Author Archives: Dana DeRose

Dana DeRose

About Dana DeRose

Dana moved to Lancaster 3 years ago and loves exploring all that the area has to offer. Dana enjoys taking dance lessons, being creative, and experiencing the local music scene with her husband Mark. She can usually be found anywhere her husband’s band (The Dreadnought Brigade) is playing or in one of downtown Lancaster’s many amazing restaurants. Dana feels fortunate to live in such a vibrant town with so many things to see and experience.

A White Christmas in Lancaster

I am not ashamed to admit this:  I have a love affair with old movies. Any type will do, but I especially love classic musical theater. (Nope, not ashamed to admit that either!) While most little girls in the 90’s fantasized about meeting New Kids on the Block, I dreamed of one day meeting Gene Kelly or Danny Kaye. There’s just something about classic musicals that is uplifting and magical to me. One of my all-time favorites, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, is currently on stage on The Fulton Theatre. So I reserved two tickets and told my husband it would be our first official Christmas activity for the 2014 holiday season.

Since moving to Lancaster, I’ve always been in awe of the grandeur and beauty of the historic Fulton Theatre. I was beyond excited to finally experience one of their productions. We picked up our tickets at will call and made our way up to the mezzanine to our seats. The theater, which is decorated in reds and golds, is both very beautiful as well as comfortable – a perfect mix of Victorian elegance and modern convenience. Before the show began, we walked around to different parts of the theater to get a feel for different audience perspectives. We did not find one seat in the the whole theater without a full view of the stage.

The lights finally dimmed and the orchestra started playing the intro. The stage adaptation of the original 1954 movie tells the story of a famous entertainment duo (Bob Wallace and Phil Davis) and a lesser know sister act (the Haynes sisters) that, through a series of comical twists and turns, come together to save a declining Vermont inn – which just happens to be owned by the famous duo’s former commanding Army general.

The entire show was wonderful, funny, and engaging. The dancing was incredible! My favorite part of the production was the actor playing Phil Davis (originally played by Danny Kaye in the movie version.) Everything about him reminded me of Mr. Kaye.

The staff at the theatre is extremely customer-focused. They even started offering the service of pre-ordering concessions, so that you’re not waiting in a line during intermission. This definitely contributes to an even better guest experience.

In addition to high-quality, Broadway-caliber productions and great customer service, the Fulton Theatre embraces and invests in the surrounding community. They offer theatre academy and training programs, partnerships with schools, pay-what-you-want performances, and more.

—–
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is playing at the Fulton Theatre now through January 4, 2015.  Click here for the full 2014-2015 production schedule.

white-christmas-dana

Dinner and a Show – Lancaster County Style

There is nothing better than a good laugh. One of the many things my husband and I like to do (especially on long car trips) is listen to some of our favorite comedians like Jim Gaffigan, Brian Regan, and Bill Cosby – you know, the ones who are just plain funny without all of the rudeness and profanity. Little did I know that there is a place right here in Lancaster County where you can go for some good, clean comedy. The Lancaster County Comedy Show runs several times a month at the Hershey Farm Restaurant in Strasburg. Always up for dinner and a show, my husband and I planned our night out – although, I don’t think either of us was expecting just how much fun it would be.

We started our date night with dinner at Hershey Farm Restaurant. (I recommend making a dinner reservation as the restaurant tends to be pretty busy.)  The menu selection is pretty big and we were hungry, so we opted for the Grand Smorgasbord.  My husband is a vegetarian, so we sometimes have a difficult time finding things on the menu that he can eat. Not only does Hershey Farm serve traditional PA Dutch recipes, but they have a soup, baked potato and salad bar, daily grill specials, a carving station, pizza, seafood, and of course the dessert bar. You can make your meal as healthy or as decadent as you want, and there is something for every appetite. Just make sure you save room for their famous chocolate cake! The dessert bar was my favorite part of the meal, and I had a hard time not sampling one of every dessert they had.

After stuffing ourselves full of delicious food, we made our way to the theater for the comedy show and took our seats. While we waited for the show to begin, we chatted with the couple next to us who were visiting from West Virginia. None of us had ever see the comedy show so we took turns guessing  what kind of jokes would be told. When the lights dimmed, comedian and ventriloquist Ryan Bomgardner took the stage.

From the second Ryan brought his friend little Jakey out onto the stage, the entire room was filled with uproarious laughter. The show went through an entire cast of characters from Jakey, the 8-year-old-Amish boy, to an elderly couple named Harold and Irene, to some real life “dummies” in the form of participants from the audience. I won’t give too much away, but I will say Ryan and his friends did a great job of giving non-locals a sense of what Lancaster County looks like from a local perspective. I found it pretty funny when the man sitting next to me leaned over and asked what Ryan meant by a “road apple.”  (For those of you not familiar with road apples, they are produced by horses and certainly not edible!) I absolutely loved Ryan’s clean sense of humor and honestly laughed so hard during this show that I cried!

When the show ended, I wanted to meet Ryan and little Jakey so my husband graciously waited with me until everyone left. Not only is Ryan absolutely hysterical, but he’s genuinely nice and took the time after the 85-minute performance to greet everyone who wanted to meet him.

I would definitely recommend seeing this show.  Whether you are young or old, a local, or visiting from out of town, you will have a guaranteed laugh-until-your-cheeks-hurt, tears-streaming-down-your-face, great time!

A seasoning for everything

Growing up in my household, seasoning a meal involved salt, pepper, or ketchup. (Sorry mom and dad, I know you really didn’t have time to cook.) Now that I have a household of my own and am learning to cook for myself, I am exploring new flavors and seasonings in my dishes. Enter Olio Olive Oils & Balsamics, a shop I discovered in downtown Lititz.

The entrance of this store was totally deceiving. It looks small from the outside, but it’s spacious in the inside – it has to be in order to hold the 75 different flavors of olive oils and balsamics that they sell there. Yes, you read that correctly, 75! Now I realize at this point that some of you may be thinking that seems a little overwhelming and you wouldn’t know where to begin, but the owners of the store are extremely helpful and will answer any questions you have. They even have a pairing sheet to tell you which olive oils and balsamics pair well together if you are feeling a bit intimidated.

I wanted to find something unique and surprising, so I started tasting my way around the store. Some of my favorites were the Fig, Lavender, and Honey Ginger balsamics. I also really enjoyed the Basil/Lemongrass, Persian Lime, and Herbs de Provence Olive Oils. Curious to try some of the olive oil and balsamic pairings, I decided to make another sweep of the shop. My favorite combination was the Tuscan Herb EVOO with the Fig balsamic, so delicious! There are so many unique and wonderful flavors you can combine to make your perfect pairing. The most surprising one to me was Chipotle infused EVOO with Chocolate balsamic. A steak marinated in this delicious combination would make for a unique and different meal at a dinner party.

Olio sells their olive oils and balsamic in 3 different sizes and they do not add any sugars to their products. They also carry several unflavored oils and balsamics, specialty oils, salts, sugars, pasta sauces, flavored honey, and skin care products. Not only can you shop their retail store for products, but you can purchase online as well. They will ship anywhere in the U.S. and will also make and ship gift baskets.

I got some great suggestions for recipes while I was visiting the shop. Pete, the owner suggested trying the Chocolate balsamic on ice cream for a sugar-free topping option. What a great idea! He also recommended the Honey Ginger balsamic on fish, especially salmon. I decided to purchase that one as well as the Mandarin Orange white balsamic.

The next night, I made honey-ginger salmon for dinner. It was so easy – all I did was marinate the salmon in the balsamic for about 15 minutes, then cooked it in a pan on the stove. Add your sides, and you have a really simple and delicious meal! I saved the Mandarin Orange balsamic for cocktails during girls’ night. Who knew you could infuse your cocktails with balsamics?

Olio is a great place to shop for anyone from a home cook to a pro chef. With so many options and flavors, the recipe possibilities are endless.

You can visit Olio Olive Oils & Balsamics’ website (oliooliveoil.com) for their complete list of products as well as recipes, or follow them on Facebook (www.facebook.com/OlioOliveOil) for weekly recipe ideas and events.

Ingredients for Mandarin Orange Ginger cocktails:
– 1 oz. vodka
– 5 oz. club soda
– 1 tsp. Olio Mandarin Orange balsamic (start with this amount, you can always add more to taste)
– Splash of ginger beer
– Orange slices for garnish

Step 1: Add the balsamic and vodka and stir to combine. Pour into a glass and add ice.
Step 2: Add the club soda to the infused vodka and stir.
Step 3: Top with a splash of ginger beer.
Step 4: Garnish with an orange slice and enjoy!

oilio-blog-2

A different mode of transportation

Since moving to Lancaster a few years ago, I have gotten accustomed to seeing Amish horses and buggies. I have often looked at the little faces staring out the back of the carriage as I drive past and thought “I wonder what it would be like to live a slower pace of life?” I got a small glimpse into this world recently when I hopped aboard a buggy for a private tour of the Amish countryside.

I met up with my group at Aaron & Jessica’s Buggy Rides in Bird-in-Hand. As we waited for our driver, we got an up close and personal introduction to the horses that pull the buggies and wagons. Most of them are Draft horses which weigh about 1,000 lbs and can pull about 3 times their weight. They are much larger in person than I realized, but they were definitely relaxed and docile around the crowd of people who had congregated around them to pet them and take photos.

Our driver, Levi, arrived and helped us into the buggy and introduced us to Kate – our horse. We were even allowed to have Teddy Bear, our friend’s dog, join us on our ride. (Yes, this tour is pet friendly!) With that we were off on our journey through the country. The first thing I noticed about riding in a buggy was how cool it was. In 80-something degree weather with no air conditioning and a partially enclosed buggy, I expected to be a little warm, but it was cool and comfortable as Kate trotted along at a mere 8-10 miles per hour. As we heading to our first stop on the tour, Levi gave us some information about the Amish. I was surprised and slightly embarrassed at how little I know about them. Levi explained that Lancaster County is home to the oldest and largest community of Amish in the state of Pennsylvania. The Lancaster County Amish are “old order” and are traditionally more restrictive about modern technology than other groups such as the Mennonite. I was surprised to learn that there is a new group of Amish who drive and use some modern technology. Levi also explained to us that most of the local Amish are big into using solar panels so as not to have electricity in their homes.

We saw the solar panels in use at the first stop on our tour, a working dairy farm. The Amish family who owns the farm does everything by hand or with non-electric tools. We walked through the barn where the dairy cows were all lined up in their stalls and relaxing. We also saw the huge tank where the fresh milk is stored before it is picked up by truck and shipped off for processing by a larger company. I couldn’t believe how much milk the farm produces each day. The cows are milked twice daily and the milk is picked up by truck every other day, that’s a lot of milk!

After our farm tour, we piled back into the buggy and rolled along more beautiful back country roads to the Countryside Road-stand. This is a nice stop for groups to stretch their legs a bit and get a snack.  Of course when I saw a sign reading “Homemade Soft Pretzels” I jumped right in line. They also had homemade root beer which I had to try. Both were delicious! Since we had some time to look around, I wandered around to check out the playground, petting zoo, and gift shop. The Road-Stand sells a lot of items that would make nice gifts to take home such as quilted items, crafts, and homemade apple butter. My souvenir was a pretzel to take home for later!

As we traveled back to Aaron & Jessica’s, Levi talked about growing up and working on his uncle’s dairy farm, his children and grandchildren, and Amish life in general. He was open to just about any question and curiosity our group had about Amish life and culture. He even joked about silly questions some visitors have asked in the past. (One that made me laugh was a lady asking him if Amish wear undergarments since she’d never seen any hanging out to dry!) I feel like I learned a lot about local Amish culture and people during my buggy ride. It was nice and refreshing to leave my fast-paced and busy life behind for one morning. Mind you, I won’t be converting to Amish any time soon, but I definitely left Aaron & Jessica’s feeling relaxed!

Aaron & Jessica’s Buggy Rides offers several types of tours through Amish towns and farmland.  If you’re visiting them any time soon, check out their website for discount coupons!

Best overnight stay in Intercourse

Most people have pre-conceived notions of Lancaster County being only Amish country. A day trip or weekend getaway consisting of buggy rides, buffets, and antique shops may come to mind. That’s was what came to my husband’s mind when I told him we were going for an overnight stay in Intercourse at the Best Western PLUS Intercourse Village Inn.

Driving into Intercourse I passed farms and fruit markets, furniture stores, and yes, even buggies. The Inn, which was recently renovated both inside and outside, provides the PA Dutch country feel without being over the top. The expanded lobby features a floor to ceiling stone fireplace, a complimentary coffee and tea bar, cozy sitting areas, and an awesome electronic interactive guide of local activities.

After checking in at the front desk and receiving a few complimentary coupons to local attractions, I went to my room to stow my luggage. Since my husband was meeting me there later, I decided to explore the property. I couldn’t get over the spaciousness of our King Deluxe room!  Every room includes a refrigerator, microwave, flat screen TV, free Wi-Fi, iron and ironing board, and hairdryer. Our room also had a plush sofa and a Jacuzzi tub.

Wasting no time, I set out to explore the surrounding area. I was surprised that there is so much within walking distance:  Kitchen Kettle Village, Intercourse Canning Company and Intercourse Village. From the American Military Edged Weaponry Museum, to pretzel making and a tour at Intercourse Pretzel Factory, the John Hay Cigars Shop, and shops with jams, jellies and smoked meats, you can definitely find something for everyone in Intercourse.  (My husband was also pretty excited to find out the Rumspringa Brewing Company was about a mile from the hotel.)

The Best Western PLUS Intercourse Village Inn also happens to be the only hotel in Lancaster County with a spa on site. Now I wouldn’t be a very thorough blogger if I didn’t give you ALL of the information about this property, right? So after my walk around town, I went back to the hotel for my massage appointment at Serenity Day Spa. The brand new spa is full service and offers everything from manicures and pedicures to facials and therapeutic massage. They even offer special packages for weddings and other getaways. Samantha, my massage therapist, took me into a beautiful room that was utterly relaxing. The massage was absolutely wonderful, of course! I was so relaxed I almost forgot I was meeting my husband for dinner afterwards at the Olde Mill Restaurant, also located within the hotel.

With dinner options like Chicken & Waffles, Pot Roast, and Smoked Pork Chops we knew we were in for a good PA Dutch meal. My husband ordered the Tilapia and I had the Chicken Croquettes. Both were huge portions and were very good.  We were way too full from our dinner to partake in dessert, but man did the selection sound delicious!  Shoo Fly Pie, Hot Apple Fritters, and Fruit crisp, oh my!  The Olde Mill Inn also serves the complimentary hot breakfast provided with your hotel stay, but I recommend opting for the expanded breakfast menu and ordering the Sticky Bun French Toast.

Our overnight stay at the Best Western PLUS Intercourse Village Inn was definitely a relaxing one. The accommodations are beautiful and their staff is extremely friendly and welcoming. I would recommend this hotel not just for families and groups but also for couples looking for a getaway that offers a lot to see and do!

Dana’s room, spa treatment and meal were graciously provided by The Best Western PLUS Intercourse Village Inn.

An unexpected performance venue

Driving through the countryside of Lancaster County you would normally expect to see farms, rolling hills, maybe an Amish buggy or two, so it is a little surprising to find a 659-seat concert venue in the form of a large tented amphitheater situated on the picturesque campus of the WJTL studios in Manheim, PA. Located only 2 miles off of Route 283 near the Roots Farmers Market, The Junction Center is not only home to WJTL FM 90.3 (Lancaster’s listener-supported Christian radio station), but is also home to two performance venues – the Millen Room, a café which can seat about 50 people, and the new Junction Center tent and amphitheater.

As I pulled into the parking lot of WJTL, it was pretty hard not to focus on the giant tent which looks a bit like great white wave cresting next to the building. The tent is used to showcase everything from family movie nights, to speakers and banquets, as well as national touring acts. It can even be opened up into an amphitheater-style band shell which can seat over 4,000 people. I also found out, it is only one of four of its kind in the entire world! Sitting inside the tent felt like I was in a huge theater with state-of-the art technology. It wasn’t until I turned around that I remembered I was out in the country.

My visit to this new performance space also included a preview of the other activities offered at WJTL’s events. There was a course set up for peddle car races, which were enjoyed by both children and adults. There were also tours of the radio station by the DJ’s themselves. This venue really is one-of-a-kind, and the staff of WJTL embodies their vision for The Junction Center which is “Christ. Community. Music.” Everyone I met during my visit to WJTL studios is excited about the new opportunity to connect all three of these things in the form of concerts and other events held under the tent.

A full schedule of events held in The Junction Center Tent – from movie nights to concerts and more – can be found here.

Sign up for our Email Newsletter

Get event invitations, exclusive contests, deals, coupons, and trip ideas - right to your inbox, every month.

Sign Up

Order your free 2016 Getaway Guide!

The 2016 Getaway Guide is packed with information on where to stay, where to eat, where to have fun, where to shop — you name it!

Order Now