Friday, November 30, 2012

It's THAT Time of Year Once Again!!

Well, Thanksgiving is over and (most of) the halls are decked here at the Australian Walkabout Inn B&B. This year was a bit different in that we weren’t met with our usual early-November lull in guests thanks to Sight & Sound’s running Jonah through to the end of the year.

Speaking of the end of the year…that brings a NEW Year. Back by popular demand is our BOGO. Stay with us one night in January or February 2013 and add week-night for only $20.13! Of course, holiday weekends are excluded and some other restrictions apply, but you really can’t beat this deal!

But wait!!! There’s lots going on in Lancaster before the end of the year– too much to fully appreciate in just one day. You’re going to need two or three, at least.  And where else to lay your head after a busy day full of fun things to do? Well, the Australian Walkabout Inn, of course! Currently, we’re offering 25% off a consecutive 3-night stay.

            First of all – Shopping!! Outlets, including Rockvale and Tanger. Not to mention Park City Center, Kitchen Kettle Village, the shops in Downtown Lancaster and a myriad of other choices, both commercial and Amish. Don’t forget to get a little something for yourself!

            Next, we have theater! I’ve already mentioned Sight & Sound, but there’s also The Fulton, with a fabulous production of Singing in the Rain, but they’re also doing A Christmas Carol (my personal favorite) on December 1, 8, 15, 22 and 27. The American Music Theater has its original Christmas show, Home for the Holidays, that’s not to be missed. Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre is currently running a production of A Swingin’ Christmas. And, don’t forget Rainbow Dinner Theatre’s offering of Christmas In Paradise. Of course, all of these places also offer gift certificates, so you can pick up gifts for someone special while having a good time yourself.

            Historic offerings this time of year? Just a few…how about Wheatland Yuletide, Historic Poole Forge, or Country Christmas Village?

            If you’re interested in trains, we have just the ‘ticket’! All Aboard Railroad at Landis Valley is a 800+ square foot display of American Flyer Trains. The Columbia Historic Preservation Society offers a model train layout of over 1000 square feet depicting Columbia from the 1920’s to the 1950’s (eight trains running at a time at this display!) For life-sized trains, you can visit the Strasburg Railroad for their ‘Night Before Christmas Train’ on Friday, December 14th.

            After all that excitement, you’re going to get hungry and you deserve to treat yourself to someplace special. Some of our favorite places to have dinner include – The Brasserie, The Greenfield Restaurant, Fenz, John J. Jefferies, Checker’s Bistro, Ciro’s, Lancaster Brewing Company or Carr’s. Here again, gift certificates are available – perfect for stocking stuffers!

            So, there you have it! Just the little extra push you need to schedule that much-needed getaway to Lancaster! See you soon. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Paint is Cheap; Labor is Cheaper

I must admit that I sort of 'borrowed' the title of this post from those folks at Habitat For Humanity in South Florida. When Bob and I were in ministry there, our youth group volunteered faithfully at the local HFH. They usually ended up being the roofing crew. The supervisors, in order to get the kids to use enough nails, would tell them, "Nails are cheap and labor is cheaper." Obviously the nails were donated and well, we were working for free.

So, as it is, when you own a bed & breakfast in Lancaster County, PA, you go thru A LOT of paint. I once sat down and calculated that in the 5 years we've been here, I've painted well over 50 walls; and that's a conservative estimate. I've gotten fairly adept at using a paint brush and making things look nice.

We had an apple tree right outside of our back door. It was pretty to look at, especially in the spring when it would bloom. Unfortunately the apples clogged the gutter, which the overflowed onto the porch railings, rotting them. Bob replaced them yesterday with new trim and caulk. Well, of course the whole thing had to be painted. The yellow was looking a a bit tired anyway. Here's what we ended up with: 

I painted it to look like the railings that go around the front porch. As I was brushing along, I got to thinking about what makes a good paint job. 

  1. Prep work! You can't paint a surface (and expect it to turn out well) if it's dirty or peeling. And, as my father would say, "If you don't have time to do it right, then you sure don't have time to do it over."
  2. Take your time. Make sure you have plenty of it! I've been involved in painting projects over the course of several hours in which time I'll change my clothes 3 or 4 times while greeting guests. If you're going to be away from your project for an extended period of time, put your brush in a plastic bag. Try to rush and you'll just make mistakes. 
  3. Get yourself a good brush/roller. Yes, they can be pricey, but if you clean them well they should last you for several projects. Which brings me to my last point:
  4. Clean up thoroughly. Rinse, rinse, rinse! 
Painting something is probably the easiest, least expensive way to change and/or improve the look of a space.


Friday, May 4, 2012

An Eggcellent Idea!

An innkeeper simply cannot exist without eggs. Oh, we use them for everything...fritatas, omelets, strata, French toast, pancakes, waffles, cookies, scones and occasionally we'll even scramble a plain one or two (only if forced to do so by insistent guests). So, purchasing eggs is a given. The question is 'where'. I don't think I've ever gone into a grocery store and come out with just one dozen eggs. I tend to buy them in greater quantities than that, so up until about a year ago, I would get them at Costco in the 3 or 9 dozen packages. Lest you think that I'm falling off the 'buy local' bandwagon that I've been on lately, the Costco eggs come from a farm in York, less than an hour from my inn.

However, about a year ago, an older lady knocked at my door one Thursday afternoon and introduced herself as "Phyllis the Egg Lady". Phyllis went on to explain that she lived over in the next town and had a couple dozen chickens that produced pretty well and wondered if I might be interested in purchasing eggs from her. I was thrilled and asked about the location of her farm so that I could come pick them up. "Oh, no", she continued, "I'd be happy to bring them to you." Phyllis said that she had a weekly appointment in my area and would just drop the eggs off on her way. BONUS!! We even save the empty egg cartons for Phyllis so she can re-use them.

So now, every Thursday around 12:30, Phyllis pulls in my driveway in her little pickup truck with her eggs snugly tucked in a cooler in the front seat. Do I pay a little more for these eggs and the delivery service? Sure I do. But it's SO worth it when my guests comment about how wonderful everything tastes and looks. The brown eggs, which are almost always bigger than the white store-bought eggs, give all of my breakfast items a beautiful golden glow.

So, here's another win-win. Phyllis makes a little extra pocket money to supplement her social security income and I get oohs and aahs from my guests. My money stays local.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Local Food

Today, I went shopping. Food shopping, or grocery shopping as we called it where I grew up. I remember in Louisville, they would say, "going to the grocery", which I thought was an incomplete sentence. Anyway, grocery shopping is not an unusual chore for an innkeeper, so why am I blogging about it? It's where I went shopping that's the unique part.
BB's is a locally owned, Amish-operated grocery store. They're not open on Sundays, nor do they accept credit cards. To say that they have an 'internet presence' is a gross overstatement. There is a substantial 'hitching post' where the buggies park separate from the parking lot. There are no electric lights in the store. Today was cloudy, so browsing the aisles wasn't the blinding fluorescent experience like you get when you go into Target. You have to literally walk into the refrigerated and freezer sections through a 'door' made from thick pieces of  plastic that sort of remind you of vertical window blinds. Oh, don't worry, if you forgot your jacket there are several hanging on the pegs outside the cooler area that you can borrow.

BB's is the epitome of "Think Local". Fruits and vegetables from local farms, eggs, milk and cheese from nearby dairies and meats from neighboring smokehouses are all available at BB's. Yes, they have soups, crackers and cereals in boxes, bags and cans, too. They employ local Amish people to work the registers, bag the groceries, stock the shelves and gather the carts from the parking lot.
This is one of the propane gas lights in the parking lot. Since BB's is open Monday thru Friday till 8pm, I imagine that they actually need to use these in the winter months. I've never been there in the evening.

And THIS is what I bought for about $65. That included: milk, lunch meat, cheese, cereal, crackers, yogurt (4 containers for $1), fresh fruit, bacon ($2.99/lb), several frozen items, brown sugar (91 cents a pound), raisins (two boxes for $1), vinegar, toilet bowl cleaner, body wash, baking items, orange marmalade, tortilla chips, pasta and a few other things that I can't recall at the moment. Had I gone to a large superstore to buy these items, I probably wouldn't have gotten out the door for under $100. So, here's yet another example of how I can enjoy the benefits of keeping my money local and making it stretch further.  

Monday, April 30, 2012

Local Flowers

I LOVE plants! Each spring, I can hardly wait to get out and start digging in my window boxes, hanging baskets and flower beds. This year, because of the warmer weather we had early in April, the urge hit sooner than usual, but inside projects were still not complete and there were guests to attend to. So, the first opportunity I got to pull on my garden gloves and get out my tools was late last week.

This year, I approached things a little differently. For the past few years, I've gone 'nursery hopping' with fellow innkeepers from the Artist's Inn, Flowers & Thyme and The Harvest Moon. However, due to crazy schedules, we weren't able to get together this year. So, I was on my own. Time and budget were important factors to consider.

A few miles away from The Australian Walkabout Inn is a little place called Perfect Pots Container Gardens. Yes, it's a nursery and greenhouse like so many multitude of others here in Lancaster County, but it's just a little different. Not only is it locally owned and operated, but it provides a service like no other place that I know of. I actually took my hanging baskets and window boxes into the shop, filled them there with the plants suggested by owner Laura Lapp, and brought them home. Laura even supplied some extra potting soil, fertilizer and insect repellent. Best of all, I got to leave the mess behind (ok I did clean up after myself - habit, you know) I brought my wonderful creations home this morning after Laura kept them safe from the threatening frosty night temps over the weekend.

You can even drop your containers (pots, baskets, boxes, whatever!) at Perfect Pots Container Gardens and Laura will fill them for you, while keeping in mind the light and watering requirements, desired color presentation and, most importantly, your budget.

Recently, we joined the Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce's Think Local initiative. By joining, we've agreed to:
  • Think local first before making purchases;
  • Employ local people;
  • Contribute to the local tax base; 
  • Support the local community
I can't think of a better way to support my local community! I get beautiful accents for my B&B AND I get the satisfaction of knowing that I helped someone else put dinner on their table. Thank you, Laura!