Centreville native April Yvonne knows a thing or two about style. The George Mason University graduate spent her early fashion career covering Fashion Week in NYC as a blogger before making the leap into full-time styling (her fashion gig was originally a side hustle while she worked at the State Department in counterterrorism). As the co-chair and co-creator of the 13th annual St. Jude Heart of Fashion fundraiser, Yvonne—whose sister died of acute myeloid leukemia at age 7—uses her fashion sense for good. This year’s event is set to be held at CityCenterDC (stay tuned for a confirmed date), where guests will view a runway presentation, followed by drinks and dancing—all in the name of fighting childhood cancers. Here, she shares some of her fashion faves.
As a content creator of nearly 10 years, Rebecca Gallop is used to setting goals, trying new ideas and challenging her way of thinking, all of which she shares on A Daily Something, her lifestyle blog that generates nearly 1 million viewers a month. While the blog initially served as a creative outlet for Gallop, it has since organically grown into a creative business platform that has been featured in national publications like BuzzFeed and Martha Stewart Living.
Despite the national attention, A Daily Something is all about the simple things that make life beautiful, many of which derive from Gallop’s lifestyle in Purcellville, where she lives with her husband and four kids.
Recently, when it became apparent that the coronavirus’s impact would be huge in the U.S., Gallop decided to launch the #LiveSlowChallenge—a project she had been working on for months—earlier than expected. The four-week program is meant to inspire others to live with more intention, simplicity and beauty through a series of challenges sent to your inbox on Sunday evenings.
And, as nearly 600 individuals recently signed up for the project, Gallop too has been instilling these values in her own mindset, as well as those of her kiddos, during the global pandemic. From out-of-the-box activities with the family to finding peace of mind, here’s an inside look at Rebecca Gallop’s life at home.
On spreading positivity:
When this first started, I realized how easy it would be to sit in my home, read Facebook articles (and comments) and to be overcome with fear. After a week of staying home, I decided—thanks to my husband’s insight and wisdom—that I wasn’t going to let fear govern my actions. Yes, I was going to stay home as instructed by executive orders, but I was going to love our neighbors, and live with intention. I wasn’t going to sit and do nothing or be fearful.
I decided I was going to use this time as a way to help my community. To share uplifting content. To inspire them to live with intention, to look for beauty in their day-to-day living, to share some good news. It’s been an incredible opportunity to connect around inspiration and action instead of fear.
While most of the world is attempting to do public school at home, we very intentionally chose to home school our children a few years ago and have loved every second of it. So, on that front, life remains the same … Morning school lasts for about one to two hours, where we usually do reading, handwriting, writing and copy work during this time. Then we have more hours of schoolwork in the afternoon, usually math and history and/or science. Our home school includes lots of reading of quality, living books, and all the kids are part of read-aloud time. We allow some educational screen time in the afternoons … The Cincinnati Zoo has had a daily Facebook Live “Home Safari” at 3 p.m., introducing the kids to their animals and providing some fun animal-themed crafting prompts.
However, they haven’t really left the house in eight weeks, except to take a few rides in the car to a local farm to pick up our vegetable order. No library. No ballet. No soccer. No Grandma’s house. No babysitter. No church. No playgrounds. No friends. No extended family. It’s been rough, but they’ve been resilient. We’ve had lots of FaceTime calls. I’m so thankful for our backyard; they’ve been playing out there every spare minute. I’ve seen their imaginations come alive recently, and I think it’s out of the necessity of our situation. I’m really thankful for this time to strengthen our family and our appreciation for being home.
On the power of living slow:
I started my #LiveSlowChallenge to help you realize that slow living doesn’t have to be a “some day” goal, but rather, it can be a gentle lifestyle change that you can start right now. Over the course of one month, you receive a “live slow” challenge email in your inbox each Sunday evening. You apply the challenge each day that week, with the goal of forming new rhythms and routines that you will continue for weeks, months and years. It’s an ongoing challenge, and anyone can join at any time!
New-to-us art projects (my friend, Merilee, has the most incredible printables); walks every day; gardening together as a family; watercolor painting; audio books; Disneynature—it has beautiful nature documentaries; making mealtime extra special with cloth napkins, lighting candles and eating on the living room floor; no-reason surprise parties; snack dinners. Audio books especially have been our best friend—they bring the family together and help to ignite the kids’ imaginations!
The kids have had more screen time than normal, and that’s OK. Right now, they’re watching a fascinating documentary on flamingos (and I’m having a hard time not being distracted by their pink beauty)! As soon as I finish what I’m working on, we’ll transition to our morning school schedule. It’s a dreary, rainy day today, and we’ll likely watch something else later this afternoon since playing outside isn’t an option. And that’s OK! We’re taking this one day—sometimes one hour, a few minutes—at a time, and starting fresh when we need to.
On her latest read:
Huckle & Goose Cookbook; it’s a cookbook and book hybrid, full of “recipes and habits to cook more, stress less and bring the outside in.” A highly recommended read at this point.
On what gives her solace:
My morning routine has been wonderful: slow-pour-over coffee, quiet time to read alone, catch up on writing. Streaming church on Sundays together as a family in our living room has also been a necessary part of our week. And, just trying to be present for the kids, and taking time to make our mealtimes more meaningful.
On words of wisdom:
Don’t strive for perfection. This is a crazy, unprecedented time, and our lives have been turned upside down. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of this—the working from home, the unknown impact this will have on our economy, the fear for those who are most at risk from the virus, etc.
Rather than allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed, try to focus on something positive each day and make one small change. For one week, try making a gentle adjustment to your morning routine to help bring calm and order to your day. Then for one week, try to make one meal per day a little more special. Or, save your sanity and serve a snack meal every single day instead of making something from scratch. Apples and peanut butter. Popcorn and carrots. A fridge clean-out cheeseboard, etc.
Remind yourself that you’re not alone. Reach out to your neighbors (and ask for help if you need it yourself!). And remember, this will come to an end.
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When Carissa Englert moved to the DC area about 15 years ago, she quickly found herself interested in knitting, describing it as the “gateway drug” to all-things arts and crafts, like cyber arts, textiles, quilting and more. But as life went on and she became a mother of two living in Arlington, time got in the way, removing her from the knitting community she had become a part of.
Eventually though, Englert found her way back, now welcoming the residents of Falls Church and beyond into recently opened TINT – A Modern Makerspace, providing an educational and inspirational hub for fellow craft-enthusiasts like her.
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“In the DC area, there are businesses that are specifically focused on knitting or quilting as separate entities, but nothing for everything,” says Englert. “The concept of the makerspace is to have a place where people are inspired to learn different art forms and for me, it’s the melding of all these different things. I just want to have a space where everyone feels welcome and inspired.”
TINT is 50% retail, 50% workspace, providing all newcomers the chance to purchase materials for their next project, and also stay a while to learn from Englert and other guest speakers who will visit the shop for special events.
While the site opened Sept. 13, Englert has already seen an influx of interest from the local community, specifically with the weekly craft night occurring every Wednesday evening from 6 to 9 p.m.
“It’s been really well-received and well-attended, and I think people are really excited to have a place to stitch and b****,” says Englert of the weekly event. “Anything you can work on in your lap, I’m happy to have it.”
Over the course of the next three months, Englert plans on hosting about six on-site events, teaching anything from fall-themed embroidery to quilt-making to keep you warm this winter. In November, Englert will lead a Visible Mending Class, where she will teach individuals how to add patches and unique stitches to worn out jeans, sweaters or other pieces of clothing.
According to Englert, many yarn stores and similar concepts in the area have closed over the past few years, creating a bigger need for TINT. And for her, it’s all about bringing the community together through the arts.
“The maker movement is so huge right now,” says Englert, “and this is my attempt to bring the community out of the woodwork for knitting, spinning, quilting and really a little bit of everything.” // TINT – A Modern Makerspace: 417 W. Broad St., Suite 100, Falls Church; prices vary
Most people are very aware of the health benefits stemming from exercise and eating a balanced diet. But, in addition to fitness and nutrition, maintaining meaningful relationships can lead to long-term emotional, physical and mental health benefits, too, according to several studies published over the last decade.
A recent blog post from Harvard Medical School states that social connections help relieve harmful levels of stress, directly affecting gut function, insulin regulation, coronary arteries and the immune system in general. Plus, noted research from the post suggests caring behaviors can trigger the release of stress-reducing hormones.
While the benefits of relationships are clear, in order for them to be effective it is necessary for the quality of that relationship to be strong. Here, Linda G. Ritchie, Ph.D., owner of private practice Center for Life Strategies, LLC in Reston, shares her advice on maintaining a healthy relationship.
If you had to pick, what are a few essential things all couples should do in a relationship? It starts with respect for each other. That is the foundation. Being able to resolve conflict and still stay connected is essential, because relationships just don’t exist without conflict. You have to be able to resolve it, which takes skills that come with time. So, what makes a successful relationship is knowing how to interact with each other in a healthy way where both people feel heard and supported. That doesn’t mean each partner will always get their way, there’s always compromise, but it’s the feelings that are most important.
I work with people a lot on how to interact with others, with the people they are in intimate relationships with, specifically. Each person needs to know how to have a conversation, how to listen and how to validate the other person’s emotion, which isn’t necessarily intuitive. We all pick up what we know about relationships from our family of origin, and if you grew up where there was a lot of criticism, judgment and arguing, then that’s what you learn. You don’t know any better until somewhere along the line you learn a better way to act, resolve conflict. It takes practice, but eventually the relationship should be a source of joy rather than pain.
What are the mental health benefits of being in a stable relationship? The research shows that people in relationships live longer. Bonding is one of the essential elements for people, in addition to air, food, shelter and water. It really is a necessity and being in relationships with people, whether it be family, friends or a significant other, is necessary for well-being.
Coming out of a stable relationship can absolutely deteriorate one’s mental health, too.If you have somebody who is going through a breakup or a divorce, that can be emotionally devastating which deteriorates that essential need of bonding. It’s not uncommon for someone going through a divorce to be depressed and then that comes with a whole other set of symptoms that they then have to address.
What are some common challenges your clients deal with when it comes to long-term relationships? The most common problem is the inability to resolve conflict and still stay connected. The primary thing I do with couples is work with them on communication skills to be able to have a conversation rather than a fight. They need to know how to ask for change, express their own needs and share with their partner what they are feeling because nobody is a mind reader.
What are tips for keeping the romance aspect of a relationship alive? Consistent effort. I always equate it to keeping a healthy lifestyle: You can’t be in top physical condition and then just stop doing what you were doing because your physique will go away. You can go a day without eating well or working out, but if it becomes a habit you will see the deterioration. Relationships and romance are the same way. If you are in love, you did things to get there and you need to keep doing the same things to keep that romance. There needs to be alone time with your partner—without TV, phones and the children—just the two of you connecting and talking. There needs to be an effort to nurture and encourage that primary relationship.
What the average American family looks like is not the same it was 50 years ago. While there was once a widely accepted standard for a typical American family structure, research shows that idea simply doesn’t exist anymore.
In addition to the rise of single-parent households and cohabitation/blended families—a household with a stepparent, step sibling or half-sibling—are growing in number, with 16% of children experiencing this dynamic, according to the most recent data from the Pew Research Center.
But as families add more individuals to their daily routine, it can be challenging for each person involved to adjust, ranging from the children to the former spouse. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 60% of all marriages involving children from a previous relationship ultimately fail.
Yet, if new parents, former spouses and children properly prepare for the blend, your chances of beating the odds could increase. Here, we share tips from three local experts in the field for easing stress stemming from becoming a blended family.
Come to an agreed parenting style with your partner Before couples walk down the aisle, there are a few conversations that must be had for the betterment of the relationship for the long term.
“The very first rule of thumb for me as a therapist is to always make sure that once the couple agrees upon moving forward in the relationship, they understand their parenting styles,” says Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D., and founder of Ashburn Psychological and Psychiatric Services.
According to Oberschneider, the big three areas for good parenting stem from how individuals engage their kids, how they reward them and how they consequence. If partners are not on the same page with how they manage parenting together, explains Oberschneider, then the chances the children feel comfortable in the blending process will decline.
Patrick Ryan, licensed professional counselor and co-founder of Duffy Counseling Center in McLean, notes that it is important to involve the former spouse in the conversation, too.
“One of the hardest things is that everybody is going through the transition, including the ex-spouses if there are any, because they are adjusting to their kids having so many different authoritative figures,” says Ryan. “There can’t be a disconnect between switching houses with things like chores and behavior.”
Understand your child’s expectations of the relationship Once both partners understand one another’s parenting styles, it’s time to bring the children into the conversation. While the talk will vary for each family depending on the kids’ maturity levels, personality and developmental state, according to Oberschneider, sensitivity is key.
Says Ryan, it is essential for parents to listen to the concerns their children have before the blend occurs, as they are usually valid and can be eased with a discussion. Plus, parents should address each issue their kid might have as they happen, rather than waiting to have a teaching moment at a later date.
“The message of coming together should be positive and fit in a natural progression, because you really want your children to already have a strong bond with that person,” says Oberschneider. “If you think someone’s going to start crying, you’re probably not ready to blend your family.”
Continue familiar routines with your kids Prior to becoming a blended family, your child didn’t have to share you with other siblings, which can often happen when two families come together. According to Oberschneider, it is important to maintain one-on-one time with your kids so they still feel wanted and loved in the same way they did before the blend.
Consistency is essential in other ways, too. As your child deals with the addition of a new authoritative figure, keeping up with old, comfortable traditions is beneficial in the adjustment period, according to Gabrielle Anderson, licensed marriage and family therapist and owner of Family Therapy Center of Northern Virginia in Ashburn.
“We create these traditions when we have families that really help you feel connected and like you can trust something,” says Anderson. “The kids need to know that those will still be important when the family dynamic changes; it helps them feel grounded.”
Never assume comfort will come naturally While the actual length of the adjustment period into a blended family is highly debated, ranging from two to 10 years, Oberschneider says it takes about five to seven years, based on his 17 years of experience in the field.
“The key is to not assume that because you love one another, the children are going to come together like one big happy family,” says Oberschneider. “There’s going to be a phase of adjustment, but with good communication, space and sensitivity, the blend should move along quickly.”
As the sun shines brighter and your skin gets a bit more bronzed, that usually means it’s time to switch out your foundation for a slightly tanner color tone. While nobody likes wasting a perfectly full bottle of product, your skin will actually thank you for it later, according to two beauty experts in the Northern Virginia region.
Sara Damelio, a holistic esthetician and founder of Skincando, has been working in the beauty industry for about 20 years, and treats all her clients with organic and homemade remedies. According to Damelio, traditional beauty products consist of preservatives that can expose your skin to bacteria if used for too long.
While actual expiration dates of products—think mascara, lip gloss, eye shadow—vary by manufacturer, there are definitely timelines for how long each item should be used, which typically fall around six months as an average, according to both Damelio and Jocelyn Chia of Makeup With Jossy, a makeup service based in Fairfax. Here, they share everything you need to know about properly caring for yourself and your products.
Don’t hold on to that mascara or lip gloss for too long Mascara and lip gloss tend to be the go-to commodity for those who really don’t wear much makeup at all, in that it’s pretty easy to just swipe your lashes or lips with a wand and head out the door. But unfortunately, these liquid-based necessities tend to have a shorter lifespan than other beauty products.
“A rule of thumb for mascara is every three months it should be replaced,” Chia says. “This is hard to believe, but mascara wands are brushing all the bacteria from your lashes and storing it into a moisture environment. Frightening, right?”
According to Chia, mold and bacteria transfer to the area around your eyes and on the top of your skin when you use mascara for too long, creating acne, or even cysts on that part of your face.
“Lip gloss needs to be changed, too,” Damelio says. “You’re putting that wand on your lips every day and while that can technically last a long time, you shouldn’t be using it for an extended period of time.”
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What about skin care? Most people have a daily routine that involves applying moisturizer or other skin care products twice a day, which means you will probably run out of it faster than other products. But still, that doesn’t mean there are no risks involved in using your favorite face cream for too long.
“Typically, skin care products have a date of expiration on the packaging that usually says 3M, 6M, 12M, 24M,” says Chia. “This time starts from when air, moisture or human fingers come in contact with your product. Most people don’t know or even care about products expiring, but it’s so important because the product may not be as effective.”
Plus, traditional skin care products don’t always change in terms of looks, like an old lip gloss or nail polish do. This is because of the pathogens involved and if used for too long, according to Damelio, they will cause a breakout. If you notice breakouts, your skin is telling you something is wrong and your makeup may be to blame.
Keep it cool According to both Chia and Damelio, products need to be stored in a cool to room-temperature area in order for them to stay effective for a longer period of time.
Keeping beauty products in a car on a hot day, for example, is a really bad idea, according to Damelio. If the makeup is placed near anything wet, too, this will cause bacteria to grow at a faster rate.
Wash your brushes While powders do last longer than liquid-based products, it is essential to clean every brush you use on a regular basis. If you use each powder with a clean brush, according to Chia, it will preserve the life of the product.
According to Damelio, you should clean makeup brushes—those used for eye shadow palettes, bronzer, blush—twice a week.
“It’s about being hygienic with your brushes and what you are applying to your face,” Damelio explains. “A gentle, natural shampoo will really do the trick and if you do it at night, they’ll probably be dry and ready for use in the morning.”
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