Monday, July 7, 2014

Hawk Moutain and Wananmaker's General Store

I know it's been a while, my family has been keeping me super busy.  One of the bloggers I read regularly has spurred me to post, by creating a link up for fellow bloggers.  She has asked us to share our favorite places near where we live.  As a matter of fact, we just went to one nearby, and took photos as well, so here it is!

When my kids are home for the summer, we try to visit places that are new to us.  We live in Pennsylvania, right on the border of Lehigh, Berks and Montgomery counties.  We drove about 45 minutes to Hawk Mountain Wildlife Refuge near Kempton.  The drive was just beautiful on the back roads, with rolling fields planted in wheat, soybeans, corn and various types of hay.  It looked like a patchwork quilt of yellow, dark green, blue green and lime green.  I didn't grab a photo, but now I wish I did, as it was breathtaking.  We passed one room school houses, farms with fieldstone houses and bank barns as we twisted and turned on winding roads, climbing up higher and higher.

The rewarding view at the top of the mountain.

Ok, so I gave you the best view first!  Apparently, years ago, folks came to Hawk Mountain to shoot migratory birds for sport.  An amateur ornithologist, Richard Pough, came up the mountain and took a picture of all the birds lying on the ground at the end of a day's shooting.  Rosalie Edge saw these images, and decided to lease the 1,400 acres of land to end the shooting, and opened the sanctuary to the public. Later, Rosalie purchased and deeded the land to the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association.

We started our hike at the at the native plants garden, and had a bit of fun with this statue.
It was a hot 90 degree day, high in humidity.  Most of the area is covered with trees so the shade was a great relief.  The trail starts out as a nice level path, with gravel.  Don't be fooled, there are some areas that are very challenging.  The sanctuary has thoughtfully placed benches along the trail for those needing a break.

We started our hike at the at the native plants garden, and had a bit of fun with this statue.

  Some areas have logs or arranged stones as steps.  A few spots have handrails made of engineered wood, and I found myself wondering how they managed to get it in place.  (There is no road, only the trail.)  

We read a sign that said people used to excavate the area for sand to build and make glass.  The thought of hiking through there way back then, and then attempting to get the sand back down the mountain seemed almost unbelievable.  

I believe this was from the Ridge Lookout.

We hiked back down off the trail, hungry for lunch.  We were out in the middle of no where.  It took 20 minutes to drive down the mountain roads to nearby Kempton where we found Wanamaker's General Store, along route 143.

Wanamaker's was established in 1886.  It's a sweet old building with gingerbread trim.

They had a little bit of everything, which was great, because I didn't see any other stores up there.
  They had wonderful goods, things you wouldn't expect to find in a tiny store in Pennsylvania German country.  An excellent selection of spices, bulk foods, fresh floral bouquets, american made toys and ice cream.

The sandwiches were made to order, quickly and with a smile.
  They really hit the spot after a hot day of hiking.  

So really, two favorite places in one day.  We found quite a few last summer, and hope to find more this summer.  Thanks to Gabrielle Blair's idea to share links, I'll try to post more soon!  Check out more favorite places on Gabrielle's blog, Design Mom.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Valentine Treats

I was craving the linzer cookies of my childhood that we used to pick up at our local bakery.  (There are so few bakeries any more!)  I found a great recipe on King Arthur Flour's website.

You can find the recipe for yourself here.  So tasty, with a hint of cinnamon, and almond flour.
 I used seedless raspberry jelly.  Indulge!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ooh La La!

 I have to tell you, I've been obsessed with some eye catching photos of french macarons on Pinterest.  I ordered some off of Etsy, and they are delicious.  I sent some to my sister for a little surprise.  I just had to get some for my daughter's birthday party too.  Of course, as luck would have it, the shop on Etsy was closed for this month.  I looked all over and was surprised to finally find a wonderful person baking them in right in our area.  So the party was built around these macarons and a french theme.

These beautiful and tasty french macarons were made by Christine Gold of Delices Europeennes.  Christine is so friendly and her attention to detail is amazing.  These delicate little cookies were packaged with care with sweet little stickers on the boxes that said "Merci" and "Delicieux!" Everyone gushed over the wonderful flavors. The boxes were from Marshalls, as was the book. (Hmmm, it must have been there because the french way to spell macaron is with one o!)

I found these sterling silver eiffel tower charms on The Slippery Pearl's Etsy shop. A big tip, if you have any creative abilities, you can search for things in the supplies section and make your own. I obtained all of these charms for 2.99 and found a lot of 10 bracelets for 9.95 at Sarah Jolwind's shop. If I had purchased the bracelets already made, they would have been 8-12 each. The girls loved them and immediately planned to wear them to school on Monday.

I love to incorporate favors that are part of the activities.  Originally, I thought I'd get wrapped canvases  and paint.  When I realized it would be chilly outside, keeping the party inside- I thought it would be best to use watercolors.  (Easy cleanup!)  I found these watercolor boards at our local Dick Blick in packs of 4 during a 40% off sale.  The easels were from Amazon.

We used watercolor pencils to draw pictures, and then went back over the pictures with water on brushes to create paintings.

The birthday girl's artwork.

Evian water was found at a great price at Homegoods. I borrowed the framed print from a friend.

The children built their own eiffel towers with sugar wafer cookies as an additional activity.
I found this project idea at AtoZkidsstuff.com
I found the "silver" tray at the dollar store and painted it with chalkboard paint.

I made the french birthday banner, simply because I couldn't find one that said what I wanted.  I printed the letters out and used a punch.  I sliced strips of paper and accordion folded them.  Then I hot glued them to the circles, and to the ribbon.

Aren't these sweet?  I found them on Made By Joel's website.  He also had a miniature version, which we printed out and included in the favor bags.  The site is chock full of printable paper toys.

French manicures for the little ladies.  This pen by Sally Hansen was a great time saver.

The kids dined on crepes, "french" toast, brie and apples, made more fun by having it for dinner.

I couldn't bring myself to mar the surface for the perfect macrons with candles, so I made profiteroles filled with vanilla pudding.  

Favor bags decorated by my daughter with stickers and the eiffel tower bracelets.

One happy eight year old!  Bonne Nuit!

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Safari Party

My best friend created the most wonderful setting for her children's birthday party and asked if I'd make some cookies for the event.  I had such fun experimenting with the animal prints!  We had originally planned on simple cookies, so she was surprised with the result.  

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Sugar Free Easter?

I found this fantastic idea via Pinterest.  (Have you been there yet?  A great website for visual bookmarks- literally a photo instead of rows of text to search through.)  Anyway, I've been trying to keep the candy to a minimum with books and small gifts but this is just what we need!  Corrie Cox designed these wonderful "Egg-Changeables" for Cute As You Please designed these wonderful "Egg-Changeables."  My kids were thrilled with them when we had an impromptu egg hunt this week, and immediately turned in the "Dinner of Your Choice" and "Movie Rental" coupons.

You can print out these genius coupons at Cute As You Please.  Enjoy your Easter afternoon with a little less sugar and some calmer kids.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Valentines Day is Next Week!

This entire winter is slipping by rather quickly for our household and I'm shocked that next week is Valentines day.  If it slipped your mind too, here is a great source for class valentines.  Pauline's
Sweet Muffin Suite's blog has print at home cupid's arrow that you insert a pencil in.  So original!
Photo byPauline Grayson/
Pauline also has an Etsy shop where she has more printable valentines to check out, stop on by!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Baking Party

As my daughter's 7th birthday approached, I asked her "what kind of party do you want?"  She said "a baking party!"  My little girl loves to cook with me, making cookies or dinner it doesn't matter what we're making because she thinks it is fun.  I tried to come up with some things that would be easy to make in a two hour period (with a bunch of kids!) and came up with pretzels.

I found the hats on and printed out the kids names on iron on transfer sheets to personalize them.  I found the directions on how to do this at Passion for Parties blog, where they explain that you need to make a mirror image of the text so that it reads correctly when you iron it on the hat.

I found this great idea to make cupcake wrapper garlands on Hostess blog.  It was easy to do and an inexpensive way to add a pop of color.

We found a wonderful invitation and thank you note selection at the Mommies Ink Etsy shop.  Jen was fantastic to work with and she altered an existing invitation design to include a brighter pink instead of red for my daughter.
I know you will not mind, I deleted the personal information for privacy.  :)

Photo by Stephanie Albanese Photography
We found a great recipe that is similar to Auntie Annes at  The children could choose to put salt or cinnamon and sugar on their finished product.  I found glassine bags at Paper & Parcel on Etsy, so the kids could eat one pretzel, and take another home!

We also decorated cupcakes...there is my sweet girl enjoying the chance to be creative with icing.
Photo by Stephanie Albanese
The children brought their creations home in clear cupcake boxes that I found on  There is a little plastic insert in the bottom of these boxes, so the cupcake stays in place for it's trip home.

In addition to their rolling pins, and a chocolate bar, the kids placed their creation in these simple bags to bring home.  (No plastic junk to have hanging around the house!)  I found some great gift tags by Meri Meri that are adorned with a touch of glitter.  So sweet!

I really wanted to make cake pops for the party, but found myself running out of time.  As I was shopping for the food for the party, I walked past some donut holes and thought, that might work!  I came home and looked up some directions and came across Cookie with Sugar's website with some great tips.  (Dip the popsicle stick in melted chocolate, then stick it in the donut hole.  Let it cool and then dip all holes in chocolate to coat, this way, the balls stay ON the sticks!)  The kids loved them, and also took some home in their goodie bags.

I found this printable picture on via Pinterest.  (my latest favorite site...more about that later.) created this sweet free printable, which you can print too.  

Children grow out of these home made birthday parties so quickly, cherish them while they last!