Craving Dole Whip

Disney & museum obsessed, homeschooling mom of 3, parenting to focus on experiences, not possessions. Sharing Disney tips, educational adventures and a few reviews. Constantly craving Dole Whip.


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An Epic Road Trip!

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Switch those babies around…and tell them to stop growing up!

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Tomorrow morning, my daughters and I are embarking on an EPIC, 3 week-long road trip that will include all kinds of adventure experiences!  I plan to blog about each one as soon as life allows and hopefully I stay on top of my writing while we travel.  But, I wanted to give you all the heads up just incase I fall behind.  🙂

I am sure you are all on the edge of your seats…

Anyway, I thought I would take the time to answer the most frequently asked question about this 6 month hiatus:

“Are your kids doing school?”

Um…yes…

DUH.

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Our “classroom” bookcase in our Pennsylvania apartment

Both of my daughters are currently taking an online high school US history class (Prehistory-Civil War) and my oldest daughter is also in an online Malaysian history/culture class.

We brought their high school critical thinking math books and they are completing 2-4 pages a day.

My girls each work through several books of English curriculum with focuses on vocabulary, writing, editing and grammar.  Those books highlight word roots, origins, and language mechanics.

They read.  And read.  And read.

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I also planned several unit studies centered around topics I researched specifically for this sabbatical:  Edgar Allan Poe, the Amish culture, Lewis and Clark, the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, Pay It Forward, The Giver, refugees, social enterprise, the history of Hershey, US government and the Appalachian Trail.

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Unit studies involve reading, project-based assignments, “field trips”, hands-on activities, writing, documentaries, relevant movies and games.

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At least once a week (sometimes twice), each daughter chooses a recipe from one of our vegan cookbooks and creates/cooks one meal for everyone–while being mindful of likes, dislikes, etc.  They clean the kitchen, too!  🙂

My youngest daughter practices her American Sign Language skills by making videos of her experiences and keeping in contact with her Deaf ASL professor and college peers.

We exercise 5-7 days a week, usually at the apartment gym.  When we return from our 3 week road trip, the girls will start training and conditioning in TaeKwonDo.  I plan to start yoga!

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Because we all love art–drawing, creating, and building–these are constants in our family.

And, of course, our attempt to complete 100 experience adventures provides my daughters with the best kind of education–real, experiential, holistic, useful, and practical.

 

So, yes…my kids are doing “school”–don’t worry.  LOL.

To read about a few of our adventures, click here and here and here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Snow Sledding–Experience Adventure 10 of 100

Friends, it is COLDDDDDDD outside!

BRRRRRRRRR…

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Most of the country’s temperatures reached record lows this week and ironically, we experienced a snow day in Pennsylvania on the same day our hometown in Texas shut down due to ice/sleet/slurry/snow.  CRAZY!  CRAZY!  CRAZY!!!

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Do you like my new cozy Darth Vader snow boots?

 

My daughters and I only call Texas home.  It is all we know.  Relocating to PA for 6 months–during the winter–is a super big adventure (and adjustment) for all of us.  We continue to learn new things every single day!

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Obviously, the Gulf-Coast region of Texas misses out on all of the winter fun celebrated by children in the northern states.  My kids know about humidity and heat strokes, sunburns and sunscreen, hurricanes and flooding, mosquitoes and butterflies, and we often swim on Christmas day and wear shorts in February.

Snow???  Well…we are learning…

 

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So, for our 10th experience adventure, we did something the girls have never, ever done!  We went sledding!

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My husband was born in Ohio, moved to Texas, and then relocated back to Ohio for high school.  He attended college in New York and has lived in all kinds of snowy-wintery places (including Germany!)

He likes adventure and he knows his sledding stuff.

 

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We left for the snowy hills of a fairground parking lot as soon as he got home from class.

 

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Snowwwwwwww much fun!  (See what I did there?!?)  HA!

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This counts as homeschool PE, right?  LOL

But, seriously, I had NO IDEA how challenging it would be to walk up that hill over and over and over again!  The struggle was real, people.

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YIKES!  We counted it as our exercise for the day.  I mean, come on…we were SWEATING!

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SUPER FUN–So much fun, in fact, the girls went sledding two days in a row!  I think it is our new favorite sport!

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To warm up, we visited Denim Coffee for a yummy hot chocolate and a DELICIOUS, LIFE CHANGING corn cookie.  Yep, you read that right!  CORN COOKIE.  

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Made with grainy, yellow corn meal, the cookie was salty and sweet and savory and delicious and everything I hoped it would be!  I plan to return for another one very soon.

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We also found two of those Pennsylvania Historical Markers that we first learned about at the Farm Show.  Click here to read all about that experience!

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Denim Coffee is located at 1 S. Hanover Street, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, 17013.

For more information, visit their website by clicking here. 

To learn more about the Pennsylvania Historical Marker program, click here.

Why are we doing 100 adventures?  Read all about it here!

Traveling to Houston soon?  Read this!


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Beiler’s Doughnuts–Experience Adventure 9 of 100

I spend an obscene amount of time searching and Googling for information about future adventures and possible experiences.  When I am researching a new area, town or city, I always check out the local Groupon offers.  Good ol’ Groupon led me to our 9th experience adventure.

Beiler’s Doughnuts

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Beiler’s Doughnuts is a family-owned, Amish donut store, with three locations in Pennsylvania.  30 years ago, Beiler’s Doughnuts was one of the first Amish merchants to begin selling homemade goods in Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market.

We visited the Lancaster location.  

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OMG.  DELICIOUSNESS TO THE MAX!

The mouth-watering doughnuts are made fresh daily, on site at each location.  FRESH baked/fried goods taste so much better!  The heirloom doughnut recipe has been in the Beiler family for generations and each delicious doughnut is hand rolled and carefully decorated.

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Traditional, creative, whimsical, sweet and savory toppings make the doughnut case look like a piece of yummy, edible artwork.

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The Groupon I bought gave me two vouchers for (1) dozen doughnuts for $11.25.  Total.  $11.25 for 24 doughnuts.  Hello.

The sugary stash we brought home to my husband was well received.  LOL

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I will tell you–I am kind of a donut snob.  If you know me personally, you know I have a favorite donut place in Austin, Texas, and I rarely eat donuts from other shops.  Sub-par donuts are just not worth the extra calories.

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Friends, these donuts are worth the extra time at the gym.  Truth time–I have never eaten an Amish donut before, so this next statement *might* be skewed, but I am standing by it until proven otherwise:

These are the BEST Amish donuts EVER!  I do not see how they can be improved.

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Rock on, Beiler’s Doughnuts.  I am very impressed.

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Beiler’s Doughnuts is located at 398 Harrisburg Pike, in Lancaster, PA.

Visit their website for more information and to find other locations.  www.beilersdoughnuts.com

 

Read all about our 2nd Pennsylvania experience here!

Do you like cinnamon rolls?  You will want to read about this experience!  Click here!


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The Lancaster Central Market–Experience Adventure 8 of 100

For our 8th experience adventure, my daughters and I visited the magnificent Lancaster Central Market.

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The Lancaster Central Market is the oldest, continuously operating, farmers market in the country.  WOW!

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Inside a beautiful and historical brick building, the Lancaster Central Market showcases approximately 65 stands where local farmers, bakers, makers and shakers sell homemade wares, local vegetables and ethnic food from around the globe.

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Local shopkeepers own and operate family stands, which have been passed down through generations.  All sorts of things are available at the market, such as pickles, grains, dried beans, herbs, pasta, fresh juice, pretzels, farm-to-market produce, candy, bread, meat, pastries, seafood, milk, sauces, quilted goods and fresh flowers.  We also saw stands featuring Greek, African and Middle Eastern food.

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If I lived in Lancaster, I would visit constantly.  This is my kind of place.

Fresh.  Organic.  Straight from the growers’ hands.

I only took a few, very controlled pictures out of respect for the many Amish vendors.

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The girls and I enjoyed fresh juice from one stand and warm, Amish pretzels from another.  I bought beautiful broccoli sprouts and raw Brussel sprouts (surprise!) straight from the farmers that grew the produce.

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Put this historic farmers market on your Pennsylvania must-do list.

Only a few stands accept plastic.  Bring some cash–there is one lonely ATM in the very back of the market.

The market is open year round on Tuesday and Fridays from 6 am to 4 pm and on Saturdays from 6 am to 2 pm.

The Lancaster Central Market is located at 23 North Market Street, Lancaster, PA, 17603.

For more information call 717-735-6890 or visit www.centralmarketlancaster.com

 

Want to read about the 7th of 100 experiences?  Click here!

Curious about our first experience in Pennsylvania?  Read this!

Check out this super cool experience if you are planning a trip to Florida!


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The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe and Stroopie Co.–Experience Adventure 7 of 100

I love to plant seeds.  Literally and figuratively.  The process of tending to a tiny treasure, watching it develop, grow and evolve, patiently waiting and working towards the moment when it transitions into what it was always meant to become–I find this metamorphosis fascinating and fulfilling–the fundamental process of my gardening, parenting and choosing to homeschool.

I love when one life experience leads to another journey which then plants a seed that leads to research which evolves into passion and results in action.  Essentially, this is why I do what I do and why I created this goal of 100 experience adventures for my two daughters.  The figurative “seeds” planted by this journey, might develop into something spectacular someday.  I just need to be patient.  Plant the seeds.  Tend to my tiny treasures.

This particular experience, 7 of 100, represents one of those seeds.

We met a lot of passionate people when visiting the Pennsylvania Farm Show last Saturday. (Read about that experience here.)  While walking through a crowded aisle of vendors, we sampled chips, dips, pickles, cheese and ghee, but the booth that grabbed my attention was the Stroopie Co.  As the woman handed me a sample of a freshly made Dutch Stroopwafel, she mentioned an interesting fact about her company–they hire and provide meaningful employment for refugee women.  I immediately asked her if she offered tours and she gave me a card so I could send an email to set something up.

For our 7th of 100 experience adventures, my daughters and I drove to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to visit the Lancaster Sweet Shoppe.

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The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe is an adorable and delightful place where the fresh goodies of three local treat makers–Groff’s Candies, Pine View Dairy Ice Cream and Stroopies–can be discovered (and eaten!)

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Established in 2008, the Stroopie Co.’s mission sparks social change, the fundamental backbone of the company.  As well as making delicious, high quality cookies, the company exists to support and hire refugee women who, after fleeing their homes in countries ravaged by war, natural disasters, poverty and uncertainty, find a safe haven and a chance to start over in Lancaster.

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World-wide, 60 million refugees are forced to flee their homelands and each year, the city of Lancaster invites approximately 1,000 of these humans to re-establish and begin a new life in Pennsylvania.  Before settling in a new city, some refugees endure living in refugee camps for 12 to 15 years.

Many refugees experience difficult challenges, painful tragedies and separation from family.  In a new country, the process of trying to find work proves problematic due to language and cultural barriers.

Husband and wife team, Jonathan and Jennie Groff, became co-owners of the Stroopie Co. in 2010.  Their focus on social impact centers around providing meaningful employment for refugee women (and creating an uber delicious cookie!).

**Fun Fact:  The refugees are taught English by a certified ESL teacher.

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The gracious Jennie met with me and my daughters for almost two hours on the day we visited the candy shop.  (She is also the woman who handed me the Stroopie sample at the Farm Show.)  Immediately, Jennie’s dedication and passion for refugees and her love of all people shines through her peaceful and welcoming personality.

She is delightful.  Her genuine and honest charisma generated a magnetism–and without sounding too weird–I really longed to talk to her all day and be her new BFF. LOL.

Friends, this woman is a world-changer.  A mother.  A tranquil soul.  A peaceful warrior.  A seed planter.

She inspires.

I want to be her when I grow up (even though she is younger than me!).  The impact her company makes on this world can never be measured–it has the potential to not just change a few lives, but also to change this world.  Once a human is given the chance to live in a safe environment and the opportunity for meaningful work, the positive ripples continue for generations to come.  The seeds of this business transform lives.

I am reminded of the commonly quoted story of the boy who threw a star fish back into the ocean in the hopes of making a difference–even if that difference was only for one star fish.

Jennie explained that the Stroopie Co.’s dedication to social impact and public transparency practices opened the door for the company to become a Certified B Corporation.  A Certified B Corporation (“B” stands for “Benefit”) focuses on the human side of business–measuring what truly matters–social and environmental responsibility, legal accountability and the innovation to solve social and environmental problems.

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Jennie also gave us free Stroopies.  THANK YOU, JENNIE!

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Small batches of Stroopies are made fresh daily on site by the Stroopie Co. , in a cozy and modest kitchen space in the back of the candy shop.  A mix of local flour, eggs and cinnamon create the dough and creamy, homemade caramel turns and blends in a large, electrical vat.

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An exposed work space and viewing area allows visitors to watch each Stroopie travel from raw dough to completed product.  Four dollops of Stroopie dough are placed in a waffle iron for about one minute.

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Stroopie cookie in raw dough form

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4 dollops of Stroopie dough on the waffle iron

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2 waffle irons cook the dough for about 1 minute

When the cookie comes out of the waffle iron, it is cut in half and made into a perfect circle.

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**Fun Fact:  Jennie’s husband, Jonathan, designed the machine used to slice and stamp out the perfect circle!

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Then, homemade caramel is hand-spread between the two slices, creating a super yummy Dutch Stroopwafel right in the heart of Lancaster, PA!  Once cooled, some Stroopies are dipped in chocolate and other goodies or served in the original form.  Either way, I have been craving them since we left the shop.

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A deliciously warm Stroopie

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The master Stroopie maker shown in the photos is Mary.  Mary left Myanmar and moved to the United States in 2013.  She began working for the Stroopie Co. in 2015.

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The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe opened this location in 2016, after the Stroopie Co. won The Great Social Enterprise Pitch.  WOW!  That is AWESOME!  (Think ‘Shark Tank’ for local businesses)

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**Fun Fact:  The Stroopie Co. makes 3,000 Stroopies each day!

The Groff’s renovated the once barbershop space into a simply charming, farm-house style, sweets store, which stylistically benefits from Jennie being raised on an 100 acre Mennonite dairy farm.  HGTV should be envious.

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The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe

Jonathan Groff’s parents own Groff’s Candies and the chocolate morsels fill the glass display cases like tiny jewels.

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I love a family-owned business!  I also LOVE the reclaimed wood and white marble!

Pine View Dairy Ice Cream fills the space between the chocolate and the Stroopies production area.

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**Fun Fact:  Stroopies are sold in over 80 local shops and markets!

The relaxing back patio provides a wonderfully fun space to enjoy a warm Stroopie!

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Though the girls and I LOVED the delicious Stroopie cookies and will no doubt return for more, the take-away from our encounter with Jennie Groff was PURE inspiration and motivation.  This company’s innovation and shift toward social progress is creating a revolution of acceptance, diversity and transformation in small business/corporate America.

Since we returned home, the topic of social enterprise and being a mighty tool for social change continuously fills our family discussions.  My daughters are both naturally advocacy-minded, but this experience catapulted their awareness and triggered something that has yet to be realized.

A seed was planted and I look forward to the development and action it might create.

Thank you Jennie and Jonathan for being genuine.  For making a difference.  For generating change.  And, for planting seeds.

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“I am only one; but still I am one.  I can not do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do something I can do.”  Helen Keller

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”   Jane Goodall

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For more information and to order Stroopies online, visit www.stroopies.com

Seriously, order some online.  Now.

The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe is located at 141 N. Duke Street, Lancaster, PA, 17602.  Visit their website at www.lancastersweetshoppe.com or call 717-869-5955.

For more information about B Corps and social enterprise, click here

A video of my daughter signing in ASL about our experience can be found below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Burning Bridge Antiques Market–Experience Adventure 6 of 100

In the adorable town of Columbia, Pennsylvania, and less than 1/2 a mile from the Turkey Hill Experience, seekers of the past can step back in time at the Burning Bridge Antiques Market.

My daughters and I ate a late lunch at a local brewery located directly across the street from the market.  We all enjoy antiques, but one of my daughters harbors the soul of an 85 year-old man, so she really feels at home in such a place.  We walked over there as soon as we were done eating.

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As a homeschooling mom, I think antique stores, shows and markets are wonderful opportunities to learn about day-to-day life, pop culture and history by studying and becoming familiar with American “artifacts”.  Plus, you never know when you might find a treasure!

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In the late 1880’s, The Burning Bridge Antiques Market existed as a sewing factory and hardware store.  Though the 24,000 sq. ft. historical jewel has been preserved, a few conveniences were added for present day comfort. (electricity and restrooms)

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Over 200 dealers and consignors share rare antiques and valued treasures representing a small slice of Americana.  Featuring 120 secure showcases and more than 70 booths, the Burning Bridge Antiques Market is enormous!

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We found all kinds of interesting antiques and a diverse mix of fun and unique collectibles–turn of the century tools, old-fashioned kitchen appliances, mid-century furniture, vintage clothing, old books, heirloom jewelry and toys from the 1960’s-1980’s.

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The Burning Bridge Antiques Market is located at 304 Walnut Street, Columbia, Pennsylvania, 17512.

The market is open every day and admission is free.

Mon-Wed:  10 am to 5 pm

Thurs-Fri:  10 am to 8 pm

Saturday:  10 am to 5 pm

Sunday:  11 am to 5 pm

For more information, please visit www.burningbridgeantiques.com or call 717-684-7900.

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Want to learn about some other fun things to do in Columbia, PA?  Click here and here.

Curious about Walt Disney World?  Read this.  And this.

Why do we homeschool?  Read this.

 


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The Turkey Hill Experience and Lab–Experience Adventure 5 of 100

Our 4th of 100 experience adventures lead us to the amazing National Watch & Clock Museum in the adorable town of Columbia, PA.  To read all about the horology fun, click here.  Because we traveled about an hour to get there, I wanted to check out some other cool places in the area.

A good Google search never disappoints a homeschooling mom.  When we exhausted all of the awesome time exhibits, we headed to our next stop.

Welcome to The Turkey Hill Experience, our 5th of 100 experiences!

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A quick and tiny history lesson to get you all caught up:

More than 85 years ago in Pennsylvania, a man named Armor Frey started selling milk through personal home delivery and in 1947, three of his sons bought the business from him.  The brothers expanded the company in 1980 to include ice cream production.  As the popularity of the ice cream and the brand grew, the company added frozen yogurt, iced teas and other frozen goodies.  To read more historical details, click here.

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The original milk delivery truck

Today, Turkey Hill products can be found all over the country.

The Turkey Hill Experience is an interactive, hands-on, and completely immersive destination, where people of all ages can experience everything milk, ice cream and Turkey Hill tea related.

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Level 1 of the complex offers classrooms, lab space and a large gift shop.  Level 2 showcases all of the exhibits and activities.

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Step back in time to the early days of milk and cream delivery and wind through the history of Turkey Hill–you can even sit in the original milk delivery truck!

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For the 2nd time since we moved to PA, my daughters milked a mechanical cow.  A theme is beginning to emerge here.  LOL

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One of my daughters is totally obsessed with milking the cows…I will let you guess which one.

Lots of interactive exhibits lead visitors through the building.  Taste and discover different teas–all you can drink!!!–from the unlimited and free drink dispensers. Eight different drinks were available.  (For you Disney lovers, there is no Beverly, fortunately/unfortunately. LOL)

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Learn about tea and its origins.  Take a test to find out which Turkey Hill tea matches your personality.  I don’t know what kind of magical voodoo this interaction uses, but just by answering a few questions, the computer nailed me with Unsweetened Iced Tea–right on the money, little enchanted machine…though it did suggest a career as a tabloid news editor.  Apparently job placement is this exhibit’s downfall.  HA!

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Moving through the history and tea areas brings patrons to the ice cream section.

ICE CREAM.

Yes, I know.  Not vegan.

Cool and interesting exhibits include a smelling station, virtual ice cream making, the ability to create your own ice cream packaging (plus a commercial!) and a chance to step into a blast freezer!  BRRRRRR….

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Virtual ice cream flavors, packaging and commercials can be accessed on the Turkey Hill Experience website using an individual’s code.

**Fun Fact:  Though vanilla ice cream reigned as the favorite flavor for years, buttered pecan took the lead as the winner recently.

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We bought the Turkey Hill Experience plus the Lab, so at our assigned time, we headed downstairs to the classroom and lab station area–TO MAKE OUR OWN ICE CREAM!!!

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The lab is a self-contained lab/classroom with long tables and stations around the perimeter.  Each station seats 2 people and a Turkey Hill ice cream master runs the class.

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Our master ice cream maker was friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful.  The lab was clean, organized and lined with candy dispensers.  I felt like I walked into a scene from Willy Wonka and completely expected Oompa Loompas to dance through the door at any minute.  The flavors!  The toppings!  The swirling sauces!  Oh my!

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The master hand delivered every student a pint of creamy vanilla ice cream and then lead us through the ice cream making, flavoring and tasting process.

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I loved the ice cream making process and everything the lab offered.  I LOVED LOVED LOVED EATING THE ICE CREAM!  I made cinnamon ice cream, with toffee bits, almonds and pretzels, swirled in some creamy caramel to create heaven on Earth.  It was DELICIOUS!

After the lab, we walked back to the exhibits and spent more time learning about milk and ice cream production at Turkey Hill.

Because we didn’t eat enough ice cream already (HA!), we indulged a bit more by visiting the FREE ice cream sample room–16 different flavors–and all you can physically eat!  Seriously!

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The Turkey Hill Experience is located at 301 Linden Street, Columbia, Pennsylvania, 17512.  The hours of operation vary with the seasons, so for more information, check out www.turkeyhillexperience.com or call 1-844-847-4884.

For the 3 of us to visit The Turkey Hill Experience and participate in the ice cream making lab, it cost $45.75.  Parking was free.

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So, the girls and I have indulged in marvelous vegan cinnamon rolls here and over-eaten the delicious and creamy ice cream of Turkey Hill.  What delicious treats are on the experience menu for tomorrow?  I guess you will have to wait to find out!

Read all about our very 1st of 100 experience here!

Traveling to Florida soon?  Check out this amazing museum!

Want to know how a Disney obsessed momma plans the ultimate Walt Disney World vacation?  Click here!