We love all of the local talent showcased this month! Check out a couple of our favorite events below, and share your photos at those events with us on Facebook!
The Blue Ridge Potters Guild Show and Sale at Patrick Henry High School will open at 6:30pm on Friday, October 13. The show will continue through the weekend, allowing those in attendance to enjoy refreshments as they peruse the potters’ latest works and shop for holiday gifts at more than 50 booths. The largest all-pottery show in Virginia will be open Saturday from 10am to 6pm and Sunday from 12pm to 4pm. Demonstrations for adults and kids will be held throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday. A favorite feature for both participants and customers is the Gallery. This year’s theme is “The Garden.” The Gallery is open to all Guild members to enter a piece based upon their interpretation of the theme. A wide range of work will be available at this event as more than 70 Blue Ridge Pottery Guild members are expected to participate! Visit www.blueridgepotters.com for more information.
The 42nd season of Opera Roanoke opens with a new production of Tosca on October 27 at 7:30pm and October 29 at 3pm in the Shaftman Performance Hall at the Jefferson Center. The show features a cast of Opera Roanoke returning favorites including Dinyar Vania (La Traviata ’16), Thomas Cannon (Madama Butterfly ’11), and Emily Johnson (Falstaff ’08). This Puccini selection is riveting and perfect for Halloween weekend. When romance and politics mix, the result is a thrilling melodrama focused on the haunting aftermath of jealousy, sabotage, and betrayal. To purchase tickets, visit www.operaroanoke.org.
Callie Altman, owner of North Mountain Candle Company, has been making candles for twelve years. Her journey began one Christmas while trying to come up with a way to make gifts for the holiday budget-friendly. She decided to take her love of candles to the next level and make a few herself. They were a hit with her friends and family, and over the next year she transformed the experiment into a business that continues to reflect her love of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
North Mountain Candle Company takes its name from an actual mountain in a small former mining community called Longdale, where Callie grew up.
“Almost all of my childhood memories involve the outdoors in some way, shape or form,” Callie recalls. “From hiking along the Appalachian Trail to camping at Douthat State Park, or fishing on the Cowpasture River. The main driving force behind my business is to share my love of the Blue Ridge Mountains around the world. It’s a wonderful place to live, grow up, and raise a family. Our scents are inspired by this area.”
With scents like Mill Mountain Magnolia, Hotel Roanoke Spoonbread, and Smith Mountain Lake House, just lighting one of these unique creations is enough to take anyone back to their best memories of Southwest Virginia. Every candle is 100% handmade. Callie and her family try to get everything they use for the candles locally to support local sustainable businesses. They don’t mass produce anything, and there are no machines. Every inch of the process from making the candles to printing off labels is done by hand.
When she isn’t making candles, Callie can be found throughout the community teaching classes at the Omni Homestead or set up anywhere from small school fundraising events to large vintage or antique shows.
This summer, North Mountain Candle Company can be found on and off at the Grandin Village Farmers Market. Currently, they are a fill-in when other vendors are unavailable, but it is a placement that Callie hopes will become permanent in the future. Customers can also find her products in The Hodge Podge across from Lord Botetourt High School, in the Local Artisans section at Natural Bridge State Parks, and The Flower Center in Clifton Forge. Of course, if you cannot make it to any of these locations, you can always check out her selection and order online at www.northmountaincandles.com.
All photos in this post courtesy of Brittany Smejkal, Eccentric Photography.
In late 2015, Cindy Bailey became an empty nester. Her daughter was a student at Virginia Tech, and her son would soon be leaving for West Virginia. As the reality of these changes began to set in, Cindy looked around her family’s home and thought it might be time to make a few changes of her own.
“I was a stay-at-home mom and worked part-time across the street at Ikenberry Autumn Adventure. My friend, who works at Ikenberry, told me that The Pie Lady was selling her business. She encouraged me to buy it,” Cindy recalls.
Cindy and her husband met with the original owner of The Pie Lady, Lisa. They decided that a business out of their home was ideal and convenient. In the fall of 2015, they began transforming their family room, initially a garage with a beautiful fireplace, into The Pie Lady kitchen. Perhaps it is the lingering family atmosphere, or the fact that Cindy and her husband live in the house adjacent to the kitchen, but it is reminiscent of a simpler time when families gathered around stovetops to share recipes and secrets. The large, open space is welcoming from the moment you walk through the door.
Although Cindy enjoys the cooking aspect of The Pie Lady, her passion is in the marketing of the product. Selling the pies gives her an opportunity to connect with her customers. As Cindy explains, people don’t feel guilty about spending money on food. Not only is it something they will use and enjoy, it often encourages their family to gather around a table together—free from the distractions of daily life.
Of course, The Pie Lady’s pies are different than the ones you will find boxed up in the freezer section of your grocery store. While they are convenient to prepare, they are also homemade. Cindy’s friend, Debbie, is her kitchen manager. Together, they work hard to produce quality products made from scratch.
“They are not the American Chicken Pot Pie,” Cindy explains. “They are a meat pie, like the French variety. It is more meat-based than gravy-based. The chicken is shredded. It is kind of like a quiche.”
There are nine varieties of dinner pies including Just Chicken, Buffalo Chicken, Chicken Fajita, Chicken and Vegetables, and Chicken Cordon Bleu. Customers can also purchase a Chocolate Pecan dessert pie.
You can find Cindy at events throughout the area, and her pies may soon be in some of your favorite local stores.
“Ikenberry’s wants to carry them, and so does Heritage Family Market. We have locations in Lexington and Radford that want to carry them too. We just have to be able to keep up with the supply,” she says.
That said, they are open to wholesale and fundraising opportunities. If you are interested in purchasing a pie for your family, or simply want to learn more about The Pie Lady, check out their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/thepieladychickenpies.
Lisa Uotinen, of Daleville, Virginia, began knitting right after she graduated from college in 1993. Back then, she was working full time at Colonial Williamsburg and needed something to do on breaks between shows. There were no classes available then, so she learned by watching people around her and from books. She took a break when her children were born, but picked the hobby back up almost a decade ago.
As her talent developed, she decided to sell the items that she was making. In April of 2016, she opened her business, Tinker Creek Handknits. Most of her yarn comes from Cascade Yarns and is ecologically-friendly, made from natural fibers and minimally-processed wool that hasn’t been dyed using chemicals.
“When you buy minimally-processed wool, some people really do fare better when they have it on their skin because there are no chemicals or dyes. You are also choosing to support a sustainable industry in an environmentally-friendly way,” says Lisa.
Of course, wool itself is a sustainable industry. It is one that has proven to be useful for centuries. Lisa harbors no ill will against yarns that are processed, because the sale of that wool also helps the farmers who raise the sheep that provided it.
“People are becoming more aware of the impact they have on the environment. This is just one way that I can choose to support an ecologically-friendly industry. There are people who have made chemically processed yarn, and there is nothing wrong with that. Whenever you are using wool, you are supporting a sustainable industry,” she explains.
Tinker Creek Handknits is operated out of Lisa’s home, where she also raises three young daughters. All three know how to knit, but it is something they have pushed to the back burner as they have grown older. Instead, they help Lisa in other ways—like modeling her creations and giving their opinions on what will and will not sell.
“Their sense of style is usually right on point,” she says. “If they don’t like or wouldn’t wear something I make, chances are that it isn’t going to sell. They are teenagers, so they are on trend and know what will look right for people their age.”
Instead of buying your knitted items from big box stores this winter, make sure that you are supporting small businesses like Lisa’s. Not only are you putting money back into your community, you are also creating a relationship that will allow you to own unique and personable items. Lisa is happy to create custom lengths and knit with requested colors for her customers. That, of course, is the difference between something that you can specifically request and something that is mass produced.
Lisa will be unveiling new products and styles in early 2017! Follow her on Instagram (tinkercreekhandknits) or visit her website, www.tinkercreekhandknits.com to stay up to date on the latest products and to purchase something new for your winter wardrobe!
Well, I am hoping everyone made it through the holiday season with minimum trauma and maximum enjoyment. While I am not big on proclaiming resolutions, I am a proponent of taking stock and putting everything in order for the days, and year to come. One of my favorite parts of doing this out here on the farm is seed catalog time! When I finally get a chance to grab the big stack of catalogs that have been trickling in from the mailbox, my garden notebook from the season before, a few pens, a hot cup of milky homemade chai, a small bowl of popcorn, and then make my way to the sheepskin covered couch I am prepared to settle in and breath everything else out. As the big red woodstove burns through another round of locust inside the farmhouse and just through the window I can see the garden all tucked in and dormant, I am in my happy place. Oh, the possibilities.
While I do save many types of seeds year to year (there is an ox-heart type tomato that came from a friend years back, known simply as “Orange-It’s So Good!”) the excitement of new varieties has a hypnotic pull and I know I am not alone here. Sometimes it’s tracking down that elusive variety you sampled the summer before: a tomato that woo-ed you or those perfectly salty pan-fried Shishito peppers you cooked up after bringing them home from the farmers’ market. Other times it’s adding a vegetable variety just for the novelty of it. Mexican Sour Gherkin cucumber, anyone? (BTW they are not truly cucumbers and totally worth growing because they are adorable, as well as, delicious). The magic, and its ensuing promise is all there inside these catalog pages full of images and convincing descriptions. There’s the gorgeous scarlet colored Rouge Vif D’Etampes pumpkins, the ever sexy and otherworldly looking Tardivo radicchio with it’s deep burgundy white ribbed leaves, and the early ripening Liebesapfel sweet pepper with it’s lovely ruffled shape. I always end up circling more than I could ever realistically plant, grow, and harvest.
Flipping through these pages and circling the garden workhorses along with the “well, why not give it a try?” choices reminds me of why I do what I do. Dreaming of all those fresh meals that lie ahead and all the folks you look forward to sharing them with is good winter cheer indeed. As I hear the kids stomping ice off their boots on the front porch and gaze out at the beautiful belted cattle standing around the round bale hay feeder looking like dusted sugar cookies in the snow I feel grateful indeed.
Stove Top Duck Fat Popped Corn
with Sumac, citrus zest, and Nutritional yeast
1 ¼ cup quality popcorn kernels
¼ plus 1 Tbsp. rendered duck fat*
Zest of one half (well rinsed) orange or zest of one full clementine*
Several healthy pinches of sumac*, nutritional yeast*, + salt
Method: Melt 1 tablespoon of duck fat in a small container and set aside. Set a tall, heavy bottomed stockpot over high heat. Add remaining ¼ cup duck fat and swirl pot to keep fat moving as it melts. Once melted, add in popcorn kernels all at once and cover pot with lid. Using a kitchen towel to hold the stockpot by a handle, begin to shake it gently keeping the bottom of the pot on your burner. Very soon you should begin to hear the corn start to pop. Keep moving the pan every ten seconds or so. The pops will start to speed up and then begin slowing back down. This all only takes 2 minutes or so. Listen for the popping to taper off and then immediately pull the pot over to another cool burner and remove lid. Pour popped corn into a large bowl or clean paper bag and add remaining tablespoon melted fat along with sumac, zest, salt, and yeast. Give a few good shakes and taste, adding more sumac or salt as you please.
Yes, I am the type of gal that takes having various fats on hand for cooking as serious business. No ball dropping allowed here. I usually have farmstead lard, rendered duck fat, and raw cultured butter in the fridge at all times. Not to worry though, if your shop doesn’t stock duck fat plenty of online retailers these days do or you can substitute coconut oil, grape seed oil, or even saved bacon fat!
~Please use this recipe as a guide and adjust measurements + ingredients as necessary.~
Use organic citrus if possible. A Microplane rasp makes zesting a breeze. Sumac, which imparts a tangy tart and (to me) entirely moreish aspect to the popcorn, can be found at an ethnic grocery store. Nutritional yeast can be found in bulk at your local co-op or online. It is a powerhouse of B vitamins and is NOT the same as brewers yeast. I use Himalayan pink salt.
Gina Bonomo, owner of Wool Workshop, is a large part of a movement that is redefining the knitting community. Sewing, knitting, and crocheting are regaining popularity, and the influx of younger customers in the market is challenging the concept that these hobbies are exclusive to older generations. Her attention to detail, passion for creativity, and use of social media to promote and sell her products have made Wool Workshop the place to go for unique and trend-setting yarn and patterns. However, what keeps the customers coming back is not only the quality of the product they are getting, but the welcoming learning environment that the store offers.
What made you want to start a boutique yarn store? I owned a shoe store called Sole Mate for over ten years. It was humming along really nicely, and it was very established. Then my best friend was diagnosed with lung cancer in Richmond. I felt like it was a good time to spend more time with him. I tried to look at the big picture of what was important. I wanted to open something there, so I decided to sell my shop to my manager. I also signed a non-compete agreement that said I could not sell any clothing, shoes, or accessories in the New River Valley or Roanoke area.
I was preparing to move up there and start a whole new business venture, and he died. I did not want to put down roots there if he wasn’t there anymore, so I had to rethink what I was going to do.
I had always been knitting things for people and enjoyed that creative side. This was at the same time that the scarf-craze was happening. Knitting was becoming mainstream. So I decided to open a knitting shop, and it was exactly what I needed. It was healing my soul from the loss of my friend and the business I didn’t have anymore.
Let’s talk about the name “Wool Workshop.” Why did you choose it? Workshop implies a creative space. I don’t like to view this yarn shop as a brick and mortar retail location, but instead as sort of a think-tank, fashion-driven, garment-driven space. It fits with my fashion background and what I have been doing my whole life. I know when I first opened, people didn’t see the connection, but I still feel like I’m in the fashion industry. We are creating garments with sticks and string. I don’t feel like that is a stretch at all. In fact, it is more creative and fashion-driven than what I was in before.
Why do you think knitting is increasing in popularity now? Sewing, knitting, and crocheting, and many other handiwork things got lost when women went to work. Leisure time went away, and in terms of the garment industry it became cheaper to buy a finished garment than it was to make one yourself like our mothers and grandmothers did.
We are so tech-driven now, and I think that is making us begin to move towards things that make us feel human again and less like machines. Knitting allows people to get back some of the things they have lost. It is about regaining some leisure time and things that have meaning.
How do you choose the yarn you offer to your customers? Anything local is very appealing. We get something in from a local farmer, and people know the cotton was grown, picked, dyed, and processed in Virginia. Customers love that, because it makes us feel like we are looking out for each other.
I also stay on top of the trends just like clothing stores. There are things people want to knit with and things they don’t want to use. We pay attention to the Pantone colors of the year, and we also offer a lot of products from popular Indie dyers.
When you aren’t knitting or helping others work on their projects, how do you spend your time? I like to read and spend time with my kids and my husband. I run file miles every day, and I have for the last thirty years. That’s really important to me. I like to keep moving—it makes me a more interesting person to get out of my little circle and see other shops. I am an entrepreneur first and foremost. Of all the other things I do, like designing, my main thing is I have an entrepreneurial spirit and I’m a retailer. I’m having the time of my life really. I could do other things that would make more money, but I just want to be fulfilled, live an authentic life, and be happy.
For more information on Wool Workshop, visit www.skeincocaine.com. Follow @skeincocaine on Instagram for special yarn auctions every Thursday and Friday! Finally, don’t miss Stephen West—the biggest name in knitwear design and knitting. He is coming to Roanoke and Wool Workshop on June 11-12.
We all recognize “the dog” while walking through the grocery store and can’t help but wish that we were spending the afternoon at one of the prettiest wineries in Virginia, Chateau Morrisette! Since first crafting wine in 1978, Chateau Morrisette has made a name for themselves through their involvement in the community and their dedication to excellence. Whether you prefer red, white, sweet, or dry they have the perfect bottle just for you. If you’re celebrating, they have extra-dry sparkling wine for that too!
A short drive to Floyd is all that stands between you and one of Chateau Morrisette’s weekend-long festivals. Be sure to check out the entire calendar of events on their website so you don’t miss out on some of the best happenings of the summer! If you would rather do something a little more low-key than one of the music festivals, then you can pay them a visit for lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch and enjoy a flawlessly prepared meal with a perfectly paired glass of wine. Or, if you really just want a day away from all of the hustle and bustle, you can make a reservation for a tour of the wine cellar or vineyard with a tasting of ten different wines of your choice.
These tours are so beautiful and enjoyable as you get a better insight into the hard work that is put into making a great product. Lastly, during the warmer months many wedding and private parties are hosted at the vineyard because of the beautiful scenery and great atmosphere. Chateau Morrisette is unique because any and all well-behaved dogs on a leash are always welcome in the tasting rooms! You’re more than welcome to bring your K9 friend to keep you company as you sip some of the Valley’s finest.
Chateau Morrisette also has great suggestions for specific flavor profiles to pair your selected wine with at home. If you have purchased a bottle and you just don’t know what to serve it with, you can find suggestions on their website, or you can use one of their recipes that they have published for the sole purpose of taking your meal to the next level. However, if you have visited the winery and you don’t live close enough to pay a visit or pick some up at the store, you can order it directly from them to arrive at your doorstep!
For the Bella girls, we love the fact that whether we’re entertaining friends, enjoying an afternoon at the vineyard, or just drinking a glass on the couch, we are spending our money locally. Book a tasting now and tell us what you’re drinking!
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.
“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!