Posts Tagged ‘Arlington’

MiraJean Designs

A holiday BuzzFeed post brought lots of attention to Kate Hougen’s one-year-old custom textile company this past year.

And keeping with the momentum, the Arlington-based designer is bringing her wares to more local stores with hopes to go national. –Lynn Norusis


  • “It [started as] a New Year’s resolution in 2013. I spent 2013 getting a collection of designs together and doing the groundwork. MiraJean Designs officially launched in 2014. It was an idea I had for a long time, and I finally decided I had to stop thinking about it, talking about it and just do it.” / Photo courtesy of Camera Karma Photography.

  • Favorite design right now? Ginko Love. There is a huge, beautiful ginkgo tree round the corner from us. It’s one of my favorite trees. One day in fall there was a huge gust of wind, and in one day all of the ginkgo leaves fell off the tree. It was like the yellow brick road; the road was covered in yellow ginkgo leaves, and it was so beautiful. That tree continues to inspire me. / Photo courtesy of Camera Karma Photography.

  • A lot of work and research went into finding a manufacturer because Hougen’s main mission was to keep the line and everything about it—from fabrics and inks to marketing and shipping materials—eco-friendly. Inks are all environmentally friendly, they involve no-harm chemicals, and they also do not involve a lot of water. Fabrics are natural, and several are organic: “There is an organic cotton knit that I work with for the throw blankets, which is really soft. I call it eco-luxurious; you just want to wrap yourself up in it.” Even the marketing materials are printed on recycled paper using soy or environmentally friendly inks, and the mailers are compostable. / Photo courtesy of Camera Karma Photography.

  • The idea for custom art started with Mira, now 10. “[She] would come home with paintings, and we would hang them on the fridge. How could I turn it into something functional? Taking her artwork, photographing it turning it into custom textiles.” / Photo courtesy of Camera Karma Photography.

  • For her own designs, Hougen looks to children’s artwork, nature and coastal towns for her inspiration. And just like a child’s piece of art, all of Hougen’s designs start as a painting. / Photo courtesy of Camera Karma Photography.


The name MiraJean Designs was inspired by Mira, Hougen’s daughter, and Jean, her mother, “the two people in my life that have inspired me. My mother encourages me to pursue a career that you love and is meaningful. My daughter is just very creative, very artistic and loves art.”

Available in local stores: Covet and La Maison Home and Gifts in Arlington; Reunions in Alexandria; and this spring: Red Barn Merchantile in Alexandria, Hardwood Artisans in Shirlington and Two the Moon in Arlington

Price range: custom yard of fabric starts at $95; pillows and throws $125; poufs $225, tea towels $28 in set designs

(March 2015)

Unexpectedly Kid-Friendly Restaurants

Posted by Editorial / Friday, March 27th, 2015

Kid-Friendly restaurants in Northern Virginia

Photos by Ann Hsu Kaufman.

Where to take children for more than a grilled cheese. —Ann Hsu Kaufman

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NoVA writer Jonathan Harper talks ‘Daydreamers’, the D.C. Literary scene

Posted by Editorial / Thursday, March 26th, 2015

author Jonathan Harper

Photo Courtesy of Anna Carson DeWitt.

By Victoria Gaffney

This Saturday, author Jonathan Harper will read from his debut short story collection, “Daydreamers,” filling One More Page Books with the dynamic characters of his imagination.

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Moving Minds and Creativity in a Day

Posted by Editorial / Friday, March 20th, 2015

Enjoy a display of culture at the 6th Annual Move Me Festival that focuses on getting children “active, creative and involved.”

6th Annual Move Me Festival

Photos courtesy of Baba Jamal Koram (Baba Jamal Koram); Xuejuan Dance Ensemble (Xuejuan Dance Ensemble); Sweatvibes (Sweatvibes); David Moss (Halau O’aulani, Kenmore Junior Company); Nepal Dance School (Nepal Dance School); Alastair Wallace/ (clogs); Synetic Theater/Koko Lanham (‘Hamlet’).

(March 2015)

Animal Welfare League of Arlington introduces Paws and Read

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Photo courtesy of Kerry McKeel

Photo courtesy of Kerry McKeel

By Matthew Tracy

More and more kids today spend less time reading and more time laughing and aww-ing at YouTube videos of cats or dogs. The solution? A program where kids read to these adorable critters in real life.

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington’s Paws and Read program does just this, allowing schoolchildren in the Northern Virginia and D.C. metro area the chance to read to shelter cats. The program kicked off March 2 with a selection of “The Cat in the Hat” and other Dr. Seuss classics in celebration of Seuss’s birthday.

According to AWLA’s Jennifer Pickar, director of community programs, “some of the parents say their kids don’t like to read, (but) they love cats, they love animals. They’re hoping that will be the incentive for their child to practice.” The Paws and Read program gives children who have trouble reading in front of their classmates at school the opportunity to practice reading in a relaxed environment for a judgement-free animal audience.

One of the goals of the Animal Welfare League of Arlington is to provide “nurturing animal care and community outreach.” The Paws and Read program helps accomplish both of these.

For one, the cats get some time out of their kennels with a potential owner. “They have a positive interaction with the child, and they enjoy the sound of a child’s voice when they’re reading,” says Pickar. “They get to interact with kids in a setting that’s not scary for them. They’re sitting there reading versus chasing them around trying to pick them up.”

The program also opens the door for increased community awareness and involvement. Many people brush off animal shelters as gloomy places full of wild and unwanted beasts. The program helps debunk this myth. “When a lot of parents and children visit they’ve been surprised by the shelter, that it’s so nice,” Pickar says. “That it’s a nice place to visit, a good resource for the community to get information, and that the shelter has so many great adoptable pets.”

The Paws and Read program is open to kids from kindergarten to 5th grade for 20-minute reading sessions. After this month, Pickar and the AWLA hope to expand the program to other area shelters year-round , eventually including dogs and other shelter animals.

Paws and Read
Animal Welfare League of Arlington
2650 South Arlington Mill Drive
Arlington, 22206
(703) 931-9241

18 new and almost opened restaurants, breweries and coffee shops in Northern Virginia

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

New and Almost Open restaurants in Northern Virginia

Photo courtesy of 360b/

Need a new spot to nosh? Here is a list of new restaurants now open or opening soon.

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Cravings: Spicy sausage and black pepper honey pizza at Tazza Kitchen

Posted by Editorial / Friday, March 13th, 2015

Photo Courtesy of

Photo Courtesy of Derek Bennion

By Susannah Black

Dish: Spicy sausage and black pepper honey pizza, $13

Where: Tazza Kitchen2931 S. Glebe Road, Arlington

Taste: I was skeptical. Could the honey could be too cloying? The pork overpowering? The cheese disappearing under all the flavors?

I didn’t need to doubt the combination. 

Earthy, aged provolone collaborated with fresh mozzarella (from Sterling‘s Blue Ridge Dairy Company) and was plentiful but also left room for the housemade spicy sausage (from Nelson County‘s The Rock Barn). Drizzled raw honey mixed with fresh ground black pepper tops the pizza after it’s baked in a wood-burning oven. Never will I ever doubt the idea of a pizza with sweet and spicy meat again.

MORE | Craving

Explore New Reads at these 4 local used bookstores

Posted by Editorial / Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Used Bookstores in Northern Virginia

Photo courtesy of sheff/

By Victoria Gaffney

There’s no doubt that Northern Virginia is filled with a strong sense of the past, often influencing a lot of its activities. The area boasts countless events for the history buff, not least of which is a trip to a local used bookstore

With Kindles and e-books on the rise, many of these quaint shops are closing, but this area is still home to some unique spaces to explore timeworn tomes. Engaging with passionate owners and managers who enjoy discussing these works is one of the perks of these more intimate literary settings. Here are some local places to indulge your interests, each with a strong focus on history, but unexpectedly unique features as well.

1.   Prospero’s Books

Located appropriately in Old Town Manassas, Prospero’s Books is a must for the history aficionado. Housed in a 104-year-old building originally designed for men’s clothing, the store features large display windows and boasts 93,000 titles at any given time, says manager Bob Chase. The shop was named for the Shakespeare character Prospero from “The Tempest.” Chase explains that when Prospero was made Duke of Milan, he was given a library; “I prize (it) above my dukedom,” Prospero says of his library in the play.

The store specializes in rare and out-of-print books, as well as maps and prints. Set on the very landscape where the first and second battles of the Civil War took place, Chase explains that their location likely drives their focus on military history. The shop also has extensive children’s and Afro-American history sections. Their “discover local authors” area features 18 Virginia writers at any given time, and they often host talks and signings.

Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, noon-6 p.m.
Wednesday and Thursday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

9129 Center St.
Manassas, 20110

2.   Already Read Used Books

Husband and wife Diane Wilson and Ken Mahnken run their 9-year-old shop,“Already Read Used Books” in Alexandria. With over 25,000 volumes, this cozy store doesn’t just house great literature; here visitors will get to meet and spend time with cats Sweetie Pie and Gwenie Bee as well. When they select works for their collection, Wilson explains that they try to look for the lesser-read classics by well-known authors.

What makes this place especially distinctive is their bookbinding business located in the next room. Unlike other services like this, Wilson’s and Mahnken’s “Alexandria Book Binding” offers affordable repairs for simple fixes, mostly for cookbooks and bibles, and occasionally texts run over by a car. “We’re more book doctors than conservators,” Wilson explains.

The store receives all kinds of visitors; “many people that come in still love the smell of books,” says Wilson. She also feels that the use of Kindles doesn’t necessarily mean the end of physical volumes, particularly since there are plenty of works not available on them. Wilson feels there’s still something to be said for coming in and exploring the shelves; Amazon doesn’t allow for that same sense of exploration.


Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sunday and holidays, noon-6 p.m.

2501 Duke St.
Alexandria, 22314

3.   Bookhouse 

One place that’s not to be missed for history enthusiasts and bibliophiles alike is “Bookhouse” in Arlington—an actual house for books. Owner Natalie Hughes has been with the business at this100-year-old building since she started it 45 years ago. Carrying titles published as far back as 1850, the shop has a wide array of old volumes, some with and without dust jackets. Specializing in American history, half of the store features this subject. Everything else—from world history to art to architecture and religion—is contained on the second floor.

Boasting valuable antiquarian titles, this place still has something for everyone with books ranging from $2 to over $5,000. Hughes, 84, will be closing Bookhouse in a few years. Before it closes, her goal is to make sure everything in their collection is sold; as a result, many of the works are affordable.

Tuesday-Sunday, 1-6 p.m.

805 N Emerson St.

4.   Claude Moore Colonial Farm Bookstore

Located in an idyllic location, the Claude Moore Colonial Farm Bookstore in McLean is a cozy spot to sit back and leaf through a broad collection of old volumes. Tucked away on a winding road, the shop is literally off the beaten path. The titles are inexpensive and Phil Hanson, manager, explains that people can leave with a box (or more) filled with books. Featuring a kitchen, the store offers a space to enjoy coffee and cookies next to a collection of cookbooks and gardening texts. There is also a place to sit outside where the nonfiction is located.

Hanson explains that the store features a theme with a related display that changes every two weeks. Given the time of year, it’s currently focused on Irish history. Oftentimes events will correspond with the theme; they once had a Japanese tea while displaying volumes related to Japanese history and culture. For fun they also have a typewriter set up where people can test out this now-antiquated machine. Hanson explains that it’s entertaining to read what various people write. The reactions of children, unsurprisingly, can also be funny. He once heard a child say “Hey, mom look, the keyboard’s attached to the printer.”

Wednesday-Saturday, noon-7 p.m.
6310 Georgetown Pike
McLean 22101

Health care professional opens fast-casual BOWL’D this Saturday

Posted by Editorial / Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Photo courtesy of Natalia Marmolejo / EatBowl'd

Photo courtesy of Natalia Marmolejo

By Nicole Bayne

BOWL’D, a new addition to the fast-casual health-food market opens in Arlington this Saturday. Owner Allen Reed may have an MBA from The Wharton School’s health care program, but he says, “I have always been an entrepreneur at heart.”

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Fairfax cartoonist Matt Dembicki brings comics to the classroom

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Matt Dembicki

Smudge! Comics Arts Expo founder Matt Dembicki giving a talk on using comics in the classroom. Photo courtesy of Matt Dembicki.

By Matthew Tracy

Most people hear the word comic and picture caped crusaders jumping from buildings and using superpowers to defeat villains. But comics are much more than that for Fairfax’s Matt Dembicki, the Eisner and Harvey Award-nominated cartoonist.

Many of Dembicki’s comics are nature-oriented and are used to teach children and young adults around the country about the environment. His recent works such as “Trickster: Native American Tales,” a collection of creature folktales as told by Native storytellers, and the Ignatz Award-nominated “Xoc,” the tale of a great white shark, are perfect examples.

“I’ve always had this kind of thing with nature,” Dembicki says. “I can see different stories when I go for a walk in the woods. I see a certain type of animal, a squirrel or a bird, and can imagine perhaps what that animal might go through or what it’s thinking.”

Smudge! Comic Arts Expo

Image courtesy of Matt Dembicki.

Many of Dembicki’s nature-based comics have found their way into classrooms and libraries where they’re used as teaching tools. “You want kids to learn something. Whether you use a textbook or a video or an iPad or comics, it doesn’t matter,” Dembicki says. “Whatever it is that they get a connection with to understand what you’re teaching is great—you’ve succeeded.”

In 2014 Dembicki founded the Smudge! Comics Arts Expo to promote the educational value of comics. Entering its second year this Saturday, the free convention showcases local comic creators and features an array of comic workshops and panels for children and adults. A special theme this year is the use of comics in schools.

“We have one panel comprised of local teachers that use comics in their classroom,” Dembicki says. “(They’ll) educate other teachers on how they’re integrating comics into the classroom, into their curriculum and into their lesson plans.”

The educational value of comics means a lot to Dembicki. He moved to the U.S. at a young age and had trouble understanding English in school. Then one day his mom read about schools that used comics to teach kids to read. After she bought him some from a local convenience store, everything changed.

“I just got hooked, I wasn’t intimidated anymore. I could look for visual clues in the drawings to help me understand what was being said,” he says. “It also was a springboard to actually love to read, to help me appreciate art in a broader sense.”

Among the other features of this year’s expo is a panel focusing on diversity in comics. This will feature a local publisher who publishes stories based on race and gender diversity. “Comics aren’t just for white guys in shorts,” Dembicki says.


Smudge! Comics Arts Expo
March 14, noon to 6 p.m.
1101 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, 22209
Tickets: Free


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