In the Weeds

As a kid, I absolutely hated pulling weeds. And my mom loved to assign this mind-numbing chore. She would send me off…to pull a few puny and hard to find blades of errant grass…from her neat little flower beds. It just seemed neurotic. And highly unsatisfying.
So it may sound crazy – even to myself - to admit that I had fun pulling weeds for several hours recently at Brown Chicken Brown Cow Farm. But it’s true!
Last winter, Brian and Nichole Stewart decided to begin living out their dreams as homesteaders. The young family, including two little girls under four, moved from an apartment in Norfolk to a fixer upper home on an eight acre plot in Suffolk.  The Stewarts raise Icelandic sheep, chickens of various breeds, ducks, turkeys, and guinea hens. They also own one companion goat and young jersey heifer. Brian has a full-time job supporting the Navy, but he also works tirelessly on the farm on weeknights. Nichole runs the farm full time, caring for her two girls and all of those animals!
As most farmers will tell you, they sometimes need a little help.  This hardworking family was no exception, and the Tidewater Crop Mob and some of the family friends from the Tri-Neighborhood Community Garden of Norfolk were happy to help.
This was one of their fields overrun with weeds that we (about 30 volunteers ) were to tackle.
But first, Nichole introduced us to the animals…
Luna, the young cow, was a favorite.

After the tour, the volunteers got to work pulling weeds.   
Nichole asked us to focus on the night shade (Bella Donna), dog fennel, and pokeweed. The animals were allergic to one of these (I can’t remember which) and simply would not eat the other two.
Some of the weeds came up relatively easily, but most did not. And these mobbers were not here to play. With their various axes and shovels, they were showin’ the weeds who was boss! 
 “You can do it – put your back into it!”
At any Crop Mob event, it’s very hard to avoid the butts in the air shots





The children (other than Ava), were amazing helpers!

This is Nichole and Bryan’s two and a half year old.

And this is their youngest. I imagine these kids must be some of the happiest around.



 The Stewarts were incredible hosts. Brian was looking for an excuse for a party  – so he cooked a whole pig! Nichole and the volunteers brought sides, drinks, and beer.

 I met such cool and interesting people at the farm that day. I left feeling so inspired! It was a gorgeous day, and the Stewarts were so appreciative.

Looking forward to the Crop Mob to returning to Brown Chicken Brown Cow Farm! Join the Tidewater Crop Mob and follow the Brown Chicken Brown Cow blog at


mGardening (Mobile Gardening?)

In this post I would like to invite you to a hot new gardening trend that I’d like to call mGardening (Mobile Gardening) and my personal interpretation of it.

Brace yourself for some amazing technology.

If you read my last post, you know that I have been racking my brain to get Ava more interested in gardening. Well, last weekend I helped her set up a little garden on wheels – I just thought that mGardening might appeal to her.

One of our neighbors had given us two Earthboxes a while back – these are great little boxes for container gardening complete with casters. Up until this day, I couldn’t really think of a use for them, but then an idea hit me – wouldn’t it be fun for Ava to push her own little garden around?

We planted some watermelon seedlings  – at least they could get their start in this box.


I’m a total sucker for cutsey kid’s gardening stuff.

slow your roll, ok, Ava?

Ava liked the idea that she could shuttle this garden between our back deck and the community garden. With some help, she was even able to take it to a neighbor’s backyard to show off.

Before you chalk me up to just a mom with a blog (which is pretty much the truth), let me convince you that Ava and I are on the bleeding edge of gardening trends here. I mean, just look at what crazy-cool gardeners are doing around the world…

 Grow it like you…stole it???  from the Wal-Mart parking lot???
o.k., so this just got weird – what the hell IS that?
So, the gardening that Ava and I do is extremely conventional after all – boring really - but I will continue to be inspired by people claiming their food independence in creative and eccentric ways!
Please feel free to share your favorite examples of extreme gardening!

Baby’s First Salad

No one in Hampton Roads is growing lettuces right now – at least not for salads fit for human consumption. And for that reason, this post is old news. Working like a dawg has kept me from blogging lately, but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to celebrate a real milestone  -  Ava eating a salad for the very first time!
Sometimes I feel like I have failed in getting Ava excited about the idea of growing her own food. Most Saturday mornings that I work in the garden with my neighbors, I drag Ava out with me. She usually complains that she is hot or bored. Usually, she wants to go in and out of the house constantly, because she needs something that she can’t live without – like a Popsicle before 10AM or a Bandaid for a boo-boo that doesn’t exist. Despite my good intentions, I tend to be very little help to my gardening friends. This is because I spend so much time unsuccessfully trying to interest Ava in planting, digging, weeding, or watering.
But ocassionally, with randon luck, I experience little breakthroughs with her. 
One afternoon after school, I was was able to talk  her into going out in the garden with me to cut some lettuces.
I just love how focused she was.
 “Hmmm….should I cut more Romaine, Salad Bowl, or should I go for the Buttercrunch? Silly question! -  Buttercrunch it is!!!”
She was trying to keep her shoes on her hands, as she was pretending to be a horse:)
What happened after we took the lettuces inside is almost shameful. Ava doused the lettuce with Ranch dressing.The large quantity of dressing most likely overwhelmed all of the once healthy properties of the lettuces.
And then, it got worse.
But I didn’t scold her. Instead I kept on snapping pics. After all, this was Baby’s First Salad, and I didn’t want to take all the fun out of eating vegetables.
This reminded me of a little public service message from my childhood delivered via the Saturday morning cartoons. If you were a kid of the late 70s or early 80s, you may remember the “Don’t Drown Your Food” animation that I shared below. 

Might be high time that I share this old classic with Ava. Maybe she will remember it twenty or thirty years from now:)

New Year – New Earth Farm

“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”
 I woke up last Saturday to a heavy January fog.  
At one point in my life, the sight of winter fog would have caused me to draw the curtains and turn over in bed, but these days I have a new appreciation for winter. The New Year, for obvious reasons, is a great time for slowing down and looking inward. As for the fog, I absolutely love the way it softly drops a blanket of silence over the earth and renders time in slow motion. Just like a good camera, fog selectively focuses and changes your perspective.  So on that foggy January day, I couldn’t wait to grab my camera and get out to take in the gray atmosphere. I knew I wanted to capture a winter farmscape, and I chose New Earth Farm as the setting.




Despite the starkness of the sky, the fields were full of green.


The market was also full of beautiful things. I took home some black kale (for kale chips) and red Russian kale (for raw kale salad).


It made me laugh to watch this hen find its balance before sailing off this trailer.

Chickens in flight just look funny.

 My quiet contemplative time did not last long. After all, Ava, the most talkative kid on the planet, was with me. And she was not nearly as entertained by watching chickens as I was.
She, on the other hand, was extremely interested in going and sitting on a huge pile of rocks so that she could enjoy her packed lunch.


Check out New Earth Farm on Facebook, and pay them a visit in southern Virginia Beach!

Farm to Fork – in New York!

Last month I visited the greatest city on earth, narrowly escaping Hurricane Sandy. I arrived in New York by train the Friday before the storm hit. I had planned to stay through Monday, but by the time I awoke on Saturday morning, the weather reports were growing more intimidating. When I turned on the t.v. and the first thing I saw was Mayor Bloomberg briefing New Yorkers on storm preparations, I knew I had to cut the trip short. I called Amtrak, booked the 3AM trip home, and decided to get out and make the most of my only full day in the city.
From my hotel in Midtown, I started downtown and walked all day. In the course of my wanderings, I stopped at an empanada foodtruck called Nuchas and bought some graffiti style art from an artist named Elinor a really cool Brooklyn-based artist who sells her work in the streets of New York. Later that day I met my friend Kristin, originally from VA, in the East Village at a restaurant called Cafe Himalaya. How often do you get to eat at a hole in the wall, BYOB Tibetan food restaurant?!?! I ate light at the Tibetan restaurant, so that I could fit in one final small meal – a falafel sandwich. Man, I love New York!!!
I especially loved the GrowNYC’s GreenMarket, in Union Square Park, and I spent a lot of time there. This farmers’ market has been in operation since 1976 and features 140 regional farmers, fishermen, and bakers. It’s huge!
Because it didn’t make sense for me to buy produce while on travel, I just decided to slow down and take in my surroundings. Not having a shopping list or any real time restrictions allowed me to do that well. A long camera lens allowed me, from a distance, to photograph people literally “connecting with their food”…

O.k., so maybe this wasn’t food. Not sure what it was, really.

These ladies were fun to watch.

They handled these squash and gourds for for quite a while.

I was far enough away that I could not hear what they were saying, but I imagined their conversation at this point might have been a little on the dirty side. lol!

I really loved watching the children take delight in fruits and vegetables.

Maybe they were less excited about the farmers’ market than they would have been in the cereal aisle at a supermarket, but they were certainly more curious.
This little girl had just been scolded by her parents for touching the raw seafood in the cooler. If only they noticed the hand-to-mouth action that followed. lol!
  GrowNYC is more than just a market; it’s a community. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, GrowNYC customers purchased 10,000 pounds of fresh produce via their Donate-A-Bag program to feed hungry New Yorkers and relief workers. GrowNYC has also organized volunteers to provide assistance to school and community gardens damaged by the storm.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out the GrowNYC Greenmarket website for information and inspiration!

goat cheese, please!

The Tidewater Crop Mob’s latest assignment was to work at Shady Goat Farm in Virginia Beach for the day. 

Shady Goat Farm is Hampton Road’s first licensed cheesemaking farm, and it was started back in April of this year by Shannon and Tim Rice. Shannon got her start as a hobby farmer after taking a goat farming class back in 2010. Two years later with much encouragement from friends to sell her delicious chevre to the public, she quit career in non-profit fundraising and marketing and began goat farming full time.

While it is always fun to help out our local produce farmers, it’s at least twice as fun when animals are involved…

that’s me with the goats:)
These goats were just the sweetest little things. I instantly fell in love with them.
Here’s Shannon having a sweet moment with one of her goats.
Each of Shannon’s 28 goats have cute names, ranging from Wendy Wattles to Andy Airplane to Uma Thurman. Her breeds include Saanens, Alpines, LaMancha Crosses and Nubians. The different breeds’ milks provide different percentages of butter fat, and together these blend for the highest quality and best tasting goat cheese. Shannon does all her own milking (starting at 5am every morning) and cheesemaking. She even does all of her own sales at local farm markets including Old Beach Farmers’ Market and Shop Farmers’ Fare.

Shannon is one busy lady, and she needed all the help she could get! The Crop Mob’s task was to help clean out the goats’ barn, expand their current fenced-in space and spread sand in that area for moisture control.

I was really excited this particular morning, because for the first time in the Tidewater Crop Mob’s history, my husband, John, came out to assist!

John proved to be a Crop Mob superstar that day:)
He teamed up with Eric, the guy driving the tractor – I knew that John would naturally be drawn to the heavy machinery aspects of the farming tasks:) I was so happy to have him there, and he made me so proud. I only wish that he could have driven the tractor himself:)

Lara Haner, the Crop Mob Boss, was there working hard, as always.

 As usual, Ava didn’t help much. But she always tends to find her own thing. That day, she was pretty interested in Shady Goat Farm’s loyal and vigilant (if not a little nervous) watchdog, Bruce the Goose.

Bruce did allow Ava to feed him – with Shannon at her side.

Ava also had fun climbing the goats’ cinder block “pyramid”.

At first, she remained unnoticed and unchallenged.

But not for long…
Oops! Guess there could only be one queen of that “hill.”
Everyone worked hard…
…but it was so rewarding.
As we found out, Shannon has been running the farm on her own since she started it as a business. Her husband has been working in Afghanistan for over six months. 
You could tell how much Shanon appreciated all of the help. I think it almost brought her to tears. 
There is not much that impresses me more than a woman running a farm on her own!
She gave each of the Crop Mobbers some goat cheese to take home:)


 The sweet, sweet goats even seemed to share the appreciation.

They seemed to really like their newly cleaned barn and their expanded space to in which to roam.

I think this one showed her gratitude with a little smile:)


Check out Shady Goat Farm and support a Hampton Roads goat farm!

Shady Goat Farm on Facebook!


Farmers’ Fare at East Beach

After a long week at the office, I couldn’t wait for a beautiful fall Saturday morning outdoors. As much love as I have for my Olde Towne Farmer’s Market and the luxury of being able to walk to it every Saturday morning, I decided to do a little something different this past weekend. So on Saturday morning, Ava and I got in the car and drove out to Farmer’s Fare for our first visit ever.
We entered the affluent East Beach neighborhood and first quietly admired the beautiful homes. After a couple of minutes, Ava said in a sincere voice, “I could die here…” lol! My phone’s navigation only took us so far. It demanded that I turn the wrong way down a one way street. Rather than try to out think the GPS, we got out, asked for directions to the market, politely ignored the well intentioned warning that we might want to drive there, and easily found Farmer’s Fare after a short walk.

The market was outdoors in a planned green space with a small amphitheater-type structure. There was a large crowd, a live acoustic musician playing a chill Jack Johnson tune, a bouncehouse and a small petting zoo provided by Full Quiver Farm.


Perusing the first table, I bought a Piedmont cheese from Everona Dairy in Rapidan, VA. I’d never had a sheep’s cheese, so I was excited to try it.

The power of suggestion in this creative signage must have had a powerful but subliminal impact on me; I ended up taking home three different types of cheeses from three different vendors.
I heard the musician take a break to announce that a small child had been separated from her mother. I thought, how awful for the child and for the mother…
 …but I could imagine a lot worse places to separate from your child in…

Yes, I think it would be much more terrifying to separate from my child in a place like Wal-Mart.

I’d read a great article in the Virginian-Pilot about Shady Goat Farm, the first certified cheesemaker in Hampton Roads. So, I was pretty excited to find that they had a table at Farmer’s Fare. Below is Shannon Rice, the farm proprietor providing samples of her goat cheese.

This was the list of goat cheese flavors offered that day:

Shady Goat Chevre

Croatan Cranberry Pecan Chevre
Great Bridge Garlic and Herb Chevre
Blackwater Cracked Pepper Chevre

 Ghent Garlic and Chive

Pungo Pumpkin Chevre
Sandbridge Sundried Tomato Basil
Oceanfront Feta (plain)

I took home the Pungo Pumpkin chevre. Mmmm.

  While I was listening to Ms. Rice talking to another customer about her goats, dispelling the rumors that goats eat everything (well, at least her goats do not eat things like clothing or aluminum cans), guess whose child had taken off???

Immediately, I thought of the child that separated from her mother earlier…I granted myself about 20 seconds of calm before allowing panic to set in. I quickly scanned the crowd in 360 degrees. I asked a few children at the petting zoo if they had seen Ava. I was just about to start yelling for her like a madwoman when I spotted her. She hadn’t yet seen me and and did not appear to be looking for me. She was in no apparent distress.

Relieved, I retrieved my child and regrouped. I told myself maybe there were too many fun kid things to do and look at, and none of those included standing in line while I talked to vendors about the nuttiness of a particular cheese or the proper French pronunciation of “chevre.” Blah, blah, blah…

It was Ava’s turn to have fun, so we moved on to the bouncehouse…

And from there it was on to the playground.


And after a little bit of that, my adrenaline had settled, but I wanted to take just a couple of more stops and then head home.

I saw that Mannino’s Italian Bistro had a table there. I’d heard rave reviews about their location in Virginia Beach. I was really excited to hear that they are set to open a location in my neighborhood of Olde Towne Portsmouth. I chatted with one of the owners for a few minutes and then purchased some of their homemade vodka sauce (after I got home I realized he had hooked us up some of their fresh mozzarella – nice!).

Next to last stop was Edmonds Farm. Edmonds is family owned bison ranch in the Northern Neck area. They had a lot of offerings, including quail eggs. But you really have to be an early bird to get farm market eggs and so, as usual, I missed out. Instead, I purchased some ground bison.

A cute little piggy held Ava’s interest and helped keep her by my side at this table.

 Finally, because Ava was complaining of such agonizing thirst (ha!), I bought her a fresh limeade from Flour Child Bakery.


 Next Saturday (10/20) is last the market of the season for Farmer’s Fare until their first holiday market in November. It’s an awesome market and really worth checking out!  Find them on Facebook!

Finally, there is a Tidewater Crop Mob event at Shady Goat Farm in Virginia Beach tomorrow (10/14) from 9:30 to 12:30! Comment on this post or reach out to me on my Farm to Fork Hampton Roads Facebook page if you’d like to join the Tidewater Crop Mob:)



Summer Retrospective

It’s the end of summer, and I’m a little sad. Little Ava just started kindergarten. I changed jobs recently, and I’ll be going back to work full time. So I feel like my future as a “punk rock homesteader” or “hip homemaker” doesn’t seem as relevant anymore. lol. We usually try to cram in a lot of summer fun during the last few weeks of summer. But for the past few weeks, it just hasn’t felt like summer at all. Temps in the 70s and relentless rain.
But truly, life has been good –  even if the tomatoes haven’t been:) And while I haven’t been active on the blog, I still have done plenty of gardening and shopping locally this summer. 
 The garden produced quite a lot of zucchini at the beginning of the summer. Just look at the size of this one in contrast with a bunch of bananas!

I cooked zucchini at least six different ways including: sauteed with Japanese eggplant and vidalia onions; oven baked zucchini fries, grilled zucchini, zucchini quiche, zucchini oven fries, and zucchini fritters. The zucchini fritters were one of those repeater recipes – I made the fritters at least three times. Local zucchini is still plentiful, so I urge you to try this dish! Get the recipe here.
Japanese eggplant and cucumbers did well in the garden.
a typical mid summer community garden harvest

Patty Pan squash did exceptionally well. Aren’t these little guys cute?

They remind me of little Pac Man ghosts, no?
I also think Dumb Donald’s hat of Fat Albert must have been inspired by patty pan squash:)  

O.k. enough of the not-so-clever 1980s pop cultural references. Back to the garden.The fact that we were able to grow corn in our little garden just blows my mind.We had our share of worms, though. One day I microwaved an ear of corn in its husk and cooked an ear worm along with it.
But when I get a little freaked out by the ear worm and Japanese beetle assault on our garden, I remind myself of the lyrics of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi:
Hey farmer farmer
Put away that DDT now
Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees
Ava really enjoyed the corn this year. Although, I’d prefer that she eat less starchier, more nutritious vegetables, I did not discourage her consumption of corn. I’d like to think that corn is a gateway vegetable – a kind of bridge to healthier vegetables:)

We did outsource for some of our corn supply this season. While visiting my parents camping in Surry, we stopped by College Run Farms.


 We went to pick blueberries…


…but I couldn’t resist trying their “whiteout corn” after another patron raved about it.

Ava was not interested in picking blueberries in the heat, so she stayed back at the farm stand with my mom and got busy shucking the corn we had purchased. At least she was working for her food!

I also bought some cantaloupe, because the beetles destroyed so many of ours in the garden.

My mom wanted to share some blueberry pie with me.

I did not mind at all:)

I purchased this book for Ava…Poor kid has a mom with an agenda I’m afraid. 

The “whiteout corn” was delicious, as were the blueberries and the cantaloupe. After going home that night I paired the cantaloupe and the blueberries together in really simple way.

I drizzled some local honey from Horseshoe Point Honey in Suffolk on this thingy, and it was delicious!

To close, I thought I’d leave you with a few images from our summer garden. 



By now, we’ve pulled up the tomato plants, squash plants and melon vines. It’s bittersweet, but we have a full garden planted for the fall. After all, eating locally isn’t just a summer fling!


Blueberry Jam Music Festival

The concept, on a very small scale, seemed to resemble that of Woodstock’s or Bonaroo’s. Like the Woodstock Music Festival, which took place on a dairy farm, the First Annual Blueberry Jam Music Festival took place on a blueberry farm (Drewry Farms in Wakefield, VA). And just as the more contemporary Bonnaroo Music Festival – also hosted in a farm setting – the Blueberry Jam offered the unique and rare opportunity for overnight camping.

 The event featured local musicians artist and vendors. It was charitable in nature, with all of alcohol and ticket sales and 10% of vendor sales benefiting Buy Fresh Buy Local Hampton Roads, The Virginia Peninsula Foodbank, and Five Points Community Market. The atmosphere was laid back and non-commercial with a strong and hippie vibe. The musical lineup ranged from gospel to trance with a schedule extending beyond midnight.

 I had given some consideration to camping with my friend Lara Haner of the Tidewater Crop Mob, but in retrospect, I’m glad that I decided against it, because June 23rd, the day of the Blueberry Jam, will stand out as the hottest day on record – at least in my mind ;)
Because of the extreme heat, Ava and I set out for Wakefield later in the afternoon. I love a drive out to the country on a beautiful day. Even on the hottest days, I will roll down my windows, turn up my music and Ava and I will sing along to our favorite songs. This kind of stuff is good for the soul, and I’d like to think that these are memory making moments for Ava, for they certainly are for me:)
First, Ava played in a foam machine.

After that, we went to check out the little petting zoo. As it turned out, the petting zoo belonged to the Teeny Tiny Farm.

For those of you who missed or may have forgotten Ava’s birthday party blog post, the Teeny Tiny Farm rented a bunny to us named Nala for Ava’s birthday. Nala even spent the night with us and Ava became incredibly attached to the her. When I told Ava that Nala’s owner was on the premises, Ava became hopeful of a little mini reunion with her bunny friend. Unfortunately, as we found out, the bunnies stayed back at the farm because of the heat. Poor Ava.
We started making our way toward the music stage…
 I felt kind of bad walking right by this sign, but I just didn’t have the patience to pick blueberries with Ava that day :/ When I took her to pick strawberries, she left me to pick them all by myself. The same scenario was played out during another blueberry picking. Instead, we bought a pint of berries for $3. I was happy with that.
Moving onto the food and beverage area, we ran into our friend, Leslie! She had a Kombuchick tent set up with Lenora Belle cookies.
I bought Ava a tea from Leslie and a cookie from Lenora Blue.
We bought some hand cut french fries and then finally moved on to the stage.
It was a relief to sit down. I’d been lugging around a ridiculous amount of stuff, as usual:/ Taking a look at the program, I was sorry I’d missed the yoga, medicinal herbs and guided meditation sessions.

Regrettably, we also missed the bluegrass act…
But we were getting ready to hear a little blues from Bobby “Blackhat” Walters…
 and I was about to enjoy 
1) some greasy fries
2) a half pint of blueberries
3) and one beer
Ava enjoyed her tea, her cookie, a half pint of blueberries and started on one of the two free bags of cotton candy she had been given
OMG, the gluttony!!! What was wrong with me to want to eat/drink all this stuff in this terrible heat?!?!
I thought Ava might enjoy having her own personal tent there. It must have been a terrible sauna in there, but at least her skin would be protected from sunburn.

There were lots of young college aged kids in the crowd. These presumably were the campers – God bless ‘em.

It was kinda funny how many hula hoops were there. These kids took their hula hoopin’ seriously.
In fact, the first humans we saw at the festival were hula hoopin’ as they traveled from one part of the farm to the next.

Ava and I also walked around to check out some of the vendors. They included a blacksmith doing a live demo…
…even a trapper!

There were a few other interesting vendors…
…and what looked like an improvisational art tent.
We walked around the perimeter of the festival before heading home.

 The Blueberry Jam is something really special. It had a friendly and genuine atmosphere and a spirit of community…Maybe that sounds like hippie talk; personally, I’m not that free-spirited. lol!  But I certainly believe in the charitable mission of the Jam and can fully relate to people supporting their local farmers!
Please check out the Blueberry Jam next year! Friend Drewry Farms Blueberries and Buy Fresh Buy Local Hampton Roads on Facebook for announcements about next year’s event!

A Green Tea Party: Pulling it Off

The weather was gorgeous. The temperature was mild. A strong breeze was blowing…
and nursery rhymes were playing in the garden:)
My family and friends have been waiting very patiently to see the party photos, so in this post I thought I’d mostly let the photos do the talking.
thrift store teacups and saucers. flowers from the Flower Lady of Portsmouth
chalkboard  – Olde Towne Flea Market
We set up the tea bar on a recycled piece of Ava’s bedroom furniture.
the lovely teas brought to you by Kombuchick:)
loved the fresh fruit and local honey for the teas / my mom’s red nails
Rooibos Provence with Mixed Berry Puree (garnished with fresh real fruit and a honey drizzle). lovely!!!
organic grapes in a thrift store candy dish that set me back a steep 50 cents. lol! 
I had a lot of fun with the table setting details!
yummy blueberry and strawberry scones from Bonga’s Best!
organic peanut butter and local jelly butterfly sandwich:)
vanilla dipped organic strawberries in a pretty vintage tiered server from the Salvation Army Thrift Store

When the girls arrived, they were nothing short of princesses – except that they wanted to run around and scream and have periodic meltdowns.
Just kidding.
They were generally very well behaved, but I was beginning to think the girls might never take a seat at the table and that all my chair painting and fussy table decorations were done in vain.

The children wouldn’t stay seated for long, but the sugary sweets ultimately caught and held their attention – for at least a little while:)
Four outta six ain’t bad.
yummmy…this strawberry doesn’t taste healthy at all. (lol!)
loved to see little Emily wearing the gloves and hats I provided for dress up!

This five-year-old just looked like the epitome of class and grace:)

Lena, you are such a cutie! Thank you for holding tea cup and your saucer while i snapped this photo!
my dapper little nephew, London, gettin’ fancy:)

Initially, the “photo booth” I created with thrift store curtains didn’t work out quite like I envisioned. The kids either faced the wrong way…
 …or they played on the wrong side. lol!

the miniature tea cups and the plastic table were more interesting than the one i slaved over. oh, well:)
the dress up box was a vintage clothes hamper – yes, I sanitized it. the mirror was John’s grandmother’s.

Kylie – looking like a perfect lady!

 Actually, I did end up getting a few cute photo booth shots.

strawberry and buttercream cake from Belinda Traber of Trés Belle Artistry Cakes
as if I hadn’t already loaded them up with enough sugar:)

Daddy helpin’ out

this cake was incredible

I had one more treat for the girls in the form of a furry little guest. This little bunny named, Nala, came to visit via The Teeny Tiny Farm.
best of friends

 Ava loves out loud. Often her affection is painful. And sometimes she nearly chokes people in the process. But I say, keep it up, girl:)

 No party is complete if Ava has not yet stood on a piece of furniture, boldly demanded people’s attention and delivered some ridiculous, highly improvisational speech with grandiose flair.
 My mom was a big help to me as always. She even went thrift store shopping with me one day and actually had fun! This is a big deal, because my mom is more of a “Nordy Girl”. lol!

Thank you, mom!!!
 As promised, here’s the local vendor listing:
Furniture and Decor
Better Homes and Bargains  
Consignment shop  featuring unique furniture and gifts
109 Volvo Pkwy, Chesapeake. 757-548-6440
Childrens’ Hospital of the King’s Daughters Thrift Store
31338 Western Branch Blvd , Chesapeake, 757-638-KIDS
2717 Airline Blvd, Portsmouth Blvd, Portsmouth -757-465-KIDS
Goodwill Thrift Store
3110 High Street Portsmouth, 757-215-1794
6540 Hampton Roads Parkway, Suite 101, Suffolk,
Olde Towne Flea Market
Held the first Saturday of each month inside the enclosed Middle Street Garage located on the corner of Middle & London.
Salvation Army Thrift Store
5524 Virginia Beach Blvd, Virginia Beach, VA 23462, 757-216-4227
Thrift Store City
1760 E Little Creek Rd, Norfolk, 757- 583-6936
Thrift Store USA
875 East Little Creek Rd, Norfolk, 757-588-2900
Food and Drink
Bonga’s Best  
Delicious homemade breads, cakes, cookies and pies. You can find Bonga’s Best most Saturdays at the Portsmouth Olde Towne Farmer’s Market.
Broken Arrows Farm
One of my favorite  grass fed cattle and free range poultry farms in the area. Run by a wonderful family, the Christmas. You can find Broken Arrows most Saturdays at the Portsmouth Olde Towne Farmer’s Market.
Flower Lady of Portsmouth
Beautiful flowers, shandmade soaps and other lovely handmade gifts. You can find The Flower Lady of Portsmouth most Saturdays at the Portsmouth Olde Towne Farmer’s Market.

Kombuchick  Inc
A local kombucha (a refreshing probiotic beverage) company run by the super cool Leslie Crews
JCheck out the Kombuchick Bar at Five Points Community Farm Marketon 2500 Church Street in Norfolk
Portsmouth Olde Towne Farmers Market
My very favorite farmers market. You will find me there most every Saturday morningJ
Tres Belle Artistry
My friend Belinda Traber makes some incredible cakes – as tasty as they are beautiful!

Other – Bunny Rental

Teeny Tiny Farm
Traveling Pony Rides & Petting Zoos provide mobile pony rides and petting zoos