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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The National Watch & Clock Museum–Experience Adventure 4 of 100

Every day, since we settled in Pennsylvania, I watch the weather like an obsessed meteorologist.  Yesterday was the first day to bring above freezing temperatures and we took that as a sign to get out and do some more exploring!

The relief and freedom I felt while driving without the fear of ice or snow or sleet is indescribable.  Honestly, I enjoyed the drive more than I should–lol–it was absolutely delightful–no clinched teeth or white knuckle hands!

In preparation for our adventure, I visited the website of our #4 stop and printed reading material and vocabulary for my daughters to study several days earlier.  They each highlighted 5 items of interest to find–kind of a self-created scavenger hunt.  I also chose 4 Brain-Pop corresponding videos.  We began our morning by traveling about an hour from Carlisle, to the adorable town of Columbia, Pennsylvania.

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For our 4th experience adventure, let me introduce you to the amazing

National Watch and Clock Museum.

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With over 12,000 items, the National Watch & Clock Museum is the largest and most comprehensive horological collection in North America.  It is a beautifully organized and meticulously curated museum showcasing the history of timekeeping.

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The tour begins with an 8 minute movie featuring a condensed history of time.  From there, the impressive collection includes clocks, watches, tools and other time-related items.  All of the pieces are displayed in a way that allows visitors to immerse themselves in a very personal manner.

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Several interactive stations feature hands-on activities, such as building a large wood clock from block-like pieces, learning to use a water clock, pretending to be a watch maker and many more.  The connections bring the history of time alive.  The museum offers free activity booklets for children, too!

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**Fun Fact:  The National Watch & Clock Museum opened in 1977.

The exhibits range from early sundials and a replica of Stonehenge to modern marvels, such as the atomic and radio-controlled clocks.  A few displays include life-like figures in realistic settings.

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The most interesting exhibit features The Engle Clock.  Nicknamed ‘The Eighth Wonder of the World”, the Engle Clock stands 11 feet tall and 8 feet wide.  It is the first known monumental clock built it in the United States and it was completed in Hazleton, Pennsylvania.

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It took the artist, Stephen D. Engle, 20 years to complete the imposing and ornate time piece.  He worked alone.  With 2 organ movements and 48 impressive moving features, it showcases Jesus, the 12 Apostles, the devil, 3 stages of life, death, justice, Orpheus, and Linus.

**Fun Fact:  The National Watch & Clock Museum competed against the Smithsonian to acquire The Engle Clock.

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The girls and I were lucky enough to be the only patrons in the museum when one of the friendly curators offered to wind up the clock and provide a thorough and interesting lecture, focusing on the history and mechanics of the Engle Clock.  (Side note:  This is one of my favorite homeschooling perks!  We typically only visit museums on a weekday and we have grown so accustomed to the personal attention, we avoid museums on the weekends, like the plague!  I cannot even count how many times my daughters have benefitted from knowledgeable and passionate curators and docents who give a little extra when the crowds are miniscule.  We are always so thankful and grateful.)

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The National Watch & Clock Museum also provides a fun gift shop and an impressive library and research center.

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A great museum features educational hands-on activities that appeal to all ages and offers an organized and complete collection.  In my homeschooling/museum-obsessed eyes, this museum hits all of the marks–excellent displays, friendly staff, and beautiful pieces.  5 stars all around!  The girls and I are already discussing the possibility of a return visit.  It is that good.

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The National Watch & Clock Museum is located at 514 Poplar Street, Columbia, Pennsylvania, 17512-2130.

I bought a Groupon ticket for a family visit for $8.40.

Days of operation and hours vary with the seasons, so for more information, visit www.nawcc.org or call 717-684-8261.

 

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Want to read about our favorite hands-on museum in Oklahoma?  Click here!

Curious about why we homeschool our daughters?  Read this!

Read all about our 3rd of 100 experience adventure here!

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Cinnaholic–Experience Adventure 3 of 100

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What is Cinnaholic??!?  Cinnaholic is the mecca of deliciousness–where an exquisitely handmade, heavenly dessert is created–tempting and luscious, indulgent and rich, melting and mouth-watering…and…and…and…It is a cinnamon roll!

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GOURMET cinnamon rolls, um…YES, PLEASE!

My daughters and I visited Cinnaholic in Lancaster, Pennsylvania today and I am already craving and planning a return as soon as possible!

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The “cinna” low-down and what you need to know:

Cinnaholic specializes in high quality gourmet cinnamon rolls.  Each roll can be customized to personal tastes with a variety of frostings and topping options.

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Choose the simple version with just cream cheese frosting or go cinna-wild and pick your poison(s) from 20 different frosting flavors and 21 toppings.

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Frosting flavors include almond (This is what I picked–DELICIOUS!), amaretto, banana cream (my daughter’s favorite!), butterscotch, cake batter, caramel, chai, chocolate, hazelnut, lemon, maple, marshmallow, peanut butter, strawberry and vanilla (my youngest daughter’s fav!)

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Toppings…oh, the toppings!  Options include almonds, apples, bananas, blackberries, brownie bites, chocolate chips, coconut, cookie dough, graham crackers, Oreo cookies, pecans, pretzels, strawberries, walnuts and so much more!

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The menu boasts more yummy goodies, such as brownies, cookie dough by the scoop, baby buns and cookies.

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**Fun Fact:  Cinnaholic was on Shark Tank!  It is now a booming (and mouth-watering)franchise with 17 locations!  AWESOME!

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The cinnamon rolls were made when we ordered–it took about 8 minutes for the hot, ooey, gooey goodness to arrive at our table.

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I hope you are sitting down for this Fun Fact…

**Fun Fact:  Everything, yes EVERYTHING at Cinnaholic is VEGAN!  OMG.  I have died and gone to vegan cinnamon roll heaven!

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The BEST thing about Cinnaholic is that all products are dairy and lactose free, egg free and cholesterol free!  And, DELICIOUS!  Seriously, I cannot even use words to explain the super yumminess…it is more like a grunt, drool, face euphoria…

Owners Shannon Michelle Radke and Florian Radke certainly know what they are doing.  Kuddos, my vegan friends!

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This is BY FAR the BEST vegan dessert I have ever eaten!

Forget about that New Year’s resolution!  I beg you–Please search for the nearest Cinnaholic location and go enjoy some cinna-delicious indulgence!  You deserve it!

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The Cinnaholic we visited is located at 1573 Manheim Pike, Lancaster, PA, 17602.  Hours are Monday-Saturday, 9 am to 9 pm and Sunday 10 am to 6 pm.  For more information, visit www.cinnaholic.com or call 717-517-7714.

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That’s right!  Just like super amazing rock stars, we knocked out 2 experiences in one day!  And, we did it in the middle of a winter weather advisory, while schools were closing.  We.  Are.  Awesome.

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Want to read about our first of 100 experiences?  Click here.

Click here to read about experience #2 of 100!

Why are we doing all of this?  Click here to find out!

 


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George’s Furniture–Experience Adventure 2 of 100

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For our 2nd experience adventure in our attempt to complete 100 while in the great state of Pennsylvania, the girls and I visited George’s Furniture in Lancaster County.  Just like most activities, I found information about George’s by accident, while conducting one of my all-consuming Google searches of things to do in Pennsylvania…and oh, what a happy, happy accident!

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George’s Furniture is a second-generation and family-owned business located in Marietta, Pennsylvania.  Though George Martin founded the business in 1970, he unfortunately passed away several years ago and now his oldest daughter and her husband lead the company of talented craftsmen.

My daughters and I drove about an hour from Carlisle–in questionable winter weather–to tour and see this magical workshop–and it was worth it!  I love nothing more than learning about people turning a passion and talent into a business that provides other humans with handcrafted, one-of-a-kind treasures!

Located on a picture-perfect farm, outside of the historic village of Maytown, the showroom, museum and workshop offer free guided tours Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (according to the brochure).  The sign near the front door offers tours on Saturday and until 5:00 p.m.  I would go with the brochure to be safe or just call ahead.

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All furniture and pieces created by George’s craftsmen are made the old fashioned way and thoughtfully built to last for generations to come.  They work with kiln-dried hardwoods like oak, cherry, walnut and hard maple.  Almost all wood is acquired from local, in-state suppliers and sometimes customers even provide raw materials for custom pieces.

Our guide, Anthony, started working for Mr. Martin in the 1980’s, and most of the artisans have been there for 20+ years.  Each piece of furniture is made by hand–and each piece is made by only ONE person!

**Fun Fact:  The artist always signs the finished creation.  So AWESOME!

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Every piece of furniture is signed by the artist that built it.

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Particleboard and veneers are NEVER used.  Drawer bottoms and cabinet backs are all solid wood and quite honestly, even more beautiful than some of the exteriors!

 

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Inside a chest of drawers

 

 

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The back of a cabinet

Hardware, inserts, braces, and bars are meticulously added and used to strengthen pieces, such as dining room table leafs.

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George’s Furniture workshop is clean and organized and smells delicious–a cozy combination of wild, winter forest trees, crackling campfire, and an old-school wood burning kit.  I was in heaven and could have stayed in the workshop for hours.

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Anthony walked us through the workshop, pointing out different pieces of furniture actively being made by two craftsmen.  He showed my daugthers several machines:  a few saws, a large sander and a lathe.  No computers here!  Spindles, legs and finials are calibrated and carved by hand.

**Fun Fact:  Furniture from George’s is NOT sold in any stores!  They only sell directly to the customer.

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The tour taught us about the process of making furniture and how George’s craftsmen take extra steps to create heirloom-quality pieces.  They build dining room tables and chairs, desks, rocking chairs, coffee and end tables, hutches, mirrors, night stands, beds and dressers, buffets, jewelry boxes, bookcases and so much more!  Every single item is handcrafted in solid hardwood.  Everything is VERY heavy!

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**Fun Fact:  George Martin created a rocking chair design that cannot fall backwards.  For real–I tried it!  The chair was also the smoothest rocker I have ever sat in or touched.  This style rocker is still being made by his craftsmen.

The tour also includes time in the showroom, which is full of finished pieces, and a walk-through, museum-like area displaying a timeline of the company and some of George’s first creations.

If you find yourself in Lancaster County, I highly recommend a stop at George’s Furniture.

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George’s Furniture is located at 9 Reichs Church Road, Marietta, PA, 17547.  For more information, visit www.georgesfurniturepa.com or call 1-800-799-1685.

The tour is FREE, with a very small suggested donation.

PS–If you are Anthony (our tour guide) thank you for helping me with my car–and for not laughing too hard.  🙂

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Wondering why my daughters and I are in Pennsylvania?  Read all about our 6 month sabbatical here!

Check out what we did for the 1st of our 100 adventure experiences here!

 


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The Pennsylvania Farm Show–Experience Adventure 1 of 100

WOW!  As luck would have it, the 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show began just 4 days after we moved to Pennsylvania.  As soon as I heard about this event, I knew it was going to be the first experience in our attempt to enjoy 100 adventures!

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102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show

The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the nation’s LARGEST indoor agricultural expo.  If you are from Houston, think about a farm-themed Nutcracker Market–add live animals, contests, and competitions–and then multiple the size by 200.  That *might* actually be accurate math.

Consisting of 24 indoor acres, housed in 11 buildings and including 3 arenas, the Farm Show represents just a tiny slice of the Pennsylvania farming industry.  There are 10,000 competitive exhibits, 6,000 animals and 300 commercial exhibits, as well as an enormous food court serviced by 2,000 volunteers.

**Super cool extra fact:  The first Pennsylvania Farm Show was held in 1917.

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Honestly, it would take me a month to write about all of the amazing events, animals, booths, shops, snacks, and people we encountered, so I will highlight just a few of our favorites.

The 2018 Historical Maker Scavenger Hunt immediately caught my homeschooling momma’s eyes.  Replicas of actual Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission historical markers are placed around the enormous Farm Show complex.  Readable text on the markers provide information relating to agriculture and rural heritage.

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2018 Historical Marker Scavenger Hunt

**Super cool extra fact:  There are 2,000 authentic markers throughout the state of Pennsylvania.  We hope to find some! 

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Replica of a PHMC Historical Marker

Several booths are dedicated to the unwanted spreading and impact of the Spotted Lanternfly.  Native to China, India and Vietnam, this insect attacks grapes, fruit trees and pines.  The insects first invaded the United States just 4 short years ago.  Last year, only 5 Pennsylvania counties found infestations.  This year, 13 counties are aggressively fighting the invasive species.

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The Spotted Lanternfly was first discovered in 2014, in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

The vegetables!  The gourds!  The mushrooms!  The fruit!  Seriously, what can I say about the breathtaking beauty of these gifts from Pennsylvania farms?

Just look at the pictures!

 

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With 6,000 animals, the Pennsylvania Farm Show’s livestock exhibits rival the world’s most popular zoos.  Countless isles display hundreds of diverse varieties and species.  We enjoyed seeing and learning about unique hens, roosters, ducks, rabbits, cows, sheep, and alpacas.  My youngest daughter milked a mechanical cow and was allowed to pet a rabbit and a black angus.

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Almost all of the food vendors offer delicious samples.  We tasted creamy dips, spicy BBQ sauces, hot garlic pickles, sweet dessert pies, rich maple syrups, sour fruit drinks, mustards, ghee, cinnamon nuts, warm pretzels, and marinated chicken.  The best part of our indulgence of these mouth-watering samples was the fact that every vendor represents a Pennsylvania farm and local business.

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While we made our way around the sample offerings, I met many interesting, friendly and passionate people.  One woman makes stroopie, a Dutch cinnamon waffle cookie with caramel syrup hand-spread between two wafers.  The Stroopie Co. empowers and provides meaningful employment to refugees resettling in Pennsylvania.  We plan to visit where the cookies are made and hopefully take a tour of the Lancaster Sweet Shoppe.

***Added:  After the Farm Show, I emailed the owner of The Stroopie Co. and she graciously invited me and my daughters to visit and learn all about the social enterprise at The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe. Read all about that amazing experience (our #7 adventure!) by clicking here!

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Spoonably Sweet is another interesting booth.  The chef told us how she “invented” her creation by accident, while trying to make something else.  I LOVE happy (and DELICIOUS) accidents!  Spoonable cookie dough can be used as a dessert topping, a pastry spread or eaten directly with a spoon!  She creates vegan options, too!  Um…yes, please!

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Last, but not least, there is a butter sculpture.  That’s right.

BUTTER.

SOLID BUTTER.

Everyone should experience butter artwork.

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I wish my writing skills flowed with lightning speed so I could tell you everything about the Pennsylvania Farm Show.  Hopefully, this little blog post will offer a tiny taste of an amazing experience that is available year after year, if you ever find yourself in the great state of Pennsylvania.

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The Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center is located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, off of Exit 67 of Interstate 81.

Admission is FREE, but parking is $15 per vehicle.  Bring cash.

The 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show runs January 6-13, 2018.

Plan to visit the 103rd show–January 5-12, 2019.

For more information, visit www.farmshow.pa.gov

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Other cool things to do in Pennsylvania?

Check out the Lancaster Central Market–the oldest farmers market in the country!  Read about it here!

Learn how to twist pretzels at the first commercial pretzel bakery–Julius Sturgis!  Read about it here!

Traveling to Virginia soon?

Check out the Edgar Allan Poe Museum!  Click here!

And, visit the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, too!  Click here!

 


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BIG changes! BIG adventures!

It has certainly been awhile since I have had anything worthy of posting in this blog.  I spent the last summer and fall semester shuttling my daughters back and forth to college and taekwondo, with not much time for anything else.

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Hurricane Harvey left behind complete devastation in Houston and the surrounding areas, but we were fortunate enough to only have flooding on our land and no damage to our home.  We were, however, in the beginning stages of some home renovations, so that put a kink in the scheduling logistics.

The extensive time I willingly dedicate to my children’s schedules and our extreme way of life is always time well spent, but the last 6 months drained my reserves and left my heart aching for an escape.

That crazy season has finally come to an end (for now) and a new adventure is on the snowy, and very chilly horizon!  My husband was offered and snagged one of the last available in-residency spots at the Army War College.  (He was enrolled in the online program when he received the call.)

My husband is super cool.

Located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the Army War College is a masters degree program for senior military leaders and International Fellow students and is a year long commitment.

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My awesome husband moved to PA and entered the Army War College in the summer of 2017, while I stayed behind and continued homeschooling and supporting our daughters.  The girls were already registered for fall college classes in Texas and we decided to stick to that commitment.

–Cue the time for home renovations, Harvey survival-mode and a stressed-out momma lifestyle.

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So, now that the fall semester, Christmas and New Years fun are all in the past, what is next for our extraordinary family?

I am glad you asked.

My daughters and I decided to join my husband in Carlisle for a 6 month sabbatical–an educational journey like no workbook or classroom can provide!

Our goal is to participate in 100 educational experiences–visiting museums, monuments, classes, tours, festivals and all kind of events.

That’s right.  I said 100.  

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It might be a lofty goal, but guess what?!?  We have nothing but time–time and an intense desire to accumulate knowledge.

OH!  And did I mention, there will be a Walt Disney World vacation thrown in the mix, too?  Well, of course there will!  DUH!  Would you expect anything less from me?!?

So…hold on tight my friends–we are taking you along for the ride!  I plan to blog about ALL 100 of our excursions and adventures and you get to experience the evolution of our homeschooling journey as it unfolds.

Stay tuned!  We are just getting started!

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If you aren’t familiar with my family, feel free to read about our extraordinary journey here.  And here.  And here.