Tag Archives: local

Totally Selfish Reasons to Practice Sustainability

Okay, so unpopular opinion time: I love the idea of trying to save the planet, but when it comes right down to it, I typically make decisions that are most convenient for me.

When I started working for the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team (HEVT), I made more of an effort to keep the environment in mind when making daily decisions. I found that practicing sustainability didn’t just help the environment, it also made my life much easier.

Don’t believe me? Here are three totally selfish reasons to practice sustainability:

vtgreen31) More space
Do you know what DOESN’T maximize space in your apartment? The ten thousand plastic grocery bags sitting on your washer and dryer. Carrying a reusable grocery bag immediately solves this problem (and HEVT gives these away for free, so if you need one hit us up). Also, most reusable grocery bags carry more groceries than plastic bags, which means less trips from the car. As for the stack of plastic bags already robbing you of your closet space? Micah’s Backpack and other organizations collect plastic bags so they can use them when packaging food for donation.

2) Money money money (monaaayyyy)
Even with gas prices going down, I still get that sinking feeling when the numbers at the pump go up and I can picture my balance at the bank going down. Opting to walk or take the bus a few times a week can make a large difference. If you are in the market for a new car, hybrids have been proven to save consumers money over time. Unplugging items such as coffee makers when you are not using them can also cut down electricity costs, which creates less of a burden on the environment.

3) Locally-grown food tastes better
Buying local is a good idea all around. Less travel means less pollution and gas consumption. Supporting local business means keeping money in the community. Seeing where your food comes gives you control over what hormones do and do not enter your body. But the biggest reason I buy local? It tastes So. Much. Better. Nothing can compete with a tomato picked fresh off the vine.

vtgreen1Written by Sara Lepley, the communication manager of the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team of Virginia Tech (HEVT). HEVT competes against 16 other universities in a four year competition in which they transform a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro into a hybrid electric vehicle. Their two headline sponsors, General Motors and the Department of Energy, challenge HEVT to reduce petroleum usage and greenhouse gas effects, while maintaining safety, performance and customer acceptability. They also help in mind cost and innovation. This is Sara’s second year on the team.

Hot Damn, Donuts!

If you haven’t visited Mama Crockett’s Food Truck, then you are missing out on an amazing and unique experience! They are serving up something that Dunkin Donuts and even Krispy Kreme can’t compete with: their signature apple cider donut rolled in cinnamon and sugar.

image2You never have to worry about them being stale, because they are made to order— customers can watch the entire process through the truck window! They are served hot and crispy, and I can already tell you, just one is not going to leave you satisfied (about three did the job!).

image3Mama’s is buzzing, not only because of these donuts, but also the awesome customer service by owners F.W. Willis, Coulter and Shad Sims. People leave happy with their purchases, and many of them eagerly await their next visit because of the interaction they have with these three gentlemen. They never miss an opportunity to make a customer feel special— associating great memories with donuts that already speak for themselves.

image7Today (Thursday, July 2) Mama Crockett’s is parked at Rivers Edge on Reserve Avenue in Roanoke AND at Miller Park in Lynchburg from 11 am until 2 pm. Follow them on Facebook to stay informed on their daily whereabouts— and believe us, they are more than worth the drive!

 

Written by Lani Maddox

A Vacation in Virginia

Still trying to think of a last minute way to relax over one of your long weekends this summer? Fortunately, you do not have to venture outside of the state to relax and unwind. The perfect weekend getaway can be had at one of Virginia’s amazing resorts nestled in the heart of our iconic mountain landscape.

The Homestead luxury resort is perfect for couples OR families. Beckoning from Hot Springs, Virginia, the destination offers many opportunities to unwind and bond with those you care about most. For the more active adventurer, choose between horseback riding, falconry, and paint ball. If you would rather spend the time relaxing, enjoy spa services or a day by the pool. Sprinkle in one (or several) farm-to-table approach meals at one of the resort’s restaurants.

There are many formal dining options available for guests. One of our favorites is the Main Dining Room. They offer delicacies like Virginia grass-fed beef, Allegheny mountain trout, and Chesapeake crab.

For the active family, “Downtime” is a great place to enjoy a meal while taking in amenities such as mini bowling, pool tables, shuffleboard, air hockey, arcade games, and more!

Finally, for the nature lovers, two major hot springs flow through the property and are available to enjoy during your stay. One thing is certain, you won’t get bored on a vacation to The Homestead! Visit www.omnihotels.com for more information and to book your room today.

The Primland is another one of our favorite getaways. Their gorgeous rooms and spa services would be enough to inspire us to book a room there for the weekend (or longer!), but there are so many additional reasons you should visit. Primland is committed to being environmentally respectful, and their natural surroundings are a reflection of that commitment. Enjoy scenery that could include whitetail deer, wild turkeys, rainbow trout, songbirds of all varieties, and beautiful wild flowers.

The resort is also famous for its stargazing opportunities. Study planets, nebulae, and celestial objects in their Observatory Dome. Telescope and dome presentations can be scheduled during your stay by resident astronomers as weather conditions allow.

When you aren’t stargazing, take advantage of other amenities including golf, nature walks, mountain biking, fly fishing, horseback riding, or ATV trail riding. Mabry Mill and Fairy Stone Park are also close by and worth a visit.

vacation2Regardless of your itinerary, don’t miss out on the variety of dining options available. Each venue uses seasonal fresh farm products to create their dishes. On June 20, you can register for Primland Cooking School and watch Chef Gunnar Thompson demonstrate how to create healthful dishes showcasing a natural abundance of the freshest local ingredients. Go to www.primland.com to learn more about this destination.

Massanutten is a great place to escape with the family. A short two hour drive to Harrisonburg, Virginia, it is a relaxing place for parents and a vacation the kids will not forget. Featuring a spa that offers manicures, pedicures, massages, skin care, waxing and tinting, the resort offers many opportunities for adults to spoil themselves throughout their stay!

If spas are not your cup of tea, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy from mountain biking and horseback riding to disc golf, zip line experiences, and river adventures. There is even a full service bike shop on site where you can rent, purchase, or repair a bike before your big adventure.

An awesome waterpark awaits children of all ages (mom and dad, this means you too!). There is something for EVERY water lover in this park— tube slides, body slides, water falls, pools of varying depths, and a Pipeline where guests can learn to surf!

We couldn’t mention Massanutten without talking about the food. They partner with local farms like Creekside Angus and Mountain View to supply fresh beef and artisanal cheeses. Their chicken is sourced from Broadway, Virginia, and their seafood is fresh from Virginia’s famed saltwater rivers. With several dining options using local and regional ingredients, it is nearly impossible to go hungry!

Go to www.massresort.com for more information on activities, upcoming events, and making reservations.

Ten Days of Mom: Free Night at Early Inn!

Ten Days of Mom: DAY NINE!!!

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Today, the Early Inn is giving away a one night stay to one lucky reader and a guest! A beautiful, historic Greek revival style manor, it serves as a bed and breakfast in the charming small town of Rocky Mount, Virginia.

The Inn is located within convenient walking distance to many local attractions, but surrounded by beautiful scenic property that provides a peaceful, relaxing country setting. This is a great way to treat the busy mom in your life to a memorable local getaway!

We are also throwing in a really cool coffee mug from Wordologies and two awesome books that are great gifts to show mom how much she means to you! Visit our Facebook page for details on how to enter! Good luck!

 

Summer Products We Love

We plan on spending a lot of time outside this summer. Between festivals, beach trips, and other family events scheduled for July, it is important to be prepared for every scenario nature will give us. If you are prepared, minor setbacks will not inconvenience you and ruin your day. So, for the outdoor lovers out there, we have compiled a small list of things you may want to consider packing for your next adventure.

For campers, beach goers, and sports fans alike, the Breeze XL by Sport Brella is a necessity. A family size shelter, it can provide full coverage for two adults and two children. Its adjustable canopy has a UPF 50+ lining for maximum sun protection and can shift for ventilation and weather protection as well. The floor mat is easy to clean, and it takes about two minutes to assemble. Visit www.sportbrella.com to order your Breeze XL or any of the other excellent sun and weather protection products that they offer.

Bugs have the potential to ruin any outdoor fun during the summer. If you are going somewhere that requires sunscreen, it is always a good rule of thumb to bring some form of bug repellent. La Fresh Travel Lite Insect Repellent Wipes are safe for the whole family and they last for a very long time. They also come with a travelling case to make transportation easy. Their smell is not overpowering, like some repellants, and they work against more than just mosquitoes. Check out their full line of products and order some for yourself at www.lafreshgroup.com.

July BellarainrapsLocated in Richmond, Virginia, Rainraps started as a simple idea on a rainy day. Stacy Struminger, a New Yorker transplanted to Richmond, had long seen the need for a more stylish, lightweight and waterproof accessory. After searching her closet in vain, she decided to create something to meet her needs. Rainraps are reversible and come in a variety of colors to add style to your rainy day. In addition to their water repellant fabric, they dry quickly and are easy to store in their travel friendly pouch. If you plan on spending any time outdoors this summer, this will be essential to your wardrobe. Go to www.rainraps.com to order one (or two!) in your favorite colors.

If you are doing a lot of walking outdoors, it is wise to bring a large bag along in the car that includes your Rainrap, repellent wipes, chargers, etc. However, you may want to place all of your most valuable items (your credit card, drivers license, cash and cell phone) in a crossbody style bag to keep with you at all times. Choose a smaller style that can fit in your tote or beach bag, and consider leaving the larger bag in your car while you explore. We love crossbodys from Olivia and Joy! They come in a variety of colors, making them an excellent match for any summertime outfit. Visit www.oliviaandjoy.com to view their full collection and purchase one of your own.

Travel like a local

Americans are on the move: logging two billion business and leisure trips of 50 miles or more from home for at least one night last year alone, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Today, more people are looking for authentic travel activities – ones that are outside the traditional museum or monument visit. To get more out of your next vacation, consider expert advice on how to break out of the tourist rut and have a truly authentic local experience.

“The single biggest thing you can do to trigger these experiences is to talk to people – talk to locals,” says Reena Ganga, Gadling blogger and Wanderplex Founder. “But since that’s easier said than done, I think there are several ways you can try to foster interactions with locals and put yourself in a position to create great travel memories.”

Hyatt House, an upscale extended stay hotel brand located across-the United States,-has teamed up with Ganga and America’s favorite lifestyle maven, Martha Stewart, to help vacationers learn the tricks of travelling like a local with the following tips:

Reena Ganga’s tips:

* Trek like the locals. Don’t limit yourself to sightseeing buses or taxis. If the locals travel in communal mini-vans or via bike, do it too. Locals who aren’t used to seeing tourists take that form of transport often find their tenacity endearing and will make the effort to talk to them.

* Go off the beaten path. Make time to head to the smaller, secondary cities when you travel. These are often the places that feel the most culturally distinct. If you’re in a big city, head outside the tourist zones and into interesting neighborhoods where the locals spend their time.

* Choose a place that feels like home. Instead of staying in a traditional hotel, think about staying in a serviced apartment or an extended stay hotel like Hyatt House, where you have a living room and kitchen. Then head out to the local market and talk to the vendors. You’ll discover the produce and products that are special to that area, and you never know where the conversations will lead.

* Eat with the locals. Don’t just eat at chain restaurants that you’re familiar with or that only have English menus. Go where the locals congregate. Whether it’s a mom-and-pop restaurant or a street stall, local eateries are likely to have more authentic food and the locals are often eager to tell you about the food, how to eat it, etc.

* Put away technology. If you find yourself lost while traveling, don’t immediately refer to maps on your phone – stop and ask a shopkeeper for directions. If you need a restaurant recommendation, don’t just search online. Ask locals for their tips – it’s a great excuse to strike up a conversation.

Keep in mind, traveling with a local mindset means taking a new approach to packing, too. Stewart offers these smart packing tips:

* Distribute weight evenly. Pack the heaviest items, such as shoes and toiletry bags, at the bottom. Pack socks inside shoes to prevent footwear from getting squished.

* Skip checked baggage. A canvas bag with a sturdy strap is great for packing for any length of trip. Remember, if you forget something, often hotels can help. Hyatt House has the Hyatt Has It – Borrows program, which can supply everything from a phone charger to yoga mats.

* Carry-on with care. Because you never know when weather or unforeseen events will cause travel delays, pack a carry-on bag containing items you would be very unhappy to lose, such as medications and toiletries.

* Stay clean on the run. Travel-size packaged antibacterial towelettes are great for keeping your hands and face clean.

* Regulate wrinkles. Use large drycleaner bags to pack bulky sweaters or cardigans. The plastic helps prevent wrinkling.

* Secure belongings. If you’re traveling a long distance, use a lock and key or combination lock to protect your belongings.

These simple tips make it easy to travel like a local and get the most out of your next vacation. You’ll be delighted by the unique memories and wonderful stories you get by traveling with a local mindset.

Sources: Martha Stewart Living, June 2003; Martha Stewart Digital, Article: Smart Packing Tips; Martha Stewart Video – Organizing: Helpful Tips for Packing Travel Bags; The Martha Stewart Show, Season 7, Episode 7099 (How to Pack a Suitcase Lightly for Easy Travel)