Have you checked out the new Build-A-Bear store at Fair Oaks Mall? I'll be honest, this is one of those stores that I'll pass by as fast as I can so that we don't get distracted and dragged in. However, I am actually quite impressed with the new store design and enhanced technology interaction with the kids. We were invited in to take a look at what's new and experience making a "bear" ourselves.
Of course, we did not choose a bear (that would make too much sense) - we chose an Ice Age character (a squirrel or something?) which Build-A-Bear @ Fair Oaks is carrying to correlate with the Ice Age theme of Santa's Palace this year. #Genius!
When you walk through the store, motion sensors talk to you along the way. Almost everything has been transformed to a touch-screen for the kids - for the most part, it is completely do-it-yourself and hands-on (aside from stuffing and sewing the bear together). Our favorite part was giving the animals a bath. The tub was a large touch screen - kinda like an iPad - and the different tub toys had effects on the screen. For instance, if you put the rubber duck on the screen, two little legs appeared under it and you could see it swimming in the water and the boat made waves. If you guessed I was quite captivated... you should have seen the kids.
Check out our pics below for a look at the new store! or, you can take a virtual tour of the store.
*I was invited by Build-A-Bear to visit the new store and was provided with a complimentary product. The opinions are always my own!
How to: Once the temperatures reach freezing, fill up balloons with water and add food coloring. Once frozen, cut off the balloon itself and you have a giant frozen ball of colored ice! so pretty - maybe you could even make them into Christmas decorations...
*on a side note, I would try to use a food coloring that will not stain or ruin your grass/sidewalks/child's hands.
I saw this idea over the summer and I've been holding on to the pic - but I just can't wait any longer to share! I thought I'd have a chance this past Tuesday to make these babies come to life, but it just wasn't cold enough.
photo credit to C. Doyle.
We recently spent a weekend in beautiful Shenandoah County, Virginia. It also just happened to be my birthday weekend. I was looking forward to experiencing the falling leaves, green pastures, and the quiet pace of life that can be found just about an hour west of Northern Virginia.
We left Fairfax at 2pm on a Friday and headed towards the mountains. With no traffic on 66, it only took us about an hour to land at our first destination: the Shenandoah County Tourism Office. We met with the Director, Natalie, who had our whole weekend planned for us. To top it off, she had a swag bag packed with Shenandoah-style goodies! We snagged a copy of our itinerary and headed into the mountains towards our first stop.
We arrived at Bryce Resort just before dinner and were greeted by Rob, the General Manager. Rob gave us a walking tour of the beautiful resort and newly fitted ski lift for the 2012 season. Bryce Resort offers skiing, tubing, ski-wee (think pee-wee ski camp for the little ones) and more for the winter season.
We came inside for dinner and a drink - I was totally caught off guard. The food was amazing - so good that we wanted to come back later in the weekend for seconds! I never, ever, ever eat ribs. but Rob kept encouraging us to try them... and for a good reason. Delish! If you make it out this season and are looking for something lighter - try the chicken drumsticks with homemade ranch paired with a spicy bloody mary. #lush!
On the second night, we stayed at the AC Stickley Bed and Breakfast in the heart of old town Strasburg. AC Stickley is a beautifully restored home within walking distance to the downtown scene. Donna, the inn keeper, was so welcoming even though we arrived a little after schedule. We were invited to a gorgeous suite with two fire places, beer in the mini fridge, and a delicious breakfast the next morning. Donna loves to cook - and she is always changing up the menu and snacks. Our fruit in the morning was a warm apple crisp with a spoonful of vanilla bean gelato. It didn't stop there... Check out her southern trifle made with layers of grits, sausage, cheese, hard boiled egg, garden tomatoes - topped with cheese, sour cream, and chives. Served with baked bacon.
I told Donna to start pinning her recipes so that I could follow!
a few other stops we made along the way --
We had a fabulous time - special thank you to Natalie Wills @ Shenandoah County Tourism for putting together our itinerary and inviting us with opportunity to experience everything Shenandoah Valley has to offer.
If you're planning a trip out, here are a few other recommendations:
by Jennifer Hemmick
It’s my birthday and I’ll bake if I want to!
Last weekend was my birthday and birthdays with my husband’s family are not birthdays without ice cream cake. Call me crazy, but ice cream cake is not my favorite; I’m a frosting and cake kinda gal (the thicker the frosting, the happier I am) and I decided that this year, I was going to bake myself some cupcakes.
A couple of months ago, my coworker mentioned she was going to make some salted caramel cupcakes that she found on Pinterest for her sweetie’s birthday. When the day came, she posted about them on Facebook and I was so jealous I wasn’t a part of the festivities. Knowing how sweet Ms. A is, I should’ve guessed she would save some to share
with her wonderful coworkers.
As soon as I tasted it, I was in heaven. The combination of salty and sweet was amazing and I was so sad when I ate that last bite that I vowed to find an excuse to make them ASAP. What better excuse than my very own birthday?
Ms. A shared the original recipe with me, but told me she used yellow boxed cake mix instead of the written one. Hers were so good, that when I went to the store to stock up on baking supplies, I decided to just get the box. In my excitement, I ended up getting Sugar-free yellow cake mix and while looking up reviews on Amazon I found out that “excess consumption may cause a laxative effect.” I’m sorry, but diarrhea and birthdays don’t mix well in my opinion, so I ended up following the original recipe.
In full disclosure, these are time-consuming and use A LOT of sugar, but trust me, they are definitely worth it! You will also end up with a lot of leftover caramel and frosting, which, in the original poster’s opinion, “only matters if you’re an alien.” For an added treat Ms. A topped the cupcakes with a chocolate-covered pretzel, which I forgot to buy, but they were good
1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and light and dark brown sugars, and milk together. Bring to a boil.
2. Let mixture boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
3. Preheat oven to 350°
4. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
5. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together.
6. In mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar over medium speed for 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and continue beating
until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl when necessary.
7. Add the flour and the milk, beating on low speed until ingredients are just combined.
8. Fill each liner about 3/4 full, about 1/4 cup batter.
9. Bake approx 20 minutes until centers are set.
10. Transfer to wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.
11. While cupcakes are cooling make your frosting. Combine butter, powdered sugar 3/4 cup prepared (and cooled) caramel sauce and milk in a mixing bowl. Beat ingredients together about 2 minutes until creamy. (Mine came out really thin, but it hardened once on the cupcakes)
12. After cupcakes have cooled for about 10 minutes, pierce tops of cupcakes with a sharp knife or skewer about 10 times. Pour about 1 tablespoon of caramel sauce on top of each cupcake, allowing it to absorb into the holes. (This step can get messy! I had the cupcakes on a cooling rack placed over wax paper for easy cleanup)
13. Let the cupcakes finish cooling completely and then frost with about 2 tablespoons of frosting on each. Lightly
sprinkle your cupcakes with (coarse or flaked) sea salt.
Today, my best friend from college is deploying to Afghanistan. So very thankful for her courage and defending our freedoms here at home. Love you, Anne!
Friday, Nov. 16: It's a Dee-Light! Begin the holiday season early with the spectacular display at Meadowlark's Winter Walk of Lights. Imagine the beauty of Meadowlark's renowned gardens transformed into a winter wonderland, including a flowing stream of softly glowing lights. Marvel at the two-story animated fountain, stroll past the Gingerbread Village and explore the beauty of nature like you've never seen it. Timed admission tickets are required. Dress for the outdoors! The walking path is .6 miles long. Stay for the animated Lakeside Lights show and enjoy "light" refreshments. 5:30, 6:30, 7:30, 8:30 and 9:15 (through Jan. 6). Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. $13/adults, $8/children ages 8 to 12. Tickets available online. For more information call 703-255-3631.
Also on Friday:
Jokeslingers Comedy Tour: Live stand up comedy featuring Alex Moore, a comedic giant who has appeared on “My Name is Earl,” “MadTV,” and “The View." Also featuring comedians Brian Kerns, from “Last Comic Standing” and Adam Dodd, a musical comic who has performed on “Ryan Seacrest Live,” MTV, and VH1. Due to material, all patrons must be 18 years old to attend the performance. 8 and 10 p.m. (Also on Saturday.) Workhouse Arts Center. $20/person. For more information call 703-584-2900.
Saturday, Nov. 17: Just a Taste
Taste the flavors enjoyed by woodland American Indians in the 1600s while sitting communally around the fire during American Indian Foods Tasting & Tea. Listen to stories about local animals and enjoy traditional games. Make a game to take home. Participants age 4 and above are welcome. 2 to 3 p.m. Hidden Oaks Nature Center. $15/person. Register online. For information call 703-941-1065.
Also on Saturday:
Hot Club of San Francisco: “Cinema Vivant”: Playful, engaging and so utterly charming that this is their third time at the Alden, Hot Club of San Francisco recreates the French Gypsy jazz of Django Reinhardt, Stéphane Grappelli and the Hot Club de France with original compositions and renditions of hot jazz classics. HCSF has a traditional Hot Club instrumentation of guitar, rhythm guitar (replacing drums), violin and upright bass. HCSF will blend their usual concert with screenings of short silent films that they will accompany. Ladislaw Starewicz was a pioneer of stop-action animation and created films that clearly influenced the popular animated movies of today. Come enjoy an unusual evening of elegant jazz manouche and rarely seen silent shorts. 8 p.m. McLean Community Center’s Alden Theatre. $25/person. ($18/McLean Community Center district residents.) For information call 703-790-0123.
Living History: Featuring reenactors portraying the 17th Mississippi Infantry. There will be infantry drill and musket firing demonstrations along with portrayal of Civil War camp life. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bull Run Regional Park. Free. For information call 703-631-0550.
Family Fun - Thankful, Thoughtful, Thanksgiving: With Thanksgiving soon upon us, respect your body with good nutrition. Explore creative recipes which incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet. Try a healthy Thanksgiving treat and learn the story behind the Thanksgiving that we celebrate today. Participants age 5 and above are welcome. 2 to 3 p.m. Green Spring Gardens. $6/person. Register online. For information, call 703-642-5173.
Date Night Ballroom: Start the evening with a dance lesson (cha-cha) and then open dance, food and fun. Dress is casual. All skill levels are welcome. Enjoy complimentary refreshments and a cash bar in the Workhouse Gallery. Dance lesson begin at 7:30 p.m. Open dancing from 8 to 10:30 p.m. Workhouse Arts Center. $10/person. ($5/mini-lesson.) For information call 703-584-2900.
Sunday, Nov. 18: Face the Music
Appalachian Flyer has been picking from D.C. to West Virginia since 2007. Join them for a rousing show at the Bluegrass Barn. Doors open 6 p.m., concert at 7 p.m. Frying Pan Farm Park Visitor Center. $12/person in advance, $15/at door. For more information call 703-437-9101.
Also on Sunday:
Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great: In 1972, young adult author Judy Blume penned the story of 10-year-old Sheila Tubman. Still a popular children's novel 40 years later, "Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great" is the story of Sheila's adventures, fears and mishaps at a summer day camp with her courageous new friend Merle "Mouse" Ellis. The book's cast of colorful characters come of age in ArtsPower National Touring Theatre's musical production. 2 to 3 p.m. McLean Community Center's Alden Theatre. $15/person. ($10/McLean Community Center district residents.) For information call 703-790-0123.
Snowflake Stampede: A 2.5-mile fun run or walk for holiday enthusiasts of all ages. Enjoy a special preview of the Festival of Lights on foot, and take a picture with your favorite display. All participants will receive a free t-shirt. Strollers and pets on a leash are welcome. Bring a non-perishable food item and receive a coupon for $5 off your next visit to the Bull Run Festival of Lights. Event is limited to the first 500 registrants. Check in at 4:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m. start.) Bull Run Regional Park. $15/adults, $10/children 12 and under, free/ages 2 and under. To register (required) or for more information call 703-352-5900.
via Fairfax County Newswire. Information was correct at time of publication. Please contact individual event sites to confirm programs are being held as scheduled. A complete list of county calendars is also available online. To request this information in an alternate format, call 703-324-3187 TTY 711.