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Posted by on Oct 25, 2016 | 0 comments

Meet the Artist: Samantha Testa

Meet the Artist: Samantha Testa

From street chalk art to custom water colors, hand-lettered invitations to wall art, local artist Samantha Testa embraces a wide variety of art mediums.  I met Samantha last spring when she participated in La Bella Strada: An Italian Street Painting Festival. Samantha cleverly used the artist-grade sidewalk chalk as watercolor paint to create an exquisite landscape. She also recently appeared on Art on the Avenue in Del Ray, where she sold the one-of-a-kind watercolors and hand-lettered paintings that she features on her Painted Palettes website and Etsy store. One of Samantha’s signature features is hand-lettering, which she makes the centerpiece of a piece, or an enhancement. Photo credit: @melindasnyderphotography She does many custom projects for clients as well. Her main requests are for watercolor animal portraits, watercolor venue/house paintings, hand-lettered invitations, and hand-lettered gifts, such as a wood slice with a family’s last name, picture frame mats hand lettered with a saying, wine glasses, ornaments, nursery art, and personalized art for specific rooms in a house. Stayed Tuned! Samantha...

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Posted by on Aug 9, 2016 | 0 comments

Refreshing Summer Shrubs for All Ages

Refreshing Summer Shrubs for All Ages

The shrub, the tangy syrup made from fruit that’s mildly fermented in vinegar, is usually mentioned as a cocktail mix, but it’s also great on its own mixed with seltzer water and lots of crushed ice. Justine and I made some with help from our kids and then offered them some refreshing mocktails to enjoy on a hot summer evening. You can make shrubs a few different ways: Katie made cranberry shrub in one go, without fermenting the fruit. She made a strawberry shrub in a similar way. For our part, we made the shrub over two weekends. On the first day, we started with nectarines, peaches, and sour cherries I had been saving the freezer. While sterilizing the mason jars, we peeled and sliced the fruit. The girls filled up the jars with the fruit… Meanwhile, we heated up the distilled white vinegar almost to boiling and then filled up the jars with the hot vinegar just about to the top, wiped off the lids and capped the...

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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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Posted by on Jul 27, 2016 | 1 comment

Silly or Stern: Signs to Curb Your Dog

Silly or Stern: Signs to Curb Your Dog

Del Ray has a reputation for being very dog friendly. There’s a joke here that if you move to town, you’re issued a dog and a baby. Everyone has to do their part to clean up after their dogs, of course, but many residents here like to post reminders in their yards. We’ve been collecting photos of the many variety of signs around town, some very stern and serious, others playful and cute. Do they work? Opinions...

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Posted by on Jul 21, 2016 | 0 comments

Janet and Everett’s Backyard “She Shed”

Janet and Everett’s Backyard “She Shed”

We all loved seeing Janet and Everett’s amazing garden during the Del Ray Urban Farm Tour last weekend, but the plants themselves weren’t the only standout feature. The tiny house in the yard, aka the “she shed,” attracted many a gazing eye. I learned that Janet, her husband Everett, and sister Nancy built the house themselves from the ground up. They wanted to build a garden shed on the property so as a test-run of their construction abilities, they decided the build the tiny house. At first the house was used a playhouse for their kids, but now Janet uses it the most as her writing studio. Her kids are still welcome to play in it too.  It’s 4′ x 6′ with a height of 6′ at the peak of the roof. Let’s step inside. Except for the shingles, they either salvaged or bought the main materials for the house second-hand: Windows: Community Forklift for $25.00 each. They’re samples and don’t actually match, but no matter. Flooring: Habitat for...

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