Sunday, August 31, 2014

Lancaster 2014, Day 1: Kitchen Kettle Village Part I

After the drive through the country, we finally arrived at our first stop, which was Kitchen Kettle Village. In 2006 and 2007, my mom's side of the family went on mini vacations to Lancaster that included a brief stop at Kitchen Kettle Village. Of course, it wasn't as fun browsing in the shops then because I was still rather young. Instead, my cousins and I had fun being silly when we were there. This time, however, I was really excited to go especially since Howard and I knew we wouldn't feel guilty purchasing any snacks or other food items to take home with us.

Right after we parked, we did a quick walk around the tiny shop called Ken's Gardens. There were so many things to photograph in such a small amount of space!

We were able to admire plants that we had never seen before, including these ornamental peppers. The sign states the following: ""Gardeners grow these plants for their ornamental appearance, not for eating. Some are very HOT!"

To some degree, they actually look fake! I think the colors were just gorgeous, but Howard did a much better job at capturing them.

It's hard to imagine that we have only seen the smallest fraction of plants that are growing right now as I type this. What a Creator we have who has the ability to make all living things so different and so beautiful!

Though the edible plants may not look as pretty sometimes, they're the ones that I think are the most interesting because I just want to eat them! I love the concept of farm to table, which is why my mom, Howard, and I all really love Living with the Land in Epcot since the things grown in the gardens are served in Sunshine Seasons and other restaurants. Realistically, it's not difficult growing vegetables; it just requires the time and patience to tend to them. For us, it would require space! But once you've had a homegrown vegetable, it's hard to compare it to the things that are picked really early so that it can be shipped to the store. I wonder what this kale and cabbage would taste like when it's picked fresh and eaten right away.

I was also excited to see some lemon verbena. The signs states the following: "Bright green leaves provide a sweet lemon flavor. Use in cold drinks, jelly, fruit salads, fish, and soups." I only know of it because Bath & Body Works had scents with this in it. I'm also intrigued with the idea that there's lemon flavor in a plant when there are no actual lemons on it! Maybe that's the naive city person in me that's saying that because if you asked me where to get lemon flavor, I'd say you could only get them from lemons! 

Though these plants looked a little dried out and pale, they reminded me of Benji's little herb garden in his backyard that he shows all the time on the "itsjudyslife" vlogs that I enjoy watching on YouTube. In the morning, he'll go outside to choose fresh tomatoes for tomato and avocado salad, and he'll also pick some fresh herbs to put in their omelettes. I can't even imagine just how tasty those things are when they're taken straight from the garden and cooked right away.

Other than plants, Ken's Garden also had a variety of items to display too! Living in a studio apartment on the 9th floor means that we clearly don't have our own garden, but it was still fun to look and think about what we would get if we lived somewhere like Pennsylvania and had a lot of space. These wire designs were some of my favorite things there. They had a few choices in a bunch of different colors.

I don't particularly like it when there's a dragonfly near me since they can be quite large, but when I saw this, I immediately liked it! It helps that the purple is so pretty too.

My mom and I saw the alligator (or crocodile ... I always forget which one has the shorter/longer snout) and pointed it out at the same time. I took a boring picture of the entire area, and when we got home, I saw that Howard had taken this one where it looks as if it's stalking the turtle! 

To the right of this flag, you can also see a yellow butterfly.

I definitely missed out on a lot of what was there because I didn't even see this howling dog. Looking at it kind of reminds of Haunted Mansion or something like that.

I didn't even notice this pig either!

Or this squirrel! I only saw it when Howard paused and bent down to take the picture.

And here is the reason why I kind of stopped seeing everything that was around me ... this bicycle! Isn't it just awesome?! It ended up being my favorite thing in all of Ken's Gardens and would be the kind of thing that would come home with us if we had the spot to place it. I mentioned in a blog post about two weeks ago that I've been loving bicycles for some odd reason. I enjoyed riding my bike up and down the block with my older brother when we were kids, and Howard and I also rode bikes on our church's bike trip and on the Belt Parkway when we were dating. But I haven't ridden one in ages! Yet every time I see something that has to do with bicycles, I am drawn to it and have to at least take its picture! I did check the price when I was there, but I can't remember it at this point. 

Just a few minutes were spent here, and yet there were a ton of photographs! Can you tell it'll take quite some time getting through this brief Lancaster trip? Just imagine how long it takes for me to get through trip reports on the Disney message boards!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Lancaster 2014, Day 1: Traveling

Could it be? Did Howard and I actually go on a vacation that wasn't in Disney World? Yup, it's true! It is rather strange to think that we didn't go to WDW, but we knew that financially it wouldn't make sense as we did just go this past January. Plus, the weather is a bit too hot for us at this time. There were also things that we wanted to do in Lancaster, specifically seeing a show at Sight & Sound. It was just the perfect destination for a local trip right before the start of the new school year.

Howard and I both posted a few pictures on Instagram and Facebook while we were away, but in all of those posts, I never indicated that my mom was actually with us! She really wanted to go to Sight & Sound too especially since my younger brother Matt and I were able to go see the Christmas show a few years ago on a school field trip. At first, we thought we'd be going on this mini-trip with Matt as well, but he wasn't interested. That's why it became a trip for three instead! Mom worried that she'd be a third wheel, but I am absolutely grateful that my mom and Howard have gotten along so well since day one (and sometimes they make such similar observations that we all just crack up about it) so that a trip like this is not at all awkward. Though it was only a brief vacation, we still packed in a bunch of things to do in our days without having everything planned, which is very much unlike a trip to WDW.

The trip started on Tuesday, August 26th. Howard and I woke up that morning to pack our things and load them into our car. The goal was to leave our apartment around 9am, and we were somewhat on schedule. However, with no airplane to catch, it didn't really matter that much anyway.

I'm definitely not as used to taking videos when we're going somewhere other than Disney, but for the sake of completely documenting the vacation, I'll post them here anyway!

At my parents' house, we moved our things into my mom's car since we don't really trust our little one for long distances. Packing the car was so easy though because it was only my mom's little suitcase, our shared little suitcase, two backpacks, one Thirty-One large utility tote, and one Thirty-One picnic thermal! Can you tell I absolutely love my Thirty-One bags for every day use and traveling?

My dad told Howard about the new mount he had recently purchased for the GPS. Howard was using it for his phone since he prefers Google Maps to the other GPS system. It was causing a bit of trouble, so when we were getting gas in NJ, he was attempting to fix it. Thankfully, he was successful or it would've been difficult dealing with a drooping screen throughout the drive.

The travel time was really short in comparison to the long drives to Florida. At 2.5 hours, this was incredibly close by! Initially, we were thinking of going to do the Herr's Factory Tour, but it was so out of the way, so we skipped it.

After a while, it was time to stop for lunch! I was rather hungry about an hour into the drive because I hadn't had any protein. I'm going to have to get used to not being able to eat whenever I want once September rolls around! Of course, since we weren't in New York at that point, it meant we could stop at Chik-fil-A! Howard tried doing a voice-activated search with Siri on his phone, but it wasn't working properly so I took it down from the mount and tried searching. In the meantime, we actually missed where we were supposed to exit. Whoops! It was fine though since the amazing technology just rerouted, and when we were going from one highway to the next, we drove through a shopping area that thankfully had a Chik-fil-A. We were driving around the stores though, not sure where it was, so we stopped in front of a Target and asked a bunch of younger employees who kindly pointed us in the right direction. I remarked that it was clear we weren't in NY anymore because though you could tell they were young and could easily have been annoyed, they were helpful and very nice about it.

Of course, at that point my mom and I had already shared a snack size bag of Sun Chips because we were hungry, so I wasn't as hungry when we were ready to eat. But that just meant ordering a 3-piece chicken strips box instead of the 4-piece! I thoroughly enjoyed it with the Chik-fil-A sauce. Beforehand, I had ordered chicken nuggets, but the strips are a lot tastier in my opinion. I think I'll stick with those from now on. My mom and Howard both got the chicken sandwich with Colby cheese! It was funny when Howard put our tray down and we noticed that they had ordered the same exact thing. Howard ordered the meal so that we could have waffle fries and a jolt of sugary Sprite as well.

Here's a picture of our super clean table and Mom praying, haha. I was snapping a picture of the food as is customary on all of our Disney vacation!

I tend to compare my photos with Howard's photos though. This one is mine, and I find it important to showcase all the food.

But Howard's photo makes the food look heavenly, haha.

We sat there for a bit afterwards and just chatted since we weren't in a rush to get to our destination. That particular location had the kids' play area also, so I talked about how my older brother and I always wanted to spend time at McDonald's Play Place while driving down to Florida, but we never had the chance. We never would have asked either. We'd eat really quickly and then get back in the car since my dad wanted to just get moving. It's so unlike some kids nowadays who "need" the time being active before having to get strapped back in the car.

Since we were finished, one of the older employees named Ed came up to our table to take away our trays. I had taken two packets of the dip/squeeze Heinz ketchup, and he was going to take them away. Mom and I immediately worried that he would just toss them in the garbage, so she motioned towards them and I asked Ed if I could have them. He replied, "Of course, we've got thousands of them in the back!" He said he was going to just put them back anyway, so it was nice that it wasn't going in the garbage since they were clearly untouched. Later on, he returned and asked if we wanted a refill on the soda, and he had us take the straw and lid while he got us more! What service! My mom told him that Howard and I were talking about how we would like to move there! The people just seemed a lot more pleasant, and we weren't even that far from home.

We left in a great mood, ready to tackle the remainder of the drive. Howard's phone battery was almost completely drained, so he had to plug it in. That meant we would have music once again since Star 99.1fm was out of range, and he also said that the GPS voice would come through the system as well. I thought that was pretty cool and absentmindedly pointed to the air conditioning vent when I commented on it as if those were the speakers!

As we approached Lancaster, we started seeing a TON of corn (or should I say, "c-o-r-n," haha). We were amazed at the views too because it was just miles upon miles of green! Immediately, Howard and I were drawn to Pennsylvania and talk about moving there started at that point. We really are not made for city life, and the peaceful environment and the tranquility in the air was palpable even when we were on the main roads. Even seeing a truck packed with tree trunks was a clear indication that we were no longer in New York, and we loved it!

The machinery really reminded us of the episode of Dirty Jobs that was on the TV when we were over his sister's house recently. Mike Rowe was being taught how to use a claw similar to the one in the picture below to move the huge logs.

Yes, I really did take three pictures of this truck! If tourists in NYC can take a thousand pictures of buildings, I can take three of this!

The other thing that really amazed us was all the corn! It was EVERYWHERE!

Even when there were animals in the distance, we were so amazed. There was just SO MUCH GREEN.

Of course, being in Amish country meant that there was a lot of poop off to the side of the road. At one point during our trip, there was some more on the driving road, and my mom said, "Be careful not to roll over the horse ..." She didn't continue with the sentence and say poop, so Howard and I laughed because it sounded as if she didn't want us to roll over the animals! We joked about that each time we saw poop on the road.

Finally, here's a video of the drive through even more of the country landscape with random commentary from the three of us. Because I'm holding the camera, my voice is the loudest. And I also think I'm just the loudest. My mom commented that when we used to drive to Florida when I was a kid, she'd point out all the animals as we got farther down south. She basically taught me to be observant, and when we're in the car together, we often see the same things at the same time and make the same comments! I hope to teach our kids to look out the window too instead of relying on technology for entertainment.

We also learned later on in our trip that the corn that we see in the video is basically the corn that is stored in the silos to feed the cow. At least that's what our buggy driver told us. He pointed out the sweet corn in some of the gardens that is eaten. Also, the plants with the large leaves that we don't recognize are actually tobacco.

So by my count, it's 7 trips to Disney World* and 1 non-Disney trip. Considering how much fun we had on a non-Disney vacation, we have a bit of catching up to do! Stay tuned for more updates!

* April 2010 with my family, February 2011 with our friends and my cousins, April 2012 with my family, May 2012 for our honeymoon, December 2012 as a rather impromptu Christmas trip, June 2013 with my family, and January 2014 since I didn't have to go by a school schedule!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Wedding Bears on Repeat

Despite the "Teddy Bear Parade" cartridge having a ton of options, I think the ones I've cut out the most are the bride and groom bears.  They're just so cute on a wedding card! And they look a little different when the background paper is changed. 

There are no sentiments on the outside of the cards since the customer requested that something be inside instead. I anticipate using these two on many more cards in the future!

Stay tuned for Lancaster updates! I started working on the travel portion of day 1. I'll post when hubs has the chance to edit his photos. Trust me; you'll want to wait. If it's just my photos, you might lose interest, haha.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


If you actually follow my blog, you'll notice there was no update for August 28th. Howard and I were away on a mini vacation in Lancaster, so I had the Tuesday and Wednesday posts scheduled. We got back in plenty of time for me to write an update, but I took a shower and just SLEPT FOR 12 HOURS. Yup. Skipped dinner and everything. I'll make up for it!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Birthday Cupcake

When I want to craft just for fun, I come cross a lot of cuts that I think would be fun to do for birthday cards. Then when I need to make a birthday card for a custom order, I just immediately jump to cupcakes! I think cupcakes are for all days of the year, but pop a candle in it, and it just fits!

I did want to make this one a little different so I made a card base that would fit in a business size envelope. I actually really like 4x9 in cards mainly because I feel that when they are mailed, people don't immediately think of it as a card because it looks like it could just be a bill or some other important piece of paperwork.

I didn't have any specific guidelines for this card, so that made the cupcake even more appropriate. It was cut from the "Simply Charmed" cartridge at 6 in. The face cut out without any issues since it was a larger size. Then since there was plenty of room underneath, I decided to stick with a Cricut cut for the sentiment instead of using a stamp so the "Happy Birthday" is from "Wild Card" also cut at 6 in (that seems weird, but you have to understand the cartridge to know why it's 6 in; it's all relative to the size of the card base cut on the page).

I was planning on adding the silver ribbon between the cupcake and sentiment, but I glued the sentiment on too high. Whoops! I then figured I'd use it to line the edge of the white mat on the top and bottom, and I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out since the ribbon itself is really pretty. It frays at the ends, but since I taped it on the back, it's not seen. I think I'll be doing that more often!