Biscuits & Gravy Recipe: So Good Guests Lick the Crumbs Off the Floor

Okay, so that’s really not what my guest is doing on the floor. There’s another story around this Biscuits and Gravy Breakfast picture, but I’ll get to that in a moment. Ladies enjoy a laugh around and under dining room table.First, let’s talk about this knockout recipe that I love to serve because it’s easy to prepare and is always a crowd pleaser. I like to plate it with scrambled eggs and Not Your Mom’s Sweet Potatoes, and when we clear plates, that’s all we clear are empty plates – not a scrap left.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 lb. of bulk breakfast sausage such Bob Evans or Jimmy Dean (I think the off-brands are sometimes too fatty when they cook down, and you don’t get enough meat.)
  • T or two of bacon drippings, optional
  • 1/3 c. flour
  • 3 c. milk + option extra for thinning
  • t. or two of paprika
  • Pepper to taste.

Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Brown the sausage in a large skillet, and please brown it, not just gray it. You’ll know what I mean as you cook it. Do not drain. I add the bacon drippings at this point if I happen to have any. It gives it another layer of flavor but is still delicious without.
  2. Sprinkle the flour over the browned sausage and stir to coat.
  3. Add the three cups of milk, cold is fine. Add paprika and stir. My Hungarian mother advises the use of paprika in most savory dishes, so for me reaching for the paprika is an ingrained habit. Besides the subtle flavor, I like the color it gives the gravy.
  4. Cook on low until thickened, about ten minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
  5. Serve hot over freshly baked biscuits, then stand back. Save a little out for yourself because there won’t be any left over, guaranteed.

This sits on my stovetop warming during breakfast at the Inn, so it cooks down a little bit and continues to thicken. If that happens and you want to thin it out a tad, just add some more milk, no worries. You would have to work hard – like leave the kitchen and go get a pedicure –  to mess up this recipe. It always turns out amazingly well.

Now,  a circuitous route back to that photo. I have so much fun with my guests; some people you feel that you’ve known forever even though they’ve only been around a day or two. Some of them return and it feels like family is coming home. Susan and Roger have already revisited and want to come over and help me next year. The Birkenstocks are returning this summer for their third stay in eight months. The Oostings, who are now middle-of-the-night smoke alarm experts, will be out to visit again in a few weeks. I love seeing these people and many, many others who stay with us.

Anyway these ladies, Darlene and Karen who were at and under the table on Biscuit and Gravy Day, fall into the I’ve Known You Forever category. The whole household laughed and talked and ate and talked and ate and laughed, and then Karen spilled her coffee. Being a good brand-new friend, she decided she would clean up the spillage, and I caught her in the act. You have to know that I don’t take or post anyone’s picture without permission, so you can see what a good sport she was. I don’t remember if if her swabbing the floor was before or after Darlene cleaned out the pool. I really must revisit the whole summer work camp idea. Still waiting for someone to dig that fire pit so we can gather ’round it and sing Kumbaya. Hmmm.

Work camp aside, I would love to have you out for a visit and meet you for the first time, or get together with you for a revisit. Choose a room and don’t worry. You won’t have to dig a fire pit or even make your bed. Come relax on the balcony, have breakfast on the beautiful side porch, then sit around the pool and soak up the sun. Summer will be over before you know it, and I’d be happy to help you get the most out of it. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

 

My Home Is Like a Disney Movie Where Woodland Creatures Abound

So I know you can’t see all the woodland creatures in these back yard Inn shots, because they fly away and scamper off when I walk outside to take a picture. 2015-06-18 14.23.09No kidding: bright red cardinals flitting from tree to tree, bluebirds chattering  on the fences, tiny baby bunnies hopping among the plants, annoying squirrels twitching their fuzzy tails, little white butterflies drifting lazily among the flowers….they populate the place like paid extras on a movie set.

I think it’s the plethora of lush plantings put in by the former owners that attract the friendly wildlife. And they’re not just in the back forty (the woodland creatures, not the former owners). They hang out by the front steps, they frolic around the side porch, they stop and wink at you before running off, and they gather in the back yard as if Walt himself had called.

Sometimes in the mornings or evenings I’ll sit on the back porch with a cup of coffee or a relaxing beverage and watch all these tiny animals run around. Truly, I am  astounded daily by Flowers in a Rock Gardentheir sheer numbers and often feel compelled to break out in a Disney tune while elegantly floating down the steps with my arms outstretched. The little birds would land gently on my upturned palms and sing a happy song while we twirled  and pirouetted through the colorful flowers and green foliage.

[Note: If I knew how to do it I would photoshop a picture of myself dressed as Cinderella twirling in the shrubbery there on the left. Since I don’t know how to do that,  maybe you can print this page and color in your own dancing Cinderella.]

One day I will throw some diaphanous fabric on the back porch and wait for those bluebirds to stitch up a new dress for me so I can go to the ball. No mice allowed in this venue, though.

Seven Queens + One King = A Full House

Add to that deck two dozen each of bath towels, hand towels, wash cloths, a nice assortment of linen napkins,  tablecloths, dish cloths, oven mitts, several pool towels and a few aprons, laundrypileand that’s the hand I play when our guests must head for home after they’ve spent a great getaway weekend at the Inn.

To you this might look like laundry drudgery, but this nicely sorted, ready-to-go, snaking pile of linens makes me very happy. It means that I have just spent time helping people relax with beautiful comfortable beds, fluffy soft towels, and have created home-cooked breakfasts for them. There is pleasure in knowing that you can enhance the experience for people who come to savor some time away from home.

Besides that, I’m one of those demented types who actually enjoys doing laundry. Truly. And making things tidy. Really.

I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to look at our reviews on TripAdvisor, but many people comment about how clean the rooms are, and guests will often ask me if I take care of the Inn by myself. No way, sister! When we get really busy I have people who come over to help keep the joint in order. Many thanks to Aimee, Sherry, Joan, Tom – and soon Eileen, Wendy, and Taylor – who strive to keep Olde Square Inn ready to welcome guests.

By three o’clock, we have scrubbed, vacuumed, turned, freshened, sorted, and mowed. By ten pm the towels, sheets, and linens haveSorted laundry been washed, dried, folded, ironed, and tucked away in their respective baskets to be ready for our next guests. I love it all.

I think as a way to thank my team I should get them all lime green shirts (lime green like our awnings, right?!) and have them pose for a nice Olde Square Inn Family Photo. They could hold their favorite cleaning tools and stand on the steps in front of the Inn or by the Olde Square Inn sign on the front lawn. They would probably not be amused, but I would be very amused, especially if I didn’t have to be in it . We’ll see if autographed copies are coming soon.

 

TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence! Read Our Guest Reviews!

Olde Square Inn has been awarded the Certificate Of Excellence by TripAdvisor for consistently excellent reviews. According to TripAdvisor, “The Award is given only to establishments that consistently achieve great traveler reviews on TripAdvisor. Certificate of Excellence winners include accommodations, eateries and attractions located all over the world that have continually delivered a superior customer experience.”

I’m so happy that we were able to make our guests’ visits enjoyable and relaxing. I’d like to thank all of our guests for taking time out of their schedules to write a review about their stay at Olde Square Inn. I always say that our guests are the best, and it continues to be true. Thank you!

Splashes, Specials, and Spectacular Events

Fountain in Mount JoyLots of things happening around here before our fantastic Memorial Day Weekend rolls in.

Splashes: Take a look at our beautiful fountain on the corner of East Main and High Streets. The borough truck pulled up this morning to open it, and of course I ran outside to strike up a friendly conversation and to see how it was done. It was already uncovered and, in what was not one of my brightest moments, I chirped to one of the workers, “Do you have to put water in it now?! Hehehe?!!”  You know how you understand that what you have spoken is stupid before you even finish the sentence? I ran back inside as soon as he answered, “Yes.” Ah, well. They can’t all be gems. The fountain rocks, though. Lots of photo ops.

Specials: Hope you can take a few minutes to visit our home page. We’ve added a Specials button at the top to let you know about our current offers. Be sure you check often; I’d like to change them up from month to month – or even a few times within the month.

Next, in the drop-down menu under “Inn” there’s a section called Things To Do to help you plan your trip to Lancaster County. It’s a work in progress, so you’ll see that changing also as we add to our list of things to see and places to go. If you have a favorite haunt not listed, let me know so I can add it to the planner.

Spectacular Events: Main StreetMount Joy has some fun planned for summer. Memorial Day weekend will feature a parade down Main Street at 2:00 and a Community Yard Sale. June brings our town’s 21st Annual Golf Outing, while in July you can look forward to the 13th annual Taste of Mount Joy Cruisin’ Cuisine. And after you’ve shopped and golfed and sampled and cruised, you can come back to your comfortable air-conditioned room at the Inn to relax or can take a dip in the pool in the back garden, or can just snooze on the balcony. Nice.

A couple more spectacular events I have to mention. Aimee and I were sitting on the side porchMusic on the Grand Balcony listening to strains of classic rock. “Love that,” she commented. “Which park is having a concert tonight?” Well, that was no park concert! We were being entertained by our own guests who were playing on the Balcony right above us! Joe and Monica Jo (aka Joe Squared) play Thursday nights at Da’s Pub in Blakeslee, PA. Lucky Blakeslee!  If you’re around that area, drop in to see them. You won’t be disappointed. Monica surprised Joe with an overnight getaway to Olde Square Inn along with reservations for a Mystery Dinner at Bube’s Brewery for his 40th birthday. Awesome!

Surprise engagement getaway weekendTo close on an additional excellent note, our guest Lennie executed the perfect trifecta: 1.) booked the Suite along with a Birthday Celebration Indulgence, 2.) made reservations at the Catacombs for dinner, 3.) popped a marriage proposal to his long-time girlfriend Lisa, who, of course, said yes.  Who wouldn’t say yes to a guy who can make plans like that? Only no one!

What is your personal trifecta? It’s time to get your vacation on and make reservations at Olde Square Inn for some time out during these upcoming glorious summer months. Not sure what to do?  Check our Things to Do section or call me at 717-653-4525 and I’ll help point you in the right direction. Looking forward to meeting you soon.

Every Child Left Behind: School’s Out Forever for Retired MTMS Teacher

JackieYou know we love a good celebration event here at Olde Square Inn, and I was honored to be able to host a retirement party for a former co-worker who is joining the ranks of  Those Who Will Now and Forever Love Sunday Nights. You know what I’m talking about – that feeling of dread that begins to creep over you Sunday afternoon as the gates of freedom slowly being to close right in front of your face, not to open again for another five days. The doors are soon forever open for her.

Anyway, Jackie’s good friends Eileen and Katrina organized the whole event; they could be my go-to party planners any time. We set up all the food, the drinks and the wine they had brought, then at 5:00 friends started dropping in to offer their congratulations and enjoy a great dinner.

Jackie had time to open gifts and had quite a haul, particularly in the wine department. (See the “wine purse” she’s holding? I thought that was was particularly clever and thoroughly coveted it.) I think she received so many libations due to the amount of time she spends at the Vineyards at Grandview on Friday nights – great music, food, and fun going on there.

Retirement is bittersweet for many people, and I think teachers in particular. The hours are endless when you include the planning, continuing education classes, meetings, IEPS, phone calls to parents, time at the copy machine, dreaming up new ways to engage students, and the countless sleepless nights worrying about “your kids.” But the kids, even the ones who irritate the heck out of you, are the reasons you love your job. There are truly dedicated people who have their hearts on the line to do their best to help your children become their best, and Jackie spent the last 32 doing that.

She retired to spend more time with family, to travel and enjoy life, to drink wine, dance, watch the sun set, and to sleep past 4:45 am. I taught foods and nutrition the last eight of my 24 years in education and knew it was time for me to go when a student said to me, “Ms. Skee, is it hard to make chocolate chip cookies?”

“No, why, Anderson?”

“Because you look really, really, tired. Let me get you a chair so you can sit down a little bit.”

Lucky he was charming, but at any rate how do you not love that? You miss the kids.renee

If you’ve had a wonderful teacher in your life or in your children’s lives – this year, last year, or 20 years ago – take a minute to look her or him up, jot a note, make a phone call. As a teacher you hope you somehow make a difference in your students’ lives. Let a great teacher know how you have been greatly influenced.

And congratulations, Jackie. Welcome to the club! Do what you love.

 

 

Fun in the Sun, Made in the Shade In Lancaster County Year ‘Round

Pool Boy GajGardener GajThe proof is in the picture: now I can say the pool is officially open with our first swimmer making the best of the hot, hot May weather we’ve been experiencing! When the Gajs came to stay Mother’s Day weekend for their nephew’s college graduation, they took advantage of some of the backyard offerings – soaking up the sun, reading in the shade, floating in the pool, walking through the gardens. But I’ll tell you what, the advantage clearly was mine, and as a result I came up with a great idea for a new getaway package.

As it turned out, Ray knew a few things about filters, skimmers, and jets and got the pool situated so that the skimmer works the way it should, the pump’s doing its thing, and the intake is intaking just right. That made me quite happy because I don’t know pools (yet) and was pretty thrilled for that little tune-up. On top of that, he showed me how to turn off all the gas fireplaces in the joint which was great because those pilot lights throw off a lot of extra heat in 85 degree weather, not to mention all the fuel they burn just hanging around.

Then, as Mrs. Gaj and I were talking, she mentioned that she’d like to try planting some lily of the valley and  lilacs at her North Carolina home. Apparently they don’t do so well because the winters aren’t cold enough, but you know how odd the seasons have been everywhere, so those plants could actually stand a chance now. I handed her a shovel and she dug up those annoying little volunteer lilacs that shoot up around the real shrub and thinned out my herd of lilies! Yard work!

In the past few weeks friends have been here to help me open the pool, identify plants, and string lights on the trees out front, while guests have shown me how to unlock windows and put in screens and have moved furniture. As one guest said, “What other help do you need? This is more fun than hanging out with relatives!” So here’s the great idea for a new getaway package:

You know you can go on a volunteer vacation to maintain a trail or repair somebody’s gutters or dig out invasive plants on a popular hiking trail? I can do Inn Volunteer Vacation Getaways throughout the year!

Just think of it: the spring trip to the Inn could be weeding, mulching, opening the pool and putting in air conditioners, then the winter one could be putting in insulation, starting the gas fireplaces, decorating for the holidays, shoveling snow. Maybe in the fall the service trip participants could turn the gardens, remove air conditioners, do some touch up painting.

What could be more exciting?! Parents could get their kids to sell candy bars or wrapping paper to raise money for their Mom and Dad Volunteer Vacation Getaway or do a Go Fund Me thing so they don’t miss out on seasonal maintenance fun. According to Sierra Club people love cleaning up stuff. “Besides the satisfaction of a job well done, service trip participants…often return year after year to the work site…to see how the work they did is holding up….There is also a social aspect to service trips….Friendships form, and it’s not unusual for groups to meet again on future service trips.”

Friendships form! At the end of the day we could sing kumbaya around the fire pit they would have dug or just walk to one of the area restaurants and have dinner and a beverage. I think I’m on to something here. I’ll let you know as soon as I get the details worked out, but one more thing.

Can’t close without saying congratulations to all of our college grads who are now off to make the world and even more awesome place. Go get ’em. And definitely can’t forget our moms.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you hardworking mamas who hold down the fort everyday and love your families the best way you know how. My own mother is 93 and although she lives in Indiana, we talk often. Growing up she told me, “Never leave the house without your lipstick!” and you can be sure that even at 93 you’ll never to catch her without it. Love you, mom!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hoping all of you Mamas out there had a wonderful Mother’s Day, and trust that your families know how much love you pour into everything you do for them. With lots of great guests at the Inn this weekend keeping us busy, my family will be celebrating Mother’s Day, in addition to my grandson’s second birthday, later this week. I’m pretty excited about all of that!

Love the people who come and stay with me, and I’m always happy to see them when they return for another visit. Shelly and Nathan were back here this week with an event at Spooky Nook, and it was fun to be able to talk with them again to find out what’s going on in their part of the world.

A Priest, an Officer, and a Banker Walk Into an Inn – Main Street Mount Joy

2015-05-06 14.01.092015-05-06 13.36.51 HDRPriest, Officer and Banker

 

 

 

 

 

My friend calls me mid-morning with this announcement: Nancy! I saw you cavorting with some guy this morning. Did you find a special someone?!

Me: No, you weirdo. (And who “cavorts” these days?) That was my guest who was having breakfast on the side porch. We sat and chatted after I did the dishes. Tony was taking a break from his job at the bank and was out for Man Getaway Vacation. He had a blast visiting Mick’s All American, Mosby’s, Beanies, Bube’s, and Waltz Winery. During his Man-cation (I just at that moment coined that term!! Clever, right?!) he got to sing karaoke,  play pool and music trivia, make some great friends, tour the catacombs, go through a vineyard and sample some fabulous wines, cheeses, and chocolates. In addition to having breakfast on the side porch, we sat and chatted over beverages on the balcony last night. Tony’s a  personable guy who was here 20 years ago when the Inn was just a baby, and he loves the great people in Mount Joy.

Friend: Oh.

The morning turns to afternoon. Aimee comes over to tell me there is a police officer looking for a turtle in the greenery around the inn. The station was notified about an endangered species trying to cross the road. (There’s a joke in there somewhere.) Then –  ring, ring, ring. It’s my neighbor calling.

Neighbor: Nancy!!! There’s a police officer parked outside the inn and he’s looking around the property! Is there something I should know about?!

Me: No. That’s Officer Williams. He’s looking for that turtle you set free under my trees.

Neighbor: Oh. If he needs to know who discovered the turtle, my name is spelled D-O-N-N-A…

Me: Okay. And Donna? If you see a priest walking up the front steps? Nobody has died or needs  Last Rights. Father Tcheou is coming to bless the Inn.

Neighbor: Hahahahahahahaaaa! That’s good then!…Do you know how to spell my last name in case somebody asks?

Me: No. Love you! Talk to you soon.

So Father drives up and gets out of his vehicle. My third grade St.Mary’s Catholic School brain was hoping he would have rhinestone crosses on the side of his car, or a priest vestment on the roof, or  at least a clever priest-saying painted on the bumper, but no. He travels incognito, but he is totally awesome anyway.

As I was saying, he gets out of his  car then exchanges pleasantries  with Officer Williams, pets the turtle and we go into the Inn. I give him the 10-cent tour of the joint, and he, like many others, admires the kitchen floor which is an attractive black-and-white checkerboard pattern but picks up dirt like nobody’s business. I like to tell people that the floor attracts everything but men and money, but I’m thinking I could be wrong.

As the month of May unfolds, rooms are booking like crazy as people are getting ready for Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, the end of school and beautiful, beautiful weather. And didn’t three men just walk through those doors today? In fact, I almost called this post “It’s Raining Men” because it was raining today, but I felt that would be entirely inappropriate. I think I made the right decision on that.

Anyway, Father blesses the Inn, its operators, and all people who have and who will walk through our doors. I hope that Olde Square Inn can be a renewal to you when you stay with us so you can return to your busy lives refreshed and in good spirits. You don’t need to be a priest, an officer, or a banker to visit us. I am so excited to help you make your getaway one full of happy memories, whoever you are.  Looking forward to meeting you soon.

 

 

Gimme an A! Gimme and O!

Very glad it’s May, as April was a very hectic month for our family. Of a more personal nature, many of you know that my daughter Aimee has been going through a lot of testing to get herself on the list for a kidney transplant.

AimeesignsitShe has been on dialysis for for almost a year an a half and moved up from Florida last May to make the whole transplant business easier to deal with.

I can’t say enough good things about the care and treatment she receives at Pinnacle Health in Harrisburg. They have been thorough in everything they’ve done, and the support team works together to make sure patient and family don’t go nuts. We are very lucky to have them. With her four surgeries in three and a half weeks, I was a little wacky. Aimee dealt with it in a more chipper manner than I did, I must admit.

At last, all tests are cleared and she has officially signed the papers to happily accept a donor kidney. (See left, haha.)

Now we wait for a compatible donor, living or otherwise. If you happen to be blood type A or O (negative or positive!) and aren’t using one of your kidneys, the team at Pinnacle Health would be happy to test you to see if you could be her donor. Testing and surgery happen at no cost to the the potential gifter. Should you be interested, email me at nancy@oldesquareinn.com – we’ll chat. Enjoy this awesome weather!

Latest Top 5 Happenings at Olde Square Inn & Main Street Mount Joy

I’m close to being the happiest person in the world now that the snow is gone, and I wanted to show you a few things that have been happening around the Inn and around town since the winter weather has broken. Everyone’s been busy!

1. We hosted our first Bridal Shower at Olde Square Inn. Melissa was treated to a beautiful luncheon by her Maid of Honor Tanya and her wonderful bridesmaids.

2015-04-25 11.06.12 2015-04-25 11.06.48 2015-04-25 11.28.08
2015-04-25 11.55.23Bridal Shower2015-04-25 11.31.56

2.  Pool is open! Now all we have to do is wait for a few 90 degree days so the water can warm up. By August I’ll probably wishing for a little bit of that snow we had in March. No, probably not. Ever.


2015-04-26 16.53.57 HDR

3.  Grand Balcony is open! You don’t even have to wait for a hot, hot day to enjoy this lovely spot. I had just finished putting up the indoor/outdoor carpet and bringing out the chair cushions when a guest and I thought we should test it out. We relaxed with a chat and a beverage and just enjoyed the lofty view. The Balcony is available to guests until 10 pm. Love, love love this mild weather.

 

 

 

 

4.  Two new shops have opened in Downtown Mount Joy and were featured this past weekend during our Fourth Friday event with ribbon cutting ceremonies. Next time you’re here be sure to check out Crafter Hours at 67 E. Main Street. Gather your friends together for an evening of creativity and “…inventing, experimenting, breaking rules, taking risks, making mistakes, having fun!”

If you’re looking for a great dress, jewelry, accessory for your yourself or as a gift for someone you love, take a look at Mayita’s Boutique at 83 E. Main Street. It’s a new women’s clothing shop where you can find some beautiful outfits and beautiful pieces to dress up the things you already own.

Harvey's Barbeque

 

 

 

5. The Pig Will Oink Again! Harvey’s Main Street Barbecue was damaged last June in a fire, and I know it doesn’t look like much, but take heart: this is solid evidence of recent rebuilding activity. Can’t you just taste those melt-in-your-mouth ribs, the pulled pork sandwiches, cajun sausage, mac and cheese, corn bread….? Sigh.

 

Don’t forget that a night at Olde Square Inn would make a fabulous Mother’s Day Gift for your  mom, auntie, your wife, a favorite friend, or you! You can book directly through our reservations page, or can give me a call at 717-653-4525 if you need any help. Looking forward to helping you treat someone special to a well-deserved break.