Homestead Farm – Exploring Maryland

Since the weather has been mild the past week or so, we’ve been trying to find things to do outdoors. Last week, I wrote about Clark’s Elioak Farm in Ellicott City. Though I loved everything about the farm, we wanted to go somewhere closer to home. Enter Homestead Farm.

Homestead Farm

Homestead Farm is located in Montgomery County, Maryland, specifically in Poolesville. I don’t have stats on the acreage of this farm but it is rather large. Their pumpkin patch is one of the biggest I’ve seen.

On their site, you can see when fruits are in season so you can pick the time of when you want to go.

Cost? Admission is free! So just visit and see what they’ve got there =) The following is what we saw when we came in mid-October =)

Hay Ride

Like legit hay rides. During the weekends. You sit on a truck bed with hay and is pulled by a tractor! It’s great! Ok it’s $4 per person and free for under 2 year olds. What’s cool about this place is it’s a 20 minute ride all around the farm! The view is great and if company is awesome, then this ride is definitely fun! Ok Homestead Farm, I see you.

Petting Zoo

Not completely a petting zoo. You don’t really pet the animals but you do get rather close to them. My favorite is the little tiny spotted piggies. The kiddos definitely enjoyed this part and even the adults loved looking at the animals. A cool feature are the ramps/climbing places for the mountain goats! I like the fact that Homestead Farm thought about this feature. They also have chickens, more goats, and alpacas.. or llamas… I have no idea.

Apple Picking

Or fruit picking really. October is for apples. During the time we came, Pink Lady Apples were in season. There are tons! Just walk through the many aisles of apple trees and you can fill up a bucket in a short amount of time! Also they make for great pictures, okkkaayy?

Market

All the farms have great markets! This one is pretty big with lots of produce and jelly! They also had caramel apples! YUM!

 

Final Thoughts

 

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There aren’t as many things to do for kids as far as activities. But Homestead Farm is huge. You can still have your kids see many different things in the farm. It’s also nice because you get to spend time with your kids in some form of nature. I definitely loved seeing baby bro run around, looking at his surroundings. Good deal Homestead, good deal.

 

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the day!

(All gifs are from giphy.com)

Clark’s Elioak Farm – Exploring Maryland

I heard about this place from a friend who lives in Howard County. What peaked my interest was the fact that the artifacts from the “Enchanted Forest” were transferred to Clark’s Elioak Farm. The “Enchanted Forest” was a theme park in Ellicott City but it closed in 1995. The park was untouched for a long time until the current owner allowed the structures to be moved the this farm.

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Clark’s Elioak Farm

Clark’s Elioak Farm is located in Howard County, MD. Its 540 acres are part of the farmland protection programs meaning the land cannot be used for non-farm development. The farm has been owned by the Clark family for seven generations! Pretty cool!

The main attractions for this farm is a petting zoo, the enchanted forest restoration – which includes the pine tree maze, pony rides, train rides and the hay rides. On the weekends, they have Ellicott’s City’s bubble man, Mr. Barry Gibson, who brings bubble magic to the farm. There are also face painters and food vendors on the weekends. Lastly, for the fall lovers out there, a farm cannot be complete without a pumpkin patch! So during the fall, you can bet Clark’s Elioak Farm has that too!

Cost of Admission

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It’s $7.50 per person (free for babies <1 years old). I’m not sure if you think that’s pricey but I think it’s pretty reasonable for what Clark’s Elioak Farm has to offer. We easily spent 3 hours there and could’ve stayed longer if I only had the energy.

The rides also cost money except for the hayride which takes you around the farm and is included in the admission. The Pony ride is $2 per person, the cow ride (not real cows) is $2 per person, and the train ride is $4 per person. I’ll discuss each later.

Petting Zoo

This place is great because it has a lot of animals to see and pet. And ladies and gentlemen, baby goats! Who doesn’t love baby goats?!?!

Ok, that gif above is not from the farm, but I thought it was funny.

Anyway, again, I digress. E and baby bro thoroughly enjoyed watching and petting the animals that they saw. From goats, to sheep, to cows, emus, ponies, and more! E loved feeding the baby goats. She’s usually scared of the bigger goats so it was nice to see her be able to feed the little itty bitty baby goats. Did I mention I love baby goats?

There’s also a tiny little barn that houses chickens and rabbits but there are warnings that they can bite, so petting is not encouraged in this case.

 

Enchanted Forest

Part of the appeal for me is to see the structures that were in the old Enchanted Forest Theme Park! I’m such a kid I know! But the structures are from old fairy tales and it’s just so fun to look at them and imagine yourself in the fairy tales.  They are placed all around the farm and if you’re a big kid like me, it’s fun to seem them placed in different places on the farm!

Pine Tree Maze

Some of the structures from the Enchanted Forest are hidden in the pine tree maze. I believe the original plan was to have people come and cut down these trees for Christmas. However, now that the trees are so big, they are now part of this amazing “maze” with hidden gems from the ol’ theme park. Ok Clark’s Elioak Farm, I see you ;-).

What’s great about this maze is the smell. Pine trees. Yassss Christmas! I mean I know it’s not the holidays yet, but wooooot! The smell of these pine trees is enough to make even scrooges get into the holiday spirit!

I loved this place! I mean, the kids enjoyed it too because of all the stuff they “found” in the forest!

 

The Rides

There are several rides that you or your kids can enjoy at Clark’s Elioak Farm. Some of them are worth it and some of them are up to your preferences. We enjoyed all the rides ourselves. =)

The Hay Ride – included in the admission

So you basically go in a huge truck and it takes you around the farm. It’s a good way to take a break while doing a little “sight seeing.” The great thing about this is that you can go on it as many times as you want. I recommend sitting on different sides of the truck if you go on there twice so that you can see different things while going around the farm.

 

The Train Ride – $4 per person

So, it’s the same exact route as the Hay Ride. Yes, you got that right. BUT if you don’t like “crowded” spaces and you like to see the view of both sides of the vehicle AND your kids LOVE trains, then this is the ride for you! It also comes with tons of “choo choo” sounds which baby bro loved so much.

 

The Cow Ride – $2 per person

For the little ones! If you’re comfortable letting your kids go without you for a couple of minutes, this is the ride for you! ;-). Adults can also sit with their kids, but this ride is specifically made for the little ones. I think baby bro, who is 2, may have been a little scared going by himself, but E saved the day. The ride operator was really nice and let her go without a ticket. Woot!

 

The Pony Ride – $2 per person

It’s literally one of the shortest pony rides ever. But E was insistent and I was in a giving mood. Also, had to give it a go for my readers right?!? eh? eh? haha… E loved it of course, but I may forego this one unless they go around the little “track” like 2-3 times.

 

Extras

The Photo Zone

There’s a “Photo Zone” set up so you can take your little family and pose for pics with a cute little set up. Haha however our little ones weren’t too into it.

The Hay Maze

A little mini maze that for some reason was so much fun for E and baby bro. The hay is low enough so you don’t necessarily have to join your kids inside the maze and still see where they are at. E and baby bro ran around like crazy when they figured out how to get in and out of the maze. The older kids tended to be on top of the hay, so just look out for your little one as they traverse through the maze.  We could’ve stayed in the maze for a while but I wanted to explore some more.

 

Other fun stuff

It’s not every day you get to sit on a tractor. Baby bro loved it so much, I had to pry him off the seat. It also makes for a nice photo op! There are also wooden trains and other fun structures around the farm for kids to play in.  Lastly, they do have a store that I forgot to take a picture of. But they sell lots of locally farmed items. I went ahead and bought their apple butter which is actually pretty good on toast. E even wanted to make apple butter sandwich which she ate and loved as well =).

 

Final Thoughts

We had such a great time at Clark’s Elioak Farm! There is so much to do and see for both kids and adults. I would definitely come here again. I recommend going here in the fall because there is a pumpkin patch for the fam and it’s not so hot. The only shade you’ll really find is n the pine tree maze so if it’s too hot, you may get a little uncomfortable when exploring the farm itself.

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the day!

(all gifs are from giphy.com)

 

3 Days in San Jose-Bay Area with a Kid

A vacation with kid(s) is not a vacation at all… sort of. Let me preface this by saying we went into this trip knowing that our almost 5 year old girl was coming to this trip. Baby bro stayed with A’s parents because he isn’t quite ready for the travel life yet.  We decided to hit up the San Jose-Bay Area for this particular “vacation.”

Knowing that E was going, A made plans to make sure that all our activities are kid friendly. He wanted to travel further away from the Bay Area but considering we were only there 3 full days, it was better to just stay around the area.

Here’s how we traveled with a toddler and what we did while we were in the Bay Area.

5 Hour Plane Ride

Flying with a toddler is no easy feat. Even though E usually does what she is told, it’s hard to keep toddlers seated for 5-6 hours straight. Even I don’t like to sit for that long.

So we brought toys, snacks and of course the ever magical iPad. At this point of parenting, I choose sanity over shame.

She did pretty well! She went to the bathroom like a bajillion times (ok, just twice) but she was happy playing with her toys and eating her snacks. E even refused the iPad after 15 minutes because girl couldn’t stay seated for so long.

Thankfully she was small enough and careful enough not to touch the seat infront of her. Yes there were two meanies who kept looking back at us but dude, Southwest’s new chairs are so thin now that even me putting my drink in the seat back pocket caused the lady infront of me to give me the stink eye. Like chill out lady, it was one time. I really think she already had the preconception that it was going to be a bad flight because there was a kid behind her. E did not cry, did not talk out loud, and touched the chair infront of her twice when she was getting out of her chair to go to the bathroom. Get a grip people! Sorry you were so perfect as a child. We all bow down to your greatness. *end rant*

Anyway,  after the flight a couple of ladies sitting across from us and behind looked at E and said “what a great little flyer you are!”  I’m petty, so of course I responded a little louder than usual – “oh thank you so much! She tried her very best!” I’m sure I got an eye roll or two from the people in front of us but oh well. Again, after becoming a mom, I have no shame and no chill when it comes to my kids. Don’t mess with mama bear. I won’t do anything bad, but I will be petty. LOL

Getting Used to A Different Time Zone

Ok so the west coast is 3 hours earlier than where I’m from. So naturally I knew that E would have a hard time with the time change. I did let her stay up past her bedtime but she still woke up at 4am the first day we were there.

Don’t stress too much. I slept earlier than my usual time so I could make sure that if she woke up early, I could play with her until A woke up. The man can sleep forever if not woken!

Toys helped here, as well as the iPad, since she can watch a show (usually Team Umizumi – a math show – yes, she’s a nerd) while I get ready for the day.

Another advice I have is to just try to go with the flow. Either you stress about getting home “on time” for their real bedtime at home, or see if he or she can handle it and play it by ear. We chose the latter. She had no problem staying up because girl has major FOMO and would stay awake forever if she could. She then would wake up at 6 am the next day and then 5 am and then 5:30am the last day. Not too bad!

San Francisco/Muir Woods

Brenda’s

The first day there, A, E, and I went to get brunch at Brenda’s in San Francisco. What a lovely place! We came for brunch (so way before the lunch rush) on a Thursday, so we were able to get seated right away. As you enter the place they have a huge blackboard on the right side where people can write their names down when waiting for a table.

The hostess was very nice and politely let us know that everyone has to be present for our party to get seated.

Their signature dish is their beignets – we got the plain, the apple pie flavor, the nutella flavor and one savory one which had crawfish in it. I’d go for the sweet ones over the savory one, but the crawfish wasn’t bad. We also really loved their shrimp and grits. I chose to get an omellette which is nothing to write home about but you know, not bad. We usually don’t get our kids their own stuff and just share with them but hey, it’s vacation for E too, so we got her chicken and biscuits. The chicken was crispy and the biscuit flaky. She approved! The fries were good as well.

I recommend coming here when you visit SF. It’s great!

Muir Woods

After that, we decided to hit up Muir Woods. This park is famous for having a lot of tall Redwood Trees. True story: I told my mom we were going to the Redwood Forests and first thing she says back is “Is that where Robin Hood lives?” Gotta love her! She funny!

This is definitely kid friendly to a point. There are trails that are paved well and is good for parents with strollers. You can also choose different trails that would either go 1/3, 1/2, or a full way around the forest.

We enjoyed walking together and E seemed to like nature more than we thought she would. She walked the whole loop! Be aware that the bathrooms are near the “base camp” so if you have a toddler that you know pees a lot, you may want to put on a diaper on him/her. E didn’t need it this time but you never know!

South Bay Area

Kunjip Restaurant

There are some Korean Restaurants in the San Jose area. Kunjip was recommended to us by a friend who used to live near here. It mostly has soups and 4 meat dishes. We decided to get the soups because we had a pretty heavy brunch.

I’m not sure how I feel about it to be honest. I got the kalbi tang which is a beef rib stew. The difference with this soup and other kalbi tangs that I’ve tasted is the jujube infused broth. I don’t think I like the jujube taste, but if you’re into that, this may be a winner for you. They definitely give a lot of meat and you will be full if you eat it with rice.

We also got the Sulung Tang which is an ox bone soup with white noodles. Typically, you add salt/seasoning to it because the broth doesn’t have a strong taste. So I did that, and it tasted fine after adding the salt. But I definitely still hungry after eating this. So you may want to order something else with this.

Overall it was ok. It’s not my favorite, but the soups aren’t bad and it looks like from other reviews that the meat dishes are also good.

Creamistry

We couldn’t be on vacation and not go to dessert places. Other than the bajillion bubble tea places in the Bay Area, I wanted to try some fancy schmancy ice cream place. So when I saw that this place used liquid nitrogen to make their ice cream, I had to bring E so she could see it.

Overall, the experience was cool. As for the ice cream, I would recommend going for the flavors that are more plain because we got the fruity pebbles, the cheesecake with cheesecake pieces and the taro with mochi. You can choose to have your toppings mixed in or just on top. Both the fruity pebbles and the cheesecake ice creams were pretty overbearing – we had the toppings mixed in. The taro was the tamest flavor and it was pretty good – we had the mochi (which also has a mild flavor) just on top of the ice cream.

The Source

The next day, we started our day by going to “The Source” to get some vegan, organic acai bowl. We so fancy, I know ;-). This place is pretty cool. There’s only 3 little tables inside, and one huge table outside. The fourth wall facing the street is a huge garage type of deal which opens up, opening the front of the store fully.  The decor gives off a cafe type of deal.

The acai bowl is delicious! Lots of fillings and you’ll definitely get full with just one order. The juices are kind of expensive so maybe skip that if you can. We didn’t get their coffee but it looks pretty legit so get at your own risk =).

Happy Hollow Park & Zoo

Since we did travel with E, A found the nearest zoo he could find from where we were staying.  It’s a zoo and amusement park for kids.  I mean what more can you want? Bear in mind that I did say “for kids.”

The zoo isn’t big at all. The largest cats they had was a jaguar I believe and there are not larger animals. You will see capybaras which are totally awesome rodents. Lemurs and other small mammals, tortoise, vultures, and other birds. They do have a petting zoo with overly aggressive goats and really timid sheep.

Another cool thing they had was when E got to meet their resident tarantula and hedgehog. There was a learning session and they told us all about these pretty cool creatures.

After that, E was all about the carousels and the rides. These are included in the price so your kids can ride these rides as many times as they want. That’s a plus for me because if carousel ride admissions these days are esssspensive!

Din Tai Fung

It’s not a vacation unless A gets to satisfy his food cravings. This restaurant has a Michelin Star and is located inside the San Jose Mall. They are famous for their dumplings. So of course, we had to make a trip there.

Although we waited quite a while, a nice tip is that you can “reserve” via yelp and if you get there within 15 min of your yelp reservation, the wait supposedly isn’t as long.

You can see the cooks making the dumplings right at the front. And when you enter, it’s probably the cleanest Chinese Restaurant that I’ve ever been to. The servers are so nice and the place is just very welcoming.

We got a lot of food! Cucumber Salad, 3 orders of soup dumplings (pork, and crab & pork combo), sauteed bokchoy, this peanut noodle dish (I forgot the name of the dish), beef noodle soup, shrimp fried rice, and spicy shrimp wontons.  Ummm yes please.

The difference between this place and other Chinese restaurants is that even after stuffing our faces, we didn’t feel that feeling of heaviness or being overly full. I noticed that these dishes were not as greasy as other Chinese foods and that their ingredients are really fresh. This is something I’d definitely be visiting again when we go back to San Jose.

Sunnyvale Farmers Market

Parking was a nightmare but this Farmers Market is massive compared to anywhere near where I live. Tons of places come and show off their awesome businesses. I fully support this and would totally visit here whenever I can.

San Francisco

PPQ Dungeness Island

Back to San Francisco, we hit up PPQ. We’ve heard such great things about this place and this is the one restaurant I was really excited to try. Seafood is my weakness. I totally wish that crabs were part of my daily meals.

Dungeness crabs are massive! If I were to compare it to how much meat I would get from a #1 male blue crab, I would say it could be about 3-4 times as much meat. We ordered the roasted garlic dungeness crab, the house garlic noodles, and crab meat fried rice.

All three entrees were delicious. The house garlic noodles were very flavorful and the crab meat fried rice definitely did not skimp on the cram meat. The dungeness crabs were also good. However, this east coast, Maryland girl is still all about the blue crabs. The meat of the dungeness crab is not quite as tender as the blue crab but it was still quite delicious. You have to at least give this place a go =).

San Tung Chinese Restaurant

I know… it looks like all we did was eat… but when your husband has an endless appetite, this is what happens. This place is famous for their chicken. We came on a Monday at around 5:45pm and there was already a 1 hour wait.

Even when our names finally got called, the place was packed. It’s almost like a big hole in wall type of place. It’s not clean by any means, but you can tell that people that go here don’t care about that kind of stuff because they know the chicken is that good.

We ordered the chicken and some good ol’ jajangmyun – noodles with black bean sauce. I mean, the thing is I wasn’t blown away by the chicken. It’s good. It’s not a 1 hour wait type of good. But I can tell you that the ja jang myun was bomb. Like legit one of the best that I’ve tasted. Still not a 1 hour wait type of good, but definitely worth a visit.

Bubble Tea

The Bay area is full of bubble tea places. So I went ahead and tried three different ones for each of the 3 full days we had there. Here are the ones I tried.

Teaspoon

Probably my favorite out of the three that we went to. The boba here is lightly sweetened and had the best texture out of the ones we went to. They also had interesting flavors. The ones we got were very refreshing. We got the Creamy Jasmine and House Milk Tea – both with the “less sweet” version.  You can definitely taste the tea in it but it wasn’t overpowering and didn’t have the bitterness taste to it.

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Urban Ritual

We didn’t know where to go in the city so we yelped and this little gem came up in our searches. We all thought it looked interesting so we went ahead and tried it. It wasn’t bad. You can also choose the sweetness level and when I thought mine was too bitter, I was able to bring it back to the baristas and they were able to increase the sweetness level of the drink. The boba was ok.

 

Happy Lemon

Back in San Jose, this one is known for the cap cream on top of the drink. Unfortunately, our was mixed right into our drink so I can’t completely say that I tasted the difference between this and regular milk teas that I’ve bought. The drinks weren’t bad though and the boba was also consistent in its texture.

 

Closing Thoughts

This trip was great in that we got to visit our loved ones and we were able to go to lots of different restaurants and activities. The hardest parts were that E woke up early every morning and then getting her adjusted back to our regular time zone when we got back from the trip.

There wasn’t a day that where we were not tired because E is not the easiest to sleep in the same room with. Yes, traveling with a toddler is definitely not a real vacation. However, I did love having her with us and seeing how excited she was when we would try something new. It’s just a different kind of fun. And I love making these kinds of memories with her and with baby brother in the near future!

Thanks for reading the longest blog ever and have a great rest of the day!

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(All gifs are from giphy.com)

 

My Lolo

Since Lolo (my grandpa) passed away this past Friday, I’ve been keeping myself pretty busy and trying very hard not to think about it. To me, it’s just so unreal that someone who has constantly been in my life is now gone. I thought I had more time. I was just there two days before he left us. I told him I’d come back soon and asked him to wait for me. He said he would. I really thought I had more time…

I’ve refused to write about it until now because I didn’t know how I could possibly put into words a tribute what a great man like him deserves.  I’m not a poet, nor do I even consider myself a writer. And every time I try to start to write something for Lolo, I just feel it’s not good enough.

But I want to try. I want to express how much Lolo has impacted my life. He’s more than just my grandfather… he’s THE grandfather. The one and only grandfather I’ve ever known.

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I don’t know what face I’m making, but that’s me! In my Lolo’s arms =)

Lolo has been a huge part of my life growing up. Ama (my dad) passed away when I was only 7 and though most of the male figures in our family had a part in helping fill that void, Lolo was the one and only constant in our lives.  He (and Lola) came to the US when my mom’s visa finally got approved to come here. He (and Lola) came to live with us when my mom saved up enough money to buy our own house. He (and Lola) kept my mom company when all her kids got married and moved away. He’s been the one constant in our lives. And now that he’s gone, now that he and Lola are both gone, I feel like we are all kind of a little lost… at least I am.

When Lola and Lolo moved here, he was already 68 years old. Most of his friends and extended family still lived in the Philippines. But they knew my mom needed their help and they came willingly. Who would do that? I mean at 68, that’s normally the retirement age right? Where one would be reaping the rewards of their hard work?

Lolo came here and became a janitor at Wheaton Plaza mall. At 68 years old. To help our family out with the bills. I remember going to the mall feeling like I owned the place because my Lolo worked at the mall. Did I know that being a janitor isn’t necessarily the same as being a CEO? No. Because Lolo made everything look cool. I was like “Look at that janitor! That’s my Lolo!” Lolo had swag, man. He wasn’t just a janitor, he was THE janitor.

Everyone knew him there. He’s probably one of the most social guy that you will ever come across. He loved to talk to people and ask them about their lives, their cultures, their religions. He loved to take everything in and really get to know them. He could strike up a conversation with just about anyone. He really was one of the warmest, most welcoming persons that you could ever meet.

When I got into PT school, Lolo would be my best patient. He would actually listen and do the exercises I told him to do. Let’s not lie, most family members would ask me how they can make their pain go away, and when I would show them an exercise, they’d nod and never do it again. With Lolo, he would do all the exercises and show them to me when I came to visit. He made me feel that what I was doing was pretty cool.

 

After I got engaged, I would visit Inay and he would make it a point to talk to A or if A wasn’t with me, Lolo would ask about him and his family. He always asked about my future in laws even if he’s only met them once or twice. A’s dad really admired Lolo. They can’t even understand each other because A’s dad doesn’t speak much English, but Lolo made him feel like they were the best of friends. They would literally sit by each other, say something to each other, and laugh like old buddies. I was so confused as to how they could do that. He just had a way with people.

 

When I got married, Lolo and Mikey walked me down the aisle. He was 86 years old. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it. I thought it was pretty cool. But now I realize, that at the time when I would be missing my dad the most, Lolo was there. Instead of the overwhelming sadness that I would’ve felt – not being able to experience walking down the aisle with my dad – I remember feeling honored and happy that Lolo supported me and made me feel invincible that day. Lolo was there. Just like it has always been.

When I had kids, I would try to visit as much as I can so that they could be with Lolo and Lola and feel the love that he’s given so many people. I’m so happy that the kids did get to meet them both. E especially loved seeing him. Every time we would facetime my mom, E would always ask for Lolo.  That was just the type of person Lolo was – he appealed to all ages.

I know that life is short. And this year has really reminded me of that – losing both Lola and Lolo. Both of them lived their lives to make our lives the better. They literally gave up their lives for their kids and their grandchildren. Lolo was selfless, kind, lovable, charismatic, and just a pure joy to be with. I will miss him and Lola so much.

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