Years ago, when Meredith Lawler and her family moved onto an old farm property outside Walkersville, she hoped the barns would one day house something special. In the last year, the beautifully renovated barn at Grape Creek Farm has played host to a wedding reception and a 40th birthday celebration, as well as an inspired community event Lawler hopes to make an every-other-month occurrence she calls “Books in the Barn.”
The first Books in the Barn was held in November 2013, and found 842 gently used books displayed by category on long wooden tables, just waiting for children to take them home. A little less than half – 388 of them, to be exact – did find new homes. Titles such as “Pickles to Pittsburgh,” “Madeline and the Cats of Rome,” “Fancy Nancy’s Photo Scrapbook,” and “Who Was Anne Frank?” and so many more were offered for free to any child who visited that day. Lawler’s own love of reading, passed on to her by her mother, is reaching out to others in the community.
Aside from her own children’s stories that were donated, Lawler said her sister mailed 10 boxes of books for the giveaway, and her best friend in California sent two big boxes as well. A few local friends dropped off books, and several people brought books to donate at the event itself.
Lawler updates a Facebook page (search for “Books in the Barn” or “Grape Creek Farm”) with details about the public events. She plans to host private Books in the Barn openings for Moms Clubs, school librarians, children’s hospital representatives, and other groups.
Books in the Barn
Grape Creek Farm, in Walkersville
At Vini Culture, a wine bar and café in Downtown Frederick, there is no need for you to polish your dress shoes before being granted access to a wide selection of fine wines and culinary excellence! You can tell just by looking in from the street that this place fosters a welcoming, casual atmosphere.
The front window displays are home to a comfy sofa and coffee table, similar to what you find at a coffee shop. As you walk in the door, you’re greeted by a friendly staff member, who explains the setup.
They offer about a few dozen wines ranging from $5 to $30 per glass. If you want to sample everything before committing to a full glass, no problem! No server brings you your drink. Instead, you use automatic wine dispensers to browse through the bottles and make your selections.
Add money to a smart card, push the card into a machine, and select your wine and serving size (2 oz, 4 oz, or 6 oz), all priced depending on the bottle. This is a good system for people who like to try many different types of wine without buying entire bottles or spending more than they intended.
The food is also delicious and reasonably priced. A three-dip tray of hummus, spicy feta, and olives, served with pita chips is one great snack option, but a full lunch or dinner menu is available.
This particular blend of a comfy, casual ambiance with funky music and fun wines would make for the perfect date night. The place is often full of couples chatting about the wines and teasing each other for using the machines wrong as they browse through selections.
20 North Market Street
Frederick, MD 21701
Nowadays, more and more gourmet and specialty soda makers are producing the beverages and offering them in a variety of flavors and colors to the masses, in glass.
Downtown Frederick’s own shop dedicated to selling these special bottles is The North Market Pop Shop, at 237 North Market. It’s a haven for soda lovers, with 22 different varieties of root beer alone!
Here you’ll find a wall stocked high and wide with an array of colors and flavors, brands and varieties of classic and new and unique sodas. Grape smoothie, blood red cola, cherry bomb, blueberry, black cherry, ginger beer… the flavors are almost endless. And the best part? Many of them are all natural, using real cane sugar or stevia and other natural flavorings.
Seeking something a bit more adventurous? The Pop Shop’s got you covered. How about one of the offerings from Avery’s Beverages “Totally Gross” soda line? Toxic Slime, an electric blue soda with white bits floating inside, looks like a science experiment gone wrong, but its blue raspberry, orange and lemon flavor made it a favorite.
Owner Michelle Schaffer bought the Pop Shop in September 2013 from the Laird family, who started the business of selling nostalgic and interesting sodas a few years prior to that. Schaffer’s goal at the Pop Shop is to sell both nostalgic and harder to find sodas created across the U.S. Customers can pick up one soda at a time or create mixed 4-packs, 6-packs, or cases.
North Market Pop Shop
237 N. Market Street, Frederick, MD 21701