Friday, April 18, 2014

Buhl Farm Park - The Jewel of Our Valley

As many of you may know April is "Keep America Beautiful Month" which is a non-profit with a mission to build and sustain vibrant communities. Recently I was contacted by Tiffany Pham, the community manager of Dropcam, which is a cloud-based Wi-Fi video monitoring service which makes it easy to stay connected with places, people and pets, no matter where you are. Tiffany asked me if I'd be interested in participating in Dropcam's new campaign by sharing on my blog what I consider to be my little 'Slice of America'. She asked me to explain what it is that makes my neighborhood or town so special. I immediately responded with a resounding "Yes!" and I knew exactly what I wanted to share with my readers.

My family and I live in western PA about 70 miles north of Pittsburgh. There's a wonderful community park in our town that I, along with many others, consider to be the jewel of the Shenango Valley.
Buhl Farm Park is a 300 acre piece of land that was donated to our local community in the early part of the 20th century. Frank and Julia Buhl’s stated purpose for acquiring these lands was to create a park for the benefit and enjoyment of the public.

Back in 1996 my husband and I bought our house which sits directly across the street from this beautiful park. Our kids were babies when we moved here and we always felt so blessed living so close to the park. Here's a photo my husband took a number of years ago while walking in the park....



When our kids were very young we had a variety of play areas from which to choose on a daily basis. Over the years we spent as much time as we could taking advantage of this beautiful spot. Plus it's a great way to keep your kids active.

Now that our kids are practically adults we don't frequent the playgrounds anymore. But my daughter and I walk our dog almost every day. The outer perimeter of the park is about 2.5 to 3 miles long so we can get some serious exercise in as often as we choose and at any time of the day. Buhl Park has it's own police that drive around the park throughout the day and night so we never have to be concerned for our safety. We normally don't walk late at night, but in the summer it can get pretty hot and humid so it's nice to be able to walk after dark and not worry. Here's a photo we took a few years ago while walking in the evening...



For several summers we bought family swimming passes and were able to swim as often as the weather permitted at the park pool.

Buhl Park also offers summer recreation programs for kids grades 1 through 6 and, of course we made sure to sign our kids up for this wonderful program! The cost is minimal and it kept our kids occupied on those lazy summer days when there's not much to do.

There are so many more things to take in while visiting Buhl Park. The heart of the park holds a pretty little lake...Lake Julia, named after Mrs. Buhl...that is home to lots of ducks, geese and a couple of swans. Here's a cute picture my husband got a few years ago of the swan mommy with her babes...



We also spent many hours at the lake fishing with our kids over the years. My youngest son still spends time there fishing with his friends. Here is a picture of our little family fishing from about 10 years ago...



They have a beautiful performing arts center where, all summer long, they have free concerts a couple nights each week.

They recently built a sweet butterfly garden that sits along the paved fitness trail in the center of the park. And speaking of the fitness trail, a few years ago I decided to try jogging and I used the trail for my early morning runs. That form of exercise was short lived! But, hey, at least I tried! My plan now that the weather has improved is to go to the trail in the mornings in place of going to the gym. This time, however, I'll be walking not running!

Another unique feature of the park is a huge open field in one area that the locals call the 'Kite Field'. We call it the Kite Field for obvious reasons...it's such a huge space and it's open with only a few small trees along the perimeter. Because of it's placement it's perfect for flying kites on a windy day. We took our kids there several times when they were younger to fly kites. Aside from kite flying many little league teams and soccer teams will use a small section of this field for practice because of it's large size and openness.

There are also tennis courts that you can use. You can take a walk through a beautiful flower garden that sits at the south end of the park. Many wedding parties, prom and homecoming dance attendees go to this beautiful flower garden to take group pictures.

And I have to mention a very important feature of this beautiful space...there is a golf course where you can golf for FREE! Yes, I said FREE! Buhl Farm Park has a 9 hole golf course and it's the only FREE golf course in the country! Thankfully my son is on the high school golf team and he can walk down the street to this beautifully maintained golf course and not have to pay a dime!

One other feature of the park that I have to share is the 'Casino'. No, this is not your typical casino where gambling takes place. From my research I learned that many years ago the word casino was defined as a building or large room used for meetings, entertainment, dancing, etc. I'm sure this is the definition of 'casino' when referring to this beautiful structure in Buhl Park. Here's a photo so you can see how gorgeous it is...



While the lower level of the Casino is used for park administration the upper level of the Casino can be rented for parties, meetings, weddings and more. The Casino was recently renovated a few years ago and, while it was always a beautiful building now it's absolutely stunning!

There are also a number of picnic shelters throughout the park that you can rent during the summer for picnics, parties, etc. Plus they have an indoor Activities Building that we've rented on a few occasions. My oldest son's high school graduation party was held there...here are a couple photos we took prior to the party...


We have this same building reserved for our daughter's upcoming graduation party that will be taking place this summer. I'm sure we'll do the same for our youngest son when it's his turn.

I could continue on and on, but I'm sure you get the gist of our beautiful park. There are so many things to do no matter the season. Almost every time I'm in the park I try to remember to offer up a simple 'Thank you!' to the Buhl's for the generous gift they left for the people in our town! Here is one more photo that my husband took years ago of our daughter standing by the memorial statues of Frank and Julia Buhl...


I also have to add this wonderful tidbit of information that is more proof of how beautiful our little slice of America is. It just so happens that a few days after I posted my initial story about Buhl Park this was the headline in our local newspaper, "Family Friendly - Forbes Ranks Area 5th Best Place in U.S. to Raise a Family"! And the photo on the front page was that of a family walking in Buhl Park! As you can see my sentiments about the park are the same as many others in our area.

In closing I will say that no matter where life takes us I know that the memories we've made at Buhl Park will be tucked away in a special place of our hearts!

More sharing on the way...until then,


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Today's Yin is Yesterday's Yang

Yesterday we had an early day. Our morning schedules overlapped each other and everyone needed to be ready and out the door by 7:40. Sunday evening we put our heads together and figured out a shower schedule and decided who was getting in the shower and when.

Monday morning came and went perfectly. I dropped the kids off at school and as I was pulling back into the driveway my husband was pulling out and was headed to work. I thought to myself, "This morning went off without a hitch...how perfect...how peaceful. A great way to start the new week."

Today, however, was the exact opposite. GGRRRR!! I use my radio as my alarm clock. I didn't sleep well tossing and turning most of the night. I finally fell asleep and didn't wake up until 6:50. I am usually up by 5:45. I saw the clock and thought maybe I was dreaming so I jumped up and ran to the dining room to look at the clock out there. No luck...it really was 6:50. I couldn't figure out why my alarm didn't go off. After investigating I learned that the volume somehow got turned down so I never heard it. Regardless of that issue I woke the kids up and within minutes everyone was moving around. Yes, the chaos ensued.

When all was said and done everything worked out fine. Even though it was a rushed morning I dropped the kids off at school in plenty of time. But as I was driving home I had to laugh. It's so ironic how you can have such a smooth morning one day then 24 hours later you are running around and freaking out.

But isn't that life? Isn't that what happens all the time...even with things you don't even realize? As I was making the beds I contemplated the concept of yin and yang. Everyone has good days, everyone has bad days. You can't have light without the dark. You can't appreciate your health if you've never had sickness.

Over the past few years I've realized that bad days don't have to upset us or piss us off. I try to look at it this way--perhaps crappy, stressful days can be used to our advantage and can help us appreciate the good days.

As I get older and my kids reach adulthood I've learned to look at things through a balanced perspective...or at least I try to do so. I try to appreciate everyday, good or bad.

Contemplating my moments of yin and yang reminded me of a name sign I made a couple of years ago...



Yes, "Balance" (and, of course, the Holey Pokey)...that's what it's all about!

More fun to come...until then,




Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Ozeri Rev Digital Bathroom Scale

Every year in January I get my life back on track and I work hard at focusing on healthy eating and exercise. After taking the last few months off from working out at the gym I am more than ready to get back into my healthy routine. This year I am taking part in a weight loss challenge with a group of friends and it's nice knowing I'll actually have an accurate weight to report. You see, last fall I took part in a similar challenge and I had to use our old rickety scale that we purchased several years ago at an estate sale. While I am into antiques and I enjoy vintage items this scale was a bit too vintage! I constantly questioned if I was reporting my accurate weight each week.

Thankfully we recently got a new bathroom scale--the Ozeri Digital Bathroom Scale--and I absolutely love it! Our new scale is sturdy, sleek, beautifully designed and very modern. Yes, I have to add that last detail--modern!



Another detail about this scale that I like is the size. My husband and my sons are all pretty tall...6' and taller...and they have big feet...shoe sizes 11, 12 and 13. The platform of this scale is large and they can stand on it without having toes or heels hanging off the edges. A good advantage for taller folks who have a large frame and a wider stance.

This scale also has a daily alarm, but I don't think I'll be using that feature. In my opinion it's not a good idea to weigh yourself every day while trying to lose weight. Doing so is too discouraging since your weight can fluctuate greatly from day to day depending on a multitude of factors such as what you eat to the amount of fluids you intake to female hormones issues and so on. But some people may very well like that feature so I'm sure it would be an advantage for some people.

Overall, I'm very happy with our new scale. Aside from being very pretty it shows both a dial reading and a digital reading. This will be helpful for my weight loss challenge...since it's a competition between friends every little ounce will help get me closer to a win. Yay!

While it might sound crazy, I am actually excited to start this challenge so I can weigh myself on this new scale! Every little bit of motivation helps when you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle, right?

More interesting things to share soon! Until then,




Friday, December 20, 2013

Ozeri 8" Textured Green Earth Pan

We recently got a small 8" fry pan manufactured by Ozeri. As we've only had it for about a month I will admit we haven't had tons of time or experience using it. But so far so good. My husband does most of the cooking in our family--lucky me--and he is very happy with it.

I've noticed my teenagers using it to cook their eggs and I've asked them their thoughts on it. They all agree that it's a very nice pan and it cooks their eggs quickly and easily with little need of spray oils.

I'm a very visual hands on person and I always pay attention to how things look and feel. This pan is very solid and heavier than most fry pans. And from an artist's point of view I also like the green color!

Even though my husband does most of the cooking, I do most of the cleaning! I will say that this pan is very easy to clean. I read a review on it where someone said they don't wash it with soap. I do simply because as a working mom I might not get to the dirty dishes as quickly as I'd like, so the pan may sit in the sink for a few hours before I can get to it. Plus I didn't realize you shouldn't use soap to clean it. Oh well, perhaps I missed something from one of the inserts in the box when I first opened it. But, on a positive note, I probably did miss some of the reading materials because I was so impressed with how nicely made the pan is.

So in my opinion this pan is top rated and I would definitely recommend it. Perhaps given a few more months I will come back and give a follow up review if anything happens to change my mind.

More fun on the way. Until then...



Monday, November 25, 2013

Snowman Door Decoration - Snowman Decoration - Snowman Home Decor

I am honored and happy to see one of my wood burnings getting so much attention on Pinterest!

My sweet snowman wood burning has a high number of repins and this number is growing daily!


http://www.pinterest.com/pin/156148312052337490/

In actuality this snowman was made last year and sold. But I still have it listed on my website because I am willing to remake most my home decor designs. I've seen an interest in this piece on Pinterest throughout the year. However, because this is the season for winter decorating the interest in my pin has exploded. I get notifications from Pinterest every time one of my pins gets repined. This one is shared several times a day. I am now at the point where if I see one of these notifications I know it will be my snowman!

I am thrilled and happy at the popularity of my design and have remade a few for reorders. There are only a couple left in inventory so if you plan to buy one you might have to wait for me to make you another! They are going quickly!

More fun to come...until then,



Monday, October 21, 2013

Wood Burned Jewelry

A few years ago I began playing around with my wood burning tool and, through my 'playtime', I ended up designing some unique woodburned necklace pendants. While it took some time to get my style worked out, things began to come together for me last Christmas after my sister bought a few of these pendants from me to give to her co-workers as holiday gifts. I was a bit nervous to hear what everyone thought, but--THANKFULLY--they were very warmly received by her friends so I took this as a sign that I should forge ahead with more designs.

I made a few wood burned pendants and pins with a springtime theme and took them with me to a few art shows that I attended. Lots of positive feedback and compliments were shared by my customers so I was pleased by the response.

But lately I've been infatuated with the Chevron print pattern. I'm sure you've seen it in fashion, home decor and everywhere. If you aren't familiar here's a sample of the design that I found online:

My infatuation began when I had a customer order a name sign with this pattern. I blogged about designing this name sign on my Creative Name Signs Blog. In a nutshell, I was very nervous to create a design with this pattern. I never thought I'd be able to do it. But after some thought and planning it worked out. I was so happy with the outcome I began figuring out other items I could create with this pattern. Of course creating wood burned jewelry came to mind and I'm happy to report I've gotten a few pendant orders featuring this design! Yay! Here are a few photos:

So I'm happy that my infatuation with this design is paying off for me. And with the holiday shopping season just around the corner more sales are coming my way!

Okay...it's time to run...lots to do on this busy morning! More fun topics to share soon...until then,

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Zebra Print Nursery Room Decor

As I'm sure you're aware animal prints are super popular in home decor styles as well as clothing, jewelry and more. I recently painted a really fun name sign for a customer that had the zebra print pattern on it.

Before I get ahead of myself, let me back track...

Several years ago I painted a room sign that had a border with zebra print but the design ended up being very small and wasn't very prominent on the sign at all. Take a look...

See what I mean? I like the color combination, I LOVE the quote and the details are perfect for the theme. But in looking back it just doesn't get me excited. As a matter of fact, after painting that sign the thought of painting a zebra pattern made me nervous.

So when this recent order came up I got a bit on the jittery side. But I was upfront and honest with my customer. I shared the photo with her explained how tiny the pattern ended up. She understood my point and after a few emails discussing this design we figured out a way to make the zebra print stand out. Now I can't wait for someone to order this pattern! I LOVED PAINTING IT!

This sign was created for a newborn baby and the customer wanted the little zebras on there to fill in the space. But if you don't want the zebras on there I could leave them out. In the empty space I could paint some flowers, trees, stars or just about anything will work. Or we could just leave it be with the name. Then the sign would be sure to 'grow' with your little girl. Picture it...this design without the zebras. Wouldn't it still work well for a teenager? I certainly think so!

While custom artwork can be frustrating at times I do love it! I enjoy the fact that any piece of my artwork can be tweaked to suit your needs. This 'tweaking' opens up a whole new world for satisfying your room décor needs. What may be perfect for a newborn girl could also be perfect for a tween girl as long as you're in tune with your imagination and you're up for me making a few small changes.

Fun, fun, fun! My work is almost always fun! And I am blessed!

More sharing coming soon...until then,



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