"There's no place like home. . . there's no place like home. . . there's no place like home." Home for The Belt Team is Vienna, Virginia. Please stop by frequently and share with us all the things about life in Vienna that make Vienna truly the best place to live.

Welcome to Vienna, Virginia

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sometimes You Just Need A Little Taste of Heaven

Wasn't it great when the sun came out today?! After coming through 3 days of rain, "hunkering down" at home, and then picking up the debris today - it was really nice to see the sun peeking through the clouds.

And that's how I always feel when I go to Silva's.

Silva's Patisserie is another one of those small, local businesses in Vienna that I have grown to love. It's nestled in the same shopping center and right around the corner from another one of my favorite local places, Jammin Java.

When you go in, you are sure to find one of the owners there - either Silva herself or her son Harry. Harry is a pastry chef (formerly of the Kennedy Center) and he named the patisserie after his mother Silva. They will give you a friendly greeting and then wait patiently while you decide what to order.

And that's where the problem arises. What to order?!

You see, while they of course have all the usual specialties (cakes, bread, croissants, cookies, cupcakes & the rest), plus gorgeous wedding cakes, macaroons & marzipan works of art; my favorite thing to order at Silva's is one of their miniature pastries. And the varieties are ENDLESS.

So Harry waits patiently - while I ponder . . . lemon meringue or key lime . . . chocolate lolly or cheesecake lolly . . . a fruit bavarian or a swan . . . a red forest lolly or chocolate mousse . . . a vanilla eclair or a rum ball . . . creme brulee or a mille feuille . . . coca cacao or dulce de leche . . . a caramel lolly or pistachio . . . raspberry linzer or strawberry tort . . . a mint chocolate lolly or a belgian truffle.

And Harry is still waiting patiently! LOL!

Oftentimes when I stop in to Silva's, it's on the way to a potluck or a ladie's gathering. I like to offer to bring dessert because I know that when I bring desserts from Silva's - it will "wow" everyone (even the guys!). I usually pick up a variety of mini pastries. Silva's always wraps them in a lovely box decorated with ribbon and as soon as people see it, they want to know what's inside.

The anticipation grows and as I plate the desserts one by one, I start to hear "oohs" and "aahs" and "That's my favorite!" and "I have dibs on that one!". And because they are mini pastries - EVERYONE has one - even those who are on a diet say "Oh I can have just one little pastry." (And then they can't help but have another and another . . . !)

The other times I stop into Silva's, it's because sometimes I just need a little taste of heaven. Having a hectic week? Kids driving you crazy? Did you volunteer for too many activities? Is your job really stressful? Stop into Silva's for one little mini pastry - and for just a few moments it all slips away.

Silva's is located at 167 Glyndon Street SE and is just another reason why I LOVE living in Vienna!
(This edition of TheresNoPlaceLikeVienna.com was contributed by Christy Belt Grossman, Chief Operating Officer with The Belt Team. Christy has lived in Vienna since 1972 and resides with her husband Bill and dog Cody. And Silva's even has a treat that looks just like her dog!)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Vienna "Gentrification"


This week, Washington Post writer, John Kelly, shared the story of the upcoming sale of a 1 1/3 parcel of land in the heart of Vienna.   Three sisters who grew up in the house that their father built in the 1940’s own the land, which is likely to be sold to developers. 

The sisters each report their memories in the home.  They detail the home building expenses and receipts saved by their parents - including the cost of the bricks, $364 for 16,000.   

This story fascinated me for two reasons.  First, as a Realtor serving the Vienna community, this story is reflective of so many stories I hear across our town.  Older homes full of memories and love are being torn down to make way for newer and larger homes that will meet the needs of families today.  Some residents see it as welcomed progress; while others resist it and worry about the implications for their street or community.  Construction can feel invasive to neighbors who still live in homes nearby, taxes can increase with increasing property values of adjacent properties and larger homes can feel intrusive to the owners of smaller homes built in the middle of the last century.  We need newer, modern homes” conflicts with “We need affordable homes where those who serve our town can live”.  Both sentiments ring true but how do we reconcile them? 

The second reason for my connection to this story is that I, too, sold a parcel of land this summer.  My grandfather, Carl Williams, bought almost 76 acres of land in a rural part of southeast Texas in 1918.  Our family has owned this undeveloped parcel since then; but after my father’s death in 2009 we have not been able to oversee it, to care for it the way it had been cared for in the previous 90 years.  Like the sisters in John Kelly’s story, I have memories there. The history of it is meaningful to me; but my practical, realistic sensibilities said that it was time to let it go. It wasn’t easy and even after the deed has transferred to the new owner, I still feel that I have an investment there.  I care how he treats the land and wonder what it will become. 

"Gentrification" is the term used to describe this process of the renewal of communities and properties by letting go of the old and embracing the new.  It doesn’t quite capture all that happens in the process.   But those of us who are touched by gentrification, whether selling or buying, know the issues, the emotions and the inevitability of it.   What I’ve learned as a Realtor and as a land owner is that the process matters.  It matters that we honor and respect the history of the land and the families who still live nearby.   

Change is difficult and our natural tendency is to favor the familiar.   The familiar component here is families.  Vienna families in the 1940’s needed homes and they had land as a resource.  They could move out to Vienna and find undeveloped land to purchase and build a home.   In 2012, Vienna’s land is rarely undeveloped, but increasingly valuable to families wanting to build memories in a home, for some, a newly built home.   

One of the things I love about Vienna is that it feels like a small town.  You get to know folks.  You see them at events around town.  People are friendly and seem to share common community values.  As we continue to gentrify our neighborhoods, those community values will guide us in maintaining our Vienna community and honoring its history.
(This edition of TheresNoPlaceLikeVienna.com was contributed by Susan Hussey. Susan, a Texan at heart, loves living in Vienna, where she resides with her husband and two young children.)