Tis the Season for Turkey! Turkey Hill Experience, That Is!

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img_0964As Thanksgiving approaches and everyone starts googling turkey recipes I wanted to make sure mine was included. It’s an easy recipe – open lid, get spoon, scoop, and eat.  Because people – without a doubt, my favorite type of turkey is Turkey Hill ice cream.

Do you agree?

If so I highly, highly recommend visiting the Turkey Hill Experience + Lab on your next visit to Lancaster, PA. A place where it’s always time to “talk turkey” (sorry).

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My family and I recently visited the fun, interactive (and delicious) Turkey Hill Experience and I must say – I am so glad we did. It was one of the clear highlights of our trip because – you know – ice cream! Not only was there plentiful samples, but there was fun stuff for the kids to play with and on, great family picture opportunities (you know I loves me a good stick-your-face-in-it thing), and my favorite – an opportunity to create my own flavor in their scientific, white lab coat wearing Taste Lab.

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With three kids – ages six, three, and an infant, our one and only family vacation needed stroller friendly stops that could accommodate for multiple audiences. The Turkey Hill Experience with its nine interactive exhibit areas including the story of the Turkey Hill Dairy and how the company’s top-selling ice cream and iced tea flavors are selected and created kept my kids interested for hours.

While my daughter could read and learn, my son could milk a mechanical cow, go in ball pits, swirl down slides, and sit in a milk truck. The baby – well – he was just excited to sample the flavors later on from his own personal dairy cow.  Moo.

Besides the above, this colorful and eye pleasing space offered a digital “create your own ice cream flavor” which walked you through several exhibits allowing you to create your own ice cream package and even film a commercial!

But my favorite activity of all was the Taste Lab. For a few dollars more you could go behind locked doors into the dream-come-true land of create your own ice cream flavor using all kinds of tastes and toppings (or as they say – flavoring, inclusions, and variegates). Well worth it, you not only get to play scientist but you learn more fun facts about the Dairy and brand and get to tour the facility eating your creation.

More than just a delicious Dairy, as a proud tree hugger, you can imagine my excitement when I learned about Turkey Hill’s sustainability and environmental impact-reduction projects including the adaptive reuse and rehabilitation of the building that houses the Turkey Hill Experience. As strong advocates for preserving the history, culture, and open spaces of Lancaster County, they decided to convert the 25 year old vacant Ashley & Bailey Silk Mill into their new ice cream oasis instead of new construction. Along the same lines, once inside you can find many creative little ways they used recycled material.

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Have only a short time to visit but think it sounds fun!? Stop by and check out the fully stocked tongue in cheek gift shop or one of the few exhibits open to the public at no charge. I promise the next time, you’ll stay to play.

Looking for a fun holiday activity? Check out the Turkey Hill Experience Ice Cream with Santa offered from 6pm – 8pm on Saturday December 10th and 17th, 2016. A perfect time to visit and enjoy the beautifully decorated space – including several themed Christmas trees. Kids under twelve can create a holiday card that will be mailed to their special someone, listen to Santa read Christmas stories, make a Christmas craft, and enjoy a special Christmas ice cream treat and one of Mrs. Claus’ freshly baked cookies. Turkey Hill drinks will be provided during the event.

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Designed by the same firm as The Hershey Story and the Connecticut Science Center, the Turkey Hill Experience, located at 301 Linden St., Columbia, PA 17512, directly off Route 30 at the Columbia exit, opened on June 4, 2011. For hours of operation please visit their schedule. I also HIGHLY recommended ordering tickets (in advance) online as all tours were sold out by the time we arrived.

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What’s that saying?

Save a turkey, eat some ice cream!?

Happy Thanksgiving!

***Giveaway***

The Turkey Hill Experience would like to give away a family 4 pack of tickets to one lucky Mint Chip Mama reader!

To enter, please comment below with your favorite Turkey Hill ice cream flavor!

Winner will be chosen on Turkey Day, (November 24th, 2016) of course! 

Kevin Can Wait – Now Mondays at 8pm EST/ 7pm CT on CBS!

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Kevin Can WaitMondays at 8pm EST/7pm CT on CBS stars Kevin James as a newly retired police officer looking forward to spending carefree, quality time with his wife and three kids, only to discover he faces tougher challenges at home than he ever did on the streets.img_0373

Who knew right in my backyard a multi camera sitcom was being taped every week!? In Los Angeles they’re a dime a dozen, in New York City they’re common but on Long Island!? It’s a first!

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When I was invited to visit the set of Kevin Can Wait I couldn’t resist. Besides loving the show it was literally eight minutes away from my house.

The set tour was so cool. Especially, since I’ve never been on a sitcom set before. I loved walking through the “rooms” of a show I watch weekly and recognizing the props from where I saw them last – my living room!

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I was amazed at the level of accuracy and authenticity the set had to the characters. Dressed like in a real family home with three kids, there was non-stop Mets memorabilia, nursing slogan water bottles, and even assembled Magna-Tiles at the base of the stairs juuust like in my house.

While on set we were lucky enough to sit down with the show’s two stars Kevin James and Erinn Hayes and the show’s Executive Producer/Director, Andy Fickman.

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As you can imagine in a group of parent bloggers many questions came up about how the stars themselves parent both their real children (Kevin has 4, Erinn has 2) and their TV children. It was interesting to hear that the TV kids are older than both Erinn’s kids and Kevin’s kids so it’s fun for them because teenagers are unchartered territory.

And yes! Stars are just like us. I loved hearing how Erinn too used to drive around in a plotted out highway route so her kids could nap, while looking for a coffee drive thru. It was also nice to hear that just like our kids – their kids also get carsick and act like nuts!

Here are a few more highlights from our Q& A:

Who are your comedic influenced?

Kevin: Jackie Gleason and John Candy – both big guys.

Erinn: Carol Burnett and Madeline Kahn. Goldie Hawn in Overboard – I just rewatched it recently, it was a Great performance.

(I agree it’s one of my favorites! I like it when she goes Buh Buh Buh Buh – which is how I feel at the end of the day with my three kids!)

How do you like doing a TV show vs. a movie?

Erinn: there’s longevity on TV and only one story in a movie. On a TV show you are exploring the lives of these people and are curious what’s coming. You can add to the characters as the show goes on.

Kevin: in a movie you can’t change the character once it’s over but with TV you can evolve the characters. There’s also a rhythm with a live audience – like with live stand-up comedy. With a movie there is no audience watching, with TV you get an immediate audience reaction.

How do you like filming on Long Island – for a show that takes place in Massapequa?

Kevin: I love filming on Long Island. It brings total authenticity. It’s just a different energy. Plus since this is the first show filmed here it’s like an exciting event. My wife is starting to love Long Island too. We love the change of seasons.

Erinn: I like the change of season too but my family is in Los Angeles so I go back every weekend.

What would you do when you really retire? 

Erinn: I’d love to get a Volkswagen camper and go on little adventures.

Kevin: I have no end in sight. I love what I do.

Erinn: Me too!

Favorite places to eat on Long Island?

Kevin: Robkes, All American Burger, Umberto’s, Chris & Tony’s.

Erin – I was so shocked that strip malls have great food!

How does your Mets fan pride carry through? 

Kevin: Before every show we sing “Meet the Mets” with the audience. We also have some players making cameos.

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So what is the big thing “Kevin Can Wait” for?

For his retirement plans! You think life will go one way but it goes another. As Kevin (James) said – Want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.

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Now, isn’t that the truth…

Check out this week’s episode – Hallow-We-Ain’t-Home” on Monday, October 31st at 8PM – CBS. On Halloween, Kevin and Donna’s neighbors “trick” them in holiday style when they pretend not to be home to avoid giving out candy. Also, Chale has an altercation with a man dressed as a Viking (Noah Syndergaard).

Follow Kevin Can Wait on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

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They spelled my name wrong – but they gave me a Gyro Bowl (Inside joke from the pilot episode)!

 

Dutch Wonderland – A Fantastic Family Destination!

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Hear Ye Hear Ye.

If you’re looking for a fun weekend getaway, look no further than Dutch Wonderland.

While the water rides are hibernating for the season, the dry rides & shows are plentiful and festivals are non-stop!

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Few things are a young family’s rite of passage like a road trip to an amusement park. So as a new family of five we decided to give it a go. We strategically planned our visit to Lancaster, PA in early September before our school started – but while most others were already in session. Off peak, off peak, off peak.

I should note I have been DYING to go to Dutch Wonderland for (give or take) thirty five years. As a child my parents and I frequented Amish country but as my Dad says “It was raining every time we tried to go”.

Uh..huh…

While I won’t say I specifically remember sun…. I’ll just say I never got to go – but I passed those castle gates many a time with my hand outstretched towards them and a tear in my eye.

Alas…

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I vowed that one day, one day (!) my kids would get to walk through those castle gates. That day, people, was September 1st, 2016.

With three kids – six and a half, almost three, and three months we thought this was the perfect time to visit. I have to say – we were right!

The park is large in attractions but not overwhelming. While you could go on all the rides in one day the best offer around is to take advantage of the evening preview the night before. For us – with the earlier closing hour of 6pm – this was perfect. We arrived at 3pm and knocked out all of the “bigger” rides we knew would have lines the next day. I loved the preview not only for the efficient (and complimentary) aspect of it but also so I could plan our full day there with some knowledge of the park layout from my own eyes vs. the online map.

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My daughter loved the “bigger” rides but equally loved the smaller rides she could go on with her little brother. The rides were a bit edgier than our local amusement park so she was super excited. My son loved driving the cars and the train. I liked the “sitting and recharging” rides – read: train, monorail, and boat ride. As a parent – shade plus sitting is always a big, big win. The baby was excited for the new “Nursing Station”. But truthfully, I found the whole park nursing friendly with benches located all around.

While the summer months (Memorial Day – Labor Day) are a great time to visit Dutch Wonderland to take advantage of Duke’s Lagoon, the Fall and Winter months are a killer time to go as well. Rides in jeans and a t-shirt vs. tank tops and sweat? Sign me up.

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The 2016 season is still going strong. In the Fall there is Happy Hauntings (Saturdays and Sundays through October 30th) featuring themed rides, special entertainment, tasty treats, and the Trick-or-Treat Trail (a safe, interactive trick-or-treating experience).

If you’re looking for a party – check out the Spook-tacular Halloween Bash (Saturday and Sunday October 29th and 30th) featuring music, dancing and more.

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In the winter – on select dates from November 19th to December 30th you can check out the Dutch Winter Wonderland with rides, entertainment, and the Royal Light Show – a spectacular display of thousands of twinkling lights dancing to your favorite holiday tunes!

Want to do good and receive a complimentary ticket to Dutch Winter Wonderland!? Well head there on November 19th, 2016 between 3:00pm and 9:00pm (the grand opening evening of Dutch Winter Wonderland) with a new, unwrapped toy. Children under the age of 12 will receive one complimentary admission in exchange for each donation to the Toys for Tots Foundation toy drive.

As frequent visitors to our local amusement park – which has the same number of rides packed in to half the acreage – it was absolutely delightful to spend a day at Dutch Wonderland. Not only were there tons of rides and games, special treats like Dole Whip Junction and Funnel cake, a few Dutch education stations (my kids were really into these), shows, and characters – there were also lots of fun “stick your face in the picture” thingies which we all love.

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So at 38 I can say my dream came true. I finally got to enter those big castle gates, walk over the drawbridge – naturally surrounded by a moat – and see the amazing place that is Dutch Wonderland. We had such a great time. The park wasn’t big enough to be stressful, but was big enough to fill our day and leave us wanting to return.  There were plenty of places to eat, rest, play, and enjoy. Dutch Wonderland’s location offered many fun resorts and restaurants within a ten minute drive and there was more to do in the area than we had days to be there. Just a fantastic weekend all around.

Go. Enjoy.

Think of me when you’re eating that Dole Whip!

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Mr. Popper’s Penuins at The Victory Theater

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@Popper_Penguins #loveoftheater @NewVictory 

Tonight I was lucky enough to see Mr. Popper’s Penguins at The New Victory Theater. It was fantastic! Or should I say fin-tactic!? 

flap-tactic? 

flip-tastic? 

Ok, I’ll stop. 

I’ve seen a lot of kids shows and I usually play along and like them for my kids but this was different. It was legit adorable and funny. 

We didn’t know the story beforehand so we didn’t know what to expect. Not only were the four actors who played multiple characters (including ten penguins) great but they carried the story though flawlessly (and with delightful British accents). 

Photo Credit: Helen Murray

Our favorite scene was when Mrs. Popper relented to becoming a penguin foster mom and sang a list of rules to her new Captain Cook. Why was it our favorite? Because my daughter turned to me afterwards and told me I had the same list of rules for her! Ha! 

Special things kept us engaged like “snow” falling and the hilarious penguin “puppeteers”. Plus as a huge fan of British comedies, I loved the circular rotation of “new” characters coming out with different accent. 

Photo Credit: Helen Murray

But the best was at the end when the entire audience was invited to stand up and join in the “show” and waddle like a penguin (I’m a sucker for audience participation!). 

The show was wonderful but the whole experience at The New Victory Theater was great. Including that they handed out booster seats as we walked in (perfect for me – a serial booster forgetter). But even better – they had a whole “come early & stay late” room downstairs dedicated to crafts and activities for ticket holders – free of charge – before and after the show. Plus the usher was totally into it and got my daughter into it too! 

If you’re looking for a family friendly show – please check out Mr. Popper’s Penguins. While the age listed says 4-7 I think a younger kid would love it (I’m bummed I didn’t bring my 3 year old son too) and an older kid would appreciate it. My six and a half year old daughter LOVED it. She said a few times on the way home she thought she’d like it but she loved it!

Mr. Popper’s Penguins has a run time of 55 minutes and is playing at The New Victory Theater through October 30, 2016. Tickets start at $25. There is an autism friendly show October 29th. For more information or to order tickets check out their website

GB Pockit Stroller – The Smallest Stroller in the World!

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#gbpockit

Are you sitting down? I’m about to introduce you to the world’s smallest stroller. According to me? Nope – according to the Guinness Book of World Records!

Believe me now?

Get ready – I’m about to solve all your strollin’ problems.

I came across the gb Pockit stroller at this year’s New York Baby Show. It literally stopped me in my tracks. The gb Pockit is not only tiny it’s so small it folds up to fit in a bag, backpack, on the floor under your car seat, even – wait for it – in your infant car seat stroller base! Yes, that’s right people; I just said THIS stroller fits in the base of another stroller.

Digest that for a moment.

Yes. It goes there.

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Got a baby and a two year old runner?

Because I do!

Do you venture out on the weekends never knowing if it’s worth bringing a stroller?

Because I do!

Do you use a carrier but then suffer from carrier remorse because you should have brought a stroller?

Because I do!

Do you hate leaving your stroller at a museum or zoo’s compulsory “leave your stroller here” zone?

Because I do!

The answer is the gb Pockit.

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This amazing small stroller arrived in an equally small box. Inside the small box I found an even smaller stroller. Like Russian dolls it got better and better. I opened it up and Bam! A full size stroller!

Now you’re probably wondering if it feels like pushing one of those $10 cheap-o strollers in the “this is the least annoying and smallest stroller I can find” category, but no – quite the opposite! It feels like a good, sturdy, strong, smooth stroller. Actually – it feels even better than my current stroller.

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Then the real test came – our first road trip as a family of five. I packed the usual – half of my snack cabinet, something in case it is cold, hot, warm, dry, wet, sunny, rainy, plus the quick 300 other things I needed.

For three kids.

You’re laughing… you get it… (even if your husband doesn’t).

In went the car seat stroller base and without even a blink – in went my brand new gb Pockit. My friend was over, we were both dumbfounded. Yes we were that excited about this stroller.

You may have noticed sometimes a child resists going in their stroller? Have you noticed this? It’s usually accompanied by a very calm, quiet declaration refusing to go in it. Usually followed by you taking three deep breathes like the experts tell you to do (wink) – relenting, and letting them walk – while you trail pushing an empty stroller and muttering “well at least it can hold my stuff”.

But not with this stroller.

Bam!

Throw it in your bag, carry it on your back, heck – throw it in a locker! It is that convenient. Let the little monster – er – delight – walk.

Oh, monster, you’re suddenly tired and need a nap? I didn’t see that coming.

Bam!

gb Pockit to the rescue – out of my bag, on to the floor. It even has an adjustable rectangular sunshade.

Do you have older kids? Are you traveling and debating a double stroller vs. two umbrella strollers in case your older one needs a rest?

Bam!

The gb Pockit fits under your other stroller! I know. It’s amazing. Speaking of travel – the gb Pockit fits under an airline seat. There’s even room for eight thousand snack bags and the “good” cup you better not leave on the plane.

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The ultra compact gb Pockit is not just a pretty face, it also has a height-adjustable 5-point harness, removable and washable seat fabric, a storage basket that holds up to 11 lbs, locking swivel front wheels, a one-touch rear brake, fits children from six months to 55 pounds, and self-stands when folded. It weighs 9.5 pounds and has the folded dimensions of 12” long x 7” wide x 14” high. It retails for $249.99 on Amazon.

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I’m so happy I learned about this stroller. As my family (and car) gets bigger, my trunk space seems to get smaller and filled with more ready-for-Armageddon stuff (see above).

The gb Pockit solves the problem I’m sure you – like me – have of never wanting to be without an umbrella stroller yet not wanting to give up that precious trunk real estate. Just know that the gb Pockit takes up less space than the perpetual bag of stuff you’re trying to return (I know, I have one too).

If you are in the market for a new stroller or are at a stroller crossroads, you have to check out the gb Pockit. It will fit (pun intended) perfectly into your life.

Nursing 9 to 5, What a Way to Make a Human. DAY 4 OF MY FAVORITE THINGS: Glamourmom

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Another absolute “must have” in honor of Breastfeeding Awareness Month – the Glamourmom Nursing Tank! After six years and hundreds of wears it still looks & feels brand new.

The Mint Chip Mama

Day 4 of My Favorite Things: Glamourmom

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August is “Breastfeeding Awareness Month” and August 1st-7th is slated as “World Breastfeeding Week”. Given my love for nursing I would be remiss not to include all of my favorite breastfeeding paraphernalia in my “Favorite Things” series. I have been lucky enough to have nursed for an extended time and to currently be nursing. So this is a topic near and dear to my heart (quite literally!).  Forget saying these are breastfeeding “accessories”. In my world – these are breastfeed NEcessities. The first of which is my beloved, beloved Glamourmom® Nursing Bra Full Bust Long Top.

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The Mint Chip Mama in her navy Glamourmom® Nursing Bra Full Bust Long Top.

Photo credit: My mom

I learned about Glamourmom through Big City Moms back in 2009 when I was pregnant…

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Pump Up the Volume, Pump Up the Volume, Pump Up the Volume. Milk! Milk! Day 17 of My Favorite Things: PumpEase Hands-Free Pumping Bra

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Continuing with my Breastfeeding Awareness Month posts – here is my absolute favorite pumping accessories. My hands free pumping bra from Pump Ease. Changed my life.

The Mint Chip Mama

Day 17 of My Favorite Things: PumpEase hands-free pumping bra

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@PumpEase  @snugabell #PAA Facebook

Batman and Robin, Lois and Clark, Bonnie and Clyde. All of these are partners. For me right now the biggest partnership (besides you know – the obvious human ones) is between my breast pump and my PumpEase hands-free pumping bra.

As I mentioned yesterday – nursing is something about which I am passionate. Since August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month I want to share my love for another vital breastfeeding item – my PumpEase hands-free pumping bra.

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For me, breastfeeding and pumping go hand in hand. I really credit my pumping success with not only my amazing breast pump but my PumpEase hands-free pumping bra to hold it in place. I was lucky enough to have gotten my PumpEase hands-free pumping bra as a gift when I was pregnant with my daughter – five years ago…

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