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.

1 Comment

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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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

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



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

Lancaster Sweet Shoppe

Lancaster Central Market

Burning Bridge Antiques






The Wilbur Chocolate Store in Lititz, PA–Experience Adventure 25 of 100


We took a quick drive to Lititz, Pennsylvania to visit The Wilbur Chocolate Store and Museum for our 25th experience adventure.



The chocolate dynasty began in 1865 when H.O. Wilbur and Samuel Croft produced mostly molasses candies and hard candies.  By 1884, the men separated the company and the cocoa and chocolate divisions became H.O. Wilbur & Sons.


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


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











The rest of the aromatic space is a dedicated and delicious store filled with all kinds of chocolate treats!





A free sample can be found at the very back.  🙂


My daughters and I were thrilled to discover some Stroopies (from our 7th adventure)!  Read all about that amazing and social conscious company and our life-inspiring visit here!


I purchased a Stroopie and some chocolate-infused hand cream.  🙂


The Wilbur Chocolate Store is located at 45 North Broad Street, Lititz, Pennsylvania, 17543.  For more information, call 717-626-3249 or visit to make yummy online orders.

Lititz is an adorable, cozy little town, about an hour from Carlisle, PA.

Within walking distance of The Wilbur Chocolate Store, we found a delightful restaurant, The Tomato Pie Café.  The menu offers several delicious vegetarian and gluten-free options and features light, fresh, and beautiful dishes.

We GREATLY enjoyed the spinach and artichoke tomato pie and the not-your sloppy joe, which is vegetarian.  Lots of yummy options include coffees, pastries, breakfast items, sandwiches, daily soups, and tempting desserts.






The Tomato Pie Café serves breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner and has two locations:  one in Harrisburg, PA and one in Lititz.

We visited the Lititz location at 23 North Broad Street.  Call 717-627-1762 or visit for more information and to view current menus.

Looking for other fun things to do and explore in Pennsylvania?  Check these out:

The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, PA

The Harley Davidson Factory in York, PA

Beiler’s Doughnuts in Lancaster, PA

Lancaster Central Market, in Lancaster, PA

Burning Bridge Antiques in Lancaster, PA


4.2 Mile Hike On The Appalachian Trail–Experience Adventure 23 of 100



Discovering the Appalachian Trail meandered right through the “home base” of our 6 month sabbatical immediately drove me into an obsessive search to learn as much as I could about the famous hiking path.  Several months before we moved to Carlisle, I joined a few Facebook hiking and/or trail groups, read several books on the subject and like always, conducted hours and hours worth of online research.


I don’t know what it is, but the trail calls to me.


When the first day with temps in the 60’s finally arrived, my family and I experienced our 23rd of 100 adventures–a 4.2 mile hike on the magnificent Appalachian Trail, the longest, hiking-only trail in the world. (It will not be our last!)



The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) welcomes an astonishing 2-3 million visitors a year.  First proposed in 1921 by a regional planner named Benton MacKaye, the famous route began with volunteers linking existing trails to create one, long continuous footpath.


In 1925, a group of 24 supporters created the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) to protect and maintain the path. 


Completed in August of 1937, the 2,190 mile long Appalachian Trail winds through 14 states, 8 national forests and 6 national parks.  The trail begins in Springer Mountain, Georgia and concludes in Mount Katahdin, Maine.  It is marvelously beautiful, even on a rare warm day in the middle of winter.

**Fun Fact:  Earl Shaffer, a WWII veteran from Pennsylvania, was the first reported person to hike the entire trail in a single journey.  He completed his first hike in 1948, as a way to cope with returning home from the war.  Mr. Shaffer also finished continuous hikes in 1965 and in 1998, at the age of 79.


Hiking experiences are divided into three main descriptive categories:

  1. Day hikes
  2. Multi-day hikes
  3. Thru-hiking (walking the entire trail within one calendar year)

Our quick 4.2 mile hike obviously represents a very small “day hike”.   🙂






**Fun Fact:  Thru-hikers make up nicknames called “trail names” and rarely use their real names when meeting other hikers on the trail.

2″ x 6″ white rectangles called “blazes” found on trees, posts and rocks mark the sometimes treacherous path of the Appalachian Trail.




Blue rectangles mark trails to shelters built and maintained by volunteers to give multi-day and thru-hikers respite from extreme weather and exhaustion.

**Fun Fact:  In 1968, the National Trails System Act became law, making the Appalachian Trail the first national scenic trail in the United States.





Most thru-hikers finish the A.T. in 6 to 9 month, but the quickest was completed in just 46 days.  Anyone who completes the trail, in any combination or manner, earns the title of “2,000 miler”.   The oldest 2,000 miler was 82 years old–the youngest, just 5 years.


Between the years 1936 and 1969, 59 recorded completions were documented and only ten people finished the trail in 1970.  7,418 hikers reported completions between 2010 and 2017.

**Fun Fact:  About 29% of A.T. hikers are women.








Access to the trail varies, but we drove to an area that provides parking.  We left our car behind, wore comfortable shoes, carried lightweight jackets and water and began our first exploration of the peaceful, mostly undisturbed, natural and historical Appalachian Trail.





Hiking the Appalachian Trail fueled my spirit with a complete and calming submersion in the wonder of raw nature, a tranquil experience that planted an essential seed of eager desire to return for more.


I am currently researching the 14 state challenge and thinking about adding it to my bucket list.  🙂

For more information, visit The Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Recommended books:

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

A Walk in the Woods on DVD


Why are we attempting 100 adventures?  Read this!

Looking for fun things to do in Virginia?

Check out:

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

The Edgar Allan Poe Museum








100 Experience Adventures–January Summary


By now, most of my readers know that my daughters and I are attempting to complete 100 experiences during our 6 month sabbatical away from our home in Texas.

For newbies, click here.

And read this.

I am super happy to report we surprisingly completed 18 awesome experiences during the month of January and I kept a running list of the events and the cost for reference.

Below is a quick summary and each one is a clickable link to more information about the experience, in case you are curious. 🙂

Experience 1:

The Pennsylvania Farm Show (Free to attend, $15 for parking)

Experience 2:

George’s Furniture in Marietta, PA (Free to visit, we donated $20 for the personal tour)

Experience 3:

Cinnaholic, Vegan cinnamon rolls in Lancaster, PA ($28.04 for four cinnamon rolls)

Experience 4:

The National Watch & Clock Museum in Columbia, PA ($8.40 for four tickets through Groupon)

Experience 5:

The Turkey Hill Experience in Columbia, PA ($45.75 for three people to attend the lab class and the experience)

Experience 6:

Burning Bridge Antiques Market in Columbia, PA (free to visit)

Experience 7:

The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe and Stroopie Co. in Lancaster, PA (free to visit)

Experience 8:

Lancaster Central Market in Lancaster, PA (free to visit)

Experience 9:

Beiler’s Doughnuts in Lancaster, PA ($11.25 for 2 dozen doughnuts through Groupon)

Experience 10:

Sledding in real snow in Carlisle, PA (free!)

Experience 11:

Maymont in Richmond, Virginia ($12 for three tickets to the nature center and $15 “donation” for three people to tour the mansion)

Experience 12:

The Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia ($24 for three tickets)

Experience 13:

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, VA (free for military families, $10 for the audio tour for two people)

Experience 14:

The Prohibition Museum in Savannah, Georgia ($32.10 for three tickets)

Experience 15:

The Museum of Science and History (The MOSH) in Jacksonville, Florida ($30 for three tickets)

Experience 16:

Hunting for fossilized sharks teeth in Nokomis Beach, Florida (free)

Experience 17:

Artisanal Spice Artistry Workshop at the International Festival of the Arts in Epcot, Walt Disney World ($166.16 for four tickets)

Experience 18:

Disney After Hours event at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World ($476 for four tickets)


What is next?!?

Many more adventures to explore in the month of February!

1 Comment

Artisanal Spice Artistry Workshop–Experience Adventure 17 of 100

When I planned our 2018 trip to Walt Disney World, I was SUPER excited to see that the International Festival of the Arts would be at Epcot during the same time.  (I will do a blog post all about the festival soon!)
The festival offers guests a chance to spend the day walking through and experiencing the arts–visual, culinary, music and theatre.  As an extra added fun bonus, Epcot hosts a ton of seminars, workshops and classes at an additional cost.
Hands-on learning at Disney??  Yes, please!  Sign us up!
As Christmas gifts, I gave my children tickets to the P.S. Flavor! Artisanal Spice Artistry Workshop.  My son works in the food industry and my daughters love to cook and bake.  A class all about spices was a perfect fit for the 4 of us and we looked forward to doing something different while at Epcot during our vacation.
Read the description of the class below (taken directly from the Walt Disney World website):
P.S. Flavor! Artisanal Spice Artistry
Pam Smith and Nicole Ramsland, P.S. Flavor! Artisanal Spice Blends
Odyssey Festival Showplace
Workshop begins at 11:00 AM
$39 per person plus tax
Blend your own spices with a “sand art twist” and learn the creative
process of bringing a beautiful artisanal spice blend to life
Unfortunately, the class was not AT ALL what we hoped it would be.  BIG BUMMER.
First of all, the first 20 minutes of the workshop was filled with awkward banter
between the mother and daughter who were running the class.
We did NOT blend our own spices.  We took the spices provided and put them
in a jar.  That was it.  We moved the spices from small containers
into a glass jar.  The spices were pre-measured, so we just poured from the small, black cups into a jar.  FOR REAL.
The “Blend your own spices” was the adobo spice blend sold by the presenter’s company, P.S. Flavor!  Essentially, we WAY overpaid and unknowingly packaged a bottle of the company’s spice blend, which was the only spice we were given.
Pouring the spices from one container to another took about 5 minutes.  Next, and for more than half of the “workshop”, we made “paint” by adding water and painted with another set of spices.  Yes.  Painted a picture.  Where in the description does it
state that more than half of the class focuses on painting?

My son was not thrilled.

Pam Smith (the woman that owns the spice company) kept
“sharing” random and incorrect information about paint history–going as
far to say that Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel with spices.
That is simply not true.
The majority of the time was filled with what can only be described as
an infomercial for the personal spice company.  The class felt like a long, drawn-out infomercial, a desperate attempt to get everyone to buy the online spice and cooking subscription classes.  My children and I found the workshop uncomfortable and a complete waste of time and money.
The WORST part–At the end of the class, we were left with these sopping wet paintings
and no place to put them.  HELLO!  We were in the middle of Epcot!
My son and one of my daughters just threw their paintings in the trash, which made my heart hurt a little bit.  So disappointing!
I had to take the other 2 paintings back to our car–a long, long walk that wasted at least another hour of my Epcot park time.
We left the “class” with a small jar of spices and an informational card about the spice company–another sales pitch.  We were all very upset that we wasted our Epcot park time and spent the rest of the day trying to make up for lost time.
We did NOT “Blend our own spices”.  We filled a jar, listened to an
infomercial for a spice company, received false information and painted
some palm trees.  This class was a complete waste of time and money and
we could not have been more disappointed in the false advertisement and
the way we were forced to sit through a sales pitch from the presenters.
I try to find the good in a bad experience and honestly, I enjoyed the painting process–because, well…I am an artist.  But, I did NOT sign up and pay for a faulty art lesson (palm trees?!?) and I would NEVER commit part of our Epcot day for such, especially for my 3 children.  Disney dropped the ball on this one, for sure.
Even though this experience is our 17th of 100 adventures, I did contact Guest Experience Services at the Walt Disney World company and asked for a refund for the price of the 4 tickets to the workshop.  I am still waiting for a response.
***I am very pleased to report that Disney did in fact refund the $166.16 for the 4 tickets to this event.  Thank you Disney for making this right.  We appreciate you and LOVE you!
Good or bad, our experience adventures continue!
Read about another adventure here!
And here.
And here.
Planning a trip to Walt Disney World soon?  You gotta read this!


The Edgar Allan Poe Museum–Experience Adventure 12 of 100

I registered my youngest daughter for the SAT test before I knew about this exciting Pennsylvania sabbatical, so I swapped the testing site to a location a tad bit closer to PA than Texas–and Richmond, Virginia won.

During my “What to do in Richmond, Virginia” search, I found the Edgar Allan Poe Museum and I immediately started collecting curriculum to create a unit study for my daughters.  I bought several books, a biographical DVD and an audio collection of his stories and poetry.  (I will provide a list at the end of this post.)

The girls read many of his pieces, including The Pit and the Pendulum, The Tell-Tale Heart and The Raven.  Along with the readings, we focused on vocabulary, writing responses, discussions and literary devices.  We studied his timeline in a historical context, illustrated his poetry, re-wrote sections from other characters’ views and dissected his works as detective-based, science fiction and psychological horror stories.

I love nothing more than finishing up a great unit study with a relevant museum trip.  It is the icing on the homeschooling cake.  🙂


Even more AWESOME:  When we arrived at the museum, we happened upon the COOLEST thing EVER!


Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809.  We visited the museum on January 20, 2018, and guess what?!?  The museum was hosting a huge 209th birthday bash to celebrate Mr. Poe.  Complete happy accident on our part–we were only there that day because my daughter took the SAT that morning in Richmond.


I LOVE when this happens!


The Edgar Allan Poe Museum began as an enchanted garden shrine to Poe and opened to the public on April 26, 1922.  (April 26th is my b-day!  Not really relevant, just fun!)  James Howard Whitty and a group of literary enthusiasts originally wanted to honor Poe by restoring the Southern Literary Messenger building, where Poe began his work as an editor.

Unfortunately, the historical landmark was demolished.  Whitty collected and salvaged the building materials and Annie Jones used the bricks and granite to create paved walkways and peaceful paths, which became the garden and Edgar Allan Poe shrine.  Mrs. Jones used Poe’s poem, “To One in Paradise” as inspiration and filled the garden with plants from Poe’s mom’s grave.


Today, the land and museum consists of the garden, an old stone house and several buildings that display relics, artwork, personal letters and furniture from Poe’s life.


Photography is limited to certain areas, so I do not have a ton of pictures.  But, the museum is considered the most comprehensive in the world and showcases a large collection of Poe related items, including a staircase from his childhood home.


I took this picture of one of Mr. Poe’s desks.


We were thankful to be able to take advantage of the unique, birthday-themed events offered by the museum.  We toured the museum, ate cake, visited the garden and listened to knowledgeable docents explain exhibits.


Our favorite event–hands down–featured an intriguing mock trial, presented by a talented stage actor, portraying the narrator from Poe’s psychological thriller, “The Tell-Tale Heart”.  His performance brought the short story to life for my daughters.



The Edgar Allan Poe Museum is located at 1914-16 E. Main Street, Richmond, Virginia, 23223.  Admission is $8 for adults and $6 for children and seniors.  For more information, visit or call 804-648-5523.


The museum has a wonderful gift shop and educational resources can be found on the website at



The resources I used to create an Edgar Allan Poe unit study are listed below:

The Edgar Allan Poe audio collection preformed by Vincent Price and Basil Rathbone.

Edgar A. Poe, Buried Alive, PBS American Masters DVD

Who Was Edgar Allan Poe, written by Jim Gigliotti

The Complete Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, book

The Best of Poe, book

Poe–Stories and Poems, a graphic novel adaptation by Gareth Hinds

Several Brain Pop and YouTube videos on Poe and literary devices

The educational resources listed on the Edgar Allan Poe Museum website:


Interested in another cool thing do to in Richmond, Virginia?  Click here.

A must-do art museum right in Richmond, VA–yep!  Read all about it here!

Wondering why we are doing all of this?  Read about the insanity here.

Road tripping to Illinois?  Make sure you stop at this restaurant!

Yummy VEGAN cinnamon rolls?  Yes, please!  Click here!

1 Comment

An Epic Road Trip!


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


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?”




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.



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.





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



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!




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.