Month: September 2016

Behind the Bar, Featured Post, Wining & Dining

Behind the Bar: Karin Huffman

    Karin Huffman TJ Stones Grill House & Tap Room 608 Montgomery Street Old Town Alexandria 703-548-1004   How did you get started in the bartending business? In college a new bar opened up and I applied to be a cocktail waitress. At the “Grand Opening” both bartenders were fired on the spot for stealing. The owner comes up to me and says, “Can you make a drink?” I replied, “I do for myself all the time!”. He said,”Alright then, sink or swim girl!’ I swam….That was 20 years ago. From the get go I was in my element. What is your biggest bartender’s pet peeve? I don’t have just one as you can imagine. I will give the top three: What’s on tap? As they are standing right in front of the taps. What’s the cheapest thing you have? When a patron compliments your skills and then asks you if you went to Bartending School! What is the cleverest line anyone has ever used to get you to give them a free drink? Sorry, no such thing as a clever way to get a free drink. What is the Best and/or Worst pickup line you have encountered? BEST LINE: I had to handle a little altercation one night at the end of the bar. No tolerance for young and entitled show boats. I said my piece and defused the situation and went back to making a drink. A young man sitting adjacent to the load show boats says quietly… “Excuse me ma’am?” I turned and said “Yes, what can I do for you dear?” He says. “You frighten me and I am slightly turned on by it, Marry me?” WORST LINE: I was helping some slightly drunk young men get to their cab when one of them…

Continue Reading

Caribbean Connection, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Cruz Bay, St. John: A Quiet Town of Refuge for 250 Years

Cruz Bay, St. John: A Quiet Town of Refuge for 250 Years by Jeff McCord Seeking refuge from winter, tens of thousands of visitors arrive each year on the U.S. Virgin Island of St. John. Most come on car and passenger ferries from St. Thomas, disembarking at the small, charming port town of Cruz Bay. From there, they travel onward to hotels, vacation villas or the Virgin Islands National Park campground at Cinnamon Bay, among other destinations. Cruz Bay was founded 250 years ago this year as a rescue station for European sugar plantation owners and managers who feared slave uprisings in St. John’s interior. They wanted a safe place to hurriedly board boats and depart for nearby St. Thomas. Both islands were then in the Danish West Indies and planters and colonial authorities were well aware of the successful (albeit temporary) takeover of St. John by rebellious enslaved Africans in 1733. In that year, a combination of severe drought, a devastating hurricane and “a merciless slave code” led 1,087 enslaved people to rebel against the 208 Europeans scattered among the island’s 109 plantations, St. John author Gerald Singer tells us. Little wonder that three years later the relative handful of St. John’s remaining European plantation owners and overseers petitioned the Danish authorities “to establish a fortress as a place of refuge and protection on the western side of St. John,” Virgin Islands historian David Knight, Sr. explains in his postings at It was not until 1765, however, that Danish authorities planned the first official buildings, fortification and street system in the town supposed to be called Christiansbay (to honor Denmark’s King Christian, VII). Ground was broken in 1766. Today, the most visible buildings from that era are located on a rocky peninsula jutting into Cruz Bay’s harbor that…

Continue Reading

Pets of the Month, Pets, Places, & Things

Pets of the Month

Old Town Crier- Pets of the Month     Bowser (A068612): It’s about time you met Bowser! Bowser is a neutered male American Pit Bull Terrier mix, estimated to be about one year and seven months old. This handsome boy has a lot of energy and will need an owner who can keep up with him. He came to us as a stray this August so we don’t know a whole lot about his background, but we have discovered just how much fun he is! Bowser loves to play fetch with tennis balls and has a smile bigger and brighter than any Jack-O-Lantern’s!   Felix (A067868): This ferociously handsome feline is named Felix! Felix is a neutered male Domestic Medium Hair, estimated to be about seven years old. He is timid around new people and new feline friends, but after some “tuna time” bonding he warms up and becomes super affectionate (as you can see by him snuggling one of his office foster mom’s in this photo). While many people are superstitious of black cats around Halloween, Felix promises to always be your “treat” and never your “trick”!   Herman (A065331): Hi, Herman! Herman is a neutered male Domestic Short Hair, estimated to be about two years old. He is a curious and active kitty who needs a home ready to take on all his quirks! We have discovered a lot about Herman since he came to the AWLA as a stray in August 2015- he sometimes likes to play rough and needs to work on his manners, and he has successfully lived with both dogs and other cats! **THANKS TO A GENEROUS SPONSOR, HERMAN’S ADOPTION FEES HAVE BEEN PAID!**

History, History Column


By Sarah Becker ©2016 On June 23, 2016 more than 30 million British voters participated in a referendum, an electoral review of Great Britain’s 43-year membership in the European Union. They chose to exit 52% to 48%. Not unlike America’s 2016 election campaign, voters’ decision-variables included: national identity and culture; income and wealth; immigration, borders and security; and life-style. Readers now ask. Will the State of Texas, whose economy is the world’s 15th largest, follow Brexit’s lead? Will Texas secede from the United States? On June 25 Daniel Miller, head of the Texas Nationalist Movement, sent a tweet to Gov. Greg Abbott requesting a statewide referendum on Texas independence. As my May column explained, Robert E. Lee & the Mexican War, Texas became “a free, Sovereign, and independent republic” in 1836; America’s 28th united State in 1845. “Texit is in the air,” Miller told CBS News. Texas last seceded from the Union on February 23, 1861. In November 2012 a qualified petition for Texas secession was received by The White House. The mobilizing moment: President Barack Obama’s reelection. Only “maggots” backed Obama and Texas signatories wanted to “protect their standard of living.” The Texas Republican Party, in December 2015, rejected a proposed, non-binding ballot initiative that would have let voters consider secession during the March 1, 2016 presidential primary. State GOP leaders also abandoned a 2016 party platform plank that would have supported a secession referendum. The issues are complex, neighborly relationships are complicated, and in Great Britain Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron resigned. Voters are angry, both here and abroad. The British are dissatisfied with the changes EU membership has imposed. Texans argue “the beliefs of the founding fathers are no longer being reflected by the federal government.” The Texas Nationalist Movement claims a quarter of a million followers….

Continue Reading

Featured Post, History

Nathan Bedford Forrest, Confederate Badass

By Doug Coleman NATHAN BEDFORD FORREST, CONFEDERATE BADASS In the course of making his iconic series on the Civil War, Ken Burns interviewed historian Shelby Foote. Foote recalled Nathan Bedford Forrest as quite the compelling character, stating, ” I think the war produced two authentic geniuses. One of them was [Nathan Bedford Forrest]. The other was Abraham Lincoln.” In his interview with Ken Burns, Foote was of the opinion that Forrest “was born to be a soldier the way John Keats was born to be a poet.”  Today, Forrest is remembered for his extraordinary physical courage, his genius as a cavalry commander, but mostly as a white supremacist. Bedford Forrest was born in Chapel Hill, Tennessee in 1821, the eldest of 12 children of a poor Scotch-Irish blacksmith. His father died when he was 17.   At the age of 20 he went into business with his uncle. After his uncle was killed in a fight, Forrest confronted the killers. He shot and killed two and wounded two more with a knife. At age 24 and 6’2″, he was every bit as tall and formidable as a young Andrew Jackson. Reading Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom, Forrest gives us a real-life peek at Thomas Sutpen – fearless, ambitious, brilliant, and, when required, brutal. Forrest prospered accordingly, becoming a businessman, a slave trader, and a river boat captain. He owned several plantations and over 100 slaves to work them. He had become one of the richest men in the South. Nonetheless, in July of 1861, one day after his fortieth birthday, the millionaire enlisted in the Confederate cavalry along with a brother and his 15 year-old son. Noting that his comrades were woefully ill-equipped, he began supplying them out of his own pocket. His commitment, generosity and leadership were quickly noted. The Confederacy had…

Continue Reading

Beauty & Health, Featured Post, From the Trainer


By Ryan Unverzagt Balance is the foundation for nearly every movement. We rely on it so much without even thinking twice about it. Balance is utilized during sitting, standing up, walking, climbing stairs, running, and not to mention….exercise, which is why I want to share a few ways to test your balance this month. Let me start off by explaining about the two types of balance, static and dynamic. Static balance is the ability to hold a position without excessive movement for a certain amount of time, such as standing on one leg. Dynamic balance is being able to maintain control while performing a movement, such as walking a tightrope. Now, I don’t expect you to be able to actually walk a tightrope, you can leave that up to Barnum & Bailey’s Circus performers! Here is the first exercise to test your static balance: Stand upright with your feet together and arms at your sides. Slowly lift one foot off the ground by flexing your hip and knee and hold that position for at least 30 seconds. Switch feet to find out which leg has better control. The goal is to feel comfortable on each side in order to progress to more challenging exercises. The second balance exercise starts just like the first except that you will be looking over your left and right shoulders to increase difficulty. Start by looking at the wall in front of you then slowly scan the room toward your left shoulder without looking down at the floor. Once you’ve looked over that shoulder, scan back to the right side until you’ve looked over the other one. Repeat this 10 times on each leg. Once you’ve mastered this exercise, try scanning from your toes, along the floor and up the wall to the ceiling directly…

Continue Reading

Featured Post

Staying Fit For The Start Of The Holiday Season

Staying Fit For The Start Of The Holiday Season By Nicole Flanigan October marks the beginning of the holiday season. This is the time of year when we start making all those yummy baked goods and delicious homemade soups. Instead of letting all this wonderful food catch up to us this year, let’s make a goal to maintain our fitness. Last month I said how fall is the best time to get yourself back into a fitness routine and gear up for the cooler months ahead.  Well, it has been thirty days since then and hopefully everyone has been able to stick with his or her fitness routines.  In case you are starting to falter from your schedule, here are some tips to keep you motivated for the next month. I’m sure that some of you have had a little extra time to set aside for your workout now that the kids are back in school.  Just remember that dedicated workout times are great but you can get your exercise other ways as well.  You don’t necessarily have to set aside a whole hour to workout. Exercising can actually be a lot of fun.   Wondering what to do on a Saturday afternoon? Look for an activity that suits the whole family! Check out a local climbing wall or hiking trail. Push your kids on the swings or climb with them on the jungle gym. Plan a neighborhood kickball or touch football game. Find an activity you enjoy, and go for it. If you get bored, try something new. If you’re moving, it counts! Exercise helps us deal with stress and can increase the energy we need to deal with all of our daily activities. Exercise stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than…

Continue Reading

Featured Post

Lip Service

By Kim Putens Are you lip locked with your lipstick….or wish you were?  Are you convinced there is a conspiracy to make your lipstick fade quickly?  Well, you’re not alone.  The most frequently asked questions are: HOW do I make my lipstick stay on longer…WHAT is the longest wearing lipstick?  In reality we are all simply in the dark about the different types of lipsticks and their “wearability”.  Let me shed some light. So, what is the longest wearing lipstick?  Well, I wish I could say it is Brand X in so and so color.  It’s just not that easy, but it is simple to understand how to find the longest wearing lipstick.  Lip color is generally broken down into three categories – lip gloss, sheer lipsticks and matte lipsticks.   Lip gloss does not wear long.  It isn’t meant to and it usually doesn’t have enough color to stain the lips. They only offer a hint of color balanced with a lot of shine.   They are perfect for the woman that doesn’t like the look of lipstick or the trouble of putting it on, but wants a little color to brighten her lips.  Lip gloss is also perfect for drier, chapped lips because all that ‘glossy shine’ instantly makes the lips look moist. Sheer lipsticks are the next category of lipsticks.  These have really accelerated in popularity in recent years.  Almost every major brand of cosmetics has a collection of sheer lipsticks.  Sheer lipsticks come in a traditional lipstick tube, but they don’t pack as much color punch as a traditional matte lipstick.  These sheer alternatives are usually lighter weight, moisturizing, and a lighter pigment than a matte counterpart.   Sheer lipsticks wear a little longer than lip gloss, but not much.  If you do have a favorite…

Continue Reading

Pets, Places, & Things, Urban Garden

Rootless Wonders

By Farmer D   Rootless Wonders Tillandsia Bromeliads, also known as “Air” plants, or the lesser known name “Sky” plant, are the rootless wonders of the plant world. Some of the species do have roots, but these are used primarily to anchor the plants in place. Air plants take up moisture and their nutritional needs through the leaves, and only one species, the Pink Quill (Tillandsia Cyanea ) can be grown in a pot. When doing so with this variety use a potting medium made for orchids. They can be found in various garden centers but check to make sure they are potted up in the proper medium. If not, I personally would steer clear. All other air plants can be displayed by various methods. They can be placed in shallow bowls, glued to a piece of drift wood, placed around larger cacti in a pot. The possibilities are endless and a search on google will give you so many examples that it’s rather mind boggling. A good read on the care and various ways to display them is Air Plants, The Curious World of Tillandsias by Zenaida Sengo.   Air plants prefer very bright light from an east or west window with some direct sun in the winter. I like to keep mine next to a south facing window but out of the direct rays of the sun. While they can handle morning or late afternoon sun, the rays from the mid-day sun is usually a death sentence. Also when placing your air plants in a space to get the proper amount of light, it’s important to take in consideration that they are not in the direct flow of air from your air conditioning and/or heating unit – this can dry them out rather quickly.   When it comes…

Continue Reading

View More