Monday, April 14, 2014

Sew Crafty

What it is: Do you or/and your child have a knack for fashion.  If you do, and you are looking for a fun activity for you and your age appropriate kiddos, you may want to check out Sew Crafty "where learning to sew is sew easy and sew fun".  I visited Sew Crafty and met the owner Ms. Toni (pictured below), who also owns a child play facility next door, Fun Zone (  

Sew crafty offers classes for children and their families, both private and group lessons.  They also host craft spring/summer camps,  parties, and for you American Doll fans, they have a class for making accessories and clothes for your doll.  Not only do they teach sewing clothes, but their services include tote bags, beaded jewelry, and polymer clay sculpting.

What we liked: This establishment is very organized, and although it requires lots of hands on work, the instructors are ready and willing to help any process along. They allow creativity in your own right.  They come equipped with all your sewing essentials as you will see from the pictures below and are ready to work with you.  This space would make for an explorative day with Fun Zone next door, eateries, and a bustling downtown to keep you entertained.

What could be better:  Parking can be tricky depending on when you go because it is located in the heart of downtown Durham.  

Visit their website to find out more information and don't hesitate to get your jump start on learning or brushing up on your sewing skills.

Website and other important information:

Address: 104 W. Parrish St., Durham


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Elite Dance Studio

What it is: This past weekend I had a chance to take my twins to Elite Dance Studio (located near Brier Creek) for their spring open house where they had bounce houses and offered FREE dance classes.  We attended the Pre Ballet/Tap for 3-4 year olds where all the little ones were encouraged to wear tutus :)  

Elite dance serves children from 16 months old and up. Their dance variety includes Jazz, hip hop, cheer, ballet, and tap.  The spring open house catered to parents like myself who probably are interested but unsure if their child would be willing or able to handle an instructional dance class. All my suspicions were put to rest as my kids and I both enjoyed the open house.  After meeting the owner, Ms. Crystal, I was assured that she and her staff are more than capable of handling a room full of little ones and teaching them the basics of dance.

What we loved: The free classes are a great way to test the waters before purchasing 6-8 weeks sessions for your kids. Most importantly, the rates are very affordable ranging from $60-$80 for 6-10 week classes ($60 bucks for a 10 week class----you can't beat that!), and $70-$150 for week long summer camps. So far these rates are the best I have seen in Durham!

What we would change:  The spring open house was a hit, so much so that every class was packed, and kids in their tutus and ballet/tap shoes were everywhere. My kids were distracted a lot by the bounce house (what kid wouldn't be), and almost missed their class because they just wanted to bounce around.

Website and other important information:

Address: 2228 Page Rd., Suite 102, 27703

Check out the rates, biographies and other information on the website.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Progression Climbing

What it is:  A few weeks ago we heard about a new rock climbing spot in Chapel Hill, so I had to take my two little monkeys over to check it out.  We drove over on a rainy Saturday to visit their Saturday kids' time.  It was a little tricky to find it hidden behind the Ram's Plaza shopping center.  It's actually on the road behind the shopping center on Legion Rd.

Once there, we headed in and signed our waivers.  We could have chosen to rent shoes, but they didn't quite have them little enough for my young boys.  I do think they would have been helpful in climbing the walls though, and for only $3 a pair, that might have been worth it.

When we headed in, we noticed that it was a little different than other rock climbing places we had been to.  There were no harnesses.  The reason given was that none of the walls were too high.  Plus, they had a bouncy floor, similar to a floor at a gymnastics studio that cushioned people's falls or jumps somewhat.  There was one wall on each side of the gym with countless holds and routes up the wall.  One wall was basically straight up and down while the other was angled inward to make it more difficult to climb.

When my boys got in there they weren't quite sure what to do, but they soon got into the swing of things and started having a ball.  My youngest, at three, was perhaps to young to get as much good out of the place because he was too small to reach many of the hand and footholds.  My 5 year old on the other hand, was big enough to do some climbing, but the lack of a harness threw him off.  It took him a little while before he was brave enough to climb up high on the walls because he had to climb or jump back down.  Once he did find his courage, he had to climb his favorite routes over and over again.  It was nice that we didn't have to wait to hook into a harness every time he wanted to climb.  

There was also a slack line set up in the middle of the room which is like a thick tight rope.  My youngest had a ball with this.  He couldn't get up by himself, but he loved walking and bouncing along as I held his hands.  

What we liked:  We loved how Progression Climbing is really trying to cater to kids.  They have the special "kids' climb" time on Saturdays from 11am-1pm where adults are welcome, but kids are encouraged so that they can climb and socialize with other kids.  They also welcome playgroups any weekday from 11:30am-4:30pm.  You can also reserve the facility for birthday parties or sign up for their summer camp this summer.  It's a great place to go to get kids excited about rock climbing.

What we would change:  As with any climbing gym, at $10 per kid, the price is a little high for a regular play outing, but the kids definitely enjoy it.  Plus, you can buy a ten visit punch pass for $90 to make it a little more affordable. The lack of harnesses was both a negative and a positive.  As I said, it made my son more hesitant to climb up high, but you didn't have to clip in to a harness every time you wanted to climb up which made it much easier and less of a hassle.  Also, it is not the best for younger children.  I would say kiddos 5 and up could get their money's worth

Website and other important information: 

Address: 1713 Legion Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27517

Cost: Youth (under 18): $10, Youth with Parent: $21, Rental Shoes: $3


(a look at the whole gym)

(the easier of the two sides)

(the other, more-slanted side)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Laurel Hills Park

I keep thinking I've found all of the most fabulous parks in the area.  However, a few days ago, w discovered this awesome park near the NC Museum of Art.  What a great place to spend an afternoon!

What it is:  If you've ever been to Kelly Road Park in Apex, Laurel Hills Park is very similar.  It is a huge wooden playground with a fabulous maze like play structure.  This play structure makes you want to play hide and seek just looking at it, there are so many tunnels, twists, and turns to explore.  The playground area also has swings, a basketball court, some great swinging platforms to play on, and the whole thing is sand so the digging possibilities are endless.  The park also has a little pond complete with a little dock where you can fish.  There are nearby drinking fountains and restrooms, and a rec center where they have a gym and apparently some great toddler time sessions.

What we liked:  This playground was so unique that the kids had so much to explore.  It was especially good for the older kids because of all of the climbing that could be done.  Plus, the pond adds a little extra fun to explore.  Also, even though it is in Raleigh, it is on the near side of Raleigh so it doesn't take too long to get to, probably about 20 minutes from S. Durham.  Plus, since it's so close to the NC Museum of Art, you could easily combine the two and have a whole day of free fun.

What we would change:  For the youngest kids, this playground would require a little more supervision because it is not fenced all the way around and there are lots of places for little ones to hide and get lost.

Website and other important information:


Address: 3808 Edwards Mill Rd, Raleigh, 27612


(Take a look at all this climbing fun.)

(another view)

(the trail to the restrooms and the pond)

(A view through the trees of the pons and the dock-way off in the distance)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Another Broken Egg Cafe

I always think it's a lot of fun to go out for breakfast as a family, so it's great when we find a new family friendly breakfast stop!

What it is:  A few weekends ago we checked out Another Broken Egg Cafe at their location across from Duke hospital in the Pavilion East shopping center.  I had heard a recommendation from another family that it was a good place to take the kiddos.  We went on a Sunday morning, and unfortunately at that time, they had about a half an hour wait.  It went pretty quickly and they had plenty of room for us to stand outside.

Once we were seated, we took a look at their menu.  They had a nice kids' menu with lots of kid-friendly options.  My boys, of course, chose the dollar pancakes with bacon (or turkey links or scrambled egg).  Other options on the kids' menu included french toast, a "texadilla", a turkey wrap, or grilled cheese.  Prices on the kids' menu ranged between $3.49 and $4.69.  The regular menu had all sorts of delicious options including benedicts, omelets, waffles, and french toast.

The food took a little while to arrive, but once did did, it was delicious.  The kids had plenty of food, and it was all tasty.  The style of food reminded us a little of Brig's in S. Durham.  So, it's nice that there's another casual breakfast option in a different part of Durham.

What we liked:  The kids' menu had lots of good options, decent portions, and great prices.  The rest of the food was tasty too!

What we would change:  The wait was pretty long.  However, we have encountered the same kind of wait when we head out to Brigs on a weekend morning, so those must just be busy times for breakfast stops.  I bet if you went on a weekday the wait time would be much less.

Website and other important information:


Address: 2608 Erwin Rd, Durham, 27705

Hours: 7am-2pm Daily


(a view from the outside)

(my french toast)

(my husband's omelet-I couldn't get to him before he ate half of it.)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ritter Park

Here is the follow-up post to our report on Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve.  I told everyone how great of a park it was, but they didn't have any place to eat lunch or have a picnic.  Well, fortunately, there's a solution to that problem which makes this an even greater place for a day trip.

What it is:  Just under a mile away from Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve is Ritter Park.  This park is the perfect stop after a morning of hiking.  It has some baseball fields, a large picnic shelter and several other picnic tables and a great playground.   You can bring a picnic lunch and stop at the picnic tables to eat before a little play, and wrapping up the day.  The playground is a great one too!  It has swings, two nice play structures, the newer version of a merry-go-round, and even a great sand area.  The ice cream man even stopped by while we were there.

What we liked:  The park itself was a lot of fun, and my kids' could have stayed and played for much longer.  Plus, it's location next to Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve makes for a great outing combination.  There are several restaurants within a couple miles of both of these locations so you can even run through a drive through and head back if you forgot to bring your picnic lunch with you.

What we would change:  Of course, we with that Ritter Park and its neighbor Hemlock Bluffs were closer, but it's not too far for a great daily outing.

Website and other important information:  


Address: 301 Lochmere Drive West


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Harvest 18

Thanks to my friend Liz who told me about this fabulous new restaurant that just opened yesterday!  We will definitely be back again very soon...

What it is:  Harvest 18 is a great new restaurant that just opened up in the former location of Doc Greens in the shopping center off Renaissance Parkway, the same shopping center as other kid-friendly favorites Rise, Tomato Jakes, Kid-to-Kid, Petco, Sports Clips, and Peek-a-Do.

The chef, Jason Smith, also owns two restaurants in Raleigh, 18 Seaboard, and Cantina 18.  He felt that S. Durham was filled with chain restaurants and would benefit from a local restaurant that prepared local, farm to fork food.  I think he was right, I think they will fit in just fine here!

When I first heard the description of the restaurant I wasn't sure that it would be kid-friendly.  However, when I called and asked he assured me that they had a kids' menu and all kids were welcome.  In good weather, they also have some great outdoor seating to enjoy.  This time, we headed over on a dreary day so we sat inside.  The kids' menu had several delicious options including grilled cheese, mac and cheese, hamburger, and meatloaf.  Each meal came with a side which could be fruit, fries, or several other options.

The regular menu was filled with delicious, local treats.  The food made us feel like we were eating at a fancier restaurant for a date night.  The prices for the entrees ranged from $8-14, so they were on par with most of the nearby restaurants.  I tried the meatloaf with blue cheese smashed potatoes, collard greens, and homemade Worcestershire sauce while my husband got shrimp and grits.  We also tried the melted pimento cheese appetizer, yum!  We finished off the meal with some delicious chocolate ice cream with caramel and candied walnuts.  Everything was homemade and local and you could definitely tell!  Oh, and apparently there's sangria to be had as well, yum!

The chef actually came up to us and talked to us as we were eating.  He also mentioned that more kid-friendly touches would be arriving soon.  His other restaurants have little chalkboards for the kids to draw on while they wait, and he said they would be arriving at Harvest 18 soon.

What we liked:  We felt like we were eating date night quality food in a kid-friendly restaurant.  It was definitely the best of both worlds.  We love the emphasis on farm-to-fork, fresh local food, and everything we had was delicious.

What we would change:  There's not much we would change.  The kids' meals were $6 which is a little more than some of the other nearby restaurants, but it is worth it!  (I don't remember whether our kids' meal included our milks, but that might also add to the cost.)  However, for the quality of the food, I would have expected to pay much more than we did for the items on the regular menu.

Website and other important information:


Address: 8128 Renaissance Parkway, Durham, 27713

Hours: Monday-Sunday: 11am-10pm


(My meatloaf...$8 for all that!)

(The kids' mac and cheese and fruit-nice and kid-friendly)

(My husband's shrimp and grits)

(The chocolate ice cream for dessert, yum!)

(the bar area)

(a view toward the back of the restaurant)

(the front entrance, they don't even have a sign up yet)