Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hershey Pennsylvania.... bring the big bucks with you!

Our family went to Hershey PA this past weekend, yes, we chose the hottest weekend of the summer so far, but overall we had a great time.  I am here to warn you though, bring along the big bucks if you plan to visit.
So we were lucky enough to get tickets from Chevrolet for 4 admissions.  Tickets to enter HersheyPark are $53.95 per adult.  WOW, this is close to Disney prices for the day.  The most important tip I can tell you is to take advantage of the Preview Plan.  If you buy a regular price admission you can get FREE admission to the whole park the night before for 2.5 hours before it closes.  This worked out really great for us.  On Friday night my husband took the 3 oldest kids to the park from 7:30-10 and it was EMPTY! Literally they rode all the rides 5 times in a row, they did not even need to get up and get in line again.  They said this was the most fun night of their lives!!!!  One more tip, bring along lots of extra clothing.  They came back from the park soaking wet every single visit.
The preview night is awesome, try and do it if you can.
We stayed at an awesome hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn in Hummelstown.  It is about a 5 minute drive, located near many good and reasonable restaurants, and was a clean, comfortable place to sleep.  We used our HHonors points to stay here and got 2 rooms for 2 nights.  If we did not have points to stay here it would have been about $230 a night.  Breakfast was included for us, but I think it was still worth the $10.95 per person.  Made to order eggs, pancakes, omelets, waffles, fruits, cereals, breads, pastries. 3 kinds of cold beverages, many hot beverages.  All the usual breakfast foods were easily found here.  Lisa greeted us each morning with lots of great tips and helpful hints for us!
So HersheyPark is right next to Hershey's Chocolate World.  One thing I did not understand was why Chocolate World was always so CROWDED!  Literally impossible to walk around at times.  Day, night, afternoon, always a mob scene.
There is a very cute ride which shows you how Hershey makes chocolate. This ride lasts about 5 minutes and is free.  Enjoy this freebie, because it is the last one I can tell you about.  My 2 younger kids did not go to Hershey Park.  Instead we hung out at the hotel, played games, and spent some time at Hershey's Chocolate World.  The big things they both wanted to do was make their own chocolate bar.  This would have been really fun and so cool if we actually were going to make our own bar.  Nope, we did not make anything.  All we did was scan our $14.95 ticket 5 times and choose what items we wanted the robot arms to put into our candy bar.  But the biggest scam of them all is that you cannot accompany your child into the chocolate making without paying to make a chocolate bar for yourself too!!!  And if you have a 2.5 year old, yup, she has to pay and make one too.  So for the four of us, including my little girl and myself, who did not want to make a bar we paid $60 for a 45 minute "tour" of the chocolate bar.  Total ripoff!

As soon as you walk into chocolate world you can choose to buy a ticket to your left or your right.  On the left you can buy a ticket to the Hershey 3D show.  We did not see it, but if you want to it will be 5.95 per adult and 4.95 per kid.  On the left side you can also buy a ticket for the hershey trolley at 12.95 per adult and 5.95 per kid.  Every time we saw a trolley go by, it was full, so get those tickets early!  On the right side you can buy your 14.95 make your own chocolate bar experience ticket and also a chocolate tasting tour, 9.95 adult and 6.95 per kid.  We did not do this either.  We just did the chocolate bar making.

So you are given a time for making your bar and you greet a Hershey worker wearing a hard hat who gives you an apron that you must put on right away.  You enter the doors with your group and then you are immediately handed your hairnet.  The factory worker kept us back because my little girl had teeny pieces of hair sticking out, she made us all put our ears and all our hair under the hairnet and wasted lots of time doing this.
And for what?? We did not touch anything, nor were we near anything.  But wait, we are not done making you look ridiculous Mom.  You are wearing a ring on each hand so now you must put on these uncomfortable and sweaty gloves to keep the chocolate out of your rings.  I was excited at the time, thinking I would be making my own chocolates, but no, this was all just for show.
Now that we are covered up head to toe, we watched a short movie showing us how they make the chocolate.  Then we entered our first room of touch screen computers.  Each of us had a ticket with our name on it and we each had to scan it then choose our components.
After choosing the items on 4 screens, there you go, you just made your chocolate bar.  Now you can stand back and watch the machines do all the work.
The first screen option was for the base of your chocolate bar.  Today we chose from milk, dark and white.  You also need to know that if you chose dark or white chocolate base, you will still have a milk chocolate top because that is all that the machine can do.
Second screen is to choose UP to 3 choices for inclusions.  These inclusions will be sprinkled into your bar base by the machines.  Some bars get a lot of each inclusion, others get 2 or 3 pieces.
And for your final option, do you want the machine to sprinkle colored sprinkles on the top of your bar? yes, or no, and if you choose yes, you will get about 10 sprinkles on top.  If you say no, you still might get a few, this is a machine after all.
So now the excitement is over and you walk into the "factory" and scan your ticket again and watch your magical bar being made.
As the machine works on your bar it says each person's name under their bar, just in case you can't keep up. 
Here is one of our bars getting one of the inclusions sprinkled in. Exciting no?

Each bar goes through the chocolate bath and gets coated with the milk chocolate topping.  The kids did love watching this step, but with so many people in the room, you get pushed along and cannot sit there watching the chocolate for very long.
So your bar is done, now you can design your own wrapper.  There are a few choices.  You can use their samples or be a bit more creative and design your own.  Even if you try to get creative, there are limits to your options and you are not really making an original design, you are choosing from their available clip-art pictures.
So while you are wasting time in the package design room, your chocolate bar is in the cooler tunnel.  It spends about 5 minutes in there, hardening up so you can have a bar that does not melt immediately.
This cool laser writes your name on the box and then puts the bar in the box as well.  Kind of cool to watch the laser working.
So there you have it.  And here is a very happy 7 year old, thrilled to have made his own bar.  He loved every second of it and I enjoyed watching him.
Any questions, leave me a comment and I will respond asap.

Monday, July 18, 2011


My kids love toast and bagels for breakfast.  But even that simple breakfast gets boring.  While shopping in the dairy aisle last week and grabbing my usual tub of Land O Lakes butter I noticed a new item tucked away among the regular butters.  It was called cinnamon and sugar butter.  Simple enough idea.  I next checked the ingredients.  All clean!  The ingredients are cream, sugar, canola oil, water, cinnamon, salt and citric acid.  One serving of 1 Tbsp is 70 calories, 6 gm fat, 2.5 gm sat fat, 4 gm sugar and 4 mg carbs.  Not too bad for a butter!
Many recipes can be found at
The package says that you can use this delicious spread on toast, hot cereal, baked apples, vegetables and more!  The taste of the spread is really mild but strong enough to make an impact.  My teenager loves this spread on basically anything! He has used up a whole tub himself in about a week.  His one word description is AMAZING.
I was sent a wonderful giftpack by MyBlogSpark to try out this new product.  I had previously purchased 2 tubs of cinnamon sugar butter myself before joining this campaign.
And guess what, I have a gift pack to giveaway to you, my loyal readers too!
This giveaway will end Friday July 22 at noon.

Please leave me a comment and tell me:
What would you like to do with this new cinnamon butter?  Worth 1 entry
You can earn 3 additional entries:
* follow me on twitter @cookwith5kids
* follow me above on google friend follower for 1 extra entry
* tweet about this giveaway using hashtag #myblogspark
* please leave a comment for each entry, thank you!

Dislcaimer: I was sent a giftpack from Land O Lakes and MyBlogSpark to review.  The opinions I have provided above are all my own.  Winners must live in the US. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bethany Lakes a quiet spot near the beach!

Our extended family visited Bethany Lakes in Bethany Beach this past week.  We stayed in a house through and our house was on May Dr.
This house is in an excellent location!
Grocery store, 30 seconds away
Beach 5 minutes away (by car)
Farm Stand with amazing veggies 5 minutes away
Bethany Beach Boardwalk and shopping 5 minutes away
Total drive time from our house outside of Washington DC 2.5 hours
The house we stayed in had some good points and some bad points:
*Pool was a 1 minute walk, and was always empty!  (Just so you know, there is no lifeguard)
*Great workout space near the pool, lots of new equipment and usually pretty empty!
*Pond right behind the house had great fishing and kept the kids so happy!
*Grocery store so close and carried everything
*6 bedrooms, all nice sizes and comfortable mattresses.
*Kids bedroom had 2 full size bunk beds, so 8 small kids could easily sleep in there. Plus, there was tons of floor space for sleeping bags or blow up beds.
*Lots of places to bike and walk
*Cute playground next to the pool as well as tennis courts.  Nice amenities!!
*Nice front loading HE washer and dryer, which we used everyday!
*3 Nice tvs, wish there were some in the bedrooms, 2 in family space and one in the Master Bedroom
*Only 3 full bathrooms for 18 people.  Lots of waiting around to take showers after the beach.
The dining room was empty when we arrived. Apparently the owners are getting new furniture but in the meantime they left it empty! Long and Foster was nice enough to rent us a round banquet table with 6 folding chairs to use during our stay.
*Trash pickup is Tuesday morning. So, when we arrived on Friday afternoon, the trash can was overflowing, with 5 extra bags net to it, with millions of ants and bugs all around. NOT the way you want to be greeted as you walk into a rental house.
*No outdoor shower! We really missed that and most other houses have it.
Overall, the house was great.  Nice beds, comfortable mattresses, and a great spot to spend with family in Bethany.  Bethany Beach is such a nice family place to visit. Cute shops and restaurants on the boardwalk.  We go to Bethany almost every summer and it never disappoints us.
Leave me a comment if you have any questions about this house or Bethany Beach itself!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cereal, a great way to start breakfast!

A recent study shows 77 percent of D.C. parents believe maintaining a healthy body weight is important to ensuring their child’s health!  I agree completely.  I want my kids to enjoy breakfast, I want my kids to eat a healthy breakfast, and I want to ensure a long healthy life for each of them too.

When it comes to fighting childhood obesity, there is a lot to love about cereal!  Frequent cereal eaters tend to have healthier body weights. That’s true of men, women, and children who choose sweetened cereals.  
*Teen girls who eat cereal are less likely to become overweight than non cereal eaters. 
*Boys’ cereal consumption is associated with lower body mass index (BMI) 
is a great place to read more about the healthy benefits to eating cereal for breakfast.
I have one final giveaway for you, my loyal readers.
It is a great giftpack from general mills. You will receive 6 mini cereal bowls as well as a to go container that will hold some cereal and milk.  I plan to send this to go container with my son to 2nd grade.  He is allowed to have a morning snack and this will be perfect, no thinking about what that snack will be.  He will fill up his cereal container by himself and I will pour in the milk and we will be all set!
**********************Would you like to win a cereal giftpack of your own from General Mills?
Please leave me a comment and tell me:
What information would be valuable for parents to get from cereal companies to help understand the benefits of cereal?
You can earn 3 additional entries:
* follow me on twitter @cookwith5kids
* follow me above on google friend follower for 1 extra entry
* tweet about this giveaway using hashtag #myblogspark
* please leave a comment for each entry, thank you!
Winner will be chosen on July 12th at noon.
Dislcaimer: I was sent a giftpack from General Mills and MyBlogSpark to review.  The opinions I have provided above are all my own.  Winners must live in the US. 

Congrats to Lesley Mitchell my week 4 cereal winner!  Check back soon for a Land O Lakes cinnamon butter gift pack giveaway!