Monday, November 23, 2015

Ho, Ho, Ho! Have A Horticultural-Inspired Holiday Experience At Longwood Gardens

Just a short one hour and 11 minute drive from our B&B is one of my favorite places to tell visitors about: Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square.

Known as "the world's premier horticultural showplace," Longwood Gardens will wow you with its magnificent displays in its outdoor gardens and within its conservatories. Obviously, if you’re a plant aficionado, you’ll be in awe of the spectacular scenery. And anyone else who appreciates beauty and creativity will find it amazing, too. In addition to the exhibits, you’ll find entertainment via a wide variety of events and activities. They offer educational programs, dining events, and music and theater (in their three performance venues).

With the holiday season upon us, Longwood Gardens has plenty going on to put you in the Christmas spirit. There’s…

Cookie Time with Santa – An opportunity to sip hot cocoa and enjoy cookies with Old Saint Nick.

Organ Sing-a-longs – Sing along to favorite Christmas songs as you’re accompanied by the Longwood organ.

Series of Holiday Performances – Featuring a variety of choruses and ensembles

There’s also a New Year’s Eve musical event with minstrels, a brass band, a barbershop quartet, and more!

No matter your age, you’ll have an unforgettable experience. So book a room with us to put yourself in a comfy place that’s perfect for taking in not only all there is to see and do in Lancaster County, but also in Longwood Gardens, as well.

Hope to see you soon!

Image courtesy of Claire Louise at

Monday, November 16, 2015

A List To Give You A Stress-busting Head Start On Your Holiday Shopping in Lancaster County

Gift shopping can be stressful...and become more and more so as the time ticks away before Christmas. One way to cut back on the anxiety is to shop where you know you'll find something fabulous--even for the folks who are exceptionally difficult to buy for.

Within less than a five-minute drive from the Historic Smithton Inn, we have several wonderful retailers that offer an array of unique gift ideas. Here are a few of my favorite places to shop during the holiday season and all year round:

Gift Shops In Downtown Ephrata

Sheldon's Gallery - 20 W. Main Street, Ephrata
This family-owned store offers all kinds of distinctive home d├ęcor (for indoors and outdoors), jewelry, custom framing, and plenty of Christmas-inspired gifts. Their broad selection offers plenty of potential for finding the perfect gift for those people who seem to have everything.

Parkhill Jewelry - 5 W. Main Street, Ephrata
Besides their stunning jewelry, you'll find other creative gift ideas, too! You'll definitely want to add Parkhill to your shopping agenda.

Gift Shops Close-by

Ten Thousand Villages - Rte. 272, 240 N Reading Road, Ephrata
You'll be in awe of this store's fair trade gifts, hand-crafted jewelry, home decor, and other practical creations made by artisans from developing countries all over the world. Ten Thousand Villages lets you find an amazing gift AND make a positive difference in people's lives.

Extra Olives - 358 N. Reading Road, Ephrata
When you have no idea what gift to buy, this shop will give you a nudge with its eclectic collection of fashionable jewelry, wine accessories, sauce and dip mixes, soaps, lotions, table ware for entertaining, and all sorts of other creative items made by local craftsman and artists.

Ephrata Cloister Museum Store - 623 W. Main St., Ephrata
Treat those on your list to a gift that reflects Lancaster's local heritage. At the store, you'll find redware pottery, hand-woven textiles, watercolors, paper cuttings, calligraphy and more. Much of it is inspired by originals in the Cloister's historic collection.

Want to really make holiday shopping fun? Visit one of these Lancaster County holiday craft shows: 

Zion's Annual Annual Craft Show and Fair Trade Fair - Fri. Dec. 4 and Sat. Dec. 5

Brickerville Fire Company Holiday Craft and Vendor Show - Sat. Nov. 28

12 Shops of Christmas (by the folks who do the Best Kept Secrets Tour) -  Dec. 3 - 12

Akron Volunteer Fire Company Craft and Vendor Show - Sat. Dec. 12

Gifts That Give Hope - Sat. Dec. 12

I hope this list of where to shop will take some of the pre-holiday pressure off of you. Happy shopping!

Rebecca Gallagher

Image courtesy of Ambro at

Monday, November 9, 2015

Historic Smithton Inn's All-Time Favorite Recipes: Pumpkin Spice Baked Oatmeal

This warm and wonderful breakfast recipe has been adapted from one shared by A Pretty Life In The Suburbs.
Why reinvent the wheel when you can simply build on its greatness, right?

Baked oatmeal remains one of Lancaster County's favorite dishes to start the day. This particular recipe combines hearty oats with pumpkin, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and brown sugar. It's satisfying with just the right amount of sweetness. 

Pumpkin Spice Baked Oatmeal Recipe

What you'll need:
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Optional: whipped cream for topping
How to make it:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Stir together all ingredients and then pour into a well-greased 8" square or 8x10 baking dish.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out mostly clean. (If the oatmeal has been in the refrigerator before baking it, give it a quick stir and bake for 40-45 minutes.) 
Enjoy with your family and friends!

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at

Monday, November 2, 2015

Make The Season Extra Bright: Visit The Festive 2015 Holiday Events At Lancaster County Museums

When guests are looking for unique ways to become inspired and get excited about the holiday
Christmas Tree
season, I recommend visiting a few Lancaster County museums and historical sites.

Here are a few holiday-themed events at two of my favorite local spots to consider sharing with your friends and family:

Ephrata Cloister

Christmas at the Cloister – December 14 & 15, 2015 at 6 p.m., 7:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. each evening

Featuring music and merriment sure to get you into the spirit of the season.

Call 717-733-6600 or visit the Ephrata Cloister website for more information about the event and to get tickets.

Lantern Tours 2014 – December 26-29; tours begin every half hour starting at 6:30pm until 8pm.

Experience these tours that take you back in time. Reservations are required, call 717-733-6600 (beginning December 1). Visit the Ephrata Cloister website for more information and ticket prices.

Landis Valley Museum

"Days of Belsnickel" Lunch Tour – December 12, 2015, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Enjoy some good humor and laughs as you’re heckled by the cranky PA German Christmas Character, the Belsnickel. A guided tour of the holiday-decorated village of Landis Valley starts your day and is followed by lunch in the historic 1856 Landis Valley House Hotel. After that, your tour will move to the Firehouse for a visit from the Belsnickel. The fun day will conclude with some time to shop at the Landis Valley Museum Store for unique wares made by local artisans. For more information about the event and pricing, or to make a reservation, call 717-581-0590.

Country Christmas Village – December 5, 6, 12, & 13 2015

Experience Pennsylvania German contributions that have enhanced celebrating Christmas while you tour decorated buildings and a Civil War winter camp, watch traditional holiday food being made, and meet "der Belsnickel." This event also offers wagon rides, and kids can make crafts to collect as keepsakes.  

You can even bring your letter to Santa (in an unsealed envelope) and drop it off at the Landis Valley Post Office in the back of the Country Store. (Dec. 5 & 6 only).

For hours of operation and admission rates. See their website 

Holiday At Landis Valley Bonfire – December 11, 2015, 6 – 8:30 p.m.

It doesn't get more festive than this free event celebrating a Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas. You can take a wagon ride, tour historic buildings that are decorated for the holidays, and warm up by the bonfire as you sing carols while the Lititz Moravian Trombone Choir accompanies you. Then top off the evening at the Yellow Barn for cookies and hot cider.

Bring a few non-perishable food items to the event as a donation to the Lancaster Food Bank to help ensure those in need won’t go hungry this Christmas.

To find more Lancaster County holiday events and attractions, visit the Discover Lancaster website. Which will you experience with your loved ones this season?

Need A Place To Stay During Your Lancaster County Visit?

We’ve got a room and a warm breakfast for you here at the Historic Smithton Inn. Just give me a call at 717-733-6094 to make a reservation!

Image courtesy of Feelart at

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Made In Lancaster County: Where To Shop For Handcrafted Furniture

One of Lancaster County’s best-known treasures is its plethora of skilled furniture makers.

If you appreciate fine craftsmanship, I recommend that you visit a few of our area’s stores that feature locally made handcrafted wood furniture. The artistry and skill demonstrated in their creations is breathtaking.

Here are a few of my favorite Lancaster County handcrafted furniture shops:

Martin’s Chair, Inc.
As evident by the Historic Smithton Inn’s dining room tables and four chairs, Martin’s Chair creates high-quality reproductions of furniture any colonial history buff will love. We’re even friends with the owner, John Martin, who happens to be our neighbor. You haven’t seen vintage furniture until you’ve visited Martin’s Chair of New Holland.

Sensenig Furniture
Visit Sensenig Furniture in Hinkletown. It’s less than 15 minutes from the Historic Smithton Inn and an easy stop on your way to Martin’s Chair. Sensenig’s offers a family-run furniture store experience that will make you feel right at home. You’ll find an array of furniture pieces in a variety of styles and colors. Go to Yelp to read more reasons to stop in.

Fisher’s Quality Furniture
Fisher’s Quality Furniture in Ronks, PA, is an Amish furniture store filled with custom-made pieces. Purchase an original set from the beautifully lit showroom floor or bring in an image you’d like them to replicate for your own customized piece.

George’s Furniture
This second-generation family-owned business in Marietta sells all handcrafted furniture. Each piece is signed by its maker to exhibit the hard work and dedication each crafter invests in his pieces. To get an even better grasp on what makes George’s Furniture worth a visit, check out their website.

Morton Fine Furniture, Inc.
Located in Lititz, Morton’s offers high-end, heirloom quality furniture. These handcrafted pieces are perfect to hand down from generation to generation, making Morton’s another great destination on your journey to find fine furniture.

Cherry Acres
Cherry Acres is a shop in Lititz you won’t want to pass up. It’s got all sorts of impressive pieces, from furniture crafted from old barn wood to ironwork and lighting. It’s a great stop whether you’re looking to furnish or remodel a room in your home or just want to browse.

I hope you’ll take an opportunity to visit at least a few of these stores to see the characteristic charm of Lancaster County handcrafted furniture. And don’t forget to book your stay at the Historic Smithton Inn, where you can experience the uncompromising quality of the workmanship firsthand!