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!

 

“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:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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 Cake What 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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