Virginia Johnson

Estate Jewelry: The Portfolio that Glimmers

Wearing a gown made of bonds and stock certificates is both bizarre and tacky, but there is an investment you can tastefully take with you on the party circuit this holiday season.

Since the dawn of time, woman has collected jewelry....
And, judging from the amount of it on the market today, she has thrown very little away. Whatever your pleasure—turquoise, diamonds, platinum, or tourmaline-you can collect it, wear it, and sometimes make a profit on it.

Creating Your Holiday Newsletter

Etiquette purists may shudder at a mass-produced family newsletter, but in these days of friends and family spread across the country, a newsletter can be an effective way to spread cheery news. After all, how much verbiage CAN you fit on a (mass-produced) holiday card?

In this age of free downloadable templates, digital photos, and inexpensive scanners, there's no reason not to try out a little technology to turn a yearly chore into a relatively enjoyable electronic tradition.

Some Tips for a Better Family Newsletter:

Modern-World Ways to Save

With food and gas prices skyrocketing, it's time to reconsider how we spend our paychecks. Even if you've got money to spare now, you could be looking at a downsized salary later or a period of unemployment. Unless you've been on the job for a while, that unemployment check isn't going to cover much. Better to rethink some everyday expenses so you'll have a bit of a financial cushion for later on.

There are some daily luxuries many of us think we can't live without. Still, there are ways to cut back on these costs.

Inside Ozone Alerts

As our area grows, the wide, open fields and shady woods that covered the counties and even some parts of the city in long-time residents' memories are becoming a thing of the past. Bulldozers replace tractors as common sights along the road. It's the pavement, buildings, and the inevitable traffic that comes along with both that guarantees a rise in air pollution. The future looks hazy from here—as well as hot and humid.

Holiday Stress Busters

Cooking, cleaning, party-going, party-giving, visiting relatives, relatives visiting—welcome to the holidays! If you are the one who's mostly in charge of making the holidays bright, odds are for you may need a little pick-me-up yourself.

Refresh and Relax

Long to-do list? Make sure to put yourself on it. Budget 15 minutes every few hours for a bit of relaxation. The Herbal Home Spa and these other books can help de-stress the holidays:

Recycling Christmas: Make It a Green One

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

General Lewis Littlepage: Soldier, Spy, and King's Confidant, 1762-1802

To the Spaniards, he was known as young Litlpese. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette knew him as the charming Little Peche. In Russia, to Catherine the Great and her favorites, he was the clever and ambitious Litlpaz. The doomed monarch, Stanislas Augustus of Poland, knew him as his loyal Litelpecz. Whatever the name, this often penniless Virginian's brilliant intellect and exquisite manners won him entry into the chambers, gaming tables, and salons of the last decades of Europe's Age of Enlightenment.

The Young and Orphaned Genius

The Rappahannock Region's Architecture: Part 2: Forgotten Cottages

Old postcard view of the Mary Washington HouseThe big brick mansions such as Kenmore, Gunston Hall, and Carter's Grove grab the attention of most tourists to the Old Dominion but equally historic if considerably less lauded are the clapboard, plaster, and brick cottages that were homes and gathering places for ever

The Rappahannock Region's Forgotten Architecture: Part 1: The Old Brick Mansions

KenmoreStratford HallBerkley Plantation—these and many other substantial brick residences were designed to last and impress. The style was called Georgian, in honor of the English kings of the period. Later similar houses built after the American Revolution would be patriotically dubbed Federal. This article briefly looks at some common characteristics of the houses' exteriors.

Treading, Molding, and Firing

Time for Tea

Tea can be the centerpiece of a formal party or simply everyday hospitality among friends. Whether you prefer herbal, green, or black varieties, when you sip a cup of tea, you are joining a rich, historical tradition.