Archive for category Shopping Reviews

Two Brews for Oktoberfest and Halloween

On a recent visit to the Reston Total Wine store, I asked for some recommendations for pumpkin spiced brews.

There were lots of those…and I like pumpkin ale. But he steered me to two “Marzen” beers, instead. Marzen beers are called “March” beers because that is when they were brewed in the days before refrigeration. Then they are released for Oktoberfest. They are typically only available during the fall.

The salesperson recommended Great Lakes “Oktoberfest” ($10/6 pack), a highly rated, award-winning Marzen-stlye lager from Ohio. The color of an autumn leaf, this malty beer is smooth, light and toasty, with caramel and pine notes.

He also recommended a beer from nearby Ashburn, Virginia that would go great with bratwurst and pretzels. Lost Rhino Brewing Company’s autumn seasonal “Rhin o’Fest” ($11.99/6 pack/cans) is the traditional, malty, smooth Marzen lager drunk during Oktoberfest. Washington Post named it a beer of the week back in 2016.

I’ll go back and try these… but I went home with The DogFather ($8.99), an ebony, bourbon barrel aged stout from Idaho Laughing Dog brewery. I’ve never tasted an American stout before and it came highly recommended. First time for everything!

The folks at Total Wine are great. Go by and see them if you are looking for something different to try.

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Etsy Fall Faves You Didn’t Know You Wanted

Happy Autumnal Equinox! Today is the first day of fall and we get about 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of nighttime.

I say we celebrate! Let’s have pumpkin spice lattes and wear flannel shirts (okay, maybe not, it’s supposed to be 90 degrees today!) Well, let’s think about those things.

And in the spirit of fall, I roamed Etsy and found these wonderful autumnal things. That you didn’t know you wanted. But now you do. You’re welcome!


Come back tomorrow and I’ll show you how to make some fall jewelry.



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Fall Finds at Cracker Barrel

Cracker Barrell Autumn wreath

Biscuits would be enough.

Biscuits would be enough to make me want to visit Cracker Barrel.

But the old-country-store-style chain, with 645 stores in 44 states, also has a gift area, with a variety of fun, seasonal gifts and treats. And fall is no exception! I visited Saturday and took some pictures of items I thought you would enjoy.




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Fun Fall Looks That Won’t Break the Bank

I substitute teach, so my clothes have to meet a lot of criteria!

  • Affordable and easy-to-wash (no dry cleaning, costs too much!)
  • Versatile and coordinating, so I don’t have to think too much about what I’m going to wear in the morning.
  • Fun colors and accessible styles kids like and also meet the school dress code.
  • Comfortable and movement-friendly (my job involves a lot of kneeling, sitting on the carpet for morning meeting, and sometimes, dancing).
  • Shoes that I can run in (in emergencies) and that I can stand in all day.

And because I’m pumpkin-shaped (which mades me PERFECT for fall), I also need clothes that look good and make me feel confident.

I was so happy to find some solutions for my modest budget so I thought I would share these with you. If you aren’t a teacher, maybe these looks would work for you on casual days or weekends.








All of these clothes are from Walmart. The golden yellow top is in a color called “Apple Juice.” The color reminds me of sunflowers 🙂 It’s flattering if, like me, you are shaped like an apple in the mid-section! I love these stretchy leopard print jeggings. They wear a little looser, like skinny jeans.

You can just see the black “faux suede” boots in the picture. I have size 11, wide feet, and thank goodness, they fit and were comfortable, too!

Everything here was $14.98 – the blouse, the leggings, and the shoes. The matching socks came in a 3-pair bunch for $3.98.

Not shown but also matching these leggings — a fitted, crew neck t-shirt in black (marked down to a dollar!) that I’ll wear with these leopard jeggings and the black cardigan below.

I took a picture of me wearing this outfit — same top but in denim blue, same style of jeggings, but in a color Walmart calls “Spiced Cider.” I love how the socks match! (And fit my large feet).

Can I ask your opinion about something? Do you think the denim top would look okay with the leopard leggings? I tried it and liked it…but I wasn’t sure…







This paisley tunic covers up a multitude of sins but looks cute on. It matches everything else, too – the colors are Apple Juice, Spiced Cider, Purple Pearl and Gem Slate, among others. The top was $14.98. The matching cotton leggings are available online from Walmart and come in a 2-pack pair of your choice of color, plus black, for $8.98. This color is called Purple Pearl. 95% cotton, hard to beat that!

See the cute no-show socks? They came in a pack of 6 marked down to $1! Students, if Ms. Jones has a dollar and she gets SIX pairs of socks, how much does she pay for each pair? Answer: Ms. Jones pays 16.6 cents a pair! Woo hoo!







Walmart has denim jeans to fit just about every body and they are often on sale. At school, I can wear denim during the week (blue on Fridays). I picked up these jeans for $11 a pair, so I bought them in black, tan and regular blue. They fit great and I don’t have to even hem them. They are 95% cotton with a little bit of stretch.

I put this together with a $4.44 v-neck t-shirt in Spiced Cider (I also bought it in Apple Juice). The t-shirt is soft and made out of recycled materials!

Autumn here can be cool in the morning and warm by mid-day, so I am showing this outfit with a black cardigan from Target I got on sale for $15. It fits so well, I got one in cream and gray, too, because I live in cardigans as a layer in the fall and winter.

Check out these llama socks! They came in that $1 on-sale-pack of 6 socks I mentioned above. Aren’t they too much? Little kids are close to your feet so they notice fun socks. I got these comfy leather shoes online from Kmart on sale for about $21.

So, here are the tan jeans, the ones on sale for $11 at Walmart. Very comfy, straight-leg, five-pocket style. I’m sure I’ll be wearing them at least once a week.

I fell in love with this striped knit shirt in Apple Juice, Spiced Cider, Gem Slate, Studio Blue and cream. I think the Gem Slate lettuce trim on the sleeves and hem is a nice touch and it was only $8.98. When my sister saw it, she loved it and said she is getting one, too. To me, this shirt reminds me of that character on the Netflix series, “Dead to Me” who is always wearing striped shirts 🙂 like this one.

I put the cream sweater from Target ($15, on sale) so you could see that as a layer. I had an old Vera Bradley purse that I thought looked well with this. The brown leather shoes were ordered online from K-Mart for about $22 on sale. And of course, “Spiced Cider” socks…

All in all, I got 3 pairs of jeans, two pairs of leggings, two pairs of jeggings, 7 tops, 3 cardigans, 2 camisoles, 14 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of leather shoes, and a pair of suede-like ankle boots for about $200. A whole fall wardrobe, basically! And everything matches and fits!

I’m so happy with my new clothes. I hope you saw something you liked. Happy shopping!

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Halloween Shopping at The Christmas Attic (Video)

I purchased these striped candles and black glitter candelabra; couldn’t resist them!

Don’t let the name throw you off.  Yes, The Christmas Attic in Old Town, Alexandria (Virginia) has Christmas decorations all year (the entire top floor is dedicated to Christmas ornaments and collectibles).  But they have beautiful things you would enjoy year-round, including some pretty fantastic Halloween decorations and items.

I love Old Town and spent some time here while waiting to go on a Ghost walking tour recently.  I found

  • Spooky books
  • Halloween ornaments
  • Halloween candles, light sets, and candlelabra (I purchased some of those!)
  • Halloween headbands and witches hats for the glamorous witch 🙂
  • Glittery skulls and skeletons

and much more.  If you like to poke around shops, you will be enchanted with this store.

Location: 125 South Union Street (corner of Union and Prince Streets), Alexandria, Virginia. Phone: (703) 548-2829.

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Favorite Halloween Finds at Oriental Trading Company

I just got the Oriental Trading Company Halloween catalog and thought I would share my favorites. All items are available for sale at

This spooky fireplace mantel scarf is 8 feet long and retails for $9.99. Rather elegant!

Vampires are cool right now, aren’t they?  Now everyone in your office can have a pair of fangs.  And what a photo that would make for your blog! 🙂  Get 72 gl0w-in-the-dark fangs for $4.99.

I love taper candles, but  I don’t like the wax they drip all over my table and mantel.  And have you ever had one fall over at a party?  That’s the kind of scary I don’t like on Halloween.  So I think these electric taper candles are pretty ingenious.  If I were having a party, I’d definitely invest $4.99 in a pair of these.

Can we all agree that the stretchy spider web stuff you buy by the bag in drug stores does not look scary?  It tends to ball up like white cotton, and when it rains, it’s just a mess.  But this creepy cloth has that authentic haunted house look and appears as if it would be a lot easier to work with.  $3.99 for four yards, what a bargain (also available in other sizes and gray color).

There were tons of other Halloween decorating items.  Check them out!

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Halloween Shopping at Merrifield Garden Center (VIDEO)

Merrifield Garden Center (corner of Gallows Road and Lee Highway, just outside of Falls Church, Virginia) is a lovely time to visit any time of year.  If you love Halloween decorations, I recommend you visit. You’ll find

  • Pumpkins (59 cents/pound)
  • Mums and pansies
  • Halloween decorations
  • Harvest-themed decorations
  • Holiday lights and candles


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3 Fun Places to Buy Pumpkins

Mary with pumpkins at Merrifield Garden Center

Wow, are there ever a lot of pumpkins out.  Must be fall! 🙂 Here are three local places that are selling pumpkins (going rate for the big ones seems to be about 59 cents per pound), as well as plants, apple butter, and Halloween decorations.

If you’re picking a pumpkin to make a jack o’ lantern (the big ones aren’t any good for pies), then look for one that sits well, and doesn’t have any soft spots. Medium-sized ones may be easier for kids to carve.

Pigboy Willy’s Pumpkin Patch

Witches for sale at Pigboy Willy's Pumpkin Patch

I had to stop here because of the name.  I asked the lady at the stand about the origin of the name, and all she could say was that it was an old family story.  The pumpkins are arrayed on the parking lot in the corner of Pan Am Shopping Center on the corner of Lee Highway and Nutley Street in Fairfax, Virginia.  I like the witches. They were plenty big and would decorate an entire door, or add a bit of color to a Halloween party, and they were only $13 each.

Cox Farms Vienna Market

If you don’t feel like driving out to Centreville, you can get some of the pumpkin patch experience (for free) at the Cox Farms stand in Vienna, Virginia (2599 Chain Bridge Road). They also sell fresh, local apples, honey sticks, cider, pies, and preserves.  There are also hay bales and wooden playground equipment to climb, as well as wooden cutouts for photo opportunities.

Merrifield Garden Center

On the corner of Lee Highway and Gallows Road, in Merrifield, Virginia, you can find — not just pumpkins — but pumpkins in all kinds of shapes, colors, and sizes.  So if your taste in pumpkins runs to the hip and eclectic, you should make this your pumpkin patch stop.

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