Thursday, January 10, 2019

Boxcar Bar + Arcade

It's open! The long anticipated Boxcar Bar + Arcade on Foster Street downtown
is ready for business, and a lot of fun is to be had. 

Parking is on the street, which in downtown Durham means paid parking so take note. When you walk in you'll notice the long row of pinball machines to your right and arcade games in front of you, dozens. Everyone needs to check in with ID but kids are welcome with an adult until 9pm.  Then you can buy one token for a quarter, with each game ranging from 1 to 4 tokens to play. 

Behind the arcade machine row is a place to order fresh pizzas (whole, no single slices). Prices are pretty reasonable and they looked really tasty!

Behind the front desk is a private event space which looks like a great opportunity for a unique get together for a group.

Farther down you'll see skeeball, foosball, and basketball games, framed all around by tall windows, giving it a lot of natural light. To the right and outside will be space for outdoor lounging. Dogs are welcome inside and outside (but no bearded dragons, birds or cats please haha - believe me, people have tried at other locations according to one Boxcar employee). The outdoors gravel picnic table area is not complete yet but I can imagine it will be fantastic in the spring. 

Turn around and there's a long bar with plenty of friendly bartenders. Lots of drink options abound, with mixed drink specials around $8-10 and beers from $3-7.

To the right of the bar are more games, including air hockey, dance dance revolution, racing simulators and even a couple nintendo consoles set up where you can play such games as Super Mario Bros 3 for free!

I love the view from the main part of the bar, overlooking the old Bulls stadium. Today a college team was warming up while we watched, a great scene.

Hanging out at Boxcar was really fun. We spent about an hour there, spending $20 in tokens and drinks. Good time had by all!

What we liked: Lots of options with games, and people were ready to help when we had questions or when a machine went down unexpectedly and they gave us our coins back. Drinks were tasty and the place was clean, welcoming and fun.

What we would change: The music was a bit... cheesy and poppy. We heard Smashmouth's AllStar and personally, I could go a lifetime without hearing it again. Maybe all 80's music would be better? But that's a wee complaint, all in all a great time. ;)

The details: 
Boxcar Bar + Arcade
621 Foster St, Durham, NC 27701
(984) 377-2791

Wednesday, August 22, 2018


After years of wondering and waiting, Sprouts has finally arrived! Sprouts calls themselves a Farmers Market instead of a grocery store, specializing in natural and organic foods and goods. They have over 300 stores in 12 states, this is the 4th in NC with the closest being in North Raleigh. I attended a blogger tour and cooking class yesterday and must say I was very impressed. 

Sprouts prides itself on being an alternative to higher priced natural food stores and grocery stores, saying that 1/3rd of their store is on sale at any given time. They have Deals of month located in their magazine available in the store, and when the new ad is released each week you can take advantage of Double ad Wednesdays, where both circular prices are good. In addition in the mobile app there is up to $100 worth of savings just for August alone. There are lots of other ways to save money, like Sprouts brand items. I bought Sprouts aloe vera water for half as much as the name brand for example. At their ready-made sandwich counter if you buy 6 you get the 7th free, and if you use your own reusable bag you get a 5 cent discount. That's a lot more options to save than I expected!

I was impressed by their goods section, from makeup to essential oils and vitamins. Their employees in that area are also really well versed and available to answer any questions. The kids alternative medicine and vitamin area was big and the prices comparable to anywhere I've looked. And if you spend over $100 on vitamins you get a 10% discount on your next order, in addition to constant sales in that department.

kids vitamin and supplement section

The bakery and fresh foods section are pretty extensive. All baked goods are baked in store. I took some raspberry cream cheese coffee cake home and it's really fresh. The ready to eat section has sushi, sandwiches, salad bar, Fresh juice bar, sides, and more. Lots to enjoy there. 

The bulk section is huge and compared to packaged items you can save a lot. 

I got both rolled oats and sunflower seeds for a great price. 

There are over 100 bulk spices for example!

I loved the produce available. It was all in really good condition. The produce prices range from 20-25% below supermarket prices. They carry specialty items too like lemon drop melons and cotton candy grapes - which, if you've never had before you can sample, just like anything in produce - just ask a team member!

All areas of the store were impressive from top to bottom. I noticed in the coolers that there is a huge selection of dairy alternatives as well as vegetarian options and gluten-free choices. In dry goods, items are stacked and arranged by health attributes versus marketing purposes as in normal stores. Be sure to check out Sprouts on the web as online they even offer educational articles, product stories, food tips under the healthy living section and you can even pre-order food. 

Every employee I encountered was really friendly and helpful. 
Plus they have a lot of checkout lanes!

I highly recommend Sprouts as an all in one stop for regular groceries as well as more specialty items. It's a great addition to south durham food stores!

The details:
105 W North Carolina 54, Durham, NC 27713
Open daily: 7am - 10pm

Thursday, July 12, 2018

NCMA: You are Here exhibition

North Carolina Museum of Arts "You Are Here" exhibit is maybe the coolest thing I've seen there in years, and it's only around for another week or so, so you need to take the kids. This is truly one of the reasons I feel so lucky to live in the triangle. YOH is filled with immersive exhibits over a whole floor of NCMA, many centering around the topic of light. My kids and I went on the free weekend and really enjoyed ourselves, so it's definitely kid friendly with some interactive installations. Since it's almost over the museum will be especially crowded on weekends so I recommend going on a weeknight and allotting a good amount of time. You should also buy tickets ahead of time online here:
One of the installations in particular typically has a wait to visit since only a few people at a time can "witness" it so that part might be more challenging for younger visitors. Next weekend, the final weekend of You Are Here, the exhibition will be open extended hours, Friday and Saturday, July 20 and 21, from 10 am to 2 am with food and adult beverages for sale from 5 pm to 1:30 am. More on the exhibit from their website ( below:

"Become part of the art. You Are Here: Light, Color, and Sound Experiences, open April 7 through July 22, 2018.

You Are Here features immersive art installations by 15 contemporary artists, including large-scale light works, sound installations, video works, mixed-media room-size environments, and site-specific projects. Some are delightfully low-tech, transforming ordinary materials into awe-inspiring visuals, while others make use of experimental new media, fusing art and technology in interactive works that change in response to the viewer. The artists in this exhibition employ a diversity of media to create intriguing experiences that engage the senses, activate the imagination, and provide connections between the viewer and the work of art.

You Are Here presents pioneering video, light, and sound installations by Bill Viola, James Turrell, Janet Cardiff, Olafur Eliasson, and Ragnar Kjartansson. Works by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Jim Campbell, and Theo Eshetu use experimental, cutting-edge technology; custom electronics; and digital media. Mixed-media installations by Anila Quayyum Agha, Soo Sunny Park, Mickalene Thomas, and Heather Gordon use low-tech, nontraditional materials. You Are Here also takes visitors outdoors in the Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park to explore projects by Sam Falls and OMAi/Markus Dorninger.

The exhibition also includes the debut of the Museum's new acquisition of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama's Light of Life, a mirrored hexagonal box measuring more than seven feet square and seven feet tall, with three portholes at varying heights to allow the viewer to look inside of the enclosed “infinity room.” The interior of the work is lined with mirrors and filled with LED lights that are programmed to change patterns and colors in a dazzling two-minute light show. Viewers see a kaleidoscopic play of color and light, along with multiple views of their own reflections and those of the other viewers looking through the portholes, all creating an illusion of infinite space and an extraordinary shared experience."

More details after photos. 

Adults $15

Children 7-18 $9
Children 6 and under FREE

North Carolina Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Road 
Raleigh, NC 27607-6494 

Tuesday–Thursday 10 am–5 pm
Friday 10 am–9 pm
Saturday–Sunday 10 am–5 pm

Monday Closed

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Fate of the Frog book tour

Seuss, Sustainability, and The Fate of the Frog:
Durham Author's Third Children’s Book Supports K-2 Curricula

Durham author Melissa Rooney’s third children’s book, The Fate of the Frog, was released this month with a ‘Books Tour' in Ohio, the home state of illustrator Stacy Fabbre. The Seuss-inspired picture book tells an engaging story, using anapestic tetrameter and playful watercolor illustrations to address the importance of water resources as well as other K-3 curricula topics. Rooney, who is a Durham Arts Council CAPS artist and Associate Supervisor for Durham’s Soil and Water Conservation District, will host two free “hands-on” book readings at The Regulator Bookshop at 11AM and 1PM  *this* Saturday, June 30th, including a Family Q&A/discussion, reading of The Fate of the Frog, and make-and-take plush tadpole craft using 100% recycled materials.

Rooney, who lived in South Durham for 15 years before moving to the Watts Hospital Hillandale neighborhood in 2017, is a Ph.D. Chemist, scientific editor, and author of the Eddie the Electron children’s book series (Amberjack Publishing). She has conducted hands-on children’s events at The Science Museum of Western Virginia, The Virginia Museum of Natural Sciences, The Virginia Transportation Museum, The Danville Science Center, The UNC Science Expo, and numerous public schools and libraries across NC and VA. She believes that “the sooner we expose our children to ‘complicated’ scientific ideas, the less intimidated they will be by such subject matter in the future. Whether or not they understand everything is beside the point. What’s important is whether or not they are interested.”

It’s more important than ever to support scientific literacy and objectivity in the education of our youth and to introduce them to, engage them in, and prevent them from losing the Magic and Creativity that is Nature and Science. In The Fate of the Frog, Rooney accomplishes all these. Bring your kids to meet her at the Regulator on June 30th! More info at: www.melissarooneywriting.com and

Reviews of The Fate of the Frog (available for purchase here):

"The Fate of the Frog is an entertaining and meaningful tale of the plight of a frog whose water puddle dries up during a summer drought.  The story is told from the perspective of an eight-year-old boy who follows the frog and the status of its puddle through a rainy spring, when the puddle is regularly replenished and hot dry summer during which the puddle eventually dries up.  The story engaged each of my three preschool and kindergarten age children from beginning to end.  On the surface, the colorful illustrations and lyrical writing captured everyone’s attention and made for an enjoyable story time for the entire family.  On a deeper level the frog’s struggle produced an age appropriate segue to a discussion of the importance of water and the issue of water conservation." 
~ Erica DeShong, Durham Parent (3-5yos) and SoDu Parents Posse member

"The Fate of the Frog is a wonderful picture book that shows a frog's struggle to survive in his puddle.  As a kindergarten teacher, it was magnificent to find a developmentally appropriate book about a life cycle as well as the ability to integrate other key, common core aligned science units into a fun and relatable read aloud.  The illustrations brought the rhyming versus alive.  The realistic and true to life experiences of the frog and young boy allowed the students to make text-to-self and text-to-world connections. After reading the book to my class, here are some excerpts of the conversation: "It was fun because the frog kept on trying!" "It was fun and amusing." "It was a nice story, can we read it again?!" Post read aloud, the students were observed to recreate various scenes from the book during free, unstructured play time in collaboration with water cycle knowledge.  The Fate of the Frog quickly became a must read in my classroom!" 
~ Emily Hayes, Durham Kindergarten teacher, The Lerner School and SoDu Parents Posse member

"As a certified K-5 teacher this is truly a remarkable book your school library or home should have. It's engaging, and the writer as well as the illustrator have mastered the gift of bringing it to the child's level of understanding. A joyous read to students! (And adults too.)" 
~Anonymous Amazon Reviewer of The Fate of A Frog.

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