Happy Easter to all of our former and future guests. Hope you’re having a great day with family and friends. I’d also like to invite you to join me tomorrow in my 10-day Countdown to Dallas for SCORE’s American Small Business Championship!
Did you have a fun Thanksgiving weekend?
Hope so! Out here in beautiful Lancaster County, the Inn was filled with great people all week who were out visiting family and friends for food, holiday shopping and just getting together. But wait, there’s more!
Isn’t it great that this awesome season is upon us? I love the decorating and the preparing and the cooking and the get-togethering – any day is is great for a quick party or something fun and festive.
Look what you can do for our first holiday weekend on the cheap or for free:
1. Mount Joy Winterfest December 3, from 4-7 pm. Have dinner at one of our great downtown restaurants, enjoy live music, family activities and even pet a reindeer or visit Santa. Finish the evening with the tree lighting ceremony and caroling. Other than purchasing your dinner, it’s free!
2. Crafter Hours is offering a first-come, first-serve event to make your own snow globe ornament until it’s sold out. You can RSVP on the website to save your spot. The shop is just across the corner from the Inn and you can visit for a little bit of warmth and a whole lot of fun for this family friendly activity. Owner Karen will have all the supplies for you – for $5 each this is a no-brainer.
3. Hershey Sweet Lights offers two miles of beautiful Christmas lights that you can enjoy no matter what your religious practice might be. For a carload of people it’s about $19 and beats the price of a movie any day. They also sell tickets to visit Hershey Christmas Candylane and Dutch Wonderland which is great for the little ones.
4. American Music Theater has begun their 2016 Christmas Show, and they have matinees on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 3pm and an evening show on Saturday at 7pm. All of our Inn guests who have attended have loved this show, and because it’s near Rockvale Outlets, they snuck in some Christmas shopping beforehand! Be sure you call in advance for your tickets.
5. Sit in front of the fire at Olde Square Inn and do your Christmas cards. Friends Brenda and Judy come out for a couple of days to get away from their jobs and just take a little time to regroup, address their cards and go through our Lancaster County Best Kept Secrets Christmas Tour. It’s a fun thing where for only $9 you get a list of 12 shops and 2 restaurants that are off the beaten path. When you visit each place you get a little treat and a chance to win a prize in addition to visiting some great shops. By the way, my friends had to cancel their reservation because Judy broke her ankle. So sad for Judy, but that means we have a spot for you. You can book today – just tell me you want Judy’s room. (Sorry Judy. I’ll have it ready for you when you’re better.)
I know a lot of people get jacked up over holiday events about what they’re going to buy and what they’re going to do, and how they have to talk to relatives they’re kind of mad at, but don’t forget that God’s always got your back. Don’t even worry about it, my friend. As they say, if He takes you to it, He’ll take you through it, so don’t sweat. Relax and enjoy all of these great gifts and experiences that are open to you. Merry start of the Christmas season. Love of love to all of you this holiday.
Already I’ve had the chance to do some holiday entertaining –
my sisters came from Indiana and Arizona to spend our 2nd anniversary with us. You already know that Jo has been here a million times; she and Ed and friend Gordon helped me set up the place when we moved in.
It was Susan’s first time to see the Inn and to meet the babies. Yeah, I know! Two years! She had already met Taylor who is now 12, but not Parker and Easton who are three and one. I understand how difficult it can be to make time to leave your life and connect with your friends and family. We’ve all been in that spot where we say, “I’ve got to stop in and see——-.” It’s money, it’s work, it’s organization. It’s a lot of things. But friends, waaaaay better to make the trip while they’re living and breathing.
So we did our own little version of holiday entertaining, and our gatherings always involve laughing, eating, talking, drinking, eating, laughing, snorting, drinking. It’s a lot of fun and always turns out to be worth the effort.
And when we get together we talk through our current dilemmas. Here’s what happened this round: Susan decided to sell her house, Jo had no pressing issues since Caralyn’s wedding planning is over, and I needed help with a class I’m doing at the Mount Joy Public Library on November 28, appropriately titled Holiday Entertaining. My question to my fam was, “If you were attending a class called Holiday Entertaining, what would you expect to learn?”
Taylor: How to set a table!
Nicole: What do you do for a centerpiece!
Grahm: No! No one cares about how to set a table! Tell them how to set up a bar!
Me: I’m in the library, Grahm.
Grahm: People who go to libraries drink! Or you could tell them how to set the food around in stations so the party doesn’t clump up in one corner like a feeding trough.
Aimee: You could show them how to set up a buffet!
Susan: Easy recipes for entertaining!
Jo: Who’s your audience?!
Me: I won’t know until they register!
But what I do know is that it will be a lot of fun, a lot of ideas, and a lot of food. You can register for the class and see what else is going on at the Milanoff-Schock library. Hope to see you there. I would love your feed back.
Thanks for the great response to last week’s Gift Certificate and Mug offer (I think I might have to order more mugs!), but that got me to thinking you really like the gift certificate idea.
So here is our Second Anniversary bonus offer. This week when you can take 20% off your $100 or $200 gift certificate order, and there is no limit to the number of gift certificates you can purchase! You can click here for the order form, or can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 717.653.4525 if you need some help.
It’ll be great. You can enjoy your family this holiday, then send them to sleep somewhere else at the end of the day, and save some money. You’re a genius – perfect!
I’m looking forward to helping you entertain for the holidays, whether it’s at the library at the end of November, or whether it’s at the Inn when your family comes to visit. See you soon!
I have a great giveaway for you even while I’m still having a hard time believing that this week marks my second anniversary as Innkeeper at this beautiful Bed and Breakfast.
Sometimes it feels as it was just Monday last week that I was showing eight graders how to make strombolis and tacos and cupcakes and omelets and telling them a million times to stop scratching and go wash their hands before they cook. Although the two years flew and one career led to the next, I know this Inn is a great cozy place for me, my family, my friends, and all of my awesome guests. So much fun to have all of you here in my home. I am very lucky to be surrounded by loving people.
But enough of that sappy stuff; let’s get down to the real deal. Remember last blog I told you that we were going to offer you a new surprise or a little extra something each week this month to make your gift of time away – for you or anyone else – extra special? Okay, here’s our first one (so excited!) and it is available from Tuesday, November 8 through Monday, November 14.
- I have mugs to give away! Purchase a gift certificate of $100 or more, and when your lucky recipients stay with us they will get to choose one of our great hand-thrown Deneen Pottery mugs as an extra gift from you. Yes, that’s right! Buy a gift certificate of $100 or more and get our $22 mug for free – an awesome giveaway that makes you look even more extra-generous than you already are. Here are the parameters and they’re pretty easy.
1. One beautiful free mug per household.
2. Gift certificates under this offer are good until December 31, 2017.
3. November weekly offers cannot be combined during one stay.
Here’s all you have to do:
Click on this Gift Certificate link that takes you directly to the order form, or you can click on the “Gift Certificate” tab on our site to get there. All you have to do is fill in the information and I can email or snail mail your certificates to the address you provide. The certificate will include the extra surprise that your giftees get to pick out a mug when they stay with us, because you are just a loving and giving person like that.
Then all you have to do is have your second cup of coffee and your second breakfast as you check your friends and family off your finished list. Wowee! And you’re not even out of your softie pants yet.
Call me (717-653-4525) or email me at email@example.com if you have any questions. Remember, this offer is good for one week only to the first 50 gift certificate purchasers. And of course, if you’re not one of the first fifty, you’re still welcome to gift someone you love with a great night away at Olde Square Inn.
Hope you made some happy memories last night whether you were trick or treating with the kids, greeting superheroes at your door, or just reminiscing about your best Halloween costume ever. I know that once the candy wrappers are cleaned up and the kids come off their sugar high, your thoughts will turn to the holidays and the folks on your gift-giving list.
As I approach my second anniversary as Innkeeper, my thoughts turn to the wonderful guests who have walked through my door to spend time here. Their reasons for staying are as varied as the stars in the sky: they came to the Inn to escape their busy routines, to savor a relaxing dinner, to visit family and friends, to tour our beautiful Lancaster County, to enjoy some pampering, to celebrate a life event, to honeymoon, and even to be married in an intimate ceremony surrounded by those they love.
Whatever their reasons, I know they went home with some incredible memories of their time away that they’ll treasure and share for a long time. I am excited to help you become a great memory-maker this holiday season with some great offers I’m going to be sharing with you through the month of November.
Each week there will be a new surprise and a little extra something to make your gift of time away (for you or anyone else!) extra special. While you’re anticipating our first offer, your job is to draw up your Naughty and Nice list. I’m so looking forward to helping you give great memories and to welcoming your family and friends to spend some time with us.
And hey, be sure you’re on the list, too. You pick which side; we’re not here to judge whether you’re Naught or Nice haha!
But let me back the truck up, Chuck. What I love about my job is the variety of people who walk through our door, and that I get to cook for them and talk with them and help them enjoy their getaways. Sometimes we can talk leisurely over breakfast or throughout the day, and other times their schedules are jam packed and we only have time to touch base. Over a leisurely Monday morning breakfast comment with some incredibly lovely people, a story unfolded.
Victoria (In a proper British accent): We’ve traveled all over the world and to a lot of B and Bs, but your breakfast is truly the best we’ve had anywhere, vegetarian or otherwise.
Me: Thank you, that’s very kind! And what do you do that takes you traveling all over the word?
Victoria: Oh, Bob’s a producer.
Me: That has to keep you on the move. What are you producing?
Bob: Santana stage shows.
Me: Wow, stage shows (Thinking back to directing 8th grade plays during my teacher days haha)…that’s a ton of work!…….Wait……. Did you say Santana? Like Carlos Santana?! You produce stage shows for Carlos Santana?!?!! Classic Rock Carlos Santana???!?!!
Bob: Yeah. When they’re touring.
Me: Whaaaat? Get outta town!! Have you always been with Santana? In my head I’m thinking, “Oye Como Va! Man it’s a hot one…but you stay sooo cool!”
Bob: No, you name it, I’ve worked with all the artists. It’s the nature of the job. You know, you’re with the tour while it’s running, then move on to the next production when it’s finished.
Me (Star struck, but remembering my manners): Victoria, do you go along to the concerts?
Victoria: No, Bob’s working during the concert, and I’m usually working or on a book tour. I’m a children’s book author.
Me: Love that! What do you write?
Victoria: As a teacher you may have heard of the Warriors series? I’m Erin Hunter.
Me: Whaaaat? Get outta town!! I just heard they’re making a movie from one of your books and………..
And then we’re all talking about the movie and Santana and Madonna and vegetarian meals and writing and working and touring – so much fun! I felt as if we had been friends for a long time, you know what I mean? Sometimes you just fall right in with people. It’s that way with a so many of our guests; they become your friends and family.
What I really loved is that they had booked with us for a couple of nights, then left Saturday morning to go to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water (stunning!) in western Pennsylvania. Well, they didn’t care for their accommodations out that way and called from the road to see if they could come back for Sunday night – a four-hour return drive. So happy that they were so comfortable and relaxed here that they wanted to come back a day later!
When you make your next reservation, you might find that I’ve renamed the first-floor Summerfield the “Carlos Santana Room” and changed the name of the Carriage House “Warriors’ Respite”. You just never know who you’re going to meet when you’re out here.
Just so you know,
- This is a real recipe you make on a stove top, not philosophical words to make you a better person.
- And which person is sick of hearing about Trump, Hillary, the Kardashians and clowns by now? Only every one.
- And everyone needs the comfort of something deliciously outstanding that can be made with three ingredients probably already waiting in the kitchen.
Here’s why this is great. This recipe isn’t only for the end of a hard day, or when you’re contemplating a November move to another country, or when you want to tell everyone to just stop talking already, but also for when you want everyone to be talking – talking about the rich, caramel-y, sensual dessert you’ve just served them and what a brilliant and sensual dessert chef you are. Look at this – rather than the debates or the news. So easy.
Rich and Sensual Caramel Sauce Recipe
- 3 T. butter (Not margarine, never margarine, but it’s okay if you practice with it.)
- 1/4 c. packed dark brown sugar (Yes, you can use light brown sugar, but the darker has a deeper flavor.)
- 1/4 c. brandy or bourbon (What?! You don’t have this in your kitchen?! You can use orange or apple or pear or cherry or whatever juice and it’s still delicious.)
- On medium heat, melt butter in the pan, but don’t brown it or burn it like I did last week. Stay in the kitchen and watch. Stoves sometimes are offended when you leave them unattended.
- Add the brown sugar and stir for few minutes until it’s incorporated into the butter. That means it won’t be lumpy, but will begin to look smooth even though it might be a bit grainy.
- When it begins to thicken a little – the time will depend on how high your heat is and what kind of pan you’re using, but will take another few minutes – add the liquid and stir it into the brown sugar/butter combo. Cook another couple of minutes and you’re finished!! You should end up with a rich and sensual caramel sauce that you can use a lot of different ways.
a.) Add sliced bananas and spoon on top of ice cream for a Bananas Foster dessert.
b.) Pour on top of a baked apple and top with whipped cream.
c.) Toss in fresh pineapple slices, continue to cook until the pineapple is warm to hot. Plate and top with some of the sauce, whipped cream of course, and almonds.
d.) You can do the same with a peach, nectarine, pear, or such type of fruit. Just cut it in half, pit or seed, and place cut side down, then cook until warmed or hot. Serve with the sauce and toppings.
e.) Drizzle over a piece of apple pie, pound cake, a brownie, or any store-bought dessert to add a layer of home-made flavor. As always, top with whipped cream.
f.) Sometimes I stir in a handful of dried cranberries depending on how I want to use the sauce. Just be sure to cook them until they get plump and unwrinkly.
g.) Take a spoon and eat the Rich and Sensual Caramel Sauce directly from the pan. Be careful, though, it’s hot.
A few tips:
While you’re cooking this, if it gets too thick you can always throw in some more butter and/or liquid. If it’s on the heat too long it will turn into a hard brittle kind of candy and nothing you can do will turn it back into a liquid. Just take it off the heat and eat it later once the kids go to bed.
If you pour in too much liquid and it’s too thin, just keep cooking and stirring. The liquid will begin to evaporate and the caramel sauce will thicken.
When I’m making a big batch at breakfast for Salted Caramel Peaches or Grilled Nectarines, my liquid is usually orange juice and then I’ll finish it off with the liquor.
Should you burn the caramel in the pan, don’t cry about it. Put the pan on the porch like I do so the place doesn’t smell like you burned up the joint and try it again. Someone told me once that you have to make a recipe at least five times before you get it the way you like it. Sometimes it takes longer for me, but who cares. Go with it. It’s fun.
Besides that, it will make any headlines with the words Trump, Hillary, Kardashians, or Clowns much more palatable. If you would like other easy and delicious dishes to fend off the clowns, click on our recipes link just off to the right under Blog Categories, or join me for a non-debatable breakfast at the Inn -exactly what you’ll need for November! See you soon.
Monday is the day I usually like to write my blog. I gather the thoughts that I’ve had all week and try to compose them into something coherent. But here’s the thing. I didn’t do it.
We had a great week with so many fun guests and a completely full weekend where I got to make a lot of breakfast for a lot of people, which is one of my very favorite things to do. After everyone had to go, we cleaned up a lot of rooms, another thing I like because I love looking around my own house. (I just really like where I live – makes me happy.) When everything was finished Sunday afternoon, the kids and grandkids came over and we played trains and played with the skeleton dog and played Yahztee and ate pizza and hung out, which also makes me happy.
Anyway, by the end of it, I was really tired and didn’t wake up Monday morning until 7:11. Pretty late for me but secretly fun, and with a clear schedule I felt as if I were playing hookey. I put on my fuzzy bathrobe and made some coffee and ate some of those tiny chocolate covered donuts that you get in a bag for $1.99 and decided that I didn’t feel like doing anything that day.
I read the paper, folded some laundry, unloaded the dishwasher and had some more coffee and tiny donuts. By 11:00 (I know, you’re thinking the same thing I did: when you wake up mid-morning and the productive part of the day is about over, what’s the point? Who cares. I was’t doing anything anyway, right?) I decided I’d take a drive a half hour out to Mother Tucker’s Antiques and see if I could score some Depression Glass plates. I just walked around the joint like I had all day and found some good stuff, then drove home thinking I’d have a few more of those donuts and another cup of coffee.
Before going home I stopped at the library and picked up some books so I could lay around and read since I was planning on just lying around anyway. But by then it was about dinnertime, and I threw some ingredients in a pan for fajitas and called Aimee over. We hung out and had dinner and watched the news and some reruns of Big Bang Theory. It was pretty relaxing, and all the work was waiting in the wings but I didn’t really care because I had decided early it was going to be a vacation day.
That is why you get no blog today that will tell you about the Top Ten Things To Do In Lancaster County This Weekend, or a story about How To Conquer Your Fears, or even The Best Recipe You Could Ever Make For Anyone. I took the day off and didn’t do anything except indulge myself, and I do thank you for taking the hit.
Here’s what I finally know. Just like you, I can work a lot and keep going and truly enjoy it, then suddenly it seems that I’m slowing down, or getting mad at everyone for no reason, or making bad decisions, or complaining about things I otherwise like to do.
Finally I know that it’s time for me to give myself some time off. You need to do that, too, even if you’re a mom with kids who won’t even let you go to the bathroom by yourself, or the dad whose job takes him away early in the day to return spent at night, or the teacher or office worker or barista or banker or whomever, whose efforts help to make a safe and happy place for someone else.
Allow yourself to schedule a break. It’s not selfish, but a very good recharge for you so you can continue to do the things you love and to take care of the people you love. Nobody likes a martyr, truly. The work will be there tomorrow, and you know that when you’re recharged you can be happy about the kids in the bathroom with you and the work and every other thing you have to tackle.
I had a great time not doing anything, everyone seems okay, and I felt pretty happy about not meeting any demands that day . Now here’s your call to non-action: take a break, even if it’s a short one. Everyone needs a little time off, including you. Go for it!
A lot of people like to make a booking for a room over the phone and we get calls from all over the country and, in fact, from all over the world. It’s not surprising when inquiries come in late, because sometimes people are unaware of the time difference or often think we have an answering service or a switchboard. But really, when I get my way I’m asleep by 10:30 and, as I mentioned in other posts, struggle to be cognizant after that time if the phone rings. So anyway, I get one of these late-night calls just after I crawled into bed.
Ring, ring, ring.
Me: (Yawn.) It’s a great night at Olde Square Inn. This is Nancy. Can I help you?
Caller: Night?!! Oh, har, har, har! I guess it is! This is Leonard.
Me: Hello, Leonard. What can I help you with?
Leonard: I live on the West Coast and you were recommended to me by someone who stayed out there with you. I just wanted to know if you had any rooms open during the week.
Me: Thanks for sharing that comment. When were you thinking of staying?
Leonard: Well, probably weekdays – early in the month.
Me: Okay. Were you able to get on our website to choose your favorite room?
Leonard: Oh, no. I don’t know your website name. I have a shoe store.
Me: …?… How nice for you. If you want to get away from the business a little bit, you can go directly to our site at oldesquareinn.com to view the rooms and make a reservation. It is a secure site and the booking is immediate.
Leonard: Do you like shoes?
Me: Yes. I find them very convenient. Did you want to book a room, sir?
Leonard: Which is your favorite?
Me: I love all of our rooms. I don’t have a favorite.
Leonard: No – shoes! Which are your favorite? I have a shoe store. Do you like boots?
Me: Of course. Particularly in colder weather. Sir, would you like to to create a booking?
Leonard: You could fly out to the West Coast and buy some boots!
Me: Well, no. We’re pretty busy here, and I can drive out to the DSW in twelve minutes if I needed a new pair of boots, but thank you anyway. You know if it’s easier, you can go online at….
Leonard: You do like boots! I got boots! I got pumps, too. You like pumps? I got pumps with toe cleavage.
Me: (Eww. And I knew even as I was uttering the sentence that it was the wrong thing to say. I don’t think well at night as I also previously mentioned, and the words just fell out of my mouth before I could close it. Ah, well.) Like pumps? You kiddin’? I don’t know no girl what don’t love her a good pump every now and again. Ain’t that right? (Oh, brother!)
Leonard: Yes! Right! I’m 40 years old and I date a woman who is sixty! Those 60-year-old women can really rock those pumps, I’m telling you!!
Me: Yes, I know that, sir. Women in their sixties rock everything. You’ve got it figured out. So now….if you’re booking a stay in the area you could go directly to our site or just google Lancaster County Holiday Inns. I think that would work for you.
Me: Thank you for thinking of us, sir. Have a good night. Click.
Ring, ring, ring.
I’m not picking up that phone and might even consider an answering service. And for those of you who are interested, we actually are about twelve minutes from DSW- Designer Shoe Warehouse. See you soon. I’ll be the one rockin’ the new boots – purchased in Lancaster County.
A weekend in October is the best for getting out and revelling in the weather and making great memories – one of the greatest times to relax and enjoy yourself with family and friends. Think about it: you’re not shopping for Christmas gifts, stuffing a turkey, worrying about whether everyone will appreciate the vacation you’ve planned, or hoping Easter dinner works out. You’re not mulching in the hot sun or weeding a garden or shoveling 28 inches of snow. Your biggest October concern is likely what kind of candy to hand out for trick or treaters or what your costume is going to be this year. Ahhh. Love it!
Here’s a sample of some fun things just waiting for you this month.
- October 1 – Bridge Bust is like a giant Antique/Craft/Food/Stuff Fair on a bridge – the Rte 462 bridge between Columbia and Wrightsville to be exact. Obviously it’s closed traffic or that would be no fun, but you can shop the 1 and 1/4 mile bridge with a $2 admission charge. Check it out at PaRivertowns.com.
- October 1 through Mid November – Field of Screams has gotten bigger and better every years since the joint opened. Never having been because personally, I can’t see the point in paying someone to give me nightmares (but I know some of you are into scary), I hear from guests about the frightfully good time they’ve had, haha. Go to Field of Screams for more info about events and tickets.
- October 6/7, 13/14. 20/21 – The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is an interactive play being presented at the Rockford Plantation. It’s staged inside the mansion and you get to tour the joint by candlelight and talk to Ichabod Crane and his cronies. Tickets are $15 and the place sells out every year since each performance is limited to 20 guests. You can get your tickets at Rockfordplantation.org.
- October 6-12 – The Best Kept Secrets Tour is totally for you if you love shopping, exploring out-of-the-way places, surprises, food, and gifts. If you’ve never been on one of these, it’s a fun way to see the county, and you have seven days to drive to the shops of your choice. Here’s the trick – you don’t know what the places are until you purchase the ticket and get the guide. It’s worth the $9. For tickets go to Best Kept Secrets Tour.
- October 8 – Chocolate Walk in Lititz can be a dream come true for chocolate lovers. Your pre-purchased ticket is your magical pass to leisurely explore the town while divulging in candy-licious treats from 10am-4pm. One year they even had a chocolate fountain! To find out more go to Chocolate Walk.
- October 8 & 9 – 57th Annual Harvest Days at Landis Valley Farm Museum represents an historical celebration of a year’s work for folks in
a Pennsylvania German community from 1740-1940. You can go on wagon rides, taste heirloom fruits, take part in demonstrations and pick pumpkins. Find out more at Landis Valley Museum. Incidentally, I spent two years teaching 7th and 8th graders there with the entire acreage as our classroom. Pretty cool.
- October 21-31 – Best Fall Foliage occurs in Lancaster County. While leaves are turning throughout the entire month, according to the Pennsylvania Weekly Fall Foliage Report this is the very best time to enjoy the beautiful colors of the season, whether it’s a weekend or week day. And it’s free. Take that, Field of Screams!
- October – Brubaker’s Corn Maze is a 14-acre maze right here in Mount Joy and is totally affordable for only $5 per person. At the end of the journey there’s a campfire and little snack bar, then you get a wagon ride back to your car. Get the low down on this and other fun mazes by clicking on this Guide To Amazing Corn Mazes.
- October – The American Music Theater offers a pretty good variety of live shows, where you can purchase tickets for anything from Jay Leno to Abba: The Concert to The Price Is Right game show. And here’s the bonus: the theater is right across the street from outlet shopping. Cha-ching!!
After all that running around, you’ll be happy to relax on the porch or balcony at Olde Square Inn or to grab something fabulous to eat at one of nearby restaurants. At the end of the day get ready to snuggle into one of our cozy beds made up with soft, soft Comphy sheets for an unbelievable night’s sleep.
Wake up to a deliciously hot, three-course breakfast and you’ll be ready for the new day’s adventures.
October is a busy month around here, and you want to be sure to reserve your room now for your great October weekend. To book your room you can go to our reservations calendar or you can call me at 717-653-4525, and I’ll be happy to help your arrange your stay. I’m looking forward to seeing you soon!