 13 years ago. It was woven on a 4-harness table loom. It’s made of alpaca, in cream and a pale grey green. I found the design in a weaving book and was very pleased by the result. I know that creating it inspired me to continue weaving. Most recently, I’ve enjoyed creating table runners and wall hangings using many colors and geometric designs. It’s as close as I can get to drawing and painting with yarn.

Would you say that any of your work is more a reflection of living in Roanoke or your travels and experiences outside of Roanoke?
Both. I’ve lived in many places including up state New York, Oregon, Colorado, and Northern Virginia before moving to Roanoke eleven years ago. I think my work is a reflection of the diversity of the places I have lived in my life. Last year, I designed and wove a ministerial stole for my church. I wanted the stole to be representative of the Roanoke Valley. It is hand painted (dyed) in curves that remind me of our mountains with the Roanoke Star placed on top of the curves. When worn, the Star sits just below the minister’s left shoulder where he can touch it when expressing something heartfelt. 

Meridith’s work will be available alongside participating artists through Open Studios Roanoke, beginning on April 29-30. Visit www.openstudiostourroanoke.com for more information on Meridith and participating artists!

Open Studios Artist: Elaine Fleck

Elaine Fleck has been involved with Open Studios Roanoke on and off for the last ten years. However, her use of oil on fabric goes back to when she was a teenager. Eventually, she moved on to fabric and embroidery to create her work.

“After some time, I experimented with painting in acrylics on fabric and then completely switched to oil and fabric,” she explains. “So one could say I have been cutting things to bits for over 40 years!”

Who are your inspirations?
I tend to like artists that use either a lot of texture or color. For painters, I like Gustav Klimt and Matisse. Lately, I am inspired by mosaic artists and this has led me to creating some new mosaic sculpture–specifically my mosaic shoe collection that will be featured on the Open Studios Tour this year along with my paintings. Locally, I like the mural artist Toobz. His piece in the Wasena Tap Room rocks! I love the creative license he gives himself.

Do you have a favorite painting? What makes it your favorite?
Right now, my favorite painting is “Jesus Saves.” I think the couple in this painting look so comfortable under that iconic Roanoke landmark. I like the fact that the painting is pretty simple in design, mainly consisting of the sign, the field, and the couple. 

How does your work reflect living in Roanoke?
“Jesus Saves” is most definitely a reflection of my living in Roanoke for the last 20 years. I had been looking at that sign for years and did not know what kind of a scene I wanted to set up. One day, after walking by that sign for probably the 50th time, it unfolded before me. My favorite model and her husband are the models for that painting. 

Elaine’s work will be available alongside participating artists through Open Studios Roanoke, beginning on April 29-30. This is a great opportunity to check out her paintings and mosaic sculpture work! Visit www.openstudiostourroanoke.com for more information on Elaine and participating artists!

Open Studios Artist: Jamie Nervo

Jamie Nervo’s need for art started when she was a child. Her father was in the military, and she is the oldest of seven children who spent their early years moving around a lot. The joy to create art was the one thing that followed her throughout her travels.

“My work depicts life’s everyday events with a twist, masking the harsh realities of life and focusing instead on the positive and lighthearted issues we encounter each day,” she explains. “We are bombarded with negative imagery and events that echo over and over in our minds. My colorful abstractions shut out those unsavory events and look at life in a patchwork of pleasant ideas and color.”

How long have you been involved with Open Studios?
It has been about 10 years. I’ve been showing up with the same great group of artists for a while: Winn Ballenger, Barry Wolfe, and Nan Mahone. We all set up in Barry’s driveway and peddle our art. I’ll show up with them until they kick me out of the group. Rain or shine, it’s always worth doing the show.

What are your inspirations?
Attending museums or visiting galleries, travel, and studying people. Looking at other art excites me, and I can’t wait to get to the studio downstairs in my house to paint. I get all charged up and the energy builds. A couple cups of tea helps too! My landscapes are definitely a reflection of living on Bent Mountain. The view is mighty fine. Changing cloud formation, color, and shadows keep me inspired to paint.

Can you tell us a little about your creative process?
Without much thought, I usually just go for it. What I create is raw and immediate, using an open mind. I don’t second guess things, I just put down strokes of paint and add color. Sometimes I create ugly messes, but out the mess there is always beauty or something interesting. Discovering the unknown and pushing the envelope always feels good. There are a lot of times when I say to myself, “This looks like crap.” But I keep going, and then the painting either evolves, or it doesn’t. There are also the safe paintings that are within the bounds of the familiar like chickens and dogs. These are abstract realism with a twist.

What impression do you hope to leave with your work?
My work is upbeat and happy. When I’m not feeling it, I usually don’t paint. There is enough sadness and destruction in the world. I hope they bring a little happy chuckle to everyone.

Jamie’s work will be available alongside participating artists through Open Studios Roanoke, beginning on April 29-30. She will offer primarily oil paintings, but will also have a few encaustic paintings available for purchase. Visit www.openstudiostourroanoke.com for more information on Jamie and participating artists!