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?
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