HersheyPark and Desserts Etc. Cafe in Hershey, Pennsylvania

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Hersheypark, Pennsylvania

The day after graduation, The Girl and I packed our bags and headed out for one of our final mother/daughter trips before she leaves for school {sniff, sniff}.  We decided to hit the east coast.  One of our stops was Hersheypark in Pennsylvania.  I admit, I went for the chocolate.

She went for the roller coasters {I hate roller coasters, but was willing to ride them}.

hersheys chocolate world pa

Hersheypark is a massive amusement park.  It has 12 roller coasters, for any of you thrill seekers and about 65 other attractions.  It was originally founded by Milton Hershey as a leisure park for employees at Hershey Chocolate Company.  It is still solely owned by the Hershey Entertainment Company.  The park opened its first roller coaster in 1923 and has been adding to it ever since.

On a hot summer day, you can also enjoy the boardwalk {make sure to bring a swimsuit if you are going to the Boardwalk, they don’t allow you to go in without swimwear}.    We didn’t do the water rides, but if the squeals from all the little kids mean anything, I’d say it is totally worth your time.

giant hershey bar

The park doesn’t have any sort of transit system from one side to the other, so be prepared to do some walking {that’s not really a downside to me, I kind of liked it}.  When you get tired, you can always stop off at one of the restaurants {or grab some chocolate}. :) :) :)

The park offers shows as well, so when your feet get tired, you can stop off and watch dueling pianos–or if you are lucky, you’ll be there on a Saturday or Sunday when they offer their concert series.

If rides and shows aren’t your thing, you can swing through ZOOAMERICA or hit Hershey’s Chocolate World {restaurant and shops dedicated to Hershey’s treats}.  Yum.

hershey pa kisses

After your trip to Hershey Park don’t forget to drive through the downtown area to get a glimpse of the Hershey Kiss lampposts.

desserts etc hershey pennsylvania

And if you need a place for lunch, Desserts Etc. has the most amazing turkey and bacon sandwiches and the pastries aren’t too shabby either. Okay, so the pastries freakin’ rock. In fact, you may want to forget the sandwich and just load up on sweets instead. Not that I did that or anything. Nope. Not me. :)

Hershey, PA

It’s AWESOME!

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.



10 Things to Do in Brussels, Belgium

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Things to Do in Brussels, BelgiumI was going through some photos of the trip The Girl and I took to Belgium in 2012 and just had to make a top 10 list of things to do in Brussels.

  1. Grande Place.  The Grande Place is a medieval square with tons of buildings dating back to the 17th century.  It’s got plenty of modern shopping and world class food.Musical Instruments Museum
  2. Musical Instruments Museum.  The Musical Instruments Museum is, well, just that a museum of musical instruments.  Only this one started in 1877, so it houses a pretty impressive array of over 8000 instruments.Mary Chocolatier
  3. Mary Chocolatier.  Seriously, this will be the highlight of your life.  It is the most amazing chocolate you’ve ever laid your lips on. {Check out this video. Willy Wonka would be jealous}
  4. Place Du Grand Sablon.  This is another pretty quaint square where you can peruse antique shops, nosh on some chocolate, or get a coffee and sit outside to people watch.Manneken Pis
  5. The Manneken Pis.  This is literally a statue of a little boy peeing into a fountain.  It dates back to around 1619.  The irony is that if a kid actually peed into the fountain, people would gasp–but turn that same idea into a bronzed statue and boom, it’s art.
  6. Hotel de Ville.  This gigantic building is the epitome of Gothic architecture.  It is seriously jaw-dropping.Mont des Arts Kunstberg
  7. Mont des Arts Kunstberg.  This park is literally like escaping to the woods in the middle of the city.  I doubt there is a bad time of year to visit–each season would offer a pretty spectacular stroll through nature.
  8. St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral.  Religious or not, church is worth a visit.  It is, true to Belgium form, amazing architecture, and pretty impressive inside as well.moof museum
  9. Moof Museum.  The Moof Museum is a museum of modern art.  It focuses pretty heavily on cartoon history, and it is on the smaller side, but if you enjoy the out of the ordinary, it’s worth a stop. Royal Palace brussels
  10. Royal Palace.  This is the official palace of the royals {though, not their residence}.  It is a beautiful palace with pristine grounds, and pretty amazing interior.  You can only visit during certain times of the year, though, so make sure to check before you plan a trip.

Have you ever been to Belgium?  Did the history in the architecture knock your socks off?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Lancaster Central Market – Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

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Lancaster Central Market

I almost forgot to tell you about our trip to the Lancaster Central Market.

Oh my word it was cool!

Lancaster Central Market produce stands

After an amazing homemade breakfast at our friend Zoë’s house, The Girl and I headed off to the Lancaster Central Market in Pennsylvania  for some lunch supplies for our drive to JJ’s house in Virginia last month.

Lancaster Central Market  bakery

The Lancaster Central Market is basically the hub of Lancaster.  In fact it’s the oldest ongoing farmer’s market in the country.  It. Is. Huge.  If you can’t find something to eat there, seriously, you aren’t hungry.

You can piece together a meal out of fresh produce, baked goods, cheese and deli meats, or you can sample a pretty wide array of international foods {German, Greek, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, Slavic, etc}.

Lancaster Central Market flowers

The market began in the 1730′s.  It was chartered by King George II in 1742–making the the country’s Royal Market town {a title the residents took quite a bit of pride in}.  The market buildings were put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

Lancaster Central Market Milk

Each week, about 3000 people visit the market.  Most of them are locals stocking up on their weekly food stuffs {which makes the market waaaay less of a tourist trap and a bit more charming}.

Lancaster Central Market Produce

We gave it 4 thumbs up. Go there. It’s awesome.

How about you, what is the best market you’ve ever stepped foot in?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Top 10 Things to Do in Victoria B.C.

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Top 10 Things to Do in Victoria B.C.This past weekend I took The Girl and one of her BFF’s to Victoria, BC for our last girls trip before they girls head off to college.  I took your advice and decided it would be a good destination with plenty to do.

wooly mammothThere’s about a million things to do, once you start digging around, but here’s my top 10:

  1. Royal BC Museum – This museum has a little bit of everything, but it’s pretty darn cool to get a little Canadian history.  The Viking exhibit was totally worth the trip. And the stuffed mammoth? Totally awesome.
  2. The Butchart Gardens – You know I had to include at least one garden.  It is full of almost shocking colors.  Plus, if you can’t convince the fam to stroll through the gardens, you can plan your trip just right and catch one of the concerts they have going on during the summer.  You can soak up the ambiance and enjoy life music on a bed of grass.
  3. Craigdarroch Castle – The castle was built by one of the richest men in Canada, Robert Dunsmuir, in the 1800′s.  It’s massive, and seriously a architectural mind-blower.  You can tour the grounds and the inside of the castle–the tour will give you the scoop on the Dunsmuir Family.french bulldog fawn color
  4. Inner Harbor – The harbor is a bustling hub of activity.  You can stroll along  the water, do some shopping, or choose from tons of great restaurants.the empress tea room
  5. Afternoon Tea at the Empress Hotel – The Empress is located at the Inner Harbor–and you know where there is afternoon tea, I’m gonna be there.  Tea isn’t just tea here, it’s an experience, complete with china, scones, and service.red kayak
  6. Victoria Pier – This is another pier that is complete with the maritime scene, local street performers and quaint little cafes. We ended up going kayaking and had a blast!raspberry pistachio pastry
  7. Old Town – Old Town is full of specialty shops catering to Scottish and Irish imports.  You can totally get a sense of B.C.’s immigrant influence.  It’s not huge, so walking it is totally possible.  In the 1800′s it was the center and hub of B.C., now it is a bit more touristy, but still worth seeing. Oh, and they have pastries. Lot’s and lot’s of pastries. ;)  parliament buildings victoria bc
  8. Parliament Buildings – The parliament buildings will be hard to miss if you get anywhere near the area.  They are impressive to say the least.  I recommend making it a destination instead of just strolling past, though.  You can take guided tours that only last about 30 minutes, but are totally worth it.
  9. Juan de Fuca Provincial Park – If you’re into venturing out of the city and exploring Vancouver Island, this park boasts miles of pretty amazing hiking trails.  You can even look for sea critters in the many tide pools.
  10. Miniature World – You can walk here from Inner Harbor.  It houses 85 miniature displays all with different themes {circus, the future, etc.}.  They are basically dioramas with unbelievable detail.  Kids will love getting lost in the tiny displays.

How about you? Have you been to Victoria, B.C.? What was your favorite thing?

Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Victoria, B.C. Flowers, Flowers and More Flowers…

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window box ideas

The flowers… they were EVERYWHERE. Seriously, if you are looking for ways to spruce up your window boxes, garden planters or just need some landscaping ideas, Victoria B. C. is the place to go. container garden ideas

It was not humanly possible to walk down a street there and not see flowers.
gorgeous planter boxes

Total flower porn.

black container garden

Did I just say that? ;) pink geraniums in flower garden

This planter with pink geraniums was one of my favorites.  Does anyone know what those tiny white flowers are? I am totally going to plant this combo next year.

black window box filled with petunias

Victoria should be named the flower capital of the world!!
lavender hydrangea bushes

I’ve been a lot of places and I have never seen so many flowers. To say it was lovely would be a total understatement. :) Mavis

 

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

How to Plan an Affordable Girls’ Weekend Getaway

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015

I love going places with The Girl, Monkey Boy, and the HH, but every once in awhile, I love a good Girls’ Weekend too.  It’s a chance to laugh and be silly, without having to be “mom”.  For me, it doesn’t necessarily have to be far, it just needs to be a chance to get together and chat, share good food, and explore without any responsibilities.

I know, as a mom, it’s a luxury to get a weekend away–and planning it in a way that is affordable is key.  Also, planning together goes a long way to making sure each person gets what they need/want out of the trip.

Here’s a couple of tips/things to keep in mind if you are planning a Girls’ Getaway:

  • To keep things on the cheap, think of ways you can split costs.  Look for locations that you can drive to and share to the cost of gas.  Rent a condo and split the cost–plus, then you can cook, and save money too.  Somehow, cooking with girlfriends never seems like work.  {Better yet, it’s the perfect time to start fasting for clarity–it will save you tons.  Ha.}
  • Even just a night in a local hotel can seem like a getaway–make it a grown-up slumber party, complete with treats, movies, magazines, and judgment {kidding!}.  Make sure to freeze the bra of the first on to fall asleep–it’s a slumber party requirement.
  • Spend the afternoon sitting by the hotel pool, just in the name of catching up with no place else to go.  Plus, people-watching with girlfriends is always more amusing, I don’t know about you, but my friends are very insightful.
  • After you have decided on a destination, cost, date, etc. assign each person one task.  Someone can be in charge of hotel reservations, someone else can handle transportation, local restaurants or food plans, entertainment, etc. {I like to be in charge of assigning assignments.}
  • When choosing a location, think about all of those places/sites you might like to go, but your family would never be interested.  Girls’ trips are the perfect time to explore new places you might not get to go otherwise.  This might, in fact, be your chance to see the world’s biggest ball of yarn–don’t pass it up.
  • Book Club car rides.  {I know, I know, nerd alert}  Seriously, though, get a book on CD for long car rides–listen to it, and book club it afterwards.  It makes car rides go soooo much faster.  And it makes you feel quite intellectual and self-satisfied.
  • Be flexible.  If it really is just the company you want, check out what Groupon and Living Social have going.  You might be able to score an awesome deal to a place you never would have considered going.  {Mark be spontaneous and adventurous off your list.  Check and check.}

Do YOU do Girls’ Getaways?  What are some of the places you’ve gone?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Tips for Traveling Abroad – London

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mavis red phone booth london

One Hundred Dollar a Month reader, Sandra, recently contacted me with the following question,

My friend and I are planning a trip to London in July 2015. I’ve never been abroad and have read all your tips for traveling! Thanks so much! My question is: when you go, do you purchase a tour package or do you plan your own vacation? Which do you think is the better deal? We are planning to stay about a week. If you DIY, can I ask about how much you budget for museums/tours/etc? Also, do you walk the city or bus or subway? Thanks sooooo much! We are super excited to go and are trying to plan our budget. Thanks Sandra.

I have never purchased a tour package BUT I was a loyal viewer of Rick Steves PBS Series Europe Through the Back Door and was able to glean a great deal on how to save money while traveling abroad from that show.

london natural history museum

I don’t have  a set budget for museums and tours.  I typically try to find the tours and museums I know I want to hit, and then find a way to get discounted entrance fees, etc.  I build my budget around the discounts.  If it starts to add up to too much moolah, I scale back, cutting the least important stuff {to me} first.

london tube Piccadilly line

Here’s a couple of ways I save when traveling abroad:

  1. I use Trip Advisor to look up hotels and B&B’s.  I like that they have reviews, and I can get an actual sense of the place.  It’s a great place to start.  I usually choose a hotel based on location.  I want it to be centrally located to the activities I want, OR, I want it to be close to a subway.
  2. If possible, walk.  Cabs and car rentals REALLY add up.  If you can’t walk, get to know public transport.  Europe makes public transport a walk in the park–a very inexpensive walk in the park.  Subways, buses, trains, etc. are a great way to save.  Look into savings passes for public transport.  Cities want tourists to use their transport system, and more often than not, they offer great discounts, if you look.  If weather permits, you can also look into cheap bike rentals.  You will be able to experience a lot more of the city than just walking.  For more specifics, see how I get around London.
  3. To eat on the cheap, hit outdoor markets and/or grocery stores.  They will have prepared foods that are much cheaper than sit-down restaurants, and visiting the markets is pretty much an activity in itself.  You can also stock up on snack foods that you can carry with you, instead of spending big bucks at the cafes.
  4. Bed & Breakfasts offer both a clean place to stay AND a FULL breakfast {usually}.  They can really be worth the price {which in Europe, is typically VERY affordable, as compared to the “trendy” B&B’s in America}, if you factor in the food.
  5. Consider tour packages, IF you wanted to do everything in the package anyway.  If the tours don’t really float your boat, but they offer discounted prices, you really aren’t making the most of your experience.  If you only wanted to do 2-3 tours on the list, you may be cheaper to price them out separately anyway.  Need some ideas?  Check out 10 Things to Do in London.
  6. Travel light.  I know this doesn’t seem like an obvious money saving tip, but it is.  The lighter you travel the more options you have.  You can take an impromptu trip to the countryside by train without hesitation or complication, and it really limits your liability should you become a victim of theft.

sherlock homes 221b baker street london

Rick Steve’s website also has oodles of tips and tricks for saving money, beating the lines, and acclimating to the culture.

With a bit of planning, you’ll find saving money is a piece of cake.  Any of my readers have any more tips for Sandra?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

How to Be a Good Houseguest

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how to be a good houseguest

While on our trip to the east coast my daughter and I had the privilege of being houseguests at both my friend JJ’s house in Virginia and her cousin Zoe’s farm in Lancaster County, PA.  Not only did this save my daughter and I a ton of money but it was also a way to spend some quality time with two families I absolutely adore.

I don’t know about you, but when people open their homes to me, I try really hard to leave a small imprint.  I want to be the kind of guest that people would love to have back.  I want The Girl to be that kind of guest too.

Here are my top 10 tips on being a great houseguest:

  1. Bring a gift. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive, but it should be a thoughtful token of your gratitude.  It’s just a simple way to say, “Hey, thanks for letting me sleep in your sheets.”  Think local–something your guest couldn’t easily get ahold of.
  2. Keep clean.  Your guest should hardly know you are there.  Keep your stuff confined to the space your host provides.  That means, don’t leave shoes, purses, etc. in the front entry way.  Slip them off and carry them to your room.  Your host should not have to look at your clutter…ever.clean dishes
  3. Offer to pitch in.  If your host provides a meal, help with dishes, wipe the counters…whatever you can do to be more help than work.
  4. Don’t complain.  This probably seems like a no-brainer, but if you are sleeping on an old pull-out bed, remember, it’s free.  No complaints about crappy sleep.  You are in their space, and they get to offer whatever they are willing/able and no more.  Special diets aren’t your host’s problem.  Be gracious and blend in with the culture of the house without complaining.  Enough said.
  5. Be clear about your plans.  Let your host know exactly how long you will be staying, what time you will be arriving, etc.  Let them know all of the activities you have planned, so they know when you will be out of the house.
  6. Don’t bring pets, kids, etc. unless you have already cleared it with your host.  Along the same lines, don’t invite other friends over to the house you’re staying at, it’s unfair to the host.
  7. Err on the side of modesty.  Don’t trippy trop from the bathroom to your bedroom in just a towel.  Get dressed out of your jammies before you make it into one of the common areas of the house, etc.  Everyone has different comfort levels, erring on the side of caution will keep you from unintentionally offending.
  8. Don’t expect your host to entertain you.  Have plans that include getting you out of the house frequently.  You can always invite your host to tag along, but it gives them a courteous “out” if they need to get some things done or need some personal time/space in their own house.
  9. Bring ALL of your own stuff.  Toothpaste, shampoo, etc.  Bring it all.  This includes personal snacks.  Don’t be raiding your host’s pantry whenever you get the munchies {unless they offer}.  That way, you leave a very small mark on the house you are staying.
  10. Send a thank you note after you leave.  I know it seems like over-kill when you have also brought a present, but being overly gracious never hurt anybody.

Those are the big ones as far as I am concerned?  Any I missed or that you strictly adhere to?  Even better, ever had a bad houseguest?  What did they do?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Luray Caverns – Luray, Virginia

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luray caverns virginia

Last week while The Girl and I were in Virginia, we stopped by the Luray Caverns.  IT.WAS.AWESOME.

luray caverns virginia

The Luray cavers were discovered in 1878, by Andrew Campbell and a small group of his men.  The land the caves were on was privately owned at the time.  It was later put up for auction, due to debts the owner carried, and Andrew Campbell purchased the land, keeping the caves a secret until he had.  After tons of changing hands and legal battles, it finally became a national commercial attraction.

luray caverns photos

The caves are amazing.  They have lit portions of the caves so that you can tour them.  It pretty much feels like Land of the Lost in there.  I half expected a dinosaur to pop out and eat me.

caverns luray virginia

Some of the formations are so unbelievable, you almost feel like you are looking at a painting and not real life.

luray caverns virginia

In 1974, the caves became part of the National Natural Landmarks.  Nearly 500,000 people visit the caves yearly and towards the end of the guided tour there is a wishing well {cavern style} where you can drop your loose change.

luray caverns wishing well

To date almost $900,000 has been collected and given away to charities.

How cool is that.

So if you are ever in the great state of Virginia, be sure and stop by.

~Mavis

 

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

How to Eat Healthy While on Vacation

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How to Eat Healthy While on Vacation

Vacations are all about experiencing new things and taking a break from the day-to-day realities of life.  The downside to vacationing is that you can easily justify eating your weight in cookies for breakfast…because “you’re on vacation.”  If, by some crazy chance, you are hoping to still fit into  your pants when you return home, here are a couple of tips to help you eat healthy and still enjoy what your destination has to offer:Pistachios healthy snacks

  1. Pack snacks.  Snacks can be the downfall of any vacation.  Gas stations and airports leave A LOT to be desired as far as healthy choices go.  Eliminating the unhealthy calories you consume mindlessly on the car ride or plane ride will probably cut down significantly on vacation bulge.
  2. Hit the grocery store the second you get to your destination.  Grab some nuts, seeds, fruits, etc. to store in the hotel room.fruit tart with custard filling
  3. Pick one meal to splurge on.  For example, if you commit to a healthy breakfast and lunch, you can go wild at dinner without the guilt of the cheeseburger, fries, and shake from lunch hanging over you.
  4. Eat only 1/2 of your meal.  Restaurants offer obscene portion sizes, when your meal comes, immediately ask for a box {or split it with someone else} and box up half.  You can always take it back to the hotel mini-fridge.  On day three when you are dog-tired, you can come back and eat it while watching a movie in your room.  It will feel like a luxury.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask restaurants if they can “customize” your meal.  For example, exchanging a side of fries for a side salad with the dressing on the side, or veggies without butter, etc.salt and straw ice cream portland
  6. If you don’t have a splurge meal, plan one treat a day.  That way, you can still enjoy the local pastry or ice cream shop without worrying.
  7. Order water.  Vacationing means eating out…a lot.  Resist ordering soda with your meal {even if it comes with  your meal} and just get water.  Soda adds a stupid amount of calories for nothing.
  8.  Download a calorie tracking app while on vacation and commit to entering your choices BEFORE you order them.  Sometimes just seeing the nutritional profile is enough to deter you.
  9. Refuse the free bread, chips, etc. that comes to the table when  you sit down.  I know, refusing bread is almost criminal, but the pre-dinner munchies can add a lot of calories to your meal.Green Beans with Toasted Cashews
  10. Order extra veggies.  Veggies are sometimes hard to come by at restaurants unless you specifically order them.  Forego the potatoes and ask for a double veggies instead.  Aim for 5-7 servings each day of vacation and they will help to fill you up so that gorging yourself on cupcakes is a little less tempting {in theory anyway–I’ve never actually met a cupcake I’m too full for}.

How do you eat healthy on vacation?  Is it hard for you to stay on the straight and narrow, or is it just habit for you now?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

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