Erika Howsare



Photo: Sanjay Suchak

A life in leaves: Charlottesville artist rocks the botanical world

When Lara Call Gastinger posts a page from her natural journal on Instagram, it routinely garners a few thousand likes. “Lush life!” comments one follower on a recent post. “How wonderful your talent,” says another. “Gorgeous.” “Wonderful work.” In the photo, a drawing pen—the printing worn off its shaft by Gastinger’s hand—lies in the center […]

The natural wonder of Luray Caverns offers a full day of activities including a garden maze, a ropes course, a collection of museums, and a stunning walk through underground formations. Photo courtesy of Luray Caverns

Into the cavern: At Luray, there are so many reasons to stay

Tourist trap: It’s such an ugly term. Of course there’s reason to beware of over-hyped destinations. But—especially with kids in tow—there’s also a certain enjoyment in surrendering, now and then, to the spectacle. I don’t know of anyplace in Virginia where that’s a truer statement than at Luray Caverns. The Caverns, as our guide on […]

Gizmo, an online learning tool that helps students read bar graphs, is just one of 
ExploreLearning’s programs. Photo: Courtesy ExploreLearning

Passing the test: Educational company bets on tech, wins big

How do you get kids to learn math and science? It’s a question that has vexed many a teacher, but Charlottesville-based ExploreLearning has some pretty good answers. Founded in 1999 by UVA math Ph.D. David Shuster, the company develops online learning tools that are now used around the country. The key, says EL’s Tammy Weisman, […]

Amazement Square is an absorbing, multifaceted environment, and its exhibits cover topics as diverse as archaeology and architecture, electricity and puppetry. It's a must-do on a day trip to Lynchburg. Publicity photo

Graveyard to zipline: In Lynchburg, a varied menu of things to do

Lynchburg isn’t that far away, but a visit there really does feel like travel, given how different it is than Charlottesville. A river town intimately connected with the James, a Southern town that many people associate with conservatism rather than its opposite, a college town whose colleges exist at its fringes rather than its heart, […]

Photo: Bill Mauzy

Above the bend: California meets Virginia at a riverside getaway

Barbara Stettner grew up in the wine country of northern California, but she’d been in Virginia for 15 years before she found her weekend place in Sperryville. “It’s sort of like the coastal mountains [in California],” she says, looking toward the layered Blue Ridge views. In 2011, when she and her husband, Michael Ewen, bought […]

Photo: Virginia Hamrick

Lucky find: A vintage house brings two DIY-ers to Orange

Tonda and Mark Morriss had renovated several houses before, and they swore they were done with all that. They also thought they would downsize when they moved from Texas five years ago to be near their daughter and her family—they dreamed of a one-level house with less property to care for. “We did the opposite,” […]

Waterperry Farm’s newest addition—a decorative greenhouse designed by architecture firm Bushman Dreyfus—centers on a major cross-axis through the gardens. Photo: Stephen Barling

Adding structure: The garden at Waterperry gains a house of glass

Katherine Kane had always imagined a greenhouse in a certain spot at her magnificent garden at Waterperry Farm in western Albemarle. And not just for sheltering plants. “There are two kinds of greenhouses,” says architect Jeff Bushman, who customized the kit that Kane bought from the English company Alitex. “There are purely service buildings, and […]

The “Animal Inside Out” exhibit at the Science Museum of Virginia can be shocking for some, but offers a unique look at the bodies of mammals and sea creatures. Courtesy Science Museum of Virginia

Day trip: A day with kids in the museums of Richmond

We’re lucky to have Richmond. As a mid-size city, it can offer certain things that Charlottesville doesn’t, but it’s small enough that it’s simple to navigate. And when I took my kids there recently, I was surprised—as I often am—at how easy it is to get there. That’s not even counting I-64, which might be […]

Photo: Tom McGovern

Griddle me this: Venezuelan arepas come to Charlottesville

Looking for a quick, tasty meal? Here’s an option that might not be on your radar—arepas from the Latin grocery La Guadalupana. What’s an arepa, you ask? It’s somewhere between a sandwich and a taco, it’s a staple of Venezuelan cooking and it’s delicious. The Carlton Road business has been around for almost two decades, […]