Posted by Editorial / Wednesday, March 5th, 2014
March roars in like a lion and leaves as quiet as a lamb. Whether the roars come from the howling meteorological activity of winter’s wane or the flurry of parties, festivals and parades is hard to say. Either way, here are three activities you will encounter this month, so button up. —Carten Cordell
1. Trying to catch the cherry blossoms at peak bloom
It happens every spring. A guest from abroad plots a pleasant visit to NoVA during the critical mass of cherry blossom blooming, ensuring the best pastel-pink shots for their social media profiles.
But every year is like playing roulette, guessing on whether a late arctic blast or sultry spring will plunge your plans down the Tidal Basin.
“It is nearly impossible to give an accurate forecast much more than 10 days before the peak bloom,” states the National Park Service’s website.
Apart from becoming an amateur meteorologist, your best bet is to take in the scores of activities— art shows, parties, kite festivals—set for this year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival, running March 20 to April 13.
2. Balancing your St. Patrick’s Day Plans
Someone you know is having a pub crawl, another a house party and yet a third wants to catch a St. Patrick’s parade. Settling your itinerary for this raucous celebration can send your head spinning faster than when the snakes left Ireland.
The City of Alexandria got a jump on St. Patrick’s Day early with its annual parade, which was March 1, but Manassas has it’s parade slated for March 15. Fairfax County will also be the site of numerous St. Patrick’s celebrations.
3. March Madness bracket gets busted
Just as tough as predicting the cherry blossoms is prognosticating Wichita State’s romp through the NCAA tournament. No matter whether you pick your teams by an intense statistical breakdown, their uniform color palette or because you drove past the campus one time on the interstate, upsets will ruin your bracket.
Luckily, you can commiserate at any number of NoVA’s top sports bars—altars to the armchair athlete. Find a listing of our top picks at northernvirginiamag.com/nightlife/sports-bars/ or pick your own in our Best of NoVA 2014 survey at northernvirginiamag.com/best-of-survey.
By Shelby Robinson
The Magpie String Band at Fest Too June 2013. Photo Courtesy of Heather McPherson
Right off of Interstate 395, nestled between churches and the Fairlington Park, lies a gem of a venue, among the last of a dying breed. Convergence Church’s The Lab All Ages venue is one of the few of the “all ages” underground music venues in Northern Virginia.
The Lab is part of an underground music movement called “DIY.” Do-It-Yourself music refers to the artist or group’s distance from mainstream production.
Alex Heinz, the Lab’s local bands coordinator, said the Lab offers a unique service to the young, musically-inclined in the area, “An underground music scene provides a venue for a lot of people with alternative interests to make friends and meet each other and share art with each other in a safe and friendly environment.”
The Lab All Ages gives young people the opportunity to help coordinate and run shows, control sound, or play their music in front of an audience. Convergence’s Arts Initiative is intended to provide the Alexandria area with a place to share culture and the arts. The Lab is considered part of Convergence Church’s community outreach art’s initiative, but does not push Christian beliefs on concertgoers.
Heinz pointed out that although there are many venues in Northern Virginia, there are few that encourage the involvement and participation of newer people, allow kids under 18, and do not tolerate drinking, drug use or offensive behavior.
“All of the shows are all ages and are substance free, which is part of being a ‘safe space,’ and having a dry space ensures that people are gathering and meeting to hear music rather than for other reasons,” he said. “Music is really important to teenagers, so it’s really good to have spaces that are safe for teens and trusted by parents.”
Heinz said although he likes some popular music, he loves having the opportunity to work at the Lab because, “I like to know about the people and bands that are making music and art in my own backyard.” He said that the Lab offers a unique experience, which he refers to as “art for art’s sake.”
Because the Lab is run entirely by volunteers, almost all of the money generated by shows can go to the bands. The only money kept by the Lab is the bare minimum needed to pay the bills.
Heinz mentions that contrary to what some artists and musicians might think, “DIY isn’t an excuse for a lack of professionalism. We work really hard and run good shows.”
The Lab has shows every weekend and also seeks to connect concertgoers and volunteers with other DIY venues. The Lab’s biggest event is their annual Fest Too, which is a three-day DIY festival with tons of local bands and workshops, which takes place in Alexandria, June 26-28. On March 28 there will be a benefit show for Fest Too, everyone who wants to learn more about the Northern Virginia DIY scene or get involved is welcome.
The Harrison Four at The Lab All Ages. Photo Courtesy of Heather McPherson
Posted by TaylorN / Monday, March 3rd, 2014
By Taylor Ness
You’re going to want to celebrate, and it’s not just because of Bellacara‘s 14th Anniversary. The Alexandria location is hosting a 15 percent store-wide discount to commemorate it’s place as Northern Virginia’s preeminent cosmetic, skin-care and hair-care boutique on Saturday, March 8. All of Bellacara’s high end products are personally tested by owner Angela Sitilides, including name brands like Kiehls, St. Tropez and Stila. And don’t take your time getting there, because the first 50 customers who spend $250 or more, after the 15 percent discount, will receive a gift bag valued at $250. The Alexandria store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is located at 1000 King Street.
By Julie Miller
There is a new way of thinking in the fitness industry. Brilliant industry minds are conducting research on how people can become stronger, faster and more functional by focusing on proper and authentic movement. With the increase of high intensity interval training (HIIT) classes and box gyms, average people are being exposed to new movements that their bodies might not be ready to perform.
Learning how to lift a weight fast can be fun, but are you doing it correctly? Can you extend both arms overhead to full lockout without lumbar spine extension? Can you squat below 90 degrees without your knees caving in or your upper body falling forward? If you can say “no” to any of those questions you may want to take a step back and slow down. Maybe it’s time to relearn those natural movement patterns and get down to basic, simple movement.
It seems silly, a little childish even, to get down on all fours and crawl around like a baby. But did you know that crawling has been linked to helping adults restore and recreate their natural movement? “Crawling is perhaps the most simple movement we can do that teaches our body how to coordinate our limbs, our reflexes, our brain hemispheres, our hand-eye coordination, our hearing, our cardio-vascular system and our muscular system. It integrates everything about us; all of us; it makes us whole,” Tim Anderson, co-author of “The Original Strength Training System,” said in a November post.
As with all new training programs, you can’t start with the most advanced movement. You have to start from the beginning. Get down on the floor on all fours and start to Baby Crawl. There are only two rules for any crawl: head up with eyes straight and keep your chest high and proud. As you get comfortable try coordinating your limbs so the opposite hand and knee contact each other as they touch the ground.
Once you feel successful with the Baby Crawl, try progressing to the Leopard Crawl. The same rules apply, but this time lift your knees a few inches off the ground. Contralateral limbs work simultaneously. As you bring your right knee forward aim for just inside your right elbow and the same for the left side. Keep your chest high, butt low and hips steady. Try to reduce the amount of noise you make when you place your hands and feet on the ground. Crawl at different speeds. If you can decrease the amount of time all four limbs are touching the floor, the more your core stabilizers will be tested.
After the Leopard Crawl, is the Spiderman Crawl. Picture a stealth and smooth Spiderman scaling buildings as you crawl around on the ground. Just like before, the chest is high, butt is low, and your eyes are looking straight in front of you, not down at the ground. Instead of the knees touching the inside of your elbows, your knees are going outside of the elbows. Experiment with your speed and be as soft as possible on your hand and foot placement.
Now that you know the three crawls, how do you add this to your training program? You can use it as part of your warm up, during your workout to reset your body or for conditioning. Here are some suggestions:
- For a warm up, follow some mobility exercises with 5 minutes of crawling, incorporating the three different types.
- After a set of strength exercises get down and crawl for a few yards and see how connected your body is for the next set.
- For a conditioning finisher, do intervals of crawls for 30 seconds with 30 seconds of rest in between for a total of 10 minutes. As you get better conditioned, up the crawl time and lessen the rest time.
This will definitely get your heart rate up. As you get smoother and steadier, you can increase the intensity of your workout by mixing things up and getting creative:
- Attach yourself to a weighted sled and pull it across the floor, forward and backward.
- Find a hill and crawl forward and backward up and down the hill.
- Get yourself to an empty football field and time yourself crawling from goal post to goal post.
- Remember to set a baseline and try to beat it each time you crawl.
We always tend to overlook the simple. Do yourself a favor and start crawling. Regain the movement and strength you are meant to have.
* Julie is not promising you will be magically healed if you crawl but crawling can be beneficial to any fitness program.
Original Strength: Regaining the Body You Were Meant to Have by Tim Anderson and Geoff Neupert, 2013.
Julie Miller has been an athlete her entire life, starting with cartwheels in the outfield of coach pitch softball. Quickly she realized softball wasn’t her thing, so like most kids in Maryland, she picked up a lacrosse stick. She excelled on the lacrosse and field hockey fields, and earned two state lacrosse championships with her nationally ranked (No. 1) high school team. Her love for lacrosse took her to Virginia Tech where she competed for two years before suffering multiple knee injuries which required surgeries. Through these injuries, she realized the importance of taking care of your body so you can enjoy a pain-free, healthy life.
Julie has been a personal trainer since 2009 at Fitness on the Run in Old Town, Alexandria. She has the passion to become an elite level strength and conditioning coach and has pursued multiple certifications to learn as much as possible from the best in the industry. She is a certified Personal Trainer through National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), a SFG II Kettlebell Instructor (StrongFirst Level II) and is CPR/AED certified. Julie spends the other half of her time outside of the world of fitness as a consultant for a Government Relations firm in Washington, D.C. and boutique private equity firm in Annapolis, Md.
To contact Julie, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and check her out on their website at www.fitnessontherun.net
By Micaela Williamson
Learning how to sew never goes out of style. Crafty kids can get their stitch on at these local NoVA venues offering fun, modern birthday parties.
Cupcakes and Lace
Break the mold with a birthday party from Cupcakes and Lace. They will come to your location or secure a location at a local community center in Chantilly. Choose from a variety of fun themes such as Fab Fashionistas, Creative Creatures Stuffed Animals and 18-inch Doll Accessories. All parties are approximately two hours.
1604 Village Market Blvd.
Celebrate with an all-inclusive birthday party where kids can choose between creating a book tote or fashion skirt. No experience is necessary, and the knowledgeable staff will teach the attendees everything, including how to use a sewing machine. Parties run about 90 minutes (about 75 minutes of sewing project with time for cupcakes and juice afterwards.)
1315 Mount Vernon Avenue
Host an intimate (limited to six children) party at Sew Lab, and everyone gets special attention. Each child receives a sewing machine lesson and creates a fun project to take home. Themes can be tailored to the interest and age of the birthday child. Parties take place on weekends and last for approximately 2.5 hours, including time for the lesson, project, and celebrating.
20937 Ashburn Road, Suite #150
This studio is well known for its popular classes, but they also offer custom birthday party packages based on individual interests, ages and the size of the group. Kids get their own, hands-on sewing lesson and a special keepsake to take home. The American Girl Doll Sewing Party Theme remains the most popular, and specialty cake/cupcake options are available to add something sweet to this hassle-free party.
Micaela Williamson is a co-author of local travel guide, Kid Trips Northern Virginia, an extraordinary resource that provides descriptions, useful information and insider tips for hundreds of local destinations. Micaela is also an award winning blogger who enjoys supporting area businesses and scouting out family-friendly venues with her two young sons.
By Robert Fowler, Eliana Reyes and Brandon Payton
Virginia’s eight Presidents weren’t born in the white house. They had lives, opinions and even a favorite tavern. Northern Virginia Magazine explores eight must see pit-stops across the state.
Gadsby’s Tavern – Alexandria
Frequented by Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe
The Governor’s Mansion – Richmond
In 1811, James Monroe signed its completion
James Monroe Law Office – Fredericksburg
Building of the fifth president’s practice
The Lawn at UVA – Charlottesville
Both the Lawn and Rotunda were designed by Jefferson
Natural Bridge – Natural Bridge
Surveyed by Washington with a cabin that housed many presidents
Scotchtown – Beaverdam
Girlhood home of First Lady Dolley Madison
Shirley Plantation – Charles City
Oldest plantation in Virginia
St. Peter’s Church – New Kent
Supposed site of the Washingtons’ marriage
Posted by Editorial / Friday, February 14th, 2014
By: Natalie Manitius
Defy the frigid temperatures and visit your local farmers at these winter-friendly farmers markets.
Available produce: apples, arugula, Asian greens, beets, beet greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cucumber, collards, kale, leeks, mixed lettuce, mushrooms, onions, pears (Asian/bosc), pea shoots, potatoes (yukon/ sweet/white), radishes, spinach, squash (acorn/butternut/spaghetti), Swiss chard and turnips.
Other items to expect: baked goods, bread, cheese, chocolate, coffee, craft goods, eggs, fancy nuts, honey, jams, meat, milk, pasta, pickles, plants, salsas, seafood, soaps, wine and yogurt.
Saturdays, 9 a.m. – noon
Courthouse Parking Lot
Corner of 14th St. & North Courthouse Road
Worth the visit: Turns out seafood is not just for the summertime. In the spirit of eating seasonally, try Lynnhaven River Seafood’s oysters, which are only available during months containing the letter “r.”
Columbia Pike Market
Sundays, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Corner of Columbia Pike and S. Walter Reed Drive
Worth the visit: Columbia Pike’s community efforts stand out among others—the market is the only one in Arlington that accepts SNAP benefits and provides privately-funded subsidies. The Pike is also attentive to farmer practices, as they visit participating farms once a year to confirm the origin of the products and to ensure that the vendors are the farmers themselves.
City of Alexandria
Del Ray Market
Saturdays, 8 a.m. – noon
203 East Oxford Ave.
Worth the visit: Though Del Ray has just six to eight vendors this time of year, one can still satisfy a pickle craving with No. 1 Sons, a brother-sister team making barrel fermented foods. Activate sour taste buds with a variety of pickles, kimchi, or sauerkraut.
Old Town Market
Saturdays, 7 a.m. – noon
301 King St.
Worth the visit: Continually operating since 1753, the Alexandria market is one of the oldest markets in the U.S.
Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.; occasional 1 p.m. closings
Unity of Fairfax Church
2854 Hunter Mill Road
Worth the visit: A Mennonite co-op, Heritage Farm & Kitchen, sets up an Amish style store and sells a wide variety of dried beans, which cook faster than the grocery variety.
Falls Church City
Falls Church Market
Saturdays, 9 a.m. – noon
City Hall Parking Lot
300 Park Ave.
Worth the visit: Last year, the Falls Church Market was voted 4th best medium-sized market in the U.S by American Farmland Trust.
Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
550 East Main St.
Worth the visit: Shake the winter blues with Herban Avenues’ teas and aromatherapy. Avenues’ Calm loose leaf tea contains chamomile, lavender and oat straw, calcium-rich herbs that help with sleep. Feeling indulgent? Snag the winery favorite Green Lemon aromatherapy, with anti-depressive ingredients bergamot and lemon verbena.
Prince William County
Sundays, 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Piney Branch Elementary School
8301 Linton Hall Road
Worth the visit: Mike Burner’s Holly Brook Farm puts out meats beyond the typical fare: look for game hens, lamb, goat and even lamb merguez, a European lamb sausage with garlic.
Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Parking Lot B
Corner of Prince William St. and West St.
Worth the visit: Mother-daughter pair Jackie Utshudi and Maureen Kabamba present Les Mini Galettes, a bite-sized waffle operation. The galettes are sold in groups of three or six, with seasonal favorites such as the orange-zest, and year-round delights coconut and vanilla bean.
Look out for spring market hours and re-openings come April.
By Anjelica Michael
A judge in Virginia makes same-sex marriage legal in the state
A new musical arts center is coming to Loudoun, joining music schools in DC, Maryland and Virginia
Police look for connections in unsolved murders in North Ridge, Alexandria
Men’s figure skating in Sochi is proving to possibly be more dangerous than hockey
Posted by Editorial / Thursday, February 13th, 2014
By: Stefanie Gans
Mike Cordero likes to keep things fresh, which is apparent when you look at today’s debut of A-Town‘s new menu, or for the new restaurant offerings he has planned in Arlington.
The owner of Primetime Sports Bar and Grill in Fairfax, Bronx Pizza in Arlington and Flat Iron Steak & Saloon in Alexandria, Cordero plans to turn A-Town into a dining destination with what he calls “American fusion comfort food.” That means a mash-up of global cuisines, making A-town “not just about getting a beer,” says Cordero.
His new dishes include chicken fried bacon served with sausage country gravy, which he dubs, “kind of a heart attack on a plate” and Asian dumplings with the Cajun flavors of andouille sausage with Creole seasoning. The menu also includes flatbreads, burgers (with a pretzel bun option) and a raw bar.
But this menu change is the least of Cordero’s news. The 54-year-old, who’s owned more than 50 restaurants since the late 1970s, is planning another four.
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