Tag Archives: holiday

VeganVille: The Holiday Blues

I love winter and all its holidays: Three Kings’ Day, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, you name it (and please do, the more I learn about, the more I can party). Everything is all warm and sparkly and if you knew me you would know I’m nothing if not a giant, crumpled ball of tinfoil, at least emotionally. I can relate to winter holidays.

What I don’t love, however, is that all holiday parties seem to revolve around mother lodes of meat. And I hate to admit it, but even though I’ve been vegan since well before Al Gore invented the internet, there have been times when I have caved and brought meat, at the host’s request, to some shindig or other. As you no doubt can guess, that always turns out badly in the end.

Most recently, for example, I had a boss that I shall call Mistress Congeniality for the purposes of this reminiscence. She asked us, her minions, to attend an optional (not-optional) holiday party/team-building at her house. She said she would provide the vegetable sides and desserts, and assigned the other necessary items to the rest of the celebrants. I was asked to bring a tray of tendons, or at least that’s what I heard her say.

Trusting, gentle tenderfoot that I am, as I roamed the supermarket on the way to the fete, not having eaten all day, I ignored the delicious displays of olives, loaves of artisan bread, freshly-cut trays of crudité, and pint after pint of non-dairy frozen desserts with names like Caramel Calorie Cowabunga and Buttbusting Brownie Deliciousness.

She was providing non-meat food, she said, and, so I bought only what the Minister of Toil told me to bring: something that used to have a face. So after considering the possibilities that were available that wouldn’t gross me out excessively, or involve me having to do any touching or preparation, I grabbed the first grizzled, oil-soaked lump I came across:  something aging in the rotisserie. I’m guessing it was a chicken, but the chickens I know have beautiful feathers. Still attached. Along with their heads.

Anyway, I remember thinking sarcastically as I entered the Bastille that evening that I could always eat my freshly manicured nails if there was nothing else—they were glittery, silver and matched my tiara perfectly.

So when I put my contribution of crud next to everyone else’s unrecognizable piles and lumps, I became mildly alarmed when a quick scan revealed…no crackers, no spreads, no vegetables, no sides, no dessert..WAIT!  I spoke too soon—at the end of the counter was three small dishes that weren’t loaded with ground Buzzard or minced bandicoot: a miniature plate of gherkins, a small bowl of chow chow and a plate of onion and tomato slices. I’d been HAD!

Wow. Not only did Santa NOT give me a present that year, he used my life as a reindeer rest stop and didn’t bother to clean up after the rascals. At least my fingernails were delicious.  And let me reinforce that you don’t team-build very well on an empty stomach.

Happy Merry!

 

Written by Ginger Rail*

 

(*Ginger Rail is the pen name of our favorite vegan writer in Southwest Virginia. She spends her spare time entertaining her friends and family with her hilarious adventures–and now she’s sharing them with us!)

Holiday Happenings!

Traditions are important, and it is never too late to start a new one with your family and friends. There are several very important events happening this holiday season that should be on your calendar if they are not already. And, who knows, you may run in to a Bella girl while you are there!

15230807_10154696474809400_5663766098762608240_nThe Southwest Virginia Ballet will present The Nutcracker on Saturday, December 10 at 2 pm and 7 pm, and Sunday, December 11 at 3 pm at the Berglund Performing Arts Center. Adapted from “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by E.T.A. Hoffman, this holiday tradition features a cast of 150 performers that represent over 15 dance school from the Roanoke Valley and beyond with choreography by the incredibly talented Pedro Szalay. Join Clara and the Nutcracker Prince as they battle giant mice, dance with snowflakes, and journey to the Land of the Sweets where the Sugar Plum Fairy entertains them with exotic dances from around the world. Guests may also purchase tickets to Clara’s Tea Party at the Berglund Performing Arts Theatre on Sunday, December 13 at 1:30 pm. At this special pre-performance event, you will have the opportunity to meet Clara, The Nutcracker, and The Sugar Plum Fairy. Tea, cocoa, and treats will be served. For more information on this event and how to purchase tickets, go to www.svballet.org.

2015-love-light-treeOne of the most important gifts you can give yourself or a grieving family member during the holidays is time to remember those who cannot be with you. The Good Samaritan Hospice Love Light Tree has helped people in our community do just that since 1995. You can purchase a “love light tag” in memory of a loved one for $10 or, for a donation of $25, individuals receive a 2016 porcelain ornament and a “love light tag.”

“Our love for someone does not die with them. It lives on in memories and day-to-day reminders of what life together meant. We work through grief by remembering, not by forgetting,” explains Good Samaritan Hospice CEO Sue Ranson.

At the beginning of the holiday season, Love Light Trees will be set up in Tanglewood Mall in Roanoke and New River Valley Mall in Christiansburg. They will be left on display at these locations throughout the months of November and December. Those who purchase “love light tags” will be able to choose the tree on which they would like their tag to be displayed. Thursday, December 15, is the deadline date to order Love Light ornaments to guarantee that they will be received in time for Christmas. Visit www.goodsamhospice.com for more information.

Make memories that will last a lifetime at Dickens of a Christmas in Downtown Roanoke! This event takes place on the first three Fridays in December. Festivities will begin on December 2 with the City of Roanoke’s Christmas Tree Lighting at 6:15 pm. On December 9, the Christmas Parade will begin at 7 pm. Finally, on December 16, enjoy the Coca Cola Snow Zone and the RVSPCA Pet Costume Contest beginning at 6:30 pm.

This free, family-friendly event includes roasted chestnuts, carriage rides and street performers through all three evenings. Visit www.downtownroanoke.org for more information.

Local Holiday Shopping: Rustic & Refined

The holidays are right around the corner, and Pam Burgess of Rustic & Refined is ready to help you find the perfect gift for everyone on your list! Located in a beautiful 1940’s Cape Cod home, Rustic & Refined’s ten themed rooms include antiques, hand-`painted furniture, florals, seasonal decor, and much more. Pam has nine years of experience in choosing items for her customers in Salem, Virginia. In a business that is increasing in popularity, that knowledge is invaluable.

photo-sep-20-2“I am a picker at heart,” she explains. “I travel the East Coast and find those one-of-a-kind, unique items. Most of the furniture comes from estate sales. There is a thrill to the hunt—finding that special something that someone comes in, loves and buys is an amazing feeling.”

Pam becomes part of the story for every item that she sells. She refinishes certain pieces of furniture, creates floral arrangements and wreaths, and most importantly, she connects customers with new treasures for their homes.
I found a gorgeous buffet in West Virginia,” she recalls. “A couple bought it and used it as a sink in their bathroom. It’s always fun to think about what people are going to do with an item or where they are going to put it.”

photo-sep-20-3Of course, with multiple DIY shoes on HGTV and Pinterest right at the fingertips of everyone with a smartphone, the market for repurposed items is booming. Pam recently visited a Flea Market Extravaganza boasting 3,000 vendors. Knowing what will sell and what customers are seeking is a valuable asset. In addition to knowing her market in Salem, she also looks for specific treasures.

“I carry a little pink book that I try to put people’s names in and what they’re looking for,” she says. “When I find something that fits, I send them a snapshot. If it is what they want, I buy it and bring it home.”

Pam’s friend and colleague, Beth Shearer, has been with her at Rustic & Refined since day one. Together, they work to keep the store open five days each week and find the best home and gift items for their customers.

photo-sep-20Join us for Rustic & Refined’s Holiday Open House Friday, November 3 through Sunday, November 5. Visitors will enjoy light refreshments as they tour the ten decorated rooms and shop for gifts and decorations.

“The main room will have a heavily white-flocked tree. There will be a 9-foot tree in the big sunroom. The entire house will reflect a Christmas theme,” says Pam. This is a great opportunity to purchase your holiday decor and perfect unforgettable gifts for everyone you love!

Visit www.facebook.com/RusticandRefinedva1 for more information on store hours, location, and contact information.

Holiday Sweet Treats

Ok, I have to be honest. The holidays snuck up on me this year, and I haven’t done my baking yet.

The good news (for me, and any other procrastinator out there) is that Member One has some amazing holiday cookie recipes in our current issue. One of which is this simple and easy Classic Sugar Cookie recipe.

MemberOneYou will need:
3 cups flour
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 egg
powdered sugar

Sift salt, baking soda, and flour. Combine butter, sugar, and egg. Beat with an electric mixer. Gradually add flour until dough mixture pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Split the dough in half and refrigerate for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Before rolling out dough, sprinkle surface with powdered sugar. Roll dough into 1/4″ thickness. Cut into desired shapes and place 1″ apart on greased baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes or until golden brown. Remove cookies.

 

It is a time honored tradition in our family to add sprinkles to the top, but you can add whatever you want to make your cookies festive! We won’t judge you if you eat them all before you get to your party!

Now, please excuse me while I go start my oven and finally get ready for the holidays!

Written by Hayleigh Worgan (with a little help from Member One).

 

Savvy Styling Tips Every Holiday Host Needs To Know

This season, deck the halls with styling tricks to elevate your holiday party without putting a freeze on your bank account. Home entertaining expert and party stylist Chris Nease, of Celebrations at Home, shares her stylish secrets to throw a posh holiday bash on a budget.

13041_BIt’s All In the Details
Fact: A swanky holiday party does not require a ton of decorations or perfect coordination, according to Nease. A little creativity goes a long way with inexpensive touches. Use pieces that you already have to create an effortless look that feels cozy and stylish all at once:

* Make it Pinterest-worthy by casually draping two versatile fabrics over your primary serving area. Set up food stations with complementary items grouped together on serving platters. Garnish platters with fresh herbs and cranberries for a rustic, fancy touch.

* See you later formal dining, tiny food is here to stay. Whip up a scrumptious menu of small bites to encourage guests to try new foods. Make it easy for the not-so-adventurous ones and label appetizers and pairings that aren’t so obvious (like gourmet meats and mustards).

* It’s all about plating when you weave in a holiday classic like glazed spiral sliced ham. For a new rendition, make it a small plate by cutting slices of ham in half to create mini sliders with a sweet chutney fruit spread. The saltiness of ham pairs deliciously with pineapple, apple or cranberry.

* Cinnamon spice and everything nice. Keep it classy with a fancy cocktail, like a spiked apple cider. Try the Not Your Momma’s Cider recipe from ALDI below. For a simple garnish, thread diced red and green apples on a toothpick (sprinkle lemon juice on the apples to keep from browning) and top with a cinnamon stick for the perfect fancy embellishment.

A Holiday Party To Remember
For a simple homemade touch, send guests home with a sweet something to end the evening:

* Good things do come in small packages. Fill mini holiday tins with an assortment of European sweets, such as German chocolates or marzipan.
* Swoon your guests with a touch of rustic charm by filling Mason jars with layers of premeasured ingredients for your favorite cookie recipe. Wrap with a ribbon and add baking instructions on a festive gift tag.
* Purchase limited-time European cookies at ALDI. Have the kids dip each cookie halfway in melted chocolate and add holiday sprinkles for a simple holiday treat. These will almost feel made from scratch, but no one will know.

13041_ANot Your Momma’s Cider

You will need:
1 cup Wicked Grove Hard Cider
8 cups Nature’s Nectar Apple Cider, divided
6 cinnamon sticks, divided
12 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
8 ounces dark rum
1 red apple, diced
1 green apple, diced

In bowl, combine hard cider and 4 cups apple cider. Pour into ice cube trays. Freeze overnight.
In pot, combine remaining apple cider, 2 cinnamon sticks and 8 sprigs thyme. Bring to boil. Remove from heat, stir in rum.
Strain mixture into bowl. Place mixture in refrigerator overnight to cool.
Divide liquid among 4 mugs.
To serve hot, remove steps 1 and 3 and serve immediately.

DIY Gifts for the Holidays

It’s hard to believe, but Christmas is TEN DAYS AWAY!!!!

Some of the best gifts are handmade and heartfelt. If you are looking for an easy and unique DIY idea, you should pick up our December issue! We have two fun DIY projects that won’t take long to complete (trust us, we know time is precious right now). Or, you can head on over to our Pinterest page! There you will find tutorials for everything from leather totes and magazine racks to paper flowers and frames.

And if making something yourself is too time consuming, please remember to support your local artists!

 

Shine Bright for Holiday Parties!

Every year we spend far too much money on the perfect holiday attire and makeup only for it to never be used again. Ladies, it’s time to stop the madness. Let us help you find a few great staples, not only for the holidays, but for the entire year!

Start with the foundation of your outfit. Finding the perfect holiday dress is almost as difficult as shopping for the hardest person to buy for on your list. You want something that makes a great impression and looks festive without making you look like your host’s Christmas tree.

PPOkOz478maovgI6jBCs1C32rGE-DuuzcHe-xLymeiQIn a sea of red, green, silver, and gold, make yourself stand out from the crowd in one of Lilly Pulitzer’s gorgeous dresses. There is a wide selection available at Punch Boutique in Roanoke! Our favorite LP is the Rylee Lace Shift dress in blue. For those of us who stay away from traditional holiday colors throughout the year, it can be worn again for New Year’s celebrations, Valentine’s Day, and even a mid-summer party.

Accent your look with shiny accessories that will help you light up the room. Your shoes are the most important part! Those of you who are comfortable in heels, we salute you. In our office, however, we cannot live without a great pair of flats. If you are going to be standing on your feet for hours on end, consider investing in a silver pair of Tieks Ballet Flats. Yes, they will be more expensive than the strappy silver heels you’ve contemplated purchasing for the last few weeks, but they will be far more comfortable. Also, you are more likely to wear them throughout the year.

Now, let’s talk hair and makeup.

Some of the most gorgeous looks are stunningly simple. Our must have cosmetics for the holiday season include:

8VQcI968UUBUc-xyolOa6PpWVfCS_RTYCipZcYkG3QIMoodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes+ mascara by Younique
You don’t want to be applying and reapplying fake lashes all night. As the weather gets colder, your eyes are more likely to water. Slowly but surely, the glue that holds your eye’s equivalent of Cinderella’s glass slipper begins to disappear. Don’t depend on all of the stars aligning to keep your lashes from looking like they are trying to escape. Use a mascara you can depend on to elongate your lashes and stay put for your celebration. You can use it for three months and is far less expensive than investing in extensions.
Naked Lunch eyeshadow by MAC
While everyone else is dusting their eyes with white eyeshadow, give this slightly pink shade a try. It works with the natural hues in your skin (whether you are pale like many of the people in our office or you have a darker complexion) to give your eyes and your overall face a warm and healthy glow. Pair it with a grey or brown shade on the outer edges of your eye and your favorite liquid eyeliner for the ever popular smokey eye.

vl69AprLvJcp3kjmVdcElk040M0D6AjOiUI8-fjoiNEAveda Inner Light Mineral Tinted Moisturizer (broad spectrum SPF 15)
Cheap foundation from the drug store isn’t going to give your skin that lovely holiday glow you desire for all of your Instagram photos. We love this tinted moisturizer from Aveda because it spoils our skin during the cold winter months and it gives our face a sheer, fair tone with a dewy finish. Add just a touch of your favorite bronze or blush to complete the look.

CHI Shine Infusion Spray
If you make one purchase for your hair this year, make it CHI’s Shine Infusion spray. It is the one universal item that should be in every girl’s bathroom. Whether you wear your hair straight or curly, the most important part is that it shines when the light hits it just right. It works great on every hair color and it’s relatively inexpensive.

Most importantly, the more simple you can keep your holiday look, the less stress you will encounter preparing for the event and touching up your outfit, hair, and makeup throughout the night. The holidays are about enjoying yourself and spending time with the people you love, not looking “perfect.” Let the light within you be the brightest thing that shines through, and you are guaranteed to make a great impression every time.

Holiday Gifts: Little Books About Important Things

With the holidays right around the corner, mastering up the perfect gift list can be a challenge. If you are looking for fun but educational present than we’ve got you covered!

516VTewo3vL._SY497_BO1,204,203,200_Little Books About Important Things explores the importance of feelings, friendship and safety. Each important topic is broken down in an individual book which is included in the set. Readers learn how to express themselves, how to make friends, and and learn tips to stay safe.

Use these quick and easy books to help introduce important principals to your little ones!

 

Written by Kristi Hall