Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Historic Area of Altoona & Blair County, Pennsylvania

 Raise of hands if you enjoy a relaxing getaway? I remember being cooped up in my 8-5 job dreaming of the next vacation. Anything to get me OUT of the four wall cubicle I was stuck in day after day. Can you relate? Every day we wake up and the day progresses much like the one before. When I became a mother I gave up the cushy 80 hour work week and started my own business. I wanted to raise my child and had the means luckily to do it. Travel was a huge passion of mine so it seemed fitting to incorporate that in my business. I think taking a vacation is such a vital part of our lives!! The benefits are off the charts that I could spend a day writing about all the studies done proving it! I have made it my job to help people find great, off the beaten path, places to visit without breaking the bank. Places that you can learn something from or just unplug and recharge while amazing memories! 
Today, I would like to share our trip to the historic downtown area of Altoona, PA and surrounding Blair County area. Once in town we checked into the gorgeous Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Altoona. I would like to take a moment and say their outdoor patio is so relaxing (I seriously dream about returning with my laptop)! After exploring all day we found ourselves sitting on the lounge couches watching fireflies🐝, sipping coffee☕ & enjoying the table fires at night. 
 Another neat thing that happened while staying here....the Freedom Road Rally was in town. These beauties, pictured above, were rolling in and out! 
Talk about a "Welcome".
When the weather is nice I would suggest a stop at Delgrossos Amusement Park! We really enjoyed this attraction, you can check out my FULL review here.
 Many consider this area to be the "Railroad City". For good reason at every turn you can see train tracks, steam engines or visit establishments like the HorseShoe Curve. For more than a century Altoona, PA was one of the most important rail facilities in the United States.
While at the play area in the Canal Basin Park we found several replicas of the lock mechanisms, and how the people lived along the canal.
 "At this major terminus point for the Allegheny Portage Railroad, cargo was unloaded onto rail cars while loaded section boats were pulled out of the canal; both were then hauled on a series of levels and steam powered incline planes. 
Two large water basins were located off of Bedford Street and Juniata Street in town. Connecting the basins was a canal lock, where boats proceeded into the upper basin along the Beaverdam Branch of the Juniata River (sourced content from here)".
 We learned a lot about the area's history while exploring the different hiking trails and park.
On our first trip to Altoona, PA my son saw saw a caboose in the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum's yard.  That sealed the deal for us to return and explore the area more.
 If you enjoy πŸš‚πŸšƒπŸšƒπŸšƒ trains as much as he does this area does NOT disappoint!
The museum is not extremely large but it does have three floors to explore. They also have a gift shop and garage where you can see them working on these fascinating engines! I could share so many photos of exhibits but I think you should really plan a trip (not just stalk my pictures haha)! 
My favorite part of the museum you ask?? The replica of a bar that women were not allowed to sit at. This opened up a great discussion amoungst my son and I. Since we live in a time that women can sit where men do, it was interesting to explain to him that "back in the day" that was the norm.
Every time I come to this area it pulls me in. I find myself looking forward to our next visit! If you are looking for a great getaway, family vacation spot or just a place to pass through, I would recommend this area highly!! It offers so much my family has honestly just scratched the surface.
Have you ever explored the "Railroad City"?
What do YOU look for in a vacation destination??

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Pirate Themed Birthday Party

My mother is one of the best bakers I have come to know. I am not just saying that because I am bias. She has talents, I wished rubbed off on me. While I love to cook, baking has never set well with me. She can taste a sweet treat and replicate it without a recipe. It's truly a work of art! I believe it was her food passion that started my journey down the culinary road. I officially became certified as a Food Judge and started to work in the food industry. Grading competitors as they tried to win different food competitions while making friends along the way.
This post was sponsored by I Love Ice Cream Cakes and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
Needless to say, food is a HUGE focus in our lives so I like to have several options at my parties. Did I mention I throw HUGE parties! I enjoy hosting parties, kids will be talking about for years afterwards. Over the years though I have realized I am less stressed when I focus on the talents I have and ask for help in the areas I am not so skilled in! I am not a skilled baker, so I turn to one of my favorite grocery stores (Wegmans) for inspiration on sweet treats. Let me dish out some of my secret party tips along with a party essential that will make your life so much easier when it comes to party preparations!

I was first introduced to I Love Ice Cream Cakes by my cousin. She had a wonderfully delicious Oreo® Ice Cream Cake at one of her parties! This pre-made cake in a box is such a party ESSENTIAL I can't express to you enough. Kids and adults- LOVE ice cream cake which only makes these that much more of a HIT. With the help of I Love Ice Cream Cakes I can focus my creative talents on making the photo props because they have taken care of the dessert.
When you think "store bought" it might lead you to believe you are skimping on great taste. I found this to be so untrue. Now we solely purchase ALL our cakes for celebrations and just to make the everyday delicious from the grocery store. I have tasted many cakes in my day and these are worth every penny (in my opinion)! Plus, you can pick them up on your weekly grocery store run and don’t have to go through all the steps and effort of assembling an ice cream cake from scratch. You can easily find these in the bakery or freezer section at grocery stores in Western New York, Buffalo and nationwide by using the Product Locator.
 They come in a selection of tasty flavors from Carvel® Lil’ Love Mint Chocolate Ice Cream Crunchie Cake to an Ice Cream Cookie Cake!! From family celebrations to special events and just everyday deliciousness, there’s always a sweet reason to take make people smile with an ice cream cake.
Want more great party insider tips from a busy work from home stay at home Mom?? 

Pick a theme and run with it! For this party we choose a Pirate’s theme party! Over coffee one morning I was talking to my Mom about different ideas for the food spread table at my son's party (pictured above). I was showing her silly pictures of food arranged on plates that created a design. We laugh about it now but the day of the party she walked in with a huge box claiming she had made "food art". Her creation was the Watermelon ship that to this day she is still very proud of!
Another tip: Save money and stress less if you can. Like I said in the beginning of this post I have thrown HUGE parties for many years. Money is usually the number one reason parents say they can't throw huge parties! 

I save money by using coupons and shopping deals. I plan ahead months in advanced to help gather/make or buy these fun decorations. Want to entertain with these delicious ice cream cakes for example?? Join their Crunchie Club here. They will give you a $5 off ice cream cake coupon the SAME day!!
Over the years of hosting parties, I look back at the photos and realize time really flies. This time I have with my son is so precious because he will only be this age once. It may seem silly to some throwing big parties, but to him it means so much.  
Which flavor of I Love Cream Cakes would you like to try??
What Birthday Party theme should we do next?

Friday, July 27, 2018

HopeLine from Verizon helps Abuse Victims

"HopeLine from Verizon collects no-longer used wireless phones, batteries, chargers and accessories in any condition from any service provider to benefit victims & survivors of domestic violence. Partnering with #Verizon was a huge step for my career. I have been so incredibly blessed in my life that I wanted to focus on the good not just the bad in my life. However, sometimes I want to share the negative moments in hopes to help others!
 I partnered with Verizon. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.
At a young age, I was abused emotionally, sexually, physically and mentally. I didn't let it stop me from exceeding in life. When you are in a dangerous/abusive situation, many times you blame yourself. Even when you know deep down, you don't deserve what is going on. It is just a way you try rationalizing the abuse. 
As a domestic abuse survivor myself, it is so imperative to take the time for myself. Knowing my limits to get out to clear my thoughts and mind. I want to help and support others in my shoes but I can't do that if I don't help myself first! With that being said, I hope this opens a door when it seems one has been shut! 
"In the United States, one in every four women and one in every seven men have experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner, and each year more than 15 million children witness violence in their homes". Being cut off from your friends, family and support system only empathizes this! Having a means of communication is so vital to hold on to your positive mind frame. Help support HopeLine from #Verizon with me and donate your old unused phones. 
Do something good for someone who desperately needs it.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The New HP Envy x360 Laptop PLUS Savings offer

If you have been around these parts you know I travel a lot. I have been extremely lucky to work from home while raising my son. When I do travel for work, I bring along my Camera, a Lumnix GF5, my laptop, a Gateway and portable hard drive, a Seagate from Best Buy. Over the past few years I have noticed that my laptop has needed replacing. At one time it was extremely fast, lodaed quickly and my work was done in a matter of minutes. Lately, work that should take about 10 minutes end up setting me back an hour due to loading times. 
I have been researching for sometime what I would need to replace it. While visiting my local Best Buy I looked at the HP Envy x360 laptop. A few features really drew me in because they would fit my lifestyle. First off they are 2-in-1 devices that can transfer from a laptop to a tablet in seconds. This not only is a neat technological perk BUT it also is helpful in traveling!
It also has a touch-screen that comes with Windows Ink capabilities and a Windows operating system so you can write on the screen with a stylus. #MINDBLOWN It also has a AMD processor that makes them fast. The sleek, thin style makes them again portable and I will be able to take it anywhere I go!
Here are a few more product specs for those of you into the tech side of things: 
Windows 10 operating system
Windows 10 brings back the Start Menu from Windows 7 and introduces new features, like the Edge Web browser that lets you markup Web pages on your screen. Learn more ›

8GB system memory for advanced multitasking
Substantial high-bandwidth RAM to smoothly run your games and photo- and video-editing applications, as well as multiple programs and browser tabs all at once.
360° flip-and-fold design
Offers versatile functionality with laptop, audience, tabletop, presentation and tablet modes.
Another great perk?? Right now at Best Buy there is a offer to save $100 off one of these lovely devices from now  until 7/28!!
Do you need a new Laptop?
Have you ever owned a HP laptop before??

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

City Guides for Traveling Sport Teams

 Who else does research about places you are traveling too? Every other weekend the Hockey team travels to different cities. Once in town they have practices and house games. Not every city we have traveled too before or know anything about. When I find a City guide on Hotels4Teams, it has helped prepare for our trips!!
 This is another partner post with Hotels4TeamsAll opinions are my own.
As we pack, I can search hotels near the Sport venue. This not only helps me find a great deal on our room but other things to do while in town. If you would benefit from a City guide head over here.
 While I search deals, I also look at each hotels amenities! We get up early in the morning so places that host breakfast at 10 am will not suite my family. So we go for places that have free breakfast early in the morning or save money and just buy cereal. Each Hotel offers different things, as you probably know, so search around before booking! When booking on this website they do NOT charge me a hotel fee which also save us money!
While in town we like to explore when there is down time. These city guides from the Hotels4teams team have already done the leg-work for us! They have compiled attractions from cities all over the country that your team or family will love. They also encourage you to let them know of cities they might not have guides for yet! 
Do you do research before traveling?
Would a city guide benefit your family?

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Stonewall Resort Roanoke, West Virginia

Imagine a place that you can relax, recharge while taking in beautiful scenery. When we first typed the location to the Stonewall Resort, I was a bit worried our GPS might loose signal. 
**I received a free stay to facilitate a review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.
Luckily, it was easy to find. The Resort is perfectly nestled in West Virginia's rolling mountains surrounded by tranquil lake waters. From the moment you enter the Stonewall Resort State Park it captivates you. We parked the car and just wanted to explore the grounds.  
After checking in and getting our things settled, I headed to their gift shop. We have yet to explore much of West Virginia and shops usually give you an idea of what the area is going to be like. 
 You can find items to take home with you or use on your stay. I would recommend this cozy blanket, pictured above or my favorite kind of liquid dessert: West Whitehill wine, Regal Red Cherry Wine!
Every detail has been perfectly executed in both design and functionality! You can enjoy numerous activities while here. Just ask the front desk and they can give you a list of activities they offer any given day.
Hope aboard the Little Sorrel touring boat and be whisked across the Stonewall Jackson Lake. I have to say from the moment we got to the resort our phones were a thing of the past. While I love technology and all the wonderful things it has brought to my life; it was nice to relax and enjoy some nature with my family.
With views like these, it really is hard not to create some lasting memories. I think we all need a recharge after long work weeks, busy schedules and life's dramas!
My son had such a great time on the boat with the staff. I personally think that a location could be wonderful but the people make it extraordinary. If you have read my reviews before you know I do not say things lightly. The staff here are so genuine and really make EVERYONE have the best experience. It does not matter the age, the staff will talk, interact or simply leave you to relax here. Because of this I think it made our stay that extra bit more enjoyable. Not many people are great with the general public day after day. Not many boat crews know how to talk and interact with children effectively so I honestly take note when these types of things happen. It just raises the bar of guest satisfaction in my book!
Let's talk about the food shall we? 
You might know that I have a long history with food, recipes, cooking and judging! When I say a place has everything you will need, I mean it. From a wonderful dinner spread to a breakfast buffet you will NOT go home hungry!!
We were presented with the Chef's creation and it did not disappoint. You can literally taste the freshness of local ingredients in every dish!
The main dish was well cooked, moist, perfectly seasoned and adorned with the right amount of sauce. I personally never enjoyed sweet potato fries until this dish (pictured above). I would 100% come back and enjoy more Resort restaurant dishes!
How could I forget dessert?? I might save some room or just order this first because the portion size is very generous! We were so full after our first meal here we may have slipped away for an afternoon nap!
If I could give you some advice while you are here? 
Get outside and explore the 1900 acres! 
From trails to wooden walkways you can easily enjoy it with your entire family. 
Ready to hunker down for the evening? 
Enjoy a game of corn hole or a campfire!
They even will provide you with s'more kits! We had never done this at a place we stayed before so to us this was a real "treat". The Stonewall Resort is truly a place anyone can go and enjoy their time at. From campers, families, couples, seniors to singles there is something here for everyone. The prices are reasonable and you really get an experience while here not just a overnight stay!
Have you visited Roanoke, West Virginia??
Do you enjoy Relaxing Resorts?
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