Monday, December 15, 2014

The Hillsborough Riverwalk

Today was a beautiful day.  While all NC winter days certainly aren't like this, but when the next nice day rolls around and you and your family are itching to get outside, I have a great outing for you.

What it is:  The Hillsborough Riverwalk is a great little trail that recently opened up connecting various parts of the town of Hillsborough.  Even though Hillsborough's just next door to Durham, I haven't had explored it nearly as much as I should.  It's a great little town.

To explore the Riverwalk we started at Gold Park.  It's a great park by itself with a great playground, but the addition of the trail just makes it even better.   There's plenty of parking when you arrive, and to find the Riverwalk just head to the side of the park behind the playground.  There, you will see the trail heading off under the railroad tracks.  Follow the trail and soon, you will hit the newly constructed boardwalks and bridges of the Riverwalk.  Almost immediately you cross one of several bridges, and my kiddos had a great time playing "pooh sticks" where you drop a stick off one side of the bridge and see how long it takes it to reach the other side of the bridge.  I played it all the time as a kid.

The trail is great-wide, flat, and accessible.  There's a view of the river most of the way and the woods surrounding it are very nice.  There are also informational signs placed at points along the way.  After a lovely half-mile walk, we decided to stop at the access point for downtown Hillsborough, but we could have continued longer into scenic River Park in downtown Hillsborough. Our turnoff at Nash and Kollock Street led us out to Weaver Street Market and downtown Hillsborough.

From that point, you can take as much time as you want to explore the great little town of Hillsborough.  We wandered around Weaver Street Market, bought some chocolates in a chocolate shop, and ate at a fabulous pizza restaurant called Radius which I can't wait to tell you all about in my next post.  There are several other great shops and restaurants to check out including a wine shop and a yarn shop.

After our wanderings around downtown Hillsborough, we first explored River Park continuing the other way on the Riverwalk trail.  Then, we headed back the half mile to Gold Park where the kids could play on the playground for a few minutes before hopping in the car to head home.  It was a great, family-friendly hike with great attractions on either end, and I can't wait to head back and try it again.  There are also other parts of the 1.8 mile Riverwalk that I'm sure would be equally fun, but this little section was all my kids were up for on this particular outing.

What we liked:  We loved it all-from the playground at one end to the downtown at the other and all of the bridges and sections of the trail in between.  My boys especially loved playing on the bridges.

What we would change:  There's not much I would change, but at some points on the trail I had to pause a for a few minutes to figure out which way to go.  However, if you look at a map before hand, you won't have any problems.  Even with no map, we managed to find our way pretty easily.  Just find the river, follow it, and it will take you where you want to go.  There is a map where the trail meets up with downtown.

Website and other important information:


Map of the Riverwalk:


(the route under the train track from Gold Park up to the Riverwalk)

(a view from the first bridge)

(one of the informational signs)

the bridge to downtown Hillsborough)

(a beautiful view of the Eno River)

(the trail continues under the roadway)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fresh Market-Durham

There's a great new grocery store in the middle of Durham, and it just opened today!  There having lots of grand opening festivities this weekend!

What it is:  The Fresh Market is a store that's described as somewhere between the upscale style of Whole Foods and the full service selection at a Harris Teeter.  It's located in the Parkwood Plaza shopping center in an old Food Lion location.  Parkwood Plaza is off of University and has recently opened one of our other favorite stores-At Home.

When we headed over to check out Fresh Market today we had a great time.  The store looked beautiful as we walked in, filled with beautiful flowers, produce, a beautiful deli in the middle of the store, and more.  They have a small wine section as well as a meat section in the back.  There was a station to grind your own peanut butter, which I thought was fun.  They have a large selection of dried fruits and nuts, etc.  Their breads looks delicious.   There were lots of items that I will have to go back and try.

Prices seemed mixed.  For the most part, prices seemed a little higher than your typical grocery store.  But every once and a while we'd find a fabulous deal-like two crab cakes for 3 dollars!  So, I would just look around and see if you can snag any great deals.

For the grand opening, they were giving away free bags and offering a giveaway for a gift certificate that you could enter.  They also had lots of free samples to snack on as we walked around the store, so it's definitely worth stopping by during their grand opening celebration.

What we liked:  It's a beautiful store with a lot of delicious looking food.  While I don't think it will be the place I buy staples, it will definitely be a fun place to stop by and pick up some special treats.  As far as the kiddos, they will enjoy just looking at the colorful store layout, and they would enjoy grabbing some treats from their nut and candy dispensers.

What we would change:  As we said earlier, their selection is not as big as a typical grocery store, and their prices are a touch higher, but it's definitely worth stopping by and sampling the fun.

Website and other important information:


Address: 4215 University Drive, Durham


(a view from the outside)

(Mmmmm, treats)

(the wine section)

(make your own peanut butter)

(the deli)


(the produce section)

(Get your own cranberries from a cranberry bog.)

(olive station)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

School Information Series: Hope Valley Elementary

*Here's a post on another great Durham neighborhood school from Stephanie, enjoy!

3005 Dixon Rd, Durham, NC 27707


Hope Valley Elementary School is part of the Durham Public School District and serves a diverse group of students from Kindergarten through 5th grade.  The School Vision is that that Hope Valley strives to be a learning community focused on the intellectual and social development of every student with a school slogan of “Every Child, Every Day”. Toward this end, teachers will be inventors of high content, quality work that is challenging and satisfying. Students will be engaged in this work in an effort to develop their individual potential. Parents will consistently monitor their child’s progress at school and provide a positive learning environment at home.

There are 4-6 classes for each grade at Hope Valley and classroom sizes range from approximately 18-26 students per class. Each kindergarten classroom has a full time, dedicated teacher’s assistant. 

Part time assistants work with 1st and 2nd grade classrooms. Students in every grade visit a specials classroom daily for enrichment. Specials include art, music, media, technology, science, and physical education.  A full spectrum of specialized services is available to students including AIG (Academically and Intellectually Gifted) opportunities in every grade as well as EC (exceptional children) services, including speech therapy and reading/educational support for those children who need additional help beyond the classroom. Students who are identified as needing more challenging material receive separate classroom instruction for a portion of the day from AIG certified teachers starting in 1st grade.

A variety of educational and enrichment opportunities are offered to students such as participation in the Odyssey of the Mind program, the annual Spelling Bee, Online Math League competition,  Yearbook drawing competition, Battle of the Books, Jump Rope for Heart, school chorus, a 5th grade oration team, and more. The Hope Valley PTA is active in planning activities for students and their families as well as providing support and appreciation for the teachers.  Annual PTA sponsored events include the Family Marathon, Book Fair, International Night, Family Fun Fest/Spring Carnival, family movie nights, teacher appreciation week, new family playdates,  and more.  Parents are encouraged to participate in their child’s education and a variety of opportunities exist to facilitate this. Parents/caregivers may help directly in their child’s classroom, volunteer at the various school events, chaperone a field trip, sort and shelf library books, coach an Odyssey of the Mind team, and so much more. The staff and teachers at Hope Valley are wonderful at partnering with parents to create a rich educational experience for the students.

Before School and After School care is offered at the school and the YMCA afterschool program provides bus pickup at Hope Valley. Breakfast is offered free of charge to all students, regardless of income.

Information Sessions and Tours (at Hope Valley Elementary) are scheduled as follows:

December 12, 2014 at 9:30am
January 13th at 6:00pm
January 23rd at 9:30am

Prospective families may call the school office at 919-560-3980 to ask questions or to schedule a separate tour of the school.  If you’d like to speak directly to a Hope Valley family, send an email to

Monday, December 1, 2014

Jamberry Giveaway

Hi everyone!  I just randomly picked the winner for our fabulous Jamberry giveaway from Rebecca! The lucky winner is Liz who commented "cool".  If this is you, simply  e-mail me at  If not, stay tuned, there are always more great giveaways to come!  In the meantime, if you didn't win, you can check out Rebecca's Jamberry website and order some of your own there!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Chocolate Boutique

What it is:  One day we were out exploring around the Morrisville area and we heard about a place called The Chocolate Boutique.  I have a little bit of a sweet tooth, and I know that the boys do, so we headed on over with a friend for a little treat.

It was in a big new shopping center in Morrisville which was fun to check out.  There were lots of restaurants and stores that might be worth stopping by.   But that day, our mission was chocolate.  So, we headed in.  The store was, of course filled will all sorts of delicious treats, chocolates of all shapes and sizes.  The kids were especially drawn to the glass containers of all sorts of little chocolate treats that you could pay for by weight.

I was eyeing the chocolates and truffles in the two display cases some made in house and some made by another local chocolate company and all looking delicious. I finally decided on a chocolate orange, a mint, and a caramel sea salt truffle (because I had to bring something home to my husband).  Our friends decided on a little pile of homemade peppermint patties.  My boys, much to my dismay, each chose a bag of Jelly Beans, but at least they were happy.

One of the most interesting parts of t he chocolate boutique was the fact that they offered parties, chocolate classes, and girls' nights out.  I thought that sounded like a super fun idea both for kids and adults.  You head in, get a demonstration, chocolate samples, and get to make your own chocolates from countless different molds on the wall.  What a different and fun idea!  You can bring in your own pizza, cake, wine, etc. and make it a real party.

Plus, it's nearby to a lot of our favorite near Durham haunts.  the Chocolate Boutique is about 3 miles from Lake Crabtree and Playnation, and only about a mile from Morrisville Community Park, so it would be the perfect outing to combine with some play time.

What we liked:  It's chocolate, what's not to like?  Plus, since you can get small chocolates, you don't have to spend much to get a fun treat for the kiddos.  I think the parties might also be a fun idea!

What we would change:  The store itself does have a lot of glass containers and display cases, so you would have to watch little ones while in the store.

Website and other information:


Address: Park West Village Shopping Center, 3308 Village Market Place, Morrisville, NC 27509




(...and more chocolates!!)

(a view of the inside of the shop)

(molds for parties)

(the party room)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Jamberry Giveaway

Hi all!  We are very lucky as the holiday season nears to have another giveaway so soon!  So, enjoy!

Recently, I was sent an e-mail by Rebecca Gallegly who is a Jamberry consultant.  I really had no idea what Jamberry was, so she sent me a sample and told me to form an honest opinion. Turns out, Jamberry is a really interesting concept-vinyl wraps for your nails.  I was a little hesitant when my set of accent nails arrived in the mail as well as instructions.  As a teacher and mom, my fingernails have always been put through the ringer, so I never even bother putting polish on them because it never lasts, it always chips and looks terrible within 24 hours.

However, I was game for trying it out.  So, my neighbors and I got together one evening, we all picked out some accent nails, I got out some nail scissors and a hair dryer, and we got started.  There was a bit of a learning curve, but fortunately, I started on me.  Yes, I did put the first one on upside down, but that's ok, I figured it out pretty quickly after that.  You place the nail, cut it to fit, and use the hair drier to seal it to the nail.  My 8-10 year old neighbor girls and even my younger sons wanted to try them out too, so we all put on a sample pair of nails.

Ok, so one of my sons and one of my neighbors immediately picked theirs off.  I think their fingers weren't clean enough to begin with, so that step is probably important.  However, a week later, the other neighbor and myself still had on our little nails.  Through countless hand washings, kiddo baths, and dish washing sessions, the nails actually stayed on my fingers and looking good.  In fact, over two weeks later, they are still looking almost like they did when I put them on.  So, looks like if you apply them properly, then they will stay on remarkably well.

Oh, and they have over 300 of patterns from the solid colored nails to french manicures, to hearts and sports team logos that you can put on your finger nails.  If you're not feeling fingernails, they also offer sets for your toes.  Plus, they have more traditional nail polish on offer.  Prices seem really great too, especially when compared to a traditional manicure.

So, Rebecca is offering us a great Jamberry giveaway so you can try it out for yourself!!  All you need to do is post a comment in this blog.  Maybe you could comment about what color or pattern you would put on your nails.  Would you get the nails for you?  a family member? a daughter?  You have a week to enter and at the end of the week I'll randomly pick a winner and that winner will receive a free sheet of "choice" nail wraps which will get you two manicures and two pedicures!  Oh, and of course, there's a chance to gain extra entries into this awesome giveaway.  Just order from the Stir Crazy Moms page she set up (, let me know in a comment, and you'll get an extra entry for the free wraps!

Please check back on the blog to see if you've won, and happy entering!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Immaculata School

School Type: Independent, faith-based school: pre-K -8th grade

Immaculata Catholic School seeks students from a diversity of backgrounds and does not discriminate based on religion, race, color, national or ethnic origin. All students have rights to the privileges, programs, and activities offered by Immaculata Catholic School.

Through the admissions process, we try to identify students and their families who will benefit from the educational program at Immaculata, seek education in a faith-filled context, and support the Immaculata community.

As a parochial school, Immaculata gives priority consideration to applicants who are active parishioners and to siblings of currently enrolled students.

Overall Target Grade Sizes

For the 2015-16 school year, there are two classes per grade, except for kindergarten and first grade which have three classes.  The figures below show the target number of students per class per grade. We have full-time teacher's assistants in pre-k through 1st grade and part-time assistants in 2nd and 3rd grades.

Prekindergarten-20 per classroom

Kindergarten-22 per classroom

1st Grade - 5th Grade-24 per classroom

6th Grade - 8th Grade-26 per classroom

Prekindergarten is the entry point for admission into Immaculata. For the 2014-15 school year, children must be 3-1/2 years old by February 28, 2014 and potty trained. Students who are accepted into the prekindergarten class (or, for older children, accepted to a grade K-7 with an opening) are guaranteed continued enrollment through grade 8 or as long as the student and family continue to support the policies of Immaculata and the educational program is found to benefit the student.


Immaculata is more than just an educational institution, we are a faith community.  We are a ministry of the Catholic Church and emphasize Catholic teachings, virtues, and traditions. However, we value diversity and a respect for all faiths.   Families from other faith backgrounds are a welcome part of our school community.

 In a Catholic school, all students are expected to attend and participate in prayer, the Mass, and religious education classes.  During the course of the year students participate in special activities that help us celebrate the different seasons of the Catholic Church.

Students celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and Easter, observe the seasons of Advent and Lent, and learn about and honor the saints, holy men and women who are role models for us in our journey of faith.

 For non-Catholic students, the focus is on deepening personal relationships with Jesus Christ and developing a greater understanding between Christian churches.  Our school does not try to convert students of other denominations.

We invite you to contact the Principal to address any questions regarding faith development and instruction at particular grade levels.

How to Apply: Application and inquiry forms are available on the website. Application for the 2015-16 school year will be available on November 20, 2014.   For families interested in applying for midyear entry during the 2014-15 school year, please contact the Office at 919-
682-5847 or email us at

Admissions Deadlines

ALL applications are considered on a rolling basis with priority given to those received by the following dates:

January 20, 2015 for Prekindergarten, Kindergarten and Grade 1

February 6, 2015 for Grades 2 to 8

Upcoming Events:

Experience the vibrant calm of a faith-filled education, come visit us.

 You are welcome to schedule a personal tour anytime.   Contact Barbra Murray (,admissions coordinator, to schedule your visit.

Immaculata Information Session and Tour (at the school, check in at the main office)

Thursday, November 20 from 9-10:30am

Sunday, January 25 from 3-4:30pm

Friday Morning Prayer Service and Tour (check in at main office to be escorted to Emily K

Join us for a unique Immaculata experience, Friday Morning Prayer, to really get a feel for what
our school is like.

Friday, January 30 at 8:00am (followed by tour of the school)

Where They Are:

721 Burch Avenue, Durham NC 27701 (downtown Durham, right off Durham Freeway, Chapel
Hill Street exit)

For photos, tuition, staff bios, parent handbook, and much more information, visit the website: