beary christmas in leesburg, virginia

Every year, I crave an old fashioned Christmas. Simple joys are the most meaningful, the most enduring. One need only step back in time.

Leesburg is the kind of place where there are wreaths on every door. Charming, quaint, picturesque — a town where people actually smile more and have time to chat.

You can tour the historic district in a carriage if you like,

clip clop

wave to the snowman as you go by,

guess what’s in those presents on the porch.

You could window shop all up and down King Street,

wondering what long-ago girl wore those skates,

trying to imagine what Nunnally’s Candies taste like.

If you get hungry, you can stop for lunch at Tuscarora Mill (“Tuskie’s” for short). You can tell it’s a good place because of the grand lady who greets you at the reception desk.

Welcome to Tuskies! Table for two?

Truly, the food there is always delicious. Len had the mushroom soup and a house salad.

I had the Grilled Asian Chicken Salad (greens, soba noodles, mandarin oranges, peppers, crushed peanuts, ginger vinaigrette). Yum!

After lunch, you can surprise your friend Maria, who owns the BEST teddy bear shop in the world, My Friends & Me. Even though you haven’t seen each other in 12 years, it feels like yesterday. It’s so good to know she’s still there, surrounded by hundreds of beautifully handmade, one-of-a-kind bears in all shapes, sizes, and manner of dress. She even mentions Rosalie Frischmann, the artist who created the one and only Cornelius!

My Friends & Me is located in a cozy log cabin!
Maria's shop is truly magical, a place of childlike wonder.

Later, you can explore a few more antique shops, go down side streets to see what you can see.

"I wonder as I wander . . . "


Oh! A pink building. Does that sign say, “Lola Cookies and Treats?” Naturally a little investigation is in order.

I love gingerbread men but feel guilty about eating them.

A small bakery in the back with three cheery girls. Lola herself wasn’t there, but we left with vanilla and cinnamon cupcakes (you never know when you might need a pick-me-up).

You know, after walking a little while longer in that nippy air, the thought of a nice warm cup of tea seems like an exceedingly good idea. And it’s been forever at least a half hour since you had lunch.

The Aylesbury Tearoom and Antique Center are in the same building.

Oh! Cabinets full of teacups, jewelry, and other tea paraphernalia. Some nice British treats, too, like Yorkie and Aero bars and digestive biscuits.

Love the green decor!

If you’re lucky, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge might join you.

Wonder what Wills will get in his stocking this year?

Cream Tea (instead of a Full Afternoon Tea) might be best this time. A homemade scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam and a soothing cup of Yorkshire Gold. The perfect restorative! So good.

nom nom

Leesburg is the kind of place where you can meander, meet an old friend, daydream, slow down, breathe in, breathe out.

No mall craziness, fighting for parking, standing in long checkout lines, getting worn to a frazzle. And it’s nice to support small, local businesses.

It’s definitely the place for a little magic, wonder, a few moments of reflection, a glimpse of the past.

Best of all, it’s where Santa Bear lives!

Have a merry and delicious day, wherever you are ☺.

Love ♥,

jama and 300+ teddy bears

P.S. We enjoyed Lola’s cupcakes for dessert that night.


Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

14 thoughts on “beary christmas in leesburg, virginia

  1. I miss Leesburg! I was just there in October but didn’t get a chance to do Old Town. And Maria is still there! Yes, it’s the greatest teddy bear store in the universe….one Christmas my husband bought me a wildly expensive handmade bear in a Santa robe with two small bears, a little tree, presents, handknit stocking caps and mittens and scarves. I should post a picture of it.

    You and I went to one of Maria’s fabulous dinners in the store. Do you remember? They had filet mignon and my husband was thrilled. That was probably the time he bought the wildly expensive handmade bear set!


    1. It was so good to see Maria again, surrounded by even more bears bears bears! She says she remembers you, too :). Such a great memory, considering how many years have passed, how many customers she’s had.

      Yes, I definitely remember that dinner (she used to have them the day after Thanksgiving, I think?). We talked a little about Muffy Vanderbear, and you mentioned you sold 3 picture books that Fall!

      Though Loudoun County has grown by leaps and bounds, I’m glad they’ve preserved the historic downtown area. Where else could you find a Tally-ho Theatre? Do post a picture of your special teddy bear set! Who’s the artist?


  2. Looks like a perfect day! So nice to read above, too, and know Candice has experienced some of the pleasures. If not tea with Kate and Wills!

    Happy holidays — with such peace and deliciousness!


    1. Yes, a perfectly lovely day. Used to go out to Leesburg more often before, to get away from all the traffic and busyness around here. Many of the shops I used to frequent are gone, but I’m thrilled My Friends & Me is still there, testament to the enduring power of bears!


  3. I feel like I had a little mini vacation to Leesburg! So cute!

    What willpower to resist the cupcakes until dinnertime.

    The cream tea was my favorite part!


    1. Wasn’t hard to delay the cupcake gratification with such a great lunch and then tea afterwards :). I’ll have to make a point of having tea out more often.


  4. LOL, until I saw your p.s. I was all, “Jama, you left out the best part–how was the cupcake?” ;-D


  5. Hi Aunty,

    Wow! That little town looks so cute! I hope that I can visit that place someday. Also, thank you for sharing. It was such a delight to read this post! I loved looking at the pictures. Especially the food and bears. Ooh- and Santa Bear is my idol!

    Merry Christmas,


    1. I wish I could take Santa Bear home with me :). Maybe he could help me with the housework.

      If you come to Virginia, we can easily go to Leesburg, and several other cool places :). Do you like tea parties?


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