Sunday, March 29, 2015

Giveaway: Flip4Kids FREE WEEK of Summer Camp!!

I am so excited to bring this opportunity to all of my wonderful readers.  Flip4Kids Language Immersion Program is offering one of our lucky readers a free week of full-day camp!!  How awesome is that??

Flip4Kids offers a traditional camp in a full immersion setting.  You can choose from Spanish, French, or Chinese, and they work with kids of all levels from novice to fluent.  The camps run from 9am-3:30pm at Rashkis Elementary in Meadowmont in Chapel Hill.  During the camps kids enjoy music and movement, arts and crafts, indoor and outdoor activities, cooking and more, all while learning or maintaining another language.

For example, a recent Spanish camp involved a visit to Kidzu Children's Museum, the fire station, the post office, Harris Teeter to practice grocery shopping, and a Mexican restaurant (where they had to order in Spanish).  They also had a visit from a police officer, made tortillas and cookie houses, observed earthworms, learned songs and more.  Sounds like a great week to me!!

Oh, and if the camp is not for you and your kids, they do also offer classes for kids of all ages from six months and up.  Just check their website for more information: http://www.flip4kidsnc.com/classes-and-camps/

So, if you'd like to enter to win the FREE WEEK of summer camp simply comment on this blog post on the blog or on facebook!  You can enter the giveaway until midnight, April 6 at which point I'll pick a winner using random.org.  Good luck!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

True Flavors Diner

I know that there have been a lot of posts about food lately, but that's because there are so many great new places opening up in Durham!  (Plus, our family really likes good food!)  Don't worry, other non-food posts are definitely in the works!

What it is:  I am a little reluctant to write this post because this new restaurant that just opened up in the Greenwood Commons stopping center (home of the S. Durham Farmers Market) is so good that I really want to keep this secret for myself.  But they are such a great place that I just have to share the love.  My husband and I happened upon the menu for this place online and were immediately hooked.  Everything just sounded so mouth-watering!  So, we headed over on their second day of business on my husband's lunch hour to check everything out.  It's only about five minutes from my house, so we're definitely in luck.

The restaurant was a little tricky to find, tucked behind an auto shop in the corner of the shopping center.  While it didn't look like much from the outside, when we walked in, the decor was so inviting.  From their indoor fresh herb garden and open kitchen to the large spoon and fork on the wall, it was very welcoming.

One we were in the small restaurant we sat down at one of their tables and started the tough decision of picking something off the menu.  They have a breakfast and lunch section as well as appetizers and desserts and everything looked good.  At this point, they did not have a kids' menu, but they did say they were working on it.  They did mention a kids' chicken tenders option with a side option.  We decided to try the waffles with a side of mac and cheese for the kiddo.  I can't wait to hopefully see an official kids' menu next time I stop by.  He also enjoyed one of their daily drink specials-a strawberry, pineapple lemonade.  While they didn't have a kids' menu yet, they did have a kids' placemat and crayons for him to play with while we waited for our food.

As for the grown ups I chose the burger topped with brisket, peppered bacon, and pimento cheese (I know, not diet!) and my husband chose the duck club, both with fries.  Both were as delicious as they sound!  For dessert we had a many-layered neopolitan cake that was fabulous.  All of their desserts are also made in house.  We left full and happy, and I absolutely can't wait to come back for more!

What we liked:  The food was delicious!!  The menu looks great and there's so much more I want to try.  Plus, it's in a great shopping center in South Durham with several other great restaurants, The Glass Jug, and the Saturday morning South Durham Farmers Market.  All of the staff there was very welcoming and friendly including the chef who came out from the kitchen several times to talk to our table and ask our opinion.

What we would change:  Since they had only been open 24 hours when we stopped by they still had a few kinks to work out.  They did not have a kids' menu or high chairs yet but they said that both were on the way.  I hope they follow through with both because I can't wait to go back!  Oh, and they are only open for breakfast and lunch right now and not open on Sundays.

Website and other important information:

Website: http://www.trueflavorsnc.com/

Address: 5410 Highway 55, Durham

Hours: Monday-Friday: 6:30am-2:30pm, Saturday: 7:30am-2:30pm

Photos:


(lemonade special)


(my son's waffles)


(my burger)


(my husband's duck club)


(our dessert)


(the decor)


(their herb garden)


(the interior)


(their open kitchen)


(the unassuming exterior to this fabulous restaurant)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Gonza Tacos

What it is: Gonza Tacos is a local chain of restaurants that just opened up its third location in West Village in Downtown Durham.  We had checked out the one in Wake Forest in The Factory and found it delicious so we had to see if the Durham one measured up.  We discovered that both restaurants were similarly excellent.

We headed down to the location downtown and found a lot to park in.  Then, we walked a short distance to Gonza Tacos.  They had a lovely outdoor area which we think would be great to enjoy when the weather is a little warmer.  The restaurant is a little dark and noisy inside.  There are plenty of bright luchador masks and stars hanging from the ceiling making it a little brighter and give the kiddos something to watch.  We also walked past a bar on the way to our seats.  So, while this restaurant is very kid-friendly with most of the other tables also having children, it would also be a great place to go on an adults-only outing.

They gave the kids some crayons and a kids' menu to decorate.  The menu only had two items (tacos and quesadillas), each $7.  That's a bit pricey for a kids' meal, but it came with a drink, rice, beans, and little ice cream cup for dessert.  We also ordered some queso for the family, and the kiddos loved it!  They emptied the bowl! For the grown ups they had lots of delicious options. We have sampled several of the tacos and enjoyed all of them especially the carnitas and pastor ones.  The tacos come with beans or soup, and their tortilla soup was the best tortilla soup that I have ever tried.

What we liked:  The food was delicious for the adults and kid-friendly-always a good combination. The little cup of ice cream was a nice touch for the kiddos at the end of a meal.

What we would change: It was a bit noisy in the restaurant, but that may be beneficial for some of us with children who sometimes forget their indoor voices (like mine).  Plus, the rice that comes with the kids' meal may be super delicious, but it's also green which made it a no-go for my picky eaters.

Website and other important information:

Website: http://www.gonzatacosytequila.com/https://www.facebook.com/GonzaTacosyTequila.Durham?sk=timeline

Address: 604 Fernway Avenue, Durham

Hours: Closed Monday, Tuesday-Thursday 11:30am-2pm and 5pm-9:30pm, Friday 11:30am-2pm and 5pm-10pm, Saturday 5pm-10pm, Sunday 5pm-8:30pm

Photos:


(their outdoor area which will be lovely in a little warmer weather)


(Mmmm, queso)


(a view of the bar)


(a little of the decor)


(the kids' meal)


(the carnitas)


(my steak tacos and soup)


(the kids' ice cream treat)


Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Factory

So this week, we all went a bit Stir Crazy.  4.5 snow days is enough for anyone!  On Friday, we had to get out of the house so we headed up to Wake Forest to check out this unique indoor play space!

What it is: The Factory is an indoor mall, devoted to all sorts of kid-friendly and active pursuits. There was plenty to keep our little group busy and get at least a small fraction of their energy out.  It is located way up north of Raleigh in Wake Forest, so it's a bit of a hike.  However, there's lots to do. We started at Jumpin' Beans which is a small bounce house place.  At first, when we walked in, we immediately noticed that they just had two bounce structures that were the same placed in front of a seating area for adults.  We didn't know if our very active boys, ages 4-9 would have enough to occupy themselves.  However, since we drove all that way, we paid our $8 per kid and sent them in to play.  Over an hour later, they were still happily playing as were lots of other kids.

Jumpin' Beans also lets kids play all day with that $8 fee, so you can go eat or run and errand then come back later in the day, which is a nice feature.  They sell other food and munchies that you or your kids can snack on.

Once we needed a break from our jumping we decided to explore the rest of The Factory.  So, we headed out into the rest of the mall and saw a few places where you could sign up for classes like The Tumble Gym and a soccer field.  We continued walking and saw The Polar Ice House.  If we had had more time that day, we might have joined in for their afternoon ice skating session and gotten some more energy out that way.  However, we didn't have time, so we continued our tour.  We saw a YMCA, a few fun shops including a sports store, a toy store, a sweets shop, and even a place where you can buy and paint your own pottery.  I also heard they have a skate park, a robotics place, and even more.  Then, we found several lunch spots to choose from including a pizza spot, Village Deli, and Gonza Tacos.  We ended up heading to Gonza Tacos who recently opened up a spot in Durham, and I'll definitely fill you in on that one later.

So, The Factory is an interesting spot full of lots of stores and activities with which you could fill your day, so check the hours and prices of your preferred activity, and head on up to check it out!

What we liked:  This is a great spot on a cold or rainy day because the vast majority of the activities are indoors.  You can bounce, eat, ice skate, shop, or paint and make a whole day of it.

What we would change:  First, it is far away, so it takes about 30-45 minutes to get all the way up there from Durham.  Secondly, since there are so many different spots in the mall, you need to check hours and prices before you go.  Ice skating plus the Jumpin' Beans would be fairly pricey to do them both in the same day.  Several spots in the mall were closed when we arrived but open by the time we left.

Website and other important information:

Website: http://eatshopplay.com/

Address: 1839 South Main Street, Wake Forest, 27587

Photos: 


(one of two identical bounce houses at Jumpin' Beans)


(the seating area outside the bounce houses)


(the soccer field)


(The Polar Ice House)


(the toy store)


(Not sure what goes on here, but it looks interesting.)


(the sweet shop)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Please Help! Notasium Music Based Playspace-Kickstarter

I have heard lots of Durhamites comment recently about the lack of an indoor space where kids could play and parents could sit and relax.  Now, we have the chance to make that happen again here in Durham!  Preston Clarke is planning a fabulous space called Notasium which would incorporate a kids play area, a cafe where parents can sit and watch while their kids play, and space for music lessons.

Here is Preston's description of Notasium:

I am trying to raise money to build the first Notasium, a music-based play space and school for the Durham/Chapel Hill area. It will have a play space that will allow young kids to not only play off some energy but exercise their minds and creativity through musical play structures filled with notes, rhythms and symbols. It will offer classes and private lessons in a separate area for kids ready for more focused music instruction as well as a cafe, with seating encircling the play space, where parents can hang out while their kids play and learn safely within sight.

See the video and other info here:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1048748816/notasium

Now, one of the great things that I've learned about the Durham parents community through the years of doing this blog is that we all can really come together as a community to support Durham and what would make Durham better for our families.  This is one of those opportunities where we can all come together, donate what we can, share with others and make this happen.  They have the perfect space picked out, but they could lose it to a much less kid-friendly venue, so we need to help!

I'm going to head over now and donate, and I hope you can do the same!  Thanks!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Bull City Ciderworks

Last weekend we were having a very Durham Sunday morning.  We headed downtown and had a glorious Sunday brunch at Dames Chicken and Waffles.  We also spent some time laughing, reading, and buying some new (to us) books in Letters Bookshop next door.  You might think our Durham fun was over for the day, but you'd be wrong, we had one more stop in Downtown Durham that I highly recommend.  

What it is:  Bull City Ciderworks makes their own local cider on Elizabeth Street downtown in a very unassuming warehouse.  It doesn't look like much from the outside, so we didn't really know what to expect when we went inside.  Plus, we were taking our two energetic boys inside a place that makes and serves hard cider, so we weren't sure how that would go.  However, at all went fantastically and everyone had a great time!

We headed in and immediately saw the large barrels where they make the cider.  A sign directed us around the corner to the tasting room.  The tasting room was small with a few tables and a bar with tall stools.  We fortunately brought a book for the kiddos (that we had just purchased at the bookstore), and they sat entranced while we sampled a few of the ciders.  Bull City Ciderworks offers all kinds of hard cider and puts some different and delicious twists on it.  I'm not a beer drinker so it was fun to stop by a place where I could also enjoy the tasting.

We decided to try the tasting flight where we got to try several different small pours for, I think $2 per small glass.  We tried some delicious traditional ciders, one made with ginger which was my favorite, one made with tea, and even one with blueberries.  Everything that we tried was delicious. They also had a local root beer made in Raleigh on tap for a non-alcoholic option and it was fabulous.  Even my youngest son tried it and thought the root beer was awesome!  They also had some nonalcoholic juice boxes for the kiddos if their thirsty.

Bull City Ciderworks also sells ciders by the pint and growlers at this location.  You can also pick up their growlers at several other locations around town like Sams Bottle Shop.

I can't wait to head back when the weather gets a little warmer when they throw open the garage doors on their tasting room and people can sit out on the picnic benches, occasional food trucks stop by, and they will even have some fun games outside to enjoy.

What we liked:  We loved that they had something different, and they made a delicious, unique product.  We also liked how they are kid and dog friendly and are welcoming to both.  I like how they have a tasting room that can open to the outdoors so they can really take advantage of the space outdoors (for little energetic kiddos to get their wiggles out).  It is a place that can accommodate kiddos, but would also be great to stop by on a date day or evening.

What we would change:  It was a small tasting room, so it would be nice to have more space for when word gets out about this great little stop.  However, fortunately they can open up their garage door and use the picnic tables for more space.

Website and other Important Information:

Website:  http://www.bullcityciderworks.com/

Address: 113 S. Elizabeth St, Durham

Hours: Wednesday and Thursday: 5pm-10pm, Friday 4pm-11pm, Saturday 11am-11pm, Sunday 1pm-6pm

Photos: 


(our flights of cider)


(the taps)


(a view from the outside)

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Boot

I've been meaning to write up this great little new Italian restaurant for a while.  It's a great casual spot for both adults and kids.

What it is:  The Boot is a new Italian restaurant that opened up just before Christmas in the old Local Yogurt spot off University Dr. next to Bull City Craft and across the street from Q-Shack and Nanatacos.  I have been there twice now, once with kids, once with some moms from preschool, and it was delicious both times.

I was surprised by how large the space was after having been to Local Yogurt many times.  The front is filled with long picnic tables and the rest of the restaurant is filled with these and some booths.  It's nice and quiet and has a very Durham sort of vibe.

The menu is small, and the food is tasty.  The ravioli is currently the only pasta that is homemade, but I was told that they hope to add other homemade pastas in the future.  The first time I tried a farfalle with peas and ham and the second time I tried the homemade ravioli.  They were both delicious and the portion was reasonable.  It wasn't so big that I felt overstuffed.  There was no kids' menu, but when I was there with my kids they had garlic bread and pasta with parmesan and butter which my kids scarfed down.

What we liked:  I liked the casual atmosphere and good food.  It was a great place for my whole family, and it was a great place where I could go with other adults to talk.  We will definitely be back.

What we would change:  Some people have commented that prices are a little high for what they received, but I didn't think they were too bad.  In addition, on a busy weekend, parking in their lot can be a little tricky, but we were able to find spots both times.

Website and other information:

Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Boot/685656744834186http://www.thebootdurham.com/

Address: 2501 University Dr, Durham

Hours: Monday-Saturday: 11:30am-10pm

Photos: 


(my son's dish)


(my farfalle)


(my husband's sandwich)


(the view from the outside of the restaurant)