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Albanese - Smell the Sugar

If you have ever driven the interstate between Indianapolis and Chicago on Interstate 65, you have seen the signs for the Albanese Factory. On a recent trip, we decided to check it out. There is a factory and also an outlet store, they both are located in Merriville, IN. We went to the factory store. 

It is a beautiful Victorian style building attached to a very large factory. The minute you step out of the car you can smell the sugar in the air. Entering the store it reminded me of an old time 5 and 10 store's candy section. And yes, you can find many of those candies as well as popular newer candies, not just the Albanese brand. There are candies wrapped, candies in bulk, and gift packaged candy as well as many gift items. Albanese packages chocolate candies, nuts, and gummies. One of the salespersons said Albanese started by selling nuts and then expanded.

There is a section of bulk wrapped candies that you can bag yourself, and there is a bulk counter area that you can have them bag and weigh for you gummies and nuts. (photo above) They even have a few options of candies that didn't quite make the grade and you can buy them at a discounted price. These typically have an odd shape or possibly the wrong color but they still have all the flavor.

The factory offers a tour that you need to schedule in advance. The factory store has a walk through self-guided tour that is right behind the store along a raised walkway. On the Saturday early evening that we visited, the store was quite busy. The Merriville exit is quite busy with many different places to shop and eat. This is an exit you don't want to miss on your next time driving through. 

You can learn more about the Albanese company on their website.

This is NOT a sponsored post, all comments and opinions are my own.

Coney Island, Ft Wayne IN

Does your town have a famous restaurant? We love non-chain restaurants, especially if they are dive-type places. While visiting Fort Wayne, Indiana, we were given gift certificates to visit Coney Island. We went for lunch on a Saturday afternoon. The front of the store didn't look like there was much going on except for a lot of hot dogs being cooked inside the front window. Upon entering, the place, which is not very large, it was packed. We almost took stools at the bar until we spotted one open table in the very back of the restaurant. Having never been before, we asked for a menu. Well, they don't have one, it is actually posted on the wall.

The menu isn't large and there isn't much variety but given how busy this place was, the food had to be good. A traditional Coney Island hot dog comes with chili, onions, and mustard. My husband ordered one minus the onions. The rest of us ordered our's plain. We also tried a bowl of the chili soup. It had a distinct flavor I couldn't quite place but I have definitely had that spice before. We tried it with cheese which I guess they don't usually get a request for.

Our server was very friendly, professional, and quick. We noticed he was wearing chili dog designed socks! (so playful)

As we sat and ate, the tables near us had a large family. From what they shared with us, it was a family tradition for them. Some of them were visiting from Florida. When finished, they took a family photo. Actually, many of the customers took photos while they were there to document their visit. The activity was always in flux. We entered through the front door but noticed people also entered and left through a back door that was accessed through the kitchen.

As we walking back to our car in a nearby parking lot, I noticed a sign on the ground for a selfie spot with shoe prints. Apparently, you stand on that spot and take a selfie and Coney Island will be framed in the background.

You can learn a whole bunch more about Coney Island and their history on their website.

I wanted to give a special thank you to Coney Island and Visit Fort Wayne Indiana. We were a part of a special Family Media Tour hosted by Visit Fort Wayne.


Enter to Win - Myrtle Beach Vacation

This is a provided post.



Myrtle Beach is such a family friendly location. You can win an Oceanfront Condo and Change Your Life! Vacation Myrtle Beach, one of the largest providers of family vacation accommodations in Myrtle Beach, SC, is pleased to announce the launch of The Great Myrtle Beach Condo Giveaway contest, which features the grand prize of a furnished oceanfront condo at The Caravelle Resort located in Myrtle Beach, SC, valued at nearly $100,000 (or $50,000 CASH, winner's choice)!!! Other lucky winners will receive a 7-night stay or a 3-night stay at one of Vacation Myrtle Beach's oceanfront properties.

The newly renovated, oceanfront efficiency condo offers room for up to four guests and includes a fully-equipped kitchen. In addition to its prime Myrtle Beach location, the resort provides convenient access to all of the area's major attractions, restaurants, and things to do. Families and couples enjoy a wide variety of on-site amenities including an indoor pool, a block-long poolscape complete with a large pool, whirlpool, lazy river, kiddie lazy river, kids' pool, poolside bar, and plenty of relaxing deck options. In addition to everything you need for fun in the sun, the resort offers an array of dining options as well as an opportunity for rejuvenation and relaxation at its on-site spa.

The Great Myrtle Beach Condo Giveaway sweepstakes are now open for entries.

For Official Rules and for more information about Vacation Myrtle Beach properties and deals, please go to

I am Heading to Creativation 2019

Today I head out for Creativation. I am a bit nervous. I have never been to Phoenix so that is exciting, and I have never attended Creativation. I am traveling alone but I know a few designers that will be in attendance. 

So what is Creativation? It is a convention/trade show where thousands of professionals from the creative industries come to learn, connect and discover. Creativation is the yearly trade show of the AFCI. The AFCI is the new name for CHA. The AFCI stands for The Association for Creative Industries.

Who attends? Companies representing and designing with paper crafts, art materials, paint, jewelry and bead supplies, needle crafts, sewing and textile supplies, home décor, framing, holiday and seasonal, furniture, lighting, containers and storage options, woodworking, leather and metal craft supplies, digital craft supplies, instructional channels, models, hobbies, collectibles and craft kits, kids crafts and providers of business services.

I am new to AFCI. I joined as a design member. If you would like more information you can find it here. [AFCI]

So what will I be doing? For the first two days, I will attend classes. Saturday, the showroom floor opens and I am looking forward to making a ton of connections with craft supply companies. In the evenings I am attending a few different gatherings for designers. I fly home on Monday, I assume I will be overwhelmed, exhausted, and full of ideas. 

I look forward to sharing more with you over the next year. I will be videotaping as much as possible at the convention so keep an eye out on my YouTube Channel. [YouTube]

After 2 Total Knee Replacements, I Traveled to Greece and Rome

This post was sponsored by DePuy Synthes as part of an Ambassador Program for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.



You might remember I had two total knee replacements. I talked about my surgeries in this past post. While my first surgery was instigated by pain, the second had a bonus reason for getting it done. My daughter's school was taking a summer trip to Greece and Rome to see all the things they have studied in class. I wanted to make that trip, so I planned far in advance to have surgery. I needed to have time to recover. 

Even though I had a good eight months post-surgery, my knees still affected the trip. But let me tell you, without surgery, I would have never been able to make the trip. I took a cane with me and used it most days. The cane gave me confidence on slick walkways and inclines. Many of the sidewalk and steps are old and don’t have railings. The walkways aren’t as smooth as they are in the US. In fact, the roads were actually easier to walk on then most of the sidewalks. There is a lot more walking required in Europe. And when traveling we were touring with the group, we were often dropped off further away from the sites due to the large size of the buses compared to if we were traveling by taxi. There were sightseeing spots I chose to sit and wait while the teenagers traipsed up steps and down into catacombs. I needed to pace myself for a long-term trip instead of just considering the one sightseeing spot we were currently at.

panorama of the square in Sienna, Italy

Overall, my knees didn't hurt. I was out of shape from being sedentary for so long prior to surgery. My entire knee replacement process beginning with a broken leg that went undetected for about 6 months, was over a period of four years. While I planned ahead for the trip, I should have begun my first surgery before I did. I waited until I was bone on bone and the bones were actually breaking down and shifting their placement. I knew I was in pain but I didn't know it was that bad. I guess I have a high pain threshold. 

I am so thankful for my surgeries. If I were to do it over again, I would. In fact, I would have done it sooner. The difference my new knees have made is really life-changing. I still need to work on my stamina but I am able to do so without pain. 

walking in the Plaka shopping area - Athens, Greece

And guess what? We have a wedding to attend this summer in Greece so I will be doing it all over again - this time I am shooting for going without a cane!

If you are suffering from knee pain. See a specialist, don't wait like I did. I really didn't know my knees were that bad and my only option was surgery. If I had seen a specialist sooner, there might have been something we could have done as a preventative. Visit Hit Play for more information. 


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