Monthly Archives

May 2016

Back to Basics

The Basics: Gina’s Favorite Gardening Tools

May 24, 2016

Gina's favorite gardening tools handdrawn

I asked Gina Foresta to share with us her favorite gardening tools and essentials she uses a daily basis. I also couldn’t pass up an opportunity to sketch!

Enjoy! And go out and start working in your garden!

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I like to have one pair of leather gloves, like these, for hard work, and one pair of light gloves with waterproof palms for basic gardening. But most of the time I bare hand it. My nails look like I’ve been doing mechanic work for most of the summer.

I use a serrated knife for weeding and any harvesting I have to cut for. It is my all-purpose go-to tool. This is a nice one from Villagers in Asheville. This store is like a candy shop for gardeners and homesteaders.

I also have a gardening fork, like this one, on hand when I need to turn compost into a bed or aerate compacted soil.

When weeds are small and popping up everywhere a stirrup hoe, like this one, is a must. Not only is it easy on your back but it makes weeding small plants very easy, and even fun.

I also like a simple trowel for planting seedlings.

I like to stick to small companies for ordering seeds. I like Southern Exposure and High Mowing for their unusual and heirloom seeds.

Since I garden sustainably, empty spray bottles are very helpful for mixing up natural concoctions to fend off unwanted pests. Most recipes call for a few drops of dish soap so the remedy will stick to the plant leaves. I always use Seventh Generation brand.

I keep a tree lopper on hand for cutting thick branches. While I rarely work with trees, some herb plants, like African Blue Basil, or some pepper plants need a stronger tool than pruners to cut back. By the way, African Blue Basil is a cool plant to have in  your garden. The leaves don’t get bitter even when the plant flowers and the bees love it.

After reading rave reviews I just ordered a compost tea kit from Boogie Brew. The kit has an aerator and all you need to make super nutrient rich compost tea for your garden. This company also sells a hose water filter which is great if you’re using city water. They chlorine and chloramine in the city water isn’t great for the bacteria colony in your soil.

While gardening books abound, Food Grown Right in Your Backyard is by far my favorite. The authors’ company is based in Seattle, but we live in a similar zone here in Virginia Beach, and at least are able to grow very similar plants as the Seattle area. This book is the most thorough and relatable gardening book I have ever had the privilege to read.

 

Lifestyle

Snapshots: After the rain

May 21, 2016

Echinacea

Echinacea

Lily buds

Lily buds

yellow rose

Roses aren’t always red

White peony in the rain

Peony

Clematis leaves with raindrops

Clematis leaves

Clematis flower after the rain

Clematis

Pea plants after the rain

Pea plants

Raspberry leaves after the rain

Raspberry leaves

Tiny Photographer

Tiny photographer

Just asking...

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

Local Spots

A Review: HIT & Run, Fitness Boutique

May 12, 2016

HIT & Run - 2 week free trial

If you follow me over on Instagram (or know me personally), you’ve probably scratched your head and wondered aloud “Why the hell is Tessa up at 5:00 a.m. to WORKOUT?! That’s crazy talk!” I couldn’t agree with you more on that last part. Setting an legit alarm (NOT a hungry baby alarm) for 4:25 a.m. is totally nuts.

So what sparked this bizarre out-of-character behavior for me? Well, it was mix of two things. The first being of how I currently feel about my body image, not good. The second, was meeting Riya and Tara of HIT & Run, at the Creative Union Dinner last month. Immediately after the dinner, Tara emailed to invite me to come check out their studio for a FREE two week trial. What did I have to lose? Nothing. This was the exact push I needed to box jump my way out of my comfort zone and start my path to getting fit and feeling good again about my body. Tara’s “Mom’s to Muscles” guest post on my blog also helped to throw a little extra motivation my way.

On the spot, I sat down with my calendar to schedule out HIT classes for (almost) everyday over the two week period. Their Mind Body was extremely easy to use, and I was locked into my new fitness regimen in no time at all. My husband was even on board to stay home a few mornings a week a bit later so I could attend a few 5:00 a.m. classes, imagine that?!

I wasn’t nervous about trying something new, I just didn’t know what to expect or how my body was going to perform or hold up. My only experience with legit “working out”, was about 9 years ago when I was chasing down my future husband. After succeeding in snagging him (which is a whole other story!), I moved on to other forms of exercise that were more comfortable to my dance background like Zumba and eventually Barre Fitness, which I currently teach.

Start with a bang, right? My first HIT class was at 5:00 a.m. on a Monday. Doesn’t everyone start something new and scary on a Monday? Thankfully, two friends in my neighborhood were planning on attending the class, so we all carpooled which made the inevitable workout not seem so terrifying. The first classes wasn’t as awful as I had assumed it would be. The exercises were easy to understand, and not super hard to execute. I quickly felt my body’s muscle memory kick in as I instinctively tucked my belly button to my spine and flattened my back throughout the workouts. I was surprised at my strength and endurance, and how much I was sweating. It felt good, dare I say it.

By day four, my body felt really run down. Remember how you felt at those pre-season tryouts in High School? That’s exactly how I felt. Everything hurt. Badly. I couldn’t get up and down the stairs, I couldn’t lift my arms to wash my hair, I couldn’t even pick up my 25 pound baby! But as weird as it may sound, the muscle soreness felt amazing. By day six, after mixing in several barre fitness classes my body kicked into gear, and I started to feel strong and capable. I had gotten over the hump and I was on the road to accomplish something that I truly wanted for myself.

Over the course of two weeks, I attended 9 classes at HIT & Run. A few 5:00 a.m. ones, a lot at 9:15 a.m., and two on Sundays at 8:00 a.m. All with the various HIT instructors; Jon, Tara, Jocelyn, & Scott.

All the people I met couldn’t have been nicer or more supportive. I really liked the small group classes, it didn’t feel crowded or overwhelming with bodies. I never once felt uncomfortable or scared during a class or doing an exercise. I never once felt bad about about myself for being a little behind on a rep or using a lighter weight. The instructors demonstrated and explained each exercise to a perfect “t”, and they answered questions and corrected posture throughout the class. From the motivating and uplifting music, to the positive people who were working out alongside me, and to the energy in the room, it was all worth it to step out of my comfort zone and to make an impact.

What I learned over the past two weeks:

  1.  Daily workouts means doing laundry every day (I usually do everyone else’s first).
  2.  I totally need new work-out clothes because I’m working out more (See above).
  3.  Wearing sneakers that are five years old don’t make your feet happy… My Nike Frees arrived last week (I literally cannot stop wearing them).
  4.  I despise burpees & pull-ups with a PASSION. And, don’t get me started on 1-legged burpees!
  5.  I am much stronger and have more endurance than I thought I did.
  6.  I need to give myself more credit as to what I can accomplish fitness wise.
  7.  Set a goal & stick with it!
  8.  Scheduling the workouts ahead of time helped me to hold myself accountable.

THANK YOU to everyone at HIT & Run for helping me see my potential, and to gently push me in the direction of getting fit. I will definitely be back!

(Just got a little teary writing this!)

P.s. The 2 week FREE trial they are offering expires on May 13th, use the PromoCode: THANKS. I highly recommend giving HIT & Run a whirl!

HIT & Run on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Blog

Local Spots

The Uninterrupted Mother’s Day Wish List

May 5, 2016

Orchard Cove Photography Mother's Day

Photo courtesy of Amanda, Orchard Cove Photography

Mother’s Day has become more significant for me ever since I became a mother. Having three boys has been a dream come true, as cheesy as it may sound. My days and nights may often seem long and weary, but the months and years are zooming by right in front of my eyes. In the past five years, I have sang the same three bedtime songs more times than I can count. I can give you quite a soothing rendition of “On Top of Spaghetti” if you like! I have wiped tears, cleaned “boo boos” armed with superhero bandaids while sneaking Neosporin onto it, and have comforted those upset and tired bodies tucked neatly into my arms. I have taught myself to draw trains, Power Rangers, Paw Patrol pups, and Ninja’s (thank you art classes in college). I have spent A LOT of time in the kitchen preparing healthy meals, some of which get eaten. And to my surprise, I’ve turned into somewhat of a decent cook and actually enjoy cooking! There is nothing better than hearing my children tell me “mom this is a good dinner!”, or “wow mom, good drawing!”, or the best yet “I love you mom”. Having these little humans look up with wide eyes full of love makes me so proud and happy that they are mine. My favorite part of being a mother is watching them grow, learn, and experience the world around them, especially those big milestones like walking, talking, reading, writing, riding a bike or swimming! My three sweet blond boys complete me.

Mother's Day hands

I had about a whole 5 minutes of uninterrupted time to hash out what I’d like for Mother’s Day, beside that gigantic steaming cup of coffee (cream & sugar please!).

On Sunday, in no particular order I’d like:

  1.  Someone else to wash ALL the day’s dishes. I’m not kidding, I don’t want to pick up that sponge once.
  2.  Stacking rings from Lisa Leonard. (I’ve been oogling over these for years)
  3.  An uninterrupted night of sleep, preferably in a hotel/inn or even at my in-law’s house down the street. By myself.
  4.  Good food all day, that doesn’t involve me preparing it. Esoteric, Tautog’s, Commune, Zeke’s, Three Ships Coffee, Gringo’s, Java Surf, The Green CatCroc’s to name a few nearby.
  5.  Stuff picked up off the floor and put away, NOT by me. Guessing the baby gets out of this one…
  6.  BEER. Preferably “heady” IPA’s. I’ll take anything chilled, while sitting on my porch or at the beach. (Local brews are preferred; O’Connor’s, Back Bay, Smartmouth, Commonwealth, YVBC)
  7.  A month of membership to local fitness boutique: HIT & Run so I can continue to get FIT and STRONG! (I will need this especially from drinking all that heady beer)
  8.  Handmade cards and artwork from the kiddos – my favorite is when they draw our stick figure family.
  9.  The bathroom cleaned, but not by me. Spotless please!
  10.  Relaxing family time. Can be at the beach, at home, in the park, in the garden, preferably accompanied by beautiful weather and sunshine.

Not too much to ask, right?! RIGHT.

I also polled my local mom friends to see what was something that they wanted for Mother’s Day. The responses were honest and to the point! Some practical (some a little pricy). But all wonderful ideas on how to celebrate the mothers in your life.

“A Bloody Mary and a babysitter.” – G

“Uninterrupted sleep for 12 hours.” – A

“A chocolate donut from Crispy Cream.” – L

“A day without an agenda or expectations.” – D

“A night stay at a hotel so I can sleep as much as I want, order room service and read all the magazines I’ve been collecting that I never have the chance to read. Accompanied by a bottle of champagne!” – M

“Coming home to an empty dishwasher and a clean kitchen.” – T

“Work in my garden and have someone else cook dinner for me.” – M

“I want my husband to clean the damn toilet!”- H

Need more ideas? Check out these ideas from my Virginia Beach mom friends.

Gardening
A plant to put in the garden to enjoy all year round, especially one that blooms around Mother’s Day (iris or lilac)
A Wind Chime from Wild Birds Unlimited
An Orchid (Orchid Station or Whole Foods)
A Flower Arrangement or succulent plants from Roost Flowers
New gardening tools
Gift card to a nursery to pick a few plants to dig in the dirt together on Mother’s Day

Jewelry
Gold disc necklace with kids initials monogrammed on it
A charm with son’s thumbprint on it
23451 keychain or earrings from 
The Lemon Cabana
Anything from The Beach Nut
Addison Weeks “Bendall” Cuff Bracelets
Be Brave Necklace

From/with the kiddos
Handmade cards from kids
Tea with mommy
Professional Photographs done of Mother & Kids
Mother’s Day Brunch with the husband and kids
A picnic basket for a lunch (and a hike) on the beach at First Landing State Park
Paint your own pottery – Mug with foot and hand prints

Pampering
Mani, Pedi, Hair, Massage at Massage Luxe, with Misty Smith
10 pack classes to your favorite fitness/yoga studio (Wareing’s Gym, Hot House Yoga, HIT & Run, Fushion Fitness)
Spa Day at Dupre’s
Lunch at Eurasia, with wine!
Brunch at Bay Local

Shopping
An afternoon alone to wander around Prince Books with a cup of coffee
A whole day of shopping at MacArthur Center
New athletic gear (Anything from Lululemon, LA BL & Athletica)
Any household goods from West Elm

Let’s end with a video that will probably make you (good) cry.