Month: November 2021

Pets, Places, & Things, Urban Garden

It’s Not Too Late To Plant Bulbs!

By Christa Watters It’s Not Too Late To Plant Bulbs! Procrastinators rejoice! Though those of us who grew up in colder climes may think it’s too late to plant our bulbs for spring bloom, it’s really not – at least not for all bulbs. Tulips, for example, can rot in the ground in our heavy Virginia soil during warm, wet falls. Some sources say that waiting until about first frost is better for tulip bulbs, which like colder climates. Plus, it gives the squirrels less time to dig them up before frost hardens the ground. Still, you need to get them in before the ground really freezes. So November, and sometimes even early December is still fine. It’s also fine for planting daffodils and narcissus bulbs, hyacinths, crocuses, even grape hyacinths. Be generous – color massing is the most effective way to create an impressive and heart-lifting display next spring. So cluster the bulbs in drifts that complement the rest of your borders or beds. In our area, most hybrid tulips don’t successfully come back in succeeding years, and should thus be treated like annuals. If you do leave them for a second year, choose Darwin varieties, some authorities recommend. Alternatively, choose species tulips that generally perennialize better and naturalize well in rock garden clusters, as in this photo of Kaufmanniana tulips at the Simpson Waterwise Garden. Daffodils and narcissi are much more reliable at coming back year after year and even multiplying in the ground. Choose some bulbs for their massing effect, yes. But also consider choosing some for their individual beauty, like these gracefully winged white and yellow Cyclamineus narcissi. For fall crocus and colchicums, the fall-blooming relatives of our spring bulbs, it is, unfortunately too late this year, but while you peruse the catalogs, make a note…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Road Trip

The Return to Blue Rock in Rappahannock County

By Bob Tagert The Return to Blue Rock in Rappahannock County   Actually…Blue Rock has ties to the city of Alexandria. Many years ago, two brothers, Bernard and Jean Campagne-lbracq, owned La Bergerie Restaurant on North Lee Street – La Bergerie was a very popular French Restaurant for many years whose doors have since been closed. These are the same brothers who opened the original Bleu Rock Inn, which became a popular destination for Alexandrians back in the 80’s and early 90’s. The business has had a few different owners since then and the property eventually deteriorated until the recent purchase by Chef Bin Lu, formerly of Pineapple and Pearls, Bourbon Steak and Cityzen in D.C. After watching the restoration of this beautiful piece of property over the last year, we finally had a chance to pay a visit when they opened their doors in late October. Although the Blue Rock is not “new”, it has had major renovations all the way around. The old “Tavern” is now the “Tasting Room”, the main dining room and terrace have all been revamped and there are now rooms available for those who want to spend the night/weekend. The old stables are gone and the landscaping has taken on a whole new life. (You will see, however, that the arena polo field is still in need of some TLC. We were informed that bringing it back to life is on the agenda but it may be awhile down the road.) Located in the heart of Rappahannock County, Blue Rock is a modern take on the classic country inn. The 80-acre equestrian themed property, set against the Blue Ridge Mountains, features five uniquely designed inn rooms, an on-site restaurant lead by esteemed chef, Bin Lu and the aforementioned Tasting Room. An adjoining five-bedroom farmhouse,…

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Business Profile

Row, Row, Row Your Bloat…..

By Lani Gering Row, Row, Row Your Bloat….. That’s an odd headline, right? It does, however fit right in with the subject matter of this month’s Business Profile. The Row House Old Town blipped across my radar a couple of weeks ago and I have been smitten ever since. Anyone that truly knows me probably thinks this is a new “Happy Hour” joint on the water in Old Town but alas, it is one of the most amazing “Workout” joints in the area. Yes….I have found a workout that I think I can stick with. This will be the first time since the late 80’s when I took “JazzerciseLike the name implies, the Row House is a place where you go to “row”…and a little more if you like. The “boats” aka ergs in this case aren’t vessels on the water but are machines that glide seamlessly in place in a cool, literally, room with fun lighting and invigorating music. The concept of the Row House workout includes building both aerobic endurance and muscle strength all in one session. A combination of classes are offered that incorporate resistance training in conjunction with rowing and stretching. ”! I am taking this opportunity to get a head start on rowing my “bloat” – from holiday eating that is sure to take place – away before it gets even more out of hand. I always knew that swimming exercised virtually every muscle in your body without an impact on any joints, but until I met with Row House Old Town’s General Manager, Cynthia Svendsen, I didn’t realize that rowing engages over 86% of your muscles including your arms, legs, core and back without any impact on any joints as well. This is good for any of you who have had joint repair or…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Want to Have Some Big Fun? Take In Drag Queen Brunch

By the Gastronomes w/Caitlyn Hitt   Want to Have Some Big Fun? Take In Drag Queen Brunch We are members of a local dining out based Facebook group and lately there was an inquiry as to what fun and entertaining things are there to do with the relatives that are coming in for the Thanksgiving holiday that include food and entertainment. The inquirer was clear that they were looking for something more entertaining than a dinner cruise on the Potomac and we immediately thought of “Drag Queen Brunch”! In fact, the day that that inquiry popped up was the same day that we were going to a Drag Queen brunch celebrating our friend Al Vyn’s 30th birthday – is that good timing or what? In fact, all of the photos accompanying this column are from that gig and we would like to give a shout out to Eric Faughn, proprietor of Stoney’s Kingfisher Restaurant, Al Vyn for the invite and to LaBella Maffia, Aave Bblluuee and Desiree Dik and the very talented Emcee/Host Laura for the entertainment. We have been to several Drag Brunches over the years and the food and beverage have always been pretty impressive as well as the entertainment. We have partnered with Caitlyn Hitt who writes for Thrillest and offer some enlightening information on the history of the DQB. The Glittery History of Drag Brunch By Caitlyn Hitt Drag brunch has been dazzling day drinkers for decades. The only thing better than traditional brunch is drag brunch. Booze, breakfast, queens, and glitter. Most people think drag started decades ago, but it actually has roots that date all the way back to the 17th Century. Drag brunch came about not long after. We’re not gonna say Shakespeare and other playwrights started drag, but they did fill their plays with men in…

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Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

Get Ready for the Holidays!!

By Ryan Unverzagt Get Ready for the Holidays!! The holidays have arrived in quick fashion and for many of us it’s probably one of the busiest times of the year. Whether you’ve made travel plans to see family and friends, trying to find that perfect Christmas gift or attending multiple holiday parties, this time of year is fun, but can also be stressful. As we get wrapped up in the holiday madness, it’s easy to let your fitness routine slide, which can mean unwanted weight gain. However, there are a few simple things you can do to avoid the extra pounds. Choose Snacks and Drinks Wisely at Holiday Parties: Holiday parties are a great way to unwind, but they can also set us up for easy weight gain. You want to try to limit sweets, juices, and alcohol. Instead, opt for tea, coffee, and water. If you choose to drink alcohol, stick with the light beer. You should stay away from high-fat meats and cheeses such as salami, mini-dogs, and cheddar and jack cheeses. Look to eat turkey breast, ham, low-fat cheeses like mozzarella, Swiss, or provolone instead. Always fill your plate with plenty of fruit and vegetables and eat them first! Stay Active: This might be the most difficult task to achieve, especially when the weather is bad. If you can’t make it to the gym for a workout, there are some activities you can try at home. Hold a contest between family and friends to find out who can perform the most sit-ups, pushups, crunches, squats or jumping jacks (Do this only before eating, of course). Walk up and down the stairs during the commercial breaks of your favorite TV show. If the weather is nice, go for an afternoon walk or bike ride around the neighborhood. Don’t…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

A Gourd-geous Fall! Wow!

By Lani Gering A Gourd-geous Fall! Wow! That’s all I can say about the “Gourd-geous Fall” display in the Conservatory at the MGM Grand this year. It. Is. Spectacular! I have been lucky enough to have seen almost every display they have had since opening and maybe I should call this one an “exhibit” because it really is like fine art. If you remotely appreciate beautiful things, you should treat yourself to this. A picture is worth a thousand words and more when it comes to describing this year’s display. The three pods feature all sorts of moving parts in addition to the intricate detail of every part of each of them. There is “The Ornate Acorn, The Dragonfly Fairy and the 24 foot Crescent Moon that appears on the cover of this issue. This year’s display was curated by the resort’s horticulture team and designers Le Savarese and Cory Pope of SolarLife Technologies. “A Gourd-geous Fall” by The Numbers 18,013: Flowers and plants throughout the exhibit 825: Pumpkins & gourds of various sizes 60: Team members involved in this season’s display 50: Glass leaves on each fairy’s skirt 7: Illuminating dragonflies 2: Magical fairies I know that there are readers out there who have no inclination to step foot into a casino. I’m definitely not one but….you don’t have to go into any part of the casino to enjoy the beauty of the Conservatory. It is located next to the lobby of the Hotel portion of the MGM and just outside of the entrance into the Theater. The parking is free and there is lots of it if there isn’t a show going on. While you are there you might want to treat yourself to a walkabout and grab something to eat in the Market or at one of…

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Financial Focus, Pets, Places, & Things

The Caregiver Crunch:  Five Time-and-Money Coping Strategies

By Carl Trevison and Stephen Bearce The Caregiver Crunch:  Five Time-and-Money Coping Strategies For millions of unpaid U.S. caregivers, finding a healthy balance between taking care of children and elderly loved ones is a constant challenge—and often a drain on time, health, and finances. According to a 2017 report from Transamerica Institute, 74 percent surveyed have been caregivers for one or more years, with 27 percent providing care for five or more years. Caregiving is a full-time job for many—even though 52 percent are already employed. Thirty-six percent of caregivers spend 100 or more hours per month on time-intensive duties including companionship, meal preparation, personal care, and feeding.¹ Additionally, the same Transamerica report cites that the health of caregivers often takes a back seat to those they care for—55 percent admit their duties leave them physically and emotionally exhausted. Seventeen percent say their general health has declined since becoming a caregiver. Which begs the question: “Who cares for the caregivers?” If you’re a caregiver, or know someone who is, here are five practical ideas to consider. If you work, talk with your employer. Caring for family members can be a 24-hour-a-day responsibility, making it nearly impossible to coordinate with the demands of a full-time job. Among those who are employed or who have held jobs during their time as caregivers, approximately one-third have used personal, vacation, and sick-leave days for caregiving. Furthermore, depending on household income level, as many as one-fifth of caregivers have taken a leave of absence.¹ To find a better balance between your home and work life, discuss these options with your manager and human resources professional: Determine if your situation qualifies for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Under this federal law, covered employers may be required to protect your job while you take unpaid…

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Let's Eat, Wining & Dining

Turkey and Smoked Sausage Gumbo

Let’s Eat by Charles Oppman Turkey and Smoked Sausage Gumbo With Thanksgiving arriving in a few weeks, we ought to consider a recipe that is a bit more interesting than the worn out leftover turkey and veggie soup. Most Americans know that gumbo is a classic soup made famous by Louisiana chefs, but it is also rooted in African and American Indian cuisines. Okra is commonly used as a thickening agent and for flavor. The slaves brought okra with them from Africa and the Choctaw Indians of Louisiana introduced filé (a spice essential to gumbo) to early American chefs.  Gumbo came out of bayous of southwest Louisiana. There is not a single recipe for gumbo, every family and every restaurant has its own. Here’s one that I learned from a veteran New Orleans’ chef who passed away during Katrina. Try this soup, you’ll love it. Serves: 6-8 Time: 1½ hours Ingredients 2 pounds smoked sausage, cut into ¼’’ slices 4 pounds turkey parts, thighs and legs (chicken, duck or pork is optional) 1 cup each parsley, bell pepper, celery and onion; chopped ¼ cup fresh garlic, chopped 6 bay leaves 4 tablespoons tomato paste 2 tablespoons thyme leaves 3 tablespoons Worstershire sauce ½ cup vegetable oil or butter ½ cup flour Hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste Instructions In a stockpot, just cover the turkey parts with water or chicken stock. Simmer uncovered until tender, approximately 1 hour. When cooled, de-bone the turkey reserving the meat and stock. In a large, heavy pot combine the oil and flour and make a roux. Cook over medium heat and stir continuously with a whisk until the color of peanut butter. DO NOT burn the roux as this will impart a burnt flavor to the soup. If burnt, discard and begin again….

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Beauty & Health, Fitness

Staying Fit For The Start Of The Holiday Season

By Nicole Flanagan Staying Fit For The Start Of The Holiday Season November 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 have to deal with all of our daily activities. Exercise stimulates various brain chemicals, which may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than you…

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Arts & Entertainment, High Notes

Forget It I’m In Love by Les Shirley

By Ron Powers Forget It I’m In Love by Les Shirley Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I couldn’t be more thankful for the upbeat banger of a song I have to share with you this month. “Forget It I’m In Love” is by Montreal-based power trio Les Shirley and is the 10th track off the band’s first full-length album “Forever Is Now”. This song delivers everything you might want in a catchy rock tune. From fun riffs, and cool melodies, to a zipping guitar solo that hits like a bolt of lightning. I’d be lying if I said “Forget It I’m In Love” didn’t have it all. Singer/guitarist Raphaëlle Chouinard begins the song with a spunky riff reminiscent of “A-punk” by Vampire Weekend except with a ska rhythm. The intro riff is quickly followed by the sound of rumbling bass guitar and drums with plenty of compression and saturation. As the verse is introduced the guitar switches to meaty chords and we hear the first lines of the song… “I think we met at a bar on a Monday / We had a mutual friend and we kicked it right away / I’m so glad you came”. Between the first and second verses, that catchy riff that introduced the song is repeated. Then Raphaëlle continues telling her story of meeting and falling in love with a stranger at a bar. Transitioning out of the verse we hear the lines “I can take a fight / bring it” sung with a melody reminiscent of Johnny Rotton of The Sex Pistols. Tough-sounding guitar chords and bass notes performed with a stuttering staccato rhythm support the melody along with a pumping drum beat flowing underneath. Next, the band cuts loose with a melodic lead guitar line which repeats while the bass…

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