This Month's Featured Resources...

Revolutionary WarScrap Crafting Lego History Latin Calendar

Friday, January 29

Shop Around (Miracles)

FAN FIELD TRIP FRIDAY!    

If you're looking for somewhere your entire family can go and enjoy, plan a visit to Old Town, Virginia. This charming town in Alexandria offers a little of everything; shopping, art, history, boat tours, and delicious food! When walking becomes tiresome your family can jump on the FREE trolley and enjoy all the must see sites. 

This time around my friend and I decided to take a trip to Old Town and just simply explore. Sometimes its fun to not necessarily have a plan when going to a new place(hence the word SOMETIMES!) because then it turns into an adventure! After we parked we decided to ditch our coats (which later we regretted lol) and hit the streets.
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all photography by Grace Images
When we walked out of the parking garage, our first stop was the Farmers market. There were many vendors set up in the courtyard with various selections. Some of which included baked items and local goods. I learned that the Farmers Market takes place every Saturday. A lot of families were there sampling some of the free food, listening to music and letting the kids play on the large pavilion stage.
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After the market, we did some shopping. I'm a huge fan of antiques and Old Town has an abundance of them. There are plenty of unique stores that are sure to entertain people of all ages!
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We decided to walk down to the water. What a beautiful site. It was a bit chilly, but so many people were down by the water just enjoying the view. A few performers were out playing some music. On a warm day it would be a great place to come sit and relax and even have a picnic. There are also multiple Boat tours to choose from that sounded very entertaining. Another fun option we saw was the Water Taxi that can take you over to The National Harbor or to Georgetown for more site seeing.
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Another thing I love about Old Town is all the art! We decided to check out The Torpedo Art Factory, which is free. There are so many cool exhibits, and local artists. They even offer art classes. My favorite part was the time line of art. Its showed how art has progressed over time; what was popular during certain periods. I am a huge fan of the 50's, 60's and 70's eras, so it was really intriguing learning how art was perceived during those time periods.
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As our adventure began to wind down we decided to take a break. We sat on a bench and took in all the different buildings, the delicious smells and the melting pot of people all around. Old town is such a unique and fun place to spend an afternoon or an entire day, with yourself, a friend, your spouse, or your entire family!

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A little more about me:

Howdy!! I'm Michelle, blogger behind The Random Arrow. I'm a Maryland girl, who enjoys exploring, has to many pairs of shoes, is a professional coffee drinker, and adores my little family.

Want to know more?
http://www.therandomarrow.com

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Tuesday, January 26

Take Me to Church (Hozier)

I grew up in a very traditional church...straight pews, huge pipe organ, solemn hymns, dressing up in our Sunday best.  One of my favorite memories of our church was it's beautiful architecture.  The stained glass windows in the sanctuary each tell a bible story (not the one shown below...it's in the stairway...the light wasn't cooperative in the sanctuary). 
 The curved arches and gothic spires of the bell tower hold bricks created by local hands in the late 18th century.  The hallways are small, but full of local history, and the people are like family.  At least, that's the church that I remember.  What I found on the Sunday that we went back to my hometown was something completely different....
The building was the same, but the spirit was different.  This once-traditional church traded in it's pipe organ and choir.  The hymnals are now in a glass-box cover in the "history museum," along with robes and candlesticks.  Lyrics are projected onto the walls and the few remaining attendees of this once-thriving church rock out in their jeans and t-shirts.  And hey - that works for some people. 

Based on the current attendance, I'm thinking that most of the folks I grew up with decided the same thing that I did.....it didn't work for me.  So we left.....we went someplace that felt a little bit closer to God - for us.   (Just to be clear, I'm not judging the good folks of my home church.  Only saying that its new persona no longer feels right, personally.)
We went down to the river....which was mighty high, thanks to Hurricane Joaquin!!  We talked about life, love, spirituality, and how we saw God in the beauty around us.  We walked around and watched the lights being erected for the annual Festival of Lights.  Some days, the Holy Spirit is inside....and some days you just have to venture a little further.

Thursday, January 21

Strange Cup of Tea (Sister Hazel)

January and February are so COLD!!  Sometimes, it feels like I'll never warm up!  My best trick is to warm up from the inside out....hot beverages, soups, and sitting by the fireplace with a good book.

If you're not wanting to leave the house to pick up that perfect hot cup of tea or coffee, why not try one of these new boxes from Simple Loose Leaf and Single Cup Club?  They also make great gifts!


Having a subscription to Simple Loose Leaf is like having a personal Tea Guru.  Each month, a box of savory loose leaf teas is shipped right to your door for just $17.  Each box has 4-5 loose leaf teas, 2 re-usable muslin tea bags and a beautiful card detailing your month's tea selection.  You can try each tea and order more from their store with a 50% member's only discount!

According to the site, each box contains :
  • At least four loose leaf teas (including black, green, herbal, and another blend)
  • Two reusable tea bags
  • A few surprises
Our experience :
  • The tea itself was delicious!  The Bird's Nest Pu'er was unique and sparked an hour's side trip from our homeschooling day as we explored it's history and where it came from...and tasted it.
  • It says that there are two reusable tea bags in each box, but we only received one.
  • It says that there are "a few surprises" in each box, but all we received was what's shown...five baggies of tea and one mesh bag.  Also, a card came with it describing each tea in detail.  (Excellent attention to detail, which is helpful if folks have any allergies.)
  • It's a nice box, but a little disconcerting that it doesn't include what it says it will on the main page.  This is something that I would give as a unique gift, for the tea lover or person who has everything.
A few other notes :
  • Shipping is free in the US
  • All boxes ship out on the 1st
The perfect friend in the pursuit of amazing coffee, Single Cup Club is like having your own "guy" in the coffee world.  Each month, a box of artisan coffees is shipped right to your door for just $19.  You'll experience three small batch roasted coffees with each month's box in the convenience of Keurig-compatible single serve cups. 

According to the site, each box contains :

  • 15 Artisan Keurig-compatible cups
  • 3 unique coffee blends

Our experience :
  • The box arrived with everything advertised.
  • The coffees were very good!  My husband's favorite was the Fogbuster, which is an extremely dark roast (his preference).  
  • The other two coffees were pretty good, more of a medium roast.
  • When we broke down the costs, it came to $1.27 / cup for the subscription box.  Our typical purchase is $0.68 / cup for online gourmet box.  So that makes it double the cost.
  • This is something that I would give as a unique gift, for the coffee lover or person who has everything.
A few other notes :
  • Delivered monthly
  • Free shipping in the US

Wednesday, January 20

Dilly Dilly Song (Dinah Shore)


Over Christmas, we got a yummy care package from my grandmother's house...full of the tastes of my childhood!  One of these blasts-from-the-past was her Dilly Crackers.  Just a warning, if you like salty tastes, these could be your undoing...LOL  
We had just gotten a crop of winter squash when these arrived, so we whipped up some yummy squash bisque to go with them.  It's a quick and easy winter recipe that will warm you from the inside out...Bon Apetit!

Dilly Crackers

  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • Tbsp dill weed
  • 1 pkg dry ranch dressing mix
  • 3 pkg (12 oz each) oyster crackers

Mix all ingredients together and spread out on a pan to dry.  Allow to dry at least an hour before storing.  Stores well for up to two weeks.

Squash Bisque


Mix pureed squash, vegetable stock, and seasonings in a large pot. 
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.  
Add heavy cream and cook five minutes (do not boil)

Some of our other favorite ways to warm up are minestrone soup and chicken tortilla soup.  What's your go-to recipe for warming up in the winter?

Tuesday, January 19

A Twist on Breakfast!

Breakfast............ugh.  It comes before my coffee.  And these kids always want to eat.  So, they're learning to cook.  But they're tired of making the same old stuff...so we're putting new spins on some old recipes today!

Cherry-Vanilla Pancakes 
  • Bisquick mix
  • Maraschino Cherries (8 oz for 2 cups pancake mix)
  • Double strength Vanilla (1 Tbsp for 2 cups pancake mix)


Follow directions for making pancakes on the Bisquick box.  Chop up cherries into small pieces and put into mix.  Put vanilla and all the cherry juice into the mix!  Mix it up, slap it down, and flip the flapjacks!


Sweet Potato Fritters w/ Kind Bar Filling
(AKA 'clean out the pantry' breakfast)

  • 2 md size sweet potatoes (pureed...no need to peel)
  • 1/4 cup baking mix
  • 2 Kind bars (pick your favorite...but chocolate-based ones are best)


  1. Mix the sweet potatoes and baking mix.  Spoon mixture into hills on the frying pan.  Let cook about five minutes.  
  2. Flatten and gently flip with a spatula.  Let cook another five minutes, flatten again, and repeat.  
  3. Cook each side at least twice, until it has formed a crust on both sides.  
  4. Break up the kind bars and place on top of half the flattened fritters.  Pop the other half on tops and flip a few times to get the kind bars good and melted between them.  
  5. Voila!  Breakfast...complete with vegetables, starch, protein, good fats, and chocolate...which is totally a food group.














Friday, January 15

Northern Downpour (Panic at the Disco)


It's Fan Field Trip Friday!!!   
Want to get your trip featured?  

We may be small, but we are mighty, entertaining, and quite delicious.  There might be as many reasons to love CT as there are pizza places…but here are just 20 wonderful reasons why Connecticut should be your next road trip destination.

1.     We are home of the world’s pest pizza.
Look no further, pizza-lovers.  We are home to Pepe’s pizza, where you’ll find the famous white clam pie and plenty of other innovatively delicious toppings to choose from.  If thin-crust is more your style, try the Tomato Pie from Sally’s Apizza.



2.     We made the Amusement Park amusing.
In Bristol, Connecticut, you’ll find the Boulder Dash wooden roller coaster, made of Southern Yellow Pine and Douglas Fir wood and ranging 4,672 feet across Lake Compounce.  Traveling sixty miles per hour with a first drop of 115, you’re sure to be in for a thrill ride.



3.     We started the greatest show on earth.
P.T. Barnum was one of the greatest entertainers in history, launching a business of museums, traveling shows and his world-famous circus, “The Greatest Show On Earth.”  In Bridgeport, Connecticut, prepare to be amazing by the P.T. Barnum Museum, one of our country’s greatest treasure. This three-story museum will bring the circus to life, and is the only museum in the world dedicated to “The Great American Showman.”



4.     Take a hike with breathtaking views.
According to a Native American Legend, a disturbing spirit was put to sleep, and voila, Sleeping Giant was created.  Drive north and you’ll discover a magnificent mountain to climb – a giant, natural, sleeping beauty.



5.     Dogwood Festival: A weekend of celebration.
Every year, thousands of dogwoods blossoms, bringing in the beautiful New England spring.  Celebrate with barbecue, music, games and dance.



6.     Try a zipline.
Check out the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport.  Not only will you find fun, hands-on activities for your inner scientist, but you’ll have the chance to explore Adventure Park – a series of thrilling ziplines and rope courses for the daredevil in all of us.



7.     Rock-climbing – indoors.
If you’re still hungry for adventure after an all-day zipline marathon, head to Carabiners in Fairfield. 



8.     Ikea is heaven on earth. 
Go for the Swedish meatballs, leave with furniture parts you didn’t even know you needed.



9.    Mystic Seaport is the ultimate weekend getaway
Mystic is brimming with history, quaint boutiques, beautiful scenery and an incredible aquarium.  Have an authentic New England Country Christmas with a Seaport Lantern tour…and did you know it’s free on your birthday?



10.  The Casinos to beat all casinos.
CT is home to Foxwoods and Mohegan sun.  Play some blackjack, see a concert or comedian, and order Chinese food at 4am.  What could be better?



11.   Goodspeed Musicals are top-notch entertainment:  Who needs Broadway when you have first-rate theatre at your doorstep?  Since 1963, Goodspeed has produced over 250 musicals, and was the first regional theatre in America to earn to special Tony Awards.  Now that’s entertainment.



12.   Beer: In Stratford, you’ll find Two Roads Brewery, named one of the 50 best breweries in America this year by Yahoo’s Travel.



13. The best parade in town:  Every March for over 60 years, the St. Patricks Day Parade marches through New Haven and attracts more than a million people.  Call it luck of the Irish, or just call it lucky to be in Connecticut.



14.  Bijou Theatre:  This relic is one of the oldest buildings used as a movie house in the country.  See a movie, musical, drama or comedy night and order in pizza from Two Boots next door.



15.   International Festival of Arts and Ideas:  Every year for 15 days, New Haven is alive with music, lectures, entertainment, and artistic inspiration.  Even better, most of the events are free!



16.  Food and Wine:  Go to the annual Food and Wine Festival in Greenwich to be treated and treat yourself to celebrity demonstrations, music, bartender showdowns and grand tastings.



17.  Go Apple Picking:  Head to Guilford and reap the fruits of fall at Bishop’s Orchards.  Pick apples in the fall, tour the wine trail come wintertime, and be sure to bring back some pear cider from the gift shop.



18.  Take a scenic Train Ride:  The Essec Steam Train and Riverboat will tour your around the most scenic areas in Connecticut.  While you ride through creeks, coves and preserves, enjoy a romantic dinner, or take a riverboat Charter.



19.  See fine art:  The Bruce Museum in Greenwich is a world-class institution with acclaimed art in its permanent galleries, and constantly changing, innovative traveling exhibits.



20.  Mark Twain House: Take a tour of the home this famous author lived and worked in from 1874 to 1891.



21.  Hibachi: After a full day of casinos, sight-seeing, art-spectating and ziplining, indulge in a delicious and highly entertaining feast, prepared tableside by the skilled Hibachi chefs at Sakura’s in Westport.



As the Nutmeg State, we seem to have it all – pizza, music, travel and thrills.  So what are you waiting for?  Your hibachi dinner awaits… 


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Amy  is a  PTSD peer-to-peer specialist, artist, author, speaker for RAINN, writer for The Huffington Post, award-winning health advocate, actress and playwright eagerly sharing the lessons learned from trauma through her writing, performance, art and speaking..  In 2012, she wrote, directed and starred in a one woman musical about her life, Gutless & Grateful, touring theatres across the country for three years, and earning rave reviews and accolades since it’s BroadwayWorld Award-nominated NYC debut.    As a visual artist, her art has been featured in esteemed galleries  solo exhibitions, and her mixed media  workshops emphasize creativity as an essential mindset.

Amy’s “beautiful detour” inspired her to create the #LoveMyDetour movement, a social media campaign inspiring people to flourish because of, rather than in spite of challenges.  Recipient of the Great Comebacks Award.  Her Washington Post and On Being with Krista Tippet, and is a regular contributor for numerous publications including Elite Daily, The Mighty, Indie Chicks and Career Girl Daily.  Her story has appeared on the TODAY Show, CBS, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen Magazine, among others.  

Amy's passion for the arts as a means of healing and expression led her to devise storytelling workshops for the Transformative Language Arts Network National Conference, the Eating Recovery Center Foundation, and The League for the Advancement of New England Storytelling.  Determined to bridge the gap of communication between wellness resources on college campuses and students, Amy is currently touring college campuses with a program combining mental health advocacy, sexual assault awareness and Broadway Theatre.

For information on keynote presentations, private coaching, workshops and signature talkbacks, visit amyoes.com.  Follow me on Twitter InstagramEtsy and Facebook! Join the #LoveMyDetour Campaign.