When we first moved here, our options were to live way out and maybe have a big backyard, or live close in and have DC as our backyard. We opted for the later so as not to die from boredom. But the downside: I commute to the sticks for my day job.
While driving for AN HOUR yesterday during lunch trying to ascertain a simple copy of The Devil Wears Prada (BIG news on that very soon!) to send someone as a gift, I came up with a list of things that I actually DO like about working in the middle of nowhere. Here goes:
Hidden in a strip mall in Chantilly, VA is the quintessential NYC nail salon: it's clean, well lit, and I've yet to have a bad service there. And it gets better still: Mani/pedis are $25 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays all day. Not each, but $25 for the complete, 60-minute (90 if they're slow) full on, soak your feet, get the crap massaged out of your calves kind of mani/pedi. No appointments, just walk in and pick your colors.
1406 Chantilly Crossing, Chantilly, VA; 703.378.5672
The British Pantry
Down Route 50 in a small town called Aldie sits a place that could be called nothing else but British Pantry. Every kind of anything from across the pond you could want, from Heinz Beans to Teas out the wazoo to Ham and Cheese crisps. I think they do tea parties there as well. It gets no quainter than this place.
41153 John Mosby Hwy Aldie, VA; 703.327.3215
Beyond The Pale
I'm a fan of Blue Mercury, although my heart belongs to the Tysons' NM counters during the Beauty Events (staged my very first event there in 2001!). Better than them both, however, is Beyond The Pale in Middleburg. Lines you've heard of, maybe even seen before, but never all in one place: 3 Custom Color (Doubles Lip Gloss: a godsend), Too Faced, Paula Dorf and so much more, all packed into this little shop right on the main drag.
22 E Washington St, Middleburg, VA; 540.687.8050
Leesburg Outlets: Barneys and Burberry
I'm not a very good outlet digger, but both of these outlets are small enough to make it bearable. And the Barneys outlet usually has items in an assortment of sizes, making it more navigable still. I've found a few occasional steals at Off 5th and Calvin Klein as well.
241 Fort Evans Road NE, Leesburg, VA; 703.737.3071
Where all bridge lines come to die: this place, on the right day, is the fashion motherload. I've scored Frette tablecloths ($12 each), an entire Urban Outfitters ensemble for $26 (skirt, cardigan and tank), and my all-time favorite find: a fabulously embroidered Dana Buchman skirt marked down from $395 to 25 smackers. I took a lap last week and didn't find much, but there was a whole rack of True Religion jeans that I just didn't feel like digging through.
130 Delco Plz on Route 50, Winchester, VA
At one point in my life, I was an editor of a woodworking magazine (where my job description, I kid you not, included drinking scotch before 10 a.m. Best job ever). Anyway, I've brought some of that into my event business, and am always trying to come up with fabulous favors for smaller events. This place is small but has great stuff, unlike Michael's, which is huge and every one has the same items. It's a great place to walk for creative inspiration, and they have "25% off everything in the store" sales quarterly.
13653 Lee Jackson Hwy # B, Chantilly, 20151; (703) 817-0770; www.totalcrafts.com
Oakton Baptist Church Sign
Now don't get the wrong idea here, folks. Eight years of Baptist elementary school was quite enough for me, thanks. But in front of this crappy little trailer of a church is a messageboard whose words are always at least somewhat profound.
This week's message: "There are those who think their minds are open, but they're actually just vacant."
Someday, I'm going to travel the country with the sole purpose of documenting these signs. Do you think they have a wiki where they trade their best signs? Or a book they all go to? I've seen some heinous ones (enough Sun/Son puns, already), but some are actually quite good.
Oakton Baptist Church, corner of Route 50 and Sullyfield Circle, Chantilly
So there you have it. No good restaurants, co-workers with 80's feathered hair, but decent shopping and inspiration if you know where to look.