Out and About in DC: Dirty Dinner at Calleva Farm

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photo courtesy of calleva.org

There are so many great things to do in the DC metro area that I don’t think I have even skimmed the surface after living here for 12 years.  Then children come along and your ambitious plans for new adventures slow to a crawl.  Fortunately, the husband and I do get out every once in a while.  So on a hot but manageable July Saturday, we were fortunate enough to enjoy an evening at Calleva Farm in Dickerson, Maryland in late July.  You may ask how did I hear about Calleva Farm.  The answer is easy.  A Dirty Dinner for Four was an item up for bid at our children’s school auction.  We won the Dirty Dinner, asked some friends to join us, and we headed out for an evening of live music, local food and wine and an evening in the countryside.

This is the information provided on their website:

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Dirty Dinners at Calleva Farm is a series of unique evenings in the countryside, featuring local ingredients, local wines and live music on our beautiful farm in Dickerson, MD. The past 2 seasons have been everything we’d hoped for: brilliant groups of guests, great music, absolutely delicious food (if we do say so ourselves), and being selected “Best of” with Bethesda Magazine and “Things to Do” for Washingtonian. We love the way the Dirty Dinners series reflects Calleva’s mission & values by introducing people to the beauty of the great outdoors in Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve. Dinner ingredients are mostly grown at Calleva Farm, plus additional produce from other area producers & wines from local vineyards. Our dairy products come from South Mountain Creamery. A typical Dirty Dinners evening at Calleva Farm: 5-6 pm Social Hour, Hay Rides & Garden Tours; 6:15-9:30 pm Dinner, Music & Dancing.

I really had little expectation going into the event.  I was looking forward to adult time since we rarely get any.  It was a long ride from DC and the most unexpected part of the evening happened when we rounded a bend in the road and came upon a ferry…White’s Ferry.  Maybe I am the only DC resident that didn’t know there was still a ferry service across the Potomac.  Needless to say, it was a safe and secure ride from Virginia to Maryland and then a quick hop to Calleva Farm.

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Upon arrival at the Farm, we parked and headed up for a mocktail, tour of the farm, a hayride and even made some picked vegetables.  Out of these four activities, I enjoyed the mocktails the best.  There were two to choose from:  fizzy blueberry lavender lemonade and skinny hot pepper peacharita.  I dove in for the blueberry and absolutely loved it.  The rest of my party sampled the peacharita and liked it but not as much as the blueberry.  It had a bit of spice and on a hot evening maybe not what the doc ordered.

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After the mocktail hour, we sat down for dinner and live music.  Dinner was 6 courses of farm to table items and the wait staff described to us what each would be.  If I am honest, my party observed that the wait staff was giving different nuggets of information, and sometimes our wait staff didn’t give us the run down at all.  Not a dinner ruiner but maybe just something they need to clean up for future events.  I enjoyed the menu selection as there were a few items on the menu I wouldn’t normally order like the crunchy radish and dill salad.  It was delicious.  I also enjoyed the soup course as well as the summer squash fritter.  My only complaint about dinner would be the extended time between each serving.  It caused dinner to drag a bit but thank goodness for our friends and good conversation.  Wine was also served from local vineyard Black Ankle.  They offered both a white and red with our meal.  After dinner, they had a bonfire with tea and coffee service.  The music and atmosphere put you at ease and was quite relaxing.  We left soon after dinner because as I mentioned earlier, it was a bit of a drive from Capitol Hill  and we all needed to relieve our babysitters.  We can’t use and abuse our dear babysitters!

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All in all, Dirty Dinner was a surprisingly enjoyable event that got us out of the concrete jungle for the night.

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Strawberry Pickin’ Time!

IMG_0022.2015-05-16_221324 This past weekend we decided that we needed to squeeze in Strawberry picking.  The kids love it.  John and I enjoy it.  It reminds me of my childhood.  I had my own special strawberry patch at my Papaw Miller’s house.  I couldn’t wait for the juicy berries to appear.  I share that story every year with Colton and Coop.  Colton reminded me that I have told  him the story a few times.  I just love this age where they know everything and talk back to you.  I digress…

Anyway, we headed out late on Saturday to Schlagel Farm in Waldorf, Maryland.  We heard from other friends that this was a great place to go.  I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.  It was quick and easy drive from DC.  We pulled right up, got our baskets and headed out to the fields.  This year was awesome because Colton and Cooper could help us.  Coop wasn’t quite there last year but was super excited this year.  Beckett even got to hang out in the field.  We were super lucky because we had a cloudy evening and it was perfect for picking berries.

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We always pick a ton of berries so that we and Uncle Matt can make jam.  If you are interested in canning and jam making, check out this link at Pioneer Woman.  It is easy and the kiddos can help.  Lots of mashing and destroying berries.  Boys love it!

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I grew up with woman always canning some fruit or vegetable and I decided I needed to learn how.  We made 10 16 oz jars of jam and had strawberries left over from just one of the white boxes!  So far, I haven’t progressed past fruit but I’ll get there eventually.  For now, Colton enjoys a strawberry jam sandwich at least twice a week for school.  I consider that a win!

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Disney World: We Survived! Tips and Tricks for traveling with lil’ ones!

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I have to tell you, I was a bit worried about this trip.  How would we manage the two boys?  Beckett?  Our big party of 8?  A double stroller?  Snacks?  Rides?  Well, I am here to tell you that it all worked out.  Disney is truly built for families.  I couldn’t have been more pleased with the entire trip.  Was I tired?  Absolutely.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely.

So let me start from the beginning.  John and I decided that we were going to make the trip to Disney over school spring break.  First worry.  The crowds.  Ended up not being an issue.  We missed the two massively crowded weeks of Spring Break.  Thank you, DCPS.  Second, I wanted to stay on Disney property.  I had no real reason for this except I stayed on Disney properties as a kid and loved it.  Maybe I could use the excuse that I wanted to use the monorail and other systems within Disney for travel.  Third, we decided to give my parents the trip to Disney for Christmas.  I really wanted us all together and not in separate rooms.

Wilderness Lodge Villas

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I started researching and decided our best option was a villa on Disney property.  These are actually not easy to reserve since most are Disney Club Vacation properties.  Luckily, we booked the Villas at Wilderness Lodge.  It was a perfect set up.  Two bedroom, two bathroom, kitchen and living room.  One bedroom had a king, the other had two queens plus a pull out in the living room.  room-xc-g01Aunty Court room-xc-g14 room-xc-g09 room-xc-g00decided to join us and she slept on the pull out in the living room.  The rooms even had two large walk in closets.  Yep, we gently and lovingly put Beckett in our closet to sleep!  I couldn’t have been happier with the room.  We had plenty of space to take breaks and hang out which is much needed with 3 kiddos 6 and under.

Wilderness Lodge Restaurants

The restaurants on property are good.  Whispering Canyons is loud and rowdy but perfect if you have kids that want to participate in activities going on during your meal.  Beckett didn’t love it but we made it work.  The 5 star Disney restaurant on property Artist Point was absolutely delicious.  Peaceful.  Quiet.  A nice reprieve from the daily chaos. Some may say the prices are high but it reminded us of restaurant prices in DC.  Roaring Fork near the pool had breakfast, lunch and dinner options.  Once again, it was quick and easy.  No complaints.

Wilderness Lodge Pools

Nice setup but could be a bit larger.  There is one main pool for the main lodging of Wilderness Lodge.  It has a kids slide as well as a kids splash park.  The boys enjoyed it thoroughly.  There is a bar to get drinks and snacks.  Every day, there were activities coordinated around this pool.  Overall, I found this pool exhausting.  I wanted peace after the parks.  We ventured over most of the time to the pool reserved for the Villas.  It was secluded and quiet.  There were kids by this pool as well.  It was just more subdued and more to my liking.  Both pools had lifejackets for the kiddos which was extremely nice!

Grocery Delivery and Stroller Rental

This is one of the best things we did.  Hands down.  We had groceries delivered by Stroller and Groceries.  We ordered ahead of time and when we checked in, they brought our groceries right up to our room.  They have refrigeration units that the bellhops place the groceries in until you are all checked in.  The other online grocery that everyone uses is garden grocer.com.  We really utilized our groceries for breakfasts, some lunches, tons of snacks and for the parks.  We bought water by the case and that was a lifesaver and moneysaver!  It was nice to have it already in the bottom of the stroller ready to go when the boys asked while out and about.

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This stroller was a must for the boys after a long day!

If you are wondering why we went with the first grocery service, the answer is easy.  We rented our stroller through Kingdom Strollers.  We rented a Mini GT Double.  It was heaven sent.  I can’t tell you how much we needed this stroller.  It came with a rain cover and a small cooler.  Both were used and needed.  You also get free grocery delivery with stroller rental.  I had envisioned using the stroller for Beckett and one of the boys as they got tired.  The boys ended up using it the entire time and Beckett was stuck in the umbrella stroller we brought along for the airport transfers.  It worked out perfectly but would have been difficult if not for the high ratio of adults to children in our party.  Thanks grandparents and Aunt Courtney again!

Airport Transfers

Since I mentioned the airport, I will explain how we got to and from the airport.  Since we booked our vacation through Disney, we rode the Magical Express Bus.  All of it is prearranged and once you arrive in Orlando, you jump on a charter bus and are dropped off at your hotel.  It was super easy and we really didn’t ride the bus for that long.  We had two or three stops before we made it to Wilderness Lodge.  On the way home, we checked in at our hotel the night before, dropped our luggage off (didn’t see it again until DC) and jumped on the bus.  It made traveling with kiddos super easy.

Transportation to the Parks from Wilderness Lodge

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Coop and I on the boat to Magic Kingdom.

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This is what the boat ride looked like at the end of the day!

We had boat access across the lagoon to Magic Kingdom and the Contemporary Resort (monorail is located here).  The boys loved it but it was a bit rough with the double stroller.  This is why it was awesome with so many adults in our party.  Some of the boats required you folding the stroller, others didn’t.  Also, the stroller we rented would still fold even with stuff in the bottom basket which was nice.  Pack lightly if possible or take the bus.  We had bus service right outside the Villas to everywhere.

Internet Access

I am only putting this in here because my husband had spotty internet access that we assume was because we were at the end of the building.  I never had any issue on my phone or my kindle.  This is probably a sign he shouldn’t have been doing work on our vacation.

Entering the Parks and Fast Passes

Man, has Disney advanced since I was a kid.  Magic bands are the new gadget to make your trip easier.  You get a band before you leave in the mail for each member of your family.  Everything is loaded on this bracelet.  Room keys, credit cards, reservations etc.  Don’t panic…kids do not get a credit card unless you want them to which would never happen in our household!  It was nice not to have to carry a wallet with you and you could pay for your meals and souvenirs with the Magic band.  Also, the Magic bands hold your Fast Passes.

Set up your Fast Passes ASAP.  Figure out what your family wants to do and plan your fast passes accordingly.  I made some minor mistakes on this by scheduling fast passes in the afternoon.  My kids were wiped by early afternoon.  You change your fast passes but if you try the day of most everything is gone until late at night.  For the first two hours the parks are open, most rides are fine and do not require fast passes.  Some rides quickly build waits:  Toy Story Mania, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Expedition Everest, Rapids, Peter Pan, Meet and Greet Princess especially Frozen (I skipped all princess stuff this trip).  A smart move is to set up fast passes for some of these rides toward lunch time or after and then hit them in the morning so you get two rides in.

Reservations for Restaurants

This is not something to mess around with when booking your trip if your kids eat on a schedule.  Places books fast and we found out with our party of 8, we couldn’t get a reservation from 5-8pm at a great deal of restaurants.  If you want to eat at Be Our Guest, you  have to book 6 months out.  Yep, 6 months out.  It is one of the newest restaurants and every says the food is good.  We didn’t go.  No reservation for dinner and walking in for lunch is hard.  Some of the best restaurants are at Epcot back in World Showcase plus you can walk around with a glass of wine or a beer here.  Make sure to check those out.  If you make reservations and need to cancel, do it a day ahead or you will get charged.  I learned this the hard way.  Lesson learned.

Character Dining

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Bright and early at Chef Mickey’s!

One of the best meals we had was breakfast at Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary.  Food was on a buffet and pretty good.  The best part was all of the old school characters:  Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and Daisy.  The boys got pics with everyone while we ate our breakfast.  No lines, no waiting.  Awesome.  It was painless and extremely well organized.  We even got a group pic at the beginning.  I will chat down below about our Character lunch at Hollywood Studios with the crew from Disney Junior.  The food was good, organization lack luster but Coop enjoyed it for his birthday.  On another trip, we had breakfast at the Castle with the princesses.  That was excellent…this trip we had no princess interaction.  Big time saver but we will see what Beckett likes in the future.  Personally, I am pushing for her to attend Jedi Training Academy too.

Traveling with an Infant

ry=400-5This had to be one of the coolest things that has been added at Disney.  Rider Pass gives adults in a party that stay back with a child the opportunity to ride the ride right after the rest of their party.  It worked great.  My mom stayed back with Beckett on a rollercoaster and when we finished, she walked right in the fast pass line with both boys to ride it.  The boys got two rides and everyone participated.  You can only take two people with you on Rider Pass.

Pin Trading

We experienced pin trading with our nephews on our last Disney trip years ago.  The kiddos really enjoyed it especially our oldest.  Everyone in the park, Disney employees are wearing pins and they are happy to trade with you.  We bought our oldest a starter set and as the week wore on, he happily traded everywhere we went.  Of course, his mamaw, papaw and parents bought him some super cool pins he didn’t want to trade that included his favorite Star Wars characters.

Memory Maker

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Yep, we signed up for this and it was a good call.  It’s $169 for pictures but it is any and all pictures you want to get that are taken all over the parks. We are a picture family and I can’t get enough pictures of my motley crew.  The ride shots were hilarious and we even got a few videos on the rides.  You can access pictures taken within an hour and download then or later.

The Parks: Magic Kingdom

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We spent two days here. This is the park that your kiddos will enjoy the most if they are on the younger side.  Magic Kingdom will easily take two days unless you stay from dawn till dusk.  We just couldn’t do that.  Our kiddos couldn’t make it a full day.  We headed back to the pool before dinner and had some down time each day.

There are too many rides at Magic Kingdom.  Depending on your kiddos interests and adventure levels, there is something for everyone.  Here fast passes are key.  As the day goes on, the lines become ridiculous in some places.  My 6 and 4 year olds rode everything.  Not surprising if you know our parenting style or my kiddos.  Check height requirements.  We thought middle minion would make the height requirement for Space Mountain.  Nope…missed it by 1/2 inch.  Major meltdown.  This made us check when we traveled to other parks so we didn’t have the tantrum trouble again.  There really isn’t anything overly scary in Magic Kingdom except maybe Stitch’s show, Space Mountain, and the Haunted Mansion.  Our boys were fine on the last two.  We skipped Stitch.  They loved the Toy Story ride because it is interactive.  We did that one twice.  Thunder Mountain Railroad and Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train ry=400-6ry=400and Splash Mountain are fast pass musts.  We didn’t get to Splash Mountain.  Totally my fault since I messed up our fast passes.  Oh well.  Next time.

The Parks: Animal Kingdom

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These are the animals the boys won at Dino World!

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Check out Colton. He is cowering in terror!

Truth be told, I was dreading this one.  Ended up being pretty fun.  We used our fast passes here for Expedition Everest, Rapids, and Dinosaur.  Warning:  Dinosaur was a bit rough and scary for my kiddos.  This was the scariest ride we went on.  Not to mention it upset my stomach with all the jostling.  The dinosaurs looked real, almost too real.  Expedition Everest has a height requirement that middle kiddo didn’t make.  Wasted fast pass.  Next time.  The Rapids ride was a classic water ride.  You get soaked.  Kids liked it until they got wet.  Not to mention we went to eat lunch in a very air conditioned restaurant and turned into popsicles.  While I’m talking about the restaurant, go to Yak and Yeti.  Best food we had at Disney.  Asian inspired and great adult and kiddo options.  Best ride in Animal Kingdom was the Safari.  The kids loved seeing all the animals up close.  We enjoyed it and they made me take a ton of pics.  Don’t forget to visit the Boneyard playground and the Dino Fair games.  Both were big hits. The boys enjoyed Animal Kingdom immensely.

The Parks:  Hollywood Studios

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We ended up spending two days here.  I will explain this in a bit.  I don’t think that is necessary but our kids actually enjoyed it.  The first day we used our fast passes for Toy Story Mania, the stunt show (waste of a fast pass) and Star Wars.  We had lunch at Hollywood and Vine with the Disney Junior characters to include Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First and Handy Manny.  This was for Coop’s bday and he enjoyed it.  Food was good but organization was a little lackluster.  We thought we had signed up for the Jedi Training Academy but we hadn’t.  The boys really wanted to do this therefore we had a second day here.  Our boys LOVED the Jedi Academy.

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You dress like Jedis and get a quick training session from a Jedi Master before Darth Vader shows up and you fight him. If you do this, you must be at the park right when it opens, run safely (we were yelled out repeatedly) to the sign up counter and wait patiently in line.  If you are us, we practiced lying with our 3 year old to say he is 4 so that he could participate.  He would be 4 the next week so not really a big deal, right?!  The sign up is near the Indiana Jones Stunt spectacular.  It fills ups quick.  It was so much fun to watch the boys.  We have some of our best pics and videos from this one event.  Our kids loved all the rides here, including Tower of Terror.  Yep, we are the parents that take our kids on scary rides.

The Parks:  Epcot

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We spent the least amount of time here. We could have spent more but we just didn’t have the time budgeted in our week.  We went to Epcot for two dinners that were above average as far as our Disney dining experiences went.  We ate in Italy (Via Napoli) and Japan (Teppan Edo) and both meals were smash hits for adults and kiddos alike.  Note:  don’t go too late when you make a reservation at World Showcase.  You forget what a hike it is to the back of Epcot.  Or maybe it could have been that Courtney and I were riding in a circle on the monorail.  We were tired.  That is our excuse.  We rode a few rides here:  Soarin , Spaceship Earth (the big golf ball) and Nemo.  The boys enjoyed them all and really had a blast after the rides.  Epcot rides tend to let you off the ride into places with interactive exhibits.  The boys loved the aquarium and the games under Spaceship Earth  We would have tried

My one and only regret is not making it to the parks at night.  My kiddos and the adults were hitting the hay super early.  I wish we would have taken it easy for one day and went back to the park at night to ride some rides and maybe see the Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom or the Fireworks at Epcot.  We will definitely do that on our next Disney trip and we honestly can’t wait to go back!

 

A few of my favorite things…April

I figured I would start sharing some of my favorite things each month. I love it when people open my eyes to new places to eat, new gadgets, new fashion trends (not that I am very good at following them),  and just generally things I love this month.

So….here we go!

Pork Dumplings from Toki Underground. I went to an event at Union Market in April called Thread and it was full of fantastic fashion, home decor and of course food. Toki Underground was a pop up that was only staying for a few weeks in the market and it has been there for months now. These dumplings are unbelievable. My friend Katie, my sis and I were laughing as people actually ran after the trays just to snag one of these.

Chromecast…..35 dollars and endless possibilities. John and I are constantly behind the curve on the latest technology but at least we try to catch up.  This is my new favorite toy. I am catching up on Scandal, Game of Thrones, and House of Cards. Not to mention, there are so many cartoons and movies for the boys to watch. Strangely, my boys have become obsessed with Super Mario Bros. Super Show. In case you don’t remember, this show came out when I was young. It starred WWE Hall of Famer Lou Albano as Mario.  I wouldn’t say it was an award winner but then again, my boys love it.  t think it has to do with Colton’s obsession with Super Mario World on the Wii.

My Tieks!  Seriously, the best flats I have ever owned.  If you don’t have a pair, pay the price.  They are worth it.  They have a good sole, my feet never hurt even after wearing them all day, and they come in cool packaging.  I mean seriously, everyone loves to get a pretty package!

Klorane Extra Dry Shampoo is making my life easy.  Most of you know how thick my hair is and I really don’t need to wash it but every few days.  This stuff makes it last another day.  Lots of people don’t like dry shampoo but this one has a good smell.  Major downer…small in size.  I also use Dove Dry Shampoo.  It is way cheaper and just as good!

Moving onto my favorite things: BOOKS!  The list goes on and on!  This month has been a book winner…here goes:

The King by J.R. Ward. Seriously one of the best paranormal series I have ever read and this book in the series brings us full circle back to Wrath and Beth.

Bad for You by Abbi Glines. This lady’s Seabreeze series is fantastic. Love the characters and all the interplay. Krit, the lead singer of Jackdown, is to die for. I have been waiting for his story for too long.  I can’t wait to meet her this weekend at the DC Author event.

Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins.  DC local and author of this amazon Young Adult trilogy knocks my socks off.  This is the last of Kaidan and Anna and I loved every minute of it.  Excited to meet her too this weekend!

Nash by Jay Crownover.  One of her Marked Men series.  These guys are a great group and Nash proves no different.  This is the first one where I actually cried.  I was surprised I loved Nash so much but he may end up being my favorite.

Out of Mind by Jen McLaughlin.  Another trilogy coming to an end.  Finn and Carrie are a favorite couple.  Read them all!

Reasonable Doubt by Whitney Gracia Williams.  This is a serial and a hot, steamy one.  I am patiently waiting for part 2.

The Proposition 4 by H.M. Ward.  She is the queen of serials and the Ferro brothers.  I just wrote a review on this one.  Bryan may be my new have Ferrro but I am not sure how long he will be around!

As far as TV goes: you all know I love The Following.  Kevin Bacon is the best!  I can’t believe the season finale and I am hating we have to wait half a year for another season.

Suits:  John and I love this show.The cliffy with Mike leaving is so not cool but back on in June!  Answers soon! Woohoo!

Scandal, seriously where have I been. I can’t get enough of this show and thank you to my Chromecast, I am all caught up! Well, I have another season to go….I mean the angst between Olivia and the President. The First Lady, man, she takes scorned to a whole new level. Olivia’s staff…love them all.

Don’t let me forget my new favorite anthem….Ain’t it Fun by Paramore.  I listen to this on repeat!  Hayley William’s voice is one of the best out there!

Easter and Spring.  My kids love Easter eggs.  I love them too just hate putting them back together.  I love going to church with my family and seeing everyone in my hometown of Bethlehem.

I love fresh flowers.  They make me happy so I am trying to keep them around the house!

Coop’s Bday.  He has a good birthday month.  He was so excited this year about everything birthday!  We celebrated at Mamaw and Papaw’s and had a Minion themed birthday party!  We all enjoyed it!

That’s it for April!

 

Most of the links are to Amazon and they are not sponsoring this post.  I just happen to use Amazon…a lot.

I have this friend who is ridiculously talented…..

We all have them.  Friends and family in our lives who put us to shame with how creative they are and with all of their creative endeavors.  The items they produce are amazing.  I generally have great ideas but I don’t necessary have the skills to implement most of them.  Well, if I am being honest, I don’t have the patience for it either.  I can admit, I like instant gratification and being creative takes some hard work, patience and perseverance.

My friend Karen is one of these ridiculously talented people.  I met her at work and couldn’t believe at how “hands on” she was with projects in her home.  Now, I am not just talking about small creative projects like knitting, I am talking about redoing whole rooms in a house.  She and her husband are a talented duo.  I guess that is what happens when you move around a lot which they did with the military.

Karen was born in Dallas, Texas in 1970.  She spent most of her childhood in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas.  The towns she grew up in made my hometown of Hickory look like a metropolitan area.  The one thing that stands out about her tales of childhood is how many of them revolved around finding a way to create whatever it is that she or her family needed.  Clearly, money was tight and her family had to rely on their hands and minds to make what they needed and wanted.

I admire that more than she can ever know.  That is a skill set I have long been envious of and I honestly wish I had half her skills.  She always tells me that I am more than capable but maybe in my current life state (two small boys in the house), it isn’t the best time to push into taking on new DIY endeavors.  So with that being said, I come up with ideas and Karen is my hands.  She has time and she doesn’t like to be idle.  Her daughter is grown and she is always looking for projects, like this one.

My dining room chairs needed a refresh.  They were cream.  Yuck and not so good for lil’ ones.  Our dining room was drab and hadn’t been touched.  We ignored it because of all of our other remodeling projects in our house.  Once I picked out fabric, Karen started taking the chairs apart one at a time.  City living doesn’t allow for me to unload all 8 chairs at her house.  We went one by one!

Here are some before shots of the chairs from our dining room.

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 Step 1: To start the recovering process Karen had to take the old fabric off.  Karen pulled the piping out which was hot glued, and used needle nose pliers to remove the glue that remained on the chair frame being very careful to not mare the wood.

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Step 2: Under the glue are scads of staples holding the back fabric in place.  Karen removed these with an upholstery staple remover and pliers (which took forever and being careful not to mare the wood).

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Step 3:  After pulling all the staples, the back fabric and the foam can be removed. Karen saved the back fabric to use as a pattern and reused the foam.

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Step 4:  Karen removed the plethora of staples holding the exterior back fabric.  Yes more staples and still being careful not to mare the wood.  She also saved this fabric and used it as a pattern.

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Step 5:  Karen turned over the chair and removed the 4 screws that hold the seat cushion on.  Finally, all the fabric was gone.  Phew!!!!

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Step 6:  Karen always tries to do a rough fit of the new fabric before stapling.

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Step 7: This is the piping before Karen sewed or glued it in.

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Step 8:  Karen stapled the seat fabric on the bottom and replaced the screws.  Karen stapled the exterior back fabric (navy print), replaced the foam and stapled the back fabric (oatmeal linen).

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Step 9:  Karen cut 1 1/2 inch strips of the navy print fabric and sewed it around cording to make the piping.  Then, Karen hot glued the piping between the back fabric and the wood frame to cover the staples.

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The final product was amazing!

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I am really pleased with the finished product.  I can say with all honesty that I don’t love my dining room set but it is what it is, right?!  John and I purchased it right after buying the house from JC Penney’s (yep, strange I know) and it was a good deal and we were looking for seating and storage.  It is definitely not my style now but what I can say for it, it is practical and I don’t give two hoots if the kids kick it, bump it or scratch it!  We didn’t spend a lot on it and it has really been used.

Karen’s upholstery update helped tremendously!  For those of you haven’t visited us, row house living is long and narrow and you have to walk through our dining room a million times a day because the kitchen is behind it.  The new fabrics are more durable, easier to clean and definitely a bit more modern than the old fabric!

So here are some before and afters.  Excuse my camera skills, I am clearly in need of some lessons!

This pic was taken when John was touring the house and thinking about buying.

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This pic was taken after we bought the dining room set but didn’t want to really do anything else to the room.  In the background, the kitchen remodel was finished and that was a huge undertaking.

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This is our current dining room.  Yep, we painted and went lighter.  We don’t get a whole lot of light in our row house so French Linen by Benjamin Moore is our new color throughout our entire main living floor.  Also, you may notice in the kitchen that we are missing window treatments.  Karen is working on roman shades for those windows and I will be posting her DIY for that project as well.

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Karen also made us a lovely runner out of the leftover material!  Isn’t she so useful!  Man, I am glad she is my friend!

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Yep, she made the curtains too!  Ignore the terrible picture.  Seriously, I need some lessons.  Anyone, Anyone?! These curtains are lovely, fun and vibrant.

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Yep, I love Karen and not just for her mad skills.  She is a good friend.  She listens.  We laugh.  We talk endlessly.  And we just get each other.  I hope you all have a Karen in your life.  Everyone needs one!

A Blog Name….where does it come from?!

Well, I realize I should have done this post at the very beginning of my blogging experience and like everything in a working mom’s life, you forget, get behind and generally do things out of order.  I was recently asked where the name of my blog came from and honestly, it popped into my head when we were redoing our gallery wall on our staircase.  I ordered some pretty cool paper mache letters from Flea Market Sunday on Etsy.  Check out the shop here. namehttps://www.etsy.com/shop/FleaMarketSunday?ref=l2-shopheader-name


I ordered both NC (for my home state) and DC (for John’s home).  I wanted to add them to our gallery wall and after we installed the wall, voila.  I signed up for blogger and From NC 2 DC wasn’t being used…a blog was born!

(Not the best pic but you get the idea!)

I thought I would also post some pics of the process we used for laying out our entire staircase gallery wall.  Hanging this many frames can be pretty daunting but after checking some of my favorite DIY blogs and websites, we decided to take on the project.  Make sure to check out Young House Love’s gallery wall here.  http://www.younghouselove.com/2011/04/its-done-and-we-heart-it/.

We grabbed some of the awesome paper rolls from IKEA, cut out all of the frames we already had and the newly purchased IKEA frames using the paper, and started taping them up.  There was quite a bit of switch-a-roo going on until we finalized where the frames would go.







These pics are at odd angles but it gives you the general idea of using the paper cut outs to help for layout purposes.  We only used nails for the very large frames and used 3M photo strips for the rest.

We have really enjoyed the frames.  They hold the boy’s artwork as well as family pictures.  It is a nice reminder of all the fun things our family has done over the years!