Thursday, June 9, 2011

Music in the Summertime

I saw my first lightening bug tonight! Summer is here. I love this time of year because I love to be outside working in my garden, sitting on our patio bird watching or listening to music on a warm summer evening. Going to an outdoor concert is one thing I really look forward to when summer comes around. Here in Lancaster County there are so many places to go to hear great music in an outdoor venue. Just bring your lawn chairs and maybe a picnic supper and sit back and relax and enjoy.

One of my favorite places to go is to Long’s Park in Lancaster. Every Sunday night, during the summer, there is a concert held in the amphitheatre in the park at no charge to the public. There is a wide variety of music showcased with top performers. The concerts start at 7:30pm and often run until 9pm or later. There are food vendors with some light fare and also delicious ice cream (my favorite summertime treat)! This Sunday’s concert, the 2nd of a series of 13 concerts, is a traditional Scottish band, The Tannahill Weavers. There is music to please just about any listener’s taste, from blues, jazz, southern rock, bluegrass, country, and zydeco to celtic, world music, gypsy and latin jazz. And of course the exciting, patriotic Fourth of July concert, not to be missed, with the 257th Army Band, the “Band of the Nation’s Capital”, and the concert ending with a Cannon Brigade and a spectacular fireworks display, who could ask for more?!

If you want a glass of wine with your music, one of Lancaster County wineries would be another excellent  place to hear a good summer concert in the beautiful outdoors. One we like to go to is Nissley Vineyard’s, located in western Lancaster County, and not too far from Marietta. It is a wonderful outdoor venue for a summer concert. There you can hear anything from big band jazz to easy listening, 60’s & 70’s, soul, Motown, horn-driven rhythm and blues or rock out to some good old rock and roll. The concerts begin at 7:30, but you should arrive early for prime seating. You can arrive as early as 6pm. Some concert-goers are very serious about their party-fare. Some go as far as having candelabras along with their picnic fare on tables. There are food vendors if you are not into going to the trouble of packing a picnic supper. If you are staying at a B&B some innkeepers, with advance notice, will pack you a catered meal from a local restaurant all included in a weekend package.

Another great place is Twin Brook Winery, near Gap. They offer concerts on Friday night from 6:30-9:30. A wide variety of music is also offered at Twin Brook Winery concerts. There are also free afternoon concerts offered during special weekend celebrations. Ask your innkeeper for a coupon for Twin Brook. They offer a free wine tasting for two people to Authentic B&B guests. Friday Concerts run through September 2nd with music continuing into the fall with Harvest Festival Weekends. Check out the concert line-up at Twin Brook Winery.

So it is time to come to beautiful Lancaster County to enjoy summertime, watch the fireflies and listen to some great music!

I’ll see you there if I’m not in my garden or watching the birds!
Posted by: Ann Royer   Amanda Gish House Bed & Breakfast

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Springtime in Lancaster County

It seemed like Spring would never arrive this year. It was cold and rainy for too long for those of us who like the cool Spring breezes. But it finally came and in no time everything seemed to be catching up…..and it seems like everything is bursting into full bloom. First it was the daffodils and tulips to pop up to convince us that Spring really was coming. Then the flowering trees, next the lilacs and the iris and peonies, and now the mock orange bush is showing its colors and the Korean dogwood is ablaze with blooms. Many of the perennials are starting to mature and come into bloom as well as the gorgeous red poppies that are so graceful as they sway in the breeze.

The veggie garden is also producing with lettuce for cutting, the asparagus has been put away in the freezer – the fresh cuttings were great grilled with some parmesan cheese on top. The hulled peas are being harvested now and the succulent snap peas are ready for a tasty meal.

The weather has warmed up quite a bit so it’s an ideal time to sit in the gardens to take in all the beauty or to sleep away in the hammock underneath the shade of the trees. It might also be a good time to have some rhubarb punch available to quench your thirst on these warmer days. It’s so easy to make, so I will include it here for you to give it a try.

RHUBARB-LEMONADE PUNCH                                                

3 cups fresh rhubarb, diced
½ cup sugar
6-ounce can frozen pink lemonade concentrate
3 cups water
16-ounce bottle lemon-lime carbonated beverage, chilled

In saucepan, combine rhubarb, sugar, lemonade concentrate, and water. Cover and cook about 10 minutes or till rhubarb is very soft. Strain to remove pulp; chill the syrup. Just before serving, pour rhubarb syrup over ice cubes in punch bowl. Carefully pour in carbonated beverage. Makes 6 cups.

We have 40 Authentic Bed and Breakfast properties here in Lancaster County that would be happy to help you find local farm markets where you could purchase some good fresh produce to take along back to your home. Buy fresh – buy local is a good way of getting nutritional products into your diet. Give us a call at 800-552-2632 or visit us at to choose a bed and breakfast here in Amish country and enjoy our scenic landscapes.

Posted by Ruth at  Flowers and Thyme Bed and Breakfast

The Great Outdoors

It’s time to get outdoors and explore. Whether it’s hiking, biking, bird watching, or boating, northern Lancaster County offers it all. Middlecreek Wildlife Management Area offers hiking, biking and bird watching opportunities for all ages and skill levels. There are miles upon miles of hiking trails. The Willow Point Trail (.5 miles) is one of the easiest with a level path to a lakeside vista. We enjoy hiking the Millstone Trail (1.1miles) which is very steep with a rewarding vista at the top. The Conservation Trail (1.4 miles) is a loop from the Visitor Center that offers an interpretive guide up a ridge, though forest, field and wetlands. The Horseshoe Trail intersects the Millstone, MiddleCreek, and Elders Run Trails creating a number of rewarding routes.

The loop around the lake is about 5.5 miles of flat to gently rolling hills on paved and gravel roads and makes a nice leisurely bike ride on which you can watch song-birds and waterfowl. For the more serious road cyclists, the area offers limitless routes on back roads through farmland and forests on level roads, rolling hills, and some of the most challenging climbs in the region. For mountain bikers, the horseshoe trail and other connecting trails offer moderate to extreme trail riding opportunities.

Bird watching is a favorite at Middlecreek. The lake and many wetlands provides prime habitat for a variety of waterfowl, including the impressive migration of thousands of Snow Geese and Tundra Swans in Late February and early March. The expansive grasslands and fields provide a unique opportunity for viewing songbirds. Middlecreek is also home to a pair of Bald Eagles. The Visitor Center/ Museum (free admission) is filled with many local bird and mammal specimens that are labeled for your viewing. There is also a child-friendly area for children to explore with ‘touch-and-feel’ items and coloring pages.

For the kayaker or fisherman, Speedwell Forge Lake is a PA Fish and Boat Commission lake and offers fishing and non-motorized boating. Speedwell makes a nice quick evening paddling trip and almost always offers great wildlife viewing. We frequently see Great Blue, Green, and Black Crowned Night Herons, Kingfishers, Canada Geese, Red Tail Hawks, and turtles sunning themselves on logs. The other night we saw a variety of birds, including an Osprey, many Cormorants, and a Tern that caught a fish right in front of us. Occasionally, one of the Bald Eagles from Middlecreek stops by, and once my husband saw a beaver.

So, make sure you get out and explore our big beautiful outdoors. Hope to see you out there.

Posted by: Liz Ehrhart, Innkeeper at Furnace Hills Bed and Breakfast