Getting Organized


I have set many goals for Herban Lifestyle for 2011, and I just checked a big one off of my list. Get organized! As my company has grown, so has my need for large quantities of herbs, oils, packaging and more. And these items had grown unruly in the 10 x 15 space I have designated for these supplies. So, in January, I hired a friend’s husband to create built-in shelves at one end of my space, and it has made all the difference in the world.

Once the shelves were up and painted, I set out to find containers that would allow me to easily see and access my herbs and other items. Previously, they had been stored in the plastic bags they had come in, which were in turn stored in cardboard boxes. I wasted a lot of time going trying to find what I needed. Now it’s all is plain sight.

Good old Mason jars (which I use for making tinctures and infusions) along with Anchor’s square Frontier jars provide the perfect sizes and shape to maximize the space and highlight the natural beauty of my botanicals. And a series of baskets serve as tidy-looking mini drawers to hold tags, labels, ribbon, bags and myriad other small supplies.

Huge Anchor Montana jars hold large quantities of my most-used herbs, and translucent portable filing boxes keep my wool (hand-dyed by various Etsy crafters) safe and dry, as well as easily seen and accessed.

There is still some extra room for various display pieces and packaging. I am sure that this will get filled up before long. In the meantime, I am enjoying the “white space.”

In a less visible area of the space I have room to store my equipment, more packaging, more display pieces, and shipping materials.

An additional free-standing small white shelf holds miscellaneous glass and metal containers, along with a few pink-colored botanicals and other items.

While it took me a few weeks to find the right containers, then a couple of days to sort and transfer the contents from the aforementioned bags and boxes into the containers, I will net a huge savings of time from now on. Having these previously packed-in, hard-to-see, hard to access items at my fingertips, and easily viewed has saved me so much time. And now I will have time to check off the remaining items from the 2011 To Do List…

Clare and Don’s Beach Shack: Good Food, Gators and Going Green in Falls Church City

Recently, when I was feeling under the weather and craving some homestyle soup, I headed over Clare and Don’s Beach Shack in Falls Church City. I have ordered lunch there a few times, and their nice selection of from-scratch comfort food was perfect for my mood.

When I arrived, I found out that the soup of the day was a homemade chicken noodle, brimming with big chunks of fresh celery and carrot. Just what the doctor ordered!

The restaurant has a Florida beach shack theme, which is colorfully carried throughout the décor and menu selection, which even includes fried alligator tail (really!). In the summer, my family and I often head over there for an early dinner on the outdoor patio, where live music plays in a fun, lively environment that really makes you feel as if you are at the beach. And their location next to The State Theatre, makes them a great pre- or post-concert restaurant.

Besides being a great place for good food and entertainment, Clare and Don’s Beach Shack is doing a lot to be a sustainable business. While I was waiting for my soup, I spoke to Dave Tax (who co-owns the restaurant with his sister, Rebecca), about their green initiatives. He told me that they had installed solar panels on the roof of their restaurant to generate 15% of their power usage.

solar panels on the roof of Clare and Don's

Their used cooking oil is saved then collected by Free State Biofuels, who then turn it into biodiesel. And, according to their website, their recycling far out weighs their solid waste! This is extra impressive given that Falls Church City does not have a mandatory business recycling program, so Clare and Don’s has to pay to have their recycling collected.

mural inside Clare and Don's

They also have a nice-sized vegetarian menu, many items of which are vegan. Manager Susan Anderson told me, “People love our vegetarian selection. Even non-vegetarians like our buffalo tofu and other non-meat items.” Their offerings including Phish and Chips, Uncrabcakes and Tofu Sandwiches. My favorite vegetarian items are the Cluckless Tacos, and Tofu and Grits.

When I received my order, I was delighted to see that it was in a compostable container. Apparently all of their “To-Go” containers are made from recycled materials. Yay, no styrofoam!

Clare and Don’s was established in May 2005 in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington (the inspiration for the restaurant’s clever name!), then moved to Falls Church City in 2007.  I remember being thrilled to find that they offered whole belly clams, a rarity in the DC area, and a dish that has been part of my spring dining ritual for as long as I can remember. They are my go-to restaurant whenever I am in the mood for any kind of seafood.

Or, if you’re in the mood for homemade ice cream, or a New York style deli sandwich (with a Dr. Brown’s to wash it down and black and white cookie for dessert), check out Mike’s Deli/Lazy Sundae, their sister business.

As you can probably tell by now, I highly recommend Clare and Don’s for good seafood in a fun, casual setting. And, if you’re brave enough to try the fried ‘gator tail, let me know how it is!

Clare and Don’s Beach Shack is located at 130 North Washington Street, Falls Church, VA 22046


Nusta Spa: A Green Urban Oasis

image copyright GoingGreenDC

I first learned about Nusta Spa in downtown DC two years ago when I read an article in the Washington Post about the state of spas in the wake of the economic downturn. I found owner Elizabeth Snowdon’s perspective interesting in that she viewed her competitive set as not merely other local spas, but rather the larger luxury market (e.g., vacations and other high ticket items). In viewing it this way, she was optimistic that people who might normally spend thousands of dollars to treat themselves would find a day at her spa a legitimate and enjoyable cost-saving alternative. It turns out that she was correct in her prediction, in that Nusta Spa is still here, and it’s thriving. When I visited on a recent Friday morning for interpretive massage and pumpkin facial, the lounge area was filled with people waiting for their treatments. And in a recent thread on a local listserv, a request for referrals to local spas resulted in 10 recommendations, 5 of which were enthusiastic votes for Nusta.

After going way too long without a full day off, I decided to finally use two gift certificates I had purchased through Live Green‘s Greenback program (a socially responsible group buying program featuring only vetted truly green companies). I was pleased upon my arrival to see a decal on the door indicating that Nusta is a Live Green Spot, like Herban Lifestyle!

image copyright DiscoverSpas.com

And it’s no surprise that Nusta would be among the vetted truly green businesses in DC. The facilities are housed in a LEED Gold certified commercial interior. On their website, they state that “impact on the environment has been an important factor in every decision we’ve made. From the choice of product lines and packaging to the paper and ink used for printed materials, an all-encompassing approach to eco-friendliness is a top priority at Nusta Spa.” They use LED lighting, Energy Star appliances, furniture and other decor made from recycled materials or renewable resources, like bamboo.

Image copyright Anakiri

And, nearest and dearest to my heart, they are committed to using only natural and organic products. I loved inhaling the scent of the massage oils and facial treatments, which smelled of pure essential oils, not fragrances.

Another thing I loved about Nusta was that it feels as if you are at a retreat, rather than just a day spa. There was a peacefulness to the place, and everyone there gave the impression that they had all the time in the world for you. It was so relaxing!

Nusta offers a full menu of treatments, including body scrubs, dry brushing, full body detox, sunless tanning, microdermabrasion, skin peel, manicures, pedicures, waxing, threading and electrolysis. They also offer bridal services.

So, if you are looking for a retreat in town, I highly recommend that you check out Nusta Spa, located at 1129 20th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036.