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PUBLISHER'S LETTER Happy November, Alexandria, and welcome to The Women's Health Issue! I love featuring accomplished, awe-inspiring women! Our cover story this month ("Pathway to New Beginnings: Mental Health & Hope In The Time of COVID-19," beginning on page 16) is a celebration of four such women who have taken on the mental health crisis by providing safe access to services during the pandemic. We all need a little help sometimes, and these women are bringing hope back to our community. Speaking of the pandemic, I must admit that I have yet to fully find my stride in this COVID-19, "new normal" world. Along with social distancing regulations and mandatory masks, travel opportunities have become limited. As a true wanderer, not being able to escape 'my bubble' feels claustrophobic and unnatural. That's why I was so thrilled when my team decided to take us on a trip to Italy... without us having to leave Alexandria. "A Tour of Italy: Memories In Every Bite" (page 51) will take you on a local adventure, in which every stop will find you at a local Italian eatery. Each location offers curbside pick-up and social distancing dining options, but if you would prefer to prepare your own Italian meal in your own kitchen, Noe Landini of Landini Bros. has got you covered. His Italian-American Thanksgiving Day recipes on page 55 are the key to calming even the most restless of us. It's so incredible to think that Thanksgiving is only a few short weeks away. But there is another holiday that we need to acknowledge first: Veterans Day. I always struggle with my Veterans Day messaging because, to be blunt, saying, "thank you," never seems like it's enough. For this military spouse, finding the right words on such a meaningful day always seems so impossible. This is why the Salute to Service feature of VIP is so near and dear to my heart. It was my way of attempting to bridge the gap between our military families and our community; to provide a deeper understanding to Alexandria of what our service members and their families endure for the sake of our nation. This month, we have brought you two unique stories about two extraordinary female veterans. As I'm sure you've gathered, the pages ahead contain many VIPs with meaningful stories to share with you. From overcoming addiction, surviving abuse and battling cancer to 'mask mouth' dental concerns, balancing your hormones and finding positive energy through music, this issue is one you'll want to read and reread before passing it on to your moms, sisters, friends and colleagues.


PUBLISHER Kellie Gunderman OPERATIONS DIRECTOR Jeanette Wages EDITOR IN CHIEF Warren Gunderman MANAGING EDITOR Abby Wolverton SALES EXECUTIVE Andrew Gates CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Kristen Coffield Maria Elizabeth PHOTOGRAPHERS Jeff Heeney Victoria Mance Sarah Marcella Jonathan Thorpe

Until next time, Alexandria. Stay thankful.

All inquiries: hello@vipalexandriamag.com

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WHAT’S INSIDE WOMEN'S HEALTH 16 Pathway to New Beginnings: Mental Health & Hope In The Time of COVID-19 22 Positive Vibes: Tibetan Singing Bowls 26 Everything You Didn't Know About Your Mouth In The Time of COVID-19 32 Mary Edwards: Warrior - Survivor - Thriver 34 A Life Without Alcohol: The Martha Carucci Story 40 OTBD Going Purple for Pancreatic Cancer Awareness 46 Harness the Power of Food & Good Habits  for Hormone Balance 48 Women: Your Health. Your CBD.


RBG Candlelight Vigil

24 Mount Vernon Fall Wine Festival & Sunset Tour 28 Row for The Cure at Row House 30 Virtual Walk to Bust Cancer Angel Wings Photo Challenge 38 Wedding Planners Mingle at Salon MONTE 44 Salon deZEN Photoshoot 58 1st Annual Old Town Shucking Contest 60 Free Flowing Musical Experience LIVE at The Birchmere 62 Hops N Shine Chalkboard BBQ Thursday with Catoctin Creek


Salute to Service (Presented by Defense Credit Union Council): The Tonya Wright Story

51 A Tour of Italy: Memories in Every Bite 55 An American-Italian Thanksgiving (Recipes by Noe Landini of Landini Bros. 64 Laura Hatcher: A Celebration of Service

ON THE COVER Dr. Lauren Fisher & Dr. Eleni Boosalis of Del Ray Psych, Alycia Burant of Healthy Minds Therapy & Dr. Amy Fortney Parks of The Wise Family Photographer: Jonathan Thorpe

Special Thanks to Glynn Jones Salon (Hair & Makeup) & Queen Bee Designs (Jewelry)



Story by Kellie Gunderman Bought to you by Defense Credit Union Council

It’s no secret that military spouse employment has become a hot topic over the past two decades. The employment discrimination that follows military spouses—typically due to stereotypes and fear of relocation—has been well documented by job seekers from coast-to-coast. Non-profit organizations dedicated to the cause began to stand up, on a mission to advocate for those seeking professional homes, while large corporations began doing their part by establishing programs to publicize their commitment to hiring military spouses. A career can indeed contribute to one’s sense of selfworth. It is also true that the ability to financially contribute to one’s family is unquestionably a priority for us all. But it can be an extraordinary, eye-opening experience to hear a champion for military spouses’ humbly remind us that even though the paths of military spouses are all paved with the same sense of duty, our careers may not be our only path to success.

DUTY [ doo-tee, dyoo- ] noun, plural du·ties.

an action or task required by a person's position or occupation; function: the duties of a United States Airman

When Tonya Wright graduated from high school in Johnstown, PA, there was no question in her mind where her life would take her. Armed with a proud family, desire to travel, serve her country and the packed luggage her father had bought her as a graduation gift—a loving nudge to go forth without fear—Tonya left home and enlisted in the United States Air Force. “I always knew I wanted to get out of this little town and join. I wasn't interested in having a lot of student debt. I knew I could still get my degree, but also see the world in the process… and not have to deal with all the debt.”


RISK MARRIAGE [ mar-ij ] noun

a relationship in which two people have pledged themselves to each other: They have a happy marriage.

Tonya had been proudly serving her family and her nation all over the world for almost twenty years—even while completing her college degree—when her path suddenly took a surprising turn. “I met Kaleth late in my career. I was stationed in Germany and we met through mutual friends over Facebook. Everyone told me he was ‘the greatest,’ so I took a chance and met him in-person during a trip to Maryland before relocating to my new duty station in Guam.”  As so many military love stories go, there was a little fear, a lot of romance and then one big question before being forced to separate: can we make it work? Long-distance relationships are never easy, but Tonya and Kaleth were determined to live their lives together.  As an enlisted service member, Tonya knew that finding a way to become stationed alongside her future husband would be difficult, if not impossible. And so, Tonya made the fearless decision to leave the Air Force, giving up a promised promotion to E7 on her way down the aisle. When asked if she has any regrets, Tonya was very clear; she was ready to set out on a new adventure as a wife and military spouse.


[ risk ] noun

exposure to the chance of loss; a dangerous chance: Love is worth the risk.

If you’re wondering whether transitioning from a careerairman to the wife of a top senior enlisted member would be challenging, you’d be right. “It was difficult. I had to get this idea out of my mind that I was leaving my own career and identity behind.... now I'm just a spouse. I had no idea what I was getting into. When I was active duty, we would talk about getting married and all of the appearances we would have to make together as a couple. I was dead set against it; I would tell him I wanted no part of it. I’m honestly surprised he married me.” 

"It was difficult. I had to get this idea out of my mind that I was leaving my own career and identity behind.... now I'm just a spouse. I had no idea what I was getting into." - Tonya Wright

It’s easy to laugh about today, but Tonya’s preconceived notions about joining the ranks of military spouses would be enough to panic even the strongest of us. Though she had a successful and fulfilling military career, Tonya would soon realize that as quickly as her adventure in the Air Force had come to a beautiful end, her new life as a wife, military spouse, friend and leader was about to begin.

EVOLUTION [ ev-uh-loo-shuhn ] noun

any process of formation or growth; development: the evolution of a thought

When Tonya moved to Germany to be with her new husband, her experiences as an airman kept her grounded. She promised her husband that waiting on her

to step into the shoes of a typical military spouse would be foolish, but she soon realized that exploring this new role alongside Kaleth was something she was meant to do. The only problem was that Tonya had absolutely no idea what she was doing. “I felt very ill-equipped and had no experience with spouse groups. I felt insecure, but I jumped in and learned as much as I could.”

FRIENDSHIP [ frend-ship ] noun

the state of being a friend; association as friends: to value a person's friendship.

The wife of Kaleth’s direct supervisor took Tonya under her wing without hesitation. She was warm and reassuring and it was not long before the two women were traveling throughout Europe together, creating a special bond and learning about each other and themselves. “We learned very quickly that in this community, you have to rely on your other spouses as a support network. I made some of the best friends of my life. Had I kept my original thinking, I would have missed out on so much. There are great lessons to be learned as a member of the military spouse community.” Once Tonya realized that it was possible to be proud of her military career, dedicated to her husband and have a beautiful life as a military spouse, advocating for her newfound life became effortless.  "I began to challenge the preconceived notions I'd always had about being a military spouse and I'm so glad that I did. I still have friends from my days in the Air Force, but some of my best friends are military spouses. If I hadn't taken that leap of faith, I would have missed out on so much."


COMMUNITY [ kuh-myoo-ni-tee ] noun, plural com·mu·ni·ties.

a social group whose members reside in a specific locality, sharing common characteristics or interests a community of like-minded individuals

As a military spouse, becoming a member of the local community can be challenging and overwhelming. For many, life is on post. Your home is on post. Your grocery store is on post. Your support system, schools, doctor, gym and even favorite coffee shops are all on post. But Tonya learned early on that just because something feels safe or comfortable, does not mean that it’s what is best. It was important for her to build relationships with her fellow military spouses, but also with her neighbors beyond the post walls and she encouraged her friends to follow. “I wanted to let military spouses know, ‘You are a person of influence in your community.’ Spouses feel like if

they’re not working, they don’t know what their role is. They don’t know what they have to offer. But the truth is, they are resilient, educated and adaptable. These are individuals with great characteristics, but they don’t always feel that way. They aren’t always brave enough to step outside of their comfort zone to get to know their neighbors."

SELF-CONFIDENCE [ self-kon-fi-duhns, self- ] noun

realistic confidence in one's own judgment, ability, power, etc.

When asked what she would say to someone who criticizes her for leaving her career for love, Tonya laughed and told us about how she currently sits on the Advisory Boards of The American Red Cross, The USO, The Air Force Aid Society, Blue Star Families, the National Military Family Association and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.

Duty. Marriage. Risk. Evolution. Friendship. Community. Self-Confidence. We all define success differently. How will you define yours? Email us at hello@vipalexandriamag.com to tell us your story. 



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RBG Candlelight Vigil Story by Kellie Gunderman | Photography by Jeff Heeney

Following the passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, ALX Community and Mindful Junkie coordinated a candlelight vigil. Mourners met in Market Square, walked down King Street and to pay tribute to the life adn work of RBG. Battery operated candles were distributed and speakers led the crowd in a moment of silence to reflect on RBG's life, work and service. Kelly Grant, Partner and COO of Alx Community and a coordinator of the vigil said, "We all have a little Ruth in us. We have a chance to be brave, the opportunity to actively listen to others even when we don’t agree, stand up for our beliefs, and use our lives to serve others who are less fortunate."

Councilwoman Amy Jackson (center) with Alexendria Police Officers

Lynn & Zinder Orlow

Lynne & Skip Baptista

Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson


Gina Rollo White

Kelly Grant

PW Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy




Featuring Dr Lauren Fisher, Dr. Eleni Boosalis, Alycia Burant & Dr. Amy F. Parks Photography by Jonathan Thorpe


“My mission at the outset was to build relationships and immerse myself in the culture so I could understand the needs of others.”

ALYCIA BURANT Community is at the core of Alycia Burant’s practice as a Licensed Professional Counselor at Healthy Minds— an emotional healthcare practice located in Old Town, Alexandria with a team of 24 professionals, including a Director of Operations & Director of First Impressions, graduate level interns, resident counselors, and licensed contractors. “My mission at the outset was to build relationships and immerse myself in the culture so I could understand the needs of others.” The goal, she says, was to understand how she could use her skill set to improve people’s lives. A Virginia Tech alum, she says she knew early on in her studies she wanted to help others, believing mental stability is the key to success. “I really loved my first intro to psychology class. I leaped into the field and never looked back. It always felt right and comes very naturally to me.” Alycia believes mental healthcare professionals are


leaders in their communities, saying mental health challenges “do not discriminate,” and her goal is to provide a safe space for anyone seeking help, where each professional has a role and purpose in providing care. “Everyone is affected [by emotional health issues] and we want to make sure we continue to advocate for quality and accessible care for all. We serve and walk alongside all types of members of our community.” The mission of Healthy Minds, Alycia says, is to provide hope, particularly during a time of an acute global crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, which she says has caused a shift in their business model and the mental health industry at large. Getting creative about spreading their message, Healthy Minds produces blog and video content to provide socially distant access to mental health resources. “We want to help by offering free services to our community such as webinars, workshops and some pro

bono counseling services. We also collaborate with other local businesses—such as Ease Yoga and South Block—to support the local economy.” Alycia encourages patients not to wait when it comes to seeking care, saying clients can define their own experience with therapy, and gently reminding them Healthy Minds is a safe space for all. “We recognize the strength and courage it takes to reach out to us. We get it, we’ve been there. This is a place for you to work through whatever issue you have in hopes of coming out a healthier, happier person on the other side.” For more information on Alycia and Healthy Minds, visit www.healthyminds-therapy.com Drs. Lauren Fisher and Eleni Boosalis believe that the mind and body are completely connected. It’s been the guiding principle in their careers in the mental healthcare field—both of which span over a decade—and a vision they share as co-owners of Del Ray Psych and Wellness, which launched in September, 2018.

“Integrating the treatment of the mind and body, energy psychology, spirituality, family dynamics, and mindfulness training in our sessions helped make deeper and more permanent changes in people’s lives. - Dr. Boosalis.

Their range of services includes psychotherapy, career counseling, family therapy, couples therapy, EMDR, hypnotherapy, substance abuse counseling, intuitive eating and gender reassignment surgery, mindfulness meditation classes, and yoga. The best approach, they say, is the natural one. “We found that our best treatment outcomes were a result of using a holistic approach in psychotherapy. In our previous places of employment, we felt the medical


model of treatment wasn't cutting it, so we set out to create a practice that addresses the whole person,” says Dr. Boosalis. The doctors believe their success is attributable to their passion for their work, authenticity and their trust in their own intuition—with an added dose of grit and karma— but the true key, they say, is their team of nine competent and patient professionals. “The strength of our team was most clearly demonstrated when we experienced the shutdown during the pandemic. It has never been a more challenging time for therapists to hold space as it was then, because we were also going through the same stress. However, all our employees opted to work every day for three months— without taking a day off—to support those in need,” says Dr. Fisher. The women say they purposefully selected tenants in their building in order to provide complementary services, such as massage services (The Vital Body) and medical, nutritional and wellness services provided by naturopathic physician, Dr. Patricia Diefenbach (Natural Integrative Medicine), and nurse practitioner, Sonia Palmieri, NP (Tranquil Healthcare). They also plan to hire contractors to their team to provide workshops and classes relevant to the needs of their community.


The doctors say their ultimate goal is to de-stigmatize mental health issues and create an open dialogue surrounding wellness. They seek to provide an easy and enjoyable experience through an organized intake process and offering a warm, comfortable environment for therapy. Dr. Fisher advises all patients beginning their mental health journey to take control of their care.

“Do not be afraid to ask questions or to be selective with who helps you. A good therapeutic relationship has been found to be the best predictor of treatment success," says Dr. Fisher.

coaching to diversity and inclusion education offered virtually across the country. The focus, she says, is on family – which is how she views her team of experts on child development.

For more information on Drs. Fisher and Boosalis, and Del Ray Psych and Wellness visit www.delraypsych.com

“Our goal is to provide the best possible support to everyone who comes through our doors. We are LBGTQ+ allies, diversity advocates and kid-centered cheerleaders who work together as a family for families.” The Wise Family practice currently employs 10 child

Based out of Northern Virginia, with offices in Alexandria, Arlington and Winchester, The Wise Family is a psychotherapy practice supporting kids, teens and families, offering individual, group and family counseling, parent coaching and brain-based testing and training.

development experts who are licensed or nearing licensure as professional counselors, as well as a Clinical Psychologist and a professional Parent Coach. Dr. Parks believes the services she offers are “more important than ever” as school struggle with managing the volume and intensity of issues that arise for children and teens during a typical school day.

The Wise Family was founded as a group practice in 2015 by Dr. Amy F Parks. As an Alexandria native, Dr. Parks has spent her entire career working with children, teens and families. The path to entrepreneurship, she says, was a natural progression. “I loved being in schools, but I also loved being the boss.” Despite the self-admitted “bossiness”, Dr. Parks says the key to her success has been her team building focus and clear brand and mission. “I want to help families build resilient communication and connections.” Dr. Parks says this is achieved through a myriad of services – from psychoeducational assessment to parent

The Wise Family’s work goes beyond just families, connecting with schools, pediatricians, parent groups, and collateral care givers. The goal, Dr. Parks says, is to make mental health care more like physical healthcare, “regular, accessible, normal, helpful and healing”. Dr. Parks’ biggest piece of advice to someone who is seeking mental health services? “Never stop trying.” For more information on Dr. Amy F Parks and The Wise Family, visit www.thewisefamily.com


Positive vibes only. We read these shirts and signs everywhere we go, but what exactly does that mean? When we think, we activate cells in our brain which send off vibrations -- positive thoughts and actions vibrate at a higher frequency than negative. Many believe that

Featuring Ten Thousand Villages - Alexandria Story by Jeanette Wages

meditation and actively choosing to think positively can change your vibrations and the energy you put out and receive in the world. Another fantastic way to raise your vibrations is with Tibetan singing bowls.


Scientific analyses of electromagnetic brainwaves have confirmed the existence of several types of waves created by the brain during different states of consciousness. During our everyday brain activity, Beta waves are most commonly produced. Alpha waves are present in states of meditation and periods of calm. As we drift to sleep, our brain produces Theta waves, whereas delta waves are present only during deep sleep. When the waves produced by singing bowls were recorded, scientists discovered wave patterns which were the same as the alpha waves produced by our brain. These waves give a feeling of deep relaxation which is why Tibetan singing bowls are often used in meditation. Tibetan Singing Bowls can have mental, emotional, physical and spiritual effects, including released tension, better concentration and productivity, opening of the chakras to love and pain relief. When you’re ready to explore some good vibrations, head over to Ten Thousand Villages and check out their variety of singing bowls made by artisans across the world. Pictured (left, top) is a bronze mantra singing bowl, inscribed with Tibetan symbols of the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum. Though these are considered Tibetan singing bowls, metalwork is a traditional skill in Nepal where these bowls were created. Family workshops

who are working with their fair trade partner Mahaguthi are able to earn sustainable income through sharing the skills in new markets for fair prices. When you’re ready to explore some good vibrations, head over to Ten Thousand Villages and check out their variety of singing bowls made by artisans across the world. Employing a majority of female artisans from over ten thousand villages, Ten Thousand Villages began as a company that would put people and the planet first. The store carefully ensures that their makers earn a fair and livable wage in safe working conditions, while creating wares that come from recyclable, renewable materials in their environment. With such an incredible local business making such an impactful change, it’s hard not to want in! The holidays are coming up and it’s important not to forget the magical opportunities available in our community. Offering volunteer opportunities and a bustling boutique full of beautiful products, stories and energy, the only thing missing is you. Visit Ten Thousand Villages at 915 King Street, Old Town Alexandria on Monday - Saturday, 10 am - 7 pm, Sunday 11 am - 5 pm. They are also currently offering curbside pick-up. To make your purchase by phone, please call (703) 684-1435.

Because every handcrafted object has a life of meaning behind it

Wear the North star this fall and never lose your way. This classic pendant is a timeless design. And the material used to create this necklace may surprise you! Brass from bomb casings is collected from the fields of Cambodia, and the artisans of the Rajana artisan group transform these bombshells into jewelry. Stop by and see our selection of repurposed brass bombs and bullets made into wearable symbols of peace, hope and strength.

915 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314 • (703) 684-1435

www.tenthousandvillages.com/alexandria WWW.VIPALEXANDRIAMAG.COM • 23

Mount Vernon Fall Wine Festival & Sunset Tour Story by Kellie Gunderman | Photography by Jeff Heeney

Mount Vernon recently hosted its annual Fall Wine & Festival Sunset Tour with safety measures in place due to the pandemic. This included the closure of The Mansion, which is typically available for tours during this event each year. Guests arrived with blankets and had the opportunity to celebrate the history of wine in Virginia by sampling wines from 16 Virginia wineries on the east lawn, overlooking the Potomac. Fruit and cheese boxes were available for advance purchase and the Mount Vernon food truck provided concessions.

Aimee Henkle

Kelley Day & David Lockett

Mount Vernon's VP of of Media & Communications, Matt Briney, said, “It was great to be able to safely continue this Mount Vernon tradition. We look forward to seeing everyone for the Spring Wine Festival in May 2021!” Mount Vernon is open daily. Delve into history and plan your upcoming visit at www.mountvernon.org

Deverah & Charles Bridges

Zara & Tarah Cotton

Lindsay Phillips & William Quigley

Lakshmi Danis, Jennifer Lewis & Meredith Harris


Dan Shippey

Dennis & Meg Bryant, Billy & Jenny Carter

Marta & Noe Zapata

Makia Edwards & Charles Pattigan

Brandi Boehm & Alexandia Seimetz

Zack & Jenna Shrove

Catherine Giacomo & Susan Lavington

Al Kellert & Amy Payette

Javon & Summer Bergeron

Victoria & Debbie Goss

Courtney Morrison & Cindy Cherpes


EVERYTHING YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT YOUR MOUTH IN THE TIME OF COVID-19 Story by Kellie Gunderman Featuring Dr. Kathleen Mullaney DDS FAGD


Am I overweight? Is my blood pressure too high? Why is my hair thinning out? Can I really get my omega-3s from this salmon? Why do these migraines keep attacking me!? Is that a lump on my breast or a swollen lymph node? We ladies are constantly asking ourselves questions about our health. We dissect everything we put into our body, monitor every single step we take and never miss a women’s wellness check. But why is that annual pap smear or staring at that Fitbit so much more important than a visit to our dentist? Let’s pause, because I know you’re rolling your eyes right now. You’re thinking, “Is she really going to compare obesity or breast cancer to a simple cavity?”  To answer your question: yes. Yes, I am!   Now that I have your attention, let’s start with the number one killer of women in the United States. Do you know what it is?   Heart disease.   Ok…you’re thinking, “What does that have to do with getting your teeth cleaned?” I am so glad you asked! Did you know that there is a direct correlation between periodontal disease and—you guessed it—heart disease? Fact. 

What’s the link? In a single word: inflammation. Dr. Kathleen Mullaney DDS FAGD told us during a recent chat that neglecting your oral health can lead to gum disease and gum disease causes inflammation. Studies have shown that bacteria in gum disease can travel throughout the body, triggering inflammation in the heart’s vessels and infection in the heart valves. This puts you at a greater risk for a heart attack or even a stroke. Let’s not forget that bacteria and other toxins that hide deep down in your gums can spread to other parts of the body. I bet you didn’t see that coming on your Peloton screen! Now that we know that our oral health should be bumped up on the  ‘Women’s Health’  checklist, let’s talk about COVID-19 and your stylish new masks. Sharp turn, I know. But you’ll catch my drift in just a sec. When the pandemic came knocking on my front door, I—like everyone else— had to find a good mask. Some are more basic than others (mine is, in fact, bedazzled…courtesy of Queen Bee Designs) but they all serve the same purpose: to protect us and those around us from coronavirus. But that may not be all our new favorite accessories are doing to help us. How? Well, let me ask you one question: Got bad breath?   “A lot of patients who have missed 2 cycles to a year’s worth of dental cleanings and exams due to COVID-19 are starting to come in with concerns about their bad breath. They’re recirculating so much air beneath their mask that it’s very noticeable. That bad breath, in many cases, is an indicator of gum disease, gingivitis or periodontal disease.” - Dr. Kathleen Mullaney   If you’re feeling a bit shocked that staying home and canceling your dental appointments to keep yourself

safe was actually putting your oral and overall health in danger, you’re not alone. Many of Dr. Mullaney’s patients have been coming into her office looking worse than they did pre-pandemic. Is “mask face”  causing our dental issues? The jury is still out. But we do know that COVID-19 has resulted in record-breaking anxiety diagnoses. Stress causes teeth grinding, teeth grinding causes inflammation and…we’re back to heart disease—the number one killer of women in America.   But despite all of this, Dr. Mullaney doesn’t want you to worry or feel judged when you come into her office. “We understand. Many people have gotten off track with COVID, but come in. Get a good checkup. Get a good baseline and let’s reset your periodontal health.” And don’t tell the doc that you don’t have the time — as you read this from your desk at work…er…your living room couch?  In all seriousness, protecting your heart health through your oral health is important stuff. Do you know what else is important? Your smile.    As adults, the idea of straightening our teeth can be really daunting. What will people think? What will they say? One upside to everyone wearing a mask everywhere is that no one will be able to see them while you are in treatment. “Many of our patients are discovering that they can benefit from mask wearing.. They can create the smile of their dreams with Invisalign, veneers, brightening, whitening or a combination of treatments. People want privacy and masks allow them to do that. Then, you can have your reveal of your new smile!” Dr. Mullaney told us.   Now that you have all of the facts, who’s ready to make their dental appointment?  

DR. KATHLEEN MULLANEY DDS FAGD For Dr. Mullaney, being a dentist embodies what she’s all about: her passion for service, for improving every patient’s smile, for caring for her family and for giving back to the community. Dr. Mullaney graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and then attended the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) Dental School where she earned a DDS (Doctorate of Dental Surgery) before proudly serving in the United States Navy as a Dentist. She has owned her dental practice in Old Town for 25 years and loves her cherished patients. To book your appointment, visit Dwww.kathleenmullaneydds.com r. or call 571-321-6778.


Row for the Cure at Row House - Old Town Story by Kellie Gunderman | Photography by Jeff Heeney

Row House of Old Town recently hosted Row for the Cure -- an event that allowed them to raise funds to better the lives of individuals with breast cancer. Attendees, which consisted of members and non-members, participated in donation-based relay classes, but everyone was welcome to make a donation online at www.thepinkoar.com. 100% of the proceeds were donated to Row for the Cure.ÂŽ To learn more abotu Row House - Old Town Alexandria, the benefits of rowing or to explore membership options and schedules, please visit www.therowhouse.com/location/old-town-alexandria Bill White

Caroline Grace Butler

Heather Luzla


Panthenia Hall

Kiara Holloman & Duncan Cambell

Bonni Gregory

Caroline Grace Butler

Georgia Ratcliff


3 CLASSES FOR ONLY $49 Nicole Long


Rick Long, Nicole Long & Caroline Grace Butler

ROW HOUSE OLD TOWN ALEXANDRIA 917 N St Asaph Steet Alexandra, VA 22314 703-935-4500 WWW.VIPALEXANDRIAMAG.COM • 29

www.deliasullivanphoto .com




WARRIOR • SURVIVOR • THRIVER Story by Jeanette Wages | Photography Courtesy of Martha Carucci

No one ever wants to hear the words “you have cancer.” Especially not when you have already beaten it once. For Mary Edwards, these words became a new mission.

it started and has chosen the motto on the back of the survivor T-shirts every year," Martha Carucci, Executive Director at National Breast Center Foundation explained.

After having gone into remission for Breast Cancer, Mary decided to create a mural of angel wings that people could pose in front of as a symbol of victory over cancer. Unfortunately, since the creation of the first mural, her cancer has returned.

The first year the t-shirts said, "She Knew She Could So She Did," the second year was "#wegetup,” the third year was “#nevergiveup” and this year is "Warrior. Survivor. Thriver.”

Since her latest diagnosis, the wings have taken on new meaning. With the Walk to Bust Cancer having to go virtual this year because of Covid, the committee took the wings out into the community and people all over Alexandria posed with them and shared their photographs on social media. The wings helped spread a little of Mary's positivity and have created a legacy of hope and strength for decades to come With the angel wings help to raise awareness about the 5th annual Walk to Bust Cancer in Alexandria, this virtual event has raised more than $125,000 in support of breast cancer testing, research and treatment—especially for low-income and uninsured women—for the The National Breast Center Foundation.   “Mary is a true warrior and inspiration to so many as she battles her breast cancer—which has now metastasized to her brain—with optimism and grace.   She has volunteered on the Walk to Bust Cancer committee since The Virtual Walk to Bust Cancer 2020 may have passed, but it's never too late to donate! For more information on the Walk to Bust Cancer or the National Breast Center Foundation, visit www.walktobustcancer.com.


A Life Without Alcohol: The Martha Carucci Story Story by Kellie Gunderman

“Good morning, Sunshine, how are you?” It was the first thing that Martha Carucci heard when she opened her eyes, still inebriated, in her New York City hotel room on Memorial Day of 2012. Despite being mortified and humiliated by the confession she had made the night before, Martha allowed her best friend to take her trembling hands in her own. This would become the first day of her new life—a life without alcohol. Martha worked as a lobbyist in the telecom industry for years. She spent her workdays on The Hill—a respected professional in her field for her various legislative victories—but her evenings, and even lunches, were spent drinking. “The world of DC is full of parties, fundraisers, happy hours, and dinners. I loved what I was doing on The Hill, but I was drinking a ton. I just thought it was normal,” Martha admits. It was around a year after her second child was born—at the peak of her career—that she began to feel as if she had become sub-standard in all aspects of her life. “We had a great nanny, but I felt guilty for leaving the kids at home all day. Then I would feel guilty for leaving my colleagues at work to go home to my family. I was just wearing too many hats and something had to give.”



before my kids went to bed, and I would wake up hungover and throwing up. I’d say, ‘I’m not drinking today,’ but by 4 PM, it was time for some hair-of-thedog. It was a vicious cycle.” “I knew for so long that I had a problem, but I couldn’t imagine my life without alcohol.” Fast-forward several months later; Martha is sitting on a street corner in New York City with three friends, making their way back to their hotel after a fun evening on Broadway. Martha had been invited on stage during the show…and almost vomited. Eventually, Martha made the difficult decision to leave her job and become a full-time mom. Though her colleagues respected her for choosing her family over her pocketbook, it didn’t make the transition any easier. “It killed me. I loved my job. I’d been able to build a great reputation on The Hill but I just couldn’t do it anymore.”

Earlier that day, she sat at a restaurant at lunch, hands trembling until her glass of wine was delivered to the table. During dinner that night, the group intimately discussed their friend Chris’ husband, who had recently lost his life to alcoholism— leaving the couple’s nine-year-old twins without a father.

Martha’s sudden loss of identity resulted in her depending on alcohol more than she ever had. “My drinking got worse. I wouldn’t trade a day with my kids, but I was always around other moms at play dates or tailgating at lacrosse games and there was a great deal of drinking.”

Chris spoke of how her husband had a choice and that when he reached a vital crossroad, he chose wrongly. Martha—having always realized that she suffered from the same disease—began to empathize, arguing that it was not his choice; it was a disease. But Chris remained firm in her position, making it clear that he had the choice to get help.

At night, Martha couldn’t wait to begin cooking dinner because it was officially wine o’clock, and she felt like she deserved it, as a mother. One glass would turn into five, followed by a trip to the recycling bin to dispose of the empty bottle before her husband returned home from work—at which time, they’d uncork a second bottle to enjoy together. “I have a broken ‘off’ switch. Some people know when to stop drinking to avoid a hangover or getting sick, but once I started, it was off to the races! The switch in my brain that says ‘stop’ doesn’t work. I would pass out


That evening became Martha’s breaking point. As she sat on the sidewalk at 4 AM—next to her best friend— Martha had something to confess, and she was finally ready to say it out loud.

“I have a problem.” Chris’ response shocked her: “I know.”

As they made their way back to the hotel, they talked about the progressive disease and how Martha’s admission that she was powerless over alcohol—and that her life had become unmanageable—meant that Chris was able to help. “Good morning, Sunshine, how are you?”

The book is “Sobrietease,” a collection of blog-like entries that will not only show those suffering from alcohol addiction how to face their demons, but provide insight to their friends and family members, who may not know how to help those who have yet to help themselves. Martha tackles the tough topics with grace and a lot of humor. Her new book, “Sobrietease 2: Make It A Double,” will be released in the coming weeks, providing readers with another round of musings on life without booze. Martha knows that she couldn’t have made it this far without the love and support of her family, friends, readers and community. But there is one person that Martha could not help but give a little special attention to. If you flip to the dedication page of her first book, you will find the following message: For my family and for C.H. — Thanks for being my ray of sunshine every day, even in the darkest of times.

They were simple words that opened Martha’s eyes to a brand new world. They are also the same words that have appeared on her phone screen every morning for the past 3,052 days and counting. Chris has never missed a single day. “Her text messages remind me every morning that there is at least one person in this world who cares that I’m sober.” Martha is not the only one who is benefitting from this beautiful, morning ritual. Chris tells us, "Martha doesn’t realize that I get as much from her as she gets from me. Every day that she answers me, I know she’s sober and continuing to fight.” Martha returned home from that girl’s trip to a supportive husband, three months of detoxing and amazing friends who stepped up to help her with her children and home while Martha focused on herself. It wasn’t long before Martha was happy, healthy and finding herself present in her own life for the first time. “I know I’ve made mistakes, but I also know I can’t go back. All I can do is remain present, help others and be a good mother, wife and friend.” It wasn’t long before Martha was telling her powerful story through an anonymous blog until, one day, her daughter supported her in coming out of the bottle by writing a book under her name. “In 2013, people were not so forthcoming about their struggles with alcohol, so it was amazing that everyone was so supportive when the book was released.”

You can order your copy of Sobrietease or pre-order your copy of Sobrietease: Make it a Double on Amazon at www.amazon.com/Sobrietease-Martha-Carucci. Visit Martha’s blog, Sobrietease, where it all began. www.sobrietease.wordpress.com/

Ready to go sober? Check out 3 delicious mocktail recipes on our blog... courtesy of Augie's Mussel House! www.vipalxmag.com WWW.VIPALEXANDRIAMAG.COM • 37

Wedding Planners Mingle at Salon MONTE Story by Kellie Gunderman | Photography by Victoria Mance

Local celebrity, Monte Durham, recently hosted a Wedding Planners Mingle Event which took place at Salon MONTE, followed by a reception at Hummingbird. Makeup artist to clients such as Michelle Obama and Meryl Streep, Carl Ray, worked his magic on the models before they stepped into stunning gowns by Zoya's Atelier and were accessorized by the talented jewelry artist, Mindy Lam. Of course, no Monte Durham event is complete without bubbles! Guests enjoyed their evening sipping on champagne, discussing fashion and taking pictures with the beautiful models. Monte Durham told VIP, "It was an evening where fashion met style and beauty met glamour!" To make the evening even more special, The Angel Wings artwork by Mary Edwards was on display. The wings have been showcased at various local businesses throughout the month of Ocobter in an effort to raise breast cancer awareness.







The statistics are unsettling. However, with more awareness, research, and funding, we can ultimately increase the survival rate and give patients and their families more time together.

November is pancreatic cancer awareness month and the Old Town Boutique District (OTBD) is going PURPLE! This worldwide campaign to “Light It UP Purple” for pancreatic cancer awareness is on Thursday, November 19th and we want Alexandria to shine brightly on the map. Not only does switching out a lightbulb to purple help to shed light on this deadly disease, but it also gives honor to those who have passed or who are battling the third deadliest cancer in the United States.

and funding, we can ultimately increase the survival rate and give patients and their families more time together. OTBD would love for all of Alexandria to join us and Light It UP Purple! On November 19th, simply change out a lightbulb to purple at your home or business and wear purple to show your support. If interested in supporting this cause, Salon DeZEN is donating purple lightbulbs while supplies last.

Our passion to get involved was initiated by a local Alexandrian, Amy Benitez. Amy lost her Mom, Georgia Sobolewski, to pancreatic cancer on May 4, 2019. She approached OTBD with this initiative with hopes that Alexandria would get involved in the fight against the horrible disease that stole her Mom away from her and her family way too soon. This year, we’ve also mourned two great Americans who lost their lives to pancreatic cancer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Lewis. Megan Podolsky (OTBD President) and Maria Elizabeth (OTBD VP) immediately agreed to join Amy and get Alexandria prominently involved in the “Light It UP Purple” campaign. The survival rate for pancreatic cancer is a mere 9% because most individuals receive a Stage 4 diagnosis. This is the lowest 5-year survival rate of ANY cancer. With mild symptoms, people often dismiss them as normal fluctuations in their bodies. The time is NOW to bring more awareness to the symptoms which include: mid-back pain, unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, stomach pain, indigestion, new-onset diabetes, jaundice, and changes in stool. When pancreatic cancer is diagnosed at Stage 1, the five-year survival rate increases to 34%. It is estimated that in 2020, about 57,600 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and about 47,050 will die from this horrible disease. The statistics are unsettling. However, with more awareness, research, For more information, please email: maria@salondezen.com. Lastly, don’t forget to snap a picture of your purple light and attire and post to IG or FB with the hashtags #WPCD #immunovia #PANCaware #earlydetection.







Email us at weddings@vipalexandriamag.com We will connect you with one of our professional writers who will help you share your love story in VIP Alexandria Magazine’s February 2020 Weddings Issue. We will also work with your wedding photographer to design your feature, ensuring you look just a beautiful in print as you did on your wedding day! Accepting registrations through December 29, 2020


Salon deZEN Photoshoot

Alexandra Cobar Story by Maria Elizabeth | Photography by Sarah Marchella

Let’s be honest, this year has been a bit crazy. To combat the madness of 2020, our deZEN team decided to create a photo shoot that was not only fun, but also a clear reflection of our inner, beautiful selves. Our inspiration was all about inclusivity. We wanted to show that no matter what color, shape, size, age, or orientation you are that you can express yourself in any way that you desire. There is nothing more beautiful than letting your authentic and unique self shine through to the world. That is your gift. A big thank you to Periwinkle, The Shoe Hive, Bishop Boutique and Requin NYC for the fashion.

Menuka Ria


Akeem Adam

Helena Black



FOR ALL OF YOUR COMMUNITY SUPPORT! www.delraypsych.com • 1900 Mount Vernon Ave • (571) 281-0338 101 S. St Asaph St. 571.312.5443 Mo-Sa 10-5 Su 12-5 FOLLOW US @shopmintcollective

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Harness the Power of Food & Good Habits for Hormone Balance Story by Kristen Coffield

Hormone changes are inevitable,  and knowing how to use food as a tool to master and minimize the symptoms can help us feel our best. Ease the hormonal transition into perimenopause and beyond by adopting an antiinflammatory lifestyle that helps you thrive.

1. Start Each Day with Water

When we are asleep, our bodies are in a state of fast. The best way to end that fast is by drinking 8-10oz of room temperature water.  This should be your first beverage choice in the morning—enjoy your coffee after a big, refreshing glass.  

Add flavor with the juice of half a fresh-squeezed lemon. Lemon  contributes  Vitamin C  and  acidity, which turns into alkaline in the body. More alkalinity helps lower inflammation, which is beneficial for regulating hormones.

2. Dial Back Morning Sugar Breakfast is typically the sweetest meal of the day. Grainbased breakfast foods tend to have added sugar or refined ingredients, which are converted to glucose in the body — even plain toast can contain as much extra sugar as a small candy bar. Eating breakfast within one hour of waking will ensure stable blood sugar levels  and start the day right. Try eating no-sugar, no-grain breakfasts and consuming high-protein, high-fiber, plant-based foods in the morning. Healthy options could include humanely raised eggs (scrambled, fried or boiled  —  or a frittata with vegetables)  berries  and nuts, chia pudding, organic, whole-fat or nut milk yogurt, apple slices with nut butter or a breakfast salad with avocado and hard-boiled eggs.

3. Eat More Foods Without Labels Rehydrating after  sleep  is essential to help balance hormones. Water is used by our bodies to carry out normal metabolic functions—things like removing waste from cells, regulating body temperature  and digesting food.  


Don't be afraid of the natural sugars found in fruits, vegetables and dairy products. The body knows what to do with real, whole foods that have not been processed, refined and filled with added chemicals and sugar that disrupt hormone balance.

I recommend berries as a naturally-sweetened, lowcarb treat.  Apples and oranges add fiber and vitamins, and raw nuts make a great grab-and-go snack. Skip the bananas and grapes; they break down quickly and raise blood sugar faster than other fruits.  Don't juice your fruit. When you only drink the juice, you destroy the fiber and turn healthy fruit into a sweet beverage with nearly as much sugar as soda.

4. Avoid Food Triggers Stabilizing blood sugar levels and keeping cravings in check significantly reduces menopausal symptoms. Reducing and eliminating foods that cause digestive distress and inflammation helps us feel more balanced and less stressed. Minimize gluten, factory-farmed dairy and eggs, soy, corn, added sugar, nightshades and artificial ingredients. These are linked to hormone-disruption and low-level inflammation. Coffee and alcohol also inhibit the metabolism of "used "hormones and the production of new ones. Instead,

Sleep is an essential part of our circadian cycle, providing time for flushing cellular debris generated by the body's metabolic activity. We need at least 7 hours of sleep a night to have regular, healthy levels of fluctuating hormones in our body. Plan for sleep by maintaining regular sleeping patterns. Try to go to bed and wake at the same time consistently. Turn off your electronics an hour before you want to fall asleep. Read paper books, practice meditation, pray or write in a journal.  It can also be beneficial to create a sleep ritual.. Write down something you are grateful for, make a to-do list for the morning and sip chamomile tea. Diaphragmatic breathing exercises are another great way to prepare for sleep.   Make sure your room is dark by blocking as much blue light from electronics and ambient light from your bedroom as possible. Turn the temperature down to 65 degrees to create the best temperature for deep sleep.

sip green and herbal teas, which have more wellness benefits. Try kombucha, a fermented tea beverage containing beneficial polyphenols, B vitamins and probiotics. Always stay well hydrated with filtered water and limit alcohol to two or three alcoholic drinks a week.

Make sure your room is quiet—wear earplugs, use a HEPA air filter or white noise machine to assist in blocking unwanted noise.

5.   Practice Better Sleep

Lastly, consider trying a magnesium supplement at bedtime. Magnesium is responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions in the body—notably, helping cells create energy. Magnesium helps relax tension and can improve sleep quality.

Sleep is the lynchpin for hormone balance. Even one night of inadequate sleep can trigger cravings, spike blood sugar and wreak havoc with hormones.

Combining an anti-inflammatory diet with proper sleep and stress reduction is vital for hormone balance at every stage of a woman’s life.

Visit Kristen at TheCulinaryCure.com for more healthful tips and motivation to help you live your best life. You can get daily inspiration by following www.instagram.com/kristencoffield



YOUR CBD. YOUR HEALTH. Story by Jeanette Wages | Featuring Your CBD Store - Alexandria

Each stage of a woman’s life can create a unique set of challenges to her mental and overall physical health. Even before the pandemic, many were looking to CBD* to aid in their management of stress, pain, anxiety and even fight inflammation— all without the psychoactive “high.” Not surprisingly, there are multiple other reasons that you should incorporate CBD into your lifestyle, especially as a woman. Scientific research indicates that CBD may provide the answers to a variety of women’s health issues like anxiety, stress, hormonal imbalances, sexual performance and sleep disorders. Let’s talk about a few important benefits that CBD has to offer women, as well as how to properly use your CBD for the best results.   One easy way to incorporate CBD into your routine—for a multitude of benefits— is in a bath. Baths alone can help promote circulation, muscle and mental relaxation and help to release toxins from the body, as well as being considered spiritually cleansing. To amplify these effects, add SunMed water soluble to a warm cup of tea or beverage of your choice and soak for 20 minutes in a soothing CBD bath with SunMed bath bombs or new bath soaks (available holiday 2020). This can be especially helpful for cramps and other muscle tension.   One of the most annoying and painful parts of being a woman is dealing with periods and all that they entail— cramps, bloating, mood swings, headaches—ugh, this list can go on-and-on!  When your period begins, sometimes the gut reaction is to reach for a pill to “take that edge off,” even though we know NSAIDS can have negative side effects, especially when taken regularly. Unlike NSAIDs, CBD

anti-inflammatory benefits come without the side effects but offer similar relief. Our favorite method of relief is to massage your lower abdomen—or wherever you feel the most pain—with SunMed CBD full-spectrum topical, which will help ease the discomfort of contractions and inflammation.     Let’s be real: man, woman or child, we all get cravings every once in a while—and they usually aren’t for broccoli and brussel sprouts! If you need a little help battling the need for sweets, a CBD gummy can add that extra boost of sugar and tame cravings.    No one wants to talk about it, but it’s something that all women will have to go through, eventually: menopause. Women rarely know what to expect when menopause starts, and it can be years of suffering through hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, sleeplessness, anxiety and depression. If you’re facing menopause, you may be turning to traditional herbal medicines for natural support. An increasing number of studies show the positive effects that CBD can have on menopausal women.   A 2019 study confirmed the success rate of CBD at 78% in alleviating anxiety-related problems, as well as a 66% success rate alleviating signs of depression in women going through menopause.    Even if you aren’t suffering from any particular ailment or issue, CBD and yoga wellness classes are a fabulous way to keep your body and mind happy and healthy. If you get a little sore after, just rub some CBD topical to sore joints and muscles. Come join us, we would love to have you!





Do you want to feel more energized & joyful? Healthy Minds Therapy is running a webinar series on Self-Care. Attend LIVE or opt for a session recording to gain knowledge about self-care and wellness.



Concepts like self-love and positive self-talk are thrown around on social media as though they should come easily to us all. We’re expected to think more positively, throw a smile on our faces and venture through the rough terrain of life—and as women, we are supposed to be able to do this in perfect makeup and high heels. In “IAm Not,” Rachel Boehm recollects moments in her life where feeling “good enough” was not easy or—at the time—possible. Her narrative is broken down into short, relatable memories, making it easy to reflect on the emotionally challenging moments in each of our lives. She reminds us of the strength and resilience in every woman to not only survive bad relationships with food, boys and friends—as well as bullying and emotional abuse— but to thrive.




You don’t need a lot of product if you have the right product.

Schedule your appointment 703.217.7077 210 South Union St., Old Town Alexandria www.SalonMonte.com


ITALY MEMO R I ES I N E VE RY B ITE Story & Photography by Jeanette Wages Contributions by Noe Landini & Abby Wolverton


“I asked her how much salt to add to the water for boiling pasta and she told me until it tastes like the sea." - Noe Landini

I have had a love for Italian food and culture since a young age. When I was little, Mutti—which means mother in our native German—had a best friend from Rome named Silvana. She taught me how to roll pasta and make dishes at a skill level far beyond my years. As I got older, my family spent most of our Summer vacations traveling in Tuscany, and some of my fondest memories were in the small seaside towns we stumbled upon during our trips. Living in Alexandria, I’ve had many conversations with friends about the differences in our ideas of what “good” Italian food is based on what we grew up with.   Sitting down with our editor, Abby Wolverton, and restauranteur and chef Noe Landini—one of VIP Alexandria’s Most Interesting Men—we chatted about all things Italian. While there are 20 regions in Italy, we broke it down into basic zones to keep it simple: Northern, Central, Southern and the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, and then we went out to discover the best way to eat our way through Italy without a plane ticket, since traveling to Europe isn’t possible for most of us right now.   If you grew up on the East Coast of the United States, your primary influences are likely from Southern Italian cuisine, which is known for its olive and tomato bases, as well a little spice—and lots of pasta. Abby’s family originated from Calabria in Southwest Italy. To her, Italian food is spicy and seafood rich. “Calabrese recipes gave me a particular taste for spicy


foods—like nduja, and Calabrese chiles—and we also incorporate a lot of fish. A good example would be a dish called zeppoli con alici [anchovy doughnuts] that my family makes every Christmas Eve,” Abby says. Sicily also has a strong hold on the New York City area palate, as most immigrants during the Italian diaspora in the late 19th and early 20th century were arriving from Sicily and Naples. The islands hold a food culture all their own with an abundance of seafood and suckling roast dishes. In contrast, Northern Italy is known for its creamy sauces, risotto, polenta and gnocchi. It is also where you will find a lot of the cured meats we see on our favorite charcuterie boards. When Noe talks about his family home in Tuscany, he talks about the great cheeses, wild game meats, seafood on the coast and, of course, the pasta. Noe fondly recalls cooking with his nonna, “I asked her how much salt to add to the water for boiling pasta and she told me until it tastes like the sea. Then she simply added ricotta, crushed black pepper and olive oil to make the most amazing dish. It is all so simple. It’s about the freshness of the ingredients you choose and the steps you take to make a great dish.”   Now the question is how to find these foods when you can’t just jump on a plane and travel around Italy for a few weeks! Alexandria has a plethora of wonderful restaurant options, but here are a few we had a chance to pop into.

Osteria Marzano is a hidden gem in an office building in the Manchester Lakes area. This father-daugher duo, Carmine Marzano and Elena Pouchelon, hail from the Calabria region of Italy much like Abby’s family, but you can find a variety of regions represented at their restaurant. Most notable for us was their wide variety of cured meats and cheeses from Northern and Central Italy, as well as the perfect creamy risotto and game meats available in November—we loved the rabbit ragù and homemade pasta. Abby encourages everyone to try the nduja, either as part of their charcuterie board or on their “pizza Calabrese.” Michael’s Little Italy on South Washington St. is a New York and New Jersey Italian’s dream. Owner Michael Strutton incorporates influences from his background in Sicily— well as his New Jersey roots— into every dish at this fun restaurant. We love the traditional Sicilian arancini and cannoli, the New York style pizza and the variety of pasta and gnocchi dishes.  

Osteria Marzano

Rosemarino D’Italia offers a mix of Southern and Northern Italian dishes, which is great for those dining with varying ideas of Italian food. Their menu offers plenty of seafood, meat, pasta and risotto dishes to make everyone happy that they stopped in for a bite. Family owned and operated, Via Veneto—located in

Michael's Little Italy


Family owned and operated, Via Veneto—located in Fort Hunt—was started by two sisters from Marotta (Central Italy) 37 years ago, and has been a neighborhood staple ever since. I stopped in and tried the Filetto di Sogliole— fresh filet of sole, topped with almonds, sautéed with lemon butter cream sauce—and could not have been happier with this unique dish, prepared with love by a chef who has worked at the restaurant since day one. The restaurant is now owned by Kathy Mack—daughter of one of the original sisters—who has stayed true to the family recipes brought over from Italy.

Landini Brothers

Of course, we couldn’t have picked Noe Landini’s brain without a mention of Landini Bros., which has been a landmark of the 100 block of King for over 40 years. My own mother says, “It tastes like we’re back home and going on vacations in Tuscany again.” Mutti wins on that one. This restaurant—now owned by Noe and his father, Franco, one of the founding brothers—is distinctly Tuscan in its style of cuisine and culture.

A la Lucia—located in North Old Town— gets a very special shout out for some of the best gelato that Abby and I have had outside of Italy!

Junction Bakery A sister restaurant, Junction Bakery with Chef James Duke leading the culinary program, is not Italian, but features a Bucatini dish with Calabrese peppers that Abby says brought back fond recollections of childhood. Noe was also kind enough to offer us some great recipes from the islands that you can explore this Thanksgiving holiday! Check them out on page 55! A la Lucia Jeanette Wages is a third culture girl, raised in Europe turned Alexandria local. Using her love of food, culture and all things Old Town as a writer and Director of Operations for VIP Alexandria Magazine. To have your restaurant featured in VIP Alexandria Magazine, email jeanette@vipalexandriamag.com


Recipes by Noe Landini of Landini Bros. Italian Restaurant Maialino con Patate Arrosto (Suckling Pig with Roasted Potatoes) Serves 10

For the pig: Ingredients: • 1 baby pig (roughly 7-9 kilos); harvested professionally (this recipe works for half a baby pig as well) • 1 handful of dry fennel seeds • 1 handful or more of sea or kosher salt (course) • 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper • 20 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped course • 20 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped without the stems • 3 cups extra-virgin olive oil (no blends) • 4 cups cup of dry white wine • 1 cup of dry red wine Procedure: 1. Rub the pig with the olive oil, salt, pepper, fennel seed, rosemary (can add a few sprigs of fresh sage as well) and let sit for a few days (you can whisk these ingredients in a bowl and then apply to the pig, inside and out - all over. Spread the rub around each day until the roasting day (no more than 3 days).


2. Roasting day; preheat oven to 325 if using a convective oven however this recipe is best in a wood fire oven. Place the pig in a roasting pan, add olive oil to the bottom of the pan (just enough to coat the entire pan). 3. Gently turn the pig ever hour in the pan. After 3 hours, add the wines slowly to the hot pan. Raise the temperature of the pan after adding the wine by bout 100 degrees and continue to roast the pig for another hour. 4. Once the skin is crisp (you can spray beer or cognac on the pig while in the oven towards the end to make the skin crispy), remove it from the oven and let rest while adding the roasted potatoes in the pan around the roasted pig. Internal temp should be about 140-145 before serving (or no blood present when cutting the meat). Remove from oven just under 145 as it will climb after removal.

Ingredients: • 5-6 pounds (3 kg) gutted and scaled fresh snapper (whole fish); trim tail and fins • A dozen sprigs of your favorite fresh herbs (rosemary, oregano, sage) • 4 peeled garlic cloves • 5 pounds of kosher or sea salt • 140 grams of flour (00 aka multi purpose) • ¼ l of water • 3 whipped egg whites • Freshly ground white or black pepper

For the Roasted Potatoes: Ingredients: • 2.5 lb of Yukon gold or fingerling potatoes • 2 tablespoons of sea or kosher salt • Fresh ground pepper • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary • 6 sprigs fresh sage • 8-10 cloves garlic Procedure: Preheat oven to 325 if using a convective oven however this recipe is best in a wood fire oven. Place the potatoes in a roasting pan, add olive oil to the potatoes along with other ingredients, mix well in pan and roast for 30 minutes. Stir potatoes after 20 - 30 minutes, mixing every 10 minutes until the potatoes are crispy and golden on all sides (not brown).

Dentice in Crosta di Sale (Roasted Snapper in Salt Crust) Serves 8


Procedure: 1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) 2. Stuff the cavity of the fish with a lemon peel or two, herbs, garlic and a little extra virgin olive oil 3. Mix the salt and flour together, then mix in some of the water to make a thick, fairly dry paste and add the egg whites. You may not need all the water 4. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper 5. Spread the part of the salt mixture on the parchment paper 6. Place the fish on the salt layer, then completely bury the fish in the remaining salt mixture completely covering the fish 7. Place in the oven and roast for 35-40 minutes 8. Lifting the fish and foil together, transfer the fish with the foil to a platter and crack the salt crust and lift off the upper layer – remove all the salt 9. You can serve the fish along side your favorite pasta or dress it with fresh stewed tomatoes

Panna Cotta (Custard Cream Dessert) Serves 8

Ingredients: • 6 cups of heavy cream • 2 cups of whole milk • 6 teaspoons of plain powder gelatin • 1 cup of sugar • 3 teaspoons of salt

Procedure: 1. Place the milk in a saucepan 2. Add the gelatin and stir for a couple minutes while the milk warms – do not boil 3. Add the cream, sugar, and salt and continue to stir over low heat so that everything dissolves 4. Remove from the heat and let cool down just above room temperature 5. Pour the cream mixture into your favorite elegant, petite glassware and refrigerate (may need to stir once more while in fridge 6. Leave in fridge until the custard becomes firm (like jello) 7. Before serving, add a chocolate sauce, mixed berry compote or your favorite topping A special thank you to Noe Landini for sharing his family recipes with us! Not kitchen savvy? Visiti Landini Bros. Italian Restaurant at 115 King Street in Historic Old Town Alexandria, where millions have gathered over a meal while enjoying fresh food and exceptional service since 1979. Happy Thanksgiving!



1 st Annual Old Town Shucking Contest Sponsored by Guinness Story by Jeanette Wages | Photography by Victoria Mance

This year—in lieu of Oyster Festival—Old Town Alexandria hosted its first annual Oyster Week featuring oyster specials and Guinness pairings at restaurants throughout the neighborhood. Capping off the week of great food was the oyster shucking contest, bringing out staff from participating restaurants to show off their skills shucking, cleaning and plating oysters. First place went to Fish Market, followed by Union Street Public House and The Wharf.

Jesse Maas, Gerson Batan, Chris William & Marco Perez

Lily, Camy & Sarah Perkins

Brad Thomas, Jean Bates, Tom Hinnagan & Brain Godwin

Níamh O'Donovan

Michelle & Devon Westhill, David & Lisa Pollman

“Old Town Oyster Week displayed everything that is fabulous about our wonderful city of Alexandria, even during a pandemic. We [the restaurants] showed our community that we are all committed to getting through this shoulder-to-shoulder and fighting this pandemic together. Watch out, folks! 2021 will be amazing, and I can't wait for O'Connell's to take the crown from Fish Market at the 2021 Oyster Shucking Competition! Shuck on, folks!” Níamh O'Donovan General Manager & Company President Daniel O'Connells Irish Pub


Mike Eberhardt & Kelly Garar

Mike Ramm & Samatha Black

Jeff Cunnigham

Colleen Koroma & Al Chadsey

Jeanette Wages, Níamh O'Donovan, 'Big T' Tom & Lisa Gale, Jay & Alicia Clegg

Steve McCleaf & Carole Beutel

'Big T' Tom Gale

Tamara Chapman

Sevy & Angela Kirwan

A.J. Ostermann


Free Flowing Musical Experience (FFME) Live at The Birchmere

Photography by Victoria Mance

It’s not often that Alexandria’s legendary acoustic Jam band performs at Alexandria’s legendary music venue, but that’s exactly what happened on October 24th. The Free Flowing Musical Experience took the stage at The Birchmere for an incredible night that was dedicated to local music fans. Alexandria resident and local music fan, Christian Jock, told VIP, “This was a dream night for local music fans. I’ve been going to FFME shows for years. To see them at my favorite venue was about as good as it gets.”

Alexandria’s Gregg Park and Scott Fallon make up the interactive musical adventure known as The Free Flowing Musical Experience. This marked the critically acclaimed band’s second performance at the renowned music venue since its re-opening. At the Birchmere they were joined on acoustic bass with their new band member, John David Coppola. Coppola opens up the deep end of the pool for the band’s eclectic spectrum. This creates an entirely new and exciting element for the ears of the band’s growing fan base. “We brought some serious jam to The Birchmere,” said Coppola. “What I’ve learned since joining the band is that the free flowing part of the band name is about as true as it gets. Playing with Gregg and Scott has truly been an enlightening experience musically.” In music circles, the reputation of the Birchmere is legendary. For over 50 years the Birchmere has been the go to venue for the countries best acts and most devoted music fans. In addition, the Birchmere also takes their COVID precautions the next level to ensure a fun and safe environment for its guests. Added Coppola, “It speaks to just what an outstanding venue The Birchmere is and always has been. They go the extra mile for their guests at every level.” Visit FFME at www.ffmeband.com. You can also visit The Birchmere online at www.birchmere.com



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Hops N Shine Chalkboard BBQ Thursday with Catoctin Creek Story by Kellie Gunderman | Photography by Victoria Mance

Every Thursday, Hops N Shine hosts a popup menu, courtesy of their future sister restaurant Chalkboard BBQ. During a recent Chalkboard BBQ Thursday event, Catoctin Creek was on-site to chat with guests about their selection of distilled spirits. Catoctin Creek's John Shope told VIP, “I always love partnering up with C.J. and his team over at HNS. Their Secret Garden Patio is the perfect place to set up a table of Catoctin Creek swag and samples. Hops N Shine easily has the largest eclectic collection of one-off and limited releases Catoctin Creek has to offer." On this evening, guests enjoyed Jamaican jerk chicken and pork belly and beef brisket sandwiches, as John worked with the Hops N Shine team to create the perfect cocktails to pair.

C.J. Cross & John Shope

C.J. Cross of Hops N Shine said, “As many folks know, we love our collaborations whether it’s with Catoctin Creek, any of our local breweries, fun photoshoots with VIP, or even our local animal rescues like Project Second Chance. Coming up we’re even starting to use Catoctin’s barrel staves in the smokers for the Thursday meals, and we’re about to start lining up some holiday market pop-ups for next month to support local artisans." Stay up-to-date on all Hops N Shine and Catoctin Creek events by visiting them on Facebook at www.fb.com/HopsNShine and www.fb.com/CatoctinCreek

Ashley Davidson, Todd Hughes & Frank Chang

Joy Bickelhaupt


Marley & Cory Monson

Trip Hook & Virginia Bush

Milton Chavarria

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Catoctin Creek supporting establishments to the left. Fill any row (vertical, horizontal, diagonal) to receive a FREE Catoctin Creek hat or shirt! Fill the entire card for a FREE Catoctin Creek hoodie! To redeem your card, email info@CatoctinCreek.com. Must be 21 years old to play.




laura hatcher A CELEBRATION OF SERVICE Story by Abby Wolverton | Photography by Laura Hatcher

When retired Navy captain Laura Hatcher agreed to sit down with me for an interview on her career as a commanding officer and current work as a photographer, she initially said that she would normally decline.

“We are taught in the military that--although you won’t always be the smartest person in the room--your leadership should instill trust and confidence to inspire others to be successful.”

“I really prefer to be behind the camera. I know I had a great career [in the Navy], but sometimes I suffer from a bit of impostor syndrome. I don’t like the spotlight.”

Despite shying away from the spotlight, the varied details of Laura’s background thread together to create a rich narrative of a purpose driven life, filled with anecdotes that she conveys with a lively spark.

It’s a curious statement from a woman who--even in her civilian life--commands a room with her energy and confidence—confidence that Laura says she acquired through her leadership experience in the military.


Laura was born in the United Kingdom to a British mother and an American father, who served in the United States Air Force. She spent the first nine years of her life in

Europe before moving between postings in Central America and Southern California. The transitions, she says, were not always easy.

“I experienced bullying because I was different. I was an odd kid. Race played a role as well. I wasn’t Black enough for my Black friends, and I wasn’t White enough for my White friends.” Raised by her mother and Puerto Rican stepfather—a United States Navy veteran—Laura says that the military was a natural fit by virtue of her rearing and the ways that her parents’ influence sculpted her career path. “There were early influences. My stepfather, being military, was a disciplinarian—which I needed as a teen girl--and that shapes you. I didn’t have a curfew because there was no going out. I definitely credit my parents as the reason I went into the military.” Despite having ambitions that were clearly defined from a young age, Laura’s experience was not without adversity or unique challenges. While the family was stationed in the Republic of Panama during the mid-1980’s, Laura’s stepfather introduced her to a young Marine Corps officer and Naval Academy graduate—at a time shortly after the first class of female students matriculated. “They were still trying to get used to women…he sits me down and gets me really excited about joining the Naval Academy, but at the end of the conversation, he tells me I probably won’t make it because I’m a girl. It made me so angry, but it also made me want to do it even more.” Laura was eventually recruited play Navy volleyball and graduated with the class of 1992. Never one to shy away from a challenge, drive and dedication are features that seem to define Laura’s character at a core level—despite the additional obstacles that race and sex have created at times.

climbed the ranks in her military career. Laura served as the first Ship’s Intelligence Officer for the USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH, for which she received recognition—and a kiss on the cheek--from the ship’s namesake, President Bush, in 2009. Laura also served as Commanding Officer, Navy Expeditionary Intelligence Command in Dam Neck, Virginia in 2011. She retired from the Navy in 2018. “It was very emotional leaving an organization I’d been a part of my entire life—and overwhelming leaving the rules behind and being told I can do anything I want.” Though she spent her first year as a civilian working for a non-profit, Laura says her time there made her realize that she was ready to pursue a career path that was focused on her own agenda and incorporated a little bit more fun and creativity. Photography had been a passion of Laura’s for five years prior to pursuing a profession in the field. The artistic streak, she says, was present early on and encouraged by her mother.

“My mother was definitely creative...I think it was always there, I just suppressed it.” Though she describes the discipline-oriented culture of the military as a “dress rehearsal for entrepreneurship,” for Laura, the connection between her Navy service and work as a photographer goes even deeper. “I know why this brings me so much joy. I’m back in command. [At my studio,] I’m in control. I get to put people’s fear at ease. I’m solving problems. I’m doing all the things I learned in the military.” Laura says the majority of her clients are veterans and that she continues her role as a mentor “above and

“I was the girl who tried out for the boy’s football team…the first community I joined [in the Navy] was a men’s fraternity, I was a Navy Diver. I always made a point of doing anything a man could do just as well if not better—but as women, sometimes that means we have to work twice as hard.” That hard work paid off as Laura


“Working with veterans, I emphasize the need to celebrate your service."

beyond” photography—trying to ease help their anxiety while transitioning out of military life. The most rewarding part of her job, she says, is helping veterans preserve their legacy through her photography. “Working with veterans, I emphasize the need to celebrate their service. Service members are a small percentage of the country who say that regardless of your race, gender or political affiliations, they’re willing to die for you. I get goosebumps talking about it because it’s so important to thank ourselves for our sacrifice.”

For Laura, there’s no better place to celebrate that service than an event she says is often overlooked by photographers: the retirement ceremony. “I take the script and reenact the entire ceremony in a photobook. I’m capturing the tears…the smiles of the veteran and their family. I recently did a ceremony where the grandchild stole the show by climbing behind the podium and hugging his grandfather’s leg. That grandchild is now part of a military legacy.” Outside of ceremonies, Laura specializes in headshots and photographing landscapes. She enjoys bringing out overlooked features in her subjects and tries to capture them with authenticity. “I’ve trained myself to study subjects. You can find something unique even in the mundane.” Laura’s studio is located in Old Town Alexandria. She lives in Mt. Vernon with her husband of 24 years, who works as an educator, and the youngest of their three sons— the second eldest has chosen to pursue a career in the military, continuing a family legacy of service handed down by a mother who went to work in combat boots. Learn more about Laura Hatcher Photography by visiting Laura online at www.laurahatcherphotography.com


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Profile for VIP Alexandria Magazine

VIP Alexandria Magazine | November 2020