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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8 Fun Food Adventures To Experience In Pennsylvania

DANG, y’all (spoken in my best Texas twang accent).  Pennsylvania offers some DE-LICIOUS food.  The restaurants, the desserts, the tours, the hands-on experiences…everything surrounding the PA food industry is top-notch.  For people who enjoy fresh, farm-to-table, innovative, vegetarian and vegan, wholesome foods and clean meals, Pennsylvania is the state for you, my friends.  Book a flight.  Now.

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My family and I are only here for a short time and I do NOT want to leave.  Who knew that PA would become my food mecca?!?

For the gastronomically adventurous readers, here is a list of 8 cool and fun food adventures (not just restaurants!) to explore and enjoy while you visit the super awesome state of Pennsylvania!  Click on the links for more info, details and locations!

1.  Cinnaholic

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

And, HELLO–it is VEGAN!

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2.  The Lancaster Central Market

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

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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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.  Shoppers find stands featuring delicious Amish, Greek, African and Middle Eastern food.

Fresh.  Organic.  Straight from the growers’ hands.  Fabulous!

3.  Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery

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In 1861, Mr. Julius Sturgis built the original ovens for his pretzel bakery in a 77 year-old building located in Lititz, Pennsylvania.  Today, pretzel lovers, visitors and crazy homeschooling families on sabbatical (like us!) can visit the site, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Guests can watch large, soft pretzels being made onsite!  The company still uses the same recipe from 1861!  AMAZING!

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A very informative tour and the opportunity to learn how to twist a traditional pretzel are must-dos.  All kinds of yummy flavored hard pretzels, souvenirs and hot, fresh soft pretzels can be purchased in the front gift shop, separate from the tour.  But, take the tour!  (And then shop!)

4.  The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe & Stroopie Co.

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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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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!).

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.

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Homemade caramel is hand-spread between two slices of warm cookie, creating a super yummy Dutch Stroopwafel right in the heart of Lancaster, Pennsylvania!  Fantastic cookies and social awareness…forward thinking in delicious action!

5.  The Accomac

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With a long, winding history, dating back to the early 1700’s, the Accomac Inn overlooks the beautiful rushing waters of the Susquehanna River.

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Offering visitors the opportunity to dine only by candle light, the Accomac hosts “Firelight Nights” on select evenings from November to early March.  Charming and über romantic, the tiny flicker of soft candle light and a roaring fireplace fill the dining room with a peaceful glow and calming warmth.  No light bulbs.  No lamps.  No electricity generating light. 

And the food…

Mouthwatering.  Fresh.  Unique.  Heavenly.

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The Accomac works with local Pennsylvania farmers and provides a list of menu food sources online, which I appreciate and rarely find.

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6.  The Wilbur Chocolate Store

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The Wilbur Chocolate Store features a tiny glimpse into the history of the company and the process of making yummy chocolate candies and goodies.

Visitors can watch an informative video and see historical candy making equipment and beautiful, antique tins and packaging.

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The aromatic space is a dedicated and delicious store filled with all kinds of chocolate treats!  A little hint:  Find some free samples in the back!

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7.  Caputo Brothers Creamery

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The amazing story of the Caputo Brothers Creamery began when owners David and Rynn Caputo decided to quit their corporate jobs to attend culinary school in Italy–a bold and exciting decision made while on their honeymoon!

After 6 months in Italy, the couple returned to the United States with a love for authentic Italian cheeses.  In 2011, David and Rynn opened Caputo Brothers Creamery, which is named after their sons, Giovanni and Matteo.

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Caputo Brothers Creamery produces the only fermented cheese curds that can be stretched into fresh (DELICIOUS!) Mozzarella–in the entire United States.  Go visit their retail shop in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania.  Better yet, get the Groupon for the awesome Italian cheese making tour and tasting!

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8.  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.

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The mouth-watering doughnuts are made fresh daily, on site at each location.  FRESH baked and fried desserts 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.

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

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Get a dozen.  For real.  You will regret it if you don’t.  🙂

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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 (almost NEVER) eat donuts from other shops.  Sub-par donuts are just not worth the extra calories.

Friends, these donuts are worth the extra time at the gym.  Beiler’s Doughnuts are the BEST Amish donuts EVER!  I do not see how they can be improved.

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Put all of these cool places on your Pennsylvania bucket list and ENJOY the experience!

Looking for other cool things to check out in Pennsylvania?

I recommend:

The State Museum of Pennsylvania

The National Watch and Clock Museum

The Harley Davidson Steel Toe Tour

George’s Furniture

Dutch Apple Dinner Theater

 

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The Dutch Apple Dinner Theater in Lancaster, PA–Experience Adventure 31 of 100

For holidays and birthdays, my family and I typically forgo traditional gifts.  No chocolate bunny on Easter.  No huge red heart on Valentine’s Day.  We focus on gifting educational items (books, kits, crafts, DVD’s) and experiences everyone can enjoy (tickets to a lecture, concert, museum).

In celebration of Valentine’s Day 2018, I bought my family tickets to see Ring Of Fire at the Dutch Apple Dinner Theater in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

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The Dutch Apple Dinner Theater features Broadway-worthy productions and performances, enjoyable concerts and fun children’s shows.  As a popular, live entertainment establishment, the Dutch Apple Dinner Theater captivates audiences of all ages, sharing a love of music and talent for more than 30 years in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

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Venue doors opened at 6:00 pm for dinner and the program began at 7:30 pm.  We visited on a Friday evening, with a prime rib buffet offered before the show, which was included in our ticket price.  The buffet featured traditional American, (what I would call home-cook’n) style food, with a decent salad bar and a variety of homemade desserts.  For those interested,  The Dutch Apple also offers a full service bar.

Tables, assigned by the tickets purchased, designate seats for dinner and the show.  My family enjoyed meeting and sharing our ‘section A’ table with a friendly, older couple.  Most tables seat 4, our table sat 8, but I also saw a few smaller tables with only 2 chairs and some floating 6 toppers.

The friendly servers and staff were attentive and personable, consistently checking if drinks needed refills, which is always appreciated and often overlooked in a buffet-dining situation.

About 7: 15 pm, the buffet closed and the tables were quickly and efficiently cleared and cleaned to prepare for the beginning of the show.

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The production of Ring of Fire chronicles the extraordinary and challenging life of legendary singer Johnny Cash through entertaining musical theater.  The talent, the music, the performance and the professionalism blew us away!  WOW! 

Every scene captivated the audience with a phenomenal cast of über talented  performers who joyfully danced and played multiple instruments while singing over 30 Johnny Cash songs.  The show created an engaging timeline of the musician’s troubled life with stand out, brilliant performances by Emily Woods and Candice Lively.

Act 1 focused on Johnny Cash’s boyhood years, Opry and fame, with Act 2 showcasing the dark years, redemption and celebration.

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The level of talent and entertainment found at the Dutch Apple was extraordinary and charming–live theater at its BEST!

Put The Dutch Apple Dinner Theater on your “Must-Do in Lancaster” list!  

Celebrating their 32nd season, future shows for 2018 include Showboat, Grease, The Wizard of Oz, Swing, Sister Act and A Christmas Carol.  I wish we could stay in Pennsylvania long enough to see all of these performances!

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We hope to visit again soon to enjoy at least one more production.  🙂

**The Dutch Apple Dinner Theater will also feature 6 concerts and 5 children’s shows during the 2018 season.

The Dutch Apple  Dinner Theater is owned by the Prather family and is located at 510 Centerville Road, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 17601.  For more information, call 717-898-1900 or visit their website (and purchase tickets!) at www.DutchApple.com

Ticket prices vary by type and performance day.  See ticket pricing below:

Tuesday & Wednesday: $59 per person

6:00 Dinner and 7:30 Show

Thursday–Served Dinner: $61 per person

5:30 Dinner and 7:30 Show

Friday & Saturday–Prime Rib Buffet: $65 per person

6:00 Dinner and 7:30 Show

Sunday: $59 per person

5:30 Dinner and 7:00 Show

Matinees: $55 per person

11:45am Lunch and 1:15pm Show

Students 13-18: $29 per student

All performances for dinner and show

Children 12 and under: $25 per child

All performances for dinner and show

Show Only Tickets: $40 for adults

Show Only Tickets: $22 for children

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For other fun things to do while in Lancaster, click on these links!

Lancaster Sweet Shoppe

Lancaster Central Market

Burning Bridge Antiques

 

 

 

 


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100 Experience Adventures–February Summary

WOW!  What a fascinating adventure all ready!

In just 2 short months, we completed a whopping 30 exciting and educational experiences!

THIRTY!

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When I look back on each experience, I am so very grateful my girls have this awesome, once-in-a-lifetime chance to grow and learn and expand their understanding of our world.  And, I have the privilege of sitting in the front row to watch it unfold. 🙂

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Here is a complete list of the 12 adventures (#19 through #30) we enjoyed during the month of February!  Click on each link to read a summary and honest review, as well as personal and educational tips for each experience!  Let me know if you have any specific questions–always happy to help.  🙂

Experience 19:

The Blue Man Group in Orlando, Florida

Experience 20:

Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida

Experience 21:

The Carlisle Ice Art Fest 

Experience 22:

The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, PA

Experience 23:

Our First Hike on the Appalachian Trail 

Experience 24:

A Tour of the Harley Davidson Factory in York, Pennsylvania 

Experience 25:

The Wilbur Chocolate Store and Museum in Lititz, Pennsylvania

Experience 26:

A Tour of Julius Sturgis Pretzel in Lititz, Pennsylvania

Experience 27:

Recycled Sari Flower Making Artisan Class in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Experience 28:

A Dinner Lit Only By Firelight at The Accomac in York, Pennsylvania 

Experience 29:

A Concert by The Diva Jazz Orchestra

Experience 30:

Film Screening of The Girls in the Band and a Panel Discussion with Diva

 

For a list (with clickable links to all cool places!) of #1 through #18 events from January, click here!

More to come–March has been a super busy and educational month!

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Screening And Panel Discussion Of The Girls In The Band–Experience Adventure 30 of 100

When my daughters and I attended an inspiring concert by the unbelievably talented, all-female, Diva Jazz Orchestra, the evening’s program invited guests to a screening of the documentary, The Girls In The Band.

Read all about our 29th experience here!

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During the concert’s intermission, I Goggled the award-winning documentary and instantly decided we would attend the film’s screening and open panel with the band’s members.

The screening and inspirational discussion marked our 30th experience.

The Girls In The Band features the poignant stories of female instrumentalists and jazz musicians who persevered through extreme sexism and racism in the fight for the equal right to play in the traditional, all-male dominated, big band music genre.  Beginning with the 1930’s, the film not only highlights the struggles of women, it also acts as a historically accurate film depicting major events in the United States.

We found the documentary informative and interesting and I always appreciate an experience that shows my daughters the path paved for them by women who fought and made sacrifices for future generations of girls.

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After watching the film, the members of the all-female band, Diva Jazz Orchestra, answered questions and facilitated a thought-provoking and empowering discussion about gender equality and inequality within the music world, while sharing intimate and personal stories of sexism, prejudice and triumphs.

 

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The evening certainly provided me and my daughters with a new understanding and appreciation for jazz music as well as a significant glimpse into the history of the fight for equality.

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To purchase a DVD of the documentary, The Girls In The Band, click here.

For more information about the all-fabulous Diva Jazz Orchestra, click here. and here.

To purchase the 25th anniversary CD from Diva Jazz Orchestra, click here.

Curious about the 18 exciting adventures we experienced during the month of January?  Click here!


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The Diva Jazz Orchestra–Experience Adventure 29 of 100

Embarrassingly, I admit I know very little about music.  My musical background consists of a few violin lessons when I was 10 years old and a semester of playing the recorder in 6th grade.  My son and my oldest daughter never showed any interest and my youngest only dabbles (though I keep encouraging her to investigate further).

I often find myself wishing I received more exposure to music during my younger years.  Thousands of neurological studies show a direct correlation between music and math, music and higher level thinking and music and emotional stability.  So, as a homeschooling parent, I continuously find ways to incorporate a love and appreciation of music even though we are not a musically-inclined family.

For our 29th experience, my daughters and I attended a spectacular performance by the Diva Jazz Orchestra, hosted by Dickinson College.

 

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The Diva Jazz Orchestra features an ensemble of amazingly accomplished female musicians, lead by the über humble and talented drummer, Sherrie Maricle.  In 1993, the founder, Stanley Kay, seized an opportunity to create and showcase an all-female, big band orchestra, which celebrates 25 years of making music magic during 2018.

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Most impressively, the band’s collective sound highlights every woman’s individual, amazing strength and talent, while creating a fresh and unique collaborative sound and musical experience.

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For their 25th anniversary, the band is performing new music, all composed by the unbelievably talented members.  Buy their newest CD here!

To learn more, visit www.divajazz.com

Click here to see a list of upcoming shows!

Click here to read about the movie screening and Diva panel discussion we attended the next evening!

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The Accomac Firelight Night Dinner in York, PA–Experience Adventure 28 of 100

When my daughters and I decided to attempt 100 adventures during our 6 month sabbatical from our home in Texas, one of the rules we put into place specified that each experience must be NEW and different.  Obviously, since we are newbies to the east coast, every restaurant we visit is technically “original”, but I refuse to fill this exciting adventure list with a million mundane restaurants.

–Except, we found this extraordinary one.

For our 28th adventure, we experienced a fantastic Firelight Night dinner at the Accomac in York, Pennsylvania.

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With a long, winding history, dating back to the early 1700’s, the Accomac Inn overlooks the beautiful rushing waters of the Susquehanna River.  (It was raining and foggy on the evening we visited, but still gorgeous!)

Read about the history of the Accomac Inn here.

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The massive and commanding stone building sits to one side of the narrow road, nestled into the bottom of a timber-filled hill, facing a large parking lot along the water’s edge.

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Offering visitors the opportunity to dine only by candle light, the Accomac hosts “Firelight Nights” on select evenings from November to early March.  Charming and über romantic, the tiny flicker of soft candle light and a roaring fireplace fill the dining room with a peaceful glow and calming warmth.  No light bulbs.  No lamps.  No electricity generating light.  **I tried to take as many pictures as I could before the sun went down and I lost the light streaming in from the windows.

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Meticulously pressed, white table cloths drape the intimate tables and comfortable leather chairs allow guests a chance to relax and unwind in the Queen Ann dining room.

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Serving all kinds of delicious and artisan food since 1971, owner Doug Campbell and general manager Zach Seitz hired Jordan Crews in 2010, and promoted him to executive chef in early 2016.  Crews, born and raised in Lancaster, visits the Lancaster Central Market weekly, choosing fresh and local ingredients for his award-winning seasonal menu.

(The Lancaster Central Market was our 8th experience and is the country’s oldest farmers market!  Read all about it here!)

Our dimly lit journey began with a pleasant palette cleansing shooter of creamy pea soup and an assortment of breads.  I typically prefer to pass on peas, but this soup was exquisite and an excellent start to our meal.

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We ordered several items from each section of the menu as an opportunity to try interesting combinations and sample from each others’ plates.

The mushroom risotto, created with fresh, local mushrooms and served as a warm side dish, features Caputo ricotta en salata, (created locally by the amazing Caputo Brother’s Creamery–our 32nd experience! Review coming soon!)

Topped with watercress and truffle foam, the risotto melts in the mouth–We ordered two bowls!

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The potato gnocchi at Accomac reigns as possibly the most divine food I have ever eaten in my entire life.  Full of complex, delicious flavors, the gnocchi appeared surrounded by a very light and savory cream sauce, fresh greens, and earthy mushrooms.  I wanted more (and MORE!) and I hope to return just to eat this dish again.

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The full-bodied, umami beef stock showcased in the Accomac’s French onion soup made this menu “starter” my husband’s favorite dish of the evening.  Topped with caramelized, rich Swiss and provolone cheeses, the chef added a dollop of fresh scallions, a delightfully surprising, yet tasty garnish.

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Pierogi, a traditional central European-style dumpling, arrived with a topping of savory sautéed onions on a cushion of creamy sour cream sauce.  I almost loved it as much as the amazing gnocchi and my vegetarian daughter claimed this special, off-menu offering as her favorite.

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My meat-eating daughter ordered the Accomac beef tenderloin burger with bacon, melted cheese, horseradish mayonnaise, and topped with a house made Brioche roll.  A slab of fried potato wedges and fresh, crisp vegetables served as accompaniments.  Though my daughter enjoyed the burger, it seems out-of-place on the elegant menu.

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As a main entrée, I appreciate the freedom to order a vegetable-based meal–braised cabbage rolls, filled with a hearty rice and mushroom mixture and smothered with tangy, chunky tomatoes.  A variety of roasted root vegetables surrounded the dish and offered more flavor than the bland cabbage rolls.  I found myself wishing I ordered another serving of the delicious gnocchi!

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My husband chose the chicken roulade with garlic polenta, glazed carrots, charred savoy cabbage and a red wine infused pear.  Though he devoured the chicken and creamy polenta, he found the overpowering sweetness of the pear off-putting and not enhancing of the dish.

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The under seasoned and tasteless side of roasted Brussel sprouts brought the only real disappointment during our exquisite meal at the Accomac.  I don’t expect perfection, so the Brussel blunder can be overlooked.  (Though, as a sprout lover, I did have high hopes.)  They were very fresh and bright!

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At the end of the meal, we found ourselves too pleasantly full to properly enjoy any of the sweet offerings from the menu.  We chose to share one small, but heavenly treat–the sticky toffee pudding.  Topped with a luscious dolce de leche ice cream and drenched with a syrupy toffee sauce, this dessert completed a wonderful and satisfying candle-lit meal at the Accomac.

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Overall, our meal was wonderfully prepared and the staff at the Accomac welcomed and served my family in a professional and friendly manner, even though we brought our children to an obviously adult-centered, date-night event.  Eating a satisfying meal by firelight proved to be a joyful, unique and relaxing experience.

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The Accomac works with local Pennsylvania farmers and provides a list of menu food sources online, which I appreciate and rarely find.  See the list here. 

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Kudos to the Accomac Inn.  Thank you for serving fresh and local, farm-to-table food, which moves our society closer to sustainability and an overall healthier way of life.  My family will return for another wonderful meal before we move back to Texas.  (Please serve the gnocchi!)

The Accomac also serves Caputo Brothers Creamery cheese–which just happened to be our 32nd experience adventure!  Read all about it here!

The Accomac is located at 6330 South River Drive in York, Pennsylvania.

Lunch is served Monday-Saturday from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Dinner is served Monday-Saturday from 4:30 pm to 9:00 pm. and on Sundays from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

Sunday brunch is offered from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.

***Reservations are recommended.

For more information, call 717-252-1521 or visit www.accomacinn.com

 

Looking for some original and new experiences in the great state of Pennsylvania?

Visit the National Watch and Clock Museum–read all about it here!

Click here and check out the Stroopie Co., a world changing social enterprise found at the Lancaster Sweet Shoppe.

Take a drive to Ten Thousand Villages in Mechanicsburg to buy all kinds of authentic, artisan-made, fair trade crafts and treasures from another global-impacting social enterprise.  Read what you need to know here.

 

Traveling to Illinois?  Put the Firefly Grill on your must-eat, farm-to-table restaurant list!  Click here.

 

 

 

 

 


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Recycled Sari Flower Making Class–Experience Adventure 27 of 100

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For our 27th experience adventure, my daughters and I took an artisan’s apprentice class and learned how to create decorative flowers using recycled sari fabrics from Bangladesh.

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Like so many of our adventures, this experience taught us a lot more than just a fun crafting process.

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The class was offered at Ten Thousand Villages, a non-profit, social enterprise that I accidentally found during one of my Google “fall-down-a-rabbit-hole” searches.  I previously knew nothing about it.

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So, let me share what we learned (above and beyond making fabric flowers).

Ten Thousand Villages began in 1946 and continues to grow over 390 retail outlets and alliances all across the United States, including the one we visited in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.

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These not-for-profit establishments carry home décor, jewelry, accessories, tea, furniture, art, soaps, and spices–all created by 130 artisan groups, representing 38 developing countries.

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As a fair trade, globally-focused, social enterprise, Ten Thousand Villages employs very few people– in fact, the store we visited only keeps 2 or 3 people on salary.  The other 30+ “employees” are volunteers that greet and interact with customers, help with unpacking and displaying orders and run the cash register.  It is a wonderful, thought-provoking and very forward-thinking business model.

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Almost all of the beautifully and skillfully handcrafted items are displayed with an informational sign about the artist, village or country.

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Purchases improve the lives of over 20,000 makers, allowing access to better food, shelter and housing, appropriate healthcare and opportunities for education.

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Ten Thousand Villages also verifies that represented artists and craftspeople create in a safe working environment, where each human is treated with dignity and respect in an ethical and responsible system.  Fair trade focuses on stability, paying a fair income to individuals, empowering women and improving the lives of all people.

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The more exposure I receive to these world changing social enterprises, the more I prefer to give my business to establishments that make a difference in the life of others.

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A list of all Ten Thousand Villages stores and alliances (stores that carry products) can be found on the website at www.tenthousandvillages.com. Search by zip code or state and find one near you!

 

For my Texas friends, full retail stores are located in Austin and San Antonio, with alliances in McKinney, The Woodlands and Magnolia!  Who knew?!?

Pennsylvania boasts 11 stores and 3 alliances.  AWESOME!

The store we visited is located at 701 Gettysburg Pike, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, 17055.  Open Monday-Friday 10:00 am to 7:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and closed on Sundays.  For more info call 717-796-1474.

They offer other artisan apprentice workshops, so follow them on Facebook for updates!

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We originally learned about social enterprise from one of our earlier adventures to a local candy shop.  The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe houses the Stroopie Co., a family-owned company hiring refugee women and providing meaningful work for people who are forced to flee their countries due to famine, war and instability.

Read about this AMAZING company here.