Into the Wild: Part 2

We survived! Our first camping trip was a major success! We heard Gemma say, “This is so much fun,” and “I love camping” over and over and over again throughout the weekend.

Setting up the tent was a family affair. Gemma is quite the little manager and has great instincts so we took her lead and she was so proud of our teamwork…

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Once set up, we had a nice lunch and enjoyed the views (including UP). The weather was beautiful…low 70’s during the day and low 50’s overnight.

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Our friends, Matt and Jen, stopped by for an afternoon visit, and David joined us for dinner (hot dogs and s’mores cooked over the open fire) and a walk over our super-awesome fallen-tree bridge.

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We also shared our campsite with this little spider-guy, and I came an inch (a mere inch!!!) from walking face-first into he and his web after our bridge walk. Eeeeek!

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After dark, the party really got going! How much fun are glow sticks??!! Gemma loved singing and dancing and just being silly. So much so, we experienced our first “I’m tired, can I go to bed now?” from Miss G. Phew…she really can wear out (who knew?).

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On Sunday, we headed to the trail for a 1.5 mile hike through the park. If this doesn’t prove you need nothing more than nature and love to keep a family busy, engaged, healthy and happy, then I don’t know what does! I’ve never seen more smiles than those we wore during this adventure! Can’t wait to do it again!!!

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Into the Wild: Part 1

How much stuff does a family of three need for one night in the woods? This much…

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We made it to our beautiful campsite at Falls Lake!! All set up in less than an hour. The tent was super easy (so no stress on that front), however Ben’s hoagie met an unfortunate demise (after Gemma accidentally dropped it open-faced in the dirt under the picnic table). I really wish I had that picture…alas all I have are these…

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CenterFest

If you haven’t been to CenterFest Arts Festival in downtown Durham, then I suggest you get out of the house and go today!

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This weekend, the Durham Arts Council is hosting the 39th annual event which features over 130 artisans (from across the US), live music and performances by local bands and dance troupes, and kids activities (including the popular Scrap Exchange booth). Main and Chapel Hill streets (and parts of Corcoran and Parrish streets) play host to the vendors and local non-profit booths so be prepared to circle downtown to access a parking garage…or keep your eyes peeled for one of a few on-street parking spots.  Sunday hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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This was our second year at CenterFest, and I was super excited to run into one of our favorite artists from last year, Jayne Morgan, of Birmingham, AL. As lovers of honey, we fell in love with her “honey bear” art last year but didn’t buy anything (drrr!), so imagine how excited I was to see her back in Durham this year! After we admired all her pieces, I encouraged Gemma to pick one…she chose a small, square original painting on wood. Can’t wait to find the perfect spot in her bedroom or playroom!

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After perusing the artisan booths, we watched some dancing and took a ride on the toddler train. We had worked up a sufficient appetite and while we could have eaten from a food vendor at the festival, we chose to walk a few blocks to Bull City Burger and Brewery, a locally owned, “farm-to-fork” restaurant and craft brewery. Their NC-pasture-raised beef is tender and ground fresh daily….but what we really, really crave are the duck frites (“skinny, French-cut finished in duck fat with fresh rosemary and Fleur de Sel“), which I have taken to stacking on top of my blue cheese burger…YUMMM!  We are lucky to live near so many incredible, inventive and fresh restaurants (and food trucks!)…and Bull City does not disappoint.

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It’s Pumpkin Time!

Yes, I know it’s only September but a few spells of cool weather in late summer have me hankering for pumpkin candles, a pumpkin patch and jack-o-laterns. So I’m going with the mental flow and must admit I’ve already burned through two of my favorite 3-wick fall candles (Pumpkin Cupcake and Apple Ale, Bath and Body Works). I love stocking up when they go on sale…and, in my opinion their fall scents are their very best.

With Ben out of town for business travel the last few weeks, Gemma and I have been keeping busy with fall-themed activities. Last Sunday we ventured over to Green Acres Farm in Cary, NC for the opening weekend of the corn maze and family fun patch. It was gorgeous weather and we couldn’t resist rewarding ourselves with a scoop of ice cream after completing an measley impressive 3 out of 10 corn maze checkpoints. Hey, G is only four years old, and it’s easy to work up a sweat while you’re skipping amongst the stalks. (Do you know how many dead ends there are in a corn maze?!)

Unfortunately, their pumpkins were not quite ready yet so we tripped over to another popular pumpkin spot nearby and they, too, were not open for the season. Since all that fresh air (and ice cream) made me sleepy, I decided the treasure hunt was over so we opted for mini pumpkins and acorn squash from the grocery. G had a good time coloring the squash with paint and markers. But we still hadn’t found our elusive first carving pumpkin…

Luckily a few days later we spotted the new display of pumpkins and mums outside our local grocery. We grabbed the best pumpkin and brought her home. G informed me she would do the carving while I had to “get the gooey out”. Luckily parenthood has taught me a thing or two about persuasion…so she sketched the “face” and I loosened the “gooey” so she could spoon it out before I carved.

And that, friends, is the birth story of Candy, our first jack-o-lantern of 2013! (Of course a four-year-old would name our pumpkin Candy.)

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Teaser! What could I possibly do with a bowl of “gooey” and fresh pumpkin seeds? Stay tuned…