Monthly Archives

October 2016

Back to Basics

How Does Your Garden Grow: Week 2

October 11, 2016


With bad weather (Hurricane Matthew) in the horizon, I knew I had a few days to get things into the ground. I laid out the plants from Brad of Veg Out Gardens, in a general location of where they needed to go. The Elementary children studied the root balls of kale and lettuces, and smelled the assorted herbs plants. I pointed the different shapes of the plant leaves, and we talked about what things help a plant grow (especially those worms we had plopped into the dirt the previous week). The children carefully measured the advised spacing directions, and with small beach shovels substituting as a garden trowel, they each dug a hole, placed the plant into it, and moved dirt around on top of it. I was surprised no one bulked at the idea of getting their hands dirty.

~ Brad’s tip of the month ~

The first frost is around Thanksgiving (November 22nd with a 50% of probability), so be sure to have your transplants in your garden soon. They need at least one month of growth and root development.




“Straight” rows of kale & lettuce!


Happy herbs.


Excited Kindergarteners were up next to plant the carrot seeds in the smallest of the raised beds. Carrots are usually planted in the spring, but I wanted to give it a try in the Fall, and I had a row cover (of a soft fabric like material) that I wanted to test out as well.

This group of children had participated in the worms, so they were curious as to where the worms were and if they could find them. I had organized the number of carrot rows we would have, and had marked them with chopsticks and garden markers beforehand. The children pulled a string from one side to another, to make a straight line, and then used a trowel to make a small trench. Seeds were carefully pinched into the trench trying to give everyone enough space as to not over lap each other. Afterwards, eager hands covered each row with soil and patted them down. We talked about coming back each week to check on their progress.



This sums up the end of week 2 in our school garden. I checked on the gardens today (3 days after the rain and winds of Hurricane Matthew struck us), and most of the plants survived. There are even carrot seedlings poking up from beneath the soil. So good so far!

What's Up

A VB Basics Giveaway: Win a Spot to Dance on Stage at the Breast Cancer Awareness Zumbathon®

October 5, 2016


If you’re familiar with Zumba® Fitness in Hampton Roads, then I’ll bet that you’ve heard of a certain Zumba® Instructor by the name of Rita Cohen. Not only is she one of the most positive and friendliest people I know, but boy can she dance and her energy is extremely contagious! She is also the best of the best when it comes to Zumba® Instructors near and far.

Over the years, my friendship Rita and our shared love of Zumba® has developed into something BIG. Together, we’ve created a wonderful annual event that not only brings people together, but also gives back to our Hampton Roads community in the form of an amazing cause.

Rita is upfront and honest why she does what she does.

I do it because my friend Louise Cheo, whom I met when I was doing an all female composer benefit recital for the National Breast Cancer Foundation in 2007, introduced me to Zumba® in 2008 before she died on Christmas Day that year from breast cancer.  I love it so much and how it’s changed my life and in turn change others’ for the better. I want a cure found!

For the past 5 years, our event: the Breast Cancer Awareness Zumbathon® at Norfolk Academy has raised over $20,000!!! This Saturday’s event will be the second year in a row that 100% of the donations will be given to the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Hampton Roads chapter (after $500 is given to the our fantastic Norfolk Academy sponsors: The Cancervive Club).

So what exactly is a Zumbathon® you may ask. Picture a sea of 500+ people, all decked out in pink, dancing to music (for up to three hours!), all the while smiling, sweating, and having a great time. On a large stage at the back of the space, 50 of the 757’s finest Zumba® Instructors rotate on and off in groups, leading energetic routines that pump up the crowd and get everyone moving. Raffle prizes, tables of unique vendors lining the walls, and a silent auction break up the morning, giving attendees a chance to chug water and catch their breath.




Every year, when I stand at the back of the Norfolk Academy Pavilion and watch the morning unfold, I always get warm and fuzzy feelings and am SO proud to be part of this event. And honestly, I’m especially proud of Rita for what an amazing woman she is, and that she is primarily responsible for bringing us all together.

Breast Cancer Awareness Zumbathon®

Saturday, October 8, 2016
10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Norfolk Academy Athletic Pavilion
1585 Wesleyan Dr, Norfolk, VA 23502

Which brings us to the Giveaway!

One lucky Zumba lover will win a chance to dance ONSTAGE with Rita during the “Survivor Dance”! I mean, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love dancing on stage?

Simply leave a comment on this post if you’ll be dancing in honor of someone this Saturday, or why this event is special to you!

EXTRA ENTRIES (Leave a comment on the post telling me that you did so!)

Contest ends Saturday, October 8, 2016 at 8:30 a.m. Winner will be chosen at random, and announced at the Zumbathon that morning!

GOOD LUCK! And I can’t wait to see you at the fabulous event!

P.s. In case you want to purchase tickets, go to, suggested donation of $10 (or more) in advance/$15 at the door.

Photography by the talented Lavern Rushin