Friday, September 18, 2009

Glade Springs is a great fall getaway

Now that the fall issue is out, I've hit the road. In the next week I'll be traveling in the southern part of the state. From Beckley to White Sulphur Springs to Marlinton (where I'm judging the Road Kill Cook-off) to Snowshoe for the Governor's Conference on Tourism, I'll be covering quite a bit of territory. 
        My first stop is The Resort at Glade Springs--a fabulous four-season destination.  If you've never visited the 4,000 acre resort, fall is the perfect time. I felt like I'd stepped back in time to a slower pace of life. The grounds are beautiful and wildlife is evident at every turn. Located outside of Beckley, the state's most treasured autumn attractions like whitewater rafting, trout fishing, and hiking are right around the corner. But with incredible on-site recreational options, like the Equestrian Center, two breathtaking golf courses, and the Leisure Center, which houses a 10-lane bowling center, movie theater, and arcade, you don't have to leave the grounds.  Take a scenic trail ride, pitch horseshoes, or hit the courts. Visit Spa Orange -- the resort's full service spa -- and you won't want to leave, period.  (The Glade Springs Real Estate Co. will make the choice to stay an easy option!)
    I've heard wonderful reviews of the upscale Glade's Grill and Bar, but I was in the mood for more casual fare and chose to eat outside overlooking the golf course at Bunkers Sports Bar, the resort's newest restaurant. And I was not disappointed! I've added a new favorite to my dining repertoire -- the Bunkers Salad!  This salad of mixed field greens with sundried fruits, sprinkled with candied walnuts, goat cheese and "tear drop" tomatoes was wonderful! I also couldn't pass up the Duck and Wild Mushroom Pizza.  (I don't believe I've ever seen duck on a pizza...)  It was also quite tasty.
      Whether you are looking for a family-friendly getaway or a couple's escape or a corporate retreat, The Resort at Glade Springs has what you are looking for.  

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Mountain State Art & Craft Fair Brings Back Memories

This past weekend I had an incredible experience. I was walking among the tents at the Mountain State Art & Craft Fair. People will milling about, eating roasted corn, plates of pinto beans, and homemade ice cream. The cry of a lone fiddle mingled in the air with the scent of freshly popped kettle corn.  An elderly man to my left was concentrating on weaving a large basket, across the pond a woman in period costume was stirring a pot of lye soap, and another was teaching a young child to carve wood.  And I was overcome with a sense of pride and honor to call myself a West Virginian. 

Forty-six years ago, this event was the first in the state to showcase Appalachian heritage, and each year it provides our artists and craftspeople an opportunity to not only share their handmade creations, but also to teach and remind us of our past.  It is almost like a crossroads of sorts--where the past meets the future.  I found corn cob dolls and sock monkeys, elaborately turned wooden bowls and pottery, but I also found interesting contemporary jewelry, cool yard art, giant gourds transformed into mushrooms, and intriguing digital photography collages. Along with these great finds, I also learned some incredible stories.  There is something about fairs and festivals, and this one in particular, that bring us closer to our roots.  Maybe it's the childhood memories of candy apples and kettle corn or of a grandparent playing a banjo on the porch.  Maybe it's the gathering of like-minded people who want to honor and support traditional arts and crafts. Or maybe it's simply the need to step out of the hustle and bustle of daily life to just breathe....

I'm ashamed to admit that more than 20 years had passed since I had attended the Mountain State Art & Craft Fair. But now I am determined to make it an annual Fourth of July tradition for my family! Go ahead and put it on your calendar for next year -- you'll be glad you did!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Generosity Knows No Borders--Building Schools in Afghanistan

 Since returning to West Virginia to launch WV LIVING, I've met some amazing people doing extraordinary things.  One of those people is Parween Mascari, an attorney at Jackson & Kelley in Morgantown. I swear Parween must have super powers--not only is she one of the state's leading attorneys (just look in her car--boxes of briefs are stacked to the ceiling), she co-founded Generation Morgantown, serves on numerous boards and committees--and is the mother of four children.  Parween is also an Afghan-American born in Parkersburg. She jokingly calls herself a "halfghan."  And she is one of the proudest and vocal West Virginians I know!

Parween recently met with some Afghan judges and lawyers in D.C., who spoke about the need for chairs in Afghan schools. Chairs.  The schools have no chairs so the children stand the entire day, making learning difficult. How can a child concentrate on learning when her legs are tired and aching? And even more amazing is the fact that these schools are open air schools held under trees, which makes it difficult in even the best circumstances, but impossible in inclement weather. 

Parween was so moved by the experience that in response she created a company called Sultan's Daughters, and she has been selling beautiful pashmina shawls to benefit the construction and furnishing of schools in Afghanistan through the Nooristan Foundation. She has already raised enough money to build 20% of a school in a village called Pagisam. This past Friday, she held a fundraiser in conjunction with Generation Morgantown at Cafe Bacchus and raised $2,200 to further her efforts. Add VideoIt only takes $16,000 USD to get a school up and running!

I am never more proud to be a West Virginian than when I'm in the company of good people doing great things. Because it isn't easy. Inertia is a powerful thing. There are so many demands on our time, it is easy to say, "I wish I could..."  It is a different story to say, "I will do." For those of you who read the magazine, you know that my favorite quote is from Ghandi--"Be the change you wish to see in the world." And my friend Parween exemplifies that. It makes me so proud when I meet "Do-ers" that I want to scream from the top of a mountain, "LOOK at what West Virginians are doing!  We are changing the WORLD!" 

To help Parween build schools in Afghanistan, please visit please visit or email

Saturday, June 27, 2009

46th Mountain State Art & Craft Fair

The 46th Annual Mountain State Art & Craft Fair is one of the most highly anticipated art and craft fairs in the state.  More than 130 of Appalachia's finest artists and craftspeople will be selling their products during the this three-day event beginning July 2, 2009 at Cedar Lakes Conference Center near Ripley. The food alone is worth making the trip--roasted corn, buckwheat cakes, beans and cornbread, BBQ, homemade ice cream and kettle corn will make your stomach sing!  So bring the family and enjoy the festivities, mouth-watering food, and demonstrations.  And while you are there stop by the WV LIVING booth!  We will be in the building with the quilt exhibit!   Admission prices: Adults, $6; Children (6-12), $2; Children (under 6) free.  For more information, visit

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Charming town of Kingwood, WV

I just visited Kingwood, WV! What a great little town! I've uncovered wonderful little treasures, like the charming old Westbrook Esso Station and cute gift shops like Calico Cat and Robyn's Nest. Make sure you grab a bite to eat at Monroe's--and save room for dessert! I enjoyed myself so much that I'm heading back today with my family to participate in the buckwheat cake breakfast feed at the firehouse/community center, which is held the second Sunday of every month. I'm told that practically the entire town comes--one of the reasons I just LOVE small towns! You don't need to wait until the Buckwheat Festival (although you should definitely attend) to plan a visit--it is a beautiful drive.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Beautiful Bethany, WV

My summer of "stay-cations" has officially begun (even though it is still spring)!  And I can't wait to tell you about Bethany, WV!  

In the magazine world, we often work on stories a year in advance. For example, we go to press in February on our spring issue, so for our articles to accurately represent the season, we have to photograph them the year before.  So, I'm working on a story about the lovely town of Bethany for spring 2010. But I'm going to give you a sneak peak, because I feel like I've discovered a hidden gem. 

Bethany has five sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places, two of which -- Old Main and the Campbell Mansion -- are also National Historic Landmarks, but it is best known as the location of Bethany College.  Now, I've been out of school for a long time, and quite honestly, I've not missed it -- that is, until my visit to Bethany College.  To call Bethany's campus picturesque doesn't do it justice. The gothic architecture of Old Main and the surrounding buildings is breathtaking--it conjures up images of European universities. The campus is one of the most serene college campuses I've ever visited--it reminded me of the St. Andrews University in Scotland. I felt smarter just walking through the courtyards!

Founded in 1840 by Alexander Campbell, an innovative educator, debater, and Christian reformer, it is the birthplace of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and it has become one of the leading liberal arts colleges in the nation.

This summer (or spring) take a drive to the Northern Panhandle. Bethany is just a short distance from Wheeling.  If you drive through the town of Bethany, past the soccer fields, you'll come to the visitor's center at the Campbell Mansion.  You'll meet Felicity Ruggiero, who is a delightful tour guide.  For larger groups, call in advance, and Felicity can organize a luncheon for your group in a private dining room at the college. Or you can grab a sandwich at Chambers General Store or head to nearby West Liberty and eat at Road Worthy Restaurant and Tavern. If you spend the night, stay at the 40-room Gresham House Inn.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

WV WEDDINGS is Bellisima!

Work is finally drawing to a close on the premier issue of WV WEDDINGS!  While working on this issue, I traveled the state and met with amazing floral and cake designers and talented photographers.  On a recent trip to Wheeling, I met photographer Rebecca Kiger.  She gave me a postage stamp tour of Wheeling and introduced me to floral designer Antonia Wierzbicki, the owner of Bellisima. Antonia sent me home with these beautiful roses and hydrangea. She was trained in Europe and her European-inspired floral arrangements were incredible! 

Rebecca also introduced me to Sandscrest--a home built in 1852 that is nestled on nearly 300 acres of rolling hills and meadows. Sandscrest is owned by the Episcopal Church and is a popular wedding and conference destination. Chef Sarah Lydick made us a delightful lunch! 

For more information on Sandscrest and Rebecca Kiger, make sure you subscribe to WV LIVING now so you'll receive a complimentary issue of  WV WEDDINGS. The weddings and locations that are featured in this issue are positively breathtaking! 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Maple Syrup puts Pickens on the Map

There are many wonderful benefits to being a magazine editor. Traveling to small towns, the tiny unincorporated enclaves nestled in the mountains, is a highlight of my job. I love the historic buildings, the pristine churches, the park benches where the old timers gather, and the mom and pop restaurants. 
But this past weekend, I drove deep into the mountains of Randolph County--down and around dirt roads that clung to the mountainside of Holly River State Park--to Pickens, home of the Maple Syrup Festival. (In all fairness, I chose the more "rural" route. You don't have to travel down dirt roads to get there, although it does add to the experience!)

Pickens is a quaint town that time forgot. It has the smallest public school in the state -- approximately 45 students for 13 grades, with two graduating seniors. And it is charming.  Folks from around the state with ties to Pickens return each year to help organize and man the festival.  There's music in the Opera House, arts and crafts, and games for children. People from around the state line up at the Legion Hall for an all-you-can-eat pancake frenzy replete with maple syrup tapped from local trees. While you wait in line, you talk to the folks behind you -- and by the time you eat, you feel like you are a part of the community, and you make plans to attend the following year, because it is too important. 

Festivals like this one are the lifeblood of our small towns. But they also keep us connected and grounded.  Join me this year in supporting our small towns.  Take a day trip, attend a festival, or hop in the car for a Sunday drive. Discover West Virginia.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Monument to Faith

This past week I've been traveling quite a bit from Elkins to Snowshoe to Green Bank.  I nearly wrecked my car as I passed this pristine church perched on a hillside overlooking Route 55 -- I was looking at it and not the road!  This little church has some connection to Bishop Francis Asbury, a famed Methodist circuit rider in the late 1700s. I drove a little further and decided to go back, dig out my camera, and take a picture.  That happens quite a lot when you are riding with me. I even have my children trained. They now say, "Mommy, I think you need to take a picture for your magazine...."

I then traveled over the mountain from Snowshoe and through the lovely town of Cass, when I had to stop again. The Robert C. Byrd Greenbank Telescope at Green Bank looms over the snow-covered fields. The cows seemed quite at peace with the world's largest land-based moveable structure.

These types of scenes make me long for quiet rides on the backroads of our beautiful state. 

Sunday, January 18, 2009

WV LIVING Debuts WV WEDDINGS issue at Charleston Wedding Expo

On January 4, 2009, WV LIVING participated in the Charleston Wedding Expo in order to promote its supplemental issue, WV WEDDINGS. WV WEDDINGS will be published this spring and will serve as the "Bridal Bible" for the state.  It will feature fabulous weddings, decorating ideas, unique reception sites, wonderful cake and floral design, picture perfect photographers and much more.  A special section called "The Wedding Register" will give West Virginia brides the opportunity to see their own wedding photos featured.  

The Wedding Expo was a smashing success!  More than 1,000 people passed through our booth. Thanks to Cakes by Becky, Betty Proctor, and Sharon Holcomb for their help!  And thanks to all of the brides who shared their enthusiasm for WV WEDDINGS! 

For more information on WV WEDDINGS, visit

Friday, January 16, 2009

Magazine gets statewide news coverage

WBOY's Courtney Dunn sat down with WV LIVING Editor Nikki Bowman to talk about the mission of the magazine. 

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sensational Small Towns

When I first visited Lewisburg, I hadn’t even parked my car before I called my husband and said, “Pack our bags!  We are moving to Lewisburg!” I found myself slowly driving down the quaint streets looking for houses for sale. The town has a way of wrapping its arms around you. And then I visited Berkeley Springs…then Shepherdstown...then Elkins—the dilemma! I could have easily landed in any of those charming places. West Virginia is truly blessed with many incredible small towns, and with each issue of WV LIVING we will give you an inside look into these wonderful places and hopefully inspire you to visit.  You never know, you may even decide to call one of them "home."