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A Word With: Gina Foresta

May 19, 2016

Gina Foresta harvesting at Esoteric's garden

The first time I met Gina Foresta, she was interviewing me to assist her at a restaurant garden she was managing. To be honest, I was hesitant about working in a garden, as the only experience I had was growing up with my Master Gardener parents and working for them. After about 5 minutes into the interview, I was struck with how calm, cool, and collected Gina was. As she showed me her drawing and plans for the garden over the Summer and Fall seasons, I was really impressed with her knowledge of vegetable gardening and those feelings of hesitation I had went quickly away. I wanted to work for her, I wanted to listen to her talk, and I wanted to be around her, as cheesy as that may sound! Flash forward to present day, I consider Gina to be a good friend, and still a mentor in not only gardening but in being a parent as well. Recently, a mutual friend said that she considered Gina to be a “filler friend”, which basically means she always fills you up with good vibes whenever you spend time with her, and I couldn’t agree more!

Occupation
I guess it depends on your definition of occupation. I feel like I have at least four main areas that occupy most of my time. First and foremost I am a mother and wife.

A few years ago I started a gardening and environmental program at my kids’ school which I am still running today. The students are amazing and the garden and program have evolved into something we’re really proud of. I’ve written a pretty thorough curriculum for the program to keep it going after my kids have moved one, and to help other schools get started. We have been very fortunate to have the support of so many local organizations and people, like the Junior Virginia Beach Garden Club and the Cavalier Garden Club. School gardens and local garden clubs or Master Gardener Groups are perfect partnerships to cultivate. School gardens need help since maintenance and funding are the biggest challenges, and many garden clubs and groups need volunteer hour fulfillment and altruistic focus.

I am also serving as a co-chair of the Education Committee for Buy Fresh Buy Local and our committee is working hard to connect kids and families with their food and bring farms and schools together.

Today I also manage the garden for Esoteric Restaurant, so gardening has become a big occupation for me. And finally I write for a couple of online magazines and some other platforms, and would love to expand that area of my work.

Hobbies
I love reading books and blogs. I also cook a ton and enjoy sewing and knitting when I have time. It is so gratifying to make something with your hands, and homemade gifts are the best. I also love family movie nights.

Are YOU a VB “local”?
No, I grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina. But my husband is a Virginia Beach local!

Favorite family activity to do in Virginia Beach
We love to take bike rides on the boardwalk or hikes in the state park. We also still get pretty excited to go to Busch Gardens.

Top 5 “must have” items for going to the beach
I always have a big hat and sunglasses. I like a comfy chair and umbrella. Something to read is a must. I sound like no fun on the beach! But we really enjoy getting out there on beautiful days.

A perfect date with your significant other
A concert that starts before my bed time. My husband and I love music but I just can’t hang anymore with the late shows. Second choice would be a bike ride to a restaurant for a nice dinner, maybe sitting at the bar instead of a table. Our best conversations have always happened when we’re eating at the bar.

Favorite restaurant(s)
My fave restaurants are different depending on whether it’s adult time or family time. Family restaurants we love are Commune, Gringos, and Pacifica. When my husband and I are going out we love Coastal Grill, Terrapin, Eurasia and of course Esoteric!

Go-to drink(s) at the moment
I love hot tea, and Vintage brand orange seltzer in cans. Red wine is my favorite grown-up drink.

Something you CAN’T live without
Yoga. I have enjoyed it for over twenty years now and am trained as a teacher. It started out more as exercise but now it’s my sanity.

What’s on your bucket list?
I would love to travel Europe with my family for a couple of months, taking our time and living like a local. My husband and I were married in St. John in the Virgin Islands and we can’t wait to take our kids there too. Writing a book would probably be on my list too.

Local Tip
Get outdoors! There is so much to do outside in our area, even besides going to the beach. First Landing State Park has great hiking and bike trails. There are lots of great coves and bays for kayaking. Visiting the botanical gardens is always fun and beautiful. And we like to visit the farms out in Pungo in the spring and summer months. If I can get the kids to help pick berries, we’ll stop at Pungo Pizza for ice cream on the way home.

Any events in Hampton Roads that you’re looking forward to?
Blueberry picking, Saturday farmers’ markets and the Buy Fresh Buy Local Farm to Fork event in late summer. My family also really enjoys viewing all the amazing sandcastles in the Neptune Festival.

What is your motto?
One I definitely live by is “Be with those who help your being.” by Rumi

And one I am working hard at is “The day you stop racing is the day you win the race.” by Bob Marley. Sometimes the “race” is made up of really great things, commitments with purpose and fulfillment. But they have to exist within a balance of health and presence with your life and loved ones, not in overwhelm. It’s a delicate recipe that is always being tweaked.

Harvesting Radishes at Esoteric

Radish harvest at Esoteric

Boots and raised garden beds at Esoteric

Gina Foresta checking out her crops

Just asking...

A word with: Karen of Fancy Fonts Shop

February 1, 2016

Karen P of Fancy Fonts

After following Karen on Instagram for years, I reached out to her last Fall and asked if she would be interested in making personalized items to gift at Christmas. We met at Commune, and over a delicious lunch, several cups of coffee, and passing the baby back and forth, we talked about our families, beach living, and of course all things “fancy”. We realized we had a lot in common, and could’ve probably sat and talked all afternoon had we not had children to pick up and errands to run! When Christmas time rolled around, the mugs, ornaments, and chalkboard sign that Karen had created were a HUGE hit with my family and friends. I even gifted myself a slightly inappropriate mug that I absolutely adore and use it every single day!

Occupation
Chief Fancy Officer at Fancy Fonts Shop. I’ve been trying to stop telling people I’m “just” a stay at home mom. Being home while my kids are young has presented me with the opportunity to start my own business making custom, hand lettered gifts. Wood signs, chalkboards, piggy banks, and Christmas ornaments. The list of Fancy continues to grow each year. I have found my niche in creating items for people they can’t find in stores – a mug or Christmas ornament with an inside joke written on it, a wall sign with a baby’s unique name – you want it written, I’m your girl.

Hobbies
Taking advantage of all Virginia Beach has to offer. My little family and I are big fans of being outside, whether it’s running, riding bikes, playing at the beach or any of our plentiful neighborhood parks. And is instagramming a hobby? Because I also love snapping pics with my iPhone and sharing.

Are YOU a VB “local”?
If by “local” you mean born and raised, then no. I grew up near NYC and vacationed at my aunt’s house in VB every summer. I moved here in 2003, jobless and on a whim, and am currently in the middle of my happily ever after.

Favorite family activity to do in Virginia Beach
Beach. A thousand times beach. My husband surfs and has been teaching our two daughters to surf since they could walk. I’ll give it a go every now and then, but I get way more joy watching (and taking pics and videos of) them.

Top 5 “must have” items for going to the beach
For me? Sunscreen, hat, chair, water, phone (for pics, of course). For the family? Sunscreen, snacks, surfboards.

A perfect date with your significant other
Riding beach cruisers to the oceanfront for dinner and drinks.

Favorite restaurant(s)
Flip Flops, Lucky Oyster, Waterman’s Surfside Grille, 11th Street Taphouse, Doc Taylor’s – anywhere my whole family can leave with a full belly and a little left in the wallet, too.

Go-to drink(s) at the moment
COFFEE. But I could always go for an orange crush.

Something you CAN’T live without
See previous answer in all caps. And a few runs per week.

What’s on your bucket list?
I’ve never traveled outside of the US (with the exception of a few hours across the Canadian border). I’d love to put a few stamps on my passport. And lately, running the NYC Marathon has been whispering to me.

Local tip
If you’re lucky enough to live here, do yourself a favor and enjoy it. Get outside and play.

Any events in Hampton Roads that you’re looking forward to?
It’s not exactly an event, but I’m excited to see how the ViBe Creative District grows. There are incredibly talented artists and makers right here in our neighborhoods, and they bring hustle and heart to this city. Appreciate them. Support them. It’s a win-win.

What is your motto?
Just be. And handle your ummmm…stuff.

Karen’s Fancy Fonts Shop: Instagram | Facebook

Just asking...

A word with: Style Erin

November 4, 2015

Style Erin Headshot

When I first met Erin Heffelfinger of Style Erin, we were in the pre-school parking lot. If I remember correctly, she caught me on a lovely morning as I was disheveled mess. As you’ve probably already guessed, Erin was impeccably dressed. Wearing jeans and super cute ballet flats, her outfit was stylish yet practical for shuttling children around town. After giving me several words of encouragement and some solid advice, I couldn’t help but be impressed with how fashionable she was and how easy she made it look!

Over the past year as Erin’s business has grown, she has created an impressive portfolio of clients in Hampton Roads, Richmond, and in Northern Virginia. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed following along with her fashion adventures as she continues to find the latest trends throughout our town.

Occupation
Personal Wardrobe Stylist; Mom.

Hobbies
Running, dancing and reading.

Are YOU a VB “local”?
I consider myself a local now after 10 years of living by the ocean. I grew up in Fredericksburg, have lived in Harrisonburg, Florence, Italy, NYC and Richmond before settling in Virginia Beach.

Favorite family activity to do in Virginia Beach
Going to the beach and riding beach cruiser bicycles.

Top 5 “must have” items for going to the beach
Sunscreen, a cute cover up, TKEES Flip Flops, a water bottle and tinted SPF lip balm.

A perfect date with your significant other
Straddling up to the bar for yummy food, a good cocktail and much-needed conversation. We rarely get to sit at the bar, it reminds me of our life before children. We’ve been together for 20 years!

Favorite restaurant(s)
Metropolitan Oyster Exchange, Eurasia Cafe & Wine Bar, Eat: An American Bistro, One Fish Two Fish, and Mojito Café.

Favorite place(s) to shop
I like to boutique shop for myself, but for clients I shop anywhere. Every store offers something different depending on the occasion, price point, and designer. My go-to’s are Jody G, Trish, Fabre, Bahama Shop, and The Beach Nut. For bigger retailers, I go to Apricot Lane, Bevello, Anthropologie, Free People, Nordstorm, H&M, Forever 21, and J.Crew.

Go-to drink(s) at the moment
Double 07…vodka, sprite with a splash of OJ and a lime.

Something you CAN’T live without
Lip gloss.

What’s on your bucket list?
Greece. I’m well traveled both nationally and internationally, but I’ve yet to make it to Greece.

Local tip
Don’t drive up Pacific Ave during the summer months. Always take the back roads, it’s quicker.

Any events in Hampton Roads that you’re looking forward to?
Holiday Lights on the Beach (it’s a family tradition), and The Nutcracker at Chrysler Hall.

What is your motto?
Life Is Too Short To Wear Boring Clothes!

Style Erin’s Instagram | Facebook

 

Just asking...

A word with: George from I Heart Food

March 3, 2015

George & Shelby Culver

Photo courtesy of Jessica Shea Photography

When I think of food and drink in Hampton Roads, there is only one man that comes to mind. This perfectly mustached man, is George. George runs the mouthwatering local food blog I Heart Food. He is regularly out and about on the town, tasting the local fare and sipping various spirits. Yet somehow he also finds the time to cook up elaborate feasts at home with his family. He seems to be unafraid at trying new things, and my thought is, if George likes it, it’s worth a shot!

Occupation
By day I’m a Software Test Engineer, by night (and weekends, days off, whenever I can squeeze it in) I’m the local food blogger I Heart Food! It’s funny because people think I blog for a living, but I have a mortgage to pay.

Hobbies
Eating, drinking, cooking and then writing about it. I write for HR Growler magazine and contribute to several local zines and sites.

Are YOU a VB “local”?
I consider myself a “local”. I think it was about 1973 when my family moved here. I even met my future wife – Shelby – at Lynnhaven Mall when we were both 16 years old.

Favorite family activity to do in Virginia Beach
One of my favorite things to do is preparing big meals at the house. Our children are “adults” now so when we can get them both together it usually calls for a good dinner. We’ll invite family over and sit down to eat and get some quality time.

Top 5 “must have” items for going to the beach
Sun screen, big umbrella, blanket, water, and pogey bait.

A perfect date with your significant other
A relaxing dinner, trying something new; we’re easy to please.

Favorite restaurant(s)
There are so many places in Virginia Beach that we love going to, but if I had to name a few I’d say Terrapin Restaurant, Croc’s 19th Street Bistro, Tubby’s Tavern, Home Republic and Misako Sushi Bar & Grill. We always eat sushi at Misako.

Go-to drink(s) at the moment
I don’t drink too many cocktails or mixed drinks but I do love Beach Brewing Company’s Hoptopus. All the beer and wine tastings we go to at Grape & Gourmet. We love Kevin and Deb and they can answer any question you have concerning beer and wine. The last cocktail I had that I loved was the Lunaroja from Twist in Town Center. Something that never disappoints is the Jumbo, or “Yumbo” as our friend called it, margarita from El Taco Loco Mexican Restaurant.

Something you CAN’T live without
Mrs. Shelby, we’ve been together since 1988 and she’s been able to train me to be a civilized human being.

What’s on your bucket list?
This is a big one, but a very long Eurotrip starting in the U.K. then making our way through the Continent to the Mediterranean. Shelby and I would be eating and drinking our way through Europe in addition to site-seeing. We were stationed in Germany in the 90s and fell in love with it.

Local tip
Go to Mannino’s Italian Restaurant for the She-Crab Soup, you won’t regret it. If you want to go to the beach, try to access one of the government owned beaches. No crowds.

Any events in Hampton Roads that you’re looking forward to?
Yes! The East Coast She Crab Soup Classic on April 11th, don’t miss it! The next Battle of the Beers too, they’re always fun. Find a designated driver, you’re going to get drunk.

What is your motto?
Shelby gave me a mantra years ago, “Be nice George.”

I Heart Food’s  Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

 

Just asking...

A Word With: Rita Cohen

December 4, 2014

Rita Cohen

Meet my friend Rita! One of the nicest, and most positive people to be around. I’m very picky about my fitness instructors, especially Zumba® Fitness Instructors, and Rita happens to be the cream of the crop. Her positive and fabulous energy is contagious!

Occupation
Mom; Zumba® Fitness instructor; Interpreter/Translator.

Hobbies
Veggie Gardening.

Are YOU a VB “local”?
I’ve been living here with my husband and our (now) 2 kids for the past 14 years; and came to the area from Ghana when I was almost 9, so I guess you can say I’m a local.

Favorite family activity to do in Virginia Beach
Biking.

Top 5 “must have” items for going to the beach
Nothing, really, since we are lucky to live literally on the beach.

A perfect date with your significant other
Dinner and dancing.

Favorite restaurant
Burton’s Grill. They have a wonderful gluten-free selection.

Go-to drink{s} at the moment
Green tea or coconut water.

Something you CAN’T live without
Ear plugs (I’m such a light sleeper, that I can’t sleep without them).

What’s on your bucket list?
Travel to every country whose language I speak.

Local tip
If you have a young family, avoid the Oceanfront and go to the Bay beach instead. The waves are much gentler, and parking is not such a hassle.

Any events in Hampton Roads that you’re looking forward to?
India Fest at the Virginia Beach Convention Center on Nov. 8!

What is your motto?
Inhale the negative, exhale the positive.

Just asking...

A Word With: Holly Henry

October 2, 2014

Holly Henry Paddling

I met Holly a few years ago at my favorite local gym, Wareing’s. She is always out and about around town, and on the beach. A local gal all the way!

Occupation
Online Producer at WTKR NewsChannel 3

Hobbies
Going to the beach, paddleboarding, working out, doing classes and yoga at Wareing’s Gym, tennis, running on the boardwalk, reading (I’m in a book club, I’m a nerd, haha), and mowing the lawn with our old school lawn mower! And cooking with Kiel, my boyfriend. I also write a lot. Aside from being an online producer for WTKR, I also write stories for WTKR.com. And I’m a contributing writer for a new up and coming magazine for Hampton Roads, called Bonfire.

Are YOU a VB “local”?
Yes – to the core! Other than the four years I attended Radford University, I have always lived in the 23451.

Favorite family activity to do in Virginia Beach
Going to the beach, stand-up paddleboarding – and running/walking on the boardwalk. I literally run or walk on the boardwalk five days a week year round, on a normal week. It’s my go-to place to run and do some thinking. I love it.

Top 5 “must have” items for going to the beach
Water, for sure; a towel, the paddleboard, sometimes a chair, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

A perfect date with your significant other
My favorite thing to do with Kiel is to make dinner together, especially rolling sushi, talking and catching up. We always have more and more things to say, we can never run out of conversation. We love just going to the beach together for hours, no matter what season. We also love going to the bay, and just hanging out. Kiel is from New Kent and then lived in Richmond, so we also love to go to the river. It’s really peaceful. We love hanging with our awesome Australian Shepherd, Browning.

Favorite restaurant
Beach PubThai Arroy, and Big Sam’s. Comfortable and relaxing. I also love Isle of Capri. But as far as groceries – I totally encourage eating local and shopping local if you can – I love Old Beach Farmers Market, and Cullipher Farm Market. Check them out if you haven’t been.

Go-to drink{s} at the moment
Honestly I love any light beer – I probably need to try new things!

Something you CAN’T live without
Kiel, my family, close friends, and our pets – they are priceless to me. Oh and also…post it notes. It’s out of control, I am always writing down ideas and lists and things going through my head… I know, it’s just crazy!

What’s on your bucket list?
Going to Croatia with Kiel, and visiting the Adriatic Coast. Kiel is of Croatian descent, and it’s something we have wanted to do for a while.

Local tip
There are three times a year that you avoid the Oceanfront – Memorial Day, Labor Day, and 4th of July. Other than that, you’re usually good – you usually have your secret spots for parking and such.

Any events in Hampton Roads that you’re looking forward to?
I love Neptune Festival, and the Shriners Parade. I have gone since I was a kid, and I love the little cars, and when they give out candy (not sure if they still do, though!). It’s nostalgic for me.