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Posted by on Sep 8, 2015 | 2 comments

Belgium’s Crazy Bicycle Museum

Belgium’s Crazy Bicycle Museum

Have you ever seen a bike that also doubles as a drum set? Or a bike so tall you need a ladder to climb on? During my recent bicycle vacation to Belgium, my tour guide Evan from Beercycling brought us to this wonderful and whimsical place, The Crazy Bicycle Museum, also known in Flemish as Gekke Fietsen Museum. We found the wackiest, weirdest and most wonderful bikes. Best of all they were all built by hand using parts salvaged from the trash. The owner, Wim, repurposes bikes he collects during the annual day when people put their old bikes on the street for trash collection. Wim has been collecting and repurposing bikes since he was ten years old. He was inspired by bikes he saw at a theme park as a young boy. Wim gets most of his ideas from the Internet and events like Tour De Fat. He made this drum set from old bikes. The bicycle/drum set is rideable. There’s the kissing bike… And so many more…...

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Posted by on Jul 6, 2015 | 3 comments

Blueberry Picking at the Beach

Blueberry Picking at the Beach

Looking for an activity the whole family can enjoy this summer? Pick-your-own farming is the answer. We visited a pick-your-own orchard this past weekend while on vacation in Delaware. The blueberries were at their prime and in a few weeks, the peaches will make their appearance. The good thing about blueberry picking is the bushes are only about 4-5 feet tall and the berries grow all over, providing easy access for people of all heights. Blueberries — the “lure of the shore” — are native to Delmarva (Delaware-Maryland-Virginia) and peak by mid-July. The pink ones need another week or so but the plump and juicy blue ones are ready to pick and devour. If you’re visiting Bethany Beach, Rehoboth or Ocean City, Bennett Orchards is a short drive away in Frankford, DE. There are also several pick-your-own fruit and vegetable farms back home in Virginia. We ended our visit with about 7 pounds of berries — two buckets full. Some were eaten fresh from the bucket, some have been frozen...

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Posted by on Dec 2, 2014 | 3 comments

Big Family Gathering in a Shenandoah Cabin

Big Family Gathering in a Shenandoah Cabin

Our typical Thanksgiving involves either staying here in Alexandria or visiting relatives in North Carolina or Pennsylvania. But this year, we all decided to meet together as a group, and what better place to meet than in a log cabin in the Shenandoah Valley. Despite snowy road conditions, we all arrived in one piece to catch up on one another’s lives, eat a big feast, play pool and watch football, soak in the hot tub, visit area farm towns, and hold lively tournaments in Uno, Simon, poker, Scattergories, Scrabble, and my favorite, Celebrity. In all, there were 19 of us in this spacious, rustic modern cabin we found on VRBO, which provided plenty of room for everyone — grandparents, cousins, even the newest member of our family, my grand-niece Marcie. A big dining table sat in the far end of the cabin that we extended with a smaller foyer table to seat everyone for our Thanksgiving feast. One family member arrived from D.C. just in time for dinner. Between meals, the...

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Posted by on Jul 7, 2014 | 0 comments

Field Trip: Bethany Beach Nature Center

Field Trip: Bethany Beach Nature Center

We visited the Bethany Beach Nature Center while on vacation in Delaware last week. The park reminded me a lot of Huntley Meadows (located just south of Del Ray) with its wide variety of native plants and a boardwalk which takes you through the woods to an open marsh observation deck. It’s worth a visit if you are in the Bethany area this summer. The main nature center is an historic house built in 1902 which was moved from its downtown Bethany location in 1999 to its current more inland location after being donated to the town. It’s one of five houses built by John Addy, one of Bethany’s original settlers. Another of the five houses is a famous Bethany Beach landmark, the oceanfront B&B called the Addy Sea. It was the 4th of July when we visited so the building was closed, but that didn’t stop us from checking out the three gardens on the property — a rain garden, a vegetable garden and a native plant demonstration garden. We...

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Posted by on Jun 3, 2014 | 1 comment

An Artist’s Journey from Del Ray to the West Indies

An Artist’s Journey from Del Ray to the West Indies

We featured Sarah (Coffin) D’Alessandro on DIY Del Ray as an artist (potter, illustrator), student of arts management and all around DIYer running The Empty House Studio (TEHS) art space in Del Ray in 2013. When we discovered that Sarah had moved to the West Indies with her husband Andy as he finishes med school, we started reading her blog, The Study and The Studio, where she writes beautifully about her adventures and artistic endeavors. This is one of Sarah’s first of, we hope, many guest blogs from Dominica to Del Ray in which she shares how she creates art on whatever canvas she can find, including rocks, seeds and shells. This is where I live post The Empty House Studio (TEHS), in the tropical lands of the West Indies, on the nature island of Dominica (pronounced “dom-i-NEE-ka”). It’s exotic, vibrant and very difficult at times. The shapes, textures and colors are shocking to a native Virginian like me. I am enthralled with the visuals even after five months...

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