"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

Friday, December 13, 2013

Concert For A Cause

If you're looking for a fabulous interlude in what can often be a season of craziness, we've got a good one for you!

Once a year, the Vienna Choral Society does what they call "Concert For A Cause". This year's concert is done in partnership with a wonderful local organization, The Women's Center of Vienna. Though they have been around for a number of years, you may not have heard of the Women's Center - unless you have experienced some sort of loss or challenge. And then they were likely a light for you in a time of great darkness.(Read more about The Womens's Center).

That brings me to this month's concert. VCS always comes up with clever themes for their concerts and this year's Concert For A Cause is called "SOLSTICE: Light And Dark".

The concert will take place on Saturday, December 21st - which is the shortest day of the year. VCS's tag line is "We raise voices and spirits". And so at this holiday time, when many are celebrating, they are aware that there are others for which this may be a time of sadness & struggle. VCS's aim (and we think it's a good one) is to make this a time of "great community, coming together & raising hope".

We invite you to join in that mission - to either be community and hope for someone else - or to come and be lifted by others.

Their shows always offer a variety of music - something for the casual listening novice, as well as for the most discerning afficionado. This time, you might hear everything from a 17th century carol, to a modern American classic like Eric Whitacre's "Lux Aurumque," to the Appalachian folk song "Bright Morning Stars."  And there will be an after-show reception catered by Vienna Whole Foods.

Here are the details:

Date: Saturday, December 21

Time: 4:30PM to 6:30 PM

Where: Vienna Baptist Church (541 Marshall Rd SW in Vienna)

Tickets:  $20-$25 (youth under 14 FREE with a paying adult)

Buy your tickets now & skip the line at the door!

Vienna Choral Society - just another hidden secret of why WE LOVE LIVING IN VIENNA!

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Beatles, A Good Beat and a Great Buzz!

The Beatles

A Good Beat,

And a Great Buzz.

It's NOT what you think.

You can even bring the kids!

Cuz we're talking about the season opener of the Vienna Choral Society (VCS) with their "Coffee House Concert".

VCS is one of those "hidden secrets" of Vienna. The musical quality rivals anything you'll hear at Jammin Java, Wolftrap, The Barns or even The Kennedy Center!  And their sense of fun & sense of humor are unparalleled.

With four concerts scheduled between October & May, the new season kicks off with a coffeehouse concert. It's billed as "an eclectic evening of folk music and familiar tunes with a great caffeine buzz". We hear they'll be performing everything from The Beatles to Billy Joel to Cyndi Lauper and The Turtles. And no worries if your kids (or your parents) don't recognize the groups - they'll probably recognize the tunes from popular shows like "Glee", "American Idol" or even commercials!

As an added bonus, there will be nibbles from Whole Food AND coffee from Caffe Amouri. Who needs to go to Vienna Austria for great coffee, when we've got Caffe Amouri right here at home?!

The concert is on October 26th at 7:30. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors & students (15-18), and kids 14 & under are free with a paying adult. You can buy tickets for Vienna Choral Society's Coffee House Concert here.

Vienna Choral Society . . . making music fun  . . . and just another reason why we love Life in Vienna!

Friday, August 30, 2013

End of Summer Fun In Vienna

This weekend is Labor Day weekend. For many, this time of year signals "end of summer" and "back to school". (Show your sad face here.)

But we say - let's take summer out with a BANG! And if you live in Vienna - that's EASY!


Sing-A-Long Sound of Music

Head to Wolftrap & bring the whole family on Saturday, August 31st. Do you remember "Rocky Horror Picture Show"? It was the first audience participation movie "back in the day". Well, this weekend - you can share in that experience - except family style. (Rocky Horror wasn't quite family-style!).

The movie "Sound of Music" will be run on GIGANTIC screens both in house & on the lawn at Wolftrap. There will be a costume contest. The audience is invited to sing a long. AND your ticket will include a goodie bag of props. It's a fun, interactive event for all ages.

Here's a peek at what you can expect:

More Info about Sing-A-Long Sound of Music.


First Sunday Jazz Brunch at Bazin's on Church

Don't just treat your taste buds, but treat your ears as well at Bazin's First Sunday Jazz Brunch. Bazin's On Church (and that's Church Street - not a church building!) is one of our favorite Vienna restaurants. On the 1st Sunday of each month, they have live jazz music from Virginia Music Adventure's Chapel Square Combo. We say if you start your day off with a Pear & Cranberry Bellini & Bananas Foster French Toast - you just can't go wrong!


W&OD Trail:

On Monday, it's time to work off all those treats from the weekend, get back in shape & get outdoors! The W&OD Trail goes right through Vienna. But which way will you ride (or skate or run or bike or stroll)? In one direction - you'll head toward Falls Church & Arlington. And in the other, you'll hit Herndon & (eventually) Purcellville. You never know what you might see along the trail, so keep your eyes wide open - not only is there gorgeous flora & fauna - but there is lots of wildlife along the way!

When you get home, put on Pandora, set it on The Beach Boys station. And BAM. You'll think summer is just beginning.

Happy Endless Summer!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

5 Fabulous Ways To Celebrate Summer

"It's summertime and the living is easy" . . . at least it is for kids! If you're a grownup, I bet you wish you still got to have summers off too.

Well, you may not have a 2 month summer vacation, but how about welcoming the season in with Five Fab Summer Celebrations! If you live in or near Vienna - you're in luck!
1. Vienna's July Fourth Festival & Fireworks (FREE)

Vienna does 4th of July right! It's an old-fashioned kind of holiday and that's just up Vienna's alley. The Vienna Community Center is the site of the daytime activities (from 11AM to 4PM). The festival will include:
  • Chili cookoff
  • Arts & crafts sale
  • Antique & classic car show
  • Pooches on Parade!
  • Oldies music
  • Kid's crafts
  • Vienna Community Band
  • Presentation of the Colors by the Vienna Police Honor Guard
In the evening - head over to Yeonas Park for some great music by "Fat Chance" and the Vienna Fireworks show. Music starts at 7PM and fireworks are scheduled for 9:15PM. I've been watching the Vienna Fireworks since 1972. And truly, these are usually some of the best fireworks in Northern VA!

More info about Vienna's 4th of July celebration

2. Vienna's Summer on the Green Concert Series (FREE)

Grab a chair or a blanket & head down to Vienna's Town Green for free concerts every Friday & Monday (early May through early September). You'll hear a variety of groups - with everything from country to jazz to rock to bluegrass.(One of my favorites is Tommy Lepson Band!) You can picnic (no alcohol though) and if you have kids, they'll love it too.

Vienna Town Green Concert Schedule

3. Nottoway Nights (FREE)

One of Vienna's many parks is Nottoway Park. And during the summer, they also host a concert series. It's on Thursday nights throughout June, July and August. And it's also free! Groups like The Seldom Scene & The Hula Monsters can be found there this year. This is another great picnic location.

Nottoway Nights Schedule

4. Five After Five (Thirty) at Whole Foods ($5)

Pretend you're on vacation, head to Happy Hour & let someone else do the cooking! Whole Foods often has an event called "Five After Five Thirty" - also called "Thirsty Thursdays." Each event has a different theme. For example, tonight's event is "Backyard Celebrations". For $5, you get a wine glass, 5 pours of wine to taste and 5 small plates of food that might be served at summer cookouts. What a deal!

Whole Foods Vienna Events

5. Summer Stories and Sprinklers (FREE)

At 1 PM each Wednesday, Historic Vienna, Inc sponsors Story Hour (actually - story HALF hour) at the Historic Vienna Little Library (behind the Freeman House). Then at 1:30 the kids are invited to run through the sprinklers. This is a perfect way to beat the heat!

Just because you don't get the whole summer off like your kids do doesn't mean you can't celebrate summer. Especially if you're lucky enough to live in Vienna, VA!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Opera in Vienna (Virginia, Not Austria!)

Why go all the way to Vienna, Austria to hear opera when you can hear 150 fabulous voices right here in Vienna, Virginia?!

This Sunday, May 19th, The Reston Chorale joins our very own Vienna Chorale Society in presenting "Opera For The People".

I love the name they've given the show. And Vienna Chorale Society President Karen Akers wrote a hilarious article ("Opera: 18th Century Metallica") where she talks about what the typical listener thinks about opera and then challenges our thinking.

I have to admit, I am one of those people who thinks (or should I say thought) opera is just weird. Big ladies, singing in another language, wearing costumes & wigs. And that's supposed to be culture?!

But after reading Karen's article, I just might have to re-think. (Sample quote: "Opera is the bad boy of the classical music world").

As a Mom living in Vienna, I love having the opportunities that are so often afforded us for family events - whether that is with my own children or with multiple generations. And Vienna Chorale Society is great at offering these types of events. Growing up, my kids had to try every food at least once before they could say they didn't like it. So why not apply that same philosophy to music? You know your kids love country (or rock or rap or metal or whatever), but maybe they just might like opera too!

The show on Sunday takes place at 4PM at DeSales Hall at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church. (If you can't make that show, you can catch "Opera For The People" on Saturday night, May 18th, at 7:30PM at Reston Community Center in Hunters Woods.) Ticket prices range from $15-$25 and children 15 & under are free with a ticketed adult. (Tickets available here or at the door.)

Opera in my hometown . . . just another reason why THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE VIENNA!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Pace of Vienna Real Estate Market Quickens

We normally keep our blog posts about Vienna real estate separate from our "Life In Vienna" blog, but sometimes the news just needs to be shared. A lot of folks who follow along on this blog are people who are thinking about moving to Vienna and many are people who already live here. And since home values & real estate seem to be part of every dinner party or baseball game conversation, we figured we'd post a quick update.

In the past 30 days, homes in Vienna went under contract at the fastest pace we’ve seen this year.

In a “Balanced Housing Market", there is about 6 months of housing inventory. Current supply in Vienna is only 1.1 months!

Statistics show we are almost to the point where for every home listed, a home goes under contract!

In the past 30 days, there were 114 new listings – and 105 homes went under contract. With home sales moving so swiftly, it's pretty obvious that we are not the only ones who LOVE LIVING IN VIENNA!

For more info on the Vienna real estate market, follow our weekly, hyperlocal updates on our Northern VA Real Estate blog.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

It's Raining Men! Really? Where?

One of the great things about living in Vienna, VA is the wide array of cultural options available - especially when it comes to music. (For example, we recently shared "Vienna's Best Kept Music Secret" and we've also written about "Rock N Roll Royalty in Vienna" , "Kyllopalooza" and "Byrds In The Barns".)

Well, this month there is another great musical opportunity! On Saturday, March 16th, the Vienna Choral Society will present "Music of the Storms".

Vienna Choral Society has an entire array of concerts each year. This season's schedule features a number of genres with shows like October's "Swing! Music You Can Dance To" and "Opera For The People" coming up in May.

Each year they designate one concert as their "Concert for a Cause". So not only can you enjoy a wonderful performance, you can help raise awareness for science education and disaster relief. Vienna Choral Society has partnered with the American Red Cross (National Capital Region), Ideaventions & the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network to bring you a great show!

I asked Vienna Choral Society President Karen Akers for a "sneak peek" into the show and here is what she said:

"The concert runs the spectrum from music that explores the emotional aftermath of devastation (Requiem was written for the 2004 Tsunami, and After the Storm for the residents of Joplin, Missouri following the 2011 tornado) to the lighter side of weather (Singing in the Rain, and the weirdly satisfying National Weather Report). The choir will create an African rainstorm on the risers, throw in a few pop numbers (It’s Raining Men, Dust in the Wind) and perform in styles ranging from 12th century to jazz to full-on choral."

OK - that sounds just plain fun to me. What a FABulous way to introduce your family to great music! Or it would make a great date night for you & your sweetie. Or even a much needed Mom's Night Out (you know, for Moms who really just need a break & some adult entertainment!). Plus it's incredibly affordable. Family tickets are just $35. (Single tickets are $20, Students & Seniors are $15).

"Music of the Storms" will take place at the Fairfax Unitarian Church located at 2709 Hunter Mill Road in Oakton. You can buy tickets ahead of time online or at the door.

Vienna Choral Society - - - Just another reason we WE LOVE LIVING IN VIENNA!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Princess In Vienna

Would you have the guts to do THIS??

Design & purchase a gorgeous $10,000 engagement ring. Fly to the Caribbean. Hire a boat captain to take you out to sea. Hide the ring under the ocean. Go back to your hotel. Wait til the next day. Invite your girlfriend to go snorkling. Wait for her to find the ring. And propose!

That's one of the stories that Lee Nguonly, owner of Princess Jewelers, shared with me yesterday. Isn't that just mindboggling?

You see, I stopped in to Princess to thank Lee again for designing two rings for me recently. Here's a photo of the rings. I wear them every single day.

One is my wedding ring. It's not big or flashy. But it means the world to me. This year my husband & I will celebrate our 30th Anniversary. We married when we were 21, just out of college and we did not have much money. But my husband scrimped & saved to get me a ring that had diamonds "all the way around". It was a surprise on our wedding day since we had picked out basic gold bands. I still remember crying when I saw the ring. And looking into his eyes and seeing how proud he was that he had pulled this off.

Over the years, the ring broke a few times. It was so delicate that it just wouldn't stay intact. Several times, I took it in to another jeweler in town. They fixed it, but eventually it would break again. So this time, I went to Princess.

Why had I not gone there in the first place? I'm not really sure. Location was not an issue. It's in an easy to access spot in the shops at The Village Green (at the corner of Maple Ave & Nutley St). But I think perhaps I was intimidated. There are not many stores in Vienna where you have to get buzzed in. And where there's a guard on duty. This isn't Manhattan after all. And I wasn't there to spend thousands of dollars.


My ring symbolizes so much of what is important to me. And I was determined that someone could help me. So I ventured in and met Lee.

Lee treated me like I was a princess. Literally. He was so patient & very skilled at his craft. I had brought with me my broken wedding ring, as well as some other diamonds I had from my mother and from my grandmother's wedding ring. I had always wanted to do something with them, but they were not substantial and I had never had the courage to ask someone to look at them. Lee spent time talking to me and together we re-created my wedding ring. AND created a second ring. The wedding ring incorporated my mom's diamonds. And the heart incorporates the chips from my original wedding ring and my grandmother's ring.

Marriage and family are important to me. And these rings remind me of my priorities every single day. Thank you Lee for your role in that.

As Lee & I chatted yesterday, he shared several other stories. One of the boy who used to come shopping with his Mom. He wasn't even tall enough to see the pretty jewels under the glass counters. And he would just sit on the floor and read while she shopped. Many years later, this same "boy" would come in to buy an engagement ring. And he's now happily married. This is a story that repeats itself over and over. Princess Jewelers has been in Vienna for about 25 years; and they see many second generation shoppers there.

Lee also told me about the guy who bought a beautiful engagement ring and took his girlfriend to New York. They went to a park and decided to go horseback riding. He volunteered to go get things arranged and left her on a park bench. Only to return on horseback and clad from head to toe as a knight in shining armor! And you know the rest . . . he got down on one knee and asked for her hand.

Valentine's Day is coming up. So whether you are looking for a $25,000 custom heirloom piece of jewelry - or something so simple as getting that wedding ring repaired so you can wear it again, stop in to Princess Jewelers and say hi to Lee for me! He will make your wife, mother, girlfriend (or you!) feel like a princess too!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Vienna's Best Kept Music Secret

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.”

This quote from Roald Dahl (you probably remember reading his books as a child: "Charlie & the Chocolate Factory", "Matilda" and "James & the Giant Peach") is the perfect description of one of Vienna's best kept secrets - Jammin Java

Tucked away in a small strip mall on Maple Avenue, you've probably driven by Jammin Java a million times. Because of its name, many people who have not stepped through the doors think it's just another coffee shop. And after all - don't we have a million of those in Northern Virginia? Who needs one more?!

Well, they do serve coffee there, but what they REALLY serve is DREAMS!

The truth is - it's one of the premiere music venues in all of the Washington D.C. area. We were reminded of that recently when we attended a show there and once again were surprised by the fact that most of the people in attendance drove from miles & miles around to see the show. We, on the other hand, drove all of a mile and a half.

As always, we arrived early so we could have dinner before the show. Not only do they have aweome chili (four different kinds!), but it's a great time to chat with the other folks who attend and oftentimes the musicians are around as well. This particular night we were there to see Pete & Maura Kennedy - national performers who are very popular locally - and Pete was out front before the show taking song requests. As we chatted with various people before the show, it was apparent that this audience was very similar to almost every audience we have ever experienced at Jammin Java.

What was the common thread? They were really knowledgeable not only about The Kennedys, but about music in general - super tuned in to the local music scene. We happen to be "oldies but goodies" and it's always fun to chat with other folks our age and share stories about all the shows we've seen dating back to the 70's. You see, the Northern Virginia-Washington D.C. area has a rich music history. (You'd be surprised by the legendary groups who performed in local community centers, churches & roller rinks back in the day - but that's another blog post!)

Take The Kennedys for example. Pete & Maura are well established musicians. Each has had a solo career in addition to touring together. They have toured nationally, as well as internationally, and have recorded & played with amazing folks like Nanci Griffith, Nils Lofgren, Roger McGuinn, Charlie Byrd, Mary Chapin Carpenter & Kelly Willis (just to name a few!). They have performed at places like Royal Albert Hall in London, Jack's Tracks in Nashville, Carnegie Hall, Wolftrap, Central Park and even The Tonight Show. And they currently host a radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio (channel 70) called "Dharma Cafe".

Pete & Maura used to live here locally (in Reston). They started performing together in 1993 and back in the early days we had the pleasure of seeing them more often. They're now based in New York, so this recent visit was a real treat for us. After the show, we had the chance to chat with Pete for a bit. Pete actually grew up in Northern VA. He went to O'Connell High School (my alma mater and the school across the street from where my husband grew up). Turns out that his Mom "Mrs. Kennedy" was the head of the Guidance Department for many, many years at O'Connell. What a small world!

And that's why I call Jammin Java "Vienna's Best kept Music Secret". If the average person who lived in Vienna had any idea what kind of talent was on display there, the place would be packed with locals. Pete & Maura Kennedy are just one example of the level of talent that performs at Jammin Java.There's something for everyone. They have shows for kids, teens, Gen Xers, Gen Y and even Seniors. And there's a great mix of well-established talent (like The Kennedys) and up & coming talent that will soon be seen on the national stage. If you live in Vienna and haven't checked out Jammin Java yet - check it out. You'll be surprised with the magic you might find there!

(Oh - and if you do - make sure to say hi to the "Jammin Java Door Gal". Her name is Mei and she rocks!)