Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Talented Brambletonians - Karen's Cakes

As an artist and a professional, what drew you to the Brambleton neighborhood?  Does living in Brambleton inspire your work in any way?

I have actually only been doing cakes professionally for a year now.  We moved to Brambleton almost 10 years ago because we liked the look and location of the community and that it was full of young families.  Brambleton's 12th Birthday Cake Contest is what got me started doing cakes.  Before the contest, I was just decorating cakes for our family and some friends.  I was looking for a challenge.  I have always enjoyed decorating cakes and the thought of a cake business had crossed my mind.

Have you ever baked and decorated a cake for a Brambleton-specific event or holiday?  How did the community culture influence your work?

I entered and won both Brambleton's 12th and 13th Birthday Cake Contests.  For those cakes, my inspirations were the town center and the community landscaping with its hills, paths and waterfalls.  I also incorporated the Virginia Love sign in my second cake.

What do you enjoy most about living in Brambleton?  

I love that Brambleton is such a close knit community.  My experience has been that most people are genuinely friendly and caring towards one another.  This is always visible when a fellow neighbor has a hardship or tragedy.  I also love the conveniences of our neighborhood - the town center with the movie theater, shops and restaurants.  Our neighborhood has the feel of a small town within a larger suburb.  I can't go anywhere without running into someone I know!  

Can you tell us about how you bake in your own Brambleton home?  What are some essential tricks of the trade or kitchen secrets you’d like to pass along to your fellow Brambletonians?

I love having my own cake business!  It gives me flexible to work whenever I want and still be there to take my kids to after school activities or volunteer at school.  I'm still not sure whether it's a good or bad thing to have cake around the house all the time!  

When I bake at home I am very organized.  I make all the fondant decorations and accents ahead of time, so it can set up and harden.  The day before, I make the cake, assemble and frost.  I leave any last minute details for the last day.  It also helps that I have two ovens to bake multiple cakes at a time and two refrigerators for storage.  I make all my cakes and frostings from scratch using quality ingredients and organic dairy products.
 When it comes to baking, always allow your eggs, butter and milk to come to room temperature.  Sometimes it's hard to remember, but it makes a big difference in how smoothly your batter mixes together.  I also always add a frosting border to the bottom of my cakes.  It helps to hide any frosting imperfections at the bottom and gives the cake a more polished look.  Don't be afraid to work with fondant.  If you can make shapes out of play dough you can do it with fondant! 



Anything else you would like to share about your experience living and working in the Brambleton community?  Do many of your customers also live in the community?

My only source of advertising is a Facebook page I set up and by word of mouth.  I have some wonderful friends and neighbors who refer me to customers all the time.  I would say half of my customers live in Brambleton.

Do you have any tips for residents looking to bake for an upcoming event?  Or even just looking to bake and cake decorate for fun!?


Start small.  Pinterest is loaded with ideas to give you inspiration on decorating just about any kind of cake.  If you are looking for cake and frosting recipes, there are plenty of those too.  Need step-by-step tutorials?  YouTube has helped me to improve my frosting techniques and make some of the more complex shapes out of fondant.  Just have fun with it! 





Monday, February 23, 2015

February Edition


Brambleton Rezonings Pass Loudoun Board; 
New Houses and $35M in Improvements Coming


Brambleton, a master-planned community in Ashburn, which currently houses roughly 16,000 people across 4,200 families, has major changes coming in the next few years.

In separate near unanimous-decision votes on Jan. 21, with Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) absent for one of the votes, the Board of Supervisors approved a package of rezoning requests, which will likely mean a major face-lift of the current development.

This vote was the culmination of what Supervisor Janet Clarke (R-Blue Ridge) said in her opening remarks was a two-year process which involved Brambleton, its residents, Loudoun County Public Schools and the Board of Supervisors.

The rezoning will likely mean the addition of a total of 506 homes across all of the rezonings. As part of the rezoning process, Brambleton was required to proffer for $19 million in improvements as part of the package.

Instead they proposed $35 million of improvements, which include:
  • An elementary school currently planned for a fall 2016 opening.
  • A middle school planned to open in 2017.
  • A high school which could be open as soon as 2020.
  • An additional swimming pool on the north side of Ryan Road, which when completed will make five for the community.
  • A public library, which will locate into the bottom two floors of a commercial office building within the Town Center, across from Papa Tony's and Blue Ridge Grill. According to documents on the Brambleton website, this library would be similar to the Gum Spring Library in Stone Ridge.
  • An acceleration of the construction of Creighton and Evergreen Mills roads.
  • A gas station
  • A renovated barn for public events







Realtors - Plan your escape to the Brambleton Realtor Retreat on Tuesday, March 24th!

Prepare to be whisked away on a model home bus tour
followed by pampering at the Welcome Center.  
Indulge your taste buds in spa cuisine and the crisp taste
of Lost Rhino Retreat’s locally-brewed craft beer
while soothing entertainment melts your stresses away!
  
10:00 AM -12:00 PM Bus Tour (Brambleton Model Homes)
12:00-1:00 PM Lunch
1:00-2:00 PM Beer Tasting (Introducing Lost Rhino Retreat)



The owners of Lost Rhino Brewery, based on Red Rum Drive in Ashburn, have announced they're expanding their business and will be opening a second brewery and restaurant in the Brambleton Town Center.  According to co-owner Dave Hoffman, they are planning to open the new location in early April.


As an artist and a professional, what drew you to the Brambleton neighborhood?  Does living in Brambleton inspire your work in any way?
I have actually only been doing cakes professionally for a year now.  We moved to Brambleton almost 10 years ago because we liked the look and location of the community and that it was full of young families.  Brambleton's 12th Birthday Cake Contest is what got me started doing cakes.  Before the contest, I was just decorating cakes for our family and some friends.  I was looking for a challenge.  I have always enjoyed decorating cakes and the thought of a cake business had crossed my mind.

Have you ever baked and decorated a cake for a Brambleton-specific event or holiday?  How did the community culture influence your work?  
I entered and won both Brambleton's 12th and 13th Birthday Cake Contests.  For those cakes, my inspirations were the town center and the community landscaping with its hills, paths and waterfalls.  I also incorporated the Virginia Love sign in my second cake.  Read more here about this talented Brambletonian! 

Brambleton Valentine's Day Photobooth Fun
We hope you had as much as fun as we did on Valentine's Day!


#Brambletine Contest - All you need is LOVE!
Click here to view all the wonderful #Brambletine contestant photos


SAVE THE DATE:
Fairfax World Police & Fire Games - June 26th - July 5th, 2015


Stratford Landing Pool Progress - February 2015
  • Our Spotlight Retailer of the Month, Sport & Health.  If you missed their Grand Re-Opening, check out the event video here or photos here
  • Johnny Rockets is adding new flavors to their menu to keep things fresh and exciting, while sticking to the classic Johnny Rockets theme!  Enjoy fresh, never frozen, 100% farm-to-table beef burgers and shakes made with premium ice cream and pure vanilla extract.  Two new shake flavors you've got to try are the M&M and Salted Caramel shake!  Call ahead for to-go orders, and be sure to ask about hosting a party or fundraiser!(703) 327-9255
  • Papa Tony’s Weekly Specials - Mondays: Kids’ Pizza-Making Classes, 5-8 PM, Reservations Required; Tuesdays: Buy 1 pizza, get 1 half off (dine-in only); Wednesdays: Martini Night; Thursdays: Buy 1 pasta entrée, get 1 pasta entrée half off (dine-in only); Mon-Fri: Happy Hour, 4-7 PM (at the bar only); Specials/promotions/discounts cannot be combined with other offers. For more details, including reservations, call 703-327-8600. View the menu online
  • February is American Heart Month! Did you know NuWeights, located right here in the Brambleton Town Center, has a team of registered dietitians and personal trainers ready to help you achieve your health goals? Check out their blog posts for heart-healthy recipes here.
  • Please join the Brambleton Town Center Associates in congratulating the 2014 Shopping Spree Winner, Ben Carter!  The school chosen for the $1,000 donation is Creighton's Corner Elementary School.  
  • Lost Rhino Retreat is hiring for its next adventure in the Brambleton Town Center, anticipated to open this Spring.  Click here to fill out an application.  For the latest info on their opening from the owner, Matt Hagerman, check out the Bram Beat #2.
Builder Buzz
  • Camberley Homes is hosting an Open House Saturday, February 28th from noon until 3PM. Spring is just around the corner and begins with their Open House at the English Manor Villas. See all three of their finished models, pick your favorite and enjoy the extra space of a sunroom or three-level expansion for FREE! All three are specially priced for quick delivery!  Find your perfect home at English Manor Villas, and enjoy the innovative architecture and inspired design of a Camberley home by Winchester which means you get the highly personalized home that you want in a place you'll love to live. Townhomes from the upper $400's.
  • Help Wanted at Winchester Homes - Winchester Homes is looking for a Model Home Administrative Assistant to work in the Townhomes in Glenmere model! This is a full time job with benefits, and your “work week” would run Thursday thru Monday, 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Great organizational and computer skills required. This is a great opportunity to work right here in Brambleton! Contact and send resume to Juan Rodriguez.
  • Winchester Homes West Park, Beazer Emerald Ridge SF & Pulte Trent Grove towns and villas are now SOLD OUT!
Single Family Homes:
  • Average Base Price = $658,751 (based on February ’15 pricing)
  • Average % price decrease since February ‘14 = 1.6%
Town Homes:
  • Average Base Price = $475,133 (based on February ’15 pricing)
  • Average % price decrease since February ‘14 = 0.8%
  • Single-Family Homes = priced from the upper $500s* to upper $700s*
  • Townhomes = priced from the lower $400s to mid $500s*

Brambleton Sales
Project to Date Sales = 4,580 (opened Sept. ‘01)
• SF Homes = 1,941
• Town Homes = 1,840
• Condos = 799

2015 Year to Date Sales = 49

• SF Homes = 16
• Town Homes = 33
• Condos = N/A



*Prices, terms, conditions subject to change
New Home Information Packet: www.issuu.com/brambleton
Model Home Map: www.issuu.com/brambleton


Bramleton's Builder Model Home Video Tours Now Available!
  • English Manor Villas by Camberley Homes: Video
  • Skyview Collection by Miller & Smith: Video
  • South Lawn Collection by Miller & Smith: Video
  • The Brixton Collection at Clover Hill by Van Metre Homes: Video
  • Edgewood at Emerald Ridge by Van Metre Homes: Video
  • The Hillcrest Collection at Southbend in Emerald Ridge by Van Metre HomesVideo
  • Northstar at Emerald Ridge by Van Metre Homes: Video
  • Townsend Collection at Clover Hill by Van Metre Homes: Video
  • Devonshire Collection at Southbend by Van Metre Homes: Video
  • Winchester Homes Glenmere Singles: Video
Need a new home now?  
View a list of Brambleton's Quick Delivery homes here.

How Does Investing in Brambleton Compare to Loudoun County?
Brambleton Investment Comparison: www.issuu.com/brambleton

                                                  Brambleton All of Loudoun

Average Sold Price                 $492,005         $471,109
Average Days on Market       74                      79
List Price/Sale Price               97.1%               95.2%

RE/MAX Gateway Brambleton

42365 Soave Drive, Suite 200 - Brambleton, VA 20148
www.gateway2realestate.com

Brambleton Snow Day Fun - February 2015
Brambleton Community Association News
February 2015 Newsletter - This is the latest monthly community news from the Brambleton Community Association. Click here to view the February Newsletter and click here to view the New Resident Handbook (iPad friendly). You can also follow their latest news LIVE on Facebook.  If you would like to advertise in their monthly newsletter, please email christine.elansary@brambleton.org.  View the Media Guide here.  

Did you know Brambleton has their very own Community Bus?

Dulles Community Outreach - Your Opportunity to Impact the Future:
Loudoun County is seeking input from citizens regarding the future of the Dulles community. The information gathered during this outreach process will be used to shape the future County services offered to our community.  The Brambleton Community Association encourages all residents to participate and share their ideas and suggestions with the County through resident and business surveys, social media, and in a unique online engagement forum called the Dulles Community Mind Mixer.  Check out this video presented by Loudoun County. It's important for residents to be involved with this project!

Volunteering in Brambleton, by Ram Venkat


As a Brambleton resident since 2008, I am more than thrilled about the developments and activities going on in Brambleton. When my wife Seetha & I looked at homes in Loudoun County, it didn't take us very long to decide on a home in Brambleton. Tim with Miller & Smith helped us through our home buying decision as things happened pretty quickly. 

From my experiences of having traveled this great nation – starting from a small town called Aberdeen, WA state (where Kurt Cobain of Nirvana is from) to Atlanta, GA to Boston, MA to the Bay Area, and having seen many neighborhoods & communities, my instincts told me that Brambleton had all of the right things for us. 

Sponsorship Opportunities - The Brambleton Community Association is always looking for area businesses who would like some exposure and advertising.  A great way to do this is through Brambleton event sponsorship.  There are a lot of options available, including customizing packages to make them work best for your business. Download the sponsorship form here.

New Local Bus Service: Dulles South Connector (Route 85) - This new route will provide service between East Gate, South Riding, Stone Ridge, Brambleton and the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station via Loudoun Station during AM and PM peak periods. Service will be provided directly to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station via the above listed areas during the mid-day. View the Route 85 Bus Schedule. Additional information on all Loudoun County local bus service routes can be found on their website.

February 28th - Camberley Homes Open House Noon-3PM March 14th - Comedy Night*
March 14th - Comedy Night* (SOLD OUT)
March 24th - Realtor Retreat 10AM-2PM
April 10th - Flashlight Egg Hunt* 8-9PM
April 11th - Brambleton Bunny Trail* 10AM-2PM
April 18th - Brambleton Ribbon Run 7:45AM
April 25th - Neighborhood Clean-Up*
April 25th - Community Shred Event 8:30AM-11:30AM
April 25th - Spring Yard Sale 9AM-12M

Spring - Lost Rhino Retreat Grand Opening
May 30th - Brambleton's Inaugural Brewfest

*Residents Only




Rock Ridge producing record-breaking season for first-year program


When a new high school opens, there are generally many obstacles to athletic teams being successful right away. The limited time available for the coaching staff and players to come together as a team can be a large issue, and with no senior class, a lack of experienced leadership can be a challenge.  The boys basketball team at newly opened Rock Ridge High School is proving to be an exception to the rule. The Phoenix have produced a record-breaking inaugural campaign and are looking to accomplish even more.

StoneSprings Hospital Center Virtual Tour Now Available


Watch StoneSprings Hospital Center being built from the ground up. This video shows a 3D model of the framework for the hospital, real photos of the site progressing through construction, and a tour of the virtual facility.

Two Very Different Ashburn Parks Get Their Names: Brambleton Community and Broad Run Valley

Parks in Brambleton and Loudoun Valley Estates were named during the Loudoun Board of Supervisors Jan. 21 meeting, eliminating vague references such as the ball fields on Belmont Ridge Road. One is an active park with ball fields, while the other includes open space and trails.

Brambleton Community Park is familiar to drivers who pass through the North Star Boulevard/Belmont Ridge Road intersection just north of Briar Woods High School. It consists of four existing full-size and two smaller baseball diamonds west of Belmont Ridge, as well as two football fields and a soccer field east of Belmont Ridge.

Buffington Aims To Replace Incumbent Clarke
A challenge of representing the sprawling Blue Ridge District on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is trying to discern the needs of both rural and suburban residents. But Tony Buffington believes he can handle that job.

Buffington has lived in Brambleton since 2011, so he knows the suburbs. But he also grew up in Berryville, so the rural lifestyle, present in so much of western Loudoun, is familiar to him, as well.  He talked about this matter and others Monday in an interview about his Blue Ridge District candidacy.

Farm-based breweries are on tap in Loudoun
Beer lovers can look forward to the arrival of farm-based breweries across Loudoun County this spring, after the Board of Supervisors’ recent passage of an ordinance that allows brewery businesses and tasting rooms on land where ingredients for beer are grown.

Last year, state lawmakers passed legislation that relaxed regulations for farm-based breweries across Virginia. The Board of Supervisors’ approval of the farm brewery ordinance at a Jan. 21 meeting made Loudoun the first county in Virginia to incorporate the new state law into local legislation.

Loudoun County’s population tops 350,000 mark
For the first time in history, Loudoun County's population has topped 350,000, according to estimates released today by the University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center.

The U-Va. analysis reports nearly 362,000 people were living in Loudoun as of July 2014. That figure is up nearly 50,000 from the 2010 Census, a more than 15 percent spike. 

Only one other county in the commonwealth saw double-digit growth, percentage wise, in that time frame; that being Arlington, which jumped from 207,500 to 229,300 – a more than 10 percent hike.

Loudoun remains the third most-populated county in Virginia behind Fairfax (1.11 million) and Prince William (438,000). In terms of local jurisdictions, Loudoun is the fourth largest due to Virginia Beach's more than 450,000 residents.

StoneSprings Hospital Center -  Coming December 2015
Silver Line Ashburn Station - Coming 2018 


Monday, February 16, 2015

Volunteering in Brambleton by Ram Venkat



"Volunteers do not necessarily have the time, they just have the heart". - Anonymous

As a Brambleton resident since 2008, I am more than thrilled about the developments and activities going on in Brambleton. When my wife Seetha & I looked at homes in Loudoun County, it didn't take us very long to decide on a home in Brambleton. Tim with Miller & Smith helped us through our home buying decision as things happened pretty quickly. 

From my experiences of having traveled this great nation – starting from a small town called Aberdeen, WA state (where Kurt Cobain of Nirvana is from) to Atlanta, GA to Boston, MA to the Bay Area, and having seen many neighborhoods & communities, my instincts told me that Brambleton had all of the right things for us. Now after living in the community for over six years, I can most definitely say we are truly happy to be here to raise our 2 year old daughter Jaanvi and our second child due in May. 
Over the past several years, I have had the opportunity to volunteer in many different ways. Seeing my neighbors volunteer and the encouragement from the HOA staff have served as inspiration for me to volunteer and serve on the Covenants Committee and at various events throughout the year. I love the fact that I am able to meet residents and neighbors from throughout the community. It’s also hard to resist the perks that come along with volunteering like entry at events for my family, free beer/food/T-shirt and frequent community updates from working along side other volunteers and staff. I’ve been able to keep up with what is happening and learn about upcoming volunteer opportunities through our community's communications, which connect the Association with residents and foster our tight knit community. 

With Brambleton estimated to grow to approximately 9,000 planned residential units over the next 10 years, our population will rise to over 20,000 (more than Purcellville and Round Hill towns combined). There is always a need for volunteers in our committees and events.

In early 2013 I began serving as a resident volunteer on the Covenants Committee. Committee member responsibilities include regulating the external appearance, use and upkeep of properties in Brambleton. Covenants Committee members also help advise the Board of Directors regarding home owner guidelines and offer recommendations on a variety of covenants related matters. A recent example would be the proposed revisions on landscape borders, cafe lights, and portable basketball equipment which are open for public comment through February 15th, 2015. 

Covenants Committee members do not perform field inspections on properties for violations. These inspections are performed by BCA Covenants Advisors who then work with residents to resolve open items. The committee does act as the initial hearing body for violations of the Association’s governing documents that are not resolved by staff . Hearings provide an opportunity for residents to be heard and enable the committee members to consider their input when making a determination. In addition to their monthly meetings, committee members are also called upon to consider taking action outside the scheduled meeting times, for instance to approve a project that needs to start soon if the cold is weather around the corner. 

I’ve truly enjoyed my time serving as a volunteer and look forward to more volunteering opportunities in 2015. I encourage residents to consider becoming involved and hope to meet you at our next event.