Fall is in the Air

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I love autumn! It is my favorite season out of the whole year. I am obsessed with pumpkins. I love Halloween and we were married, take our vacation and our daughter was born during the season.

One activity that makes me think about fall is going apple picking.

Simmon’s Farm in McMurray, Pennsylvania is a little under an hour away for us. For years, we have been visiting the farm during the fall either to go apple picking or to enjoy some of their other autumn activities like a corn maze, pumpkin picking and more.

However, this was the first year that Lily has gone apple picking. And I think it was a success.

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The way it works is that you pay for what you pick. You can choose different amounts like a half bushel, a bushel, etc.

We decided to pick a bushel because I love to make apple sauce and it takes a lot of apples. (I might end up doing a video and sharing the recipe for my homemade applesauce in the near future.)

Since we went during an early part of the season only two types of apples were available, gala and I want to think it was Golden Delicious. We decided to get a half bushel of each type.

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While of course it is nice to have the delicious apples to enjoy, one of the biggest benefits is doing the actual picking. Lily loved it and was able to see where her food comes from and learn about how apples go from farm to table.

The day was perfect and we couldn’t have asked for more.

What are one of your favorite early fall activities that you like to do with your family? Leave a comment below!

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Soaking Up the Last of Summer

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It is hard to believe that summer is almost over. It seems like it was just Fourth of July and now kids are going back to school and Halloween candy is making its appearance on store shelves.

We try our best to do everything on our “Summer Bucket List” but inevitability we realize that we can’t get everything done.

This year was especially difficult because our weather was more rainy and cooler on Saturdays, the days that we usually go and do our adventures.

After trying for about a month, we finally made it to the Soak Zone at Idlewild park last weekend.

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Included with a ticket to Idlewild park is Soak Zone, a small water park.

While we had been to the rest of the park through this year, we hadn’t been to the water park portion.

When I say it is a smallish water park, it is by no means tiny. There are about five different areas in the water park.

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Map courtesy of Idlewild

Soak Zone includes an awesome wave pool (which is where we spent most of our time), I think four water slides (it could be more), a lazy river type attraction, a little kids play area and a bigger kids play area that features a dump bucket with a bunch of kid sized water slides, plus a stand alone dump bucket.

When we first arrived last Saturday it seemed like it was going to be a little cool and very cloudy.

However, luck was on our side and it became pretty sunny and warm and we made it out before a storm hit.

Personally, my favorite place to spend time was at the Wowabunga Wavepool.

Lily could swim around and splash between wave sessions, and when the waves began, we sat on the “beach” and let the waves rush up on us.

Lily seemed to really enjoy the little kids splash area.

The pool is only about one foot deep and features tubes that spray water up and down. Kids even have the option of turning a valve that controls how much water sprays out.

We had such a wonderful day full of lots of family fun and memories.

We sure tired out Lily by spending almost four hours splashing around.

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We finished the day off by taking a ride on the carousel and grabbing a quick lunch before leaving. Lily was asleep before we hit the main road to home.

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Did you get to do a lot on your “Summer Bucket List?” Leave a comment below.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

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We are so lucky to live close to Pittsburgh that has a bunch of different activities and places for families to visit on the weekend.

The city hosts wonderful history, art, science and children’s museums, which provide families the opportunity to have places to explore over the weekend.

Since we try to go out and do something every Saturday as our “Adventure Saturday” the cost can really add up if you try to pay out of pocket each time you go.

Luckily, many of these places offer the opportunity to purchase memberships.

For example, the Carnegie Museum system (which encompasses the Natural History Museum, Art Museum, Andy Warhol Museum and the Carnegie Science Center) if our family of two adults and one child wanted to visit the Natural History and Art museums it is $19.95 per adult and $11.95 for our daughter. That would be a total (without tax) $51.85. This can really add up if you like to go frequently.

However, if you go with a family membership, which is two adults, four children and a caregiver it is $150 for unlimited visits for the entire year. This membership also covers the Andy Warhol and Carnegie Science Center.

The same is for the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum. One visit for the three of us is $46, but a year long membership is $135 for the same family.

As an added bonus, this membership (and the one at the Carnegie Museum system) can also be used at other participating ASTC centers across the country.

One of the best things is these memberships can be given as gifts.

When Christmas time rolls around, we like to ask for these memberships as family gifts. This way we have a whole year of experiences to look forward to.

It is great because if we just want to stop by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History to see the dinosaurs, we can just pop in, say hi to T-Rex and then leave. We don’t have to worry about cramming in so much stuff so that we get the most bang for our buck.

This past weekend, we went to the Carnegie Science Center and just visited the Exploration Station Jr., an area that is geared toward Preschoolers with a water table, playground area, ball factory, big blue building blocks and more.

We just popped in and played there for about two hours and left. We didn’t feel the need to try and do too much, which is great with a preschooler who can become overwhelmed if you try to do too much in one day.

Here is just a brief video to give you a look of the Exploration Station Jr. area of the Carnegie Science Center.

What do you and your family like to do on the weekends? Leave your comment below.

Kennywood’s Open

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Growing up as a kid in the Pittsburgh region, it wasn’t summer until you made the annual pilgrimage to the holy land of childhood fun and memories: Kennywood Park.

Since my dad worked there for many years when he was younger, I grew up going to the park ever since I could remember.

When I was younger I remember riding The Turnpike with my Dad in the passenger seat thinking I was a big deal because now he was the one in the the back seat.

When I got older, high school age, I couldn’t wait to go to Kennywood with my friends as part of our school picnic. We would ride from morning to dark when the lights would come alive and transform the park to a magical, neon fed world that made it seem like summer would never end.

Then for awhile it seems like life gets too busy and you are between college classes, work and starting out on married life and you just don’t think about going back for awhile.

But everything changes when you have a child of your own and you want to take them to give them the same kind of experience that you had when you were growing up.

Luckily for us Kev’s work hosts an annual company picnic at Kennywood and we take advantage of the offer and spend the day in the park where I grew up.

I remember the first time we went to Kennywood with Lily it was a different experience then the one I just had this past week which was three years later.

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Kennywood 2016

This year we were able to try Lily on a couple of different rides that she was unable to ride last year, like the Kangaroo. She really enjoyed this ride, but at first she was afraid that it was too fast, but she ended up really liking it.

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We did spend a lot of time in Kiddieland riding the numerous rides that she enjoyed a couple of times. I felt bad for the poor ride operator that had to basically pull her out of the helicopter ride while she was a sobbing mess.

The carousel was my favorite attraction to enjoy with Lily. We rode it twice and the first time Lily didn’t like it because she said her horse went up too high. But the second time we opted for one that didn’t move. She liked it a lot better.

But, her favorite ride was Garfield’s Nightmare. This 3-D boat ride through different scenes depicting a nightmare for the orange fuzzy cat (ie attacking ice cream cones, a menacing vet getting ready to give a shot, and more).

The ride is more funny than it is scary and is brightly painted and highlighted by a black light.

Speaking of things that are funny, Lily has the best of luck when it comes to playing games at amusement parks.

She loves the fishing game or duck game where you pick three of the animals to see what you win. Lily picked three ducks at Kennywood and she walked away with a large prize, which was a big frog that she named Ribbit.

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We had a wonderful day and were so thankful to Kev’s company for having the picnic and giving us many more memories that we will cherish for years to come.

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Happy Camper

This past weekend we decided to plan a small weekend getaway.

We were looking for something close to home, but still something that made us feel like we had escaped reality for a little while.

Luckily the Uniontown KOA is pretty close and was the perfect fit for us.

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We rented a a cabin for the weekend that had a large bed in the main room and a bunk house off to the side with a sliding door that could be closed or kept open.

On Friday it unfortunately rained all night and we weren’t able to cook out. So we went out to eat and then stopped at a restaurant and then went to get groceries for the rest of the weekend.

Saturday morning it started of a little cloudy but turned into a beautiful day.

We started off the morning making pancakes on the fire pit, However, we just couldn’t get the logs to catch fire so we decided to move the griddle to to the grill to finish everything.

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They actually turned out really well after we got the hang of how long we had to cook them. Even Lily enjoyed her plain pancakes that were made before I added the blueberries.

One of Lily’s favorite things was the playground that was in the campground. She made several trips throughout our trip to the playground where she would spend so much time exploring everything and just enjoying the finally beautiful weather.

After paying a visit to the camp’s gift shop and purchasing a little disk of wax with wood shavings, the fire started right up.

Luckily we were able to make our dinner of veggie dogs with crescent rolls, foil pack veggies and grilled cheese for Lily right over the campfire. It was delicious and I am so happy we were able to do that.

Afterwards we made s’mores which Lily just enjoyed eating the graham crackers with chocolate.

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It was the end of a perfect day.

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The next day we woke up to a beautiful morning and ate breakfast before we left to join our mothers for a great Mother’s Day meal later in the day. 

Breakfast was made on the grill again that included oatmeal and cinnamon rolls.

We had a wonderful weekend and we can’t wait to do it again sometime soon.

How did you spend your Mother’s Day weekend? Leave your comments below.

Eating in the Burg: Kaya

This past weekend we had the opportunity to have a wonderful, but rare, date night. We had the opportunity to see the Pittsburgh stop of the “All Hail” tour of the podcast “Welcome to Night Vale.”

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But before we took in the amazing show, we went out to eat.

Since I am a vegetarian, and Kev is most of the time (although he wasn’t this weekend), we had to find a place that was near the theater but also had a couple of veggie options.

I was surprised how little options the restaurants in the Cultural District had. A lot were closed on a Sunday evening, but a lot didn’t even have an option that didn’t contain any meat.

Luckily, we decided to head to The Strip District because it wasn’t that far away.

In the strip there was is a great restaurant named Kaya that features Caribbean cooking, and luckily for me a lot of great vegetarian options.

During the month of April Kaya highlighted the island of Cuba to feature their cuisine and drinks.

We decided to kick off our dinner with the Cuban themed beverage Kaya Libre, a combination of rum, lime and Mexican Coke.

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I ordered the Trumpet Mushroom, Ramp & Asparagus Paella: squash, tomatoes, green beans, wild mushrooms, roasted red pepper, greens, pineapple. It was so delicious! The mushrooms had a great meaty texture and the asparagus really brightened the dish.

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Kevin decided to continue his culinary tour of Cuba and decided to order two tasting plates: Ropa Vieja Jubilee Hilltop Ranch flank steak, sofrito, peppers, onions, green olives, rice and Mojo Pork Black beans, cilantro, jalapeño, pickled red onions.

He said that both dishes were really great and full of good flavor. He said he liked the Ropa Veija just a smidge more than the Mojo. He said the seasoning of the Ropa was a little more up front.

With the drinks and dinners, it was a wonderful meal full of flavor and I didn’t feel like I was being cheated because I am a vegetarian.

If you are ever in The Strip District you should check out Kaya. You won’t be disappointed.

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Heinz Happens

This past weekend we had the opportunity to take in another retro/vintage fair. This time it was hosted by the Heinz History Center. 


During the event admission was reduced and we decided to take advantage and explore all the museum had to offer. 

The museum is tailored to the history of southwestern Pennsylvania including area sports, businesses, the part the area played in country wide events and more. 

There is even an area dedicated to Pittsburgh’s most famous neighbor Fred Rogers and his neighborhood. 


The day was made even sweeter because I found this wonderful Samsonite train case for $12.


We had a wonderful weekend and might check out future Neighborhood Flea events this summer. 

Do you have any events that you are looking forward to this summer? Leave your comments below. 

Game On

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I will let you in on a secret. The Amber family is full of gaming geeks.

Even Lily likes to get in on the action.

When we were first dating, many moons ago, and even to this day we like to spend some time playing video games.

Recently, we have enjoyed going back to the games of our youth and have purchased original Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo systems to play some of these games.

We usually visit a local game store in our area (we try to buy local when we can) but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to attend the Pittsburgh Retro Gaming Convention that was held this past weekend at the Ace Hotel in Pittsburgh.

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The place was packed and featured all kinds of video games and systems that you could ask for. There were even some tabletop games if that was more your speed.

But, for us it was all about the video games and we each were looking for a particular game that day. Kev wanted Genesis’ “Echo the Dolphin” and I was looking for either “Donkey Kong Country” or “Donkey Kong Country 2.”

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I am happy to say that we found both of the games we were looking for and then some.

Lily purchased a few Disney Infinity princesses (Jasmine, Anna and Elsa). She likes to play with them as figures and we like to use them with our Infinity game. We also picked up a couple of Nintendo DS games for her. We thought that she might like to use my old DS to take on road trips and our eventual cruse this fall.

Keep an eye on this blog for future reviews and a haul of the games we purchased.

We had a wonderful time at the convention that was held at an interesting location.

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After the convention we decided to head to South Hills Village so I could return a swimsuit that didn’t fit right.

We also ate at one of our favorite restaurants BRGR that is located in the Galleria. Since Kev and I are vegetarians we really appreciate that they have a great non-meat burger as well as tasty salads.

Lily likes their chicken fingers a lot, so it is big hit with all of us.

We have also become obsessed with Spongebob Squarepants, especially Plankton.

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I would say that it was a pretty successful day out on the town. Everyone really enjoyed themselves and I can’t wait to attend next year’s convention.

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We really like the Frozen children’s headphones. It keeps the volume low so it doesn’t hurt her ears.

Makeover Time

Our little Mousekatot turned 3 this past November.

In all three years, she has never had her hair cut, except for a few terrible bang trims by yours truly just so the poor girl could see where she was going.

I realized that her hair was getting so long and the ends were becoming split and uneven. So, as hard as it was for me emotionally, it was time for her to get her first haircut.

When the decision was made, the search began for a child themed place to take her. I know she is a little nervous about new experiences, so I wanted to make sure the place was really kid-centric so that she would feel the most comfortable. (Plus, I wanted to take really cute pictures and make the experience as exciting for her as possible.)

When looking online, I came across this really cute salon called Sweet & Sassy at a mall that is out of town for us, but we still visit frequently.

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I mean, the place is just bursting with little girl cuteness.

I love that they make everything really special and offer a variety of services including manicures, pedicures, spa treatments and even themed birthday parties.

There are a variety of different kinds of haircut packages that are available on their website. Because of Lily’s age, she was able to qualify for a toddler package which included her haircut, glitter face tattoo, sparkles in her hair and a lollipop, all for under $20.

She was a little nervous when she first jumped up in the chair and they put the smock over her.

Luckily, they are experienced in dealing with nervous kids and they are prepared.

Each station has its own television that plays a Netflix show (ours was Barbie) and the stylist was wonderful and interacted with Lily to put her at ease.

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The whole process was a wonderful experience.

The stylist really listened and only took a little off of Lily’s hair and trimmed her bangs for us, and Lily felt like a little princess.

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In addition to everything else there is also a sundae bar that lets little girls pick out different bath products to take home.

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(There is also a lotion and body spray bar.)

The place for pedicures was absolutely adorable and looked like something out of Barbie’s Dream House.

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When we were there, two girls were celebrating their birthdays. One party was almost over and another one was ready to begin, so the place was packed, but everyone looked like they were having a great time.

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Overall, it was a wonderful experience and I really think that we will be going back next time Lily needs a haircut.

She already loves having her nails done at home, so I think we are going to have a girly-girl who also loves to play with her dinosaurs and get a little messy, too.

Have you ever had a wonderful experience at a salon for your little one? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

(I wasn’t compensated for this review in any manner. All the opinions expressed are my own.)

 

 

All Aboard

Living near Pittsburgh we have plenty of opportunities available to us for fun adventures on the weekends.

One of our favorite places to visit is the Carnegie Science Center.

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Photo courtesy of Carnegie Science Center

This huge facility has a bunch of different areas that explore everything from space travel, to robots to the human body.

One of our Mousekatot’s favorite places is the miniature railroad.

This railroad has been a staple of this facility for many years and offers an interesting perspective of our local area.

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The railroad covers all four seasons and offers a look at all the distinct places and areas that make southwestern Pennsylvania what it is including the steel mills, coal towns, farming areas and also key landmarks in the area.

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater

One area that is really fun for your little one is where a volunteer can invite them up to do the train whistle.

Lily had the most fun looking at the different scenes trying to see what the people were doing. She also loved that the scenes would go from day to night and all the lights would come on inside the houses and around the towns.

There is also a surprise train for those who are fans of “Thomas the Tank Engine.”

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The cost of the miniature railroad is included with admission to the science center and is a really nice place to visit and teach your kids about the Pittsburgh area and the history of the region.

What are your favorite places to visit for weekend adventures? Leave your comments below.

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