Giveaway! Brighten Up the Holidays at Brookside’s Garden of Lights

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Dazzling light shows are a staple of the holiday season, and one of my very favorites in the area is Brookside Gardens’ walk-through exhibit, Garden of Lights. The gardens are transformed into a magical winter wonderland illuminated by more than one million twinkling colorful lights handwoven into original works depicting animals, flowers, and other natural elements. It will all be on view for visitors every night from November 25 through January 1 (with the exceptions of December 24 and 25). And I have two admission passes (admission is per car/van) to give away to a couple of lucky KFDC readers.

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Stroll from garden to garden to enjoy long-time favorite displays, including Nessie the Serpent, flying geese, and butterflies. The gardens’ trees and hardscapes such as the Children’s Garden Treehouse and Wedding Gazebo are bedecked in a rainbow of colorful glimmering lights. It is a light display unlike any other. (Get a glimpse of it all in this post about one of our visits there.)

Inside the Conservatory, enjoy the sights and sounds of model trains as they wind their way through seasonal greenery and miniature reproductions of local landmarks such as the RedDoor Store in Sandy Spring, the Kensington MARC railway station, Glen Echo Park complete with Bumper Car Pavilion and 1921 Dentzel Carousel, and even Brookside Gardens’ Conservatories.

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A new fire pit on the South Terrace is the latest addition to Garden of Lights, where refreshments — think S’mores kits and hot cocoa — will be available for purchase. And nightly musical performances take place inside the Visitors Center.

Garden of Lights is located in Brookside Gardens at 1800 Glenallan Avenue in Wheaton, MD. It runs November 25, 2016 – January 1, 2017 (closed December 24 & 25). Hours are 5:30-9:30pm Sunday – Thursday, and 5:30-10:30pm Friday & Saturday. Admission is $25 per car/van Sunday – Thursday, and $30 per car/van Friday & Saturday.

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Giveaway: For a chance to win one of the two admission passes to Brookside’s Garden of Lights, simply leave a comment below or enter through the KFDC Facebook page or on Instagram. The passes can be used on any date the exhibit is open. This giveaway will run through November 23, 2016, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!

This post is sponsored by Montgomery Parks, however, I only promote events, places, and programs that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.

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Thanksgiving Made Easy and Delicious with Whole Foods Market

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Do you need some help with your Thanksgiving feast? Perhaps you’ve been distracted by recent big events and haven’t even thought about preparing for it yet. Maybe you’re extra busy this time of year because, well, life can get really busy. Or you might just want to focus more on family and friends and have extra time to enjoy the many wonderful activities happening around DC over the holiday season.

Whatever the reason, Whole Foods Market can help make Thanksgiving easier. Offering already-prepped meals with all of the traditional dishes, the bulk of the work is done, so all you have to do is put the food in the oven and anticipate a wonderful feast!

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I know from firsthand experience that it is one delicious dinner. A few evenings ago, I was invited to Whole Foods Market Fair Lakes for a wine tasting and dinner to learn about the market’s packaged meals for the holiday — in the tastiest way possible. After sampling their top reds, whites, and sparklings for the holidays, we feasted on a traditional dinner, which included the turkey, gravy, sage stuffing, homestyle mashed potatoes, organic cranberry orange relish, green beans with shallots, carrots, and sweet potatoes.

The first of my two big plates of the Traditional Turkey Dinner

The first of my two big plates of the Traditional Turkey Dinner

Whole Foods Top 10 Wines for the holidays

Whole Foods Top 10 Wines for the holidays

Even better, the meal is not only scrumptious, it’s also an excellent deal: The Traditional Turkey Dinner serving 6-8 is just $89, and $169 serving 12-16. They also offer an Organic Turkey Dinner serving 6-8 for $99. On top of that, the wines they recommend are reasonably priced, ranging from $11.99 to about $30. (My favorite, the Camino Calixo Cava, was actually the least expensive one.)

The Traditional Turkey Dinner, packed and ready for your oven

The Traditional Turkey Dinner, packed and ready for your oven

Along with the tasting and feasting, there was also a tablescaping show by Williams Sonoma to inspire some Thanksgiving table decorating. This featured their Plymouth Dinnerware Collection with cute ceramic turkey tureens and other festive ware (psst… much of it is on sale right now!).

William Sonoma's festive Thanksgiving table

William Sonoma’s festive Thanksgiving table

Something I should note is that the turkey is not cooked! But it’s all seasoned and rubbed with herb butter on a bed of mirepoix and ready to go; you simply unwrap it and place in the oven for 3 to 4 hours to achieve a perfect, roasted bird.

All carved and ready to savor!

All carved and ready to savor!

And if you’ve got the turkey down, but need some help with the sides, they are all available to order individually. You might even like an alternative to turkey, either to suite your preference or do something different for a holiday meal later in the season — they’ve got options for that, too. And speaking of holiday meals beyond Thanksgiving, if you place an order for one by November 22, you can get $10 off!

Ready to reserve your bird — and the rest of your Thanksgiving meal? Ordering is as simple as the meal prep will be. Go to www.wholefoodsmarket.com/shop, select your store, and place your order.

Easy as pie. (Speaking of, you can add that to your meal, too!)


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Whole Foods Market, however, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own, and I only promote places, services, and programs that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under Annual, DC, Discount, Eats, Holidays, Maryland, Product Review, Professional Service, Seasonal, Sponsored Post, Virginia

Where to Play on the Weekdays: November 14-18

Owen & FDR

Owen & FDR



Monday – Wake up really early to see the supermoon!

Later on, indulge in an unseasonal activity: Swimming! Wilson Aquatic Center in NW is popular, and Deanwood in NE even has a slide. In Maryland, Rollingcrest in PG County has a special preschool area, and there are several indoor aquatic facilities in Montgomery County. In Northern Virginia, Arlington County has a few indoor public pools, and there’s one in Alexandria, too. Be sure to check schedules for open swim times at all of them, and I recommend calling ahead to confirm there are no random closings.

Tuesday – Visit one of DC’s most tried and true for kids: The National Museum of Natural History. With exhibits to indulge all kinds of interests, you really can’t go wrong. Gawk at the beasts in the Hall of Mammals, hold live creatures in the Insect Zoo, learn about early humans and see what you’d look like as a Neanderthal, catch an IMAX film, and be sure to take advantage of FREE entry on Tuesdays to the Butterfly Pavilion! (Tip: Get tickets when you arrive, since entry is timed, and yours may not begin right away.). Admission to the museum is free, but films are $9/adult, $7.50/child. Hours are 10am – 5:30pm.

Wednesday – Let the kids burn some energy at Dynamite Gymnastics Center in Rockville. Tumbling mats, trampolines, the jungle crawl (a huge tunnel to run through), and more equipment will keep them active during Open Gym time. Sessions take place 12-12:50pm and 2-2:50pm. Admission is $8/child, $12/participating adults.

For some evening entertainment, head to The Hamilton for a family-friendly old fashioned style country & western concert. Riders in the Sky will combine music and comedy in their all-ages show. Doors open at 6:30pm, show begins at 7:30pm. Tickets start at $17.

Thursday – Get a dose of nature in an unexpected place at Winkler Botanical Preserve. Located just off 395 and Seminary Road in Alexandria, the park is a nice outdoor surprise in an area full of office complexes and strip malls. Hours are 8:30am – 4pm, and admission is free.

Friday – Take a stroll around the Tidal Basin and visit some of DC’s memorials — Martin Luther King, Jr., Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson are all honored there. Visitors are welcome 24 hours a day, and park rangers are on hand to answer questions from 9:30am – 10pm. Admission is free.


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See Your Child Light Up the Adventure Theatre Stage in Shrek, Jr.!

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Many a child has probably been to one of Adventure Theatre’s wonderful shows and imagined what it was like to be on the stage, in the spotlight, performing in front of an audience. But they don’t just have to imagine it — in ATMTC’s Student Productions, they can actually experience it!

Adventure Theatre offers intensive performance and training opportunities to perform in fully produced student productions, ensemble showcases, and recitals. This winter, kids in grades 4-6 can be part of Shrek, the Musical, Jr.. Rehearsals will take place at their Wintergreen Plaza location in Rockville in the evenings while school in session, and during the days over Winter Break. And the grand finale — the performances — will be held at the theater in Glen Echo Park, on the very stage they have watched some of their favorite productions over the years.

Everyone’s favorite ogre is back in this hilarious stage spectacle, based on the Oscar-winning smash hit film and outrageous Broadway musical. Beauty is in the eye of the ogre. Shrek leads a cast of fairytale misfits on an adventure to rescue a princess and find true acceptance. Part romance and part twisted fairy tale, an irreverently fun show with a powerful message for the whole family.

With imaginative sets and costumes, and a host of over-the-top roles, there’s a part for everyone in the dazzling adventure story. This magical opportunity begins December 19 and runs through January 15 — see the complete schedule for details. No audition is required. Tuition is $800, and you can register online here.

Adventure Theatre MTC’s offers even more programs for kids of all ages, including Winter Break camps. And I can vouch for them — both of my children have participated in the summer program and loved it!


This post is sponsored by Adventure Theatre, however, I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under All ages, Camp, Class, Educational, Gradeschoolers, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, Seasonal, Theatre, Tweens, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

The Weekend Round-Up: November 11-13

Roam free at Dumbarton Oaks Gardens - there's no entry fee this time of year!

Roam free at Dumbarton Oaks Gardens – there’s no entry fee this time of year!



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It’s been a heavy week, and I think we all could probably use some good diversions right about now (some more thoughts on that here). Luckily, there are plenty of them happening around the area over the next few days. Observe Veterans Day, go for a glide, see a show, kick off the holiday season, get artsy, enjoy time outdoors, and so much more. And along with these recs, these outdoor suggestions and this indoor list will come in handy, too. Happy Weekend!

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Tour
Where: The Wall
When: Friday & Saturday, various times
Admission: Free

Observe Veterans Day at one of the memorials dedicated to those who have served our country. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is offering special family-friendly tours of The Wall. Kids can get an age-appropriate explanation about the day and the memorial, learn how to look up a name, see photos of service members on The Wall, and learn how to do a name rubbing.

National Veterans Day Ceremony
Where: Arlington Cemetery
When: Friday, 11am
Admission: Free

The National Veterans Day Ceremony begins at 11am with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans’ organizations and remarks from dignitaries. Free and open to the public, attendees are encouraged to get there by 10:30am. Read more about Arlington Cemetery in this post about a KFDC experience there.

Opening Day — on Ice!
Where: Local ice rinks
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by rink

Glide the day away as several area outdoor ice rinks start welcoming skaters for the season. Meander your way around Canal Park Ice Rink. Skate in Georgetown at the Washington Harbour. Do some shopping and snacking along with your skating at Pentagon Row in Arlington. Practice your axles and triple lutzes at Reston Town Center. Or get started on holidays gifts after a skating session at Tysons Corner Ice Rink. This post published last year has been updated to reflect this season’s skating details. (Update: Canal Park’s opening has been postponed.)

Roam Free
Where: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens
When: Saturday & Sunday, 2-5pm (closed Veterans Day)
Admission: Free

Enjoy free admission along with the lovely gardens at Dumbarton Oaks. From now through mid-March, there is no fee to roam the grounds of the Georgetown locale. Bundle up for a walk among the various plats — it’s a beautiful place to explore any time of year. After, head up to M Street and exprience Georgetwon GLOW. Read even more about about Dumbarton and get a glimpse in this early KFDC post.

Free Parking
Where: National Parks
When: Friday
Admission: FREE

It’s the last fee free day of the year for national parks, which means there’s no entrance fee where they usually charge to get in. Take advantage of complimentary admission and the day off from school; hit the trail at Shenandoah or Great Falls, take a ride on Skyline Drive to see the mountains covered in autumn colors, or visit Harpers Ferry.

27th Annual Museum Shop Around
Where: Strathmore
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
Admission: $9

Strathmore elevates the act of gift giving to an art form over Veterans Day weekend, Thursday, November 10 through Sunday, 13, 2016, with Museum Shop Around, the popular annual holiday bazaar that this year convenes 18 area museums, art centers, and cultural destinations to open pop-up shops in the historic Mansion at Strathmore. This community favorite infuses the holidays with the unexpected, clever, heartfelt, handmade, and art-inspired—Strathmore alone will feature wares from more than 100 different artisans and small businesses.

O Say Can You See
Where: Fort McHenry
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $10/adult

Observe the holiday at the birthplace of our National Anthem. Fort McHenry makes for a very interesting, informative, and enjoyable outing for all ages. Engaging exhibits range from historical objects and structures to multimedia displays and interactives, and this weekend there will be a special WWI original uniforms and equipment display. And the grounds located right on the Chesapeake are lovely to stroll on a nice day. Read about our recent experience there.

hiSTORYtime
Where: National Museum of American History
When: Saturday, 11am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Drop by the American History to listen to delicious stories about food! Then, children can participate in food games and crafts, and touch cookware from the collection. This new program aims to boost early literacy, while introducing young visitors ages 0-6 to objects in the museum’s collection. It will also take place on November 19.

Family Math Expo
Where: Montgomery College, Germantown Campus
When: Saturday
Admission: Free

Count our family in for this expo presented by the Montgomery College Math Department. Part of the Maryland STEM Fair, students from preK to college, parents, teachers, and math enthusiasts of all ages are invited to wide selection of board games, card games, app games, and math exploration activities for you to try your hand and mind at. Parents and teachers will also be able to explore resources they can use in their classroom and at home with their kids to build math and problem solving skills in fun ways. Thinking about starting a math club or math circle in your school or neighborhood? This is a great event to meet folks to join with to get started.

Mommy & Me Pop-Up
Where: West Elm DC
When: Saturday, 11am – 5pm
Admission: Free

Browse baby gear and more at this Mommy + Me Pop-Up Shop at the West Elm in Logan. The fun-filled day will feature BambiniWare baby + mommy gear, an organic baby puree bar, mommy mocktails, DIY demo stations, kid-friendly activities, giveaways, and more! RSVP here.

Show Time
Where: Local Theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

* Catch Looking for Roberto Clemente at the Atlas Performing Arts Center
* And Little one will love Aquarium at the Bethesda theatre
* See Where Words Once Were is at the Kennedy Center (look for discount tickets)
* The Olney Theatre presents Mary Poppins
* Hansel & Gretel are the current stars on the Main Stage at The Puppet Co.
* And Baby Bear’s Birthday is the featured Tiny Tots show at the puppet theater
* Northern Virginia Players’ ANNIE Jr. is in its final weekend
* You’ll want some more of Oliver Twist at Creative Cauldron

A Spin on the Carousel
Where: Arena Stage
When: Throughout the Weekend
Admission: Tickets start at $50

The Rodgers and Hammerstein classic is Arena Stage’s newest production. Owen and I just saw a performance, and it was an excellent lift to the post-election spirits. Taking place in the Fichandler Stage, the theatre-in-the-round setting really lets the audience appreciate the wonderful talent and direction of the show. Make it a date night, or bring the kids — I’d recommend it for about ages 10 and up.

Animation Mania: Creative Design
Where: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15

Join the Air & Space Museum for Making STEM Magic, a program that introduces young visitors to engineering in a fun and creative way. Ever wonder how pictures can come to life in your favorite animated movie? Learn about motion pictures in the November design challenge and create an optical illusion that will make you flip out.

Grand Opening
Where: Burger-Fi Alexandria
When: Saturday,
Admission: Free

Burger-Fi is celebrating the opening of its new Alexandria location with a weekend full of special events and food giveaways. On “Fry day Friday,” receive a free fry with the purchase of a burger or dog. The first 100 guests in line on Saturday will receive a free cheeseburger and be entered to win lift tickets to Ski Liberty, Roundtop, and Whitetail. Tommy McFly from 94.7 Fresh FM will broadcast live, and other activities will include a red carpet photo booth, face painting, and balloon twisting. Go on “Sundae Sunday” and receive a free custard cup! Burger-Fi is located at 111 N. Pitt Street in Old Town.

All Ages Dueling Pianos
Where: Bobby McKey’s at National Harbor
When: Saturday, 1-3:30pm
Admission: $18

The whole crew can enjoy an afternoon of music and fun at this dueling piano shows. The two hours of all-request live music paired with a lunch buffet is a great way to stay cool on a hot summer day. And this is a performance where kids are encouraged to wiggle in their seats, dance in the aisles, and sing along!

Intro to 3D Modeling
Where: Brentwood Arts Exchange
When: Saturday, 2-4 pm
Admission: Free

Is your teen interested in learning 3D design and learning how to use a 3D printer? Sign them up for this free class at Brentwood Arts Exchange’s new MakerBot, where kids ages 16 and up can learn the basics of 3D printing and leave the class with their very own three-dimensional object! Registration required, as seating is limited. Call 301-277-2863 or register in person at the Brentwood Arts Exchange.

The Emporiyum
Where: Union Market, Dock 5
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: $15-25

Meet, eat, and shop as this two-day market and celebration of everything delicious, returns to Union Market. Get a taste of 95 artisans, producers, chefs, and restaurants, will bincluding Erik Bruner-Yang’s Paper Horse, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Ramen Burger, Co Co & Co, Megpies, Eggloo, Bon Bon Bon, and many more. Meet the people behind the brands, taste and learn about their products, and shop for unique edible gifts. Tickets and the full vendor roster can be found on The Emporiyum website.

Positivi-Tree Lighting and Street Fest
Where: Downtown Silver Spring
When: Saturday, 6-8pm
Admission: Free

The 5th Annual event is Downtown Silver Spring’s official Tree Lighting and Street Fest. And this year it will feature the lighting of Positivi-Tre, an impressive 35-foot-tall public art installation comprised of hundreds of illuminated and multi-colored umbrellas! Other fun festivities of the evening will include food tastings, live entertainment, ice sculpting, and more!

Sunday at the Studio
Where: Gary Rosenthal Collection
When: Sunday
Admission: $22.50/family

Get ready for Chanukah with glass artist Gary Rosenthal! Get a fascinating tour of Gary’s studio (he’ll show how the glass is made!); make your own dreidel, menorah, mezuzah, candlesticks or tzedakah box; learn a bit with PJ Library’s own Sarah Rabin Spira; and enjoy a tasty snack. Gary’s studio is located at 4218 Howard Avenue in Kensington.

Full STEAM Ahead
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden
When: Sunday, 1-4pm
Admission: Free for little ones, $5/adult, $3/ages 6-17

The amazing Garden & Arts Center in Solomons, MD, injects creativity and fun into STEM by adding Art, and turning Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math into STEAM! The program designed for toddlers and preschoolers uses hands-on investigations and challenges as children explore, observe, ask questions, and make predictions about the world around them as they create and play. Drop in Sunday for a Busy Bankers session, then plan to explore the rest of the grounds and exhibits while you’re there – it’s seriously fantastic! Read more about Annmarie in this KFDC post.

Kick off the Holidays
Where: National Harbor
When: Sunday, 12-7pm
Admission: Free

Join National Harbor for a full day of holiday fun, topped off by their annual tree lighting. They’ll have tons of holiday activities, including the opening of the holiday market, card-making for the Troops, a holiday movie on the Plaza, live entertainment, Santa at the carousel, fireworks, and more!

Baltimore, Hon!
Where: Charm City attractions
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Zip up I-95 for some fun in our sister city, where there are several great places to spend a day off. Play the day away at Port Discovery. Explore the exhibits and loads of hands-on activities at the Maryland Science Center. See some of the quirkiest, coolest art ever at the American Visionary Art Museum. Get an eyeful of the underwater world at the National Aquarium. Or learn about Baltimore’s early business days at the Museum of Industry.

Leaf Peep on the Trail
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Take in the brilliant color spectrum of autumn and get a little exercise to boot on a family hike. From right here in the city to country locales, you’ve got your pick of places where you can enjoy the fall foliage and some time outdoors. This post about good area hikes with kids started in the early KFDC days, and with many new recommendations added since — Prince William Forest Park, the most recent — there are lots of great recommendations for happy trampers.

Park it in MoCo
Where: Montgomery County Parks
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

Montgomery Parks presents loads of special activities for visitors of all ages. Watch a raptor feeding at Meadowside Nature Center, enjoy some evening fun at Locust Grove Nature Center, discover amazing creatures at Brookside Nature Center, and more. See the online calendar for details and even more events happening this weekend.

Fun at Fairfax Parks
Where: Several Fairfax parks
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

The Fairfax County Park Authority hosts all kinds of events on weekends for guests of all ages. Go on a family Bird Walk at Green Spring Gardens. Join the Reptile and Amphibian Club at at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park (ages 6 to 15). Take a wagon ride and journey to the pond at Riverbend Park. Details and registration for these and more activities this weekend and beyond are available here.

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