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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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Posted by on Aug 12, 2016 | 2 comments

Help Del Ray Build a Spray Park

Help Del Ray Build a Spray Park

If you pass by the Colasanto Park at the corner of Mt Vernon and Commonwealth Avenues, you’ve probably wondered why the pool, in such a prime location, sits closed. Well, you’re not alone. There is a group of Del Ray citizens, led by Nancy Lee-Reeve, eager to make the most of the space. They want to convert the pool into a proper “gateway” to Del Ray complete with a spray park with fountains and sprinklers for kids of all ages. “On hot summer days, we are reminded of what could be if we work together as a community to make this spray park happen. This pool has been an eyesore for way too long,” says Nancy. The pool closed in 2010 due to under-utilization and although it is slated to be redeveloped, that isn’t in the city plans until 2022. To speed up the process, Nancy launched a petition which states: “The pool and the surrounding area are the gateway to Del Ray. We’d like the City of Alexandria...

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Posted by on Aug 3, 2016 | 0 comments

Campaigning for Backyard Chickens in Alexandria

Campaigning for Backyard Chickens in Alexandria

Did you know it’s legal to raise chickens in Del Ray? Legal, that is, if you have a lot large enough for your coop to stand 200 feet from your neighbor’s yard, which pretty much makes everyone who currently has chickens (and yes, there are a few!) in violation of the law. But a movement is gaining steam to modify that ordinance to align with our typical small lot sizes. A group that calls themselves “Hens of Alexandria” has created an online petition as a first step in changing the ordinance. As soon as they get 500 signatures, they’ll deliver the petition to the Alexandria City Council. They’re proposing that they city allow 1 chicken hen per 1,000 square feet of lot size and at least 4 feet from a property line, unless space is shared with a neighboring property of mutual consent. Roosters are not permitted. You can find more information on this campaign on their flyer, such as benefits, concerns, and more facts about backyard chickens. These...

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