Saravilla Bed and Breakfast in Alma

Daughter was invited to a scholarship interview at Alma College.  If you are not familiar with the area you will quickly find out Alma is a very small town. There are no chain hotels, just a couple of old Mom and Pop places. Mount Pleasant is a larger town with several chain hotels but it is over twenty minutes from the college in good weather.   The only real option for us with the impending snow was to stay at Saravilla Bed and Breakfast.

Saravilla Bed & Breakfast

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Guest parking and the entrance were in the rear of the very large house.

Gerry met us at the door and gave us quick tour of the lower level before showing us to our room.

Saravilla

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Saravilla

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The lower level is decorated with Christmas trees and lights.

Saravilla

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Saravilla

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They have a billiards room and a very large banquet room also.

Saravilla

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Several of the rooms offer multiple beds so it is great for traveling with family.  Our Orchard room had a queen and a twin bed for my Mom and I.  The Spitler room offers a king and a twin bed. And the Lancashire room host a queen and twin bed.

Several rooms had the bathrooms across the hall. The Orchard room had it’s bathroom en-suite.

Saravilla

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Breakfast in the dining room started with fruit and juice.  We then a choice of an omelette, chocolate chip or blueberry waffles or eggs and toast.    I forgot to take a picture of the rest of my breakfast and I was chatting with another guest about Alma College.

Saravilla

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The dining room offered a large long table and a couple of smaller two person table for breakfast.

Saravilla

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The Saravilla was beautiful and our room was very clean.  We were about a ten minutes walk to down town and maybe about the same to Alma College. It was very cold and starting to snow a little so we drove back and forth.  We will defiantly be staying here again if we need to be in Alma.

 

More information on Saravilla here:  http://www.saravilla.com/

 

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Fair Trade Friday December

I was eagerly awaiting my Fair Trade Friday December box this year and a little worried when the postal service tracking showed it in transit for several days.  On Tuesday afternoon my little box arrived.

Fair Trade Friday

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Yup, this month it was a box.

Fair Trade Friday Dec 2017

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Fair Trade Friday Dec

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No real hints yet, everything was protected by packaging.

Fair Trade Friday Ornament

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This cute dove ornament from India adorns our Christmas tree now.

Fair Trade Friday Dec

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And these cute gift tags will be used on our presents for family members this year.

So what was in the bubble wrap?

Fair Trade Friday December 2017

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This Nativity from Prodigal Pottery.  The Nativity looks very nice on our antique trunk coffee table in the living room.

Fair Trade Friday December

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You can find out more on Fair Trade Friday here: http://fairtradefriday.club/

 

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Terra Nova Bed and Breakfast in Grove City

We have previously stayed at the Terra Nova Bed and Breakfast back in 2016.  We found the two room Collegiate Suite to be perfect for family travel.  This year when my Daughter was doing an overnight visit at Grove City College I invited my Mom to travel with us.  It can be so boring to travel alone and it is nice to have someone awake in the car to keep me company as I drive the hours to Pennsylvania.

Once again I was able to book the Collegiate Suite for our stay.

Terra Nova

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The suite occupies the upper floor of the bed and breakfast providing two bedrooms and a bath.  The main bedroom has a king size bed, chair, tv and a dining table with four chairs.  The smaller bedroom has two twin beds.

Terra Nova Grove City

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We walked to Nonni’s for another great dinner and did some downtown browsing.  Earlier in the afternoon while Daughter was still with us we did some shopping at the large Premium Outlets on the edge of town.

One thing I really enjoy about Terra Nova is the breakfast.  About a week prior to your arrival you are asked by email to select your breakfast.  I would rather know what I am looking forward to eating for breakfast so I love this arrangement.  Other places your choice is A or B, which is fine but I prefer this method.

Our breakfast choices were either fruit topped pancakes (choice of three fruits), a hash brown frittata, steel cut oatmeal (again could choose from fruits, syups, sugars, etc.) or scrambled eggs. Then add on either bacon or sausage, potatoes, fruit and either a bagel, toast or English muffin.  In other words lots of delicious choices!

My Mom went with the pancakes with blueberries.

Terra Nova Bed & Breakfast

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I went with the hash brown frittata option.  Neither of us opted for breakfast potatoes since the main dish portions are large.

Terra Nova Bed & Breakfast

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You can pick a 7:30, 8:30 or 9:30 breakfast seating.  And for people like me who cannot converse at such an early hour they have small tables for seating your party only.  You can drink your coffee before making eye contact with strangers. We had to be back at the college by 9am for Daughter so we chose the 7:30 breakfast time. We were the only guests eating that early which was nice.

More information can be found here: https://www.terranovahouse.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Christkindlmarket Chicago Evening

I have wanted to visit the Christkindlmarket in Chicago for several years.  Somehow we never made to Chicago over the holidays.  Too much going on, too much snow, and too little time kept us from Chicago after Thanksgiving.  This year I was determined to make it to the Christmas market, it was the one thing I wanted to do on this visit.

We arrived in Chicago on a Friday evening just before the rain started.  We almost made it to the Radisson Blu (free Friday night stay thanks to their last fall promotion) when the heavens opened up.  Trying to crush through the crowd under the entry awning with luggage is no fun in the cold rain.

We enjoyed our room for a couple of hours and hit the business lounge for some snacking.  I was a little resigned that I was not going to be able to visit the Christmas market on Friday night. We were contemplating hitting the hot tub vs putting on pjs and ordering food.

Around 7:00 it looked like the rain was letting up.  By 7:15 I had convinced Daughter to put on the coat, hat and gloves to brave the weather.  The rain was down to a light drizzle as we walked to Daley Plaza past the window at Macy’s.

As negative as the weather seemed it was perfect for visiting the market.  The wind was not too bad in the plaza and the crowds were pretty small.

Christkindle Market Chicago

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Daughter hunted down the best deal for a souvenir mug of hot chocolate at a vendor as we browsed.  We could also smell the famous hot spiced wine from other guests as we visited the booths.  There were chocolates, butter cookies, brats, nuts, crepes and all sorts of holiday goodies to snack on.

Christkindle Market Chicago

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There were so many booths to shop for Christmas ornaments.  We took a look at each shop before deciding on our ornament for this years tree.

Christkindle Market

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Christkindle Market Chicago

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Christkindle Market Chicago

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We saw so many items that would make great Christmas gifts.  Nativities, clocks, carvings and chocolates.

Christkindle Market Chicago

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It was a great evening to look around.  The rain ended and we spent over an hour looking at everything offered at the Christkindlmarket.  I would like to go back again next season, maybe make it a yearly event.

The Christkindlmarket is open November 17 – December 24th.  Sunday to Thursday from 11am to 8pm.  Friday and Saturdays from 11am -9pm.  They close early on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.

More information can be found at their website here: http://www.christkindlmarket.com/chicago/

 

 

 

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Country Inn and Suites Mishawaka Presidential Suite Stay

We have been traveling to a few colleges for Daughter this fall. She participates in an over night stay and attends a class on campus.  Most of the time someone travels with me but this visit was a Sunday night so I was traveling by myself.  Since it was going to be a quiet night of cable tv and magazines I splurged on a whirlpool room for this stay for $20 more than a king room.

Upon arriving to the most empty hotel I was told by the front desk that I had been upgraded.  What is an upgrade on a whirlpool room?  The presidential suite.

Country Inn & Suites Mishawaka

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Me, myself and I enjoying a bathroom bigger than my bedroom at home.

Bathroom Country Inn & Suites

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Country Inn & Suites bathroom

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The large whirlpool tub was in the bathroom.  I also had two sinks, a large counter top, large shower and the toilet was in a small separate closed area.

Country Inn & Suites

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On the way to pick up some Steak and Shake I called Husband to report on the room upgrade.  It was amusing to me that I had this great upgrade and no one to enjoy it with.

Just inside the entry was a mini fridge, wet bar area and a microwave.

Country Inn & Suites wet bar

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Then a large living room with a couch, coffee table, chairs and a desk.

Living room Country Inn & Suites

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The coffee table made an impromptu dining area while I enjoyed my garlic sliders and cable tv.  I love their shakes and I had a decent coupon for my meal but I still felt a little silly carrying the bag of burgers into the suite.  It did not take me long to remember why we do not have cable tv, hundreds of channels and nothing to watch.

The large bedroom housed a king bed and second tv through the door on the side of the living room. I heard no noise as I slept in the huge king bed even though I faced the street.

King bedroom Country Inn & Suites

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As you can imagine I had an excellent stay at the Mishawaka Country Inn and Suites.  The whirlpool tub was very comfortable while I caught up on some of my travel magazines.  The tile surround held my strawberry shake as I relaxed in the hot water after my dinner.  Relaxation and quiet!

This hotel is in a great area for shopping and dining.  The hotel is about five miles from Notre Dame University and half a mile from the University mall.  They have a small pool and ample free breakfast in the morning.

The rate for a whirlpool room is $116 a night plus tax, you can have the Presidential Suite for $134.  For the extra $18 I would book the suite for space even if you are traveling with a family.

More information here: https://www.countryinns.com/mishawaka-hotel-in-46545/usamwin/area

Club Carlson is doing a promotion where you stay two you get a free Friday night.  This was my second stay so we will get a free Friday night to use in the future.  It pays to check the hotel promotions before making a hotel reservation.

 

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Marriott Fall Mega Bonus 2017

Marriott has offered this promotion before and I think it is one our family will participate in again this year.

Register to earn a free night with MegaBonus®.

From the website:

“Get a free night after two stays* with MegaBonus®—and unlock more. Register from September 6 to November 30, 2017.

See Details

  • Register by November 30, 2017
  • Stay at any of our participating hotels and resorts worldwide between September 12 and January 15, 2018
  • Earn a free night after two paid stays*.

Book direct to get our lowest rates worldwide. When you’re ready, redeem points for free nights, flights, exclusive experiences and so much more.


Earn a free night – and more bonus points for your stays through January 15, 2018.

*A ‘stay’ is defined as consecutive nights spent at the same hotel, regardless of check-in/check-out activity.”

Register here: Marriott Promo

 

 

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Six Flags Great America Flash Sale 2018 Season Pass $65.99

It has been many years since I have been able to visit at Six Flags park but I keep hearing about the great deal they have on passes over Labor Day weekend.  I went looking to see what the deal is all about since I have heard this is a good deal this from three different families.

From their website:  “Don’t miss our biggest, best sale of the year! For five days only (Aug. 31-Sept. 4, 2017) we’re hosting our 4th annual Flash Sale where you can buy 2018 Season Passes for as little as $65.99 or sign up for Memberships for as little as $5.49/mo. Save over 70% off the full Season Pass price of $249.99. We guarantee you will never find a better deal on 2018 Season Passes!”

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Cedar Point Michigan Days are Back!

From the Cedar Point website:

“Summer is almost over, but not if you live in Michigan! It’s Michigan Days at Cedar Point – buy one admission and get one free to America’s Roller Coast now through Labor Day! Plus, for two weekends starting August 25th, rivaling food trucks from Michigan and Ohio will go head-to-head in a legendary battle for the first place in taste. So grab your family and friends and head to Cedar Point to get your last blast of summer with your favorite rides and tons of delicious food!”

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“MICHIGAN DAYS BOGO TICKET

Buy one ticket and get one free ONLY for Michigan residents now through Labor Day! Come enjoy all of the rides and attractions at the Roller Coaster Capital of the World plus two weekends of rivaling food trucks from Michigan and Ohio starting August 25th! Buy one get one for $34.50 plus tax and fees.”

Link here to purchase:

https://www.cedarpoint.com/tickets-passes/michigan-days

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Hiking to Abrams Falls

We love to hike on our vacations.  Usually park entrances are low cost or in the case of the Smoke Mountain National Park there is no entrance fee at all.

I had one hike I wanted to do in the Cades Cove area and that was Abrams Fall.  The hike is five miles round trip and will take three to four hours to complete.

There is ample parking at the trail head with primitive bathrooms and a trash container.  The road to the trail head is a small gravel road that veers to the right after the Elijah Oliver Cabin. We took some breaks along the river and it took us a little over three hours round trip.

Cade's Cove

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Abrams Falls

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Visiting Cades Cove

On our trip out to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg I was really looking forward to visiting Cades Cove.  It did not disappoint!

We stayed in Townsend since we wanted an easy and less congested entrance into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  This area is perfect for accessing Cades Cove!

Arriving early is your best bet for wildlife viewing and to avoid other people.  We left at 7:50 for our twenty minute drive to the cove with very little traffic.  This was the least busy park day we would have on our trip!  There were a few light rain showers that I think helped keep the crowds away that day.

I was driving on Laurel Creek road almost half way to the cove when a huge bear darted in front of our car and up the hillside.  He was bigger than I thought local bears would be and he was running faster than I thought they could.  I was very glad I did not hit him with the car and it reconfirmed why the speed limit is so low in the park.  After seeing the size/ speed of him I was rethinking my desire to see a bear in the park.

Cade's Cove

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Once you reach the gate the road through Cades Cove is eleven miles long and while it offers a couple of cut through roads plan on spending at least a couple of hours on it.

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