Luxury Suite Opens This Weekend

kinglivingroomFive months after becoming Innkeeper of this beautiful bed and breakfast, I am so happy to be opening our Third Floor Suite! Outfitted with both a king and a queen bed, a luxurious sitting area and reading nook, a private bath that features a spa tub and two separate sink areas, this elegant space offers a sunny 360 view of our great little corner of Mount Joy. As with our other guest rooms, our Third Floor Suite includes a TV, DVD player, refrigerator, internet, and – of course – a delicious three-course breakfast in the morning.

This space is perfect for girlfriend getaways, romantic weekends, extended stays,  families with older children, or anybody who appreciates the exquisiteness of being able to stretch out in her own private space. With Mother’s Day around the corner, our Suite is the perfect place for Mom to rest and regroup. Traveling to Spooky Nook for a tournament? After the excitement of the games, come home to relax in this beautiful suite.

I don’t have professional pictures yet, but I was too excited  to wait so I took a few  myself. My pics don’t really convey  what it’s like to actually be standing in the room and looking around, but  I wanted you to be able to at least get an idea of what was happening on on the Third Floor! It feels so fresh – I just love it!

bathAbove is the spa tub and one of the sink/bathroom areas, while the photo below shows our brand new queen sized Serta Perfect Sleeper – just delivered a few days ago. This area looks directly on to the living room and fireplace. The opening photo shows the comfortable king bed which is adjacent to the other end of the living room.
queenbeddesk

Our first guest are checking in this Saturday, April 18, but everything came together so well that we’re opening a day earlier. Maybe YOU will be our first guest instead! Check out availability at Olde Square Inn reservations and check in to our Third Floor Suite.

 

Not Your Mom’s Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potato Souffle with green hand thrown mug by Deneen Pottery

Just had to share this great recipe with you. We served this for breakfast at the Inn on Easter morning, and it was a total hit. Guests who claimed to never like sweet potatoes (I would have include myself in that) loved this. It’s light and fluffy, not too sweet, and topped with a delicious crunch. When I make this for a family event I always double the recipe and even so, there is not  a spoonful left over.

My friend Andrea gave me this recipe 15 years ago, and I had always attributed the creation of this great side dish to her mom since it was called “Mom’s Sweet Potato Bake.” Well, I just found out yesterday that she got it from a friend who got it from A Taste of Home magazine at some point. Who knew? At any rate, somebody’s mom makes great sweet potatoes, and I’m sharing that secret with you.

Mom’s Sweet Potato Bake

  • 3 c. cold, mashed sweet potatoes
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 2 T cold butter

In a large bowl, beat together first seven ingredients. Pour into greased 2-quart baking dish.

In a small bowl combine brown sugar, walnuts or pecans, and flour. Cut in butter until crumbly, then sprinkle on top of sweet potato mixture. Bake at 325 for 45-50 minutes.

Lancaster County Best Kept Secrets Shopping Tour Coming in April

Lancaster-County-Secret-Shoppers-Tour

Look at the postcard I got in the mail the other day and check out the first April date! Have you ever been on one of these Best Kept Secrets Shopping Tours? My daughter and I did one last fall and it was a blast. Here’s how it works:

  • Follow the link above to find the location nearest you to purchase your $9 ticket.
  • When you get your ticket, you also get a bag full of little treats, entry blanks for prizes, coupons, a map and a list of all the places on the tour, which are like 37 stores!
  • You have between April 9 and April 25 to visit the places on the tour where you can enjoy refreshments, games, gifts, farm tours, demos, workshop tours, make & take projects, and all of the other free specials the businesses have planned for you.
  • You can play the Shop & Win game and enter to win over $800 in prizes or even a $200 shopping spree at one of the tour businesses you choose.
  • The businesses are unique places, and you won’t find out what they are until you get your ticket – that’s the secret part!

Two of my very first guests, Brenda and Judy, booked a room the second weekend I was open and did a Christmas Secret Shoppers Tour. They shared stories of their shopping adventures and I got to see some of the things they purchased. I tried to appropriate one of their finds – an amazing carved santa wall hanging – but they were on to me. I was hoping that if I displayed it on the mantle they would forget it was there, but it didn’t work out to my advantage. Oh well.

Here are two secrets I will share with you:

  1. Two of the businesses are in Mount Joy very close to the Inn. What a great place from which to start your tour!
  2. Book a stay at Olde Square Inn for your Best Kept Secrets Tour and receive 10% off your room when you reserve directly through our site. When you get here all you have to do is show us your Secret Shopper passport thingy filled out with your name and address and cha-ching! the discount is yours.

Aside from the cool shops handing out free stuff, the other thing that makes this fun is that you get to spend time with a favorite daughter (or mother, depending on who’s telling the story) or best friend, or new friend. You get to eat delicious snacks, find unique places, unearth great treasures.

The tour is a neat weekend away, or even a sneak-out-during-the-week getaway, since it runs 16 whole days. So, hey, Judy and Brenda, as well as all of you other Secret Tour Shoppers, I’m looking forward to seeing all of the lovely items you’ll bring back for me to display on my mantle. We’ll put them up there for just a little while. Maybe longer. I’m just sayin’.

Pampering Massage was Xquisite

Xquisite MassageI so dislike the cold, and the below-zero temperatures made me crankiest person on the earth. To add insult to injury, the weatherman was calling for air that was more chilling than the North Pole (really!), the pipes in two of our rooms had frozen, and so had I. You know how sometimes you just get chilled to the bone and you can’t shake it and wish you had your toes in the water and the rest of you in the sand? I was that kind of cranky-cold.

Toes in the water was a long way away, and I knew for sure I was to spend the next many, many weeks as a frozen, miserable Elsa ice pop. And then, then – the heavens opened, the light shown down upon me, and I got an invitation from the gals down the street at XND to come in for a massage that involved hot rocks and heated blankets. Xquisite Nail Design and Day Spa is maybe six doors down from the Inn. Six! Even I could bear the cold and walk six doors in order to enjoy hot rocks and warm blankies. Couldn’t wait!

When I arrived  I was ushered into a lovely room that was furnished with a sofa, end tables, low lighting – all very relaxing – and of course, with a massage table that was covered with those warm blankets in which I was so interested. Joyce was going to do my massage, and while she slipped out of the room I was instructed to slip onto the table face down. She came back in and adjusted the blankets and supports to make sure I was comfortable before she started. Before she started I was so comfortable under the blankets I thought I might drool through that little face part that holds your head, but I didn’t and was happy about that. Then she began to work out all those knots in my back, and I could feel myself melting into the table.

Joyce knows what she’s doing. She’s (and I’m quoting) managed The Spa at the Hotel Hershey, worked for Wenger Chiropractic on Lititz Pike practicing therapeutic massage and rehabilitation exercise and has owned and managed spas in Harrisburg, as well in Daytona, Florida and Zurich, Switzerland. Unquote. Pretty amazing.

As she was working on my muscles, she let me know what would happen next so I was never anxious but only looking forward to the next great thing. If you’re the shy type, you don’t have to worry because you’re always covered up, and if there’s something you don’t like (ha! as if!) you just let her know. The hot rocks came out when I turned onto my back, and at that point I truly became one with the universe. When the session was over Joyce told me to take my time getting up and  getting dressed, and she’d knock before she’d come back in.

By that point my muscles were all relaxed and I didn’t want to get up, but I did because I had to go home since the plumber was coming to try to thaw my frozen Inn pipes. I loved that they offered to ease my transition into the Land of the Standing with a glass of wine to sip and cheese and crackers to munch. I regretfully turned down the refreshments because, you know, the plumber was coming to thaw my frozen Inn pipes and I needed to appear sharp and intelligent.

Next time I go there (and I guarantee there will be a next time because I loved it the first time)  I will have the refreshments and will also get a spa pedicure and a manicure and maybe a spa tan. That would be fun. So when you see me with my great looking mani-pedi and gorgeous tan, you’ll think I had my toes in the water and back in the sand when all I really had to do was walk six doors down. Ha! How lucky am I?

Wine and Art for Your Mount Joy Getaway Weekend

PaintNiteLooking for something fun and different to do on a Friday night? Book your favorite room at Olde Square Inn and head on out to The Vineyard at Grandview for Paint Nite on March 27. Check in then grab a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants. With the Vineyard less than 4 miles away from the Inn, you’ll still have plenty of time to make it to your creative painting session where you’ll replicate the beautiful meadow scene pictured above.

The Paint Nite folks provide everything you need – the paints, the brushes, the canvasses, smocks and, of course, instruction! You don’t even need talent or experience, because you’re guided through every one of the steps to create your own amazing masterpiece. No stress, a lot of fun, and in about two hours you’ll be headed out the door with your treasure. As the Paint Nite people say, they will “make sure your inner Picasso is unleashed.” How much fun is that?!!

Whether its a great couples’ weekend, mother/daughter time, or a night out will the girls, make some great memories with Paint Nite at the Vineyard and breakfast the next day at Olde Square Inn. The earlier session in March is already sold out so be sure you get your March 27  tickets soon for Paint Nite at The Vineyard at Grandview.

 

Top 10 Reasons to Leave Your Room on a Romantic Getaway Weekend

Summerfield's cozy bedWe had a full house this weekend for Valentine’s Day and the cold weather and snow didn’t seem to hamper anyone’s celebrations. Many of our guests planned ahead on what they wanted to do, others just went with the moment. Based on what our guests enjoyed this weekend, take a look at the top ten reason to leave your cozy room while on a romantic getaway:

1. Bottling Works, Catacombs, Alois restaurants, Medieval feasts, and Mystery dinners at Bube’s Brewery. A ten-minute walk in nice weather or safe driving distance on a weathery evening, the Brewery is a night of entertainment.

2. Accomac Inn restaurant is a beautiful venue in the summer and a destination for delicious gourmet food any time of the year. Worth the 20-minute drive, especially when you ask your Innkeeper for a $20 coupon toward your meal.

3. Koomo Asian Fusion Restaurant is about a half mile from Olde Square Inn. Our weekend guests brought back doggy bags to put in their  in-room refrigerators after enjoying their fill of the generous servings while dining out.

4. You can walk to Home Run Candies in Mount Joy in five minutes. Only open on Saturdays, the sea-salt chocolate covered caramel samples in your room can be purchased at Corn Crib Farmer’s Market in Mount Joy. If you miss the market on Saturday, you can pick up a 1/4-pound box in our gift shop most days of the week.

4. Wilbur Chocolate Factory in Lititz gives free samples and houses a candy museum in the building. A 20-minute drive away, it’s fun to go through their chocolate museum and look at the memorabilia and watch the ladies make candies.

5. Tomato Pie Cafe across the street from Wilburs. Never heard of tomato pie? Discover this amazing dish. I wish they’d give me the recipe. Additionally, there are a lot of fun little shops to visit in Lititz after you’ve had lunch!

6. Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse. Yes, that’s the real name of the village; it means something like “where two roads meet.” Part of our quaint Pennsylvania heritage, you know. Kitchen Kettle has a lot of little shops, food places, quilts, Amish-type crafts and is a 28-minute drive by car, a little longer if you’re going  by horse and buggy.

7. Columbia, PA, as it reinvents itself as an antique destination. You can spend the entire day visiting Burning Bridge, Bootleg Antiques, Friends and Family, Tollbooth Antiques, and more, then go to the Turkey Hill Experience. Turkey Hill, all about dairy and ice cream, is about $10 for adults and $8 for kids five and older. You can get out to Columbia in about 15 minutes.

8. Spooky Nook Sports Center is a 7-minute drive from the Inn. It’s a facility that hosts sports teams and international events, but you can also go there for some active entertainment. You can climb the Rock Wall, engage in Clip and Climb, or spend some time in the arcade. The couple that plays together, stays together. Go team!

9. Our Inn’s common area. It’s a great place to hang out and meet new people, enjoy a cup of coffee, sip a glass of wine, or pick out a movie to take back to your room for later. I love having people in my home and so enjoyed seeing couples chatting with new friends and exchanging emails to be able to meet up later.

10. Breakfast. Don’t forget that we serve a fresh three-course breakfast each day. On Valentine’s Day morning we started with fresh fruit topped with organic yogurt and granola, then had a guest favorite – spinach quiche – with tomatoes, crisp bacon, and  paprikash potatoes, a side dish my Hungarian mother often made when we were growing up.  That lady could serve shoe leather and you’d think you were at a five-star restaurant….but that’s a post for another time. Our Valentine’s dessert was our Olde Square Inn Double Chocolate Cupcake with Peanut Butter Icing. And of course, coffee, tea, cocoa, and juices.

Come out and visit us. Looking forward to hearing where your adventures take you!

Valentine’s Day Cupcake Recipe

Cupcake

Hope everyone had a lovely February 14 with whomever you chose to enjoy the day. This was the dessert of the day – Olde Square Inn Double Chocolate Cupcake With Peanut Butter Icing – one of my very favorite chocolate cakes. It’s a very rich and dense chocolate flavor, intensified with “special dark” chocolate chips. I like this best buttercream icing, but the peanut butter is a close second.  This recipe actually originated with Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa; I just added chocolate chips to the mix,  and it is delicious.

Olde Square Inn Double Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (not margarine!), softened
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 2/3 c. brown sugar
  • 2 Xl eggs    (use large if you don’t have xl, no worries)
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1 & 3/4 c. flour
  • 1 & 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • 1 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 2 T strong brewed coffee (brings out the chocolate flavor)
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 1 c. good quality dark chocolate chips, mini or regular.
Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, soda, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
  2. Combine buttermilk, coffee and sour cream in a liquid measuring cup. Set aside
  3. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in eggs one at a time, then vanilla.
  5. Mix in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 the liquid, scraping bowl as needed.
  6. Mix in  another 1/3 of the flour, then the rest of the liquid, then end with the flour.
  7. Scoop into cupcake pan prepared with paper liners. You’ll get 24-28 cupcakes, at times 30!
  8. Bake at 350 for 18 minutes, not longer.  Cool before icing.

Tip: If you don’t have buttermilk, add a T of lemon juice or vinegar to regular milk and let it sit for 5 minutes before using in the recipe.

Tip: If a recipe calls for “soda,” it is baking soda, not Coke or Pepsi as several of my past students thought haha!

Peanut Butter Icing

Ingredients:
  • 1 & 1/2 sticks butter (again, not margarine!), softened
  • 1 c. Peanut butter
  • 1# powdered sugar (that’s about 4 c.)
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/4 c. milk
Directions:
  1. Beat together butter, peanut butter and powdered sugar until combined and smooth.
  2. Beat in vanilla, then the milk a little at a time to make it a spreadable consistency.
  3. Spread on cupcakes or use a piping bag to swirl on the frosting.
  4. Pour a cup of coffee and eat one before the kids get home from school. You’ll be happy.

Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:

Celebrations, Retreats, Time Away

Main Street Market

One of my girlfriends from school stayed in the Carriage House this weekend, and I was able to spend some time with her and have a mini Girlfriend Getaway between Innkeeper duties. We took a little stroll down Main Street and ended up at Corn Crib, Mount Joy’s Farmer’s Market. Right in front of the store they were grilling something amazing – pork, maybe – and it made me wish I hadn’t just eaten breakfast. Inside the market, though, were fruits, veggies, pretzels, snacks, organic skincare products, home decorations, and lots of other things…but you can see what came away with from Home Run Candies.  I tested out (with friends and family – I wasn’t entirely a hog!) the chocolate, vanilla, and raspberry caramels, chocolate dipped sea salted caramels, peanut butter cups, coffee bean squares and a few others. The verdict was hands-down delicious. I truly need to see about carrying these at the Inn in the gift shop, so come Sunday when you’re checking out of the Inn and wishing you had bought more at the market, you won’t be disappointed. No worries, I’ll have your back.

I was thinking of my friend’s weekend at the Inn which was booked by her husband as a surprise. When I took the reservation I asked if it was a romantic getaway. “Nope,” Rich said. “The best thing I could do is give her time for herself. She’s coming to spend the weekend to do whatever she wants.” Husbands, boyfriends, and kids out there, take note: sometimes the most appreciated thing you can do for your wife, your girlfriend, your mom – whomever is the significant woman in your life – is to give her time off. You don’t even have to wait until Mother’s Day. A few days off for a personal retreat is REALLY a treat.

Having my friend here was amazing, but I must add that the so many of  the best people come through my door and stay with me. A grandma drove from New Jersey after our last horrendous snowstorm to bring her granddaughter out to see Cake Boss at American Music Theater. She also wanted a surprise ready for her in the room – a cake, balloons, and one of our mugs – to celebrate Shana’s birthday. I have a soft spot in my heart for Nanas, being one myself, but I was just so touched by they joy she carried in raising her granddaughter and by how much Shana appreciated what was being done for her. We toasted her special day over breakfast with some sparkling grape juice. They were both hoping for snow the next day so there would be no school and they could sleep in. Hmmmm. I think that could be the wish of many. Snow day or otherwise, hope all of you stay safe and warm and are enjoying every day.

Girlfriend Get-Togethers, Good Books, One Word

girlfirend-gathering-books-wineMy Book Club girls are my touchstone, my sanity, my cheering block, my support group. Couldn’t be without them. My Crappie Friends girls, so called because we only get together when we totally need help – but we’re getting better – cheer me when I’m tired of everything. Love them. My YaYa girls go way back to first-friend colleagues. They are those “sisters” who know things about one another they will never share with anyone else. They’re like family. I’m SO lucky to have all of them in my life.

Luckier still to host a “pre” book-club meeting last week to talk about our choices of our One Word that would guide us through the year. Our book club actually DOES do more than get together to eat and drink and chat. We really do read books; some truly great ones…and some not so great. Anyway, here’s the rundown of our One Word discussion.

1. Suzanne, who has been conquering health issues, has decided that her guiding word for this year will be “appreciation.” She has been so gratefully overwhelmed with the continued support she has received since her discovery of multiple mylenoma. Happy to say she’s on the way up. We love her and couldn’t be without her.

2. Andrea’s word is “joy” as a reminder to find the good and happiness first, before letting day-to-day drudgeries become overwhelming. Having recently lost her grandmother, she finds happiness in the time she’d been able to spend with her, rather than dwelling on her loss. Her outlook inspires us.

3. Eileen is a butterfly emerging from a cocoon and investigating the next step in her beautiful life. Her word is “discover,” which I so think is her. She is funny, bright, intelligent and is poised to take on her next adventure. Her comments to you truly make you like who you are. How does she do that?

4. Gale, a quilter, a missionary, a reader, a helper, is an all around good person. She is so open to the world, and when talking with her about her national experiences you are reminded that people are more alike than not. She’s trying to decide between “faith” and “trust” and whether there is a subtle difference between the two words.

5. Becky, who has an artist’s soul, has chosen “healing” as her word for the year. She toyed with “inquire,” but decided to focus on remedying some health issues that have been bothering her for a while.

We missed Book Club girls Jil and Jackie at this impromptu meeting. I do know that Jackie chose “explore,” but I don’t yet know the why behind it.

I can’t forget my ACTUAL sister, Jo, who really is my touchstone, my sanity, my one-woman cheering block, and my support. After meeting a guest while she visited over Christmas, Jo decided that her word will be “try.” Go for it, take a shot, give it a go, and if you don’t like it, it’s okay. The word “try” opens the doors to so many experiences you otherwise may have never given a second glance. What will your word be?

By the way, our book his month is Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. It’s a long one, and we’re taking an extra month to read it.  I have to confess that even though I devour books like I breathe air, I haven’t started this one yet. I seem to be doing more laundry than anything else lately. That’s not a bad thing right now.

10 Things To Do In Mount Joy In The Dead of Winter

Cozy Fireplace at Olde Square InnIt’s cold outside, and just about nobody dislikes the cold more than I do. But if you’re like me, you get a little antsy crammed up in the house and you just want a little something to carry you through the rest of winter. Head out to this lovely little town and renew your spirit, bond with a loved one or a group of friends, and take home some fun memories to warm you during the remaining chilly months. Come out to the Inn and try these great ideas during your stay:

1. Make reservations for a Saturday night Murder Mysteries or a Sunday Night feast at Bube’s Brewery. For one ticket price you get dinner and a night of entertainment! So many of our guests have commented on the great times they’ve had at Bube’s.

2. Visit Exquisite Nail Design & Day Spa for a Swedish, deep tissue or hot stone massage, a European facial, a luxurious spa pedicure or a relaxing mani-pedi. By appointment.

3. Gather all your holiday photos for a weekend of scrapbooking, then shop the Paper Place on Main. It’s a warm and inviting little shop, and the owners welcome you to take your time and browse the store for inspiration. They also offer classes and workshops!

4. Head out to The Vineyard at Grandview and visit their Tasting Room. For $6 you can get six 1-oz. glasses of wines of your choice and for another $10 will get a plate of paired cheeses and chocolates. In January they are also hosting Friday night chili dinners featuring chili from local microbreweries.

5. Stop in the Wilton Armatele Factory Store located in an historic tobacco barn right off Rt. 230. They have beautiful metal serving and decorative pieces, and if go in during Bistro Hour Mondays, you get treats along with cooking and baking demos. You’ll find great discounts any time you visit.

6. Make your own French Fry Wars. Sample the fries at the local pubs on Main Street – Mosby’s, Mick’s All American, Beanie’s, Watering Trough – most within walking distance, and let me know which is your favorite. Each of these pubs is known for it’s specials, but I know which one I love best for fries!

7. Enjoy a Frozen Hot Chocolate at Higher Grounds Cafe. They also serve up soups and sandwiches, but only accept cash, so be sure you have it with you or you can run across the street to the ATM. It’s a great place for hanging out and talking, and a plus for many – no wifi, meaning real conversation without tech interruptions. Cute, family-run shop.

8. Lancaster Newspapers ran an article 01.08.12 on how “crows are taking over Lancaster County in art, education, and fun.” Check out the cute, cute shop As The Crow Flies at 62 E. Main Street. LOVE this store, and aside from it’s fun merchandise, it smells SO good when you walk in!

9. Eastland Alpacas in Mount Joy is open during January on Saturdays from 10-4, or by appointment other times, and you get to pet and feed Alpacas. They also have a farm store that stocks soft, soft Alpaca yarn and other products. They do ask that you double-check and make sure they’re around so you won’t be disappointed!

10. Snuggle up in the beautiful room of your choice in front of your own fireplace at Olde Square Inn, open a bottle of wine and watch a video. Or maybe you’ll want to come downstairs to our cozy common area and enjoy the fire, a cup of tea, and some conversation. Wake up to a delicious three-course hot breakfast served in our elegant dining room before returning home with warm thoughts and memories.

These are some of our top picks for the winter, additionally here are other Mount Joy attractions you might enjoy. Can’t wait to hear what you’ll discover during your Cabin Fever day away!