Erika Howsare



An American farmhouse in the 1740s was often a one- or two-room log cabin built by family members. Husband-and-wife teams used crosscut saws to clear the forest where they intended to live and grow crops. Courtesy Frontier Culture Museum

Day trip: The Frontier Culture Museum brings history home

Just like America, the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton is big, complicated and beautiful. It’s one of my favorite places to take my two girls—a museum where almost anything can be touched and very little is written down. Creative writing professors often exhort students to “show, don’t tell,” and this museum nails that concept, presenting […]

The layout of the National Zoo (admission is free!) with a main walkway and themed side loops like the Asia Trail allows visitors to hit all the high points  without consulting a map. Photos courtesy Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Day trip: Adventuring with kids in our nation’s capital

Before I tell you all about taking your kids on a day trip to Washington, D.C.—one of the best destinations there is—I’ll admit right upfront that such a trip is exhausting. But here’s my secret for making it exhilarating too: Leave your car outside the city and ride the Metro in. It’ll break up the […]

Photo: Stacey Evans

Kitchen, in color: Light and palette enhance a room redo

The house that Stacey Evans and John Grant share has been his home for 35 years; hers, for 10. It’s a pleasant, unpretentious place with a private backyard where the couple enjoys growing flowers and watching birds. For a long time they’d been living with a small, traditional kitchen that, while it overlooked the gardens, […]

In a world of widespread development by humans, “There’s a huge difference in the amount of wild places for wild critters—a lot less space for them to live and less food for them to eat,” says Hummingbird Hill Native Plant Nursery co-owner Tim SanJule. Native plants are the basis of the food chain. Photos: Wikimedia Commons

The plants of our place: Native gardens are a boon to the environment

There are as many ways to garden as there are ways to cook. Some folks plant neat rows of vegetables; others create geometric arrangements of herbs. Traditional ornamental gardens in our part of the world might feature forsythia, crepe myrtle and daffodils—plants that originate in Asia, Europe and other faraway places. But for gardeners sensitive […]

Outdoor living spaces include a screened porch that opens onto a bluestone patio and pool. The area is defined by a black metal fence on which clematis and other climbing vines grow. Photo: Shawn Mulligan/DGP Architects

Framing a view: A county house blends with the land

When your property overlooks the Moorman’s River, miles of verdant fields and finally the Blue Ridge Mountains, it seems obvious that the view is a primary attraction. Yet when one couple bought a Western Albemarle house in 2000, its siting and design didn’t do as much as they could have to connect occupants to the […]

The great room—which comprises a sitting area, dining area and generous kitchen ("I like to spread out when I cook," says Carolyn Frazier), situates near the master suite and informal den. Photo: Andrea Hubbell

Farmhouse fresh: A couple goes minimal in Nelson County

Three decades in one house makes some people set in their ways, but, for others, it ends with an abrupt change. Tom and Carolyn Frazier had lived in Northern Virginia in a “typical, traditional D.C. house,” says Carolyn, and when they reached retirement they were ready for something “totally different. We wanted something modern and […]

Living Earth School co-owner Kate Knott says wild edibles pack more nutrients than the greens you get at the grocery store. Photo: John Robinson

Into the wild: Learn to eat from the garden that grows itself

Some folks think of “greens” as the contents of a plastic bag in the produce section; others grow lettuce and spinach in their home gardens. There’s another vegetable paradigm, though, and it’s lurking right outside your back door. Welcome to the world of wild edibles. To walk through an ordinary backyard with Kate Knott or […]

Photo: Bill Mauzy

An intimate space: Using a garden to soften a vast view

The house enjoys an extraordinary location, overlooking miles of Albemarle countryside from a high mountainside perch. Throughout the day the sun makes its crossing from east to west across a wide expanse of sky, while fields and woods unroll below for what seems like forever. When the present owners came here in 1996, they loved […]

Photo: Virginia Hamrick

From business to casual: While maintaining some of its original appeal, a downtown office becomes an eclectic family home

Finding a house in downtown Charlottesville isn’t easy, but Kate Stephenson managed to do it when she spotted a commercial space for sale just north of the Downtown Mall. Like many onetime residences, the brick building had been serving for decades as offices. When she first walked in, Stephenson definitely noticed a “law-office” look—acoustic tile […]

Sylvanaqua Farms owners Chris and Annie Newman hope to be an example to young farmers interested in permaculture.  Photo: Melody Robbins

The new ag: Sylvanaqua models the next wave of local farming

Talking with Chris Newman about the farm he runs with his wife, Annie, you get the feeling you’re glimpsing the future. Newman likes to think ahead; he was still in his 20s when he and Annie began planning to become farmers after retirement, which was decades away. They lived in Washington, D.C., then; he worked […]

Before you start your own business in Charlottesville, you’ll want to visit business development manager Jason Ness, who helps entrepreneurs start from a position of strength. Photo: John Robinson

How to pass ‘go’: City office lends business owners a hand

Thinking of making the leap to entrepreneurship in Charlottesville? Your first stop ought to be the Office of Economic Development, which offers a broad menu of services to would-be business owners. We spoke with Jason Ness, business development manager, about what he and his colleagues can do to nudge your startup dream closer to reality. […]

Danielle and Ryan were married at Raven's Roost Outlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway with less than 10 people present. Photo: Eze Amos

Simple pleasures: How to have a small Charlottesville wedding

What’s that you say? You actually don’t want the big ol’ wedding involving three days of catered meals, bagpipers on parade, engraved nameplates to mark which boutonniere goes on which groomsman? You’re not alone. Plenty of folks opt for a smaller, simpler wedding. There are many reasons why—and cost is only the most obvious. Fewer details […]

Located near the sitting area is what architect Dan Zimmerman and his colleagues call “the bean,” a central core where coffee is served and discussed, which has a drop ceiling to keep the space from feeling cavernous. Photo: Stephen Barling

Hey, Joe: Local roastery tweaks its space’s flavor

Dave Fafara stands over the noisy machine in the back of his Shenandoah Joe’s Preston Avenue shop, coffee-scented steam rising from a batch of freshly roasted beans. A metal arm pushes through the beans heaped in the cooling tray, and Fafara occasionally stirs them with his hand, until they’re cool enough to slide out a […]