Food Culture in Virginia

olio bistro richmond

Virginia doesn’t exactly have a reputation as a hotspot for culinary excellence, but upon closer inspection it’s clear that we actually have a burgeoning food scene that includes both high end fine dining style restaurants as well as a huge number of diners and small eating establishments that serve simple, straightforward, fantastic food. In this post I hope to convince readers that Virginia as a state shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to the food and restaurant scene.

First off, we’re a southern state, so we have all the traditions that come with that – if you’re looking for great barbecue, incredible pies or delicious fried stuff, we’ve got all of that here. One thing that is particularly special and that only comes out of Virginia is Virginia country ham – it’s well known throughout the country and is pretty damn delicious if I may say so myself. We’re also famous for our peanuts – Virginia peanuts are the largest peanuts grown in the US and make for a great bar snack.

The seafood in Virginia is also pretty incredible, and in particular we have fantastic blue crabs. While the blue crab is often associated with Maryland, the crab that comes out of this region is equally as good. We also have great oysters, and Tangier Island (on the eastern shore of the state) is said to be the ‘soft shell crab capital’ of the world. The seafood in this region is fresh and is just generally high quality product.

Virginia is also something of a wine hub – we have a rapidly growing wine industry, and the state now has over 200 wineries and that number is growing by the day. While we can’t match up to Napa valley just yet, anyone who’s looking to do a wine tour on the east coast should  put the great state of Virginia into their itinerary right away. Along with the many wineries, there are also frequent wine festivals and tasting events suitable for connoisseurs and amateurs alike. There’s loads of useful information at if you’re thinking about doing a wine tour in the area. Here’s a quick video that will definitely interest you if you’re a wine person.

The one thing that you probably wouldn’t expect in the state is great fine dining – but actually, the restaurant scene in Virginia has really taken off in the last half decade. Almost every reasonably sized city in the state has a downtown area with great restaurants, and whether you’re looking for exotic cuisines or a modern take on classic southern food, we’ve got it all. Richmond, Alexandria – even the tiny little city of Staunton all have amazing restaurants and excellent food. One theme that you’ll find runs through many of the state’s best restaurants is a focus on high quality local meat and produce. Many chef’s would agree that great farms make for great food, and Virginia is a place with a rich history of agriculture. Be on the lookout for restaurants that proudly display their suppliers – the quality of the local meat and produce that you find in high end restaurants in Virginia will rival anything that you can find in the entire country. For those looking for actual restaurant recommendations or reviews, check out this list. It only covers northern Virginia, but a bunch of my own favorites are on there so I’ll give it a pass.

We’re also seeing more and more farmer’s markets, (aforementioned) wine festivals, and local food events in the state. While none of the cities in Virginia are ‘known’ as trendy food locales like Austin or Seattle are, I personally think that places like Staunton are up and coming in the food world, and in a few years many places in Virginia will start popping up on those ‘most underrated food cities’ lists that you find so often around the web.

So, that’s my brief take on the Virginia food scene in general – and if you don’t believe that the food is great here, come and try it for yourself.

Music in Virginia


You may know Virginia as a Southern state and therefore expect the majority of the music in the region to be country music, but the Old Dominion is actually a state with a great diversity in terms of music. Everything from country and rock to hip hop and R&B – we literally have it all.

Now, obviously country music does have a long and storied history in Virginia, and it’s probably the kind of music that most people out there associate with the state. A lot of the sounds of country music in general have roots in one way or another in Virginia, and bluegrass in particular is a hallmark of the state that traces back all the way to colonial times and endures today. The style is has influences from all over – from the early music of the British colonialists to the traditional music of the Africans brought over in the slave trade. Bluegrass is characterized by its breakneck pace, and more esoteric instruments like the fiddle, the mandolin, and the banjo are used in conjunction with more common instruments like acoustic guitars to create a distinct sound. In recent years, bluegrass has experienced a resurgence in popularity thanks to the progressive bluegrass sub genre which is catching the attention of hipsters and bearded folk all over the US.

Here’s one of my personal favorite progressive bluegrass/newgrass bands.

Outside of country music, Virginia also happens to be the home of a whole host of Hip Hop and R&B superstars. Obviously Pharrell Williams and his production partner Chad Hugo are legendary as The Neptunes – probably the most successful production team in the past two decades. Missy Elliot and Timbaland are two more very notable and accomplished Virginia natives in the Hip Hop and R&B space. There are also a bunch of less well known up and coming artists from the Virginia area that are worthy of more attention – Clipse is an extremely well regarded hip hop duo, and although the two members are going their separate ways, both artists (Malice and Pusha T) deserve to be more well known as artists.

There’s also a thriving rock scene in a number of cities in Virginia – whether you’re in Richmond or Fairfax, Alexandria or Virginia Beach, you can probably at least find a handful of up and coming bands that will blow you away. There’s also a reasonably prominent heavy metal scene in and around Richmond if you’re into that kind of music (I’m not).

The live music scene is thriving in Richmond and a whole bunch of other smaller cities across the state. Whatever your jam is, you can probably find a bar or club where they play your type of music pretty close by. If festivals are more your thing, there are plenty of those happening in and around the are as well. One of my favorite places for live music in Richmond is Balliceaux – the music there is varied, and on any given night you might find yourself listening to jazz, rock, or just pretty random world music that you’ve never come across before. The food and drinks are also great – if you find yourself in Richmond and you’re looking for a live music experience, you should definitely check it out. As for festivals, FloydFest is a pretty well known festival that features a bunch of pretty high profile bands as well as a ton of great acts that you may not have heard before.

Hopefully, you’ve learned a little something about Virginia and it’s rich musical tradition from the little that I know about it. Now, go to youtube and watch some bluegrass videos or something.


Everything that’s going on in Virginia


Hi all,

I’m hoping to develop this site into basically a lifestyle hub for everything to do with Virginia. I hope to cover everything from lifestyle stuff, restaurants, bars and other nightlife. Music, culture and arts, and even outdoors stuff like hunting and fishing in the area. I love this state – and I want to turn this site into a resource for both locals and visitors to the great state of Virginia.

So, what makes me love Virginia so much. First and foremost I was born and raised here, so that’s one obvious reason. But beyond that, I just feel like Virginia has a lot to offer – obviously, it has a rich history, and is and always will be tied to the American history.That also ties into the architecture that you can see around the state – I don’t think any other state has as many well preserved buildings with colonial architecture. We also have a great food culture – obviously, Virginia ham is a well known specialty and is beloved both by locals and by folks in other states, but beyond that, we also have amazing sausages and a bunch of rich, hearty comfort food traditions that outsiders might not know but that locals cherish (everyone should try shoofly pie, it’s crazy good)

We also have a rich tradition of producing great musicians – with country music, this great state has produced notables as Patsy Cline, and the (pretty old school) Statler brothers and Carter Family. Outside of country, the great state of Virginia has also produced Jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald, hip hop/RnB aritsts like Timbaland, Missy Elliot, and music industry legend Pharrell. Jason Mraz, the Dave Matthews band, and Dave Grohl (of the Foo Fighters) all have roots in Virginia as well. We also always have stuff going on in the state in term of concerts and smaller performances – the official Virginia website is great for updates on this front.

Then we have the outdoors. Hunting and fishing in Virginia is probably one of the most satisfying and fulfilling experiences you can get anywhere in the country. We have some really incredibly natural scenery that will take your breath away, and even if you don’t like hunting or fishing, just taking a stroll through the countryside or going on a hike can be really rewarding.

As you can probably tell, I really love this state, and no, I don’t work for the Virginia Tourism board. I just loved growing up here, and I continue to love living here, and I wish that the state would get more recognition as both a great place to visit and an amazing place to live. It offers an excellent balance of everything – no matter what you’re into, you’ll be able to find it here.

So, if you’re a local looking for stuff to do around the state or in your city specifically, or if you’re a planning a visit to Virginia in the near future – be sure to check back here. We don’t have a lot of stuff up yet, but I’m hoping to turn this site into a real resource for anyone looking for stuff to do in the state, and I’ll try to add content on a pretty regular basis to keep abreast of everything that’s going on here.

This is Virginia Beats.



Following Rules on Cleanliness and Safety When Running a Business in Virginia

Following Rules on Cleanliness and Safety When Running a Business in VirginiaVirginia values cleanliness and safety. This is why aside from federal regulations, there are also a lot of local laws and ordinances passed to ensure that the state is clean and the people are healthy. Virginia is one of the healthiest states in the US and it remained strong in fighting those who violate these laws.

Hazard free workplace

One of the ways to ensure that safety is ensured in workplaces is that the government requires that all employers have the responsibility to keep the employees’ workplace hazard free. They need to know if there are potential hazards in the area or things that could cause death or injury. For instance, if there is an ongoing renovation or an area that is currently being repaired, the employees have to be informed. If they are required to leave the area and work on another place for some time, they also have to be informed in advance. If there are items that need fixing, they have to be fixed. Broken equipment causing toxic fumes or other health threatening issues must be addressed directly. A circular must also be issued for employees to know about these problems. Employers are required to take the necessary action and they are obliged to do so.

Keeping the records

Another responsibility of employers in Virginia is to keep a record of all the changes made in the work environment. If there were items fixed or equipment installed, they have to be recorded and should be submitted to the authorities later on. This will avoid potential problems and stop the blame game should anything wrong happen. For instance, we have all heard about what happened in Flint, Michigan. Hundreds upon thousands of kids had their water poisoned with lead. It was a result of the government’s decision to change the water source of the people living in Flint. When the lead contamination discovery was revealed, the government was quick in downplaying the issue. They also denied that they knew about this before and they haven’t done any appropriate action.

In Virginia, since everything is kept on the records, business owners could not lie. If something wrong happens as a consequence of a wrong decision, then the responsibility is on their shoulders.

Virginians are also doing their share

Given these governmental policies on cleanliness and safety, people in Virginia try to do their share too. They ensure that their own house is clean. Those who own carpets have the carpets cleaned more often. If not, they clean the carpet themselves using the best carpet cleaners online. They also see to it that they keep their area clean, not just inside, but also outside. Homeowners’ associations are also responsible in calling the attention of homeowners whose lawns are really messy and whose areas are not well-kept.

If you want to move to Virginia, you need to be aware of these policies. You have to be responsible too. You can start by checking out the best home carpet cleaner online. It is nice to live in a clean environment. Kudos to Virginia for doing a great job.

Discover the Talented Chainsaw Wood Carvers in Virginia

wood carverWhen you think about chainsaws, you only think about two things. The first one is that it is a scary tool that is used to cut trees. The other one is the horror movie that has horrified one generation after another. Either way, both are bad images of a chainsaw. The great news is that chainsaws actually have a lot other purposes. Enter the chainsaw wood carvers in Virginia.

It takes a special skill to do what they do. This group of professional sculptors doesn’t just use the chainsaw to cut trees. They also use the chainsaw to create a fantastic work of art. They are individuals who are highly dedicated. They maximize the use of this tool in such a way that you have never seen an art like what they have done. Aside from displaying finished products, they also provide 45-minute shows. In just 5 minutes, they can transform an ordinary log into a work of art. Their high energy performance has left onlookers breathless. They perform with high energy, but with great accuracy and precision. It is like seeing a group of dancers trying to impress a judge. When they are done, you will see something magnificent like you’ve never seen before. Even the smallest details have been looked into. For some other carvers or sculptors, it would take days or even weeks to complete what these amazing carvers in Virginia have created.

Road shows

You don’t have to visit Virginia though to see these professionals in action. They are now providing road shows where they visit different states and countries to perform. There are wood carving performances in Japan, Canada, Germany, and Australia. This is how talented they are that their skills are highly in demand even in other countries.

You can buy one too

After the show, an auction sale takes place. You can buy the works of art if you get the highest bid. You won’t regret it though sine the money collected will go to fund the shows of these artists. Besides, even if you invest a lot, these creations are just wonderful. You can even use them as the centerpiece of your home decoration. This might seem like a new concept to you, but some of these performers have been doing their craft since the 1990’s.

Learn how to do it

Right now, you can just watch them in action. Soon, you can be one of them. Of course, you have to start by conquering your fears of using chainsaws. It is not easy, but you can do it if you give it a try. You can check out the best chainsaws to buy online. You can also read about affordable chainsaw reviews. When you have found the best chainsaw, go ahead and invest right away. Even if you don’t learn how to carve wood using a chainsaw, you can still use it in cutting trees and logs. This is still a useful skill after all. It might be needed especially during storms when trees have to be cut to avoid injuries.

Live in Virginia for a Week and Start a Healthier Lifestyle

Live in Virginia for a Week and Start a Healthier LifestyleAs one of the world’s countries with the most obese people, the United States is now moving to end this problem. If we can recall, First Lady Michelle Obama led a fight against obesity by encouraging Americans to keep moving and to live a healthier lifestyle. A lot of other states followed this move and decided to introduce initiatives that would encourage the locals to also follow healthier choices in life.

Virginia is one of the states where there are government programs encouraging everyone to live a healthier life. Despite being in the middle rank of the states that are least obese, Virginia is moving in an upward direction, doing everything it could, to end this problem. This is why a lot of locals have started to change their habits. You can now see more fitness gyms opening up due to a huge demand. You can also see healthier stores and restaurants. Vegetarian restaurants are now available all over the state. In fact, if you happen to visit Virginia for a week and try to imbibe their healthy lifestyle, you will go back to your home state continuing what you have started.

Try organic juices

If there is one thing that you need to try when you are in Virginia, it’s the organic fruit juices available. The state is abundant with locally produced fruits and vegetables. Almost all the types of fruits that we have grown to love like berries, cherries, applies, oranges and peaches can be found in the state. When you move to other states, you can taste these fruits as flavorings and not as actual organic juice. Therefore, Virginia is such a special place where you can try out these organic fruit juices. You can even go on an all juice diet for a few days to clean your body.

Make your own

Given the availability of local fruits, you can easily buy one at the market and create your own juice. You can decide whatever flavor is perfect for you by combining these fruits. You can do so by using a juicer. Start by checking out the best juicer online. There are big and small juicers available. The big ones are perfect for huge chunks of fruits and vegetables that you wanted to crush. Smaller juicers are also referred to as portable juicers. You can use them if you wish to carry the juicers around with you. You might also want to check out online juicer reviews  to guide you in making the decision on what juicer to buy.

A total change

As soon as you fall in love with the idea of a healthier lifestyle, you will surely keep on doing it. Of course, you can instantly see the changes happening in your body. You will lose weight, stay in your best shape and maintain a natural glow. Who would not want to achieve all these things? Therefore, you can go back home after your trip to Virginia and still live a healthier lifestyle.

Child Day Care Services in Virginia are Reliable

Best Convertible StrollersVirginia is one of the most child-friendly states in the US. There are not so many loud bars and party places. The crime rate is low and people live a relatively peaceful life compared with other highly urbanized states. This is why a lot of parents prefer to raise their children in a state like Virginia. They know that their kids will grow in a loving and a calmer environment.

Another reason why Virginia is a child-friendly state is because of its daycare centers. These places are reliable. If you are a working mother and you need to leave your child in a daycare center while you work, you have nothing to worry about.

Daycare centers in Virginia

Day care programs in Virginia don’t necessarily have to be licensed. Children under the age of 13 may be left in a day care center provided that the parents can prove that they won’t be around on a given time to take care of their kids. These centers also allow parents to leave their children for less than 24 hours only. There are also two options available. You can either drop your child off a day care center or you can ask a day care provider to come and babysit your child in your own home.

There are 4 types of day care centers in Virginia. The most reliable is the licensed day care centers. They can assume full responsibility if something goes wrong. They also have good track records when it comes to their job. Approved but not licensed day care centers are also fine. Before they have started operation, the government has already checked their facilities and services. The third one is called unlicensed but regulated. Though the idea of leaving your child in an unlicensed center is scary, it is offset by the fact that they are regulated anyway. Finally, there are unlicensed and unregistered centers. It is quite risky to leave your child here since the government has not checked their facilities at all. They also can’t assume responsibility if something wrong happens to your child. If you know that they are unlicensed and you still decide to trust them, then it is at your own risk.

A great time

Most licensed day care centers offer kids a great time while they are there. They don’t even want to go home since they are having fun. They take the kids to other places too so they won’t be bored playing inside the room. Some daycare centers have a mini park and a playground where kids can have fun. Day care centers caretakers get help from strollers to manage the number of babies left for them to take care of. Double strollers for instance help them if they want to push around a park two babies at a time.

If you want to get a double stroller of your own, you can check out these double stroller reviews and recommendations. You can also compare best double strollers so you can make the right decision.

Now that you know about day care centers in Virginia, you can fully entrust your kids to them while you are at work.

People in Virginia are Fitness Conscious, Be One of Them

CrossFit Training Push Ups

CrossFit Training Push Ups

Based on the ranking of the states with the least obese people in the entire United States, Hawaii ranks first with just 19%. It might be because of the nature of the lifestyle in the island. People are always outdoors and so they tend to exercise their muscles more. The jobs available are also usually related to physical activities. Though quite far behind, Virginia is still in the middle of the pack. With only 27.2% obesity rate, it is pretty clean that the people of Virginia put a lot of emphasis on their health.

If there is evidence aside from this statistics, it is the growing number of cross fit gyms in the state. Though this challenge is becoming popular all over the country, it has caught up easily among the people of Virginia. It could be because of the nature of the challenge. It is intense and the results are seen right away. In contrary, Virginia’s neighbor, West Virginia, is at the bottom of the list. It is second to the last with 34.3% obesity rate, just a rank higher than Mississippi.

When you move to Virginia, you might also be challenged to live a healthier lifestyle. Aside from the growing number of gyms, you will also be inspired by how people live their lives. Before you know it, you have already enrolled in the nearest cross fit center and get on with the challenge.

Gearing up for the cross fit challenge

To begin with, you need to prepare yourself for this intense challenge. You can start by doing warm up exercises. You should also get used to cardio exercises. Take note that cross fit is very intense and it could literally take your breath away. Therefore, you need to control your breathing well and use your energy wisely.

When your body has fully adjusted, the next step is to buy the right gear for cross fit. Your next move it to look for best shoe for crossfit. There are specific types of shoes designed just for cross fit. You cannot wear ordinary shoes since they won’t protect you. Again, cross fit can cause great impact and might be harmful to your body. It could lead to injuries. With the right footwear, you avoid all these accidents. If you worry because of tight budget, then you can check out affordable best crossfit shoes.

Changing your habits

Cross fit alone won’t be enough to help you achieve your goals. If you want to be healthy, then you need to be healthy inside out. You should also watch what you eat. Though there are a lot of fast foods in Virginia, there are also a lot of organic shops and vegetarian restaurants. After hitting the gym, you can treat yourself by heading to these restaurants. You won’t feel guilty eating a lot because you know you are taking the right kind of food.

It is inspiring to see the people of Virginia taking on the cross fit challenge. You can do the same thing and see a better you.

Hot Spots To Visit In Virginia

I may be a little biased but, I love Virginia. I think it’s not only a great place to live but an awesome place to visit as well. While many out there may not share the same love I have for Virginia I’m going to share some great things to do in Virginia if you ever find yourself in this area. So if you are curious about some things to do in Virginia or are contemplating visiting sometime soon, I hope you’ll enjoy this article.

Virginia has various national forest areas like the Shenandoah National Forest. It was set up in the late 1935 and incorporates the Skyline Drive. Roughly 40 percent of the national parks location is secured as part of the NWPS or National Wildlife Preservation System. About 30 trails as well as parks such as Prince William Forest Park and Great Falls Park are dealt in the NPS or National Parks System.

Virginia commemorates numerous festivals such as the Virginia State Fair, Neptune Celebration, Norfolk’s Harborfest and the Virginia Lake Celebration. The Virginia State Fair is well known every September at the Richmond International Raceway. Norfolk’s Harborfest is commemorated in June that includes air shows as well as boat racings. The Virginia Lake Celebration is commemorated during the third weekend of July at Clarksville. There are also two considerable film festivals in Virginia such as the VCU Movie Festival and the Virginia Film Festival commemorated at Richmond and Charlottesville, respectively.

Virginia is also the home of several hotels, among the best is the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Resort. This resort is situated about 20 minutes away from midtown Norfolk and the Norfolk International Airport. It is also 45 minutes away from Busch Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg. It is 5 minutes away from the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Scientific Research. It is just 10 seconds away from the prominent Virginia Coastline boardwalk and beach. The resort features a full service front desk, a range of outside and inside dining in addition to complimentary shuttle bus services to some famous beach locations. The resort’s guestrooms have a 32 inch standard screen tv with premium cable television networks, broadband internet access, 2 telephones with voicemail, a coffee machine, hairdryer and iron with ironing boards.

For those that are looking to stay in shape while visiting Virginia be sure to bring your weight lifting wrist wraps and of course your top notch testosterone booster because The Hilton Virginia Beach also features a state of the art gym for those that want to get in a great workout while staying at this fine hotel.

Best Choice Inn Virginia is situated about a mile from the center of the community and about 20 miles away from the Norfolk International Airport. Several of the neighborhood attractions such as the boardwalk and the Virginia Maritime Scientific Research Museum are only 1 mile away from the resort. The resort includes coastline accessibility, fax machine, interior passage, seasonal exterior swimming pool, indoor swimming pool, bicycle leasings and a large parking lot. All guestrooms have refrigerators, iron with ironing boards, telephones, cable television service, wireless web accessibility, daily housekeeping, a veranda terrace and coffee machine.

The Sheraton Beachfront Hotel is 15 blocks from the fishing boat dock, 1 mile from the lighthouse and about 20 miles far from the Norfolk International Airport terminal. It is a mile away from the Virginia Beach Convention Center, 4 miles from the Seaside State Park, and also 11 miles away from the Verizon Virginia Beach Arena. This hotel showcases direct beach access, gym, indoor swimming pool and also exterior ocean view swimming pool, as well as hot tub. All guestrooms have refrigerator, iron, telephone along with cable, microwave, coffee maker, balcony terrace, and also broadband internet accessibility.

My Nurse Friend is in Town

I had a friend from college, Shawn, who came into Richmond the other day. He is going to be moving down here for next couple months because of work. He is a travel nurse and gets to work all over the country. He has been doing this for years and makes over $100,000 per year. The companies he works for always cover is moving costs and give him short term housing allowance.

Travel make an average of $85,000 per year. Coming out of school, they are set to make a salary of just under $70,000. That is a nice chunk of change. These nurses get paid very well because there are not enough of them hospitals at the moment. Until the labor market catches up to the demand, these high salaries will not change.

Sometimes he gets me thinking this. “Gee. What did not I get into that.” When we were in college, I used to make fun of him by saying nursing was only for girls. He got the last laugh. He got a good job out of college and makes more money now than most people I know. He has got the right idea and applaud him for sticking to what wanted despite the criticism.

Anyway, he came to town and I wanted to introduce him properly to my home state — Virginia. I took him out for barbecue and beer at my favorite restaurant in the area. He loved it and now understands why people are so overweight in Virginia. It is because they have great food and little self-control. That is usually a disastrous combination.

Shawn was more surprised by the number of overweight people he had seen so far in Virginia. Shawn is originally from northern New Jersey. People are a lot thinner in the northeast region of the United States. I do not know why the northeast has less fat people than in Virginia. Don’t we all eat the same food? I guess not.

Shawn has seen a good portion of the United Stated in his eight years as a travel nurse. I asked him if Virginia stood out to him somehow. He was shocked about how big the difference in culture was once you leave Northern Virginia. A 45-minute drive south of DC, people start having thick country accents. Gas prices fall by 30 cents. Everything is cheaper. There are Waffle House restaurants everywhere. It is crazy.

Other than that, he is adjusting well. He figured out his was around the city. The also has a cheap place right outside the heart of the city. Shawn is doing pretty well for himself. I would just urge to watch this political views. He could really tick off the wrong people with that liberal jargon he tells everyone else once in awhile. Nonetheless, Shawn will be here for a little while longer so he will have plenty to grow.

It’s Time to Make Preserves in WV: Get Out the Pressure Cooker!

Fall is a great time of year in West Virginia. In fact leaf color is peaking right around now around Cedar Creek. It’s a perfect time for a rural drive. It is also harvest time in gardens around the state and people are getting out their pressure cookers (reviews on this page: – looks like the All American Pressure Cooker/Canner is the best choice) to put food up for the winter. My mother was big on canning and now that I’m a little older I can see it has its benefits. Back when I was a kid it was just this annoying chaos taking over the kitchen! It’s especially good to can if you have your own garden and can control the pesticides and fertilizers that you put on (or don’t put on) your crops. I love having canned peaches and apples — two of West Virginia’s best canning crops — all winter. If you have a peach tree or two on your property make the effort to preserve some, you’ll be happy you did come mid-winter.

Here’s a few reasons to get a good large pressure cooker, some preserve jars, and take the time to do some canning:

  • Taste – this is the biggest one for me! Fresh from the garden right to the mason jar makes for maximum yumminess.
  • Poverty – I can afford fresh produce from the grocery store, but some folks can’t. Canning/preserves is very economical if you have all the equipment and you have food grown on your own land at little to no cost.
  • Generosity – nothing says “I give a damn about you!” like a jar or two of home-made preserves (especially jam)! When in doubt at Christmas time give a jar of something and you will be sure to please.
  • Waste not Want not – if you have a high-producing WV garden like my mom did you won’t be able to eat everything as it ripens. You won’t even be able to give all away! Canning the excess as it comes means no throwing perfectly good food into the compost.
  • You’ll feel good about it – There’s something really satisfying about taking care of your own food with your own hands and connecting to the land and the earth. Making preserves is kind of a back to basics, down-to-earth activity.
  • Good for the planet – Connected to the last point is that you won’t be buying food that’s been trucked in or flown in from a thousand miles away. This is obviously good for freshness but also reduces all those nasty carbon emissions we are so worried about.
  • Health – as mentioned earlier, if you are canning your own food you need not be concerned about what chemicals have been used to grown them and what chemicals have been used to keep the pests off. Usually it is better to avoid ingesting chemicals and additives if possible.
  • My mom did it – Yep, I can be a sentimental guy at times.

So there you have it. If you aren’t a canner already the first step to getting the necessary gear is to purchase a large electric pressure cooker or regular pressure cooker and a bunch of mason jars. After that it’s not too hard. A good web search will get you all the info you need to successfully copy your mom.

Bass Fishing in Virginia? Yes!

As many of you know, I love the Old Dominion State. Everything about it. Now you may have heard that Virginia is for lovers. That may very well be true. However, I’m writing this post today to try to convince you that it’s also for bass fishing lovers.

States like Texas and Florida get all the mainstream press when it comes to bass fishing. With good reason. I’m not here to tell you that Virginia deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence with Texas and Florida. I just want to let you know that there’s bass to be caught in this state and there’s more than one place to catch them.

Before I describe the various bass hotspots in Virginia there is one place I recommend you visit that’s not located in Virginia. I go here whenever I get the urge to get a few tips or a new crankbait. You really should check it out. Now, on to the hotspots.

One place to try your luck is the Tidewater Region. Particularly the James River, Herring and Powell’s Creek. I’ve heard there are plenty of bass in the 3- to 4-pound range. You could also try Lake Chesdin for largemouth bass. Make sure to bring shad colored baits as there are plenty of gizzard shad in the lake that the bass like to feast upon.

Next on the list of Virgina bass fishing hotspots is the Southern Piedmont region. This region is tough to fish only because there are so many places to go. Sandy River Reservoir, Smith Mountain Lake, Briery Creek Reservoir and Buggs Island are the most popular. Fish Marrowbone Creek in March or April and bring your shad colored plastics.

I have a few spots in the Southern Mountain region as well. You have probably already heard about Claytor Lake if you’ve done any bass fishing in the past. Another lake to try is Rural Retreat Lake. The lake is on the smaller side but well worth your time. Plastic jerk baits, spinnerbaits and crankbaits in crappie and shad colors are the ticket here.

The Shenandoah River and Lake Frederick are great spots for largemouth bass in the Northern Mountain area. The heavy vegetation in Lake Frederick can make it a challenge to pull out those trophies. Use natural colored lures and bring a few of the weedless variety in case the vegetation wreaks havoc on your casts. Lures representing crayfish and minnows do well on the Shenandoah. Don’t be afraid to try your plastics and jigs.

I’ve saved the Northern Piedmont area for last but it’s certainly not. It contains the bass factory of Lake Anna. Herring and shad colored lures do very well here. The Rappahannock was suffering for a while but it seems to be making a comeback. Smallmouth can also be found here. Exploring the pools in a kayak while casting for that 7 pounder can be a great way to spend a day.

I will end by reminding you that you can’t catch fish sitting at home. So get out there and enjoy your Old Dominion State!

Virginia – Why It Will Always be on my Mind

When I was still in college, I’d always make it a point to go back to my home town in Virginia during the spring break. My college buddies would always ask me why I do this, since my home town is far away from my university. I’d always tell them that it would be better for them to personally see the reason why I’d rather spend my spring break in Virginia. We finally had the opportunity to visit my home town after graduation. When they finally saw the beautiful town of Norfolk, Virginia, they finally understood my reasons.

Not only is Virginia filled with beautiful sights to see, it is also a place rich in U.S history. Nicknamed the “Old Dominion”, the Commonwealth of Virginia (the state’s old title when the United States was still a colony) was the dominion of the English crown. It is also calle,d the “Mother of Presidents” because eight U.S Presidents were born in Virginia compared to the other states. During the Civil War, the city of Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy and the Virginia General Assembly is perhaps the oldest active law-making body in the world. Any history nut would basically think of Virginia as paradise.

Norfolk is one the most pleasant places to live in in Virginia. When I started working, I saved up a lot of money in order to build my very own house in Norfolk. Most people would think that my house is too far away from civilization. In fact, it’s not; I can have pizza delivered in my home and I my phone and Internet lines are very reliable, thanks to high speed business internet.

Anyway, back to my story. My friends were excited and we basically started our tour by checking out the Canal Cruises. We had to travel to Richmond for that, but it was worth the trip! You’ll see amazing sights while floating along the canal. After the cruise, we checked out the Meadow Run Mill and General Store in Charlottesville. Would you believe that the establishment was made during the early 1800’s? A friend of mine told me that it could be one of the oldest working mill in the world. Unfortunately, this same friend of mine tripped on a small stone while checking out the cog wheels of the mill outside the store. Fortunately, the only thing he got from that escapade was boisterous laughter from all of us.

Finally, we hit the beach. Most of the beach resorts in Virginia have everything you need for a fun spring break. You can go hiking, water skiing, beach volleyball, surfing and others. My friends and I had loads of fun there and even until now, they’re still talking about reliving the adventure again. It’s been five years since we graduated but we all chose to keep communicating because we all love the Old Dominion.

So if you’re looking for a grand vacation or a place where you can unwind and relax, then Virginia is the place to be. You won’t regret it, believe me!