Thursday, April 16, 2015

Going the Extra Mile….All the Way to the Dressing Room

I recently shopped at the Vanilty Fair Outlet in Reading.  Unlike other outlets, they actually have quite a selection of jeans – you can get short, petite, medium, tall and extra tall in just about every size.  And they are located in the old factories, so it’s a great reuse of space, rather than putting up a new building. I like that.

I don’t go shopping much these days …I’ll blame that on my lifelong friend, Paula.  I think we used up our entire shopping quota in our 20s.  But this spring day found me trying on several tops and jeans and I left with a bagful because Tuesdays are senior days and (GASP!) the clerk assumed I was over 55. 

 Oh well, it was worth it to save an extra 10%!
When I got home, I realized that I was only wearing one earring.  A quick search of the car proved that I had probably lost it somewhere at the outlet.  I thought it was hopeless, but called anyway…to ask if I could talk to someone in the Lost and Found Department. Much to my surprise, the woman that answered the phone offered to help me.  She said that there was no earring turned in that day but she would be happy to look in the dressing room for me.  Wow!  I used the same dressing room several times, so I was able to direct her to the correct one…and she found my earring lying on the floor.
I was impressed by Allyssa’s patience and willingness to drop what she was doing to help me.  What great customer service….and a wonderful reminder  of how we should all treat each other, by taking the time to listen and help one another.
Good customer service is hard to find… especially in today’s fast-paced multi-tasking workforce. It deserves to be acknowledged.  So I asked Alysssa for her supervisor’s email and send off a letter that I hoped would become part of her file.
Customer service is an attitude, a courtesy, a better way of treating folks…and it can become contagious. It doesn’t matter what the job – if you have a person that is happy and sets a good example, chances are the folks around her or him will pick up the attitude as well.  And customers then feel better too.  So the next time someone goes out of their way to make your meal/experience/vacation better, be sure to thank them and pass that kindness along.
Most people don’t’ expect to be rewarded…which makes it even more gratifying to acknowledge their courteous and giving spirit. We all welcome a “pat on the back” – it just makes us feel good. Here at The Artist’sInn, a 5-star review on Trip Advisor or Google makes our hearts beat fast!

Good customer service is something that we strive for at The Artist’s Inn.  Although we don’t have dressing rooms, we’ll try to go the extra mile too!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sweet Street Cafe

You have probably tried their desserts.  After all, Sweet Street desserts are featured by restaurants in over 60 countries.  They are as creative as they are yummy. 

This local success story takes place in Reading - only about half an hour from the inn.  Last fall, they opened a café.  Café Sweet Street.  It's only open for breakfast and lunch, but don't worry - they don't close until 6 p.m., so if you've had a substantial breakfast (perhaps at The Artist's Inn), you've got all day to work up an appetite!

A scoreboard announces the offerings of the day.

Our Chinois and classic Cobb salads were full of organic greens and local produce and the mushroom soup was yummy.
 
 

Don't worry if you're on a limited time frame - our food was out in a jiffy. 

They offer lots of burgers - beef, chicken, turkey or veggie, lots of sandwiches, salads, soups and hearty fare.

And pizza - can't wait to try that when their outdoor patio opens for the season.

Oh, and they serve desserts.  Wow, do they have desserts - huge cookies, cupcakes, pies, cakes and everything in between...available by the piece or the whole. 

 
 
 
Since the café is connected to the factory, the freshness is guaranteed. You need to try this place!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Just in time for Valentine's Day..

What would winter be like without chocolate?  Or spring, summer or fall?  We'll be serving these Ganache Filled Brown Sugar Bars at the inn all month. The recipe first appeared in the1995 edition of Food and Wine.  We hope you enjoy them here....or at home!



Ganache Filled Brown Sugar Bars
1/2 cup heavy cream1/2 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 t salt2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature1 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar2 eggs, room temperature1 1/2 t vanilla

1)      Boil the cream over medium heat.  In a food processor, finely grind the chocolate.  With the machine on, add the hot cream and process until smooth. Scrape the ganache into a bowl and let stand until firm, 30 minutes to an hour.
2)      Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350.  Lightly butter a 10 by 15 inch baking pan.  Line the pan with wax paper; butter and flour the paper.
3)      Whisk the flour with the salt.  In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar at medium speed for three minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Beat in the vanilla. At low speed beat in the flour in three additions; the batter will be fairly stiff.  Spread the batter in the pan.  Bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
4)      Cover the baking pan with a large wire rack and invert.  Remove the pan and peel off the wax paper.  Invert the cake onto a large cutting board.  Using a serrated knife, halve the cake crosswise.  Spread the ganache evenly over one f the cake halves, leaving a ¼ inch border.  Top with the other cake half.  Cover and refrigerate until the ganache is set – at least two hours. 
5)      Cut into bars.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Back to School...or Maybe Recess!

It doesn't matter in which direction you drive.  Once you leave Terre Hill, you're bound to pass by a one-room schoolhouse.  You can usually tell the percentage of old-order Amish and Mennonite kids attending these schools by the number of bikes (Mennonite) or scooters (Amish) parked outside.

And it doesn't matter what time of the day you drive by.....I have noticed that they are very fond of recess.  I've seen so many cute pictures that I couldn't bring myself to take - an older boy teaching a younger one how to swing the baseball bat, kids eating their lunches as they sit on the ground next to the outhouse, teachers pitching softballs,, two girls giggling while they swing.  They all seem to get along...no matter what the age. 

Perhaps there's a lesson here for the rest of the schools. 

We hope you enjoy these pictures - taken by several of our guests (with long, long lenses).  Feel free to post any favorites of your own.

And, the next time you stay at The Artist's Inn, we hope you notice that the local kids are not only back to school....but also at recess here in Lancaster County!







 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Melon Mania in Lancaster County

It's been a great summer for eating.  And there's nothing sweeter than Lancaster County melons. 

 
Farms stands and the local produce auction are exploding with several kinds of watermelons, honeydew, cantaloupes, canary melons and....my favorite - honeylopes.  They are a cross between a honeydew and a cantaloupe.



 
So, whether you're ready to buy one, a dozen, or fifty, the time to enjoy the bounty of Lancaster County is now!



Here's a pretty way we serve the melons at The Artist's Inn:


Melons with Mango-Plum Sauce:

Peel and place one mango and 2 unpeeled plums into a blender.  Add two tablespoons of sugar and 1/4 cup of your favorite juice (we use white cranberry peach).  Blend until fairly smooth and spoon over three slices of melon.  Garnish with violas.   So pretty!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Yes, You CAN Zip Line in Lancaster County!

 
Even if you aren't particularly fond of heights - as in the case of my husband, Bruce.

 
The guides will handle all the hooking and unhooking
 


 And then you are free to fly between the trees!

 
They will teach you how to slow down, hang upside down or free fall.   Or to just enjoy the ride.



 

Family and friends can watch from below,


And they have a really cool way of getting you back to the ground. 

Available at Refreshing Mountain, about half an hour north of The Artist's Inn.

Tell them we sent you!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Need a Broom? Head to Lancaster County!


How about a rug?  Need any of those?
I discovered a place this week that has a nice variety of both.  And they are all made in America.  In fact, they are hand made right here in Lancaster County by the Amish.
Here's a peek inside the shop area where the brooms are "born":



 
 
There are all sorts of brooms - long handled, wisk and even old-fashioned cake testers.
 
There's also a room that displays the woven rugs, table runners and placemats.  I couldn't resist this blue rug for the cottage.  It is perfect and didn't have to be shipped from overseas, or trucked across the country.
 
Most importantly, it supports several local Amish families. 

 
So, the next time you find yourself in need of a rug or broom, head to Stoltzfus Carpet Shop in Lancaster County.  You'll find them at 39 Pequea Valley Road in Kinzers - about half an hour from The Artist's Inn and Gallery.