Sunday, September 27, 2009

Jump Rope Jump Off!

Experience the National Children's Museum’s second annual Jump Off! at National Harbor this Saturday, October 3.

The Museum will present an afternoon of free, outdoor exhibition performances by four nationally renowned Double Dutch jump rope teams along with other family friendly activities.

The event is FREE and will last from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Click here for more information.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Photobooth blocks

Pretty much anything that involves a photobooth is going to be a good project.

To make these photobooth blocks, scan in your photobooth strip and then adjust each picture so it will fit on your block. I used 2 in x 3 in linoleum blocks, found at an art store. Print and cut out your photos, and then apply Mod Podge to the back with a foam brush and stick them on the blocks. Spread a thin, even coat of Mod Podge over the top and sides to seal the photo.

Stack 'em any way you please.

You could do this with pretty much any photo and any size blocks. A fun change from the regular old picture frame.

Next up: Puzzle blocks

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


...another website!

I've developed a website for locals...all about things to do in the D.C. area. It's currently in a blog format, but will eventually be a more user-friendly website. I'm still compiling my lists and creating links but I'm hoping to keep it updated with things that are happening each week.

Check it out.

National Book Festival

The 2009 National Book Festival, organized and sponsored by the Library of Congress, will be held this Saturday, September 26, on the National Mall between 7th and 14th streets from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The festival is free!

For more information, click here.

Scores of authors, illustrators and poets will be making presentations on the National Mall throughout the day in Children, Teens & Children, Fiction, Mysteries & Thrillers, History & Biography, and Poetry & Prose pavilions.

Explore the world of learning in the PBS KIDS Raising Readers pavilion. See “Elmo” and his Sesame Street friends in a live stage show; sing-along with PBS KIDS’ SteveSongs or join us for story time.

Take your picture with the cast of Super Why, “Martha” from Martha Speaks, “Leona” or “Cleo” from Between the Lions, “Duck” from WordWorld or other PBS KIDS favorites like “Curious George” and “Clifford the Big Red Dog.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pumpkin goodness.

In honor of the first day of Fall (and my mom's birthday!) we made pumpkin cookies today. Hooray for Fall!

Chocolate-Glazed Pumpkin Cookies

Makes 3 1/2 dozen.

2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin puree
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin-pie spice, and salt; set aside.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg; beat until smooth. With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour mixture in two parts and pumpkin puree in one, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined (do not overmix).
3. Drop dough by heaping tablespoons onto two baking sheets, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until puffed and edges are golden, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating sheets once during baking. Immediately transfer cookies to wire racks, and cool completely.
4. When cookies have cooled, set them (still on rack) over a baking sheet or waxed paper. Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water; stir until almost melted. Remove from heat; stir until completely melted. Pour chocolate into a resealable plastic bag. Snip off a corner with scissors or a knife to make an 1/8-inch hole; pipe chocolate over cookies. Refrigerate until chocolate is firm, about 20 minutes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Click on the name to link to the park's website for more information.

River Farm Garden

7931 East Boulevard Dr., Alexandria VA 22308
(As you travel South on the GW Parkway, you will take a left after you pass under the stone bridge. There is a big sign telling you when to turn. After you turn left, take another left and the entrance is on the right.)
This is the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society. It is a BEAUTIFUL garden area on the Potomac River with a children's garden that has a maze and small play houses. There are also shovels for digging and lots of places for kids to explore. There are picnic tables and admission is free!

Ben Brenman Park

4800 Brenman Park Drive, Alexandria
(Near Duke St. and S. Pickett)
There is an enclosed playground and a small lake with fountains. There are usually lots of turtles and fish in the water.

Lee District Rec Center

6601 Telegraph Rd

Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site

4301 W Braddock Rd
Follow the road back a little and the playground is on the hill below the parking lot.

Windmill Hill Park
501 S Union St
Alexandria (South end of Old Town right by the river, there is plenty of street parking)
The playground here is enclosed and has a lower level for bigger kids and an upper level for smaller kids with a nice sand box. There is also a fun rope climb for bigger kids. This park offers a lot of shade and there is also a large field. There is another park across the street with a nice walkway along the river and a pier out on the water where you can feed the ducks if they're around.

Huntley Meadows Park
3701 Lockheed Blvd
Nestled in Fairfax County's Hybla Valley, Huntley Meadows Park is a rich, natural island in the suburban sea of Northern Virginia. Its 1,425 acres harbor majestic forests, wildflower-speckled meadows and vast wetlands bursting with life. Some of the best wildlife watching in the Washington metropolitan area is enjoyed here. From the ½ mile wetland boardwalk trail and observation tower, people have excellent views of beavers, frogs, dragonflies and herons. Huntley Meadows is well known as a prime birding spot, with over 200 species identified in the park.

Beach Park
201 Rucker Place
Alexandria (near Del Ray area and not far from King Street metro off of Russell)
There is some nice playground equipment here and a sand box.

Clemyjontri Park
6317 Georgetown Pike
This park has a phenomenal, huge playground where children of all abilities can play side-by-side. There is also a carousel that operates seasonally.

Fairlington Park

Fun park with a great sand box.
Take 395 North and get off at the King St. exit East. Take King St. to Quaker Lane and turn left. Take Quaker Lane to 33rd street (it will be on the left hand side). Turn left onto 33rd St. Once in Fairlington, take a left at the stop sign and then a quick right into the park.

Burke Lake Park
7315 Ox Road
Fairfax Station, VA
This park has a campground, a few playgrounds, a lake with a nice trail, a carousel, and a train. There is also a disc golf course, as well as mini golf.

Beverley Park
620 N. Overlook Dr., Alexandria
This park is in a beautiful neighborhood and the park itself is down in a pit. It's pretty sunny during the day, but there is some great playground equipment, including a fire truck to climb around on and a sand box with toys. The best part is a huge cement pad that the kids can ride their bikes on...there are tons of ride-on toys and those "Flintstone" buggies just left there for everyone to use.

Lake Accotink
7500 Accotink Park Rd
Facilities and activities vary with the season and include canoe, rowboat and pedal boat rentals, fishing, tour-boat rides, boat launch, bait and tackle sales, 9-green double holed miniature golf course, antique carousel, snack bar, pavilion shelters (reservations encouraged), picnic areas with grills, restrooms, playground, a 3.75-mile hiking/biking trail and 2 open play fields.

Oxon Hill Farm
Oxon Hill Farm operates as an actual working farm, representative of the early 20th century. There are lots of different animals and the location is beautiful. Admission is free.

Frying Pan Farm Park

2709 West Ox Road
Herndon, Virginia
A great farm with lots of animals to see. There is a 20 minute hayride for a small fee.

Hidden Pond Nature Center
8511 Greeley Boulevard
There are indoor exhibits, a nature trail, a pond, playground, and picnic shelter.

Hidden Oaks Nature Center
7701 Royce Street

Old Maryland Farm

301 Watkins Park Drive
Upper Marlboro, MD
The agricultural exhibits, livestock, and display gardens provide a farming experience to visitors. There is also a carousel and train ride.

Fort Hunt Park
Located 6 miles south of Old Town on the George Washington Memorial Parkway
There is a small playground and a lot of picnic areas. Neat park with lots of history.


  • Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (beautiful church and grounds)
  • Rock Creek Cemetery (park-like setting has many notable mausoleums and tombstones)
  • National Cathedral (great view from top)
  • Franciscan Monastery (with its arched walkways, 15 miniature outdoor chapels and well-kept garden, the monastery offers a meditative oasis in the city)
  • Congressional Cemetery


  • Enid Haupt Garden, behind the Smithsonian castle (BEAUTIFUL during cherry blossom time...escape the crowds of the Tidal Basin and picnic here)
  • U.S. National Arboretum (free, beautiful grounds, Bonsai Museum, nice place to bike)
  • National Botanic Gardens (wonderful Christmas displays with trains)
  • River Farm Garden Park (close, free, rarely crowded, beautiful)
  • Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
  • Dumbarton Oaks (located in Georgetown; museum and gardens are open to the public)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


  • Rock Creek Park
  • Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park (C&O Canal Trail)
  • Bladensburg Waterfront Park (free pontoon boat tours on the Anacostia River)
  • National Wildlife Visitors Center
  • Turkey Run Park (located off the GW Parkway, picnic areas and lots of hiking trails)
  • Prince William Forest Park (hiking/camping/cabins)
  • Great Falls State Park
  • Patapsco Valley State Park (near Baltimore)
  • Sandy Point State Park (beach on the Chesapeake Bay)
  • Kayaking on the Potomac (enjoy a unique view of the monuments; rent kayaks in Georgetown)
  • Roosevelt Island (Theodore Roosevelt monument and nice walking trail)
  • Biking the GW parkway (18 miles from Mount Vernon to Roosevelt Island)
  • Scott’s Run Nature Preserve in McLean, Virginia
  • Pohick Bay (cabin camping, water park, disc golf, boat rentals)
  • National Colonial Farm in Piscataway Park (Accokeek)

Monday, September 14, 2009


  • Annapolis
  • Longwood Gardens (located in Pennsylvania, about 110 miles away; these gardens are AMAZING and worth the year round...GO!)
  • Harper’s Ferry
  • Virginia Beach
  • Richmond
  • Monticello
  • Williamsburg/Jamestown
  • Hershey, PA
  • Lancaster, PA
  • Philadelphia
  • Baltimore: Aquarium, Port Discovery Children’s Museum, Fort McHenry, Baltimore Museum of Art
  • Chincoteague Island/Assateague Island National Seashore
  • Shenandoah National Park/ Luray Caverns

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Click here to see the Washington Post's lists of the best places to eat in several categories. (Best Burgers, Best Cheap Eats, Best Sushi, etc.)

Eamons for the best fish and chips around (Corner of Columbus and King in Old Town)

Restaurant Eve
110 S Pitt St in Old Town

Fontaine Caffe and Creperie
119 South Royal Street in Old Town

The Dairy Godmother
(authentic frozen custard...check the website for daily flavors)
2310 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria (in the Del Ray neighborhood)

Ben’s Chili Bowl
1213 U Street NW

Gadsby’s Tavern (“Fine Dining Since 1770”)
138 N. Royal St in Old Town

Comet Ping Pong
(Play ping pong while you wait for delicious pizza; also a unique venue for local artists and musicians)
5037 Connecticut Ave NW


Smithsonian Museums: Explore the world's largest museum complex
Click here to go to the Smithsonian website to see current exhibits and find out about everything from photography classes to lectures.

Some of our favorites:
  • Natural History Museum
  • American History Museum
  • Air and Space Museum (also check out the Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport)
  • National Gallery of Art (“Jazz in the Garden” during the summer)
  • Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
  • National Museum of the American Indian (excellent cafeteria–we like the Indian Fry Bread with Mexican hot chocolate in the winter)
  • Sewall-Belmont House and Museum (Headquarters of the historic National Woman’s Party)
  • National Postal Museum
  • U.S. Navy Museum
  • National Geographic Museum (Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit coming in November)
  • National Building Museum (fun play area for kids, neat building, traveling exhibits are always interesting)
  • College Park Aviation Museum

Saturday, September 12, 2009


  • Monuments on the National Mall
  • Teddy Roosevelt Island
  • Mount Vernon (check out the Candlelight Tour at Christmas time, and many other annual events)
  • Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope Leighey House/Woodlawn Plantation
  • Netherlands Carillon/Iwo Jima
  • Manassas National Battlefield Park
  • Fort Washington


  • Fords Theater (newly renovated...check website for schedule of plays)
  • Kennedy Center (free concerts every evening; open late...nice views from terrace)
  • Wolf Trap (great outdoor performance venue; check the schedule for performances...cheaper lawn seating is usually available)
  • Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, VA (This former prison is now much like the Torpedo Factory: you can talk to local artists and watch them work.)
  • Torpedo Factory (watch local artists work)

Friday, September 11, 2009


  • H Street Country Club (fun D.C.-themed indoor mini golf; good food; go early to avoid the “bar crowd”)
  • Comet Ping Pong (play some ping pong while you wait for delicious pizza)
  • Woodys Mini Golf:Perils of the Lost Jungle (rated “Top 5 Mini Golf Courses in America” by Newsweek; this course is awesome!)
  • Reston Zoo (encourages animal interaction; wagon ride to see animals included with admission)
  • National Zoo
  • Water Parks (Great Waves, Pirate’s Cove at Pohick Bay, The Water Mine, Downpour)
  • Gravelly Point (watch planes take-off and land at Reagan; also a nice place to walk along the parkway trail or have a picnic)
  • National Harbor (nice place to walk around, new location for The Awakening statue, Children’s Museum coming in the future)
  • University of Maryland Observatory in College Park, MD (observatory hosts free open houses twice a month during which visitors can listen to a half-hour lecture and then peer through telescopes that the staff has trained on extraterrestrial objects)
  • Goddard Space Flight Center


  • Eastern Market
  • Union Station
  • Library of Congress (22 reading rooms and access to 650 miles of bookshelves)
  • Biking around the monuments at night (I love seeing the monuments at night and the best way to get around and see all of them is on bike.)
  • Fords Theater (newly renovated...check website for schedule of plays)
  • Kennedy Center (free concerts every evening; open late...nice views from terrace)


  • Torpedo Factory (watch local artists work)
  • Boat rides on Potomac
  • Fontaine Caffe and Creperie (yummy crepes...nice brunch spot)
  • Wilson Bridge (start in Old Town and walk across the bridge to the Maryland side...nice views)
  • Masonic Memorial (wonderful view at the top)
  • Narrow house (check out the narrowest house in the country, on Queen St., only 7 feet wide)
  • Good restaurants and shops


  • National Book Festival (on the mall in September)
  • Shenandoah Hot Air Balloon Festival
  • National Cherry Blossom Festival
  • Smithsonian Kite Festival (on the mall in the spring)
  • Smithsonian Folklife Festival (on the mall in the summer)
  • County and State Fairs
  • Capitol Fourth Concert (go to the rehearsal the night before)
  • Kennedy Center Open House and Opera in the Outfield
  • Flower Mart at the National Cathedral

In Virginia:

Cox Farms Fall Festival

Centreville, VA
This festival is HUGE...plan to spend several hours. There are a lot of slides that are fun for the whole family. There are also rope swings, farm animals (including an interactive "goat village"), a great hayride, a silly corn maze, free apples and cider, a special area for children under 5, straw tunnels, and other activities. Admission includes a small pumpkin.

If possible, go during the week to avoid the weekend crowds. Afternoons seem to be the least busy.

Burke Nursery's Fall Festival
Burke, VA
Daily activities include slides, hay rides, farm animals, pumpkin fort, rope swing, and pirate and western-themed activities. Small pumpkin is included with admission.

Old Mine Ranch
Dumfries, Virginia
Through the month of October, enjoy pumpkin picking, hayrides, slides, petting farm, moonbounce and more. Open everyday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Spookfest every night except Sunday 7-9 p.m.

Hollins Farms Orchard
Delaplane, Virginia
One of the largest pumpkin patches in Northern Virginia. Pick a pumpkin, see farm animals and baby calves, take a pony ride, enjoy live music, hiking, and more. Open Wednesday through Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through October.

Heather Hill Gardens
Fairfax Station, VA
The Fall Festival includes pumpkins, a pumpkin fort, climbing ropes and swings for children.

Stribling Orchard
Markham, VA
Pick apples and choose pumpkins at this family farm which is more than 200 years old. Visitors can picnic at mountaintop tables and view farm animals.

Marker-Miller Orchards
Winchester, VA
Pick-you-own apples and pumpkins. There's an apple harvest festival Oct 10-11, and a pumpkin festival.

Virginia Farm Market
Winchester, VA
Pumpkinland features a pumpkin-lined path with red wagons and a pumpkin-filled wagon designed as a photo backdrop.

Great Country Farms
Bluemont, VA
This 200-acre farm offers hayrides to a pick-your-own pumpkin patch. Activities include pedal carts, a giant corn box and a 2,800-square-foot pumpkin jumpin' pillow for outdoor bouncing, five mazes, a twin 60-foot slide and a mountain made of tractor tires.

Leesburg, VA
The festival includes hay mazes, hill slides, a moon bounce and pumpkin fort. Pumpkins are available for picking. On weekends, children can fly down a 200-foot zip line and ride camels.

Ticonderoga Farms
Chantilly, VA
The Pumpkin Festival at this 1,000-acre, fifth-generation family farm features hayrides, a pumpkin patch, hillside slides, tetherball, face painting, a candy corn hut, a small petting zoo and refreshments.

In Maryland:

Butler's Orchard
Germantown, Maryland
Annual Pumpkin Festival is held weekends throughout October, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pick a pumpkin; take a hayride; explore a hay maze; and enjoy crafts, food, and family activities.

Homestead Farm
Poolesville, Maryland
Harvest festival is held weekends through October from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Take a hayride, pick your own apples or pumpkins, find your way through the hay maze.

Larriland Farms
Woodbine, Maryland
Annual Pumpkin Festival is held weekends throughout October. Pick a pumpkin; take a hayride; and explore a hay maze and more.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sunprint Kit

When my friend Kristilyn came to visit awhile ago, she brought us a Sunprint Kit to try out. I had never used one of these and it was pretty cool. Amelia had fun finding leaves and sticks and other things to put on the paper. After you arrange some items on the light-sensitive paper, you leave it in the sun for a few minutes and ta-da! You have a lovely piece of art.