Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Review of the Lehigh Valley Zoo - Let's Go!

If you love visiting New Jersey zoos, like Turtle Back Zoo, Popcorn Park and Bergen County Zoo, you might enjoy taking a short trip across the border to the Lehigh Valley Zoo in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, just outside of Allentown.

Where is Lehigh Valley Zoo?

Located off of Rt. 78 from New Jersey (and Rt 100 in Pennsylvania), this zoo might be a bit of a hike depending upon what area of Jersey you are from (Hunterdon county folks might not mind the trek, whereas those in Northern NJ might find the distance trying with kids!).  Check out their map and directions to determine its distance from where you are.

How Much Will it Cost Me?

The zoo is open year round and their admission prices change depending upon when you visit.  Children under 2 are always free, and regular ticket prices vary between $8 - $13 based on season (as of the publication date of this entry).  They also offer senior discounts and group discount rates, too.  Parking is free.  Woot!

Prairie dogs!!

What Will I See There?

According to their website, The Lehigh Valley Zoo has "approximately 300 animals representing 104 different species."  They list them all on their website, and some of them are quite different than what you'd find at New Jersey's Turtle Back Zoo.  What does Lehigh have that Turtle Back doesn't?  Let's see, just to name a few, there were zebras...


"That camel was THIS big, momma!"
A Kookaburra!!!  (I am a huge 'bird nerd' and was so excited to see this Australian native here!!).  The Kookaburra makes such an amazing sound.  I stood there for ten minutes, waiting for him to 'laugh,' but he never did.  Oh well, I still love ya, guy!

"Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree..."

What's Special About the Lehigh Valley Zoo?

One of the best things about the Lehigh Valley Zoo (in my humble opinion) is the natural setting and the ability to get fairly close to the animals for viewing.  I especially liked the little walk-through area to see the wallabies up close.

And this emu looks so inquisitive, but we kept our hands clear just in case (remind me to tell you about the time we saw a boy get nipped by an emu on a preschool farm field trip...)

The penguins looked like little boys in tuxedos...

Okay, so I zoomed in with my camera. Maybe you can't get quite as close to these animals as these photos let on, but it's still pretty close.

What Else Can I Do at The Lehigh Valley Zoo?

So glad you asked!  There are some cute stops in between the animal viewing.  There's a fun little playground...

A bird feeding and walk-through area (swans, ducks and waterfowl feeding area as well as an exotic bird area walk-through)...

There is a petting zoo/barnyard feeding area, but the Jersey Momma's Boy thought these goats were a little too friendly.  Ha!

There are paddleboat rides (but call ahead for availability, because we went during the week and the paddleboat rides were closed)

And there was even a horse-pulled wagon ride, too (although I can't find anything about this on their website so I'm not sure if it's still available).

There is a cute garden area with 'insect friendly' areas and a 'pizza garden' with different herbs to view.

You can crawl inside an empty 'wolf den' (of course the Jersey Grandmomma had to climb in there, too!)

Watch your head, Jersey Grandmomma!

Where Can I Eat at The Lehigh Valley Zoo?

They actually had a good selection of food here, or you were welcome to bring your own food and picnic at any of their benches or picnic tables.  They had plenty of snack bars, ice cream and drinks to buy along the way.  Prices were reasonable.  My one complaint about their website is that it tells you nothing about their food and what they offer, or if the food stands are open year round.

Other Jersey Momma Tips

*Like most zoos, there is a lot of walking.  So bring the strollers if you need them (or you can rent them at the entrance) and a good pair of walking shoes.  Paths are well paved and open.  There are some up and down hilly areas to traverse, but nothing overly steep or tiring.  There are shady spots and sunny spots, so if you're going in warmer weather, you can find some areas of relief (and plenty of places to sit down).

*There are two souvenir shops- they are small but they offer a cute variety of things.

*The zoo has plenty of family friendly events during the year, so be sure to check their website or Facebook page to help plan your visit.

*There are restrooms located throughout the zoo and they have baby changing areas, too.  Not the most sparkling, newest bathrooms you will ever see, but they were clean enough!

*Bring your camera!  Do I even need to tell you that?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Crafts for Toddlers and Kids: Easy Marble Painting

Although I enjoy making crafts and doing art activities with my little one, let it be known that I don't like cleaning up a big mess (really?  A mom who doesn't like messes?  What a surprise!).  So when I choose art projects I try to pick things that are easy set up and easy clean up (just see my posts on EASY DIY Play Dough and EASY DIY Chalk Sand Art!).  Marble painting was one of those crafts for us.  Quick and fun, the clean up wasn't too bad and the mess was pretty self-contained.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Easy DIY Squishy Play Dough

I know a lot of people out there complain about 'Pinterest moms' and don't see why it's necessary to go baking  your own play dough when you can just buy it in the store.  The truth is, you don't have to do this. No one's twisting your arm.  I really do this stuff because I like it.  It's fun for me.  And my little guy loves experimenting and creating, too, so this is right up his alley.  I also can assure you that I'm all about easy crafts and easy fun.  This recipe for DIY play dough really is easy.  Trust me.

You Will Need:

-1 cup flour
-1 cup water
-1/4 cup of salt
-2 tsp cream of tartar
-2 Tbsp vegetable oil
-food coloring (about 4 drops or to your liking)
-wax paper or parchment paper

Step 1.  Put all of your ingredients into a heavy duty pot and stir them up.

Step 2.  Put the pot on the stove and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until a soft dough forms.  As soon as it forms into a ball, remove it from the heat and dump it onto some wax paper on your countertop.  Wait for it to cool and then begin to knead it until it's soft (this is where the little hands come in, just make sure it's cool enough for them to touch).

It kind of smells like pizza when you're making it...
When all of the color is spread throughout and the dough is nice and squishy, it's play time!

This dough is cool because it's so squishy!
That paint splattered thing is a placemat!
Storage:  When finished you can store it in a gallon size ziploc bag or in ziploc containers.  It will keep for a long time if it remains sealed.  I can't tell you exactly how long, but I know we had ours for a while!  This dough also makes a great little gift for someone.  Check out HowDoesShe? for great tutorial pictures and ideas on gift packaging!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Easy Pasta Primavera Recipe

I'm always in search of easy, healthy recipes. I'm a lazy cook and I hate chopping vegetables and preparing the meal. Don't get me wrong, I know it's important to eat healthy, I just dread putting effort into it (isn't that terrible of me?). Anyway, here's a simple recipe I found for those who are slowly trying to transition into a healthier lifestyle or for anyone who needs a quick, healthy meal that tastes good, too.  It's also a great meal to make for company.