Amy Artisan

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Category: Penn Adventures (page 1 of 2)

Weekending…Down the Road…

This summer has been filled with all sorts of busy as a big work project nears a Labor Day weekend deadline. In the midst of this, my Texas crew relocated to Pennsylvania and we have been trying to figure out when a visit would occur before school started – either them to see me or me to see them. This past weekend, I “mostly” took a break so that I could head northwest in the state to hang out with my girlies in their new home and new town. After a busy Friday morning in the office, I finally left around lunchtime with a goal of quality time with some of my favorite people.

Blue Skies

It was a beautiful day for a drive and the scenery was great. In no time at all I was there. The girls and dog ran outside to greet me as I pulled into “my” parking space and before long they were giving me the tour of their new home and amazing yard.


Friday evening included a great meal at Happy Valley Brewing Co – then a driving tour around Penn State – then we stopped into the Creamery on campus for delicious ice cream cones to end a lovely summer evening. The August Pie flavor of the week that I chose was a perfect taste of summer. We all chuckled that the littlest in our crew got the largest ice cream cone…AND she managed to eat it all!

Ice CreamAfter the girls were in bed, it was great to catch up with the grown-ups over tasty after dinner drinks. And then, Riley the dog graciously let me sleep in the guest room that she has claimed as her room in the new house – she stayed with me all night.


I was awake early on Saturday morning & did a bit of work before the 2 youngest girls tiptoed downstairs and into my room. The morning included a visit to one of the great farmers markets where we loaded up on an assortment of beautiful produce and treats. Saturday afternoon started with a visit to the Boal Mansion and Columbus Chapel for the local Herb & Garlic Festival.


Then we headed a bit down the road to experience the 142nd annual Grange Fair. The girls had a great time on the midway rides. Because it was the last day, most of the animal exhibits were already empty so we didn’t get the “full” fair experience. We did enjoy strolling through the streets of the tent camp that has been a staple of this fair.

Bumper Cars

Saturday evening meant homemade pizzas and dinner on the patio under the pergola. As the sun set and the soundtrack of nighttime nature kicked in we stayed around the table for quite a while talking all sorts of serious and silly topics with the ever curious girls. Since pizza on the patio was a frequent evening during Texas visits, I commented that we must be home since we were enjoying pizza on the patio at their new place!


Sunday morning started with a seemingly never ending round of Uno with the girls before breakfast that included some delicious treats from a bakery stand at Saturday’s market. We then visited a local church which reminded me of their Texas church home. After lunch, the girls insisted on washing my car which yielded some soggy girls.


Before long, it was time to load up and head home. It was another beautiful day for my drive towards home. It is an easy and scenic drive between our homes and I anticipate there will be many trips between our towns as the days and months go by.


Ah, JUNE…the month in which meteorological summer finally catches up with the weather…a month that didn’t involve the use of any suitcases (that hasn’t happened since last July, wow!)…these are some of the things that filled my days…

...and a month to celebrate Dad!

…and a month to celebrate Dad!

Reading…I thoroughly enjoyed The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and will share more about it in a separate post…an audio read was In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Eric Larson – it was ok, not as engaging as other reads of the era…a great audio read was Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff – another WWII era story about a U.S. military plane crash, survival and amazing rescue in New Guinea…early in the month I finished up The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown…hmm, there is a bit of a time period theme to these recent reads…

Watchingthe movie “Chef” was a fun story…”Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” was a good “old fashioned” spy story…after watching the 1st season of “Crossing Lines” when it was on TV 2 years ago, it was nice to catch the 2nd season on Netflix this month…

...hand knit socks spark joy!

…hand knit socks spark joy!

Cultivating…JOY by tidying up…after “finally” reading about tidying up early in the month I started the #konmari adventure with my “stuff.” I started with my clothes and accessories and they now spark joy. I took a detour from the book order into my bathroom & have tidied up the linen closet & the toiletries. All of this combined has my “master suite” feeling more like a retreat than it has in quite a while.

...Crayola fun!

…Crayola fun!

Coloring…on a Sunday morning, a few fun hours at The Crayola Experience with a friend and her family…it was much more crowded than when I was there last June – but we still enjoyed lots of color & creativity…I’m not sure when was the last time that I had used waterpaints & that was a lot of fun…

...the view from the Bacon Strip!

…the view from the Bacon Strip!

Cheering…the Iron Pigs on a Sunday afternoon after our colorful morning…because of the rain deluge on the Saturday, we ended up with a doubleheader…once again we were in the great Bacon Strip seats in the outfield…as the second game started, of course we enjoyed the chocolate covered bacon on a stick…as a ‘reward’ for sticking it out through both games, the girls enjoyed running the bases…

...ending lunch with sweet treats!

…ending lunch with sweet treats!

Enjoying…outdoor lunches with work friends at a local bakery…and managing to not get a sweet treat every time we eat there

Sipping…lots of fruit infused water – trying all sorts of combinations in my fun pitcher – a current favorite combination is lemon + blueberries + mint…iced black coffee is also in high rotation…

Considering…a refresh to the blog design – now to find the time to focus on this…

Planning…finalizing details for the Artisan family vacation in July…gathering the stack of books for vacation reading (& wishing I had more days for all the reading I’d love to do!)…picking out a pattern & yarn for a vacation knitting project…

Looking ahead…July will have my suitcase back in use for both work and fun…konmari will continue in the house…

What are you into these days?

Linking up with Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into roundup.


It was a treat to host Mom & Dad here for a bit of a vacation to start July. Over the last couple of years, it seems like Mom & Dad visits have included quite long “honey-do” lists tied to moving. This time, the focus really was on fun and exploring the area. #localtourist
Amish covered bridges...this time with sunshine

Amish covered bridges…this time with sunshine

On Thursday, we were “back” to Amish Country for the day. We enjoyed wandering through some of our favorite shops and went for a lighter lunch option of delicious sandwiches at Kitchen Kettle Village instead of the full family style meal. After “introducing” Mom to a fabulous swivel rocker at one of the furniture stores, she is now contemplating it as her Christmas gift – I don’t blame her, it may be the ultimate chair. Of course, I had to show them the covered bridges that I found the last time I was over there.

Exploring Valley Forge

Exploring Valley Forge

We decided that July 4th would be a good day to explore Valley Forge National Historic Park.  Even the few bands of winds & rain from Hurricane Arthur didn’t stop us from a fun day of exploring this slice of American History. We picked up the Audio Tour CD at the Visitor’s Center and set off to explore the park. The audio tour was excellent – I’m sure that I’ll use it many times as friends & family come to visit. Along the way in the park, we stopped at some of the sites to further explore. While there were July 4th activities planned throughout the park, we didn’t experience large crowds to make us question our decision to be there on Independence Day – the way the park is laid out, it is easy to “find space” away from other visitors. Towards the end of the driving tour, the Washington Memorial Chapel is an amazing piece art that captures the revolutionary history.

A gorgeous day for a canal boat tour

A gorgeous day for a canal boat tour

On Saturday, the plan was to head north to Easton – it is a beautiful drive along the Delaware River and I needed to do some gift shopping at the Crayola Experience store. As I looked to see what else there was to do in Easton, I discovered the National Canal Museum was nearby – so our plans for the day expanded. While small, the museum was filled with history about the Pennsylvania canal system and fun interactive exhibits to help kids (& adults) understand how it all worked. After touring the museum, we enjoyed a 45 minute mule-pulled canal boat tour. The weather was perfect for this. Since the day was spectacular, after lunch we took a more extended drive along the Delaware River as we meandered home.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Happy Birthday Dad!

Dad’s birthday is early in the month, so early in the week I picked up a birthday cake from a great local bakery & we enjoyed it nightly. We also celebrated with a great Sunday brunch at the historic William Penn Inn that is nearby. When we weren’t out exploring, it was fun to just hang out at home – indeed, we are a family that can easily spend time together “just being” – reading a book or something online, doing puzzles, knitting – together in the living room.

As is always the case with family time…it was over much too quickly!

Family Vacation Fun

This week, I was lucky enough to host my WI family for some “PA summer fun” family vacation time. This has been a trip a long time in the making – from the first possibilities of me moving to PA we talked of them coming to visit. This was one of the first things written on my fridge calendar back in January and as the months progressed we added possible fun times to our itinerary.

Last Friday, the kids had a half day of school to end their school year. Once school was out, they piled into the van and were off… Over the river into the UP – across the Mackinac Bridge – and through the Ohio & Pennsylvania Turnpikes to “Miss Amy’s House” they came.

Text messages and phone calls on Friday & Saturday provided a glimpse into the excited van as they made their way here. By the time the kids were pounding on my front door on Saturday evening we all were more than ready for days of fun, fun, fun!

Civil War on a Sunday afternoon

Civil War on a Sunday afternoon

Sunday is for Civil War! After brunch that included an introduction to Pork Roll & Scrapple, we headed to New Jersey for the afternoon. (Add another one to the visited states list, kids!) Our goal was to see an annual Civil War reenactment – we arrived just as the battle was starting. In addition to seeing the battle, we toured the encampment and learned quite a bit about the rifles and combat methods used during the war. To recharge from the hot and sunny outing, we stopped at a drive in for ice cream & floats. After a fun afternoon “out” we returned home for our “Sunday supper” routine that began during my Marinette days – after cooking many meals in their kitchen it was fun to cook with them in mine. Supper gave way to a lazy evening enjoying just being back together.

Kitchen Kettle Village fun

Kitchen Kettle Village fun

Monday is for Amish Country! Once we were all up & fed, it was time to load into the van and head west towards Lancaster County. It is definitely a favorite day trip spot for me – so of course we would go there. As we started sharing the road with buggies, the boys were responsible for keeping count of how many we saw throughout the day. Our day was filled with shopping both at Kitchen Kettle Village and other favorite stores; sampling many tasty jams, salsa, mustards & more; tasty family style lunch at Good & Plenty Restaurant; just exploring the countryside. As rain started to move in late in the afternoon we searched out 2 covered bridges in the area – one to drive through and one to walk around.

Discovering Covered Bridges

Discovering Covered Bridges

Tuesday is for Cheese Steaks, Coloring & Baseball! I went into the office for a few hours in the morning while the kids enjoyed some splash time at their hotel pool. At lunchtime, we headed out with an itinerary to take us a bit north. First up was another local taste – delicious cheese steaks. Then, a beautiful drive along the Delaware River took us to Easton, PA and the Crayola Experience.

Channeling our inner artist

Channeling our inner artist

The Crayola Experience was a hit with all of us – we could probably have spent twice as much time there. Each of the kids has a creative streak & this was a perfect place for all of us to channel our inner artist as we worked our way through the various art stations. We named our own crayons, made markers, created digital art, colored pictures, captured “family selfies” into coloring pages and all around had a fun time.

Take us out to the ball game

Take us out to the ball game

After a couple hours in color wonder, it was time to head a bit west to see some baseball. Our seats in “The Bacon Strip” in the far right outfield made for an excellent place to cheer on the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in a minor league game. It was a beautiful night for baseball – we were lucky that rain in the area did not come to the ballpark & impact the game.

Wednesday ended up being for an unexpected early departure due to a family need back in WI. While we were all sad as they drove away from my place in the early morning hours, we were so thankful for the time that we had together here. From the fun adventures to the simple hangout times at my place and everything in between, we filled the days with many great memories!


For the last several years, March has meant an “escape” to Texas for a long weekend with my girls and a trip to the Dallas Arboretum. This year, the girls have an opportunity to go to Disneyland for their spring break so we won’t have our “Dallas Blooms” weekend. I still managed to get my dose of spring blooms this month – this time in the form of the Philadelphia Flower Show. On Sunday afternoon, I headed downtown for the final day of the show. It was a spectacular spring day – it almost seemed wrong to be spending it indoors. But, the blooms were indeed brilliant and made for a delightful afternoon.


The shows theme of “Brilliant” saluted all things British. From the moment you walked in, there was definitely “a bit o’ Brit” in everything you saw.

cricket A tableau celebrating cricket. This might have been my favorite scene because it reminds me of playing cricket with the project team last year on July 4th as we were in the midst of go live week. (90+ degrees & a dusty baseball field is a far cry from this lush scene)


…Area gardening clubs contributed scenes…


British literature was a source of inspiration for some scenes – of course, the Jane Austen one was my favorite.

big_benAt the center of the show was a digital Big Ben. On the hour, the clock face transformed into a fun video of song & British pop culture. The area also included a stage – on Sunday afternoon, one of the guys from Celtic Thunder was performing.


Even with all the professional scenes, one of my favorite areas was the “Horticourt” where gardeners submitted their special plans for judging. As someone who had a “dud” amaryllis this year I was amazed at the beautiful pots of bright blooms.

The show also included many vendors for all sorts of gardening. I was very intrigued with all the terrariums that were available – while I didn’t buy any, I’m thinking one could be fun for at my desk. Between the Brilliant inspiration of the flower show and the generally gorgeous weekend, I’m starting to think about what simple gardening I will do on my patio this year.

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