A Petting Zoo and Virginia Beach

We woke up in Richmond (this was almost a month ago, I can hardly believe it) we packed our bags for the fourth time while D chatted on the phone :) 

Drove right across the street to Cracker Barrel and had a very good breakfast.. we were so hungry that I forgot to take pictures.. after our tummies were full we drove on over to Maymont Gardens. These gardens are so extensive that you need to drive to get to other parts of it. There was a little train for kids, plenty of place for picnics and play, a Japanese garden, Italian garden and much more. Unfortunately we didn't have the time to explore. Our main purpose for the stop was to take D to his first petting zoo. 

The boy was afraid of just about everything there.. he didn't want to be put down, the goats were a bit too excited and hungry for his liking.. and then we found a sheep. The sheep was as mellow as a sheep can possibly be.. D slowly appraoched him as he saw M petting him. I prayed for no sudden movement with my camera in position and

he made contact!  There we have it.. another first :)

Now we headed out to Virginia Beach. The water we knew would be too cold for comfort so we spent a little time in the hotel pool and then hit the sand.. the moment D saw it his eyes lit up and he reached down to grab wonderful fist fulls. We had to pick him up and bring him close to the beach and near our towels. The boy was entranced.

I can't seem to remember what we had for lunch but dinner was at Waterman's Surfside Grill. Wonderful service and delicious food. 

Next, we head back to New Jersey but we're not going home just yet.. ponies and ferries ahead.. 

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Skyline Drive, Virginia

After Washington we headed on to Virginia and the natural beauty of the Shenandoah National Park. Camping was not on the itinerary nor were we equipped to hike with D. Instead we opted to cruise along the 105 miles of the Skyline Drive. We entered through the north most entrance at Front Royal. There was a $15 fee which is valid for seven days.

There are about 75 overlooks; reaching the heights of almost 4000ft but after the first 10 overlooks everything started to look the same.. and after the first few times of taking D out of the car and putting him back in he was annoyed and didn't want to get back in. The weather was perfect, everything so peaceful. 

A little after the 30 mile marker we left the Skyline Drive using the Thornton Gap Entrance and headed into the town of Luray. Were we ate at the West Market Deli. Very good sandwiches.. our food karma had officially taken the turn for the better. 

Next stop Luray Caverns. This was our second time visiting caves. Our first was in Upstate NY when we had visited the Howe Caverns. The caverns in Luray were two, three times larger than those in Howe and the formations much more wow worthy. 

Do you see a dogs butt? 

But this will be out last venture into caves and caverns for a while.. at least until D isn't older, old enough to take an actual interest and hopefully even remember the experience. Though he did discover the joy of a puddle.

We ended the day in Richmond.. we were tired of all the food on the road so we both opted for a salad at Craker Barrel. Where the service was great. It was our first time eating there.. later learnt it was a chain and not a one of.. who knew? We liked it enough to come back for breakfast the next morning. (It was across the street from our hotel)

Next stop a Petting Zoo in Richmond and then Virginia Beach!

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As of lately I have been seeing a lot of posts on bringing new life to clothes and accessories with the magical properties of dye. And I was intrigued. But I didn't want to have the issue of accidentally dyeing my hands or my sink though I did manage to get a little of the dye on the inner drum of my dryer :(  I also wanted this to be a zero cost project. I thought natural might be the way to go. So I started my search of  everything I could use to dye my old white skirt.

There was a lot of mention of plants that I hadn't heard of and was in no mood to go hunting.. I thought a purplish pink might be nice but I didn't want to waste berries. And then I stumbled upon Itty Bitty Impact Tonia suggested turmeric for a bright yellow and I couldn't think of a better color and an easier source of dye. Turmeric is something always found in my kitchen, perfect for my no cost project.


White Vinegar - for plant dyes or salt - for berry dyes. 


Large Pot - I used steel though Tonia mentions Aluminum is preferred. 

My skirt

Rubber gloves


I washed my skirt on cold and dried it on low. Then simmered it in a large pot for one hour in a mixture of water and vinegar (four parts water to one part vinegar). The vinegar is supposed to act as a fixative. 

I rinsed and wrung the fabric in cold water until it no longer smelled like vinegar and set it aside, still damp. Then rinsed out the pot and filled it with fresh water sans vinegar. The water was brought to a simmer and then I added the turmeric, about 2tbsp's. I let it continue to simmer for another 10 minutes before adding the still damp skirt. 

Initially I was thinking of making the skirt ombre but that didn't happen. I think my turmeric to water ratio was a bit off.. too much turmeric plus I had a child attached to me legs. The shrieking and tugging made the rest of the process a bit fuzzy. 

So I just let the entire fabric submerge in the dye bath. According to Tonia, you are supposed to let the fabric simmer for 15 minutes occasionally stirring so that the fabric doesn't stick or burn. (Now that would not be fun) and then you are to turn off the heat and let the fabric remain in the bath for as long as you like depending on the shade you want. 

I could tell that my skirt was already quite bright even before the first 15 minutes were up so I went with my gut and took the skirt out within that time. Donned my rubber gloves and rinsed the skirt out in cold water till the water ran clear.

Tossed the skirt in the dryer and tada!

This little project was done a few days before we left for our trip.. this is me in Richmond.

I know my blogging has been all over the place.. timeline wise. I have so much going on and so many posts to be but not enough time to write them. So the road trip I took in the end of May still hasn't been completely blogged about but then are other interesting projects or events taking place that I wan't to share too.. so things may not be very chronological at present and I apologize. I intended to get back into the road trip post next week but D's birthday in this weekend and how can I not share pics of the big day? And by popular request I also plan on remaking my banana walnut stuffed french toast over the weekend and take pictures to add to go along with the recipe I intend to share.. too much going on and not enough of me to go around. But the fact that you keep coming back to read and leave the loveliest comments makes it all worth it in the end. And for those of you not commenting.. please.. do.. i cherish each and every one of them.  

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Father's Day

Hello Everyone.. hope you all had a lovely weekend celebrating your fathers and helping your little ones celebrate theirs.. our day started out with D waking up at 5am and snuggling into our bed. When we finally did roll out of bed we had breakfast at home.. Banana Walnut stuffed French Toast.. then we headed out to an indoor park south of Jersey.. We Skyped (a god sent) with out respective dads.. both continents away.

D is now tired and wet and ready to go home..(as you can see from his above take-the-pic-quickly-so-we-can-get-out-of-this-cold-wet-place-bombarding-me-with-it's-surprise-splashes-n-squirts picture) He's not much of a thrill seeker, at present. We picked up some mangoes on the way home and grilled a few steaks and corn on the cob.. and called it a day.. what more could you want? How was you're weekend? What did you do to celebrate? Don't forget to read about our hilarious misadventures of last years
Father's Day..

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I am participating in an ArtWalk June/Junly in Washington Borough New Jersey. The Artists Reception is on Thursday the 21st of June NJ.com and WRNJ Radio wrote about it.


Carrot Halva

We have had a road trip overload.. so I thought I'd give you all a little break with something sweet..

Halva refers to many types of dense, sweet confections, served across the Middle East, Sub - Continent and Africa, just to name a few. I know I don't talk about it much but while I was born and initially raised in Chicago I spent my pre-teens to early adulthood in my parents birth country Pakistan. No, not India and yes there is a difference. :) I met my wonderful husband there though he was in New York during our entire pre-wedded bliss epic long distance engagement era. (can you sense the drama? well drama there was) 

I feel it is because I was lucky (though it didn't always feel that way) enough to spend a huge part of my life living in two vastly different countries that I was able to soak up the right amounts of each and bring it not only into our life and in the raising of D but also into my photography

Wow.. now that was quite a sidetrack.. coming back to the halva.. M was craving some good old fashioned halva and it's just not as easy as it was back home to run out to the bakery and get some.. plus it's usually not as good. So I thought I'd try my hand at it.. seemed simple enough to do..

You start with grating the carrots. The beauty of the halva is that it can be made out of anything.. carrots, squash, pumpkin, potato, just milk, nuts, coconut which is my favorite, semolina which is a close second and anything else that you can think of.. I have even eaten a pineapple halva once.

Add it to a pot and cook it.. it will start to release some liquid.. (I am not a recipe writer so excuse me If I am not describing the process in an appetizing way)

Then add some milk. Whole is better but you can use fat free if you like.. it will just be less rich. Sometimes you can't help it.. richer is just better. My mom would add some heavy cream or half and half just to make it richer.

Now the tedious task of stirring it begins.. it doesn't need to be constant in the beginning but once it starts to thicken then you want to stir more often so it doesn't stick to the pan or burn. Add sugar to taste as well as cardamom powder before it begins to thicken.. keep stirring till it is no longer runny.

Top with roasted almonds.. pistachios are also a good option.. or both..some also add raisins but that is done at an earlier stage so that they can soak up all the milk and get nice and plump. Serve warm.

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Washington DC

We arrived in DC early evening and checked into the very nice Savoy Suites in the Glover Park area. No complains with the hotel, very friendly people at the desk, they had a shuttle that ran every half hour to take you to the Metro and the driver Mustafa gave you his number so he can come for a pick up at other times too.. my only issue was that on our last day, during a D melt down we decided to come back to the room around 5ish and our room had yet to be cleaned.. 5pm is a late for a still messy room..but other than that I would stay here again.

We freshened up and headed out for dinner.. at no more than a minutes walk was Surfside, a Mexican spot. A less commercial and gimmicky version of Chipotle. Good food, you order at the counter like in a fast food place, there were little color coded order forms for those who wanted to build their own plates or you pick off the chalkboard menu. 

 I had the Cabo San Lucas (above) and M had the Belize (below)

The next morning we woke up to rain and we weren't sure what to do about breakfast, walking around was out of the question so we opted to take the shuttle to the metro and get to the National Mall area and just grab something. In hindsight, bad idea. Near the Woodley Park Zoo/Adam Morgans Metro we spotted Open City a nice looking coffeehouse. Or so we thought, average service, below average food, uneven floor made our chairs rook, the salt shakers were clogged.. it was just disappointing.. 

At the National Mall, we spent our time between the two Smithsonian Museums, Natural History and Air and Space. 

Afterwards the plan was to bike around the area in the evening.. we were starting to run late and hadn't eaten and were forced to stop at a place called Ollie's Trolley. It looked highly questionable and smelled odd. but it hadn't stared to rain again and the day had been bumpy. Surprisingly the burger was good but the smell of the place was enough to make me sick..and then we get a call from the bike people to say that they will be continuing with the tour but considering we had a toddler with us they wanted to give us a heads up that the forecast was for rain and it was going to get worse.. so we cancel and now have an open evening and would have had more time for a better meal. We go back to the hotel to get our car and just drive around DC, over the bridge and into Arlington and back and stop for some gelato at Pitango, the saving grace to our otherwise food challenge day. Oh and plus, it didn't rain!

The next day we eat at the Patisserie Poupon in Georgetown. An improvement for sure, great coffee. We drive over to the Hillwood Estates Museum and Garden, the once home of American collector and heiress to the Post cereal empire Marjorie Merriweather Post. So beautiful. 

There were a lot of no photography areas and we ended up spending a lot more time than intended.. Next stop Alexandria. Where we ended up having yet another sub par lunch.. we were having serious problem, this chain of bad food was getting on our nerves and increased the pressure of finding something good.. argh! We rode the trolley

And ate the cupcakes that would turn our food karma around.. :) Lavender Moon Cupcakery. A fun little shop off King St. with a variety to choose from. We went with chocolate chocolate for M and chocolate peanut butter for myself and a vanilla lemon curd for later.. I wanted to try the orange dreamsicle too but I can never look over peanut butter. 


We had dinner with some old friends that night, somewhere in Maryland, Guapo's it was called. Some good Mexican food and laughs with old friends. We woke up the next day with breakfast on our minds again. While the Patisserie Poupon had been good it hadn't been filling and we were on our way out of DC with a long drive ahead of us. I remembered a friend mentioning Founding Farmers and when I had thought of it before it had always been out of the way. But today nothing was out of the way. We are so glad we went, in fact if we had know about the awesomeness of this place we had driven out of the way everyday. Seriously!

A cream cheese filled Banana Foster French Toast for M and a Drag Through the Garden 
veggie scrambled egg for me

I know this one turned about to be quite a long one, promise it was the longest.. 

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Great Falls Park

Leaving the Charmed City behind we made our way towards the Capital with some nature viewing on the way.

Great Falls Park is a small National Service Park along the banks of the Potomac River. We stopped here just to take a look from the three overlooks though there was an abundance of activities to partake in. Kayaking, fishing, camping, picnicking just to name a few.

Three beautiful overlooks, two pretty simple to walk to the first a bit rocky. Which was not a problem for us just made tossing D around a bit more dangerous..

The only negative was the long wait to get in. I head read about it online but I still didn't understand why we had needed to wait for almost an hour to get into the park.. It didn't seem that full once we got in.. 

Next stop DC. 

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