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!

 

“Mount Joy” Movie in Lancaster at Zoetropolis

Mount Joy Movie PosterI was thumbing through LNP,  our Lancaster newspaper, Thursday and found this in the Entertainment section:

“After a year on the film festival circuit, Lancaster natives Jack Lewars and M. Angelo Mena are returning to Lancaster to screen their independent feature film “Mount Joy.”

The “indie-rock romance,” which was shot in Lancaster County in 2012, will show at Zoetropolis on Saturday in a kick-off event that will include a Q&A with cast and crew, followed by a week of screenings at Penn Cinema, Jan. 16-Jan. 22.

The kick-off event at Zoetropolis will have two screenings, at 7:15 p.m. and 9:35 p.m., as well as live music from local band Trio Agave, a Q & A with the cast and crew and collectible posters by a local artist.”

I love theater and, as some of you know, spent many of my 24 years’ teaching time directing middle school plays and acting in local productions. So the fact that “Mount Joy” director Jack Lewars and writer M. Angelo Mena attended high school together and are friends from way back touched my teacher heart. These aren’t just a couple of kids playing with a camera.

The film won awards at Philadelphia Independent Film Festival and at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival AND lead Katie Hyde won for best actress at the Pittsburgh Independent Film Festival.

I thought it would be a fun way to support them and honor their work by giving away a night for two in MOUNT JOY’s cozy bed and breakfast, Olde Square Inn. Attend the festivities tonight and you’re in the running for a lovely overnight stay. The drawing will be at the end of the evening, and I will contact the winner by email to deliver the gift certificate.

Next time you come to stay with us, be sure to take a look at the poster hanging at the Inn, compliments of “Mount Joy.” Do you love that or what?!  So exciting! Tickets for the film are only $10 and you can get more info at zoetropolis.comIMDB, and the official movie page.

What Do Al Roker, Jon Gordon, and Jane Pauley Have in Common With Olde Square Inn?

IMG_0130No, they haven’t all stayed here – yet –  but each has played a part in my becoming Innkeeper of this wonderful bed and breakfast.

It’s hard for me to believe that less than a year ago I was teaching 8th grade. Loved it, yet at the same time knew it was time for a change and wondered how and when I’d launch my second career. While I was home for break on New Year’s Day, I turned on the Today Show to find Jon Gordon, a motivational speaker, telling hosts Al Roker and Natalie Morales that 9 out of 10 people break their resolutions before the end of January.

What he and his family do instead of making resolutions is that each would “choose one word” as his or her focus for the year. He advised that you look in – what do you want to be or do, look up – how will God guide you, and look out – how can you live it? Check out the video:

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I chose the word INQUIRE, because it seemed to open a lot of doors without demanding an outcome.  I didn’t have to perform or get results because I was just INQUIRING. No pressure! Here’s the short version of what happened.

The next day called my long-time realtor friend Mark Thudium and took a first look at inns for sale. Signed up for an Aspiring Innkeeper’s convention. Got a business mentor through SCORE. Found out how to get a commercial bank loan. Learned how to write a business plan and about the importance banks put on financial projections.  Put offers in on three other b&bs and was under contract for one other. Retired. Sold my house (twice). Put in an offer for Olde Square Inn. Every single aspect of this was new to me, but came my way because I was able to just ASK how.

Here’s the miracle of the whole “one word.” About a week before closing my financing crumbled, leaving me almost $100,000 short. My word – my prayer – was “How do I make this happen?” I wasn’t afraid of asking anymore, so I put it out there. A friend of an acquaintance offered to lend me what I needed at a rate better than the banks, and we signed the papers November 11, 2014.  Al, Jon, the good Lord, and many, many other people guided me to this lovely and beautiful inn.

Where does Jane Pauley come in? If you’re thinking about your second career read her book, Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life. It’s filled with stories about people like you and me who wonder what could happen next. I’d offer you my copy, but I’ve already given it to a guest!

Two final thoughts:

  1. You don’t have to know HOW something will happen, just know that it CAN.
  2. Al Roker, Natalie Morales, Jon Gordon, and Jane Pauley – your rooms are waiting for you, along with a chat and a glass of wine by the warm fire and a delicious breakfast in the morning. See you soon.

PS – Still thinking what my 2015 Word will be. Let me know what you might come up with for yourself this New Year.

Newly Decorated Foxfire Open for New Year’s Eve!

We have only one room available at our lovely Olde Square Inn to help you celebrate New Year’s Eve. Our brand new Foxfire is open beginning December 31 so take a sneak peak at these pictures to see what you’ll find when you stay in this cozy corner room.  Book on-line for instant reservations.  See you at the end of the year!

For a luxurious night's sleep you'll love snuggling into ultra soft Comfy-brand sheets and cover up with Ralph Lauren bedding.
For a luxurious night’s sleep you’ll love snuggling into ultra soft Comfy-brand sheets and cover up with Ralph Lauren bedding.
Foxfire Leather Suitcases
Leather cases in the bath are a good place to pile baskets of toiletries, bathmats, or towels.
Get into a good  book, watch TV. or relax in Foxfire's cozy  sitting area.
Get into a good book, watch TV. or relax in Foxfire’s cozy sitting area.
Foxfire Room Painting
Any idea what the theme of Foxfire might be?

 

 

Fantastic Furniture on Main Street, Mount Joy?

I know a little secret in Mount Joy on Main Street. I know I really shouldn’t tell you this – and I know I’ll regret it the minute it gets out.

mount-joy-furnature-table-chairs

You all have an idea that’s it’s been a very exciting, busy and fulfilling several weeks for me since I moved into the Inn. What with figuring out the reservation system, the cleaning schedule, the cooking routine,  finding my socks – I’ve only recently been able to stroll around this charming town. Well, I love furniture and everything that goes with it, so the first place I headed was to the next corner to to poke around Mount Joy Used Furniture. All those beautiful pieces of furniture in the photos – the upholstered chairs and the table in the Summerfield, the round table in Charleston, and the lavish sleigh bed in the new Foxfire Room? They ALL came from Mount Joy Used Furniture!! What?!

If I told you what I paid for them, you would drop over because each was such an amazing value. Okay, I have to share at least one because we all operate on a budget and who doesn’t like getting more for their money? The cherry sleigh bed was $199! I love Ikea, but that even beats the Ikea price.

Dave, who runs the place, is a really nice guy. I pop in there when I’m tired of doing laundry and announce myself as, “It’s just me, Dave!’ We chat, he shows me what he’s gotten in, I walk around and touch all the merchandise, then go back to the laundry. Often I buy something. He  has new pieces, too, which are also fabulous buys.

Here’s why I regret letting this slip out. My guests are already storming the joint when they stay with me, and now I’m going to have half of Lancaster County out there purchasing pieces I want to take home, and it’s going to be extra crowded on Saturdays. Luckily Dave gets new things in all the time. In fact, today I saw these great church pew storage benches. (The small one was $20!) and have to figure out where I can put one and…never mind…you didn’t hear that from me.

Can’t wait to see where my next stroll takes me; there are so many cool places. maybe I’ll tell you about them!

Mount Joy Furniture Sleigh Bed
This sleigh bed found a great home in our newly remodeled Foxfire room, formerly know as Nevada Sky.

mount-joy-furnature-main

Blueberry Crumb Coffee Cake Recipe

Blueberry Crumb Coffee CakeWhat I love about this blueberry crumb coffee cake recipe is that it’s moist and rich and dense and delicious. If there would happen to be any left over (like if you’ve only eaten half of it yourself and there’s some serious weather and nobody is going to visit that afternoon), it freezes really well and returns as fresh as ever.

You can make this with other fruit, too.  I’ve tried it with raspberries, but because the batter is so thick I ended up poking them into the pan one by one so they wouldn’t disintegrate. You know how raspberries can be – like some of our friends who fall apart at the slightest agitation. We love them anyway, though, right? Let me know what delicious various you come up with! Check out my recipe below.

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Empty Plates Equals Great Breakfasts

Empty Breakfast PlatesThis is what we had for breakfast today. Oh, wait – there’s nothing left. How happy do you think I am right now?!

We started with an apple baked with brown sugar, butter, walnuts, and cinnamon then drizzled with pure maple syrup and topped with homemade whip cream. Next came scrambled eggs in puff pastry and a mustard dill sauce on the side, along with bacon and warmed tomato wedges and grated cheddar cheese. Dessert was Olde Square Inn Blueberry Crumb Coffee Cake and a side of MORE homemade whip cream and raspberries. And of course, coffee, tea and juice. Come stay at Olde Square Inn one of these days and let me make breakfast for you.

Actually, I should really pass along the Blueberry Crumb Coffee Cake recipe. It’s delicious and rich, and the blueberries and crumb topping are great contrasting flavors and textures. If you’re having guests over the upcoming holidays, it would be an easy thing to make and your people will love it. Keeps well, too, but disappears pretty quickly. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll post it.

First Week of Breakfasts

Three Course BreakfastI have been so blessed this hectic and amazing week with the help and support of family and friends. My sister, brother-in-law, and his friend traveled 700 miles from Indiana to help me clean, sort, shop and serve. My kids set up tech, sorted sheets and towels and vacuumed and scrubbed until all of us were ready to fall over. It was a very frantic pace.


You must understand that the movers were at my house Tuesday, we cleaned and minimally unpacked at the Inn on Wednesday, then our firsts guests arrived Thursday! The best people I never knew walked through my door and I already consider them friends. I look forward to talking with them again and welcoming them into my home for a relaxing and renewing time away.

We ended the weekend with Sunday breakfast, beginning with brandied fruit with buttered almonds, served in depression glass which my friend Karen and I hunted down over the summer. The main dish was a delicious spinach quiche and a sinful bacon cheddar quiche with spring greens and grilled ham. (I figured the greens negated any calories in the other items – sounds right.) To finish we had a warm homemade apple cake with a topping of freshly sliced apples sautéed in butter and brown sugar, snuggled against a scoop of Hagen Das ice cream.

Excited to see who stays with me next. :)

How Does a New Innkeeper Geek Out?

Innkeeper Geeking OutHow does a new Innkeeper geek out? By organizing closets! Daughter-in-law Nicole and I spent a morning going through towels and sheets then matching them in ready-to-grab sets. Daughter Aimee single handedly plowed through the supplies and sorted everything out there – a huge job. Sometimes I run upstairs just to look in the closets and enjoy the organizational effect; who knew linens and spray cleaners could be so exhilarating, yet calming at the same time?


By the way, that tiny, cute baby showing off the towels is my grandson. He enjoys opening doors almost as much as he loves going up and down the steps. Nicole gets tired. You moms with babies know what that’s like.

Since we’ve got most of the family lined up, I’ll introduce the rest. Son Grahm is the one who is working on my tech stuff, and we will be turning out a new website soon. He’s really, really good at that kind of thing, and I’m happy I don’t have to think about it. Granddaughter is in school all day and can’t wait to get to the Inn for baking lessons with Nana. I’ll be hosting an open house some time after Christmas when you’ll be able to meet everyone and get a chance to experience the closet effect first hand. Can’t turn down a deal like that.