Wednesday, January 28, 2009

“Have You Ever Seen An Amish Wedding Presents Room”?

Mary asked us this question as she led the way through her kitchen, dining room, then past the sewing machines where she was making aprons, and into a long room at the back of the house.

Here were tables laden with cooking utensils, a round clothespin contraption, plates….even a propane lamp/table. These, she explained, were her daughter’s gifts from her wedding in November. It was now late January and her daughter and new husband were still living at Mary’s, waiting to set up house when they move in the spring.

As we walked toward the rear of the room, the groom’s corner was even more interesting, boasting lots of tools and a great-looking grill. Some of these were given the day of the wedding; other gifts had been “collected” as the happy couple traveled to their friends and relatives for dinner visits.

Mary will be part of our Amish Tour on March 28. This excursion will focus on a behind-the-scenes look at local Amish businesses, and explore the Amish way of life – mostly from a yummy culinary point of view!

As we drove home from Mary’s house, chomping on home-made potato chips, I realized that in all the years that I’ve lived here and heard about Amish weddings, I’d never before seen a room full of their presents!

Participants in our upcoming Lancaster County Tour of the Amish will be able to walk around the farms, meet several different families and visit in their homes. We’ll learn how the Amish utilize fruits and vegetables in their family recipes, hear about their traditions and why they love the land. (You’ll even be able to ask Mary about what it’s like to have two of your children married in the same month!)

For more information, call us or visit our website at Our tour group will consist of The Artist’s Inn and the guests from The Harvest Moon Bed and Breakfast. The cost is $100/person and will cover lunch, dinner, all demonstrations and tours and transportation. Hurry! Seating is limited; reservations are required. Reserve online or phone us at 888-999-4479.
Our thanks to Dr. Charles Carroll, a recent guest, who snapped the picture below.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Do they REALLY sell mud?

Well… not exactly. But it’s a long standing tradition in Lancaster County to have mud sales and we guarantee that you haven’t seen anything quite like it. Known as auctions everywhere else, in Lancaster they are simply called “sales”. Throughout the months of February and March, volunteer fire departments from Gap to Intercourse hold these sales as their biggest fund-raisers of the year.

These are no small affairs, mud sales start as early as 7 a.m. and it takes the better part of the day - with three auctioneers - to get through the inventory of handmade quilts, antiques, Amish-made wagons, jars of jams, wooden crafts, tools, and farm equipment. And sometimes even horses and pigs and cows…..oh my! You just never know what you will find.

While most of the business takes place outside (hence the name for the sale), hundreds of colorful quilts hang from the rafters inside the fire halls. You can tell they’ve done this before: Women volunteers can secure a quilt on clothes pins and hoist it high above the crowd in a flash – and the bidding is just as fast. Other fire halls use a bed to illustrate how the quilts will look when made up – no ordinary bed, but one tilted to swivel for the audience to see. At really big sales, two or three beds will be on display.

Whether it’s the cadence of the auctioneer, the smell of the hay, the slide of the mud underneath, or the steam rising from your hot chocolate outside, there’s nothing like the “thrill of the hunt” for something special.

And then there’s the food – hearty Lancaster County fare. Homebaked sweets line the tables with chicken corn soup, pork bar-b-que, hot dogs and sauerkraut, sticky buns and whoopee pies. (All your New Year’s resolutions may be abandoned in one lunch.)

The locals really turn out for mud sales – since most of the fire departments are staffed by at least some plain folks, you’ll see lots of Amish kids pulling each other in wagons and riding horses behind the barn, while their parents catch up on local news and help dish out food or make purchases.

Warm up at The Artist’s Inn when you return – either in front of the fireplaces or in one of our whirlpool tubs. We’ll even supply directions to the find the sales and some plastic bags for those boots…do bring yours, lest you want to stand out as one of those first-timers….

For a list of mud sales, see our Things to Do page.

Here's a picture from one of the sales last year - a few pieces of farm equipment, buggies, mud....and a whole lot of atmosphere. Nowhere but Lancaster County.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Take Your Romantic Valentine to Lancaster County

What could be more romantic than a sleepy small town in Lancaster County where the Amish buggies clip-clop by and chimes can be heard from a nearby church?

Well, maybe sharing a romantic dinner in a great restaurant, strolling through the art galleries in downtown Lancaster or enjoying the thrill of the hunt for that special antique in nearby Adamstown.

You could catch a show at American Music Theatre in Lancaster or the Sovereign Center in Reading. Or maybe catch a bargain or two at Rockvale, Tanger or the VF outlets. Tour local wineries or nearby microbreweries. We can recommend our favorites.

Take a hike in nearby Nolde Forest, or snuggle together on a buggy ride.

Or say you did it all -- and just relax at The Artist's Inn , Olde Stone Cottage or the Carriage House. Surprise your special someone with cheese and fruit from the Lover's Basket, a tour of covered bridges with the My Forever Valentine Package or gourmet chocolates with the Romance Basket. Enjoy a massage. Warm up in front of the Vermont Castings stove fireplaces, soak in our whirlpool tubs or just enjoy watching movies together.

In the morning, you'll wake up slowly to the aromas of a four-course gourmet breakfast served by candlelight. Later you can enjoy Bruce's artwork in the gallery.

Best of all, you'll share it with the one you love.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Rotary Mind In A Speed-Dial World

I’ve been trying to remember when it was, exactly, that technology outdistanced me… probably around 1982. Where do people find the time to keep up with it all? My VCR display still blinks “12:00” 24/7. A blackberry, for me, will always be something to pop into my mouth. Our computer, in my hands, will never be more than a prestigious typewriter.

Obviously, I belong in Lancaster County, an artist living in a town surrounded by Amish and Mennonite farms, watching horse-drawn buggies on Main Street, enjoying a 19th-Century pace of life in our 1848 bed and breakfast home. (I am grateful for indoor plumbing and central air conditioning.)
I’m equipped with a rotary mind in a speed-dial world. So it is no small irony that 2008 found me making my video debut on You Tube, with a short monologue, On Writing and Drawing. Here’s the link: