It’s Not Just a Bikeshop. It’s a Lifestyle.


Falls Church has a quirky little treasure. As their website landing page states, “It’s not just a bikeshop. It’s a lifestyle.” The Bike Club is not exactly a club, but rather a place where you can buy new or used bicycles. They also sell a variety of bike accessories and offer bike repairs. In nice weather, you can just drive up on your bike to their tented repair area, and wait while they make adjustments, add air, etc. Most repairs are done within the same day, if not immediately. And the store is open seven days a week, which makes it very convenient.

a glimpse of the outdoor repair area, bikes waiting in the queue to be repaired and my bike in the foreground

The Bike Club’s website also announces, “If you like bikes…come see us …if you want to hang out…come see us…” And on any given day during the nice weather, you will see a variety of people, all ages and ethnicities, hanging out talking about bicycles.

The inside of the store is organized chaos, with bikes and accessories placed everywhere, including hanging from the ceiling. And the totally random decorations (the bust of a military general, live green parrots, a miniature Vietnamese temple, a Spiderman figurine, and much more) reflect the quirky personality of the owner, Phuoc Van Pham.

some of the controlled chaos of the interior

another view of the interior of the shop

Pham is clearly passionate about bicycles. A friend who was visiting from Montana, who is a bike enthusiastic and spends his off-time working at a bike shop, commented that the Bike Club is a bike nerd’s dream come true, and that the owner really knows his stuff. And he supports bikers – he sponsors a team of four BMX riders, who one year brought home 37 trophies, many of which are on display at his shop.

Pham, a champion kick boxer and expert bike assembler who was named by the Bicycle Exchange as its “Mechanic of the Year” in 1990 and in 1991 he was Bicycle Exchange’s “Service Technician of the Year.” In 1993, Pham set up a bike repair tent in the front yard of a mattress store owned by a friend in Falls Church, and soon opened the store in his current location.

A couple of weeks ago, the shop was temporarily closed to address some building safety concerns by the City of Falls Church. I found this interesting given that a new bike shop moved into town (the only other bike shop) just two months earlier, while he has been in his shop for almost 20 years without prior incident. But, anyway…

a cool retro-style bike a man was buying for his daughter to take to college

Luckily, the Bike Club expects to be open within the next two months. I drove past the shop today and got a glimpse of the repairs being done. The store is completely empty now, but I am hopeful that it will be restored to its full eccentric glory. I look forward to the grand re-opening in time for spring, the perfect time to go biking!

The Bike Club is located at 438 South Washington Street, Falls Church, VA, just 11.1 miles from The Mall in DC 🙂

Just Brush It Off

image copyright Yupedia

The other day I visited a new massage therapist/holistic health practitioner in Falls Church who recommended, among other things, that I use dry brushing.  Several years ago, my naturopath recommended that I include dry brushing in my daily routine, so it was already something I was accustomed to, and genuinely enjoy.

This technique has been used for hundreds of years. Dry brushing removes dead skin cells and increases blood flow to the surface of the skin, which stimulates the lymphatic system and increases the skin’s ability to eliminate toxins. Dry brushing also stimulates hormone and oil-producing glands, opens your pores, removes dry skin cells, helps break up fat deposits, and leaves your skin feeling soft and looking rosy. Plus, it feels wonderful!

While it is important to clean our skin regularly to get rid of dirt, oils and environmental pollutants in order to keep our pores clear and our skin healthy, skin also plays an important role in our health – it is our largest eliminative organ, excreting 25-30 percent of the body’s toxins every day! The less our skin is able to eliminate waste, the more strain is placed on our liver, kidneys, lungs and mucous membranes, and the more likely our bodies our to harbor toxins, which can lead to disease, weight gain and, horrors, cellulite!

Giving yourself a dry brush massage is easy. It is best to do it before a bath or shower so the dead skin cells can be rinsed off. Use a soft, natural, vegetable bristle brush that is designed specifically for this purpose. You can find them in spa stores and many natural food stores. You can also use a dry loofah. Begin by brushing from your fingers and toes and work in circular motions up your limbs toward the heart. Brush all of your skin, using light pressure, except the sensitive skin of your face and inner things. Finish off by brushing from your back towards your stomach. If you don’t have a body brush, you can also use washcloth or loofah, but the dry brush feels the best!

If you integrate dry brushing into your regular bath or shower routine, you will see noticeable improvement in the appearance of your skin. Enjoy!

Our New Brick and Mortar Friend: The Local Market

The Local Market opened less than a month ago in Falls Church, VA. The store features locally produced breads, dairy products, sausages, condiments and in-season fruits and vegetables from farms within a 100-mile radius of the store. The owners, husband and wife team Tom and Laura Coates, came up with the idea after missing too many Saturday mornings at the town’s award winning farmers market, due to their children’s sports commitments. The Local Market is open 7 days a week from 9am to 8pm, so people like me who also often miss the farmers market (due to travel or oversleeping) can have access to all the great produce, dairy products, fresh bread and more any time it’s convenient. I have been wishing for a store like this since I moved to this area, so I was thrilled when two different friends told me that it was coming to town.

In addition to being a great place to do my grocery shopping, it is the first retail outlet near me to carry my full line of bath and body products, so I love The Local Market even more than I would have!

image copyright The Falls Church News Press

The local press has already given it some great coverage, and word-of-mouth news about the new neighborhood gem has been spreading like wildfire. I believe this store is a place whose time has come, so not only are they going to make it, but I believe it will thrive.

So, if you are in town, I hope you’ll stop by The Local Market at 246 West Broad Street, Falls Church VA 22046.

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

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How to Make An Old-Timey Popcorn Garland

photo copyright Cherry Hill Farmhouse and Barn

This weekend, my husband surprised me with high tea at Cherry Hill Farmhouse, a historic property managed by Falls Church parks and rec. Cherry Hill hosts reenactments, concerts, readings, lectures, and teas, and this past Sunday, the tea included a presentation by a costumed interpreter who told us about Christmas celebrations in Northern Virginia the late 1800s. We sat in the parlor of the farmhouse, and learned about the decorations used on a typical Christmas tree. There were small candles clipped to the branches, handmade paper ornaments and a garland made of popcorn and cranberries was wound around the tree.

This reminded me of how much I enjoyed making popcorn garlands when I was a child. So I decided to make one for the little live Christmas tree we bought this year. Making the garlands is pretty simple, but in case you haven’t tried it before, here’s how you do it.

You will need the following materials:

  • popped popcorn (unbuttered, of course!)
  • fresh cranberries
  • embroidery floss or other heavy thread
  • needle
  • Place the cranberries and popcorn into bowls to make it easy to access them as you string.

    Cut the embroidery floss into 5-foot lengths. This makes it easy to manage. You can connect them later for longer garlands. Thread the needle with the embroidery floss (I used 3 strands), then thread one cranberry down to the end and knot the thread around it to make an anchor.


    Thread the popcorn and cranberries in a pattern until thread is full (I did 1 cranberry, 3 popcorns, 1 cranberry, 2 popcorns, etc., but you can do whatever pleases you), avoiding any squishy cranberries.


    Leave enough of an end to tie another cranberry-knot when you’re done. If you would like a garland longer than 5 feet, leave a length of thread beyond the cranberry knot, which you can tie to the next garland.

    This garland looks lovely and when you are ready to toss out/plant/put away your Christmas tree, the garland can go outside where the birds and squirrels will make good use of it!
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    Goodwill Treasure Hunting


    My husband recently purchased some new suits, so purged his closet of his old ones. I offered to take them to Goodwill, as I had heard of a new store opening in Falls Church and wanted to check it out. I had received a promotional postcard a couple of months ago announcing the store’s grand opening, touting it as a “green” way to shop. This was definitely a new marketing angle, and had peaked my curiosity as to how this new store would look.

    So, earlier this week, I took the suits and a couple of bags of miscellaneous household items to the new store. The facade was rather attractive, evoking a cross between the free-standing Anthropologie in Westport, CT and a casual-chic American-style restaurant. A sign on the door indicated that this Goodwill store is a Live Green Spot (Live Green is a DC-based membership organization that partners with companies, like Herban Lifestyle, that score high on true eco-friendly practices, quality and price). So I dropped off my donation at the side door, then headed inside for a peak.

    The interior was well lit, and there were fun, bold splashes of accent color throughout. The merchandise was well-organized, making it easy to browse. It felt like a well-organized discount department store, complete with dressing rooms. There was a huge selection of glassware and dishware.

    Goodwill is a great, green concept. All of the merchandise could have ended up in landfills, but instead it is getting a second life. Besides offering many items that are in perfectly good condition for reuse, I know many crafters use Goodwill finds to fashion entirely new creations. I enjoy browsing Goodwill from time to time for unusual containers and sweaters, which I felt and refashion into ornaments or other decorative objects. Last year, while visiting Connecticut, I amassed a dozen wool sweaters in a rainbow of colors from the Goodwill stores in Wilton and New Milford.

    I had a short amount of time, so wasn’t able to peruse the sweaters. But I did come across a big collection of Christmas baskets adorned with jingly bells. I snagged several of them, which I will use to put together gift packets for friends and neighbors.

    Do you shop at Goodwill? If so, what are some of your favorite finds?

    Here are a few of the sweater cupcakes I made.

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    Open Kitchen: Our newest brick and mortar friend!

    I am always happy to discover new green businesses, and I love good food. So it was a great pleasure to discover Open Kitchen in Falls Church. I met owners Heu-Chan Karels and Holly Camelier at the Falls Church Holiday Craft Show in December. Their table was directly behind mine, and I had an opportunity to try out their focaccia, biscotti and cookies. In speaking with them, I discovered that our companies had similar goals — to create very high quality products, provide excellent service and be as green as possible while doing it (Open Kitchen is a certified Green Restaurant by Virginia Green).

    After sampling their baked goods, and reading through their sample menu, I knew I had to try their bistro. And when I had the opportunity in January to try several items from the menu created by Chef Bernard, their resident food artist, I was sold. His baked pineapple carpaccio with ginger ice cream is the most exquisite dessert I’ve ever tasted!

    In addition to the restaurant, Open Kitchen also offers catering services, cooking classes and timeshare kitchen space. I look forward to trying out their cooking classes, and have purchased a gift certificate for my husband to take one of their next men’s cooking classes.

    They have it all! The front of their space also features a coffee and pastry takeout section, as well as a display with eco-friendly gifts, including Herban Lifestyle gift sets for men, women and babies!

    Namaste

    photo copyright Dancing Mind Yoga

    The following post is by guest blogger, Kia Guarino.

    Yesterday morning I woke up pleasantly sore, feeling it in muscles I had forgotten about, and thanked our newest discovery, a local hot yoga studio! On Tuesday, we tried out a Baptiste Power Vinyasa yoga studio located in downtown Falls Church and were thoroughly impressed. Dancing Mind Yoga uses a heated (90-95 degrees) yoga studio and the Baptiste style of flow yoga, a relatively fast-paced class that works to create stamina and improve overall health and wellbeing. The high temperatures are designed to increase the benefits of yoga, and to improve circulation and eliminate toxins from the body. It also reduces the chance of injury during the class by keeping your muscles loose. The difference is undeniable – I have found that practicing power vinyasa without heat does not leave me feeling as strengthened and healthy.

    I really enjoyed the class, and the studio itself was very pretty and relaxing. The walls are a beautiful, serene turquoise color and their lotus flower symbol captures the feeling that yoga inspires. The instructor was attentive about correcting mistakes, which I enjoyed. There are a lot of benefits lost if the poses are done incorrectly, and she was very good about making sure my arms, legs, and back were positioned for the best results. I really felt good in the morning, enjoying the soreness in my lower back from the Locust pose. We bought an unlimited pass for this month so I will be going as much as possible!

    Bikram yoga is a different form of hot yoga in temperature and in structure. Bikram yoga is a series of 26 poses that are very demanding, the first half standing and the rest on the ground, in an intensely heated studio. Bikram yoga was designed for the Western yogi and aims to release stress and help with chronic diseases and injuries. It helps increase focus, stamina and clarity while adding the benefits of exercising (weight loss, increased energy, etc.).

    In Connecticut, about 6 years ago, we discovered a Bikram studio in South Norwalk and regularly took classes. Our favorite teacher was Dan Markowitz, who would sing James Taylor songs to us during savasana 🙂 I have attended a number of classes over the years, including in New Haven, Norwalk, and Danbury, CT, as well as in the Boston area. I have learned that the temperature ranges from about 100-105 (usually) to 115 at one studio (which was VERY intense). When I was able to take Bikram classes a few times a week, I felt great overall and found that I had toned muscles that would have been very difficult to get even with strenuous gym workouts. However, if you are not prepared, it can leave you with a pretty intense headache. As they mention online, it is very important to drink a lot of water before entering a Bikram studio and not to eat for a few hours prior.

    While the poses and flow of the classes differ, I find that hot vinyasa does have many similar benefits. There is something extremely relaxing about yoga, even in high temperatures. I am very excited to be getting back into it.

    City of Falls Church Holiday Craft Show 12/5-12/6

    Please join Herban Lifestyle at the 17th Annual City of Falls Church Holiday Craft Show. This juried show will featured more than 60 crafters on two floors of the Falls Church Community Center. There will be a wonderful selection of unique handmade items and baked goods.

    The show will be held on two days: Saturday, December 5th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 6, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    Admission to the craft show is $1 for adults and 50 cents for children 12 and older; admission is free for children under age 12. Children’s activities include a craft corner, face painting, and breakfast with Santa.

    Falls Church Community Center
    223 Little Falls Street
    Falls Church, Virginia
    (703) 248-5077

    Another Brick and Mortar Friend

    logo_newLast Sunday, I attended the DC Green Festival, a huge marketplace of products and ideas focusing on finding solutions to help make our lives healthier—socially, economically and environmentally. It was a smorgasbord of cool eco-friendly products, interesting speakers, yummy food, and lots of ideas on sustainable practices for your home and business.

    While there, I met Steve Ma, founder of LiveGreen, a membership organization providing support to green businesses and discounts on everyday green products and services for consumers. Steve introduced me to Honi Borden, owner of Holeco™ Wellness Medi Spa in Falls Church, VA. We hit it off right away with our common love of beauty, fashion and all things organic and natural.

    Holeco is a very special kind of day spa. It is the first organic Medi Spa in the US to be recognized by Co-op America as a socially responsible GREEN company and every product in Honi’s setting has holeco1been extensively researched and only those that are not harmful to people’s health or environment are chosen.

    So, I was extremely honored when Honi chose to offer the Herban Lifestyle product line in her spa.  She selects products based on several criteria, including ingredients that are of the highest quality, with no chemicals, preservatives or petroleum-based constuencies, and packaging that is earth-friendly. She also gives high priority to women-owned businesses.

    Thank you, Holeco!