Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Paradise of Patchwork in Lancaster, PA

Today was the opening day of the American Quilters Society Show in downtown Lancaster. I attended with two friends – not because we are quilters, but because we appreciate art and wanted to see the quilts on display.

Within the first twenty minutes, I felt like my eyes could not possibly take in any more color. This is a universe with its own language and beauty. There are fabrics from around the world (I especially loved this blue and yellow pile from France and could imagine what I could make with it), quilts spanning the centuries and made from all over America, and state-of-the-art long arm machines that look nothing like the sewing machine I have!
This booth is Hinkletown Sewing Machines - located five minutes from our inn.

Actually, many of the vendors are located within several miles of our inn, others hailed from Texas, Missouri and Kansas.

Even if you don’t plan to take any classes, the joy of seeing all of the quilt entries is worth the price of admission. But the different techniques, styles, patterns and the unending color schemes are mind-boggling.

Some of my favorites didn’t make first or second place, but I’ll share them with you here...
Called The Little Juggler, I love the colors sure to double click on the picture to enlarge it.
Double click to read the name of this quilt and apprecaite the quiltmaker's sense of humor.

I have always loved quilted jackets, and watching the parade of women with their jackets was fascinating – each one seemed to get prettier. By the time we made it to the third floor, I wanted one—badly. Well, not badly enough to devote the time required to quilt one...that will have to wait for a day when I’ll have more time for hobbies other than running a bed and breakfast!

The show will continue for three more days. That’s time enough to make your plans and head to Lancaster. If you go, wear comfortable shoes – the show spans four floors at the Lancaster County Convention Center and Liberty Place. At the Convention Center, I recommend using the escalators to avoid the lines at the elevator. There is cushy seating in the lobby of the Convention’ll be looking for it later. If you stay with us, I’ll share my secret parking places – within easy walking distance of the LCCC.

If you happen to head out on Thursday, there’s a free party for all quilters at Mulberry Art Studios from 6:00 pm to 8:30pm. I’ll be there – our bed and breakfast association, along with its partners, is hosting it. There will be lots of food, beverages, music, free shoulder massages—and yes, more quilters and quilts.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Bit of Olde England in Lancaster County

Keep Your Sunny Side Up!

It was a rainy Monday...a great time to head for a hot cup of tea at an English tea room. And just where would one find that in Lancaster, County? Well, in Intercourse (of course!) at Ye Olde English Tea Room.

I had the vanilla spice tea, and asparagus/ham quiche with salad, and a cherry scone with real clotted cream. It was great. This was just what the damp and dreary day needed. They also have bangers and mash and meat pies. In the summer months, the iced teas are light and refreshing. It all was so.....English....including the rainy weather outside the windows!

But as we talked and looked around the room, we forgot about the rain. What mattered was the conversation that turned to the hopes and dreams between two good friends. Soon the tiny restaurant filled with customers and we could hear their laughter float in from the next room.

We sat at a round table, with pretty fabrics...not unlike those found in Alice in Wonderland! I couldn’t help but get up from the table when something caught my eye– a book on English gardens, a picture, seemed the room was filled with all things tea!

The table was set with wonderful items to explore - from the little teapot napkin rings to the sugar container. It seemed that everywhere you looked, there was something to make you smile.

Then there were those wonderful cheerful English voices – (the owners and staff are all from England) transforming everyday words to dance in your ears.

Did I mention the shopping? Specialty foods from England, interesting jewelry and other little gems are tucked into every shelf, corner, and windowsill. I couldn’t resist these napkin rings – do you recognize Bruce’s artwork?

So, did we just stop in for lunch, or where we transported to some magical place in the English countryside?

Better go for yourself to decide – and if you are a guest of The Artist's Inn, be sure to ask us for a coupon for a free pot of tea. They'll help you keep your sunny side up.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Joseph Arrives at Sight and Sound

We were invited to the Premier showing of the new show at Sight and Sound Theatre in Strasburg last night. It was a grand affair. There were men in tuxes, ladies in glitter and heels, hors d'œuvres throughout the lobby and excitement in the air.

Politicians, business owners and friends of Shirley and Glen Eshelman (Owners of Sight and Sound) mingled while scores of cast members – Egyptian soldiers with spears, bright green dragons and women dressed in incredible costumes - paraded through the crowd.

This cake was made by Charm City Cakes – you may know them as Duff Goldman from the Food Network’s Ace of Cakes. I once saw Duff at a food show and can only imagine how much fun it must have been to be involved in the cake process.

This long-awaited show has been three years in the making. When you see the sets, you’ll know why. Some of them soar 30 feet high and the village and palace scenes are incredibly complex. Joseph’s dreams take him high into the theatre – impressive indeed. True to their other shows, Joseph also delivers in the live animal department. There are horses, goats, camels, mules, donkeys, a raven, sphinx cat and even a rat or two.

A few rows behind our seats, Don Harper signed autographs. He created the contemporary score that is surpassed only by the incredible voices of the cast.

So hold on to your seats - this is a huge performance – almost larger than life. The only thing that comes close to being so huge is the message that it delivers: to learn the power of forgiveness.

Lancaster County is truly blessed to have this theatre – both in helping the local economy (they employ 500 people and all sets are made on site) and in the spirituality exemplified in everything they do.

This is, in our opinion, the best show that Sight and Sound has produced so far and we highly recommend it. You can catch Joseph from now until October 30 – stay at The Artist's Inn and we’ll be happy to get your tickets at a reduced price.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Trip Around the World at The Philadelphia Flower Show

A trip to this prestigious show comes but once a year...and, living in Lancaster County, that means it is easily “doable”, and a very special outing. So when my friend Ruth said that she had room in their van for me, I jumped at the chance.

We arrived just before noon and opted to have lunch at the Reading Terminal Market, across the street from the Convention Center. I love this market, and quickly found the herb dealer who carries ground bay leaves (in my opinion, they are so much easier to use than trying to dig out that bay leaf hidden deep in the chili or stew). The market is not the place for people who can’t make up their minds – and while all the flavors tempted me, in the end I caved in to the pressure of the Philly Cheesesteak. (When in Rome....)

Nourished and ready to travel the world, we opened the door to the convention center. It was though we opened the door to Spring. This huge space, with many different heating zones and vents, was no match for those tiny little flower petals. It proved that strength comes in numbers because I smelled those hyacinths immediately. Then my feet never hit the floor as the smell of the roses and other flowers propelled you through the let me show you what I saw.

This balloon stood high above everything in the hall and was made of 80,000 dried flowers - it took a week to attached the flowers, and over 1,000 volunteer hours.
This is no small bouquet - it had a twin that greeted you when you entered - they were probably 15 feet tall.
What a great idea for an urban garden. The Landscape and floral displays are chock-full of terrific ideas.
If you look close, you'll see the orchids survining in an all-white winter display.

Spring was everywhere -from the large displays to the tiniest minitature daffodils.

This guy stood above our heads in the South African display.

I will hopefully be able to find these for my garden - Anemones are among my favorite flowers.

Can you tell that this represents the ocean, sand and dune? When you see it in person the lines that are supporting the flower vessels almost disappear....

One of my favorite displays, using paint cans. Be sure to look closely at the colors - very clever.

I spotted these cute little napkins rings for Ruth. She owns Flowers & Thyme B&B - we thought they'd be perfect for her breakfasts.

Pink flamingos wander through the explorer's garden.

We then traveled to India.

Here's a glimpse into the many educational and individual displays - Mom, this picture of the orchid displays is for you!

Then came shopping at the Marketplace...Aren't these calla lilies beautiful?

There were all kinds of wonderful things to buy - from planters and wreaths to brass door knockers and jewelry.

If I didn't have to carry them three blocks to the car, I would have come home with one of the bunny sculptures.

And who could resist a dozen roses for $ a dozen different colors...

This window was really fun lampshades made out of flowers!

On our way out of the main hall, we got to witness the majestic flying of Sun Conures and Parrots, compliments of the Philadelphia Zoo as they flew high above the Rainforest exhibit.

We finished at 4 – but there is plenty to do for two days if you take in any of the lectures and demonstrations.
We decided to have dinner in Philly before venturing out into rush-hour traffic. A short walk led to Maggiano’s - a bustling Italian restaurant serving huge portions of good food. I highly recommend the Chicken & Truffle Tortellacci with White Wine Cream Sauce, Smoked Ham & Asiago Cheese – a half portion was all I could handle.

The mini-dessert of crème brulee was just enough – here it is next to the ice cream that Don ordered.....enough for three people!
I hope you enjoyed this little journey. If you can, I highly recommend going to the Philadelphia Flower Show - but hurry - the last day is Sunday, March 7.