American Girl Store Event

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Friday Jun 21, 2013 Under Claire, Kid's Corner

Claire and Caroline

Claire gave her friend, Julie, a Julie’s Seventies Party at the American Girl Store for her birthday. We like to give experiences as gifts instead of things. Neither girl had been to the store before so I was looking forward to the day. It was at the DC store and we drove up the day before. First tip, don’t forget to bring the doll with you. I realized half way up that I had forgotten it.  We got there in time to do a Siage Scavenger Hunt and a craft. It was nice but I think the girls had the most fun just looking around the store and shopping. Claire had some money leftover from the Alaska trip and she picked out Caroline. She decided Caroline looked like her and she now wants all the accessories that go with her.  We went and grabbed dinner and then to the hotel. The girls swam in the pool and we were surprised to see a lifeguard at the hotel pool, that was a first.

The next morning we went back for the party. It was a small group of only four tables in a small private room.   We had an appetizer, main dish and a dessert. They were very good about modifying the menu to give me gluten free options. The food was good not great but displayed in a fun way. The appetizer was  pretzel rolls  with dipping sauce, we got several choices for main dish and then dessert was chocolate fondue. They asked some trivia questions about the book which was okay. The gift bag was more than I expected with 2 books and a poster. I thought it was a good value for what we paid. I think next time we would just eat in restaurant though. Claire now wants to have her birthday party there which I have tried to get her to do before. We had a great time. The only bad part was the traffic on 95 on the way home was terrible.

Julie and Claire


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Landry’s Mom Retreat

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Monday Oct 15, 2012 Under Homeschool

This was my second time to Landry’s Mom Retreat. This time it was even better because I had even more friends join me. We had a our own posse which was loads of fun. I also loved meeting new people and especially loved that the teachers were there. After meeting some of the teachers and seeing the passion they had for their subjects, I SO want my children to have classes with them.  We did a ton of science and it really made you see how science can be fun. My favorite was probably dissenting the sheep uterus again. I don’t know how anyone can do that and not appreciate life and be pro-life. I loved the candle trick. I have tons of stuff that I can easily do with the kids. Have I done it yet? Will I? Well, I am still hoping the mom’s will get together and we will have a science day in the fall.

The retreat site, Laurel Ridge is wonderful with a great view and comfortable accommodations. I really enjoyed the Nature Hike that one of the retreat staff took us on. One night, we went to Boone and had a great dinner at Coyote Kitchen which had a great gluten-free options. The food on site was good and they did a good job of giving us gluten free options. Overall, we had a great time and it such a blessing that Greg does this for the moms every year.


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Raglan Road Irish Pub – Downtown Disney

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Friday Sep 28, 2012 Under Good Eats/Not So Good Eats, Travel

While I was at the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) Conference, I had a free day on Friday. It worked out great because I got to spend the day with one of my favorite people – Cindy Bentley-Roberts. The highlight of the day was when we went to Raglan Road Irish Pub in Downtown Disney. They don’t have a separate gluten free menu but they said they could do almost anything on the menu gluten free. I decided on Fish and Chips with a side order of Onion Rings. Yes! Onion Rings and Fried Fish. It was so delicious and I loved ever bite. Cindy tried the Onion Rings and she said you could not tell they were gluten free. The atmosphere is great and at night they have irish dancing for entertainment. We had great service also. We were stuffed after the meal so we left and walked for a little bit then came back for dessert where I had Strawberry and Apple Crumb Pie with Ice Cream . Again, it was delicious. Cindy said all of her food was great also. She had bread pudding for dessert that looked awesome. If you are gluten free, you MUST put this place on your list. Even if you are not gluten free, you should go check this place out.

That evening we meet up with Starla Austin and went Paradiso 37 in Downtown Disney. It was good and they were accommodating. I had the fish tacos on corn tortillas instead of flour. It was not as good as Raglan Road Irish Pub and I was wishing we had gone back there for dinner also. We did have a great table outside overlooking the water and could not ask for better company.  Overall a great day in Downtown Disney.

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Still Dreaming about Gluten Free dessert at Zelo in Minneapolis

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Thursday Sep 20, 2012 Under Uncategorized


It has been over a month now and I am still thinking about this restaurant. I have joked about flying to Minneapolis just to eat there again. I have not ruled it out. We needed a place to eat lunch that had items that were gluten free and vegetarian and for picky eaters. I found Zelo online and made a reservations. It was a tall order but this place surpassed expectation. Everyone ordered something different and everyone enjoyed there meal. The food seemed to fresh and was delicious. The real excitement was when the dessert menu came. I am lucky to get one gluten free desert on the menu. This one had almost all gluten free options. I was in heaven. I got the Huckleberry Cheesecake. When the waiter returned with the desserts, he put the gluten free option for every desert on a separate plate so I could taste everyone’s. They were so fabulous. I know it sounds crazy but yes it would be worth the flight just to eat there again.





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Our Trip to Walt Disney World Parks

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Thursday Nov 24, 2011 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Travel


Last week we spent the week in Orlando and most of it was at Disney. I am not going to go over every detail of the trip but give some overall thoughts and tips.  We spent five days in the park and one at Downtown Disney and Disney Quest. We went with Carolina Homeschool which was a great deal and we got special perks like educational classes. I can’t say enough good things about  our experience with Dianna and her trips. If you have a chance to go on one of her trips – then you should take advantage of it!

I will start with the things that went wrong. First,  the things that went wrong that were not Disney’s fault. There seemed to be something everyday. The first day I forgot the charger in the hotel that we checked out of so I had to go back after we had parked at Animal Kingdom.  Another day, someone opened their car door as we were parking and hit our car.  And yet another day, I lost the button to my pants and had to hold my pants up for the rest of the day.  And one of the best things was the day I lost my flip flop in a ride – never to be retrieved so walked around barefoot till Bruce retrieved shoes from the car. It became quite humorous.

The problems in the park’s control were few but surprising for what I  expect from Disney. There were three dirty bathrooms in the park.  There was one in Epcot that was terrible! I could not believe it. I ran into a few staff that were not as friendly and nice as you expect with Disney. The part I was most disappointed about  was our experience at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. When I called six months earlier to make my appointment they said I would have plenty of time to make my  lunch reservation. Well, this would have been true if we did not have to wait for over 30 minutes when we got there to be seen. Claire was not patient and as time passed I was not either.  I checked with the lady and she was rude about it and just said we would be fine. When Claire FINALLY got in the chair, they rushed to get her done. They did not even take time to take off nail polish but just put on more over what she already have. This looked terrible because what she had was coming off. They were doing her make up and hair at the same time so she would be out in time. I would NEVER do it again!! The lunch afterward in Cinderella’s Castle turned out wonderful though. Bruce and Claire had a window seat and had a fabulous time.

We had been to Disneyland twice in the last few years and there are things I like better about Disneyland. At Disneyland everything is compact. It has all the great rides and attractions in a smaller area. I know it does not have any where near EVERYTHING that the Disney World has but it does have the important things. I like that at Disneyland you could walk everywhere. We walked from our off property hotel to the parks. We used our car a lot at Disney World because we did not want to waste time on the Disney transportation.  We did use the monorail for Magic and Epcot since we were staying at the Contemporary.

We stayed the first night at an All Stars Resort which I would never do again. I would stay off property before I stayed there again. The kids walked in and said I am glad we are only staying here one night. It was a small room with double beds which we hate. It was clean but looked outdated. The sheets were awful. The next four nights at the Contemporary were much better. The room was so much better you can’t even compare. The kids loved it and we would stay there for sure.

Cobey’s two favorite things were Disney Interactive and Jedi Training at Hollywood Sutdios.  We did all the parks then let the children pick one thing they wanted to do again. Cobey’s choice was Disney Interactive. He also loved Jedi Training and he was the ONLY one to fight Darth Vader AND the Storm Troopers. His favorite thing at Animal Kingdom was Mount Everest, the Tree Life, and The Festival of the Lion King. At Epcot, he loved Kim Possible. Test Track, Mission Space and Spaceship Earth. He liked Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mtn Railroad at Magic. Kingdom.


Claire wanted to do the World Showcase at Epcot again and collect the stamps at each country on her Duffy Bear.  Claire and I completed the task in one hour and four minutes – we were moving. This was the day I lost my button on my pants by the way so I was holding my pants up the whole time. I was so tired that night!!  Claire’s favorite part at Animal Kingdom was the river ride and Mount Everest. At Hollywood Studios, Claire liked Lights, Motor, Action, the Indiana Jones Stunt Show and the show Belle. She did NOT like the Tower of Terror and tried it twice to be sure. At Magic Kingdom, she loved everything. She rode Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain several times. They had classes at Epcot and Animal Kingdom and both liked their class at Epcot best about synergy.  We all loved the Electric Parade and got ideas for Jeff for the flotilla for next year. I really enjoyed the show especially Nemo, Light, Motor, Action and Indiana Jones. The best part of Disney for me was by far the food because I have an allergy to gluten. We made table reservations at least once each day. This was a little more than we wanted to spend at 50 to 75 dollars a meal and that is drinking only water and only getting a dessert when there was something special for me. At every restaurant the Chef came out and talked to be about my allergy and what he had available. The Plaza in Magic Kingdom was probably my favorite because she made me homemade croutons. I have not had those in almost a year – I was SO excited. The only place I had a bad experience was Wolfgang Puck Cafe where the chef did not come out and they had no real desert option. I feel great all week except for after eating at there when I felt very sick.  The waitress at Prime Time went a little over board in her role-playing and began to annoy me but the food was good.

We used the advise of avoiding the parks with early hours and found that to be great advice. I wish we would have taken more advantage of the special late hours at the park.  We did the Very Mickey Christmas which was a lot of fun. We got to see it snow on Main Street and all the characters dressed in Christmas attire. We got to ride a lot of rides because there were either no line or very short. The parade was not as good as the electric parade but better than the one in the afternoon. We overall had a good time but we were very tired every night. We all said we preferred the cruise better EVEN the kids. I could cruise every year but I don’t think I could go to Disney every year. If Carolina Homeschoolers continues to plan trips, I am sure we will be back in a few years after we rest.



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Mellow Mushroom in Southern Pines

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Tuesday May 17, 2011 Under Good Eats/Not So Good Eats

I was going to add this review to my post about our field trip today but I decided the experience warranted a post all of its own. I was excited to hear about a Mellow Mushroom opening in the nearby town of Southern Pines. I have eaten at the chain restaurant  before but not since I have gone gluten free. I was anxious to try the gluten free pizza since I have not found one that I like yet. After we finished our field trip to House in the Horsehoe, I told the kids I would take them to a special treat. (It was really a treat for me.)

We got there a little after 12 and there was no where to park. We finally made our own parking place. I was worried there would be a long wait but it was not that crowded. We were told fifteen to twenty minutes so we decided to wait.  There seems to be many more tables than parking places because the place is quite big. It is bright, colorful, and has great decor.   After we had waiting for about ten minutes, we discovered we could be seated outside which is where Claire wanted to sit. It would have been nice to have been given that option in the beginning.

We were taken to a table on the patio that barely came to my knees. It would have been nice to sit around and have a drink with friends but not for my nine and six year old to eat at. We later asked if we could move to a normal size table and we were accommodated. The waitress asked if we wanted cheese bread to start that would only take five minutes. The kids were hungry so I said okay. It took fifteen minutes just to let you know.

I ordered a gluten free pizza, Cobey ordered the Mighty Meaty and Claire ordered a slice of cheese.  The kids enjoyed the cheese bread and then we waited for pizza and waited and waited. We asked for a box for the leftover cheese bread to get it out of our way. It took at least twenty minutes for the box to come. I got my pizza first then Cobey got his pizza shortly after. We ate and finished our pizza and Claire had still not gotten her slice of cheese. It was over an hour for them to bring a slice of cheese pizza. I knew the place had just opened and they needed to work out some kinks but an hour for a slice of cheese pizza.

The waitress sent over a manger and all he said was he would talk to the kitchen staff. He did not offer a percentage off or free desert or anything. That is when the benefit of the doubt ended and I decided I would not be back. I asked for a box, drinks to go since we NEVER got our refills we requested and the check.  The box, refills and check came quickly but it was too little too late. My check was almost $50 for myself and two kids. We do have leftovers but pricey for a pizza joint with poor service. It did have a nice looking bar and I you may need a drink after trying to eat there. The food was good but not worth putting up with the service. We will not be back.

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