Monthly Archives

November 2014

What's Up

Holiday Lights 2014

November 19, 2014

crab light

Even though I’m fighting it, I can feel the holidays sneaking up on me. Admit it, you’re right there with me! Yesterday I even created a festive station on Pandora. Since there isn’t much that can be done about slowing down the holidays approaching, why not map out your local get-into-the-spirit “Tour de Lights” of Virginia Beach? After doing a bit of research, and talking with friends and neighbors, my list has become rather extensive!

At the top is Norfolk Botanical Garden’s 19th Annual Dominion Garden of Lights, a two-mile stretch of garden transformed into a winter wonderland. The gardens are naturally spectacular, so I can only imagine what it will look like covered with lights. The Holiday Lights at the Beach is always fun. I especially enjoy walking on the boardwalk at dusk, right before it’s shut down to allow for access by car. Something about the bright, festive sea life floating over the sand makes me happy to be living at the beach.

Another annual favorite is the show put up by the houses on 43rd Street at the Oceanfront. It really is the most festive neighborhood in Virginia Beach, and I find walking through it is easier and more fun than driving. I’m all for a parade, aren’t you? This Saturday (November 22nd) Norfolk will light up their downtown skyline at 7:00 p.m. with the 30th Annual Grand Illumination Parade to follow. I’m there. Shop during Light Up The Town and a parade in Town Center on the same evening. The Founders Inn celebrates the upcoming holidays with the Annual Founders Illumination, complete with a visit from Santa & other merry activities.

To find holiday displays all over Virginia, check out Virginia is for Lover’s list of 100 Miles of Lights.

McDonald’s Holiday Lights at the Beach
November 21, 2014 to January 3, 2015
Sunday – Thursday
5:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
(Friday & Saturday nights until 11:00 p.m.)
$15 Per Car

30th Annual Grand Illumination Parade
Saturday, November 22, 2014
7:00 p.m.
Downtown Norfolk

19th Annual Dominion Garden of Lights
November 27, to December 31, 2014
5:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
$15 Per Car (Monday – Thursday)
$20 Per Car (Friday, Saturday & Sunday)

champ lights


Our Town

Cape Henry Lighthouses

November 18, 2014

Vintage Cape Henry Lighthouse Postcard from Ebay

Vintage postcard from EBAY.

Cape Henry Lighthouse #1The Old Cape Henry Lighthouse.

Cape Henry Lighthouse signTake note.

Cape Henry Lighthouse #2

The new Cape Henry Lighthouse.

Standing guard. Admiral Comte deGrasse, supporter of the American cause.

There is a lot of history here in Virginia Beach. Having grown up on a 1,600 acre farm that has been around since the early 1900s, I have an appreciation for old buildings and their history. I especially like the architecture, and it’s fun to imagine what (and who) went into the planning and executing of these old, yet structurally sound buildings. I stumbled upon the Cape Henry Lighthouses almost by accident. We were walking near the Fort Story Military Base one afternoon, and on the fly we decided to pop in and check it out.

I was intrigued with the tale of the two lighthouses that sit on the edge of the Chesapeake Bay. This location is nearby to where the English settlers arrived in 1607 (that’s 407 years ago!!!! Wow). The 90-foot-tall Old Cape Henry Lighthouse (the brick one) was built in 1792 and is one of the oldest standing lighthouses in the country. It’s also a National Historic Landmark. What I didn’t know is that this tower is the official symbol of the City of Virginia Beach. Almost 100 years later, its cast iron replacement (the black & white one) was built. It is the tallest cast iron lighthouse in the United States; it is also unfortunately not open to the public.

What you’ll need to explore the Cape Henry Lighthouses
A picture Identification to enter the Fort Story Military Base (either via walking, biking, or driving)
$8 for admission (if you choose to climb the old lighthouse)
A quick review of their Visitor Information

Local/Community Resources & Online Inspiration
Lighthouses of Virginia
Preservation of Virginia
National Park Service

Back to Basics

The handwritten note

November 18, 2014

Letter to Grandma

When I open my mailbox and see a handwritten address on an envelope sticking out from the bills, flyers & coupons, it makes me smile. Don’t you just love getting notes too?

My mother was a thank-you-note “stickler.” We wrote thank-you’s for every occasion. Looking back now, I’m thankful that she kept on us, and helped us to create a good habit of expressing our gratitude to our loved ones. However, as I moved out on my own, I wasn’t as organized with keeping up with my notes. I do apologize to Ms. Emily Post, who is probably rolling over in her grave thinking of those forgotten thank-you’s that haven’t been written.

Recently I’ve made more of a conscious effort to send notes on a regular basis. It could be a short note to my grandmother, sharing with her what my kids are up to at the moment. Or scribbling a few lines to my best friend, just because.

I take joy in picking the perfect pen and digging through my collection of stationery to find the ideal card. Writing the note is the fun part, without hesitation, diving in and writing whatever. Keeping it simple and matter-of-fact is the easiest, talking about what you’ve recently done, or something you’re looking forward to doing. I always slip in a few sentences inquiring on how they are doing or what’s new in their life. Addressing the envelope is my next favorite part. Often it takes a few minutes to find their address in my tattered and worn address book. And I always have a few “forever” stamps tucked in my wallet. Placing it in the mailbox and moving the flag to the upright position gives me a sense of accomplishment and leaves me feeling great about re-connecting with that person to whom the note is addressed.

That said, I’m now reminded that it’s time to write Grandma Betty her weekly letter.

What you’ll need to write a note:
• One “Forever” stamp
• An up-to-date book with your important addresses
A piece of paper (plain paper, notecard, sticky note, paper napkin, ANYTHING!)
A writing tool (pen, pencil, marker, crayon)
5 minutes
A mailbox

Local Spots

A Baby Shower

November 17, 2014

There couldn’t be a more perfect place to host an intimate baby shower than Pasha Mezze’s cozy coffee house in Norfolk. Our small group of ladies really enjoyed the delicious food, our cheery company, and of course the ambiance of this charming location. Their Special Events staff was more than accommodating, from letting us ‘make the space our own’ with decorations and flowers, to always making sure everyone had a beverage in hand–the sparkling sangria was delicious, thanks Brian!

The other hostesses and I ended up having a lot of fun with the details, a lot of which we managed ourselves. My favorite parts were the DIY succulent favors (SO easy to create) and the baby kale centerpieces, surrounded by moss and vintage toys. The balloons came from a block away at Novelties Unlimited and the flowers from Norfolk Wholesale Floral. I also loved how the hand-cut streamers turned out, and everyone had a great time with the photobooth. I bet you’re wondering about the food. It was EXCELLENT. The buffet was a perfect combination of Pasha’s famous dishes (their hummus and kale salad were delightful), along with tasty chicken sliders, assorted fruits, a second salad, and all paired with an assortment of their freshly-baked breads. I am positive that everyone went back for seconds…

Pasha Mezze was a wonderful place to spend a few hours surrounded by friends and family, enjoying delicious food and drinks, and taking some time to celebrate this exciting occasion!

Back to Basics

Hands On: DIY succulents in a half pint mason jar

November 1, 2014

Jar o succulent

Ever since my brother-in-law’s succulent filled wedding in Big Sur, I have admired these fantastic little plants. Each time I visit the West Coast, I find myself returning with succulents wrapped in tin foil and wet paper towels in my carry on. I am pleased to report that several years later, these plants are happy (and alive) in my house.

When I started planning my friend’s shower, I knew she would appreciate a green and earthy vibe. I immediately set out to create a shower favor that was attractive, fun, easy & quick to do, easy to maintain, and inexpensive. I like the simple look of the half pint ball jars, and combining that with a succulents varying in shape and height produces a delightful mini-arragement.

You’ll need:

A variety of succulents/cacti/small plants
• Cactus/succulent soil: 2 bags
• Small pebbles: 2 bags
• Spanish moss (or living moss): 1 bag
• Jars/containers/vases: 12 half pint mason jars
• A spoon
Gardening clippers to trim succulents
Scissors to cut moss
• 2 hours (give and take)
Supplies for mini succulent favors

The plan of attack

  1. Assemble supplies in your workspace
  2. Separate plants (especially the clumps of succulents) and clean up the roots
  3. Layer the pebbles into jar
  4. Add soil – pack down (but not too tightly)
  5. Add plants – three succulents/plants per jar
  6. Moss at the top
  7. Spritz with water
  8. Admire your work

Tips for keeping plants happy & ALIVE: Water the soil a little but they don’t like their roots to be drowning, and spray the leaves of the succulents every couple of days. Bright indirect light is preferred, don’t let them get too cold (not near a window during winter).

Local/Community Resources & Online Inspiration
• London Bridge Greenhouses & Nursery (soil & moss)
• Glass Gardens by John (Instagram)
• My DIY Succulent Pinterest Board

Succulent favors