Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

Pittsburgh-Zoo-and-PPG-Aquarium

This past Sunday we spent a WONDERFUL day at the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium. It was our first time visiting the zoo and we were thrilled that we went! It was neat to ride an elevator up the entrance, which was more than perfect for me and my flip-flop loving self.  We were able to visit with every animal except for one very important new addition: the baby elephant. I think everyone at the zoo wanted to see her because she is ADORABLE and the line was super long! (Click HERE to view pics of the little one)

My favorite exhibits were the Gorilla who was having his lunch (broccoli!) and the Siamangs at The Islands. Those guys had me laughing SO hard with their extremely loud and quite lyrical screeching. Loud enough that even as we were making our way to the world’s largest rodent, the Capybara, we could still hear them!

The Aquarium was fabulous and walking through it was a delightful reprieve from the scorching heat. I just love it when stingrays press against the glass and you see their “faces!” My son was really excited to walk beneath the polar bear exhibit where the walls are glass, giving visibility of the bear splashing around. The penguins were also a hit putting on quite the show themselves, swimming along the enclosure close to their admirers.

Photos taken at the zoo! (Click to enlarge)

At the end of the day, I must say Pittsburgh Zoo is now a family favorite among ours – hands down. Also, if you have youngsters, the play area was phenomenal. Definitely a spot for parents to take a second and catch their breath! If you want to plan your own trip, visit: http://pittsburghzoo.org/ for additional information.

Do you enjoy the zoo? Have a favorite animal? Like a place in particular? Let me know in the comment section. I’d love to hear from you!

Connect with Pittsburgh Zoo on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

We were given complimentary tickets from Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. All opinions are solely our own.





My Fascination With The Amish By Sarah Price

PA-Amish-Buggy

Growing up in the 70s (gee! that sounds soooo long ago!), television was limited to a handful of channels and there weren’t that many programs for children. The Internet hadn’t been invented yet and cell phones were decades away from infiltrating our lives. So what did children do in their spare time?

Play and read.

For me, growing up on a small cul de sac with no children in the neighborhood, reading was my refuge. And my favorite books? The Little House on the Prairie series, of course.

In 1978, my grandparents took me on a great adventure. Seated in-between my grandfather and grandmother on the front seat of Pop-Pop’s Cadillac, we drove from Harleysville, Pennsylvania to Lancaster County.

That day changed my life.

You see, forty years ago, the general public did not know much about the Amish. The movie The Witness would not hit theaters for another seven years and the Amish romance genre wouldn’t be discovered for almost twenty years. The fascination with the Amish was limited to surrounding communities and cultural enthusiasts.

For me, a young nine-year-old girl, I immediately fell into the latter category.

There is something magical about a community that is willing to forego the conveniences and trappings of society in order to be closer to God, family, and community. The Amish people live according to their interpretation of the Bible, an interpretation that stresses living plain and simple lives with a heavy focus on honoring God.

My nine-year-old eyes saw horses and buggies, bright colored dresses, one room schoolhouses, and fields full of waving corn crops. I felt as if I had been tossed back in time to the days of Little House on the Prairie.

For years after, I obsessed over the Amish. I ordered every book that I could find from the small, local bookstore. I remember waiting weeks for that phone call that my book had arrived. I’d have to wait, impatiently, for my parents to arrive home and take me over to the tiny mall in Cedar Knolls, NJ so that I could buy my treasure.

My admiration and love of the Amish culture and religion never waned. In 1987, I spent a summer living on an Amish farm in Leola, PA. It wasn’t easy to find a farm that would rent me the dawdihaus. Remember…no cell phones, no Internet. But I managed to find a family that was willing to take me in.

For three years, I spent every free weekend and college break living on that farm. I can still shut my eyes and smell the pungent odor of the sixty dairy cows which, to me, wasn’t offensive but the welcome scent of being at home. I remember attending birthday parties, swim parties, canning bees, family gatherings, and even worship services.

Thirty years later, I’m still friends with that family in Lancaster. Their granddaughter calls me for advice about horses (and tries to finagle her way to come spend the summer with me!!!). And while I don’t visit as often as I’d like, it’s nice to know that I’m still considered family.

I’ve also made new Amish friends in different communities. It’s a humbling experience to be accepted into their circle…not everyone can experience such intimacy with these amazing people.

While I write my novels based on some of my experiences—and I always strive to present an accurate and authentic view of the Amish communities—I will be writing more blogs for Destination Amish in order to share my thirty ears of experience living among the Amish.

I look forward to hearing your questions, reading your comments, and getting to know all of you better.

Sarah Price

P.S. Follow me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/fansofsarahprice for my daily live stream videos and Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/sarahpriceauthor to follow my day-to-day adventures.


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Ten Firsts in Amish History by Olivia Newport

Because I enjoy exploring Amish history and rooting my stories in situations the Amish wrestled with in the ways they interact with the outside world, I find myself drawn to tidbits that are “firsts” in Amish history.

Amish-Buggy

Here are the first ten entries into a list I suspect will be ongoing.

1. 1564: First publication of the Ausbund, the collection of German hymns from just after the Reformation that the Amish still use.

2. 1727: First Amish-like names appear on lists aboard ships headed for the New World.

3. 1737: First New World congregation formed in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

4. 1808: First Amish settlement in Ohio (Holmes County).

5. 1839: First Amish settlement in Indiana (Marshall County). Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana are still home to a large majority of the Amish population.

6. 1844: First use of the word Amish to describe the devout who followed Jakob Ammann when he broke off from the Mennonites in 1693.

7. 1879: First settlement in a west coast state in Clackamas County, Oregon.

8. 1880: First edition of The Budget, a newspaper still in print to share news between Amish districts.

9. 1925: First private Amish school opens in Dover, Delaware.

10. 1927: First time Amish families begin spending winters in Florida.

It’s been almost 90 years since the last entry on this list. Perhaps I’ll hunt down another list of “firsts” for the most recent century of Amish history. There must be plenty of material!

Do you know any firsts in Amish history? Let us know what you know.


Olivia Newport is the author of the Valley of Choice series of Amish stories and the ongoing collection of Amish Turns of Time, which includes Wonderful Lonesome, Meek and Mild, and Brightest and Best. Hope in the Land releases April 2016 and the novella Loves Pure Light in the fall.