Saturday, July 31, 2010

Village Deli

What it is: Village Deli is a restaurant located in a nondescript office park in RTP off of Aviation Parkway.  This location focuses on serving a lunch of sandwiches, salads, or burgers on the weekdays and Saturdays. 

What we liked: We had to include this place on our blog because of a few recommendations and its proximity to some of our other favorite activities.  Today we went to check out the Lake Crabtree Boat Rentals based on the recommendation of another Stir Crazy Mom.  We had a great time and needed lunch afterward.  This restaurant was only a few minutes away.  This means that it is also a few minutes from Play Nation and the RDU observation park.  So, we now have a great place to stop for lunch after playing at any of these great places.  Plus, the food was actually good!  The choices for adults were extensive, and the portions for everyone were good-sized.

What we would change: We did notice that the prices were a bit higher than our standard weekday lunches at Chick-Fil-A, etc.  They also have limited hours since they are closed in the evenings and on Sundays.

Website and other important information: Village Deli is located in RTP off of Aviation Parkway near Lake Crabtree.


Address: Southport Business Park, 909 Aviation Parkway, Morrisville, NC 27560

Phone: 919-462-6191

Hours: Monday–Friday 7am–4pm, Saturday–10am–3pm, Sunday–Closed


1. A view from the outside
2. The warm and friendly interior

Friday, July 30, 2010

For Garden's Sake

What it is: For Garden's Sake is a nursery located in S. Durham off of Hwy. 751.  They sell a wide variety of trees, shrubs, flowers, and other plants as well as pots and other necessary gardening supplies.  Since moving in to a house with a garden that needs some help and having little gardening knowledge we have been heading down there to buy supplies and get advice.  They also provide lawn and landscaping services when requested.  But there's another reason that they merit an entry on the blog.  In addition to the nursery, there are also goats, swans and ducks, and even alpacas for kids to take a look at.

What we liked: Of course, we really appreciated all of the fun sights for kids to take in while we shop.  We would usually have one parent work on the shopping while the other parent wandered around with our son taking in the sights.  It was so nice to keep him occupied while we were trying to figure out the confusing world of gardening.  I've also had friends bring their kids down there just to look at the animals.  The goats and birds are located within sight of the nursery, while the alpacas are harder to find on the other side of the nursery behind some black buildings housing plants.  There are several benches strategically positioned near the animals so that you can just sit and watch them.  There's even a small fountain in the building where you check out that my son found endlessly entertaining.  One of my son's favorite parts was actually just watching the many butterflies that were hovering around all the flowers.

What we would change: The parking lot and trek between the nursery, the goats, and the alpacas is gravel, so it makes stroller travel a bit tricky.  In addition, my foot managed to find some fire ants over by the goats, so you might want to watch your feet in that area even though I don't think they were widespread.

Website and other important information: For Garden's Sake is located off of Hwy. 751 in extreme South Durham.


Address: 9157 NC Highway 751 Durham, NC 27713

Phone Number: 919-484-9759

Hours: Monday-Saturday 9am-5:30pm, Sunday 10am-4pm


1. A view of the nursery from the road

2. The goats come to the fence to say hi.

3. The swan and ducks in front of the pond

4. The alpacas sit in the shade.

5. One of the butterflies that entranced my son

6. The fountain in the checkout building

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cold Stone Creamery vs. Marble Slab

**We are VERY sorry to say that as of 4/11 both Marble Slab and Cold Stone have closed their Southpoint area locations.  We look forward to new fun spots coming to take their places!

What they are: We've been to these two ice cream shops countless times.  They are both close to our house, so they make for an easy option for a sweet treat.  I was going to do a post on each one, but then I realized that they are so similar that I really should combine the posts into one and let you decide which one to check out.  Marble Slab and Cold Stone are chain ice cream stores offering ice cream in a variety of flavors with your choice of toppings mixed in upon requests (My son gets chocolate ice cream with M&Ms at both).  They both have some specialty ice creams treats such as sundaes or floats or signature creations if you're in the mood for something fancier.  They also have ice cream cakes available for special occasions if you need them.

What we liked: As I said, both of these places are definitely convenient to many other shops and activities in town.  Marble Slab is located in the Streets at Southpoint and Cold Stone is located across the street in the Renaissance shopping center near the Chili's.  I'm sure there are other locations in the area, but these are the ones that we frequent.  We also like that the smallest size (either small or kiddie) is plenty for an adult or hungry toddler which saves some money.

What we would change:  Both of these places are chain establishments, so they don't quite have the charm of some of our local shops.  In addition, many of the specialty treats are surprisingly expensive.  In addition, when I get the fresh fruit added in as a topping, the ice cream is so cold that it freezes the fruit quickly, especially strawberries.  But that's just one of the drawbacks of refreshing, cold ice cream, I guess.

How they are different: If I had to choose which one to go to, it would depend on what else I was doing that day.  Since Cold Stone is in a free-standing shopping center it is easier to get in and out quickly.  However, if you are going to Southpoint Mall to do some shopping or eating out, Marble Slab is right next door to many shops and restaurants.  In addition, Cold Stone offers ice cream cupcakes which is a different, creative twist.  If you have any other opinions or preferences about how these two are different, please let us know.

Websites and other important information: Cold Stone and Marble Slab are both located in the Southpoint area of South Durham.

Websites: Cold Stone-, Marble Slab-


Cold Stone Creamery
6917 Fayetteville Rd.
Durham, NC 27713

Marble Slab Creamery
Streets at Southpoint Mall
8030 Renaissance Parkway, Suite 920, Building N
Durham, NC 27713
(919) 806-5738 
Cold Stone Creamery
Sunday-Thursday Noon-9:30pm
Friday and Saturday Noon-10:30pm

Marble Slab Creamery

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Fried" Ice Cream

Here's a little sweet treat we tried that can help to beat the summer heat and provide an activity for kids in the kitchn.  This isn't actually fried ice cream, but it copies the flavors and is a pretty nice imitation.

I tried this recipe because the magazine said that they would be fun to make with kids.  While I don't know how easy it would be for kids to help with this recipe, they definitely enjoy eating the finished product!  It's bite-sized, delicious, and perfect for all kinds of adaptations.

**Adapted from "Taste of Home" magazine


Vanilla Ice Cream
1/2 C Frosted Corn Flakes (crushed)
1/4 C Sugar
1 tsp cinammon


1. Form the ice cream into balls of whatever size you want.  The magazine recommends regular ice cream scoop sized balls, but I found them to be a much more interesting toddler size if you make them with a melon baller for a much smaller size.

2. Put them in the freezer to harden for an hour or until firm.

3. Combine corn flakes, sugar, and cinnamon and place in a shallow dish.

4. Roll the ice cream balls in the corn flake mixture.

5. Put in the freezer until ready to serve.

6. Remove and put as many in a bowl as desired.  Cover with as much honey as desired.  Eat and enjoy!

*I found the key to making the ice cream balls was the make sure the plate+wax paper that you are putting them on is cold.  Then, rinse the scoop after each time with water.  The ice cream slides off better that way. 

*Now that I've made the recipe once I'm excited to have my child help me with the corn flake crushing part of the recipe as well as some heavily assisted making and coating of ice cream scoops.

*It seems like this recipe would lend itself to all sorts of variations.  Covering ice cream in crispy coatings and topping them with a delicious sauce could be done in a variety of ways.  I was just thinking of oreo crumbs and chocolate syrup, but I'm sure there are other fun variations.  Let me know if you come up with any! 


Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Family Center of Northern Durham

What it is: The Family Center of Northern Durham is a non-profit whose aim is to provide family services. On Friday mornings, they offer an open-play session that is open to all, for a nominal fee. The play room is superbly well-equipped, with two guinea pigs to pet, and an aquarium, a crawling-space for the teeny ones, dress-up clothes, construction toys, stickers and markers, play-dough, a reading corner, a puppet stage... and the center's coordinator offers a make-and-take craft that's really well-designed and age-appropriate.

What we liked:
There is so much in the one contained space that it's hard for kids to be bored! The coordinator is extremely talented at handling young children cheerfully and lovingly. On the day we went, the coordinator had gathered up small bottles and dyed sand to make colored strata; my usually rambunctious two sat peacefully for 30 minutes filling their bottles with layers of colored sand. There's very little trouble the kids can get into in this space, and if the weather looks iffy, this is a great option to make the time go by.

What we would change:
We just wish it were open every day! On occasion, the craft may involve dyeing a T-shirt, and you would need to bring an item for the craft.

Website and other important information:

Friday Play Mornings are held every Friday from 9:30 am to noon.

Location: on the south side entrance of Northgate Presbyterian Church, 2502 North Roxboro Street, Durham, NC 27704, (919) 627-7405. Ring the bell to be let in.


Cost of the Friday Play Mornings: $5/child or $6/family.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lake Crabtree Boat Rentals

We've already posted an entry on Lake Crabtree Park.  In the post, we mentioned a place for boat rentals that we didn't get a chance to check out.  Well, here's the scoop on the boat rentals.

What it is: Lake Crabtree is a large flood-control catchment located just south of RDU airport. The area is bounded by I-40, Aviation Parkway, and the north shore of the lake form a big County Park, with lots of trails for hiking and mountain biking. While there is no swimming, the lake shore has a huge playfield for kite-flying or playing ball, with an area from which wind-surfers take off, as well as shaded picnic tables and shelters. There are also boat ramps and docks, and fishing piers. But the main attraction is a boat rental center from which you can rent paddle boats, canoes, kayaks and small sunfish sailboats.

What we liked: Our daughters, now 2 and 4, are just old enough to sit still for 30 minutes at a time, and we were looking for a new adventure on a very hot and muggy day. The lake seems to have a lovely permanent breeze. We chose kayaks, because they are very lightweight and easy to propel, especially since our kids wouldn't be helping with paddling (these are the kind of kayaks that can't roll over). I had the youngest on my lap in a 1-person kayak, and my husband had the eldest in front in a two-person kayak, and everyone really had fun for 30 minutes before boredom set in. The center supplies safety vests for all ages.

What we would change:
Be sure to apply sunscreen, and pack along hats and/or sunglasses, as well as some bottled water! The park used to have vending machines, but these were vandalized, so there are no longer any drinks or food for sale. Near the boat center is a picnic shelter with bathrooms and a water fountain.

Website and other important information:

Location: From I-40, take Aviation Parkway south, and take the first left for the park entrance.

Hours: The park is open 8am-sunset seven days a week. Boat rentals are open 11am-6pm on weekends only with the last boat leaving the shore at 5pm, mid-April to Labor Day Weekend.

Cost: Park entry is free. Boat rentals are CASH ONLY, and require a refundable $20 deposit per boat. Rental rates are about $5/hour per boat.

Park office: Lake Crabtreet County Park, 1400 Aviation Parkway, Morrisville NC 27560. (919) 460-3390.

Boat rental center: (919) 460-3398.



1. The boat rental center at Lake Crabtree

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Durham County Public Library (Main Branch)

What it is: The Main branch of the Durham County Public Library is a very large two-story building that holds 466,000 books, a quarter of which are children's books. The downstairs children's section has two main sections, for young readers and for older readers. The younger kids' section also has tables for quiet play, with puzzles. The library also hosts a wide selection of kids' storytimes, for which you need to sign up ahead (some are full, but the wait list time is usually just a few weeks as kids age out and up). Even if your child is a rambunctious type, they are well-trained and equipped to handle little ones.  You can read more about their lapsit story time in one of our previous posts.

The upstairs has a small section of foreign-language books which they received quarterly from the Cumberland County International Library, with titles for children in their selections. Upstairs, you will also find the regular adult holdings, with fiction, non-fiction, job searching, and internet resources. There is also a good collection of audio-visual stuff, such as music CDs, books on tape, and DVDs for borrowing, which can be found in both the children's library and in the A-V library. One great way to manage your library visits is to link your library card with an internet account, which allows you to reserve materials ahead of your visit, that way your week's worth of Disney movies will be waiting for you in the holding area.

What we like:  This is a nice place to start or end the day. If you're looking at a day of errands, why not load up on books for your little ones in the car seats? The kids' space is really child-friendly, and the librarians are truly helpful, and will intervene if you need help to calm your little ones down.

What we would change: The building is a little dated now, and the hours of operation are a little patchy--It can be hard to remember not to come on a Friday morning. The location off the Downtown Loop makes it a little confusing the first time you come. Be smart about staying ahead of late fees: use your library card number to link to your account online and renew items regularly so you don't accumulate fees! It's great to get free books and movies every week until you get fined...

Website and other important information:

Address: 300 N. Roxboro Street, Durham, NC 27701, (919) 560-0100


Monday, Tuesday and Thurday 9am- 9pm
Wednesday 9am-6pm
Friday 2-6 pm
Saturday 9:30 am-6 pm
2-6 pm


1. The Main Entrance
2. The Children's Section

3. The Young Readers' Section

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

And the Winner Is...

It's the moment you've all been waiting for! The results of the July Giveaway are in.  Thanks to everyone who entered.  We always love reading your comments and getting some new ideas about what to do in Durham.  We randomly selected our winner, and the recipient of a $10 gift certificate to The Mad Popper and a small bag of popcorn is...Helene Singer!!  So, if that is you, please e-mail us at: and we will get you your prize.  If you didn't win, check back in August and see what great treat we're offering next.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Do-It Yourself Fruit-and-Nut Energy Bars

This recipe was lifted from the pages of Family Fun Magazine. It's so simple it's fun to make with your kids! And they love watching the Cuisinart smash everything together too. By the way, there's probably nothing wrong with dipping them in chocolate... They're handy to pack for a hike.

To make apple-pecan bars: grind 1/3 pecans in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Transfer the nuts to a bowl, then process 1/3 cup each pitted dates and dried apples. Add the nuts and a pinch of cinnamon, then process until the mixture holds together like play-dough. Divide it into portions and mold into bars or bite-size cubes, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Makes 6 bars or 18 cubes.

Other combinations:
Apricot muffins: 1/3 cup each dates, dried apricots and almonds
Cherry tart: 1/3 cup each dates, dried cherries and walnuts
Peanut butter snaps: 2/3 cup dates, 1/3 cup peanuts, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, and a pinch of salt

Or make your own combo! Just use 1/3 cup nuts and 2/3 cup dried fruit (dates make a great "glue")

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ninth Street Bakery

What it is: Want to give your young'uns a little treat without popping into a fast-food joint or a mall? This is just the hole-in-the-wall for you. A number of local grocery stores carry the breads from Ninth Street Bakery, but production is no longer on Ninth Street but right smack in the middle of downtown Durham, at the intersection of "Five Points". The entrance may look like just a loading dock, but inside you'll get to see the real bakery, which specializes in organic whole grain breads, and also offers the most amazing cookies anywhere. There are just a few tables and chairs for patrons, so it's not exactly a child-friendly destination, though my girls feel very grown-up sitting properly for silent cookie-eating. The three of us split a single (huge) cookie for $1.75 to celebrate good days. And of course there's nothing wrong with grabbing a quick healthy locally-made loaf for dinner too.

What we like:
our favorite is the peanut choc-chip cookie, though the double-choc-chip is of course deadly too. The oatmeal-raisin is a little too bland for our taste.

What we would change: Finding the entrance the first time can be a trick: really? There's a bakery coffee shop in there? At the five-points intersections of East Chapel Hill, West Main and Morris Streets, the Bakery building forms the pointiest corner. The seating area is clearly geared for the in-and-out downtown lunch crowd, so it could use a couple high-chairs and maybe some kids' books. But it is a cheaper alternative to ice cream or popsicle places, and you'll be in-and-out yourself.

Website and other important information:


Address: 136 East Chapel Hill St., Durham, NC 27701, (919) 688-5606

Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-4pm


 1. The entrance

2. The goodies!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Our July Giveaway is Here!!

It's the time you've all been waiting for-our July giveaway-where we get to give away another fun Durham treat to one of our loyal readers.  This time, everyone has the opportunity to win a delicious sweet or savory treat from one of our favorite local businesses, The Mad Popper!  You can win a $10 gift certificate plus a small bag of popcorn!  Yum! (Thanks, Mad Popper!)

The Mad Popper is fabulous!  Whether you like sweet or savory treats, you can find something there that will be just what you're looking for.  We particularly like a caramel/white cheddar mix.  My toddler picks out all the sweet ones while I pick out the white cheddar.  It's a great little snack on a hot day that doesn't feel quite so heavy.  Take a look at our previous post for more details!

To enter this giveaway, all you have to do is post a comment on this post on the blog or on facebook.  Since we're in the heat of summer here in Durham, mention in your comment what you have found to in town to beat the heat!  Post by midnight on Tuesday to enter, and keep checking back on the blog this week to see if you've won!  (Including your e-mail address on your post will make it easier to find you, but it's not required to win.)


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Durham Thrift Stores for Kids Stuff

There are a number of thrift stores in Durham, but some of them just rise above the rest if you're looking for kids' stuff: clothes, toys, bedding, equipment. It feels good to help the environment by reusing things, while sending your money to help others.


This is the newest of the Durham thrift stores, and benefits the Durham Rescue Mission. It's huge. I regularly have friends report finding items with original tags still on. The store is well-stocked, well-lit, well-organized.

Rescued Treasures Thrift Shoppe
3220 NC Hwy 55, Durham, NC  27713
(919) 484-9014
Hours: Monday thru Friday: 8 am to 8 pm, Saturday: 8 am to 7 pm


The Goodwill Store is an old standby, which benefits Goodwill Industries to help adults get access to job training and employment. Durham has two locations, and the Garrett Road location is conveniently close to Target so we usually check it out before buying anything new. The kids' clothes are well organized, and there are also discount bins for smaller items like onesies and sleepers, as well as bedding, stuffed animals, etc. The merchandise changes quickly! And if you know how to sew, get your $0.59 pillowcases here for your little girls' pillowcase dresses.

Goodwill Durham Donation Center and Store
4318 Garrett Road, Durham
(919) 493-1182
Hours: Mon-Fri 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sat 9 a.m. to 6 p.m Sun Noon - 6 p.m.


The Habitat ReStore benefits Habitat for Humanity's efforts to build housing for the poor. The thrift store gets a lot of larger items. They have partner contractors who bring their jobsite scraps there: leftover lumber, used cabinetry, shutters, siding, carpeting, etc. But I mention it here because I often find bicycle trailers for kids there, and that's quite a find. Also, if you're handy and want to build your own playset, this is a nice place to start.

Habitat for Humanity ReStore
5501 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd., Durham, NC 27707
Phone: 919-403-8668
Hours: Mon-Sat 10-6

Friday, July 16, 2010


What it is: Champps is a restaurant located in the Streets at Southpoint.  It serves all-American fare while you can view your favorite sports event on their many televisions.

What we liked: We were just over in Southpoint yesterday doing some evening shopping with the family and thought we would grab dinner.  We wanted a place we could actually sit down and relax a little, so we tried Champps.  I've been to all of the restaurants in Southpoint countless times, but never with kids.  So, I was interested to see how it fared as a kid-friendly restaurant.  Turns out, it was a great place to take my toddler.  We sat back by the kitchen which has a large window opening into it, so the kitchen as well as the large TV's spaced around the restaurant provided some toddler entertainment.  In addition, they brought a kids' menu and crayons for additional entertainment.  There were quite a few choices on the kids' menu itself, all reasonably priced.  Plus, the best part was that a fairly good-sized kids' sundae came with the meal.  His meal of quesadilla, fruit, and sundae was all under $5 (We brought our own drink.), and the whole family could share a couple sweet bites of the sundae at the end of the meal.

Another plus is the location.  We are always at Southpoint for some reason or another, so it's nice to have kid-friendly options for food.  While we frequently stop at the food court or Panera for a quick, tasty bite, it's always nice to have a place to go where you can sit down and relax a little (as much as you can with small children anyway).  We are yet to attempt any of the other sit-down restaurants at Southpoint with kids.  Does anyone else have any experience with any of these places?  If so, please let us know what you think.

What we would change:  We found the quality of the food to be hit or miss there, probably because there are so many different items on the menu.  My husband thoroughly enjoyed his burger, while my pasta dish had great pasta but pretty dry chicken.  The food was good enough though that I would go back for another relaxing meal with my family and try something different off the menu.

Website and other important information: Champps is located in South Durham in the Streets at Southpoint.


Address: 8030 Renaissance Parkway, Durham

Phone Number: 919-361-3393


1. A view of the restaurant from out table

2. The open view of the kitchen

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Top 5 Playgrounds

For the past few months we've had a section on the side of the blog for our readers to vote on their favorite Durham park.  After a few months, there were clear trends.  While we probably couldn't rank order them, there were a clear top 5 and a clear number one.  So, we are going to create a list of top 5's in Durham, and the playgrounds will be our first entry.

Check out what you picked as your top 5 playgrounds in Durham!

1. Your favorite park in Durham: Rockwood Park

2. Duke Park

3. Oval Drive Park

4. Forest Hills Park

5. Piney Wood Park

Make sure to vote in our new poll: favorite sweet treats in Durham!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Frothy-Chilly Fruit Smoothies

**Recipe adapted from Rachel Ray at

Since the weather is so hot right now, it's great to have a cool treat for the kids.  Plus, we're always looking for healthy ways to get more calories into my picky child.  We came across this smoothie recipe as a healthy treat for me when I was pregnant, but it's also perfect as a quick afternoon treat for my son that is fun to make together, yummy for him to eat, and healthy too!  The best part of this recipe for me is its flexibility.  You can really modify it based on what you have and what you like.

Makes 4 servings


*1 large, ripe banana sliced
*2 C frozen fruit (Rachel Ray recommends strawberries and peaches, but I've used blueberries and basically whatever fruit I have leftover in the freezer.)
*1 C yogurt (Again, Rachel recommends strawberry-banana, but I've used every flavor under the sun.)
*1 C milk (You can also use fruit juice or fruit "nectar" for this part, you just need a liquid.  Recently, I've been using the fruit/veggie juices for this part to get an extra serving of veggies in the drink.)


Put everything in the blender.  Mix and enjoy!  (My son loves helping me dump everything in the blender and press all the buttons.  It's great to have something this simple that we can do together in the kitchen.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pop's Backdoor South

What it is: Pop's Backdoor South is a new restaurant in the same family as Durham's well-known Pop's restaurant in Brightleaf Square.  Pop's Backdoor South is located near the South Square area of Durham in the Hope Valley Square shopping center with the newly renovated post office.  The shopping center is really taking off, with several new restaurants opening soon.  Pop's Backdoor is a pizza place serving pizzas and calzones, both in-store and for delivery, with a little bit of a twist.  While they offer the option to pick your own toppings and go with the standard cheese and pepperoni, their signature pizzas offer such gourmet ingredients as honey chevre and truffle oil.  You order at the counter and then wait for your pizzas to be freshly created.  It is then brought to your table to be enjoyed.

What we liked:  There were two parts of Pops Backdoor South that stood out when we were there.  First, while we waited for our pizzas to arrive, they had a little play area at the front of the restaurant where our toddler could play!  The area was little but had some neat play wooden pizzas complete with toppings you could velcro on as well as a collection of other toys.  In addition, when our kids meal pizza came it was HUGE!  It was a 10-inch pizza that would probably take my son 4 meals or more to eat all of.  He enjoyed several pieces, and the rest came home with us for leftovers.

What we would change: There were only two booths in the restaurant and the rest were tables spaced fairly closely to one another, so we thought that seating might be a bit crowded with all of a toddler's luggage when the restaurant is busy.  In addition, the wait time to get the pizzas was a little longer than I thought, but the freshness of the crusts made it definitely worth it!

Website and other important information: Pop's Backdoor South is located near the South Square area of Durham off of Shannon Rd.


Address: 3711 Shannon Road, Durham, NC

Phone: 919-493-0169

Hours: 11am-?? Daily


1. A view of the outside of the restaurant-Notice the beautiful stroller handle in the foreground.

2. The interior of the restaurant

3. The kids' area

4. The "kids" cheese pizza

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Maple View Farm Country Store

What it is: Maple View Farm Country Store is the retail store selling products from Maple View Farms.  They offer milk, butter, and ice cream all available for purchase, but the real highlight is the ice cream.  You can buy one scoop, two scoops, a sundae, milkshake, or float and enjoy the delicious treat while sitting outside in one of the rocking chairs on their porch watching the amazing view.

What we liked: Their ice cream is fabulous!  You can definitely tell that it comes straight from the farm.  Everything that we tried was fantastic.  The banana cream pie flavor came recommended, the chocolate milkshake was quickly downed my my toddler, and I enjoyed the special dark hot fudge sauce. (Although, I don't know which is better-delicious chocolate fudge, or no chocolate fudge so that the taste of the ice cream shines through.  I guess you can't go wrong either way!)

Another fantastic feature of the store is the seating.  They have a row of rocking chairs along the front porch which are remarkably comfortable.  There's room for the toddlers to run along the porch and a railing to keep them safe.  There's also a gorgeous view of the farm and fields nearby.  We were there earlier in the day, but apparently it is a great place for viewing the sunset.

What we would change:  This is a great place to go for a sweet treat with a view, but it's quite a distance from Durham.  From most parts, it's probably about 30 minutes away.  In addition, we wish that we could also visit their ag center or farm when we head to the country store, but the center is only available for parties, field trips, and pre-booked groups and the farm is not open for visits.

Website and other important information: Maple View Farm Country Store is located near Hillsborough.


Hours: Noon-10pm Sunday-Saturday

Address: 311 Dairyland Rd., Hillsborough, NC 27278


 1. A view of the store 

2. The view from the front porch

3. A picture of the rocking chairs taken by my 2-year old

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Carrboro Farmers Market

What it is: The Carrboro Farmers Market is a vendor-run market in the town of Carrboro that takes place on Wednesdays and Saturdays and offers patrons a variety of fresh produce and goods  This outdoor market includes produce, meats, cheeses, crafts, specialty goods such as wine, and baked and prepared goods.  It's a unique place to shop in the area because all of the goods sold come from within 50 miles of the town of Carrboro. 

What we liked:  We love farmers markets as a place for toddlers and other kids to take in the sights.  There are so many beautiful colors, sights, and smells to capture anyone's interest.  On our most recent trip to the Carrboro Farmers Market, our toddler was also able to sample a couple of fresh treats that he had never tasted before.  He also loved sniffing all of the flowers and simply playing in the gravel path as most 2-year olds love to do.  Everyone was very friendly and happily answered questions, offered samples, and just made conversation.  Another benefit of heading to this market was the parking.  We were able to find a free town parking lot just a few blocks away from the market on Weaver St. which made the process of heading to the market with kids a little easier.  It's also year-round which is a nice feature of a farmers market.

What we would change: The only negative that we could find was its distance from Durham.  It took us a little while to get down there and would probably not be a feasible trip on a regular basis.

Website and other important information: The Carrboro Farmer's Market is located in the Carrboro Town Commons which is about a 20-minute drive from South Durham.


Address: 301 W. Main St., Carrboro, NC

Hours: Saturday 7am-12pm (or 8am depending on the season), Wednesday 3:30-6:30pm  (late April-late October)


1. The sign at the entrance

2. One of the market pavillions

3. Yummy fresh tomatoes

4. Beautiful fresh flowers

Friday, July 9, 2010

Packaging Depot

We don't usually write about stores, but there are those out there that make shopping so much easier for moms or have hidden fun in store for the kids.  We like to include those because it's amazing how much better my day is when I have been shopping with a happy, interested toddler instead of one that keeps getting into trouble and being bored.

What it is: So, I've found Packaging Depot to be one of those stores that I mentioned that makes life much easier for me.  They have been in the Homestead Market shopping center near Southpoint helping people out with all of their packaging and mailing needs for 18.5 years.  My family has been going there for about 8 years and have enjoyed supporting a local business and working with someone that we know and trust.

What we liked:  So, the last time I went to Package Depot was a few weeks ago.  I had a present for my husband's grandfather that was REALLY late.  In addition, I had run out of tape and did not have the package labeled.  I find that I'm always really disorganized when it comes to mailing things.  So, I head into the store after the ordeal of getting the newborn out of the car and into the stroller, the toddler walking beside me, and the package under the stroller.  We wrestled with the door, got everyone inside, and I was already tired.  However, once we got inside it all got a bit easier.  While  I was spending quite a few minutes trying to get my package ready to go (with much assistance from the owner), my son happily ran over to the toy area in the corner and played with the trains the whole time I was mailing my package!  Not once did I have to go get him or tell him to stop playing with something.  It was so nice!  Apparently, the small toy area was started in an attempt to get kids to stop playing with their bubble wrap and it's been there ever since!

We also like the owners.  Wayne and Susan Wartell definitely make you feel at home.  Their dogs, Lulu and Sadie (preceded by the much-loved Kali), are in the store and a part of the whole experience.  Pictures of the dogs with people and in various costumes line the walls for kids to look at.  Plus, they even celebrate the dogs birthdays in the stores when they roll around.

What we would change: There's only one counter with the owners working, so sometimes you can run into a little bit of a wait during busy times. 

Website and other important information: Packaging Depot is located in the Homestead Market Shopping Center in S. Durham near Southpoint. 

They do not currently have a website.

Address: 103 West Hwy. 54, Suite 265, Durham, NC 27713

Telephone: (919) 544-9446
Fax: (919) 544-9209


1. The store's sign from the outside

2. Their small, but very helpful toy area

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Nantucket Grill

What it is: Nantucket Grill is a restaurant that serves American style food and desserts.  It has several locations, but the one that we're going to write about is the Sutton Station location.  While we've written about Sutton Station before, after heading out to Nantucket Grill several times this past week, we definitely thought it needed its own post. 

What we liked: We went to Nantucket with my son and a few other moms in our group with their families last weekend.  Then, we headed back a few nights later with just the mommies.  These two trips reminded me of what a great place this is both for families and just for the adults.  So, we had to post an entry.  We all sat outside in the beautiful weather.  Then, while we ordered and waited for our food our kids did not have to stay in their seats.  They could roam through the grassy courtyard or take a look at the fountains or sculptures.  However, when the food actually came, they actually wanted to stay in their seats (for a short time).  I have never seen my child stuff and entire roll into his mouth, but that's exactly what this picky eater did when he tried these fabulous donut-like rolls.  They had a great kids menu to order off of, and our food was also very nice.  After dinner, at 7, the live music started up in the square, so the boys could dance off their meal.  It was a great night!

When we headed back a few nights later, I was reminded of a few other fabulous features of this restaurant.  Their desserts are awesome!  They have cake in a variety of flavors, and you can get a half slice (which is more than plenty) for under four dollars.  To top that off, these half slices of cake are FREE on Tuesday and Saturday nights!  They would be great to top off a family dinner out.  However, we came just for the dessert.  In addition, Wednesday and Thursday night also offer half price beer and wine bottles.  While this is not so good for the little ones, it makes for a great place for mommies or daddies to head to relax after a long day.  Finally, I just called and found out that kids eat free on Sunday night.  Who knew?!

What we would change: I was trying to think of a negative and having a difficult time.  Then, I just called the restaurant to confirm their free dessert nights.  They said that they were Tuesday and Saturday.  However, we were just there on a Tuesday and they did not offer us our desserts for free!  Boo!  So, there's my negative.  You might have to ask about the free cake in order to get it, and they might have their days confused depending on who you talk to.  Regardless, the cake prices are so reasonable that it's not a big deal either way.

Website and other important information: Nantucket Grill is located in Sutton Station off of Fayetteville Rd. just north of I-40.  They also have locations in Raleigh and at the intersection of I-40 and Hwy. 54.


Address: 5826 Fayetteville Road, Durham

Phone number: (919) 484-8162

Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 11am-9pm, Friday and Saturday: 11am-10pm


1. Nantucket Grill and its outdoor seating

2. A view from the outdoor seating toward the courtyard

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Starbucks at Southpoint Crossing

What it is: Starbucks at the Southpoint Crossing Shopping Center-A coffee shop that is kid-friendly!

What we liked: This Starbucks has plenty of indoor seating, including two cozy oversized chairs to enjoy.  If outdoors is more your style, several tables with large umbrellas keep the area shaded while you enjoy a variety of cars and trucks passing through the nearby parking lot.  If you are planning to head out for a run or walk, a short walk down the sidewalk will lead you to a trail that goes behind the Southpoint Crossing Shopping Center and connects to the American Tobacco Trail (ATT).  If shopping is your preferred activity for the day, there are several shops within the shopping center (including Kroger, Blockbuster, Hallmark, and Bull City Running).

What we would change: The outdoor area sits very close to the curb and surrounding parking lot, which can present a safety risk for some children.

Website and other important information: This kid-friendly Starbucks is located at the NE corner of Hwy. 54 and Fayetteville Rd. in South Durham.   Just visit their website to find countless other locations in the Triangle area.


Address: 202 W NC Highway 54, Durham

Monday, July 5, 2010

Red, White, and Bluegrass-The Fourth of July at the ATC

What it is: Several times on the blog, we have written about activities that only happen once a year.  Even though you won't be able to go to this event until next year, I wanted to include this one as well so that everyone would know about it when next year rolls around.  For Fourth of July our family headed down to the American Tobacco Campus.  They had live music on the lawn as well as an outdoor stand with food and drinks from Tylers as well as Locopops.  This is in addition to all of the restaurants that regularly surround the courtyard.  The campus was festively decorated and filled with people and an atmosphere of celebration.  Next door, the Durham Bulls was playing a game followed by a fireworks show at the ballpark.

What we liked: We loved the atmosphere!  There were a ton of people and families sitting on the lawn having a good time.  The price is also right--free!  It was fun to hang out on the lawn even if the little ones weren't up for staying for the fireworks.  However, we hear that the Durham Bulls Game gates were opened up to the public after the 7th inning for the fireworks show.  Even if you didn't want to watch the fireworks from inside the stadium, there were plenty of people sitting on the grass and in parking lots nearby to catch a view of the show.  I'd love to know how the views of the fireworks were from the various viewpoints including the lawn of the actual American Tobacco Campus lawn.  Let us know if you have a firework viewing spot to tell us about, good or bad.

What we would change:  We thought it was a little strange that the music ended at 8 and the fireworks didn't start until 10.  It might have been nice to have the music continue until closer to the time of the fireworks.  In addition, it was such a popular event that they were out of all of the flavors of Locopops except one by the time we had gotten there.

Website and other important information: Red, White, and Bluegrass took place on July 4th, 2010 from 4-8pm at the American Tobacco Campus in downtown Durham. 



1. Our View on the lawn

2. The Campus with all of its festive decorations

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Hope Valley Farms Swim and Racquet Club

What it is:  Looking for a place to cool down this summer?  The HVF club is a very family friendly, membership-only pool and tennis court located in the Hope Valley Farms neighborhood.  Any Durham resident can get a membership (either a full, summer, or tennis/fitness room membership).

What we liked:  There is a covered, gated baby pool area and a large pool with slide.  Kids can bring any toys or flotation devices that they want.  Swim classes are offered to both members and guests for a fee.  Members can rent a covered picnic area for parties.  The tennis courts are clay and apparently a lot of fun to play on (can't speak from experience, however!).  The fitness center has 4 treadmills, several bikes, an elliptical machine, weight machine and free weights.  It's accessible in the early morning and late evenings with a card.  Out of town guests are welcome to use the facilities without fees.  Members are supposed to pay for local guests (but this is rarely enforced).  :)  There are regularly scheduled clubhouse activites throughout the year.  We've enjoyed the visits from Santa, the Easter bunny, and holiday pool parties.  We haven't yet tried the movie nights for kids, camps in the summer, or a number of other activities they offer.

What we would change:  The PRICE! - It can be costly for a full family membership for the year.  They could also use a diving board at the pool.

Website and other important information: Hope Valley Farms Swim and Racquet Club is located in the Hope Valley Farms neighborhood in South Durham.
Address: 4818 S. Roxboro St, Durham , NC  27713 
Phone and Fax: (919) 493-7226-Phone (919) 402-8830-Fax

Membership Costs:
Full Membership Includes privileges to the pool, tennis courts, fitness room, and social events year round.  One-time initiation fee - $375 Family, $275 Couple, $225 Single, $125 Senior
Dues - $212/qtr Family, $198/qtr Couple, $140/qtr Single or Senior

Summer Membership
Includes privileges to the pool from early May to end of Sept 30th 
$840 Family, $740 Couple, $560 Single

Tennis &  Fitness Room Membership
Includes privileges to the tennis courts, fitness room, and social events year round
One-time initiation fee - $125 Couple/Family, $100 Single
Quarterly Dues - $132 Couple/Family, $102 Single


1. A view of the pool (Thanks to the reader who pointed out an error with the previous picture, HA!)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Day at the Beach: Falls Lake State Recreation Area

What it is: Falls Lake State Recreation Area is actually a huge park that surrounds various parts of Falls Lake. There are a number of facilities in the Area: campgrounds, boats launches, fishing spots, trails. But for most moms, this is a terrific beach spot to take little kids on a hot day. Falls Lake has three swimming beaches: Rolling View, Beaver Dam and Sandling. The most popular is Sandling Beach (the one in the photo). It could really feel like a day at the ocean, but for the lack of waves. There's a wide open view on the expanse of the lake and a very large sandy beach (no, it doesn't feel silty like some lakes). The added advantage of lake swimming is the entry is very gradual, and kids too young to swim can sit in the water for hours. The beach has excellent facilities, two bathroom buildings, two cold shower huts, lots of picnic tables and bbq pits, two play structures, racks of safety vests, and lots of adjacent parking.

What we liked:
If you can't drive to the coast, this is the next best thing! And we've been there even on the weekends and never felt too cramped for space.

What we would change:
given the adjacent farms and the people who don't curb their dogs, the lake can be closed to swimming because of bacterial contamination, so you need to check before heading out. The state monitors the water quality carefully, and closes the beach the minute bacteria are rising, so check the website or call the park office before heading out.

Website and other important information:
Sandling and Beaver Dam beahces are located on Hwy 50 (Creedmoor Road), between Creedmoor and North Raleigh.

Address: 13304 Creedmoor Rd., Wake Forest, NC 27587, (919) 676-1027

Website: The park website is at Click on the red Area Closures/Notices line to get the latest on water quality.

Hours: The park is pretty much open 8 to 9 all summer, seven days a week

Fee: $6 per carload for the day


1. Sandling Beach Entrance

2. A panoramic view of the lake

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