Thankful for Richmond’s Renaissance

In the Spirit of Thanksgiving, I suppose it’s time to follow all other blogs, social media posts, and people in general by saying what I’m thankful for.

But since it probably goes without saying that it’s when your coffee has free refills and all of the cute boys in my history class, let’s change things up a bit. What is Richmond, VA, the 804, thankful for?

We’re thankful and excited we were chosen for Stone Brewery’s next home, opening 2016 near Rockett’s Landing. Beating out many other cities up and down the East Coast, Richmond continues to prove herself as a Mecca for foodies.

Speaking of that, let’s talk restaurants. How many times have you praised the Lord that Red Eye was open til 1 or 2 am to warm you up in this chilly fall/winter that’s upon us? Doesn’t a Sugar Shack donut set your day off on the right note?Or that, thanks to the twice-a-year Richmond Restaurant Week, that lets you try out more pricier places like Comfort, The Roosevelt, and Deco for $25.14 for a three course meal? And on the topic of the Roosevelt, Southside is reeling in bliss that we now have Southbound, which officially opened Tuesday. If I had the time and energy, I would also list the 390672038503 other amazing places to go grab a bite to eat. 

To branch off of that, I don’t think there’s anything like Richmond’s coffee addiction. Thank you, Lift, The Lab by Alchemy, Blanchard’s, Capital Coffee, Black Hand, Lamplighter, Crossroads, Taza, and (soon) Perk! for keeping Richmond rolling.

Not just thankful, Richmond is also proud to be the home of University of Richmond, Virginia Union, and Virginia Commonwealth University. Even though it’s kinda unspoken that you pick one school and bleed their colors til death, as a city we’re proud to house them all.

One of Richmond’s crowning jewels is our blossoming art scene, we pride ourselves over this like parents with kids making A’s in first grade. Our premier art museum has exhibited Dale Chiluly and Picasso over the past couple of years, and currently China’s Forbidden City. 1708 Gallery holds in the Inlight Festival every year, a nighttime display of colors for a night in different parts of town. The Street Art Festival made its debut a year ago at the abandoned GRTC bus stop, drawing attention to the growing presence of murals in the city from the Richmond Mural Project. Look for its return next year in Manchester.  First Fridays art walk is the place to be every month, up on Broad Street’s Arts District. And let’s not forget Joe Seipel’s School of the Arts at VCU, the number one public arts university in the country. Richmond truly honors art and artists highly. 

Our local shops and businesses are another thankful feather in this turkey. Where else can you find a Quirk gallery and shop/future Quirk hotel, kitschy World of Mirth toystore, or Chop Suey used bookstore (with a cat?!)? These little shops are what give Richmond its Richmond culture, and not the big box, any-suburban neighborhood Targets. We’re here to support each other and each other’s businesses. 

We’re grateful for the James River and its class IV rapids that make river days hella lot more interesting with your stand-up paddle boards, canoes, and inner tubes.  There’s nooks and crannies to tan and swim in all parts of the River, from Texas Beach to Pony Pasture. With Richmond being named the best river town in the country, I mean we’re just a little proud…. 

And even though, thirty years in the making, we still cannot figure out where to put a baseball diamond, Richmond is trilled and thankful the San Francisco Giants chose to nest their double-A team, the Flying Squirrels on the Boulevard.

I saw an article floating around Facebook the other day about Richmond being one of the most prideful cities, and with all the good and fun stuff we got running around the city, I can totally believe that. Maybe it’s just me, but with all of these awards and notices Richmond has been getting lately, all the hype about our food and river, Richmond’s going through a Renaissance, and we’re in the midst of it. To be around all of this liveliness and growth is exciting, I just want to prance up and down the James eating some tres leches cake from Kuba Kuba and make my own silly RVA video. We might as well be Florence in the 1500’s. We have a Cathedral  and a statue of a naked guy, too. 

(What a time to be alive)

(By the way, I’m starting a petition to get more nationally recognized holidays dedicated to food. Not like National Cake Day, which most people sadly ignore. I’m talking multiple Thanksgivings, where school is closed for a week and people get the day off work-at least one a season. I think I need 100,000 signatures to have Congress officially look at it, so your support is greatly needed!)

Thankful for Thanksgiving

“Where’s my shout-out?!” My cousin, Matt, asked me at our Thanksgiving celebration Friday night about the last blog post, “I was looking out for Burke County, I thought we had something nice going on for a few years now. No, all she talked about was Richmond and VCU. She’s only been there for, what, three months?” Matt said everything with a smile, I know he was just teasing me, but he is right: we do have something good going on, and it deserves to be recognized.

For the past few years, my not so nuclear family goes to North Carolina, the home of the Kays. We spend majority of our break in High Point/Greensboro, sleeping at my uncle Tim’s, and visiting other family members. Everything is nice and easy, it’s a different pace from Richmond, but it’s a nice change. When it comes down to our Thanksgiving celebration, we pack into cars like clowns and go down to my aunt Sarah’s (and uncle Dan’s, and Matt’s) house in Burke County for our feast.

ImageImage

Repost, I know, I just really love this Ron Weasley gif. Mashed potatoes are fun too though (you won’t regret clicking it!). Especially when Tim or Nancy makes them with real potatoes and not those flakes in a box.

(Before we get into that la dee dah emotions, can we look at the fact that Thanksgiving is a day dedicated to food? Not thanks, no body cares about what they have because they all go shopping at five am the next day for more breakable crap. Thanksgiving is 100% about food and food and leftover food.) I love Thanksgiving food. It’s always reminded me of a bigger version of the typical Gary Gerloff meal (roasted chicken and vegetables in white wine sauce with rolls and rice), but with more things for me to eat. I walked into Sarah’s to the aroma of just done turkey, spices, ham, and she was cutting up apples for her blessed cheddar cheese apple bake. Nancy’s arrival brought mashed potatoes, rolls were stuffed in the oven, and after Matt made his impromptu trip to the store, we had stuffing (that Mother forgot-how dare she almost ruin Thanksgiving and leave out more food to eat!) Sarah, my cousin Caroline and I are in a constant competition to see who’s dessert can bring you diabetes the quickest. It’s kinda dangerous when we’re all in one room and have recipe ideas in mind. Guard your sugar levels. (That might be a reason why we all get called by each other’s names. And we are all teachers/teachers-in-training. And love arts and crafts. Basically, we are one soul living in three cities).

Caroline and I have a normal tradition of making place cards for everyone, using her balloon twisting abilities to standard paper cards, but we sadly had to forgo it this year due to lack of time. We were sorry to disappoint (Patrick) but we had an important job of watching Tim cut the turkey and nibble on it, besides, you really can’t let things like that fall into the wrong hands.

Thanksgiving is one of the two or three times a year I get to see my family, so I really value my time with everyone. The table was in a constant buzz over Carolina basketball, where will we put the high chair next year, what is Patrick’s science fair project about and will it harm me in anyway? (No, everyone was okay). I was able to bond with everyone, which was so great. I do appreciate all the time I get to spend with my family and only wish for more.

Image

Hm, I don’t think I have any pie…Ferb, I know what we’re going to do today!

I didn’t know you all liked my blogs either. A couple of you asked about how to follow it, which means every time I post you get an email alert. (which sounds awful to me, my inbox is already full of junk I don’t read but hey it’s your life.) So please keep arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times, the tour is about to begin. If you go to the right hand corner of the tab, there should be a little gray box that says “Follow”. Click on that, and put in your email address. Bah dah bing, bah dah boom, you on well on your way to constant Claire in your life! And to read old posts, scroll all the way to the bottom, there should be three older posts suggestions above the comment section, a list of the five latest posts beneath that, and all the categories to peruse. Or, type in something in the search box and blogs that mentioned that will appear at your leisure. (I would try something extremely random like Australia or fried chicken.)

Something I noticed on the way back to Tim’s was that despite sharing a border, North Carolina and Virginia are very different. When driving down Virginia highways, it’s pretty much trees and trees until you hit Danville and then it’s a Sheetz. You never get to see much city life. But during our trek home, I past by so many cities, all lit up and happy, I wondered where all of their trees were.

Well, I hope your Thanksgiving was as enjoyable as mine was, if not more, and filled with more food that Schafer.  I hope you are thankful as a free range turkey and are counting your blessing each day. I’m so thankful I have you to talk to. Okay, I’m going to go to the gym now to make my body forget Thanksgiving happened. It’s just going to be like this though (click!):

Image

I hope that hardcore Asian in his suit won’t be there again. Meh, whatever. I know he’s thankful for the gym like Homer’s thankful for donuts. Ciao bello and have a splendid day! xoxo

A thankful girl

During the Thanksgiving season, we all recognize the things we’re thankful for. Maybe you sit around your table and mention to your family over the feast about how much you appreciate them in your lives, or be thankful that your football team is having a great season.  Personally, I’m thankful for a lot- flannel, the color blue and JK Rowling, but there are two things that really rock my world- my city and my school.

100_0735100_0730

Photos from the 2012 Folk Festival

Every morning, I leave my warm house with a mug of coffee and wait for my car to warm up on the way to school while I weigh the pros and cons of skipping my nine am to sit in Starbucks and look pretty. And as I leave my neighborhood, all I can think is that I’ve loved living here for sixteen years. Once I reach the stoplight, I pass the bank where the tellers know me by name. Buford Road Pharmacy is right up the street from that, where I personally know my customers, and the librarians at Bon Air library have watched me since my mom was picking out children’s books for me. Wow, I am the luckiest person to live in Bon Air, where everyone knows everyone. It’s not that everyone knows your business way either, like high school. People are checking in with each other, and we’re all on friendly terms. I love this place.

By the time I go across the Huguenot Bridge, I’m into the rich part of town and pass the old street I would use to go to my job at Sweet Frog. Yeah, Sweet Frog had it’s moments where I wanted to pull my hair out but Libbie and Grove was a neighborhood and I loved my customers there. Around this time, I like to reflect on how it’s barely been ten minutes and I’ve gone from the suburbs to the city all by crossing a river. Wow, I am so lucky to be a Richmond native, and I could never imagine leaving this city.

Only minutes later I’ve reached Carytown, and passing through all the eclectic, local shops and restaurants I am overwhelmed that Richmond has so many fine places for me to spend my paycheck that I can’t find in other cities. Your favorite restaurant is a chain? I’m sorry, you non-Richmonder, please let me change your mind in seconds with Joe’s Inn spaghetti, Village Cafe milkshake, Carytown Burgers and Fries, or if you’re feeling fancy, French delicacies at Can Can. You want to find something cool? Let’s go to World of Mirth, the only Need Supply Store on the East Coast, or Bygones Vintage. Oh, you only have $2 to spend? Why don’t we catch Despicable Me 2 at the Byrd Theatre? As I speed past the many, many more shops in Carytown, I remind myself that the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and my Saint Gertrude High School are just three or four blocks over- how lucky am I to have gone to high school in such a premier part of town?

I push the gas a little faster to get the green light and pass the Boulevard- and I’m immediately greeted by the Sunny Market where my angel Sultan saved the day for me when my car overheated a couple weeks ago and I’m reminded of the good in the world. As I finish jamming to “Blurred Lines”, I reach VCU, silently thanking the scheduling gods that my nine am means that I will always get a first floor parking space. I may hate running to Hibbs Hall in the cold, but by the time I get there la mia professoressa Vera’s lighting up the classroom with her Italian flair and I’m even more content. I’ll be meeting up with Sean and Vivian after this class, just like we do every MWF in the Commons, and they keep me entertained. I’ve got History 101 with Gavin after that, an intellect who interests me- we both advocate the importance of the humanities and he’s well versed in his field- canceling class once because he was “called in to Europe”. (Wait what do you have something secret going on on the side?) I’ll be meeting Alison, Ramya and Aayushi for lunch afterwords, thanking God for amazing new friends and just great people in general. I feel like after all this time, I’ve found people who really get me and you don’t understand how happy I am to be with amazing souls. I know VCU has 33,000 students and Richmond has a population of 210,000, but as I lock my car door and start making my trek across Cherry St, I feel like this school and city were made for me. Where else can I leave the city for elbow room in suburbs in fifteen minutes? Where else do I get to be around young, creative, and intellectual minds (and liberal okay I had to say it)? The best part is that I can be at a VCU building and cross the street and it’s a locally owned coffee shop. I just can’t imagine myself anywhere else.

 

images

It’d be easy for me to complain about living with my mom, or not leaving my hometown for college, but why would I? I get to see my family every night, eat better food than Schafer and sleep in my own room for free. So, this Thanksgiving, be thankful for what you have- it’s easy to look at things in a negative light, but it’s a lot better for your mental health to look at what you have and say, hey isn’t this just beautiful? Because we’re all beautiful people, and there’s beauty in every situation.

Once in a while you get shown the light

In the strangest of places, if you look at it right

– The Grateful Dead, “Scarelet Begonias”

Image

Happy Thanksgiving, enjoy your pie and this gif, you awesome reader. I love you and I’m grateful for you!

xoxo