Thursday, March 17, 2011

Three-fer Thursday: Witherspoon Rose Culture + The Learning Express + Panera or Peony Asian Bistro (+ Home Depot)

I hope everyone's enjoying the amazing weather. It feels like SPRING--I guess it already is--and in honor of such a momentous occasion this week's Three-fer Thursday is devoted to one of my favorite Springtime activities.  Not cleaning, not starting a shiny-new exercise regiment, not even watching a new anime (although I am doing that).  No, I'm talking about SHOPPING.  That's right, ya'll.  Hide your wallets.

Witherspoon Rose Culture +  The Learning Express + Panera or Peony Asian Bistro (+ Home Depot)

Start your morning off right by parking at the Panera Bread on Witherspoon Rd. (off of 15-501.  Then walk on over to Witherspoon Rose Culture ( This is an amazing place.  It's right in the middle of the Home Depot parking lot off of 15-501, but it's like a little pocket of rose-preserve-happiness.  They have their own pond, rows upon rows of decorative planted roses, roses to buy, green houses of roses to buy, gazebos, paths to run, etc.  Enjoy the sun and take some time to run around.  You may even want to grab a little rose bush to plant later on.

After you've gotten some good run time, cross the street again.  You can stop for a little playtime/shopping at The Learning Express.   They even have a nice little half-wall of cheap goodies, so you can usually get out of there with a special treat for your kiddo for a few bucks.  The staff is very friendly, too, so they don't mind if you browse.  There are lots of trains and play-kitchens to check out, after all.

By now you may be hungry.  If so, you have a number of options.  You can hit lunch at Panera, which if you've been reading Three-fer's, you already know that I have an irrational attachment to (what can I say?  They keep giving me free pastries with that card-dealie!).  You can get some Chinese at Peony Asian Bistro.  We haven't written them up before, but they are this Stir Crazy Mom's favorite Chinese in Durham.  They use no MSG or additives, have great mapodofu, amazing Mongolian Beef, and even sushi and Thai (although I haven't tried their sushi or Thai menus, so I can't speak for them).  If you haven't had good Chinese in a while, have some here.  Chinese food is amazingly pre-schooler friendly.  Everything's already in bite-size pieces and you'll never run out of rice.  And if you're in the mood for something else, there's a subway, a pizza place, and even a Cold-Stone Creamery.

(I'd go for Chinese, though.  And then maybe a coffee at Panera. :-))

At this point you can either go home or keep going.  If the weather's nice, keep going.  Walk all the way down to Home Depot.  On the way, you can stop by the pet store and look at fish.  Or hit Total Wine and buy yourself a bottle of Riesling for Mommy-time.  Or even look at shoes at DSW, longingly, and recall how there was a time in your life when you wore heels.  Either way, when you get to Home Depot you can check out the gardens and wander some more.  You may even want to pick up some strawberries for your kid to plant!  When they finally grow, you can eat them with your wine.  

Oh, and the best part of this Three-fer:  It extends home.  If you did buy plants, come back and plant them with your kids.  Playing in the dirt is an awesome way to spend a sunny afternoon.  And you may even get flowers out of it!

when to go:  head out around 9:30 am and expect to head back before 2:00 pm
what to bring:  all the usual pre-schooler supplies.  If you need a diaper change, make sure to do it at Panera or The Learning Express.
what it'll cost you:  Well, that depends.  Did you buy a $40 rose?  Did you invest in some new Thomas toys?  How about Total Wine?  Did you buy the good Mosel Valley Riesling, or the almost-as-good $10 bottle?  Were you broke before you even got to lunch?  Spending's up to you.  
advisories:  Witherspoon doesn't really hit full-bloom until early summer, so you may want to save your visit for a time when everything's blooming.  All of these spots have standard hours, but you should check them anyway. Oh, and if you grab mapodofu or pepper beef at Peony Asian Bistro: do not let your kid eat those dried red peppers.

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