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Blogging From: Fresh & Organic

Much unlike my horrid experience, at Caribou Coffee on Monday, my time spent at Fresh & Organic in Ashburn was pleasant and enjoyable. A quiet little cafe tucked away in one of Northern Virginia’s many shopping strips, Fresh & Organic is the a perfectly quaint, locally owned cafe fit for even the most health-conscious, good-food-loving individual.

Organic & Fresh

Admittedly, Fresh & Organic doesn’t necessarily fall directly  into the typical bookish Coffee Shop/ Cafe standard that I’m constantly on the look out for, but honestly, Northern Virginia is sort of lacking in that area. I had debated on whether or not I wanted to spend my last weekend here making yet another trek into D.C., but after recalling my previous frustrations with parking on The Hill, I decided to hunt for something more local. I knew there had to be at least one more suitable place in good old Ashburn. So when I came across Fresh & Organic, I figured as long as they serve coffee (which, they do) they’re good enough for my blog.

When I walked inside I was greeted by a very friendly gentleman, the owner of the shop, who handed me a menu and told me to let him know when I was ready to order. There were two other customers already seated, both of which the owner was on a first name basis with; the first indication that Fresh & Organic would be worth my while. I eventually ordered the Black Bean Burger and then sat down at a table and read while I waited for my food. In stark contrast to the atmosphere at a much more detestable coffee shop earlier in the week, Fresh & Organic proved to have an impeccable taste in music, quietly sharing tunes via a My Morning Jacket Pandora Station. Beck, Led Zeppelin, Wilco? Why yes, sharing this good music with your customers at a reasonable volume is an excellent decision.

Mmmm!

In addition to serving up good music, I can also attest to the fact that Fresh & Organic serves good food. My Black Bean Burger and the organic salad that it came with were both delicious. This was one of the best meals that I have eaten out in a really long time, which I think goes to show that fresh, natural, unprocessed food is the way to go. As I was leaving, the owner said that he hoped I would come back. I told him that I was moving to New York at the end of the week but that I liked my burger and his little cafe so much that I would try to make it back for one more Fresh & Organic meal before my departure.

Conclusions

Is this place good for reading or writing? Most definitely. The environment is relaxed and quiet. Plus there’s good music and good food. It’s a done deal.

Bonus Points: From Fresh & Organic’s Website: “Our recipes combine healthy ingredients in order to provide you with the utmost in taste and nutritional value. We are organic wherever possible and always fresh!…We ardently believe that nature’s simple ingredients are enough… and you won’t need to be a biochemist to pronounce them!” Right on!

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P.S. Get ready to explore New York’s bookstores & Cafe’s! Next time you hear from me, I’ll be blogging from The Big Apple.

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Blogging From: Caribou Coffee

What: Coffee Shop Franchise

Where: Ashburn, VA

I’m not trying to be mean- really, I’m not a mean person- but I’ve been here for all of five minutes and I hate this place. It’s a total wannabe indie cafe and it’s trying way too hard. I should have known this would be a subpar coffee shop when I asked what was in the White Peach Berry Smoothie and the cashier told me she didn’t know because it was pre-made. I mean, sure, it tastes pretty good but god only knows what’s in it. I’m going to guess a lot of fake sugar because no real fruit is this sweet. “Fruit” smoothie my butt. Don’t call it what it’s not, Caribou Coffee.

There’s free wi-fi here and besides myself, there are a bunch of other people working on laptops, but I’m honestly wondering if they are having the same amount of trouble concentrating as I am because the crappy music in here is so loud I can barely hear myself think. The song playing right now sort of sounds like an extremely mediocre version of Jack Johnson that should just never be played at all, let alone at the excruciatingly painful volume they have it blasting.

This place makes Starbucks look appealing.

Since I’m on a total complaining roll right now, I’ll take this opportunity to point out the obnoxiously loud employees conversing about why their is toilet paper near the coffee grinder. One of the baristas just asked another, “Why is their toilet paper over here?”

“I don’t know,” the other replied to her.

Maybe it’s because this place is crap. I think you should take the toilet paper as a sign.

It’s going to sound like I came here just to secretly listen in on all of the Caribou Coffee employees’ conversations, but since we’re on the subject and they are talking so loudly that it would be impossible for me to not hear them let’s recap another excruciatingly embarrassing conversation that just took place:

Employee one: Hufflepuff? What’s Hufflepuff?

Employee two: Ew, don’t talk to me about Hufflepuff. I don’t even like Hufflepuff.

Employee one: I don’t even know what Hufflepuff is.

Employee two: Hufflepuff is like…happy people. I’m a Gryffindor.

Excuse me, but first of all, happy people? Happy people? What is that even supposed to mean? Have you even read Harry Potter? Clearly you have not. The essence of The Hufflepuff House goes much beyond your vapid description. Second of all, according to Pottermore, I’m a Hufflepuff and you have greatly offended me, you ignorant Harry Potter Fool. Hmph!

There’s not much else for me to say about Caribou Coffee. I could certainly point out plenty of other shortcomings but I’d rather not since I can’t wait to finishing writing this and get the hell out of here. Nice knowing you, Caribou Coffee. NOT!

Is this a good place for reading or writing? If you bring earplugs.

Minus Points: Inability to spell.

Come again?

Blogging From: Busboys & Poets

What: Coffee Shop/ Restaurant/ Mini-bookstore

Where: Arlington, VA

Ring the bell, sound the alarm! We have a winner! OK, I guess this was never really meant to be a contest, but Busboys and Poets  definitely wins the prize for being the best establishment I have found so far that meets all of the things that I look for when I’m on the hunt for the perfect places conducive to reading and writing in public. Busboys and Poets is an independently owned restaurant and cafe that now has four different locations all around the DC Metro area. It was founded in 2005  by Anas “Andy” Shallal, an Iraqi-American artist, activist, and restaurateur, with the intentions of creating a “community gathering place.” He named the establishment for Langston Hughes, who once worked as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel prior to gaining recognition as a poet.

Before entering Busboys and Poets, I was expecting it to be a little more bookstore and a little less cafe. However, it happens to be much more of a cafe and restaurant than it is a bookstore. This was not a disappointing turn of events, though. The atmosphere inside was busy and buzzing. If the tables full of people that I noticed in the outside dining area prior to entering weren’t enough of an indication that this was an Arlington hotspot, then the amount of people I found inside certainly was. Customers have the choice of either being seated to a booth, pulling a stool up to the bar, or plopping down at one of the communal tables where you’re welcome to dine, work, write, and read to your heart’s desire.

A picture of my blog, on my blog. So meta.

I set up camp at one of the large communal tables, which was empty when I arrived but eventually became home to other laptop toting, cafe-lovers who came to B&P to get some work done. I’m the kind of person who takes an agonizingly long amount of time to decide on what I’m going to order whenever I’m out to eat, but when a restaurant has a menu as diverse and appetizing as Busboys & Poets’, it will take me three times as long. When I finally decided on what to order, I chose the Harira, which is a flavorful Moroccan bean soup, and it did not disappoint. The cool thing about B&P’s menu is that it has a lot of options to offer and it also specifically points out which dishes are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free. Their menu also boasts the following:

  • 100% Fair Trade & organic coffees and teas.
  • Organic wine and beer. And Biodynamic wine.
  • Boycotting of Canada’s seal hunt by “no longer purchasing any seafood from Canada.”
  • Primarily sustainable seafood.
  • Grass-fed, free range beef from local Virginia farms.
  • Local, organic field greens from the Engaged Community Offshoots Farm Network.
  • Conservation of water by only serving it upon request.

Show the planet some love.

Aside from providing good food and a great place to work, Busboys & Poets also supports local artists, musicians, and activists by hosting tons of different events like open mic poetry nights, independent film screenings, author readings and book signings, and talent showcases. You’ll also find several paintings by local artists available for purchase decorating many of the B&P walls.

Some art & trinkets in the bookshop section.

The books section of B&P is not what a true bookstore lover would call a “bookstore.” It’s more of a gift-shop-like area where you’ll find some pretty cool gizmos and gadgets that are actually worth buying. Of course, for all intents and purposes you can rightfully call it a bookstore since there were four or five shelves filled with a good deal of really great reads.

I spy Howard Zinn.

Conclusions

Is this a good place for reading or writing? 100% yes. This place was made for people like me who tote their laptops and books around with them everywhere they go. This is the type of place that public Internet users live for. Good food, good service, and good books. There’s not much more you can ask for.

Bonus points: Busboys and Poets is a proud member of DC Local First and are a Certified B Corporation. Also, their Hyattsville, MD location will be holding a very special event on Wednesday, September 21 (which is International Peace Day) where they will be dedicating a room to Howard Zinn. Check it out if you’re in the area!

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Blogging From: Hole in the Wall Books

What: Independent Book and Comic Book Store

Where: Falls Church, VA

Bookstores with creative names, are always the best kinds of bookstores. What bookstore lover wouldn’t want to step inside of a store called Hole in the Wall Books, right? It’s funny because I think most people might shy away from any other type of establishment named after an idiom that sometimes has a bit of a negative connotation. But a bookstore with this name; it sounds like it will lead you right into a scene straight out of Alice in Wonderland! It leaves an impression that makes you feel like once you step though the door, you’ll be transported, through a hole in the wall, to a magical land of books. For the most part this is true. Minus the part about going through a hole in the wall.

Hole in the Wall Books, which turned 33 years old this year, opened in 1979. The store started out as a record shop, and half of the store was converted into a bookshop shortly after opening. After a few years in business, the record store portion of the store was eliminated and ever since it has been a thriving independent bookstore which specializes in used books and comics.

Excellent custom decorations!

The comic book aspect of Hole in the Wall Books is definitely its claim to fame. I spoke with the store’s owner, Edie, (who by the way, was extremely helpful and friendly) and she told me that in 1989 the store was one of the first and original sellers of Diamond Comics, which is now the largest North American comic book distributor. “The comic books help a lot,” she said. “I don’t think we would be able to stay open without them.” Unfortunately, that’s only a sign of the times. Today, independently owned bookstores need a distinguishing feature that will keep readers coming back. Lucky for Hole in the Wall, they’ve got that extra something that sets them apart.

Come here if you want comics.

While I’m no comic book fanatic, I could certainly tell that the store’s selection was extensive. The literature fanatic in me can happily say that the same goes for their book collection. The inside of the store is cozy. It’s a relatively small space with plenty of hidden corners and crevices, all filled with more and more books. Books are organized into sections including literature, mysteries, non-fiction, and cooking, just to name a few.

Books galore!

Hole in the Wall Books is another search-and-revel-in-the-loveliness-of-bookstore-browsing kind of bookstore. There’s no sitting area for reading or writing, which I’ve recently come to realize is a much more modern bookstore aspect. Of all the bookstores that I’ve visited so far, the trend seems to reveal that the more contemporary shops like Kramer Books or Borders (RIP) are more commonly set up for customers who want to come in a pop a squat with a book or their laptop for an hour or so. Most older bookstores that have been around for some time don’t tend to have this feature as often. Even though I’m always looking for a place where I can sit down and read or write, there’s no question that the older, more traditional bookstores will always have my heart. I hope they never go away.

However, one thing that is common to most older bookstores, that gives them character and spunk, is the decorations that are collected through the years. Hole in the Wall Books is very uniquely decorated. Much of the store is covered in comic book art and old newspaper articles.

Spiderman watches book browsers from the ceiling.

If you have the time to really browse, you’ll find some great gems at Hole in the Wall. For example, I shuffled through a few piles of books stacked on the floor and found a really cool Bob Dylan Scrapbook.

Bob salutes you.

I'm not sure how I resisted buying this.

The only reason this was not purchased is because I’m trying to be conscious of the amount of large, heavy books I collect. I’m moving back to New York in a few weeks and as I have learned from hauling my book collection around from place to place, books are heavy and not at all fun to pack and move. I did pick up a used copy of Oscar Wilde’s, The Picture of Dorian Gray, which is significantly smaller and lighter.

Conclusions

Is this a good place for reading or writing? Nope, this is not that kind of store. Although it is definitely quiet enough for reading. So, by all means, you could certainly pull a book from the shelf and plant your butt on the floor if you felt like reading a chapter or two!

Bonus Points: Good prices, creative name, lasting power, and an excellent domain name. (Holeintheweb.com, love it!)

Blogging From: Dolce Coffee

What: Locally owned Coffee Shop/ Cafe

Where: East Market Street, Leesburg, Virginia

Sweet coffee.

Although renamed Dolce Cofee in the real word, if you type this coffee house’s address into Google, you’ll find that it was previously called “Greenberry’s.” Social Media Management people! Someone tell the owner of this place that they need to up their game when it comes to the their online presence. Just kidding! Does it really matter? Probably, not. Plus, I’m not here to judge their marketing strategies. Although, I guess I just did. Anyway…

When it was good ol’ Greenberry’s, this place was a franchise. During that time another blogger called it a  “local Starbucks wannabe.” I don’t know what it was like before now, but I’m going to guess that it’s at least made a little bit of an improvement from being a chain coffee shop. It’s not the greatest or cutest or nicest place in the world, but I don’t see it as a Starbuck’s wannabe, which to me, would be worse than being an actual Starbucks.

The first thing that I noticed about Dolce Coffee, before I even walked through the door, was the window display to the left of the entrance, which promotes the coffee shop’s weekly, Friday night Open Mic nights. Any establishment that fosters a weekly open mic is good in my book!

Support the all of the arts!

As I walked through the doors and toward the counter, I almost tripped on a huge bump in the floor, which I later found out from a sign placed oh-so-kindly on the front counter, is from water damage. The most annoying part about it is not that I did an awkward ooo-I-almost-just-tripped-but-I’m-going-to-pretend-that-no-one-saw-that dance, it’s that the girl behind the counter was waiting for it to happen. You know she just stands there all day waiting to laugh hysterically to herself over the unsuspecting customers who instantly become victims of the large bump in the floor. I know I would.

Thanks for the cone.

I ordered their Chicken Salad sandwich on wheat bread, which I can only say was an extremely disappointing excuse for chicken salad. It lacked any sort of taste and what little taste it did have was not enjoyable or chicken-like at all. Luckily, I also ordered a strawberry banana smoothie, which met and passed my extremely high smoothie standards. Although, it was no Shoes, Cup, and Cork Club Smoothie. But what can ya do? Not all smoothies can be the best smoothies, right?

Of course, now I am blogging and I do have to say that the environment here is very blogger friendly. Myself included, four people in this here coffee shop are currently situated behind Internet machines. The older man directly across the room from me looks like he’s reading the stock markets on his MacBook Pro. I say that because he’s bald, except for a few white hairs clinging for life on either side of his head, he’s wearing a white collared shirt, a tie, khaki dress pants, and suspenders, and just generally looks like an intensely stressed investment banker who just flew from Wallstreet to Leesburg in his private helicopter so that he could enjoy a diet coke at his favorite hometown coffee shop. Whatever, it could be true. Or maybe he’s just playing Farmville.

Another man who is across the room to my right is typing up a storm on his old-school IBM laptop. He look way too cool for a Mac. IBM all the way for him. From the looks of what little he has left of his greying hair, I’d say he’s middle-aged. He has a happy camper vibe going on. He is wearing a maroon T-shirt, dark brown cargo shorts, and hiking boots. He has sunglasses propped on  the top of his head and looks just a little bit too happy to be here. He probably just came home from a long, relaxing, technology free camping trip in the woods and is just so ecstatic to finally be reconnected with his beloved Internet. Either that or he just really likes his frappuccino and is telling everyone on Twitter how much so.

There is a decorative tree blocking my view of the third coffee shop laptop-user present here and so I will never know who he is or what he’s doing here. There is another man sitting on one of the stools that are lined up along the counter facing the window and I can’t tell if he has a Bluetooth device in one of his ears or if he’s talking to himself. Either way, why do you gotta do that here, man?

Oh and let’s not forget me. I’m also here. Little old me sitting in my big green comfy chair, blogging away about all of the people in the coffee shop. Am I totally creeping, or what?

Can you see the investment banker there in the corner?

I was also able to get some quality reading time in here. I’m currently feasting my brain upon L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, which is a total delight of a book that I would most certainly suggest to all lovers of young adult whimsy who have not yet read it.

Oh, Anne.

Conclusions

Is this a good place to reading or writing? Sure. It’s quiet and they’ve got barely audible indie music playing in the background. You’ll find it easy to concentrate here. (Unless you’re me and have a terrible habit of watching, judging, and making up stories about people.) Also, they’ve got WiFi so you can write and publish all in one stop. What a concept!

Bonus Points: Random pictures of Audrey Hepburn that have nothing to do with anything else int he entire shop. I’ll take it.

Breakfast at...Dolce's?

Blogging From: Reston’s Used Book Shop

What: The second oldest business and only independently owned, bookstore in Reston, Virginia.

Where: Reston, Virginia (Duh, I just said that.)

BRB, moving into the apartment above the store.

It’s the weekend of Hurricane Irene and today I went out and braved the storm in search of Reston’s Used Book Shop. Just kidding, it was only raining a tiny bit when I made the trip, but the store is located along the lovely Lake Anne and it definitely felt like a storm was brewing as I walked along the waterside.

Enough about the weather, though. What we’re here to talk about is the bookstore, and the bookstore we shall talk about! Reston’s Used Book shop is everything that the quintessential, cozy, cute book store should be and then some. Upon walking inside, I was immediately greeted by an antique-like china closet turned bookcase, filled with rare collectible books. The store has a classic, vintage-y vibe that triggered my old soul senses right away.  It’s a cute little maze of tall, towering bookcases, all filled to the brink, with books of course.

Pretty, pretty books.

I browsed around for a good hour or so, searching up and down for all of my favorite authors. This isn’t the biggest bookstore, but for their modest size, they have a fun, diverse selection of reading material. There are chairs alongside a good majority of the shelves, so that if you find something really good you can plop your bottom right down without even really having to think and dive right in. Excellent.

Part of being a really great used bookstore is having reasonable prices, which is not something that Reston’s Used Book Shop has overlooked. Their paperback books are all half off of the original price and their hardcovers are individually priced, but I don’t think I opened one that was more than $10. (Don’t quote me on that though, because I only opened a few hardcovers. I’m a total paperback girl, OK?!)

Lots of books for little moolah.

Aside from the stellar prices, the thing I love most about Reston’s Used Book Shop next is their signage. All of it is very DIY and consistent throughout, giving the shop it’s own unique character. Each categorical section had it’s own creatively designed sign, making it all the more apparent that a lot of passion went into creating the distinct aesthetic of the store.

DIY! Yeah!

The second room of the store, which one of the store employees told me they had expanded into about 15 years ago, (the store has been open for 33 years) houses a hearty children’s section, as well as a nice collection of art books, classic collectibles, and books on a few other various topics. This room has a cozy little seating area that’s sort of reminiscent of your grandma’s living room. And just to be clear, I say that with a positive connotation attached to the living rooms of grandmas in my mind. I find grandma’s living rooms to be generally favorable places.

Maybe it's the rocking chair. Rocking chairs are grandma-y.

There’s no Wifi here so you won’t  sit down and do any Interneting, but even with several other shoppers in the store, it was peacefully quiet so it’s a great atmosphere to sit down and delve into a book for a while. Also, I think there’s something to be said about the fact that there were several other shoppers in the store despite the fact that little, old Hurricane Irene was on her way. The people want their books!  At one point I talked to another woman who was scouring the shelves so diligently, that at first I thought she was an employee. She told me that she was from out of town but that her daughter lived in the area and her and her husband visit the store whenever they’re in town. “You love it that much, huh?” I said to her. “Oh yes, I love my books,” she said. Right on.

Here are a few more quirky, book-ish things I found around the store:

Cat nap on the dictionary.

A tea pot of books.

Epic bookmark collage.

Hello there, Mr. Twain.

Mmmm, old books.

Conclusions

Is this a good place for reading or writing? Certainly! There was no WiFi as far as my computer was concerned , but there’s ample seating and plenty of peace and quiet. They’ve accurately captured the bookstore-esque atmosphere here.

Bonus Points: Advocating of independent bookstores, supporting the local economy, and embracing uniqueness. (See sign below.)

AKA, you are awesome for shopping here.

It says, you have just: “Kept money in the local economy, embraced our uniqueness, created local jobs, helped the environment, nurtured community, conserved tax dollars, created more choices, took advantage of our expertise, invested in entrepreneurship, and made us a destination.” All true and all good.

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Blogging From: Shoes Cup and Cork Club

What: Local Shoe Repair Store turned Coffee Shop/ Miniature-Restaurant

Where: Downtown Leesburg, Virginia

What are you?

The first time I walked by Shoes Cup and Cork Club, it fooled me. It was all, look at me, I’m a shoe repair shop! (And in my head, I was all, What the heck? Who still gets their shoes repaired? Talk about keeping the history in a historic town.) But that was only the first time. The second time I walked by it, I was able to see past the giant “Shoes” sign (mainly by looking through the window) and realized that it is actually one little kick-ass coffee shop. I knew that it was kick-ass before even walking in because it also had a sign pointing to the alleyway next door that said, “This way to our secret garden.” Which really leads to their outdoor sitting area, but for all intents and purposes, it’s a secret garden.

This is my second time at Shoes Cup and Cork Club. My first visit was with my best friend Tara and one of the cool things about it that she pointed out to me right away is that they have a shoe chandelier. That’s right, a fancy, old-fashioned light fixture that has early 1900’s style shoes dangling from it’s arms. Yes, It’s as cool as it sounds. (Or as stupid as it sounds, depending on who you are.) The rest of the decor here is just as unique. All of the tables and chairs are wooden and no two are the same. There is a bench with cozy pillows that spans along the left wall and the wall on the right side has a rather large chalkboard that anyone can draw on. So DIY!

Shoes Cup and Cork Club boasts that they have the best coffee in Leesburg and all of Loudoun County (voted by Loudoun Living), but I cannot confirm or deny these statements because, one word: SMOOTHIES! You would have to pay me large sums of money to come to this establishment and order anything besides a smoothie. These smoothies here are unlike any smoothie your little blended-fruit-beverage-loving heart could ever dream of. During my first visit here, I ordered the Pina Colada smoothie and let me just say, that was the end of me ever ordering another smoothie from any other smoothie-making business ever. Today I ordered their Very, Berry, Berry smoothie and it is all of the fruity goodness I ever could have imagined and then some. If I were President of the World, I would make it mandatory that every living person have a SCCC Smoothie every day for their entire life forever. Except, if they didn’t want to, because, free will, freedom, etc.

All hail the heavenly smoothie.

When I first got here, I got distracted from blogging and played Words With Friends for like 20 minutes. As a result, I found out that this is a great place to sit and play Words With Friends while enjoying a smoothie. I was about to take out my laptop and start blogging, but first I checked out the WiFi situation on my phone and it turns out that they don’t offer any free, wireless connections to the Internet. I take that as a sign that maybe they wouldn’t really appreciate their Number One Smoothie Fan hogging one of their tables with her laptop. (Even though I am their Number One Smoothie fan and all.) So I decided to partake in all of my blogging activity via my phone and then took out my book to test out the reading environment.

It’s nice to read here but it’s also not the quietest place either. If you can concentrate over other people’s conversations than you’ll get along fine, but if you prefer mostly silence when you read than this is probably not the place for your public reading endeavors. More than anything,  it seems like Shoes Cup and Cork Club is a perfect little place to come to with your best friend when you want to drink lots of coffee, perfect smoothies, and maybe even some wine (Yeah, they have wine too. I know, right?!) while you sit and talk about everything and nothing for hours at a time.

Being all historical in Historic Leesburg.

Conclusions

Is this a good place for writing or reading?: Maybe. Writing only if you’re doing it the old way. You know, with paper and ink. There’s no WiFi so blogging is sort of O-U-T, out. Reading if you can tolerate moderate amounts of other people chatting. It’s not a spacey place so you will hear all about how your table neighbor’s week went.

Bonus Points: +1,000,000 points for their Smoothies! Also, shoe chandelier, fake-out storefront sign, and secret garden.

Website

Blogging From: The Handley Regional Library

What: Public Library

Where: Historic Old Town Winchester, Virgina

The public library of my dreams.

Swoon! This gorgeous building is what the lucky people of this town get to call their public library. I am legitimately jealous. This is so unfair. The public library that I grew up using was made of bricks and probably built in the 1980’s. (Meaning, it’s not old enough. I like my libraries to be old.) This one has rows of gorgeous columns, the coolest, most magnificent dome structure, and was built in 1913. Aside from everything about it , one of my favorite parts of this building is the story behind how it came into existence.

It’s construction was one of the last dying wishes of Judge John Handley of Scranton Pennsylvania. He designated $250,000 in his will to ensure the creation of this beautiful book house and wrote that it was for “…a public library for the free use of the people of the city of Winchester forever.” It’s forever, guys. FOREVER! (As all libraries should be.)

I know that this blog is titled “Blogging from Bookstores,” and technically libraries are not bookstores, but as you have already noticed, such a small technicality will not stop me from blogging about this magnificent epicenter of books. I’ll be damned if you told me I was going to step foot inside of this wondrous building and not blog about it. Libraries are like the free bookstores of the world anyway. Oh, and this one actually has it’s own bookstore, so take that!

A bookstore inside of a library. It's genius!

I’m blogging from the East Reading Room. It’s quiet and to my right there’s an old man reading in a chair that’s quaintly placed in front of a fireplace. I mean, the fireplace isn’t lit or anything, but how cozy! It took me a while to sit down and get settled in because, One: This is the most gorgeous library I have ever seen (I had to explore.) and Two: This library knows me. It really does. For example, after I walked through the doors I was immediately led to this wooden spiral stair case.

Take me to the books!

As I began to walk up the stairs, I was greeted by a pointing finger that directed me to the Young Adult section. (The best section of them all!)

I'll never give you up.

When I finally reached the top of the spiral stairs, I was greeted by this young man.

Fancy seeing you here, Mr. Radcliffe.

This library is perfect.

I browsed and walked around the circular halls of each floor, feeling like I was in some sort of magical play land. There were big wooden doors that I’m assuming led to Hogwarts and Narnia and in the Young Adult section there were even more spiral staircases that served as the most precious bookshelves known to man kind.

Could you BE any cuter?

While I was walking around the circular halls of the second floor, I noticed an adorable, little old woman looking through one of the balcony openings on the first floor. That was my future self. As I circled the second floor, I passed by a girl who looked about 11 or 12 years old. She had been walking through the halls with her jaw on the floor saying, “Oh my gosh it’s beautiful up here.” She smiled at me as she walked by and I said, “Isn’t it pretty?” Looking up at me with wide eyes she said, “Yeahhhh, it’s SO pretty.” That was my past self. So there you have it, my past, present, and future self all in the same place at the same time. Can you believe that it was at a library?!

Conclusions

Is this a good place for writing or reading? OK, we all know the answer to that so I don’t know why I even needed to ask.

Bonus Points: EVERYTHING!

One little thing: What’s with the “automatic” doors in the entrance that you have to pull to open? That’s not automatic.

"Pull to Operate" does not constitute "Automatic."

Website // Facebook

Readers, what is your favorite part of exploring the library?

Blogging From: King Street Coffee

Looks like a house, acts like a coffee shop.

What: Local Coffee Shop

Where: Leesburg, Virginia – South King Street

Right now, I’m at King Street Coffee in historic, downtown Leesburg. This isn’t my first time here. I just so happen to work around the corner from this quaint little coffee house. I have to say, that it’s hard to resist giving them all of my money in exchange for coffee, tea, and the privilege of sitting at one of their wooden tables in the seating area that feels like your mom’s kitchen. It’s very authentic. I’d blog from here forever if I could. It’s like blogging heaven. A small, quiet independent coffee shop with free WiFi and tables. How is Starbucks even still in business? Why would you choose that over this? Wake up, people of the world! Starbucks coffee doesn’t even taste good! That is a fact.

Opposite of Starbucks.

The building, like most of the buildings here in downtown Leesburg, is and old house. Like, I’m literally sitting in what was probably some early American colonist family’s living room. (OK, I don’t know if it’s that old. But let me just pretend.) I bet their ghosts are hovering over me right this very moment. They’re wondering what on earth this alien contraption that I put on their table is. “Why does she keep pressing all of those buttons?!”

Normally when I come to King Street Coffee I order an iced coffee with milk and sugar because I like consistency and am also in love with iced coffee. But watch out world! Today I switched it up. I got the Moroccan Mint Iced Tea as per recommendation of the King Street Coffee barista. It’s a unique blend and the mint gives it a nice little kick. Add a tiny bit of sugar to it and you’re good to go. A perfect 115-degree-weather-I-need-something-cold-in-the-form-of-liquid-now beverage. (Yes, as I am writing this, the heat index outside is about 115. Ew.)

Honestly though, next time I’ll probably get an iced coffee again because the coffee here is 100% delicious, 100% of the time. That’s expected though. I mean, it is a Coffee Shop (hence the word “coffee” in their name) and they use locally roasted beans. Everyone in favor of supporting the local economy say I. “I!”

As I write, I’m sitting at a small table next to a window that looks out to South King street. Across the street there’s a huge pink house that is an antique shop and gift store called The Pink Shop. It’s like, really pink. Almost too pink. But since it is called “The Pink Shop,” I guess the building really can’t be too Pink. In fact, I think this might be the only time that a building can acceptably be completely pink and have a bright magenta door. Nobody else try this. I don’t want to see any other buildings this pink ever.

Attack of the Pink!

I’m looking out the window and watching people walk by. This one guy that I just saw hates The Pink Shop. I just watched his girlfriend lure him in. She ran up the stairs to the door faster than he could say “But, babe, I don’t wanna!” He walked up the first two steps, paused, took a deep breath, sighed, and then hesitantly dragged his feet up the remaining steps as if he were walking to his overly-pink death. Watching people is fun. King Street Coffee is a good place to do this.

Conclusions

Is this a good place for writing or reading?: Yes! It’s quiet and I’ve never seen it overly crowded. The employees are friendly and the coffee is Delicious with a capital D. They have free WiFi and cute wooden tables with cute wooden chairs to sit at. Really, what more could a writer or reader ask for?

Bonus points for: Good music, use of local products, and pink scenery.

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