Monday, September 10, 2012

Farming and our Lancaster County Bed and Breakfast

Lancaster County has a reputation for incredibly fertile farmland, huge harvests, an abundance of veggies and fruit and great dairy. Turkey Hill Ice Cream is now available all over the East Coast and I even saw some in Chicago on my last visit there. At our Lititz area bed and breakfast we make an effort to serve fresh sustainable humanely raised food and I am glad to say that over the summer we have added some new suppliers.  Cage free, free range eggs with the brightest yellow yolks you have ever seen, peaches from the neighboring farm that will rival anything you can find, and tomatoes, potatoes and fruit from yet another neighboring farm. Corn Fritters from fresh sweet corn have been a hit all summer on our breakfast menu as has been the Tomato Pie with Gruyere crust and our fresh Peach and Raspberry Cobblers.

It is peach season and for years we travel the mile up Blantz Rd to the farm at the end to get our peaches. Yes, we have a few in the orchard but not nearly enough to use during our very busy season.  That farm at the end of our road is where Erma grew up and her brother now farms.  Erma, who many of you is our housekeeper, cook, and general all around great person who has been working with us since 1988!  The peaches that we get from Luke's farm are just amazing and many a guest leaves our breakfast table and makes a stop at the farm stand on their way out to pick up a basket of peaches to take home.   Just this year I discovered that they also sell farm raised Black Angus beef and I can tell you it is just the best beef you have ever had. Lean, flavorful and humanely raised. Last week Erma and I swung past the pasture to take a few pictures of these black beauties but .. not being the best photographer combined with shy cows.. and .. well you will just have to wait till either they stand still or I get better at taking pictures!

When planning your next trip to Swiss Woods, (which I hope is very soon!) I would encourage you to pack a cooler, some ice packs and plan on stopping at this wonderful farm!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Theatre in Lancaster County, PA

Lancaster County is known for farms and scenery, good food and a wealth of interesting activities like the Strasburg Railroad,   Buggy Rides and Kitchen Kettle Village. There are also many stage productions that are incredibly wonderful and often overlooked.
Sight and Sound is known nationwide for their elaborate productions often playing to full houses. Their state of the art theater in Strasburg, PA is magnificent only surpassed by the actual productions. Make plans soon to come and see their current musical, Jonah. Afternoon showings are a good idea, allowing you to go to dinner afterwards and then make the drive back to the Inn. This show will end in December so if you have not seen it you will need to plan a trip soon.
On a totally different note there is the Rainbow Dinner Theatre in Paradise, PA.  This dinner theater does a really great job with comedy. Their plays are truly funny living up to their motto all comedy... all the time.
Unnecessary Farce starts on August 14 running thru October 28.
The American Music Theater located right across from the Lancaster outlets has a wide variety of shows with some great headline names. Anne Murray to the Capital Steps appear here as well as Celtic Women, the Irish Tenors and Gretchen Wilson. They do a great job as well with their own shows, one titled American Icons is running now. Check out their website for a complete list of upcoming concerts.
The Dutch Apple Dinner Theater usually shows musicals. An all time favorite, Fiddler on the Roof starts there August 9 and runs through September 22. This theater is located in Centerville.
The Fulton Opera House in downtown Lancaster Central Pennsylvania's premier regional theatre & National Historic Landmark combines Broadway caliber musicals, comedies and dramas with the grandeur of ornate Victorian architecture. Next up there is Gypsy, Sept 11-30 followed by Agatha Christie's Witness for the Prosecution. This is a wonderful theater, not overly big and beautifully renovated.
The Hershey Theater is just magnificent. Built by Milton Hershey it has recently been renovated to its original glory. Big name shows come through this theater. Follow the link for a complete list.

As you can see, there is plenty to choose from and something to fit every taste!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Lititz Bed and Breakfast close to all things Lancaster and Hershey

When traveling it is wonderful to just settle in and enjoy the surroundings. I can not tell you how often we are asked what there is to do in the area and the answer is... what do you LIKE to do, because the variety of interesting activites, shows, tours.. you name it is truly astounding.

While Lititz itself is a gem of a town with quality restaurants, unique and interesting shops, antique stores, a fabulous park and wonderful events it is not all there is to do and see. Aside from the beautiful gardens here which are currently filled with butterflies, hummingbirds, and gold finches. I want to give you a few ideas of what to do here on a hot day. An afternoon visit to Waltz Vineyards just north of Manheim is interesting and fun. Their Tuscan style tasting room is beautiful and the perfect spot to enjoy on a hot afternoon. Museums are also a great way to spend your day. Landis Valley Farm Museum and the Ephrata Cloister are both fascinating and offer something for the history buff.

This weekend marks the opening of the PA Rennasaince Faire. Only 7 miles from Swiss Woods we are the perfect lodging in northern Lancaster County for this event. Ever popular, this is held yearly in the fall on the grounds of the Mt Hope Estate and Winery.  Discount coupons are available.  
Plan your weekend now as rooms fill quickly!

.. next blog: Hershey, PA... just a 25 minute drive from Swiss Woods

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Lancaster County and Country Music Classics

Shindig in the Barn... if that rings any bells with you, you were most likely living in Lancaster County in the 60's when the Guernsey Barn on the corner of Rt 30 and Rt 896 was packed to overflowing on Saturday night with Country and Gospel music fans. Straw bales lined the walls. Chairs crowded the floor and there was barely room to turn around to see and be seen. Groups like the Oak Ridge Boys, the Statler Brothers, and the Imperials were standard fare here. While, at the time I did not have an opinion about Country or Gospel music, it was one of the few allowable hangouts of my teenage years and I have fond memories of those times.

Last week I had the opportunity to see the American Music Theater Country Classics Show, and I can tell you, all those wonderful memories just came flooding back. This show hopped and skipped its way over 4 decades of the best that country had to offer, done well, creatively and judging from the audience response I was not alone in my appreciation. Included were songs that I had forgotten even existed.  It was like sitting in the middle of a Time Life Series, but it didn't stop with the oldies. The second half has some of the best that today's country has to offer with songs from Vince Gill, Reba and Josh Turner. This show also features some incredible musicians, not the least of which was a fiddle player extraordinaire. Great voices, fun costumes, and a wonderful venue all add up to an extraordinary night out.

Why not plan a trip to our Lancaster County Bed and Breakfast and include and evening or matinee with the good folk at the American Muisic Theater. If you like, we would be glad to procure your tickets for you.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Swiss Alphorn and Yodeling Concert in Lancaster County

Now, here is a great reason to come stay at our Lititz Bed and Breakfast.. an Alphorn Concert in Lancaster County!  Lorenz Schwartz and Ernst Baenninger from Wattwil Switzerland are presenting an Alphorn and Yodeling concert on April 23 at 7PM at the Conestoga Mennonite Church, just west of Morgantown.

Life is interesting in how it so often circles around. When Werner and I lived in Switzerland during the early 80's, we would take our little girls Mirjam and Esther, both under 3 at the time, to a small inn in the Grissons (Graubunden)  in a little storybook town of La Punt. This  hamlet was just a few miles outside of the much better known St. Moritz, but had so much charm. The inn was amazing, though a bit rustic,  and so much of what we do here at Swiss Woods started as a dream during our stays there. Lorenz and his wife Andrea ran the inn and we so looked forward to our winter trips there.
Today the Schwarzs live in Wattwil, just a few miles south of where Werner and I lived in the Toggenburg Valley. All this history,( a veritable trip down memory lane for me)  just to say alphorn and yodeling concert in Lancaster County! If you enjoy this kind of thing why not join us?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Auctions in Lancaster County, a fun thing to do

My dad loved auctions, all kinds of auctions but especially those estate sales that went on all day and had everything under the sun for sale. He was very good at bidding and winning items at very good prices, oft times downright cheap!  My younger sister and I would go along on Saturdays to these events, that were oft times very social and included great food. We would set up our folding chairs and watch as one item after the other found its way to be sold.

I was not very old when Dad gave me $10, a fortune back then, and allowed me to look around, choose something I might like to have and then, bid on it myself.  My very first acquisition this way was a wash basket full of beautifully embroidered linen that I bought for next to nothing. I still have some of those beautiful pieces.   From that moment on, I was hooked. Auctions were the best!

These days,  Saturdays are busy and I don’t have much time to spend a whole day in this manner but Lancaster County still has many wonderful auctions any day of the week.  Driving home yesterday from Lititz, I passed a sign for one just up the road and decided .. this one I will try and attend, and not just for the homemade chicken corn soup or hamburger bar-b-que.

Why not plan a trip to Lancaster County with just this in mind? Swiss Woods is not far from so many auction options.  Wednesday’s Horst Auction center has  indoor estate auctions just a few miles from the inn. They also run special auctions that include coins, folk antiques and other specialties.   Spring and fall are prime times for estate auctions that take place at the property.  Ask us for any that might be happening while you are here. We will be more than happy to help you find that perfect place to spend a Saturday morning watching the auctioneers gavel fall! You never know what you might find.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Greenhouses in Lancaster County...

..just a stone's throw from our Lititz Bed and Breakfast.

With Springs abrupt arrival the myriad of small greenhouses that dot the countryside here are hanging out their “open” signs. Flats of pansies, seed packets, early annuals are all in beautiful display on the watering benches. Lancaster County is a farming community and spring planting, huge manicured gardens, banks of beautiful flowers and even window boxes are just a way of life here. It is one of the things that makes this area different and so very beautiful.  A recent facebook post by my sister proclaiming “I don't remember ever planting peas, potatoes, and onions before mid March! It sure feels good to have a head start this year! Planted some beets, lettuce, chard and kale, too”

We live close to more greenhouses than I can count. There are tiny farm stands that then sell produce in the summer, there are medium ones like Hoovers that started as a home grown produce market and turned into a full fledged greenhouse. There are the mega big ones that have everything garden related you can think of like Esbendshade's, just a short 10 min from the inn.

As March moves into April we find ourselves mapping flower buying trips for our guests. Over the years they have learned what a find this area is and come prepared to wander the back roads and visiting the farmers markets purchasing flats of flowers and veggies, hanging baskets and herbs, and even additions to their water gardens,  all to take home and plant.  Let us help you find the perfect spot for economical and beautiful flowers to plant all summer long all the while enjoying the beautiful one of a kind PA Dutch countryside.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring and Summer on the way to this Lancaster County Bed and Breakfast

“Can I pick fruit anywhere in Lancaster County?” At our bed and breakfast, this was a new question. Most of our guests are coming to tour and shop, eat and relax, not necessarily to pick fruit. But why
not? As I thought about it, it made perfect  sense. We encourage our guests to shop the farmers markets. We have a large refrigerator just for their use to store anything they find and want to take home with
them and we even have coolers for sale if they forget to bring their own!

The Lancaster area is home to many pick your own farms. Cherry Hill Orchard features the most amazing cherries in June and every kind of apple you can think of starting in late August. Strawberry farms dot
the countryside, many of them not far from our Bed and Breakfast in Lititz. Every spring we pick quarts and quarts of these to make our amazing fresh strawberry jam.

Starting now, the multitude of fabulous greenhouses stock their spring and summer plants, also a popular item to purchase at really great prices and take home. Stay tuned for more on our huge variety of greenhouses.

Why not plan a trip to pick up spring garden plants or pick berries, soak up some one of a kind relaxation in the quiet of the garden, and allow us here at Swiss Woods to spoil you with our great breakfast and one of a kind hospitality.

Rooms are filling up for the spring, summer and fall. Book early for your choice.

Book one of our specials for a great value. Visit our area page on the website for updated listings on all there is to do and see, special events and shows in Lancaster, auctions, farmers markets and shopping.  And be sure to "like" us on facebook to get all of the up to the minute  happenings. Can’t wait for spring? Well, it has arrived here in beautiful Lititz, PA.