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Posted by on Jul 10, 2017 | 4 comments

Adventures in Beekeeping

Adventures in Beekeeping

Beekeeping is something that I had been wanting to do for a long time. When I finally got all my supplies and bees, I was over the moon! The whole adventure started when I got my first package and installed it. Putting the bees in the hive on the first day was both scary and exciting. Upon my first inspection, I was able to identify and find the queen in 5 minutes. She is marked with a green dot on her back. I had worried about her all week! Her survival is imperative to the hive. Her only job is to lay eggs. Without her the hive would not flourish. I’ve been keeping a journal and taking photos. A veil and gloves are essential items for a beginner beekeeper’s protection. I absolutely love inspections, I am very curious as to what is going on in the hive. I actually have to hold back because I don’t want to disrupt their work. During the first month, I inspected every 7...

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Posted by on May 5, 2017 | 0 comments

Introducing the Reusable Takeout Container Initiative

Introducing the Reusable Takeout Container Initiative

There’s an exciting new eco-friendly project launching in Del Ray this month and it’s the idea of Del Ray residents and T.C. Williams sophomores Leila Rasmussen, Elspeth Collard, and Bridget Williams. As part of a STEM program project, the students devised a way to reduce the amount of waste created by takeout containers. The program, the Reusable Takeout Container Initiative (RTC), is similar to the concept of bringing your own shopping bags to grocery stores. Consumers purchase a sturdy, bpa-free, microwave- and dishwasher-safe 3-part container for $5 that they can use at participating restaurants. Every time you use your container for a takeout order or to bring leftovers home, you get 10% off your meal. Pork Barrel BBQ’s Bill Blackburn and Taqueria el Poblano’s Jeff Wallingford were the first to sign on. Los Tios is also participating. Wallingford says, “Bill and I discussed it and thought it was a great idea and that there would be certain economies of scale and a synergy that we could work on and hopefully...

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Posted by on Mar 15, 2017 | 1 comment

Cabin Camping in Shenandoah

Cabin Camping in Shenandoah

This past weekend, my family took a trip to a primitive cabin outside Shenandoah National Park, one of many cabins owned and operated by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC). Despite really cold temperatures, we had a great time and enjoyed slow-cooked meals, games played by candlelight and peace and quiet away from cell phones, Internet and other modern distractions. We left Alexandria on Friday afternoon and hiked 1/2 mile up a steep trail to Morris Cabin. My kids had never been cabin camping (or camping at all for that matter) so I was a little nervous how they would handle it. Fortunately, as soon as they saw the cabin from the trail, they were instantly in awe and couldn’t wait to get inside. The cabin, built in 1927 by Wayman Morris, has four rooms: a kitchen/dining room, living room, separate bedroom and a sleeping loft. It’s primitive, meaning it has no electricity or running water, but it has everything you really need. Since it was so cold, we...

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Posted by on Dec 7, 2016 | 0 comments

Going Solar in Alexandria

Going Solar in Alexandria

Steve and Michele have joined a growing list of families in Alexandria by adding solar panels to their home last summer. It didn’t cost a fortune, and they’ve already seen an extraordinary drop in their energy consumption. I met with Steve and Michele the other day to hear about their experience. They told me they spent about $13,500 to purchase and install the panels, which is the typical price for the average size of homes in this area. But, they say that they decided on installing panels mainly to avoid wasting energy and to be more resource conscious in general, to make as they say, “an investment in our lives.” The roof attachments have rails that the panels sit on, as well as waterproofing in the roof shingles. They showed me their Dominion bill for September to October, 2016, which was only $15.36. What’s most notable is that when it’s common around here to run the A/C the most often, during August, they only paid $25. Virginia provides for...

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Posted by on Aug 30, 2016 | 2 comments

Meet the Maker: Mellenie’s Soap Subscription

Meet the Maker: Mellenie’s Soap Subscription

We’ve been big fans of Mellenie Runion’s eco-friendly soap business, Truly-Life, ever since discovering it a few years ago. In fact, her garden was one of the stops on this summer’s Urban Farm Tour. We love sharing news of local makers and Mellenie’s homemade business keeps getting bigger and better, now with a subscription service. Mellenie grows and creates her skin care products right here in her Del Ray home. The lavender that makes her soap and bath fizz so soothing grows in her backyard. The loofah grow on vines supported by a homemade trellis. It’s then dried and sliced and delicately tied with a ribbon on her packages (that little pot contains a bonus: seeds to start your own loofah plants at home). Her mud masks are made from coffee beans sourced from local coffee roaster Swing’s and the box is lined with, of course, part of a burlap coffee bean bag. Mellenie is now offering a subscription service where you can order — for yourself or as...

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