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New River Valley’s Premier Lifestyle Magazine









November / December 2015

Happy Holidays

Friday, February 5, 2016, 7:30 PM

Moby Dick

Melville’s famed novel is brought to the stage by Blair Thomas & Co. Puppet Theater. Recommended for ages 13 and older $25, $10 students with ID and children 18 & under | 540-231-5300 MOSS ARTS CENTER | 190 Alumni Mall, Blacksburg, VA


N R V M A G A Z I N E November/December 2015

Fast Kids.


From our hospitals to our pediatric offices to the educational programs we offer throughout the region, Carilion Children’s is dedicated to the brave kids, the strong kids, the big and small kids—all kids.

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5 | 540-266-KIDS


November - December


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1 0 H o l i day H o m e s – E l ey H ou s e 1 4 H o l i day H o m e s H i s t o r i c al B u n g al o w


1 8 Re t i r e d G r e yh o u n d s 2 0 C h r i s t m as Tr adi t i on s 2 3 G i f t G u i de 2 6 Po r t f o l i o Man ag e men t

28 Cle a ring Cust oms: Ist anbul 30 NRV Rid es: VW B eet les 32 S m all Bu siness Feat ures 38 Blac ks burg ’ s Liv ing Room 42 S m all is t he N ew B ig


44 M int Co ndit ion

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N R V M A G A Z I N E November/December 2015









Pasture Talk

P. O. Box 11816 Blacksburg, VA 24062 o: 540-961-2015

PUBLISHER Country Media, Inc. Phillip Vaught MANAGING EDITOR Joanne Anderson ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Sabrina Sexton DISTRIBUTION MANAGER Dennis Shelor WRITERS Joanne Anderson Karl Kazaks Krisha Chachra Kelsey Foster Sheila Nelson Kelli Scott Emily Alberts Jennifer Cooper Mike Wade PHOTOGRAPHERS Natalie Gibbs Photography Amodeo Photography Always and Forever Photography Tom Wallace Nathan Cooke Magnifico Photography SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER Justin Ashwell Cover Image: Natalie Gibbs Photography © 2015 Country Media, Inc. Country Media, Inc. will not knowingly publish any advertisement that is illegal or misleading to its readers. Neither the advertiser nor Country Media, Inc. will be responsible or liable for misinformation, misprints, or typographical errors. The publisher assumes no financial liability for copy omissions by Country Media, Inc. other than the cost of the space occupied by the error. Corrections or cancellations to be made by an advertiser shall be received no later than 5 p.m. the 20th of each publishing month. No claim shall be allowed for errors not affecting the value of the advertisement. Paid advertising does not represent an endorsement by this publication. Content cannot be reproduced without written consent from Country Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Real Estate advertised in this publication is subject to the Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968.

At duplicate bridge one sunny afternoon not long ago, I beamed when Judy Gwazdauskas told me that she not only read all the articles in New River Valley Magazine’s SeptOct issue, but also she read every ad! She knows who is there, and she intends to patronize them and tell them she saw their ad. Thank you, Judy! If you’ve been reading my column for any part of these nine years, you know I’m a huge fan of entrepreneurs and small business in part because NRV Magazine is one, fully sourced by NRV freelance writers, photographers, designers and an account rep. In this issue, we profile one long-time, quickly recognizable company (by its big, faded blue, box truck) and two small businesses which changed hands this year, with entrepreneurs bringing more dreams, goals and hard work to small enterprises that turn the big economic engine. Two of our wonderful photographers, Natalie Gibbs and Shannon Ainsley, discovered beautifully-decorated homes last Christmas to photograph for this year ~ one a charming bungalow with big, tasteful splashes of neon colors inside; the other a 3-story brick, Federal colonial. One in Christiansburg; other in Pulaski. The surprising, coincidental, common

threads? Both homes constructed in the 1920s. Both solid to the core. Both owners wouldn’t change a thing. Those Roaring 20s embraced impressive architecture and quality construction along with movie picture shows and all that jazz and dancing! To every business in the NRV ~ I encourage each one of you to step up to the plate to be included in the inaugural issue of the New River Valley Business Yearbook. Call or e-mail for details or go to and click on Business Yearbook 2016. It’s the perfect tool for recruitment, raising money, showcasing your firm and participating in the NRV business community. I’ll work with everyone on your text; our professional photographers are ready; and the design team is taking this one to a new, all-time high for quality format. It is a don’t-miss-this-kind-ofpublicity-avenue opportunity. The holidays evoke a wide range of emotions, and we wish you all a generous measure of joy and peace this time of year. Happy Thanksgiving ~ Merry Christmas!

Joanne Anderson ManagingEditor

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Ho liday H o me s

THE WAY THINGS GO beautiful Colonial home ~ the Eley house Text by Joanne M. Anderson Photos by Always and Forever Photography

Some of their friends and neighbors raised eyebrows a bit when Donia and the late Randy Eley chose to move to Pulaski in 1977. “We simply loved this tall, 3-story, moderate-sized, brick home,” Donia recalls. Randy had graduated from William & Mary Law School three years prior, and the house had only one previous owner. “It was built in the mid-1920s,” she continues, “by the Sutherland family of the same law firm Randy joined the previous year. At move-in, the new owners were told the interior had been painted back in 1959. “The plastered walls were mint green top to bottom!” Donia exclaims. The first floor had a foyer (typical of the era), living room, dining room and kitchen. A former breakfast nook had been renovated 10

into a half bath, and there was also what had once been a maid’s quarters and small sun porch. The 2nd floor had four

“It’s taken a few decades for it to become known as the Eley home instead of the Sutherland home. That’s the way things go around here.” bedrooms, two bathrooms and a sleeping porch, with a 3rd floor serving as the kids’ playroom. Ten years later, the family

renovated the kitchen, added a beautiful 35 x 37’ family room/dining area with large windows and French doors, a fireplace, wet bar, garage under, screened porch and decks around the house. The big addition sports 10-foot ceilings and remains the most popular gathering space for family and friends. A master suite, bath, fireplace, sitting area and more decks were constructed over the family room a couple years later. Another kitchen update took place six years ago, and the third floor was finished along the way. All in all, Donia estimates the house includes some 6,500 square feet of living space, and no one seems positive if it’s Colonial Revival or Federal Colonial. What is in agreement for sure is that it’s a magnificent home with little maintenance.

N R V M A G A Z I N E November/December 2015

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“Well, it was a challenge to install heat and air conditioning, but certainly worth the effort,” she recalls. “I enjoy entertaining and filling the house with people, and Christmas is always a very special season.” Donia begins decorating the weekend after Thanksgiving with a fresh, 10-foot tall Fraser fir chock full of tiny lights. Ornaments handed down in the family and others collected across decades adorn the tree. Her favorite nativity is the focal point in the entry foyer with other nativity



scenes throughout the house. “I arrange my collection of glass, crystal and silver candlesticks on the dining room sideboard, lighted from the bottom with tiny white lights. Then I do the same with brass in the living room,” Donia explains. Family tradition includes eating well, and the menu is the same each year: Christmas Eve church followed by a little feast of beef tenderloin over thin slices of a good country ham. “The side dishes, wines and desserts change, but never the entree,” she smiles. Bring on the mimosas and bloody Marys to begin the Christmas


Day brunch of breakfast casserole with lots of eggs, cheese and sausage, country ham biscuits and a hot fruit dish ~ simple and easy to prepare ahead of time. Mix in love and laughter for a beautiful celebration day. While all of this takes place inside, the exterior decorating consists of large swags made from fresh greens, magnolia leaves, pine cones and berries with red bows on all the windows. More fresh greenery boughs go in the now-dormant flower pots, and flood lights illuminate the Eley house, as it’s known now ~ and for a long time yet. That’s the way things go over there.


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Ho liday H o me s

Vibrant Colors ~ Exquisite Charm a sweet, historical bungalow Text by Joanne M. Anderson Photos by Natalie Gibbs Photography

For some, 3rd time is a charm, but for Brandon and Nicole Craig, it was the 30th time that produced the charm, and that charm is way in abundance. “We looked at 29 homes before we found this one,” relates Nicole. “We had a home built in Riner, and once out there, decided we did not like being that far from town. As soon as we walked in, we knew it was the house for our family.” A craftsman-style bungalow built in 1920, the home exudes charm, style and function at every turn. The couple bought it from house flippers who had purchased it out of bankruptcy, fixed it up some and turned it around quickly. Though the house is five years short of being 100 years old, it boasts all of the features for contemporary living: 14

             

3,200 square feet full basement walk-in closets in every bedroom laundry room master bedroom on first floor large yard fireplaces (4!) 2.5 baths expansive front porch breakfast nook large kitchen unfinished attic comfy back deck 2-car garage.

Of course, some of the space includes add-ons from its original structure, but all along the way, multiple fireplaces, 10-foot ceilings, oversized wood moldings and trim, original pocket doors and oak

floors were preserved. The generous entrance foyer sports a 12-foot ceiling overhead and a beautiful monogram C underfoot, which Nicole painted. “We love that the master bedroom is on the first floor and our boys, now 7 and 10, have their own rooms, bathroom and play space upstairs,” says Brandon. Since buying the property in the spring of 2009, the Craigs have removed wallpaper in places and painted something, if not everything, in each room. Nicole has loved color since she was a child ~ bold color, bright color, pink, lime green, turquoise. “My husband is a saint for living in such a brightly painted house,” Nicole smiles. Some of her favorite home decor items come from online sites like Serena and Lily, Company C, Dash and Albert, Etsy and Stray Dog Designs.

N R V M A G A Z I N E November/December 2015

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Roman shades and curtains match and complement the walls which match and complement most of the upholstered furniture ~ some stripes, some polka dots, some solids, some prints. Nicole painted stripes in the breakfast nook, re-tiled the master bath in a retro black and white, and had green mosaic tile placed around one fireplace to match her interior decor. She has decidedly taken a colorful, eclectic approach to an all-time high, and it works just fine with all the old house charm and some lovely oak antiques. By Thanksgiving, they plan to install granite countertops and an apron front, farmhouse sink in the kitchen. “Because of the 12-foot ceiling in the foyer, we get a very large Christmas tree and decorate it early in December,” Brandon explains. “When the boys were little, they loved to guess which fireplace 16

Santa was going to come down. Many of our ornaments remind the boys of Dr. Seuss and will likely get passed down for generations.” The front porch runs the width of the house and is spacious enough for a porch swing, rockers, table and chairs and decorative accessories. The cushions change with the seasons, and during the Christmas holiday, Nicole hangs wreaths with custom hanging ribbons on each window and door in the front along with garland along all the railings and around the door way. “In the large planters, I place different size Christmas hat boxes stacked with live greenery, ornaments and eclectic Christmas picks and filler. All greenery is live and includes pine, Fraser fir and boxwood. Our Christmas tree is always a Fraser fir.” Between the big letters spelling GATHER over the front door, Nicole’s

warm personality and the happy color scheme, it’s no wonder the Craig home is a favorite hangout for friends and family alike. The couple moved here 19 years ago for Brandon’s job as youth pastor at Belmont Christian Church, and their house is an inviting oasis for their church family as well. Two favorite interview questions for New River Valley homeowners are: 1. What do you like the best about your house? 2. What would you change if you could? Without skipping a beat, Nicole responds: 1. Everything 2. Nothing.

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Fea tur e

Happy Tails

retired greyhounds make terrific pets By Jennifer Poff Cooper Photos courtesy of Star City Greyhound Adoption

Sara Orrick far left

“If you want a laid back dog that enjoys hanging on the couch watching TV, a retired racer fits the bill. All a greyhound wants is to be with its family,” says Sara Orrick, director of Star City Greyhound Adoption, Inc., in Roanoke. Its mission is to find greyhounds loving, quality, forever homes. After meeting greyhounds in her job with PetSmart, then fostering some, Orrick fell in love with the breed. There was not a local rescue group so she started one in 1999 and achieved non-profit status a couple of years later. The organization’s funding is all adoption fees and donations. Most of its retired racers come from the track in West Virginia outside Charleston. Most people think that greyhounds are treated cruelly while racing. “Some handlers are better than others, but if your dog isn’t well-cared for, mentally as well as physically, it isn’t going to run well and make the money,” says Orrick. Her primary duty as director 18

is to educate the public on what great dogs retired racers are. They are raised differently and treated differently than other breeds. “It can be part of their charm, but it can also make them a little difficult to get used to living as single dogs in a home atmosphere. Greyhounds have never been alone in their lives,” she explains. For families, greyhounds are ideal because they are tolerant of children. New River Valley Magazine publisher Phillip Vaught is a proud greyhound owner. They are “super sweet but they can be quirky.” He shares that one of his two “refuses to walk on anything but carpet. [They have never seen slick hardwood floors.] Our whole place is hardwood, so she makes her way by a trail of scattered rugs throughout the house.” A frequent question Orrick gets is: Why are greyhounds so skinny? “I explain that retired racers are built for speed.” Because greyhounds have thin coats and very little body fat, they prefer

temperature-controlled environments and soft beds. Star City greyhounds reside in a kennel facility where they are kept crated to feel safe. “We rented this facility for nine years until the owner passed away in January, and he left the property to the greyhounds,” says Orrick. The organization adopts out between 75 and 100 dogs per year. It has several websites and its Facebook page where it lists adoptable dogs. In the New River Valley, it takes adoptable dogs to festivals in Blacksburg plus the PetSmart in Christiansburg the second Saturday of each month. Orrick reports that several of her greyhounds have become therapy dogs to assist autistic children and post-traumatic stress disorder victims. As she says: “Sometimes the dog you save returns the favor!” Jennifer Poff Cooper is a local, freelance writer who contributes regularly to New River Valley Magazine.

N R V M A G A Z I N E November/December 2015

• Most greyhound males stand 26 to 30 inches tall at the shoulder, and weigh between 65 and 85 pounds. Females stand 23 to 26 inches and weigh 50 to 65 pounds. • The average greyhound consumes up to 2 pounds of meat per day. • All registered racers have tattoos, and there are websites where you can enter either their racing name or tattoo and pull up their racing records. • Greyhounds can go from 0 to 40 miles per hour in about three jumps. • With proper care, greyhounds live 12 years or more.

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Christmas Traditions

By Joanne M. Anderson

Cookies Galore! The Cookie Exchange or Cookie Swap is the perfect way to get together with friends and have a sweet assortment of cookies over the holidays. It’s a simple, sociable event which brings a variety of confections together, while you only need to bake one or two batches of the same cookie recipe.

already have extras at home. In the end, everyone goes home with 11 dozen different cookies for the freezer and holidays. When you organize it, you might ask each one what kind of cookie, so you don’t get four batches of gingersnaps or multiples of decorated, cutout, butter or sugar cookies.

Candlelight Service!

Let’s say you’d like 12 dozen cookies, each dozen a different kind. You invite 11 friends for an afternoon or evening gathering, and each one brings 11 dozen plus six of the same cookie or bar, and you have 11 dozen cookies. These are placed along the counter or a table, or you might ask in advance that each dozen is in a separate, sealed, zip-style bag. You place the six of each one on a large plate to enjoy with coffee, tea, wine, hot cider, whatever.

Many churches host a Christmas Eve service of Christmas carols, the Christmas message and individual candles. Traditionally, the candles are around 5 inches tall with a paper drip catcher around them. Toward the end of the service, someone lights the end person’s candle in every row, and that person turns to light the next one and so on. When all are lit, and the lights have been turned down, there’s a beautiful candlelight aura.

Of the remaining 11 dozen, each attendee takes one dozen of each type except their own, which they probably

In some churches, people holding the lit candles file out of the rows and outdoors, singing “Silent Night” or


another carol favorite. This is especially beautiful in a country church where there are few lights nearby. Others walk to the back of the sanctuary where they blow out the candle and place it in a metal bucket. These special candles can be purchased from or, and new LED flickering ones from remove the real flame.

& More

 Drive around to see Christmas lights  Attend local parades  Organize a group to go Christmas caroling  Visit a live nativity  Shop and buy local  Invite friends for hot chocolate and cookies (from cookie exchange!)  Start a tradition of your own, from stringing popcorn or cranberries for the birds to visiting shut-ins and nursing homes, there’s something for you and your family that will live on for generations ~ at Christmas time.

N R V M A G A Z I N E November/December 2015

The Face That Helped A Thousand Businesses!

(Well, hundreds anyway – but give him time.)

For the last seven years, Jonathan Kruckow has worked with hundreds of businesses in Blacksburg and the New River Valley as a commercial lender. As Grayson National Bank’s New River Valley Area Executive, Jonathan is prepared to help you and your business succeed, too.

Give him a call at 540.250.0280 to arrange a one-on-one meeting.

902 South Main Street, Blacksburg, VA

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The Area’s Largest Furniture & Mattress Selection

Make Your Holidays Grand

Grand has what you need to create a welcoming environment for the holidays and everyday. Choose from sofas, recliners, sectionals, dining rooms, bedrooms, mattresses and more!


220 Laurel St SW 540.381.4000

Open Every Day


N R V M A G A Z I N E November/December 2015


2015 Buying Local

Blue Ridge Heating and Air

The Big Green Egg is a combination grill and smoker available in any size to suit your needs. You can pick up yours at Blue Ridge Heating and Air, as well as Big Green Egg charcoal and all the supplies you need to get grilling. Stop by our store at 925 Cambria St. NE Christiansburg and pick up one for you and your friends! 540.381.1137

Crab Creek Country Store

Crab Creek Country Store has a wonderful selection of Willow Tree collectibles, Braided Rugs, 100% Soybean Wax Tarts and more. Find what you need to decorate your home, or find the perfect gift for this holiday season. Crab Creek Country Store, located at 925 Cambria St. NE in Christiansburg. Come in today for a unique shopping experience! We have something for everyone on your list!! 540.381.1137

Capones Fine Jewelry

Capone’s Jewelry is MOVING!! They are relocating to The Brownstone on Main Street and will be OPEN FOR THE HOLIDAYS. They are excited to be able to move to a historical location in Blacksburg to where the original Blue Grass Market & Annie Kay’s building were located once but is now attached to The Brownstone. In honor of Capone’s Jewelry’s 30th Anniversary they are celebrating by expansion of their retail showroom. The new location will make it possible to display all of their beautiful jewelry on one level. They will continue to provide custom design, repair and evaluation services. Parking will be available directly at the back entry to the store in the Washington Street garage at The Brownstone (across from Mellow Mushroom). 540-953-1000

Allure Spa & Skin Health Boutique

Offering:Massage Therapy, Facials, Microdermabrasion, Chemical Peels, Dermaplane, Manicures, Pedicures, & much more! Bridal & Special Occasion packages Professional skin care lines:Dermalogica & Jane Iredale mineral makeup in stock GIFT CERTIFICATES & online booking available.


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Buying Local Gift Guide The Palisades Restaurant

Looking for that unique gift? Gunpowder Springs Artisan Store, next door to the Palisades Restaurant has all local hand crafted gifts. From books to jewelry to our house-made chocolates. There is always something for everyone to enjoy. 540.626.2828

Slaughters’ Tree Farms

Located at Rt 221 North, Floyd, and 5652 Fancy Gap Hwy., Fancy Gap, VA. They have a beautiful selection of Fraser Fir & White Pine Christmas trees, cut your own or live trees available. The Garden Shop at 512 Floyd Hwy. South, Floyd has precut & live trees available. Plus fresh wreaths & garland. 540-745-4933

Matrix Gallery

A great little gallery full of quality American Crafts by local, regional and national artists. Pottery, Glass, Jewelry, Wood, Leather, and more. Beautiful holiday gifts that are functional, decorative, and fun! Located at 115 N. Main St. in Downtown Blacksburg 540.951.3566

Mad Dog

Located in Downtown Blacksburg, Mad Dog has the best selection of dresses, tops, outerwear, gifts and shoes at the best prices. We’ve been voted the top clothing store in Blacksburg for years running, and have everything you need: clothing for the Formal Girl, Casual Girl and always for the Party Girl. Be a Mad Dog girl! Open Monday through Saturday, 11am - 7pm, and Sunday noon - 5pm. Like us on Facebook! 540.961.4038 24

Christiansburg Garden Center

We offer Live and Fresh Cut Christmas Trees, Handmade Wreaths and Swags. Plus poinsettias just in time to make your Holidays Special. We can help with answers to all your decorating questions such as what trees are perfect for your home. We are located at 569 N Franklin St., Christiansburg, Beside Kroger. 540.382.6575

Fringe Benefit

Wrap the woman in your life in style with accessories, jewelry, sweaters, bath products, locally made soaps and lotions and unique gifts, or a gift certificate to Fringe Benefit. Make sure you get exactly what you want by filling out a Fringe Benefit wish list at our store, located at 117 North Main Street in Blacksburg. 540.951.9777


Choose and cut Christmas Trees. We have many varieties to choose from 3’ to10’. Fraser Fir, Canaan Fir, White Pine, Scotch Pine, Blue Spruce, White Spruce and Concolor Fir. Balled and burlap live trees available. Fresh wreaths made daily. Open daylight to dark. Thanksgiving day till the weekend before Christmas. 655 Spruce Run Rd. Newport 540-544-7700

pearis Merchantile

Located in Downtown Pearisburg, our elves are inviting you to enjoy unique shopping with 35 Artisan Consigners, antiques, speciality gifts and ideas plus seasonal items. A good selection of hiking supplies for the outdoors. Open 7 days with special night hours for the Holidays. Stop by 200 N, Main St. Pearisburg 540.921.2260

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NRV E n t r e pr e n e u r

Farming and Investment Portfolio Management Text by Michael R. Jones

Sam and Annie As with most noble occupations, you can learn a lot of life lessons from a farmer. My grandparents, Sam and Annie, were farmers. Their parents were sharecroppers, and I would guess their grandparents were as well. Like most Depression-era babies raised on a farm, they only went to school until they could be productive in the field. For them, that was 3rd grade. Even with very little formal education, both were among the smartest people I knew. And though I don’t think either of them ever bought a stock, bond or mutual fund, everything I needed to know about managing investment portfolios, I learned from them.

Modern Portfolio Theory on the Farm

My grandparents lived in southeast Virginia and grew three primary crops: corn, soybeans and peanuts. They knew from experience (historical performance data) that these crops could survive the region’s hot, humid climates and sandy soil. Instead of trying to 26

guess which one crop would be the most profitable in a given year (single stock risk), they would plant some of each (diversification). The crops were different enough (uncorrelated) so if weather didn’t cooperate, there would still be a chance at least one would do well enough for the farm to break even. Of course, there were a few years when all three had outstanding harvests and other years when none did particularly well. That was the risk they took by being farmers (market risk).

be ready to plant and approximately when to harvest. They also used a reasonably accurate short-term indicator, the weather forecast, to improve their success. In the spring when the forecast was for dry weather, they knew it was time to get the crop in the ground. If the forecast called for rain, instead of risking a stuck tractor or having the seed wash away before it could root, they would wait for a more opportune time. Unfortunately, investors don’t have equivalent indicators with the same accuracy, but that doesn’t stop us from looking.

Like with investing, beginning with historically successful crops (asset classes) and diversifying among them went a long way toward being profitable. They could have stopped there and done reasonably well. But they didn’t. Like most successful farmers, they used indicators to help them make the most of each year. First of all, Sam and Annie had an accurate long-term indicator, the calendar, which let them know when to

Although there was no equivalent to CNBC where Sam and Annie could sit for hours each day and watch farming experts tell them whether corn or soybeans would do best that year, they did subscribe to “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” (investment newsletter). This publication would confidently predict the weather for the upcoming year. Though I don’t think they put much confidence in its predictive abilities, it made for good conversation.

Improving the Odds of a Successful Harvest

The Farming Channel

N R V M A G A Z I N E November/December 2015

Getting Better Each Season

Over the years, my grandparents made use of new products and techniques. A few were easy decisions, like switching from mules to tractors. Others weren’t as obvious such as “new and improved” seeds and fertilizers that came out on a regular basis. Being conservative people, it would have been easy for them to not make any changes. However, they knew that ignoring proven products and techniques would be detrimental to their long-term success. Similarly, at every conference I attend, there are sessions about how to improve portfolio performance. I also get calls and emails on a weekly basis from companies with “new and improved” investment products. Through additional research, I find most of these are no better, and sometimes worse, than my current process. Every now and then, however, I find something worth implementing.

I could save a lot of time and energy by not looking for ways to improve portfolio management. However, I wouldn’t be fulfilling my obligation to look out for my clients’ best interests.

Stick to the Process

The most important thing my grandparents did was stick to a proven process. They knew that if they used techniques and products which stood the test of time, made improvements when warranted and embraced patience, success would follow. Following these principles would keep them from taking on too much risk. They wouldn’t have a lot of fantastic years, but they also wouldn’t go broke. Likewise, in managing investment portfolios, by sticking to a proven process and having the patience to let it work, I know the probability of success over time is much higher than switching to an entirely new strategy every few years. If Sam and Annie were around today, I would love to sit down over a bowl

of Annie’s butter bean soup and homemade biscuits and thank them for the investing education they provided. As that’s not possible, this will have to do. Michael R. Jones, CFP®, donned an entrepreneurial hat this year, starting Ataraxia Advisory Services in Christiansburg. He holds a B.S. degree from Virginia Tech and an MBA from the Krannert School at Purdue University.

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The Hospitality of Istanbul: Spanning Two Continents

Text and Photos by Krisha Chachra Maybe the Middle East isn’t the first place you’d think of visiting when booking your next vacation. Travel to this area may not receive the best endorsement, but the fact is, the world can be a precarious place no matter where you go. Although I advocate safety, I also am overcome by the richness gained through exploration. In that vein, I recommend putting Istanbul, Turkey, on your bucket list if you’re the type of traveler who desires a “wow” factor. This city has it all ~ more than 2,000 years old with a perfect blend of ancient and modern architecture, Eastern and Western culture. It has been the capital of three great empires – Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman, although it is not the capital of Turkey. You must stop into one of the many Turkish bath houses or Hamams. Get the authentic experience of the scrub down, massage and warming and cooling rooms where you relax in luxurious octagonal pools or treat your skin to a fresh steam. Also make sure you visit the Grand Bazaar where you can bargain and buy a wooden backgammon board with mother-ofpearl inlay or a hand-woven carpet that might resemble something from the movies that flies and takes you on a magical ride! The Spice Market is one of the most exotic sights. Filled with hundreds of stalls selling fruits, powders, oils, nuts and sweets, the aroma is heavy with a mouth-watering effect. Every conceivable spice is sold, and the deep colors of saffron, nutmeg, cinnamon and mint are magnificent. In terms of landmarks and historic sites, Istanbul is home of the Hippodrome, the scene of chariot races during Constantinople’s (the name Istanbul was known by during the Ottoman Empire) heyday and home to more than 3,000 28

mosques, including the famed Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. A trip to see the latter two sites is a must and will take your breath away. Built by Constantine the Great in the 4th century, the Hagia Sophia is one of the world’s only basilicas that has been both a church and mosque. The golden mosaics depicting stories of emperors and saints are mesmerizing, and the huge dome lined with large, coin-shaped symbols in Arabic make this structure one of the architectural marvels of the world. The Blue Mosque across from Hagia Sophia is equally as impressive. Although not required, females may choose to cover their heads out of respect when entering this jaw-dropping feat of classical Ottoman architecture. Built with more than 20,000 blue Iznik tiles, the structure is the only mosque flanked by six minarets. Our tour guide told us that Sultan Ahmed I, who ordered the mosque to be built from 1609 to 1616, asked the architect to build the minarets out of gold. The word “gold” and “six” sound similar; the architect misunderstood and built six minarets. Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and the only city in the world that spans Europe and Asia. Visiting Istanbul, therefore, is an elegant opportunity to visit two continents in one trip. My husband and I did just that. On one of our evening walks around the city, we passed a restaurant with a very persuasive caller beckoning tourists inside. The man was extremely friendly, a common trait in Istanbul we learned, and could greet people in at least a dozen languages. We were impressed with his confidence, comedy, tenacity and hustle as he made his 5-second pitch to curious couples strolling by.

The restaurant was Vuslat Ocakbasi and his name was Selcuk. As we sat among ornate, decorated pillows and dipped oversized inflated bread in homemade hummus served with a block of feta cheese and olives, we learned that Selcuk studied at Harvard and returned home to help his country and the family business. He wanted to show us true hospitality, so he invited us home to meet his family who lived on the Asian side of the city. So, the next day we found ourselves taking a taxi, a train, then a ferry across the mighty Bosporus Strait to the other continent. Finally, a car pulled around and Selcuk yelled from the window. He drove us to his house for a traditional Turkish breakfast. When we saw the spread, we couldn’t believe our eyes. There were at least 14 made-from-scratch dishes set out on copper plates and platters served with fragrant tea sweetened with honey and cherries. As we sat to begin our Turkish feast with the family, my hesitation to make the transcontinental trek to meet these strangers melted away. Selcuk’s dad raised his delicate teacup, toasted to new friends and turned to us: “Please tell your friends in America about the hospitality you experienced here in Turkey.” And as we chatted about the Middle East, I was reminded that the warmth of the meal and the sincerity of those who made it was the reason traveling brings people together all over the world. Krisha Chachra is Vice Mayor of the Town of Blacksburg and a regular columnist and author who has traveled to over 40 countries in 6 continents and reported and hosted shows for public radio and television. Her columns are taken from her journals and personal insights from traveling nationally and internationally throughout her life. Her book about returning to Blacksburg, Homecoming Journals, may be found online or in local bookstores. Email her at

N R V M A G A Z I N E November/December 2015

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NRV R i de s

Riding the Past into the Future

Text by Karl H. Kazaks Photos by Tom Wallace [] You can tell a lot about people by the possessions they keep. Raymond Bishop owns three VW Beetles – orange, burgundy and black – which conveys something about his life and the way he treasures his connections to the past. The orange VW is a 1973 standard Beetle. Bishop bought it in 1983 while living in Charleston, S.C. He bought the two other Beetles more recently. “That thing’s been through hard times,” Bishop says of the pumpkincolored one. “It caught on fire once. I had to put a new engine in it.” He drives all three Beetles regularly around Christiansburg and the New River Valley and has exhibited them in various veterans’ parades. The orange and burgundy Beetles make an eye-catching pair, as they almost match 30

the maroon and orange colors of Virginia Tech. The orange Beetle is Bishop’s only standard Beetle. The other two are Super Beetles ~ the burgundy a 1973, the black a 1975 with a sunroof. Super Beetles were created because standard Beetles, as popular as they were in the late 1960s, were being outpaced by newly designed, compact models from other manufacturers, such as the Toyota Corolla. Compared to the standard Beetle, these cars provided better comfort, newer driving technology and more storage space. U.S. sales of standard Beetles peaked at 1.3 million in 1971. So the Super Beetle was conceived to compensate for the standard Beetle’s shortfalls in these areas.

The Super Beetle can be distinguished from its predecessor by an elongated front end. Standard Beetles continued to be produced even after the introduction of Super Beetles. This new feature permitted greater storage space in the Super Beetle’s forward trunk, but it was also necessitated by a redesigned front suspension. Standard Beetles use torsion beam suspension, while Super Beetles use a more modern strut suspension system. Other upgrades were added to the front ends of Super Beetles, including new steering components and a better braking system. Despite its older suspension technology, the orange Beetle is the one Bishop likes driving the most. “It rides better to me,” he states. In addition

N R V M A G A Z I N E November/December 2015

to the longer front end, Super Beetles have another difference in their profile ~ a slightly flatter roof compared to the standard Beetle. Starting in the 1973 model year, Super Beetles also featured curved windshields. Over the years, Bishop has been diligent about maintaining his Beetles. He performs most of the cosmetic and interior modifications and improvements himself, such as replacing door gaskets, adding running boards, and installing a modern sound systems. On his black Super Beetle – the one with the hand-crank sunroof – he added some red highlights, including pin striping along the body and sharp VW emblems on the hubcaps. These cars don’t have

conditioning, though they are famous for their air-cooled engines. Bishop, however, finds them quite comfortable to drive on Interstate highways, even though strong winds can move them side-to-side. Bishop lives in his childhood home in Christiansburg where he grew up the second oldest of 10 siblings and to which he returned after a four-decade career at sea. After graduating from Christiansburg Institute, the historic African-American school, Bishop enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He eventually became a warrant officer, and after years of regular duty naval service entered the Military Sealift Command, retiring as a Lieutenant Commander. Much of his career – which spanned the Vietnam

War and both gulf wars was spent as a supply officer. He was on the first U.S. oiler to enter the Persian Gulf in March, 2003. “Growing up in a family of 12,” he relates, “you develop organizational skills useful for a supply officer.” In addition to keeping up with his Beetles, Bishop enjoys researching history, particularly local Christiansburg history and the AfricanAmerican experience. His family home contains a trove of books and research material on those subjects, as well as tokens and symbols of his years at sea. Those objects, as well as countless, indelible, family memories, fill his home and heart. “I ride on the past into the future,” he declares.

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NRV Sm al l B u s i n e s s - Pr o f i l e

Keeping It Local ~ Zeppoli’s Italian Restaurant & Wine Shop Text by Emily Alberts Photos by Always and Forever Photography Cody Thompson and Chris Mullens became business partners in midMay of this year when they made the lifechanging decision to buy Zeppoli’s from previous owner and co-founder Doris Fleming. She was nearing the end of a long restaurant career and seeking capable, hardworking hands to carry on her legacy. Since starting Zeppoli’s in 1996 with former co-owner Joe Slattery, Fleming made it her mission to offer fresh, madefrom-scratch, Italian cuisine. Drawing on recipes handed down from their Italian mothers, the pair created a place that was unique in the New River Valley. Fleming later became the sole owner, and years later the stars have aligned for Thompson and Mullens to take over the business. “It was really good timing for me,” Mullens says. Coming with seven years of experience in the kitchen at Abby’s and four years as a manager, “it was a great opportunity to move further along in my career and the chance to be my own boss.” With a two-year-old daughter at home, it


means more support for his family as well. “We believe in the concept,” Thompson adds. He is very familiar with Zeppoli’s because he spent the last six years working in the kitchen and moving up to manager. Thompson knew what he was getting into – sort of. “I am here constantly,” he laughs. But it’s okay because he is surrounded by good staff and limitless possibilities. “Whatever I put into it is what I get out of it,” he believes. For now, Thompson and Mullens aren’t making any drastic changes to the restaurant. They have given the interior a makeover with fresh coats of vibrant paint, and they updated the décor. New flooring is on its way, and they are also rolling out a new winter menu around Thanksgiving. “We are open for lunch on Saturdays, too,” Mullens states, which is new. Thompson and Mullens have ramped up social media efforts which is producing great results. They have been able to offer more charity and philanthropy events, hosting “percentage” nights for

professional businesses in the area and sororities and fraternities around campus. Between five and 15 percent of all sales go to philanthropy, which is something they are extremely proud to do. “We are definitely keeping the wine the same,” Thompson vows. A big perk of the restaurant is that they offer their wine at retail prices. The Zeppoli’s Wine Tasting events boast a loyal following, as customers are presented with an extensive list of wines to taste, and bottles are sold at a discount. Knowledgeable staff are on hand to introduce the wines, and a carefully planned dinner is paired with the tasting. Seats for these events fill up quickly, so you definitely want to make a reservation. Thompson and Mullens are thankful they were in the right place at the right time, and though they only knew each other for six months before partnering to purchase Zeppoli’s, they know they can rely on one another to keep the restaurant going strong for many years to come.

N R V M A G A Z I N E November/December 2015

Happy Holidays from Giles County NOVEMBER

Nov 4-27 | Narrows Gift Shop & Art Gallery Sale 11am – 5pm Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays Nov 12 | Wine and Food Pairing 6:30pm – 8:30pm Pearisburg Community Center Nov 13 | Murder Mystery Weekend at Mountain Lake Lodge 4pm – 10pm “The Murderer Who Came to Dinner”. Nov 14 | Holiday Bazaar in Newport 8am – 2pm Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church, Newport Nov 26 | Thanksgiving at Mountain Lake 11am – 4pm Mountain Lake Lodge


Dec 3 | Rich Creek Christmas Parade 7pm – Downtown Rich Creek Dec 4-6 | “Christmas with the Johnstons” Giles County Historical Society Dec 5 | Mistletoe and Music fund raiser for Giles Arts Council 7pm – 10pm Giles Country Club Dec 5 | Pembroke Holiday Parade 4pm – Downtown Pembroke Dec 6 | Pearisburg Christmas Parade 4pm – 5pm Downtown Pearisburg Dec 11-13 | Murder Mystery Weekend at Mountain Lake Lodge 4pm – 10pm “Silent Night, Deadly Night”. Dec 12 | Narrows Holiday Event Downtown Narrows Visit us @ • Twitter @VisitGilesCo • Instagram @GilesCoVA

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NRV Sm al l B u s i n e s s - Pr o f i l e

Your Security is Their Business ~ Brian’s Lock & Key Text by Emily Alberts Photos by Always and Forever Photography Brian’s Lock & Key is a family business which owner Tom Flinchum bought in 1989. “Purchasing the company from Brian Behal and his wife, Pam, was a decision that transpired through friendship and shared core values,” he says. The Behals knew that Flinchum and his family would keep the same business pattern. “We didn’t even change the name.” Flinchum added the trademark white lettering to its one-of-a-kind, faded blue, 1995 GMC box truck that has become their calling card. Anyone who has lived in Blacksburg for more than a year has probably noticed it. People often ask, “How many blue trucks y’all got on the road? I see them everywhere!” Amazingly enough, it is still just the one. The aluminum body means it won’t rust, and it is like a billboard on wheels. It goes everywhere from Roanoke to Wytheville, throughout Giles County, out to Floyd and all over the New River Valley. The business is on South Main Street in Blacksburg near TNT Property Management, which Flinchum has owned since 1983. “There is no big box store feeling here,” where wife Debbie has served as office manager and bookkeeper since 1996. She is also the compliance officer to make sure the business is run and maintained according to the guidelines of the Department of Criminal Justice Service (DCJS). All locksmith employees have to be certified through DCJS. 34

Their son, Talmadge, 27, has been there since he was a kid standing on a box to reach the counter. He loves learning about locking systems. “The book is this thick!” he says as he makes a claw shape with his hand. “We pride ourselves on solving just about any security problem you can imagine.” Indeed, whether it is fixing a lock problem, re-keying doors, changing locks or recommending a whole house or business security system, Brian’s Lock & Key is knowledgeable and skilled in every aspect of security. They offer key control systems in a range of prices and lock systems from your basic Kwikset to Schlage and Entek and the most secure locks of all, Medeco. Talmadge works closely with his brother-in-law, Derwin Sutphin, the only Certified Registered Locksmith between Bristol and Roanoke and a member of the Associate Locksmiths of America. Sutphin’s wife, Regina, works a couple doors away at TNT. “We are a service company,” says Sutphin. “My boys think I am a super-hero,” he laughs. “When I get called to a lock-out in the middle of the night, he knows I am out there helping people, and it’s a good feeling.” Sutphin is definitely on top of his game. He once cut a key just by eye-balling its shape through the window of a locked car door. Specializing in automotive, residential and commercial lock and key

services, the folks at Brian’s Lock & Key know that as smart as our cars have become, people still lock their keys inside. “I am not sure everyone knows what antitheft actually means,” says Talmadge. And they know that sometimes our crazy canine friends accidentally push lock buttons with their paws. Being a college town, roommates often lock each other out. New businesses want dependable security systems, and as long as that large, blue truck is on the road, Brian’s Lock & Key is serving the NRV community and beyond, 24/7. Personal and business security management comes down to common sense, which may not be that common anymore. People want convenience, and it often comes at the expense of security. “Take combination locks, for example,” Talmadge explains. “They are super easy to operate, and you don’t have to worry about a key. But, you have to remember the combination, and they are battery operated. When the battery dies, there is no lock we can pick for you. We have to drill out the whole unit and replace it.” When running a small business, there are no shortcuts to success and no replacement for quality service. Brian’s Lock & Key has become a trusted fixture in the NRV community. Emily Alberts is a New River Valley freelance writer and frequent contributor to NRV Magazine.

N R V M A G A Z I N E November/December 2015

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NRV Sm al l B u s i n e s s - Pr o f i l e

Staying the Course ~ Cox’s Driving Range (and more!) Text by Emily Alberts Photos by Always and Forever Photography Kevin Campbell and his wife Melissa are quite proud of their decision to buy and renovate Cox’s Driving Range. “It’s an incredible feeling of accomplishment to own and operate my own business,” he says. “I feel like I’ve finally got my freedom.” Owning a driving range has been a business interest of Kevin’s for more than 20 years. Something about the golf industry appeals to him and being an entrepreneur suits him to a tee. Being able to make all of the day-to-day decisions is one aspect that Campbell finds gratifying. “Well, at least the decisions my wife doesn’t make for me,” he quips. Kevin and Melissa married after she graduated from George Mason University. “She wore me down. She begged and begged me to marry her,” he jokes. In 2000, they moved from D.C. to Blacksburg to put down roots, and Kevin spent the next 15 years working in the computer software industry, a job that took him all over the country. Melissa is the chief financial officer for NanoSonic in Pembroke. The couple have three beautiful children -- ages 8, 10, and 12. However, between Kevin’s constant traveling and Melissa’s demanding schedule, it seemed 36

they were always going in different directions. “Needless to say, there were a lot of missed sporting events and birthdays,” Kevin laments. They longed for a situation that might be better for their family. It was time for a mulligan. They drove past Cox’s Driving Range all the time, and three years ago Kevin walked in and told the owner, Carlos Cox: “My name is Kevin Campbell, and I am the man who will own this place someday!” Cox’s wasn’t for sale at the time. Kevin was persistent. “I learned a few techniques selling software to local governments and utilities all those years,” he laughs. “Patience is an important one.” He stopped by every few weeks to say hello and ask questions. Finally, his resolve paid off, and the deal was done. He is not taking this opportunity for granted. “We have spent nearly $50,000 in renovations this year, and it’s paying off,” he says. They hired Valley Landscaping to renovate the miniature golf course with new sod and river rock, and they outfitted the driving range earlier in the year with 28 yards of concrete and lane dividers. They are still working out the details for the 1,500-square-foot retail space and have

considered everything from a restaurant to an arcade. “Our customers are happy that we’ve been renovating the property,” he says. Cox’s Driving Range has been a staple in the New River Valley since 1985, and the Campbells are proud to keep this tradition alive. The next step is to “fun-up” the mini-golf course with more obstacles. Those miniature golf course renovations will be complete by April next spring. They are updating the prizes for holesin-one on the mini-golf course and plan to continue the mobile food truck service Cox’s has been offering all year. “There’s no place in the world I would rather be than with my wife and kids, and I get the best of both worlds owning Cox’s,” Kevin says. “The bus drops my kids off right out front after school. Homework first, before anything else, then they help me run the register or practice golf and baseball. We converted the office into a family room and homework space, and it’s been such a great lifestyle change for our family.” They definitely plan to stay the course. Emily Alberts is a New River Valley freelance writer and frequent contributor.

N R V M A G A Z I N E November/December 2015

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NRV Cu l t u r e

Blacksburg’s Living Room Alexander Black House open to all Text by Joanne M. Anderson Photos by Amodeo Photography

The construction crew for the beautiful Free Classic Queen Anne home built for Alexander Black in Blacksburg in 1879 did not have to concern themselves much with wiring for illumination. That was the same year in which Thomas Edison tested the first electric light bulb and demonstrated incandescent lighting. It would be a few decades yet until fixtures with light bulbs hit the market. Alexander Black was the greatgreat-nephew of the town’s founder, William Black, who planned the original 16 squares. Alexander was the proprietor of a hardware store and founded the National Bank of Blacksburg. He had his home designed with many of the popular, Victorian-style, architectural elements of the day ~ gingerbread trim, steep, crossgabled roofs, exquisite towers, vertical 38

windows and large rooms. Expansive front porches on both sides of the front door offer pause at the grandeur of this design. The fancy components in the trim and colors are softened by wood flooring and a sky blue painted ceiling. High quality oak rockers -- singles and doubles -- generously donated by Linkous Auctioneers evoke a quiet reminder to rock away some time frequently. Wallpapers inside have been selected in vintage patterns to coordinate with the dark cedar green and dusty cabernet burgundy exterior colors. Wood trim is intricately carved and molded in every room and staircase. Original, painted tin ceilings overhead and meticulously refinished floors underfoot recall an earlier century of grandeur and attention to detail.

What mostly likely was the front parlor is now a gift shop with regional crafts and fun, functional pieces with the Alexander Black House etched into or printed on the materials ~ glasses, travel mugs, regular mugs, note cards, ornaments and tiles, for example. Pottery, jewelry, books, decorative accents, candles and bonsai plants are also for sale. Two large rooms host rotating art exhibits with Diane Relf’s “Rust” exhibit being replaced on Nov. 3 with “The Vietnam War in Blacksburg featuring Vietnam Combat Art” display. [See sidebar for details.] Another large, covered porch out the back door provides a more quiet, off-street place to relax. Small wood models by Dave Nickerson reside in a glass cabinet and include historic buildings like the Price House, Blacksburg Presbyterian

N R V M A G A Z I N E November/December 2015

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Church, Five Chimneys, Town Hall, Blacksburg Motor Company and Bennett-Pugh House. You can take a peek into the night life, as in sleeping, in a fully-furnished bedroom replete with a circa 1900 carved bedroom set with a marble top dresser and a tall wood secretary with book shelves, desk drawers, cubby holes and a writing surface. Lace curtains throughout are typical of the period, with heavy drapes added in winter. A variety of small items like a grooming set, place setting, silverware, spectacles and linens are present. The house was moved to this spot on a knoll from across the street, where it faced Main Street, in 2002. More than a decade of planning and fundraising has gone into its restoration, and it opened as the Alexander Black House & Cultural Center in August, 2014. The house, dubbed “Blacksburg’s Living Room,” is available for special events as the Blacksburg Museum & Cultural Foundation strives to carry on Alexander Black’s own tradition of welcoming townspeople into his life and his home. There is no admission fee. November 3 - 28 “The Vietnam War in Blacksburg featuring Vietnam Combat Art” Art created by soldiers on the front lines of Vietnam. These reproductions have only been available for public view since March this year. It is a collection of Vietnam Combat Art from the Army Art Program, and the original pieces are housed at the U.S. Army Center of Military History in Washington D.C. The exhibit also highlights experiences of those in Blacksburg who served in Vietnam or have vivid memories of the war at home. November 11 ~ Veterans Day 11 a.m. ~ 1 p.m. Retired Col. John R. Miller will share his involvement with the Army Art Program and the Association of the U.S. Army. All eligible veterans who come will receive a “Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin” in honor of their service.


Veterans Day

At the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month of 1918, the big battles of World War I were halted, marking the conclusion of what was thought to be “the war to end all wars.” The following year, President Woodrow Wilson (husband of Edith Bolling Wilson of Wytheville), proclaimed November 11 as the first holiday to “be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice ... .” Veterans Day in the New River Valley is celebrated with a parade organized by the government class at Christiansburg High School and several activities which acknowledge and honor veterans. The Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Dublin will host an open house from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Many businesses and residents plan to pause at 11 a.m. for a moment of silence or perhaps an hour of sharing their own patriotism, love of country and deep gratitude to those who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. NOTE to NRV Veterans: As of October 1, the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program has been re-named Virginia Veteran and Family Support. Its focus has broadened from stress and traumarelated conditions to also embrace services to military and veteran caregivers and families.; www.

N R V M A G A Z I N E November/December 2015

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NRV F e at u r e

Small is the New Big

By Jennifer Poff Cooper Buying local is more than a mantra; it is a lifestyle choice. For myriad reasons, millions of individuals, businesses and communities have embraced Shop Small, a movement begun in 2010 by American Express encouraging people to shop at small businesses. According to Civic Economics, for every $100 spent locally, $68 stays in the community verses the chain store where only $43 remains. That means more money remains local to improve schools and roads, to buy insurance and office supplies and to pay employees. Non-profit organizations receive an average of 250 percent more support from small business owners than they do from large businesses, according to Sustainable Connections. Local businesses are owned by people who live in the New 42

River Valley and are less likely to leave and are more invested in a community’s future. Peggy White, executive director of the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, says that buying local can be a fun and unique experience. “For instance, local foods are fresh and have not been processed or transported for weeks. Buying from a local jeweler or craftsman means you’re usually buying one of a kind pieces that no one else will have.” This sentiment is echoed by Cathy Clark, Giles County Chamber of Commerce’s executive director: “It’s easy to order online or go outside the county. However, we have unique shops where the owner greets you by name, asks about your family and takes the time to make sure your experience in their store is great.

That’s what makes our local businesses special. And, that’s not what you find at a chain or big box store.” The diversity of local shopping is an asset, says Floyd County’s tourism director Pat Sharkey. Indeed, there’s something distinctive about every small business. Kim Wasiak of Moda Designs ~ Antiques & More in Pembroke promotes its active “hunt, seek, and find book” where she keeps individual customer desires in mind to use when scouting. Another personal touch includes free gift wrapping year-round. Laureen Blakemore, director of Downtown Blacksburg, Inc., [DBI] is excited about its new loyalty card, a program designed to get people to visit and support 10 different downtown businesses and then to be rewarded

N R V M A G A Z I N E November/December 2015

for doing so with a $5 gift certificate from one of the participating businesses. Some localities offer gift certificates for purchase. In Floyd, gift certificate options are available for a variety of local services and products like massages or even festival and venue tickets. DBI gift certificates are accepted at several downtown Blacksburg merchants. New River Valley Magazine’s managing editor, Joanne Anderson, has bought them for her staff as Christmas presents. “Nice way to support ‘buy local,’ nice idea for local employers,” she says. The holidays provide the perfect opportunity for small businesses to showcase their competitive advantages, beginning with Small Business Saturday, a Shop Small tradition designated for November 28 this year. Radford Chamber of Commerce’s executive director Lisa Davis says that Garretts’ & Meg’s clothing store and Peacocks and

Hollyhocks gift shop will be offering sales and refreshments. Sharkey touts Floyd’s festive light and holiday decoration contest and holiday shopping crawls for that day. In Blacksburg, Small Business Saturday provides the double bonus of supporting local small businesses while enjoying special bargains, prize drawings and fun. “We really try to push this as a big day to start supporting our small, locallyowned businesses instead of the big box madness of Black Friday,” Blakemore explains. The Giles County Chamber is planning a Small Business Saturday event for Chamber members to drive business to their stores. It will be offering a shopping contest with a prize for spending a certain amount locally at member businesses. “Exposure is the critical promotion for any business, especially small businesses that are strapped with minimal advertising budgets,” states

White. “The week after Christmas, we host our Small Business Expo inside the Volvo Plant, right on the floor. All of our participating businesses not only get introduced to 2,000 people inside the factory in a matter of hours, but they receive additional advertising in local newspapers before and after the event.” The common denominator among the local business associations is the goal of putting small businesses in front of as many potential customers as possible to encourage local buying trends. The profits keep circulating and continue to strengthen the economic base of the community. And the beneficial cycle continues throughout the year. Jennifer Poff Cooper is Christiansburgbased freelance writer and regular contributor to New River Valley Magazine.

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NRV Fo o d

Mint Condition

peppermint treats anyone can make Text, Photos and Recipes by Kelsey Foster Sweet treats abound during the holiday season, and for many, that means peppermint-flavored everything. From simple candy canes to peppermint mochas and candy cane cookies, it really does seem like peppermint is everywhere. And love it or not, peppermint is just about impossible to avoid. So instead of trying to resist all of the mint holiday temptations, focus on the fact that peppermint, at least, is full of numerous health benefits. Studies show that peppermint can aid digestion, boost concentration and even help curb hunger cravings. It has also been shown to alleviate stress and provide calming effects in general ~ a benefit we could all use this time of year. Many people even take peppermint oil supplements daily. And although eating peppermint flavored treats can’t help alleviate headaches, a little peppermint oil rubbed on pressure points and temples actually can. So with all of the holiday indulging that will inevitably transpire, try to remember that a few of those health benefits might come in handy during the Christmas hustle and bustle. At the very least, it can make us feel a little less guilty when we reach for seconds. Or thirds. Homemade peppermint patties and marshmallows may seem a bit intimidating at first, but the processes are quite simple. Make it a group event with children, grandchildren, spouse, partner or best friend. If you are newly married, begin a new tradition of making and giving peppermint patties and marshmallows. If you are long time married, well, do the same. When placed in a mason jar and wrapped with a colorful ribbon, they make tasty, novelty gifts for neighbors, teachers, relatives and friends alike. Kelsey Foster is a freelance writer, blogger and California transplant to the New River Valley. She developed these recipes for this New River Valley Magazine feature, and her a food and lifestyle blog,, offers many tips on food, fashion and home decor.

Peppermint Patties (yield: ~ 3 dozen) Do not skimp on refrigeration or freezing times as the dough softens quickly and will become almost impossible to work with. If you don’t have a small, round, cookie cutter, invert a small glass. As you prepare to dip into the chocolate, avoid stacking the patties as the softening process may cause them to stick together. I used dark chocolate, a family favorite, but feel free to substitute bittersweet or milk chocolate. Ingredients: 3 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted 3 Tbl. evaporated milk 3 Tbl. light corn syrup 1 1/2 Tbl. melted butter 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract 44

1 tsp. peppermint extract 20 ounces dark chocolate chunks 2 Tbl. shortening 1/2 cup crushed candy canes Steps: 1. Combine powdered sugar, evaporated milk, corn syrup, butter, vanilla and peppermint extract. Beat together on low-medium speed until a stiff dough forms. The dough may be a bit crumbly but will form together when pressed. 2. Divide dough into two even balls, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour. 3. When dough is almost ready, line a baking sheet with wax paper. Sprinkle powdered sugar onto a large workspace and roll out one of the dough balls until 1/4 inch thick. 4. Using a small, round, cookie cutter, cut circles and carefully transfer onto the wax paper. Re-form the dough and re-roll and re-cut until no dough remains. Repeat with the second ball. Place baking sheet(s) in the freezer until patties are firm, at least 1 hour or overnight. 5. When ready to dip patties, combine chocolate and shortening in a medium glass bowl. Heat in microwave 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or so, until completely melted. 6. Using a fork, carefully dip each of the patties into the chocolate. Let excess chocolate drip off and then place back onto the baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle crushed candy cane pieces on top. 7. Place peppermint patties back into the fridge until firm, at least 1 hour. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

N R V M A G A Z I N E November/December 2015

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Peppermint Marshmallows (yield: ~ 3 dozen) If you haven’t considered making homemade marshmallows, you are in for a special, sweet treat. You need a candy thermometer that clips on the side of a pan and an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Be sure to coat the bottom and sides of the glass pan generously with the powdered sugar-cornstarch mixture as marshmallows are quite sticky, and this helps with the cutting process. I used dark chocolate, but you can substitute bittersweet or milk chocolate. Ingredients: 3 Tbl. unflavored gelatin (3 packets Kroger brand) 1 cup ice cold water, divided 1 1/2 cups sugar 1 cup light corn syrup 1/4 tsp. salt 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract 3/4 tsp. peppermint extract 1/4 cup powdered sugar 1/4 cup cornstarch vegetable oil 10 ounces dark chocolate chunks 1/2 cup crushed candy canes Steps: 1. Pour 1/2 cup of cold water in a mixing bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top. Set aside. 2. In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup cold water with sugar, corn syrup and salt. Cover and cook over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes. 3. Remove the lid and clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Let mixture come to a boil and continue boiling until it reaches 240ºF, about 7 to 8 minutes. Be sure the thermometer is not resting on the bottom of the pan. When mixture reaches 240 degrees, remove from heat immediately. 4. Using the whisk attachment, turn the mixer on low speed and slowly pour the sugar syrup mixture into the mixing bowl. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase mixer speed to high and continue to whisk until it becomes thick and lukewarm, about 12 to 15 minutes. Add vanilla and peppermint during the last minute or so of mixing. 5. Meanwhile, combine powdered sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Spread a little vegetable oil in a 13 x 9 inch glass pan. Pour in powdered sugar-cornstarch mixture and coat bottom and sides of the 46

pan. Pour excess back into the small bowl and set aside. 6. Coat a rubber spatula with a little vegetable oil and carefully pour marshmallow mixture into the glass pan, using the spatula to create an even layer. If the spatula does not work well, dampen your hands with water and use them to spread the mixture. Sprinkle with some of the remaining powdered sugar-cornstarch mixture and let set up at room temperature for at least 4 hours or overnight. 7. When ready, turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board. You may need to use a powdered sugar coated metal spatula to get it out of the pan. Using a pizza wheel

coated with powdered sugar, cut the marshmallows into 1-inch squares. Dust the uncovered edges with the remaining powdered sugar-cornstarch mixture. 8. Place a sheet of wax paper on a baking sheet. 9. Place dark chocolate in a medium glass bowl. Heat in microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or so, until completely melted. 10. Dip one of the ends of each marshmallow into the dark chocolate and then into crushed candy canes. Place on waxed paper. Repeat until finished. Place in an airtight container and store in refrigerator.

N R V M A G A Z I N E November/December 2015

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When it comes to celebrating the holidays, there’s always room at

Fashions for Evergreens Trees on Display November 26 – January 1


A must-see holiday event! Our foyer's 16 professionally designed trees present awe-inspiring decorating ideas in this extraordinary display.

Family Night at Preston's November 27 & 28, December 4, 5, 11, 12, 18 & 19 | 5 - 9 pm On Fridays and Saturdays this season, enjoy a casual family dinner in Preston's with a traditional holiday menu that will delight the whole family from Santa's Little Helpers to Mrs. Claus herself.

Herma's Readers Saturday, December 5 | 2 - 3:30 pm & December 12 | 10 - 11:30 am Enjoy a book reading by a Virginia Tech athlete, coach or dignitary. Coach Frank Beamer founded Herma's Readers as a tribute to his mother, Mrs. Herma Beamer, an educator for over 30 years. Herma's Readers' goal is to promote, encourage and support reading among school children in Virginia. Space is limited, reservations required. Please contact Hannah Vogel at 540.231.0113 or for reservations.

A Holiday Treat This season, treat yourself to the luxury of The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center and be surrounded by the sights, sounds, and scents of the holidays. On select days this holiday season, enjoy deluxe accommodations from only $91.00 per night. For reservations, call 540.231.8000 or visit

Holiday Carolers Friday, December 4 & 18 | 6 - 8 pm Cozy up with a complimentary mug of hot chocolate and enjoy live entertainment at The Inn featuring the Blacksburg Master Chorale's own "Ad Hoctet." This strolling group of carolers will ring in the season with Christmas carols and other holiday favorites.

A Visit from Santa Friday, December 11 | Performance starts at 5 pm Experience the magic of Santa Claus at The Inn! Spend time listening to Santa’s stories, singing songs and sharing a magical experience. Children sit on the floor or move about the room comfortably, getting to know Santa at their own pace. Photographs are allowed so be sure to bring your camera. Space is limited, reservations required. Please contact Hannah Vogel at 540.231.0113 or for reservations.

Champagne Sunday Brunch with Santa November 29, December 6, 13 & 20 | 11 am – 1:30 pm Santa is your host for this bountiful brunch buffet. Join him for bowl-full-of-jelly laughs and tell him what you really want for Christmas. Brunch patrons will enjoy a complimentary photo with Santa.

Christmas Eve at Preston’s Thursday, December 24 | 5 – 9 pm ’Tis the season for entertaining! Make your reservations now for a special holiday four-course plated dinner in Preston’s Restaurant.

Christmas Day Brunch at Preston's Friday, December 25 | 11 am – 2 pm A meal at The Inn is always special … but the holiday season holds a unique charm. Come enjoy the holiday decorations, the sounds of the season and our genuine wishes for a joyous holiday.

New Year’s Evening at Preston’s Thursday, December 31 | 5 – 9 pm Close out 2015 "Inn"-style with live entertainment, a four-course dinner and a champagne toast.

901 Prices Fork Road, Blacksburg, VA 24061 | For reservations, please call 540.231.8000 or visit

Nrv mag nov dec 2015  

Nov-Dec Holidays Issue 2015. New River Valley. Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Radford, Montgomery County, Giles County, Pulaski County and Floy...

Nrv mag nov dec 2015  

Nov-Dec Holidays Issue 2015. New River Valley. Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Radford, Montgomery County, Giles County, Pulaski County and Floy...