Friday, August 12, 2011

Longview Center for Agriculture

The Longview Center for Agriculture is a regional hub for reconnecting the land, the community, and food. The center consists of 90 acres of certified organic farmland, which includes an organic fruit orchard and an on-site Farmer's Market.

The center hosts many events like the weekly Lost Arts Workshop. They also serve as a connection point for farm-based education in the area's elementary schools.

The on-site farmer's market provides the community with local foods grown on site or at nearby farms. They carry products that are local and humanely raised and that support independent small farms. They clearly have
a commitment to the community!

The Longview Center for Agriculture is a great place to take children to explore their senses. Children are encouraged to get down and dirty and explore all that the farm has to offer from picking flowers, tomatoes, and even apples.

Currently, blackberries are in season and ripe for the picking! It will be hard for you not to leave with a ton of blackberries. Make sure you bring a container or bag to collect them in {and plenty of wipes!}.

 The Longview Center for Agriculture is located 3125 Stump Hall Road in Collegeville, Pennsylvania.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

One Man's Trash

When I was a student in Philadelphia, I was never lacking for inspiration. In a city filled with museums and art colleges you are hard pressed to find yourself in a space without art. From the Toynbee Tiles I passed every day on 15th and Chestnut to the paintings I studied in the Philadelphia Museum of Art on the Parkway, every day was a challenge in absorbing as much inspiration as possible in the time I'd live in the city.

Of all the art that I saw while living in Philly, the creations that I treasure most were the ones that puzzled me most. All over the city I'd see these mosaics on buildings. On South Street there was a mystery (to me) being constructed. A building, covered in mirrors, tiles, broken cups, plates and knick knacks. The most intriguing part to me was the courtyard, hidden from public view by a large, wooden privacy fence. You could see bicycle wheels and bottles set into concrete peaking over the edges of the fence. What are they doing in there? Who is doing this? When will they let everyone see?

Every visit to South Street had to begin and end with a peek through the slats in that wooden fence. I couldn't wait to see the finished product. Years passed, I moved away, the mosaics fell away from my every day thoughts and I would only intermittently think about that mysterious courtyard and wonder what had become of it. It wasn't until this past November that I finally got the chance to visit this place that filled so many of my daydreams. I left with my head spinning and feeling so blessed to know that there are people in this world that can take someone else's trash and turn it into a stunning masterpiece.

Take a trip with me through the Magic Gardens. It is truly a visual feast. Since it is such, I will leave you with photos rather than more stories about the Magic Gardens. However, I would not only encourage you to visit this masterpiece in person - photos just do not do it justice - but please visit their website and learn about the artist, Isaiah Zagar. The history behind this project is not just about a work of art, but a labor of love and a story of recycling and revitalization.

One man's trash has become this city's unique treasure.



Thanks to Philadelphia's Magic Gardens for hosting our group. I was given complimentary passes to tour and review Philadelphia's Magic Gardens but all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. Thank you again for hosting us and thank you to Mr. Zagar for sharing your gift with the city of Philadelphia. 


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Strasburg Railroad | Review by A Grande Life

We got rained out on Saturday but Sunday was a different story! The weather was gorgeous so we took advantage and headed out to the Strasburg Railroad. The entire ride there, E was talking about the trains and saying "All Aboard! Choo choo!". In other words, being absolutely adorable.

We got there just in time for the 1 o'clock train. He practically jumped on the train when it was our turn. There was so much for him to look at and he could barely get the words out of his mouth. Then he heard it "All Aboard!". He looked at me and said "Mr. Conductor said that. Let's go!".

And off we went!

Forty-five minutes later, we pulled back into the station and our train ride was over.

We walked around the station and let E explore. Of course, he spotted Thomas right away!

The highlight of the trip? Taking a sneak peek at the "real" Thomas. He was in the engine shed getting a fresh coat of paint for his upcoming train rides in June! It took all he had in him not to run past the ropes and go give Thomas a hug.

He is going to flip when he sees his birthday to A Day Out with Thomas!


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Magic Gardens | Review by A Grande Life

I finally got a chance to visit the Magic Gardens two weekends ago during Blog with Love. I can't believe it has taken me this long to get down there. I could have spent the entire day photographing and exploring the gardens. There is just so much to look at! So much to discover!

I'll let the pictures tell the story....

Picnik collage
Picnik collage
Picnik collage
Picnik collage
Picnik collage
Picnik collage

About the Magic Gardens

Philadelphia's Magic Gardens is a folk art environment, gallery space, and nonprofit organization that showcases the work of mosaicist Isaiah Zagar. Located at the site of Zagar's largest public mosaic installation, the Magic Gardens includes a fully mosaiced indoor gallery and a massive outdoor labyrinthine mosaic sculpture. The installation, primarily consisting of found objects and contributions from the community, covers half a city block with myriads of tile, texture, and color. A walk through the labyrinth will reveal sculptures from Latin America and Asia, bicycle wheels from local South Street shop Via Bicycles, Zagar's hand-made tiles, and mirrors of every shape and size.

I highly, HIGHLY recommend visiting the Magic Gardens the next time you are in Philly.

Disclaimer: We were provided admission into the Magic Gardens free of charge. The opinions are 100% mine! Check them out and you'll see why I am going back again...and again!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cornerstone Bed and Breakfast | Review by The Turnip Farmer

When I was a child, some of my fondest memories were the winter holidays spent with my Mommom. I remember walking into her house and it was always so warm. The heat from the oven filled the entire house.
It was that kind of warm that comes with the best naps when you have the perfect amount of blankets and the pillows are just the right firmness (and possibly a slight glaze of drool on them when you awake). And her house always smelled so good. She was always baking something and the holidays were the height of baking season, of course. I remember walking through the front door and craning my neck to get a peek into the kitchen (that we weren’t allowed to be in) to see what had been whipped up, sugared, buttered, glazed and frosted. Holiday dinner at Mommom’s house had the very feeling that is evoked from viewing Norman Rockwell’s painting ‘Freedom from want’.

My Mommom has been gone for many years now and I’ve longed to experience that warmth and those scents again. It was never replicated until I crossed the threshold of the Cornerstone Bed & Breakfast in Philadelphia. I’m a sucker for a Vi ctorian home and was impressed beyond words with the beauty of this home. But it was the welcome, the warmth and oh my goodness the smell of fresh baking that drew me back
to my childhood. I wanted to run right into the kitchen and sneakily drag my finger through the big bowl of icing that I just knew was in there!

The Cornerstone is a fully restored Victorian mansion that was first constructed in 1865. It’s located within walking distance of University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, Philadelphia Museum of Art, restaurants, and shops. First time in Philly and not sure where to go? Just ask one of the Inn Keepers, Dennis. He is a veritable encyclopedia of all things wonderful (and not so wonderful) in Philadelphia. When asked what he
would recommend for dinner, he rattled off a list as long as my arm and the history of most of the eateries. 

Most of the seven rooms at Cornerstone only accommodate two guests each. The Continental (where both Stephanie's, Jenni and I stayed) sleeps four. This suite was amazing. It included a sitting room and two
spacious bedrooms with an adjoining bathroom that included the biggest tub I have ever seen in my life. Like every well laid out bathroom, the double sink and vanity were separate from the facilities. Very handy when you have four women staying in one suite!


But each room is just as spacious and elegant as the next. Every room is beautifully decorated and includes wi-fi and satellite TV offering over 100 channels. Stained glass, Tiffany-style lamps, decadent wallpapers (including a faux tin-stamp paper!), needlepoint and antique black and white family portraits decorate the entire house.


If you ask about those photos you will be delighted with tales of the Bartelme family.


My favorite part of our visit was definitely the full service breakfast on Sunday morning.

Liz put together an outstanding breakfast of a blueberry casserole, ham, fruit and hot-cross buns. Additionally it was an opportunity to talk to the owners and the other guests at Cornerstone that I enjoyed
most. Dennis and Liz are such wonderful hosts and not only fed us but kept us entertained throughout breakfast. They even humored all of my silly questions about their decor and photos and history of their

The only thing that would have made this visit more perfect would have been some warm, Spring weather. Apparently Mother Nature has not yet gotten the memo that it is in fact Spring! I really would have enjoyed having a sit on the the lovely wrap-around porch. I guess I’ll just have to go back some time!

Dennis, Liz, Jules and Chris, thank you, from the bottom of my heart for hosting our group. I went in fully expecting to enjoy our visit and was delighted to have it bring back happy childhood memories. It was a perfect reminder of how I’d love to have guests feel in my home. And that is what made this visit so perfect - I didn’t feel as if I was in a hotel - I felt like I was home.

This is my personal review of Cornerstone Bed and Breakfast. All comments written here are 100% my own. Cornerstone hosted our visit gratis in return for an honest review of their establishment. I am so pleased to be able to report that we had a lovely and positive experience at their inn. You can also find Cornerstone Bed & Breakfast on Facebook. If you ever stop in, tell ‘em the Turnip Farmer sent you!

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