Erika Howsare



Can kids have a ball at an antique mall? Yes, if they find something cool, like, a tin rocket race car. Photo: Getty Images

Kids’ stuff: Retail therapy works for the younger set, too

My kids get pretty sick of trailing me through the grocery store. Clothes shopping, depending on how it goes, can be a thrill or a deep disappointment. But there are other kinds of stores that are more reliable sources of fun, entertainment, and information—everything, that is, you want from a day trip. What’s more, they […]

Betsy Bilharz and Dan Savage were married in a small civil ceremony with their parents present, and will have the big wedding they’d planned in June.  Photo: Carly Romeo

Now what? How to deal if you have to cancel or postpone

On a Sunday last September, Betsy Bilharz and Dan Savage were dropping off the welcome bags for their wedding guests at a hotel in Charlottesville when her parents called to say that the weather report was looking pretty bad. The couple’s wedding day was supposed to be the following Saturday, September 15, and a hurricane […]

Ray and Adam were married at Carter's Overlook on the Monticello Trail on September 15, 2018. Photo: Amy Jackson Smith

Fancy-free: Choose a sweet spot for a low-key ceremony

Big weddings are great, but for some of us, less is more. As in, less expense, less stress, less planning. And there’s something thrilling about getting married without a net. Okay, we’ll just say it: Why not elope? Taking your vows with only a handful of witnesses means that you really can forego nearly all […]

Ma Belle Calligraphy. Photo: Courtesy Ma Belle

Letter perfect: Our favorite local calligraphers

Nothing says “instant keepsake” like a hand-lettered invitation, and plenty of local calligraphers are up to the challenge. Michelle Streeter of Ma Belle Calligraphy (above) works in a modern style and offers invitation suites along with fun extras, like a handwritten version of your vows, to display at the wedding and, later, in your home. mabellecalligraphy.com […]

Photo: Courtesy Vinegar Hill Vintage

The other three percent: Local clothes make the town

Here’s the next level, folks. You might be eating local and shopping local, but are you wearing local? The garments we don often come from very faraway places and seem to just appear out of nowhere; an oft-reported statistic from the American Apparel & Footwear Association states that 97 percent of the clothes sold in […]

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, […]