Tag Archives: summer

Meet the Maker: North Mountain Candle Company

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.

Photo Credit: Brittany Smejkal, Eccentric Photography

“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. 

Get Outside in Virginia State Parks!

Virginia State Parks provide wonderful opportunities for those who enjoy being outdoors and are looking for ways to use their time outside to give back to the community. Although almost all of the volunteers are users of Virginia State Parks, there are groups that sign up with members who have never visited them before. Both levels of experience are welcome, as all volunteers go through orientation and are supervised.

“There are volunteer opportunities that work for different age groups,” says Andrea Hasenfus, Camp Host Program Manager. “Retirees may be able to do a Wednesday gardening at noon, while someone who works a full-time job may be available to do trail maintenance on the weekends.”

There are also opportunities for young people. The Youth Conservation Corps is a great program for teens 14-17 who want to learn about conservation and working in parks. They spend three weeks living and working in parks around the state, supervised by college-age adults. Although the deadline to participate in this program has passed, visitors to the park may still get to see the group in action this summer. This is a competitive program. In 2017, 800 applications were received to fill 170 spots. If your child is interested in being involved in the future, it may be a good idea to sign up to volunteer and get some experience before the 2018 application process starts on December 1.

Joining a Friends Group is another way to contribute. It takes a lot of work to keep up state parks, and Friends Groups play a huge part in building and maintaining trails, helping staff visitor centers, working on educational outreach programs, and raising funds for park projects and facilities. There are several parks with Friends Groups looking for members. Being part of one of these groups has the potential to create a lasting impact for generations to come, as they also help with advocacy for the invaluable resources offered through the parks.

“Sometimes the most help, if you can’t put your elbow grease in on the trail, is to be an advocate. Whether you are a member of a friends group, or used to doing advocacy in the community, advocates are always great to have on our behalf.” explains Andrea.

For those who want a more immersive and active experience, the AmeriCorps program engages its members in meaningful service in Virginia State Parks by providing extensive training and professional development opportunities. They go through grants, and work on natural resource management in the parks. Some of them last all summer, and those who complete them receive an education award at the end.

There will be a big opportunity for volunteers on June 3 for Clean the Bay Day/National Trails Day. In fact, every park in the Virginia State Parks system will have a need for help that day. Those who wish to volunteer will not have to sign up through the website to be a one-time volunteer for the event. Simply show up at your local park and offer to lend a hand.

Visit www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks for a full list of parks in your area. Click on individual parks to see what they need.

The Sun is More Fun When Playing Safe

Temperatures are high this summer, and Southwest Virginia is filled with outdoor activities to enjoy with family and friends. The Roanoke Alleghany district of Virginia’s Department of Health encourages you to follow key tips to remain healthy while enjoying the sunny, warm weather this summer.

Summer offers many opportunities to explore the great outdoors and enjoy fun-filled activities with your family and friends, but taking precautions against the dangers of sun and heat-related illnesses is critical to keeping you adventure-ready for the long haul.

The human body is made up of at least 60 percent water, and when Virginia summer temperatures rise into the 90s and above 100 degrees, the body cools itself by sweating. To continue to keep cool in extended periods of high heat, it is important to replace the water expelled through sweat. And, to know that under some conditions, sweating isn’t enough to keep cool. The following symptoms could indicate a serious condition:

  • thirst-1474240_1920Dehydration—During extreme heat your body loses fluid through sweating.  Dehydration results from the excessive loss of water and salts from the body, due to illness or from prolonged exposure to heat.  To prevent dehydration drink more water than usual, 2 to 4 cups of water while outside.
  • Heat Cramps— Muscle cramps may be the first sign of heat related illness. Heat cramps are painful, involuntary muscle spasms that usually occur during heavy physical activity in hot environments. Muscles most often affected include those of your calves, arms, abdominal wall, and back. If you are suffering from heat cramps, rest for several hours and drink clear juice or a sports drink that contains electrolytes.
  • Heat Exhaustion— Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses too much water and salt from sweating during hot temperatures. The elderly, people who work outside and people with high blood pressure bear the highest risk. Symptoms include sweating, skin that’s cold and pale, fainting, nausea/vomiting and a rapid weak pulse. If you experience these symptoms, move to a cooler location and lie down. Apply cool, wet cloths and sip water.
  • Heat Stroke— Heat stroke is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures or by doing physical activity in hot weather. Sweating has usually stopped and your body temperature becomes too high. Skin is red, hot, dry or moist. Pulse is rapid and weak. It is important to know that body temperatures can reach dangerous temperatures (as high as 106 degrees) in just 15 minutes. Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition and requires immediate medical attention.  Call 911. Do not give fluids.

Throughout your community there are resources available to help you know when to prepare for high temperatures. Local newspapers and meteorologists will announce when excessive heat is headed your way. These terms can help you understand the science of high heat warning signs.

  • Heat Index: is a measure of how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to the air temperature.
  • UV Index: indicates the risk of overexposure to solar UV radiation on a scale of 0 (low) to 11 or more (high)
  • Excessive Heat Outlooks: Excessive heat event predicted in the next 3-7 days.
  • Excessive Heat Watches: Excessive heat event predicted in the next 24 to 72 hours.
  • Excessive Heat Warning/Advisories: Excessive heat event predicted in the next 36 hours.

To avoid the complications of sun and heat related illnesses, protect your family with these key prevention tips:

Wear Sunscreen
Always apply UVA/UVB sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or greater to exposed skin at least 20 minutes before going outside and reapply every 2 hours.

Drink water
When the temperature rises, it is important to drink plenty of water. Drinks that contain caffeine, large amounts of sugar or alcohol should be avoided because they can cause dehydration.

Stay Indoors
On hot days, prevent illness by keeping cool indoors. If your home is not air conditioned, try to spend the hottest hours of the day in a cool public place such as a library, movie theater, or store.

summer-877464_1920Dress for the heat
Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy. It is also a good idea to wear hats and sunglasses or to use an umbrella.

Limit physical activity
Avoid excessive physical exertion in hot temperatures, especially in the middle of the day. If you must work outdoors, stay hydrated by drinking 2-4 glasses of water each hour and take frequent breaks in a cool place. Even a few hours in an air-conditioned environment reduces the danger of heat-related illness.

Do not keep children or pets in cars
Temperatures inside a car with windows up can reach over 150 degrees quickly, resulting in heat stroke and death.

Check on your neighbors
Although anyone can suffer heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. People aged 65 or older are particularly susceptible to heat-related illnesses and complications that can result during periods of high temperatures and humidity.

If you are experiencing symptoms, please visit your local healthcare professional or dial 911.

For additional public health Information visit the Virginia health department website at www.vdh.virginia.gov or the national Center for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov.

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This article is part two of a five-part series from the Alleghany District of the Virginia Department of Health meant to inform local residents about the risks and preventive measures they can take to protect the health of their families and friends this summer. 

The Roanoke Alleghany Health District is working to prevent epidemics and the spread of disease, protect the environment, prevent injury, promote and encourage healthy behavior, respond to disasters and assist communities in recovery, and assure the quality and accessibility of health services for all members of our community.

Your Go-To Guide for Mason Jar Crafts!

Mason jars have been a kitchen staple in America since 1858. With hundreds of uses, the Mason jar is still the holy grail of containers even 158 years later.

9781591866527Joann Moser considers the glass container to serve more than just a jar for preservability. Using her style and creativity, she has envisioned several unique creations from the Mason jar.
In Mason Jar Nation, Moser, the “DIY Maven” explores the history of Mason jars and then twists their usefulness to fun crafts. The book shows more than 50 Mason jar projects that are perfect for eager DIY-ers!

It begins with the impact of the jar on America and its major uses throughout the years. In recent years, the Mason jar has been repurposed as a material for hundreds of crafts. Moser also gives advice on collecting jars and technical information for crafts.

The second half of Mason Jar Nation features over 50 new ideas for the jars. These crafts are demonstrated with easy to follow photography and step-by-step directions by Moser. Her original crafts include Mason jars for the garden, kitchen, storage, and even lighting.

Purchase your copy of Mason Jar Nation here or visit our Facebook page for your chance to win one!

 

Written by Stacy Shrader

Serve It Up Sassy: Celebrate It!

RECIPE DEVELOPMENT, FOOD STYLING, PHOTOGRAPHY, and ARTICLE BY LIZ BUSHONG

What are black, white, and red all over? Are you guessing?  Nope… it’s not a newspaper, it’s not a sun-burned penguin, and it isn’t Santa, it’s a dessert buffet!  Time to Celebrate-It! what-ever the “it” occasion may be. Whether you are hosting a graduation party, bridal shower, or anniversary reception, celebrate the occasion with a black, white and red dessert buffet table.

Any time is an occasion to host a sassy soiree with simple elegance and delicious sweets as with this dessert buffet.  A dessert table is a festive and fun table that is spread with luscious little bites of small desserts usually in the same color family as the overall color scheme of the event. There are candy buffets, pie and cookie buffets, chocolate buffets and many other wonderful creative buffets that can be featured as a dessert table.

Tred-3his dessert table features all décor and food in black and white with accents of red. Behind our dessert table is a festive wall of hand-made tissue and paper flowers that bloom like a summer garden.  Each flower bursts open with red, black, or white centerpieces and is arranged on the wall touching other flowers for impact and drama at the dessert table.

The large tissue flowers are made from tissue paper that is accordion pleated, paper clipped, and edges cut to resemble flower petals. Each petal is spread open into a blooming flower and glued to a cake board round for support and attached to the wall with Command Strips.  For more information on the tissue and card stock flowers go to lizbushong.com.

The table top is draped with a solid black damask linen table cloth.  For the centerpiece and height, two different cake stands in black and white are used interchangeably to create a graduated large to small tiered stand that holds decorative mini chocolate cupcakes with tiny candied red roses. Black and white polka dot to stripes in cardstock, wrapping paper, and cupcake liners supports the overall black and white color scheme. Mixing pattern on pattern in the same color family will add interest and intrigue to your table.

red-6Desserts for this table are variations of the black and white color scheme. Black and white butter cookies, Pecan Honey Bites dusted in confectioner’s sugar, small round red and black macaroons with white butter cream frosting, and a pure chocolate Whippet, a “cloud-like marshmallow cookie coated in pure dark chocolate.” This cookie was purchased and accented with white butter cream stripes. You don’t have to be a baker or decorator to make everything for your table. Purchased little treats from your local bakery or specialty shop can be transformed by placing in decorative cupcake liners, paper cups and other decorative containers for a pretty presentation. Paper lanterns, flowers, pennants, and other party décor can be ordered online or purchased at a party shop. Just keep your theme and color scheme in mind and run with it.

whippet cookies-www.lizbushong.com (2)A dessert in small bites and variety keeps your buffet easy and elegant. Three to four mini desserts per person is the recommended serving size if the guests are not eating a slice of cake, as in a wedding. You don’t want to overwhelm your guests with too many choices so offer 2-3 desserts per person with 5-6 dessert varieties.  Serving large cake pieces on the dessert buffet can prove to be messy and unattractive. To solve this challenge, precut the slices into a 1 X 2 inch slice and serve it up sassy on a special individual small plate or other decorative container. Decorative cakes are beautiful on a cake stand, but not really practical for a dessert buffet. Although, it is your party and if you want them to eat cake and see your masterpiece, let them eat cake. Weddings will have a separate cake table with someone cutting and serving the cake.

Presentation for any party is important. People eat with their eyes first so your desserts will need to be garnished with special details and displayed at various heights on the table. Take the time to think through how the guests will approach the table and how to serve each item. Provide small plates and utensils if your desserts require the assistance. Decorative paper napkins are appropriate and necessary. Small labels at each dessert will notify guest what the dessert is and if it has nuts or other allergens. These labels can be decorative with flourish and sometimes as simple as chalkboard stickers.

Beverages can be served, but on a separate beverage table. Colorful punches, small water bottles with decorative labels, and fruit juices make delicious drinks for simple receptions. Creating a beautiful table for your special events will bring great joy to you and your family and friends.

Celebrate some good times!  Find a reason to celebrate, be a clever hostess, and turn an ordinary day into a special occasion; just remember to “Celebrate It” with a lovely dessert buffet.

 

red-4Mini Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Roses|www.lizbushong.com

1-18.25 ounce package dark chocolate fudge cake mix
1-3ounce package chocolate instant pudding and pie mix-dry
1 1/3 cup water
½ cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
½ cup mini chocolate morsels
1-teaspoon vanilla

Garnish:
2 cups dark chocolate butter cream frosting*purchased
¼ cup dark cocoa for dusting-optional
Pre-made tiny rose Icing Decorations-tested Wilton

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Prepare cupcake pan with liners. Combine all cake batter ingredients. Beat batter for 2 minutes to blend.
Fill plastic zip lock bag with batter, clip end of bag to ¼ “.  Pipe batter into mini cupcake liners.
Bake cakes 20-25 minutes.  Remove from oven.
Frost cooled cupcakes with dark chocolate butter cream frosting. Pipe frosting using small round tip or opening. Dust with dark cocoa powder in a small sieve if desired. Garnish with tiny rose icing decoration to center of each cupcake.  Serve the mini cakes in a decorative regular sized cupcake liner for presentation.  Do not remove mini cupcake liner from baked cakes.

Yield: 50 mini cupcakes /24 regular cupcakes

 

Liz Circle 2013 smallHelping you Make a Statement, Make it Sassy and Make it Yours!®
Liz Bushong is an expert in the three-dimensional art of entertaining. She transforms simple dining occasions into beautiful and memorable moments by adding a touch of her own “sassy” style. For the past several years Liz been entrusted to decorate the White House for several Holidays. She is a featured monthly guest chef/designer on Daytime Tricities, Daytime Blue Ridge and other television shows. Liz is the author of the Just Desserts and Sweets & Savories cookbook as well as a contributing writer for VIP SEEN and Bella Magazine. For more information about Liz go to www.lizbushong.com/www.serveitupsassy.com.
Additional information: Black, White and Red riddle: http://wikipedia.com; Command Strips: http://www.command.com/3M; Whippet Marshmallow Cookies-Dare company http://www.darefoods.com/ca_en/brand/Whippet/17

Fashion: Printed Shorts for Summer!

As the weather continues to get warmer, jeans shorts don’t seem to do the trick anymore. Printed shorts are the perfect alternative to all your summer plans. They can keep you cool and stylish all summer with their up-beat patterns.

Printed shorts can be more versatile than jeans themselves (yes, I said it!). They offer flare and style that jeans can never offer. From a night on the town to running errands, these shorts are a summer must wear!

Finding ways to wear these outspoken shorts can be difficult, however they pair with almost everything in your closet.

prints shorts1Casual

Throw on your favorite t-shirt or tank top and make your outfit explode with printed shorts. Your everyday wear can now come to life with fun patterns. Just simply throw on sandals or canvas shoes and rock this look!

Dress Things Up
Who said you can’t wear a blazer with some shorts? This is the ideal combination for a day at the office or a nice dinner. You’ll be the talk of the office with your fun mix of color.

night outNight on the Town
Tired on wearing dresses that reveal too much when you walk? Try printed shorts this Friday night instead. We love this look from Pumps and Iron! Put on a solid color blouse and some statement heels to make a lively night!

 

 

Written by Stacy Shrader

Summer Wedding Style

Prepare yourself, wedding season is just around the corner and you know what that means… your mailbox is about to get stuffed with invitations. Whether you’re just going for the party or you’re going because you’ve been friends for ages, we have your go-to advice on what to wear!

First, do a once over on the invitation for a specified dress code. This is usually at the bottom of the invitation or sometimes even on a separate card. If you don’t see a requested attire listed, then you can go by the time of day for which the wedding is scheduled. The later in the day, the more formal the occasion! If it’s a noon wedding, it’s assumed it’s going to be casual unless otherwise noted. However, if it’s 5 o’ clock or later it’s considered a formal wedding. Or, if the dress code isn’t listed and you’re just not comfortable assuming what the couple wants, ask!

Now, you know what the dress code is but, what on earth does it mean?! Calm down, we got you covered. White tie is the most formal dress code that you’ll see. This means that men should be wearing a tailcoat, white vest, white bow tie, and white shirt. For the ladies this means a floor length ball gown. You don’t see this dress code very often any more, but you never know!

Black tie is what you are more likely to see for a formal wedding. A dark colored floor length gown or formal cocktail dress is appropriate for the ladies, while the fellas should be dressed in black tuxedos with a black bow tie. Formal attire, or evening attire, is usually requested for a wedding that takes place in the evening, but is less formal than a black tie wedding. Dressy separates for the ladies are totally acceptable for a formal attire wedding! The men in attendance should wear a dark suit with a conservative tie.

Lastly, casual is what you would see for an afternoon wedding or an outdoor wedding. This is also what you would most likely wear to those ever-popular barn weddings. Casual for men means a button down shirt with khaki colored slacks. A sports jacket is optional for these occasions! Ladies, this is your chance to debut one of those sundresses you bought on sale last fall!

However, no matter the dress code, be sure to dress in a way to keep all of the attention on the newlyweds! This means leave your white dresses, light-up bow ties, red gowns (yep, red too!), and feather boas at home! Pay attention, ask questions, and raise a toast to the married couple on their big night!

Written by Kathleen Duffy

Summer at Chateau Morrisette!

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!

13062912_10154186638468410_9010191299281807122_oA 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.

11695375_10153513433463410_8644791396166027466_nChateau 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!

 

Written by Kathleen Duffy