Sunday, April 25, 2010

San Juan Cafe - Wilmington, NC

after an amazing yoga class downtown on saturday i picked lily up from  drop-in baby sitting and headed over a couple of blocks to the fairly new san juan cafe located at 3314 wrightsville avenue, in the space formerly occupied by nagila. 
eating out on a budget is a fun challenge and a lot easier to do at lunch than dinner. i was hungry after class and so was lily. 
we got there early and had the restaurant all to ourselves. we chose a table near a window on and sat on a banquette which runs the length of one wall. 
we were handed both the dinner and lunch menu. since i had already decided we were eating on the cheap i stuck to the lunch menu and gave lily the option of choosing from the lunch or kid's menus which offered a good variety of choices. i  had my mind set on the mexican city tostada but was almost swayed by the cuban sandwich. i don't eat meat but there is something about a cuban sandwich i find hard to resist. since i just came out of yoga and was feeling healthy and compassionate i stuck with my original choice and was not disappointed. the tostado was piled high with refried black beans, grilled cherry tomatoes and green beans. lightly topped with cheese and a drizzle of sour cream sauce which made it pretty to look at and yummy to eat at a budget friendly $7.50. the side salad of mixed field greens with balsamic dressing was a nice accompaniment. 
lily had a harder time trying to decide. she looked at the lunch menu, had tons of questions for the very patient waiter and almost chose the white bean and collard soup until we found out it was made with beef and beef stock. (watch out vegetarians.) the kids menu offers a variety of typical american kid foods from pb&j, to hot dogs to a grilled chicken breast with rice and beans. from $2.75-$4.00. a more adventurous kids meal or a vegetarian option could definitely be made from the sides which included red or black beans and rice, plantains, baked sweet potatoes and green beans. Lily finally decided on a cheese quesidilla ($3.75)with fries and a side ceasar salad ($2.50) the kids meal was definitely big enough for two and we ended up bringing half the quesadilla home for another meal! we ended up blowing the budget on dessert which are each a whopping $6.00. i would have opted for the arroz con dulce but decided to split a slice of chocolate cake with lily instead. ask up front for crayons and coloring for impatient little ones and the staff will be glad to oblige. this is a restaurant that seems to understand kids.


This is my new favorite restaurant. Cheese quesadilla - good, fries - great, ceasar salad- love it. The chocolate cake was so good I licked the plate. My mom said I can't do that when I'm an adult and I said I know so I'll do it now while I'm still a kid. 


back to blogging

after a little break we are back. lots going on in life and lots of writing in other venues so the blog took a backseat. hope this time we won't have such a long period between posts. the point of the blog is to have fun and share, and when you have a lot on the plate so to speak it just becomes another chore in the long to do list. yesterday we were inspired to give it another go. so here we are.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

I liv for Liv Dolls (and other dolls too!)

Liv dolls are totally cool dolls that can do yoga. They have eight movable joints - ankles, knees, hips, waist, wrists, elbows, shoulders, and neck and you can remove their hair. They have very pretty wigs that can be colorful or normal hair colors. They can have short hair or long hair. The dolls are so cute. There are four Liv dolls - Alexis, Sophie, Katie and Daniela. I have Sophie and Katie. Liv dolls are so fun cuz you can change their wigs from brown to green to blonde to pink. They are teens. They are four fashionable female friends. They made new Liv dolls that come with dogs. Daniela has DJ, Katie has Sk8 but I don't remember the others. They fit in Barbie clothes.


lily is not a girly girl but she loves dolls. she has four baby dolls who are her "children" - sissy, stella, bella and rebecca chelsea. one or all of these "kids"  have come with us wherever we go for as long as i remember. they have more clothes than i do and get christmas presents every year. this year lily asked for a "twin" brother for rebecca chelsea and was very disappointed when santa brought a "little brother" instead. (message to toy manufacturers. everyone is making 18" american girl type dolls but not a boy in the bunch. somebody please make a boy doll. please!) sissy was the first. lily got her for her first christmas. she is a red haired moppet, an adorable cloth doll, a madame alexander doll made in the image of a mary englebreit illustration. i am convinced that lily will have sissy all of her life. for a while she was obsessed with groovy girls. adorable cloth kids by manhattan toy. a great alternative to barbie for young kids who love fashion and dress up. they have cute outfits that come on and off easily and close with velcro so little fingers don't have to fumble and little fashionistas don't get frustrated. for christmas this year lily wanted the newest doll to hit the market, the liv doll. i was skeptical - another doll, another gimmick and more STUFF to buy. but the liv dolls are different. unlike the vacuous barbie the liv dolls are 4 tween friends with distinct personalities and interests. they are also super posable which has been fun for lily who likes to style, pose and photograph her dolls for fashion shoots. each doll comes with two wigs. accessory wig packs in different styles and colors are also available which has been fun for lily as well. the dolls are a little pricey around $17.00 each but the latest dolls come with a dog as well as clothing wigs and accessories. the dolls are also computer interactive (what toy isn't these days.) we are disappointed that the yoga set and Katie's skateboard which figure prominently in the advertising are not available for sale anywhere at this point.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

the Hot Pink Cake Stand , Wilmington, NC 3/10/10

 i love the hot pink cake stand, a fairly new addition to wilmington's downtown at 114 north front street. i first tried it by myself last week. in the time it has been open the hot pink cake stand has gained a reputation for delicious cupcakes and beautiful cakes made by owner and cake artist jody carmichael who is as cute and sweet as her creations. since it was early morning on my first visit i tried a blueberry muffin which was the perfect breakfast treat. i returned the next day to try vegan pineapple cupcakes that jody told me about the day before. just as i walked in another customer purchased the last of the pineapple - no problem i bought lemon and coconut instead and brought them home to share with lily. they were both delicious but we both had a slight preference for the lemon - super yummy.  the hot pink cake stand is the perfect combination of cozy, fresh and modern decorated in bright pinks and greens and blues with fresh flowers everywhere! the tables at the front are the perfect place for girlfriends to stop and chat after shopping or for an informal business meeting. i prefer to sit at the mosaic glass tiled counter and chat with jody as she works. what fun! in addition to cupcakes and muffins, jody has added cookies, scones and brownies to the menu and plans to add a savory breakfast roll sometime this week. vegan cupcakes are available daily ( i tried the chai tea variety and it was delicious) and gluten free are available friday and saturday. check out the hot pink cake stand's fan page on facebook to see what jody has baked fresh each day. or check their website @


I like that the Hot "Pink" Cake Stand was "pink". The cupcakes were terrific. I've had lemon, coconut and vanilla. Lemon was my favorite. I am looking forward to eating the Oreo cupcake. The cupcakes there were awesome and the lady that owns it is very friendly. I liked sitting at the counter. The counter top is pretty and you can see them making cupcakes. It would be a great place to have party decorating cupcakes or an easter egg cupcake hunt. I want to go back over the weekend for a playdate with Chloe and eat cupcakes.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Book Fair 3/5/10

i love books. i have always loved books. some of my best memories from my childhood are being read to by my mom. some of my best memories as a mom are reading with my child. i love that lily shares my love of reading and my love of books. it makes me smile to hear her read aloud some nights when she is in bed, creating different voices for each character, reading with feeling and emotion. long before lily was even a thought i collected children's books choosing them for their simple telling of a beautiful story or their rich and whimsical illustration. i took favorite books from my own childhood with me when i grew up and moved away from home. before she was born i imagined us curled up together reading. so twice a year i look forward to the school book fair with almost as much excitement as lily does. we have discovered some of our favorite books at the book fair - knuffle bunny by mo willems, the miraculous journey of edward tulane by kate di camillo and the first book in the suddenly supernatural series which lily loves. in the past lily and i have butt heads about book choices i believe in exposing her to literature and helping her make good choices. i DO judge a book by it's cover. book design is an art and i look for newbury and caldecott award winners. books about barbie or spongebob are not literature. i have had to persuade her in the past to choose a real story over a flashy, heavily advertised character. this year lily made all her own choices based on subject matter that interests her. she took the time to look and read back covers before determining what she would like to purchase and there was not a barbie or spongebob in the bunch. take the opportunity to meet your child at the book fair and look together.  guide kids to books and topics your children are interested in and steer them away from the glitzy, non- book trinkets that are unfortunately available at these fairs. if you can't make it to the fair send your child with money (easier to stay within budget if mom's not there) and a note to the teacher saying you wish your child to purchase BOOKS at the book fair.


I went to the book fair at my school and I bought three books, My Sister the Vampire - Revamped, Wait Till Helen Comes and Cicada Summer. I wanted to buy a pointer which is a hand on a pole for pointing at stuff but my mom said I couldn't. I am going use my own money to get it because I like them. They are cool. I like to read ghost stories. I like mysteries. They are scary and fun.


Monday, March 1, 2010

iLove iCarly

I do love iCarly! But not as much as.......MANDY!!!!! Their biggest fan. It's an awesome show. It's a show about a web show that is made by three cool tweens - Carly (Shay), Sam (Pucket) & Freddy(Benson). Spencer is Carly's older brother, & my favorite character too. iCarly  is a crazy show! My favorite episode was when Freddy made FRED ( from YouTube ) mad. I like when Sam insults Freddy and Spencer's sculptures - "Merry Sniffmas", "Yippee Yi YoYo", "Giant Newton Ball" and "The Seat of Sitting" to name just a few. Believe it or not there's a new episode where Carly, Sam and Freddy go into outer space. I can't wait.


honestly, i like iCarly too. it doesn't talk down to kids the way disney channel shows do and the kids are not nearly as dweeby and obnoxious, plus it references pop culture, changing names of say, bobby flay to ricky flame, pf cheng's to to bf wangs and the disney channel ( where middle aged men steal ideas from iCarly for their lame TV shows) to the dingo channel. as kids TV goes - not too painful, maybe even kind of cute.


Sunday, February 28, 2010

wilmington children's museum 2/27/10

after brunch at the dixie we walked 3 blocks to the wilmington children's museum at 2nd and orange streets. we have been to children's museums in new york, atlanta, greensboro, raleigh and columbia, sc and sadly our own is my least favorite of all. it moved to an expanded space a few years back which was highly anticipated but also highly disappointing. though the newer space was architecturally interesting linking two historic buildings with a modern addition and outdoor space the play/learn areas are low tech and unimaginative. we haven't been here in awhile so i was surprised when lily asked if we could go. coincidentally i received a post on facebook  saying admission was free with a library card for a child and accompanying adult. not my favorite way to spend a saturday but at least it was free - or so i thought. when we arrived we were told that only the child's admission was free and adults had to pay $8. and that the museum wasn't responsible for advertising posted by third parties. the place seems to have fallen into disrepair since our last visit. it seemed dirty and neglected. once upon a time the museum had a great science educator dr. goo, now the place seems to be run entirely by volunteers. we had the best time in the art room. two projects were offered make a paper lantern and fabric collage. no art educator but clearly written instructions and lots of free supplies. we had fun but hardly worth the admission price of $8/per person even if we only had to pay for one. if you have little ones eat first or bring your own snacks. they sell popcorn and packaged snack foods but nothing healthy or substantial.


i wanted to go to the children's museum because we haven't been there in a long time. my mom said we could get a free book there on that day but we didn't. actually my favorite part is  the grocery store because it has a conveyor belt that takes food upstairs to the restaurant. the scrambled eggs looked like vomit. the art room is fun. we cut fabric into pictures. my picture was of a girl. it was extremely fun.


Brunch at the Dixie Grill, downtown Wilmington, NC 2/27/10 1pm

we had planned to have breakfast out but often have a slow start on weekend mornings and arrive saturday at 1pm still wanting pancakes. the dixie is a local institution famous for its breakfast which is served all day. there's a small crowd outside and we go in to find out how long we'll have to wait. 20-25 minutes but there are only two groups ahead of us so it shouldn't be that bad. as long as your kids aren't too antsy waiting can be fun here. there is a lot to look at including the other diners - a mixed group of downtown hipsters in cool glasses and skinny jeans, families with little kids and cozy older couples, funky colorful decor and original art on the walls. we wait our 20 minutes even though there seem to be 4 four tops available the entire time we wait (if anyone knows why they do this, let me know.) we pass the time people watching, picture taking and chit chatting with the friendly crowd, some we know others we don't. if you want to be seated quickly opt for the counter. once seated we look over the menu - lots of yummy choices for both breakfast and lunch (including vegetarian options, not much for vegans except veggie burgers and fries.) no kids menu was offered and no crayons or games at the table but there's a great big chalkboard in the back. our waitress is sweet and kid friendly (our old babysitter worked here before she left for college and that is the vibe of all the wait staff - hip, wholesome and nice.) we each ordered a short stack - lily- buttermilk pancakes, mom - mixed berry. both were delicious and filling. my one suggestion is that the dixie add veggie sausage to the menu. other than that, super yum, super fun place to eat for kids and adults alike.


dixie grill had very extremely yummy food. the buttermilk pancakes were delicious. this was my first time eating bacon*. it was very greasy. i didn't like it and now i know i will never eat bacon again. i really wish they had veggie sausage. i liked the pictures everywhere. the picture of bacon, eggs and toast running for their life is funny. i like that we got to sit at a booth. the first one behind the counter had a hole in the floor and you might lose your crocs or flip flips but i had on uggs.


*mom's note: lily has been vegetarian most of her life and even vegan for awhile. she is trying new foods but we still eat a mostly plant based diet at home.

let's get started.

one thing i have learned over the past nine years, every day with kids is an adventure. good or bad it's all in the way you look at it. here i aim to share our every day adventures, at home in our small town of wilmington, north carolina and on trips we take in order to help other parents and kids to have fun and make the most of their time together. so here we go.

adventures with lily is a blog in two parts - a mom and kid's point of view. we'll talk about our outings, places we go, restaurants we like, exhibits we take in, favorite books, current movies and dvds, and destinations to visit plus tips to make them more enjoyable for kids and the parents who love them.

i got the idea a couple of days ago when lily came home from school with the idea that she wanted to be a food critic when she grows up. of course i am always excited when she comes up with these ideas and think why didn't i think of these things when i was a kid. she never said i want to be a ballerina or a firefighter or a doctor but a movie director or a costume designer or a food critic. obviously these are things she knows about because these are part of her life and interests. i thought why wait until she grows up. this is something we can do now, together.

but why limit it to just food? why not include reviews of all the things we do? her teachers always comment on all the cultural excursions we take. truth be told, these are things i LOVE and have become things we love together. living in a small coastal community i feel it is important to expose her to as much art, music theatre as possible in addition to the natural beauty and outdoor activity our area provides. i am not a chuck e. cheese kind of mom so i seek out interesting kid stuff and take her along to museums, theatre and concerts that i want to see and is age appropriate even if we have to travel to do it. she gets to enjoy real art, plays and music and i get to play like a kid again. win, win situation.

hope you like our blog.