Spring Recap

Wow! Time flies – It is already July and I haven’t been blogging as much as I would like to. Here’s a little recap of my spring!

My garden bloomed with bleeding hearts and green ferns:

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I made and ate this amazing steak sandwich:

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I found this amazing aged goat cheese at Mandro’s Imported Foods ~and I highly recommend eating it if you get the chance!

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My indoor peace lily bloomed with a double flower… which I can only take to mean that my life will be very peaceful for a while.

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I went to Smorgasburg in DUMBO and ate some amazing foods! Post on this later to come.

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Spent a bunch of time enjoying music with friends in downtown Lancaster:

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I grew a potato plant from an organic potato and it started sprouting little potatoes. The students went crazy over this at school! They were amazed at how potatoes grow:

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I celebrated Derby day/ Cinco De Mayo/ my friend’s birthday in style with hats and mint juleps:

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I started grilling and ate a lot of salads that looked like this:

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Backyard gatherings started taking place… rain or shine.

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It became nice enough outside to bring Monk to the Fridge for outside snacks!

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We started taking a lot of hikes again in Lancaster County Central Park. It was warm enough for monk to dive in the river and wet enough to see a lot of fungus:

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My husband and Monk looking extra cute and picture perfect:

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Fire season started! I love sitting around a fire outside on beautiful evenings enjoying time with friends!

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I learned how to run the cotton candy machine for the dance at school! I got pretty good and swirling that blue floss around a stick… I am now available for hire for all of your cotton candy needs ūüôā

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We took a field trip to Hershey Park at school. I’m not sure who had more fun… the teachers or the students.

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The strawberry festival took place at Lancaster Central Market – and those homegrown strawberries and Thom’s Bread shortcake tasted delicious!

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I’ll tell you about June tomorrow – Happy Summer!

 

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Spring Art Walk – 2012

It is Spring Art Walk Weekend in Lancaster! One of my favorite weekends of the year… Yea, there is art everywhere BUT I the reason I love this weekend is because the town is bustling with people!

Art walk is usually the first weekend in May and there is a lot going on. The weather is beautiful and it feels great to be outside walking around in the fresh spring air. You can find the map to the art walk stops for 2013 here. If you are in Lancaster, you still have tonight and tomorrow to check out some of the happenings.

I thought I would share some photos from our day out last year. I walked around on Saturday with my friends Janeen and Emily.

We started our day with brunch at On Orange. I recommend their Swedish oatmeal pancakes… I don’t really recommend the vegan sausage.

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Since we walked around on Saturday last year, we made a stop at Lancaster Central Market.

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Across the brick alley from the market is a little shop in the upstairs of an old building. It is called Herbs from the Labyrinth.

They have all kinds of interesting things to look at. Like…

magic spectacles for reading… IMG_5718

Magic wands… IMG_5722

and magic crystals…

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They have some really comfy looking yoga clothes and up-cycled clothing and bags that are pretty cool too.

We continued to move towards the East side of town. Lancaster is a great small city to walk around.

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During art walk, a lot of interesting displays pop up. Sometimes there is music, sometimes there are people with information, sometimes you get to wander behind buildings that you don’t normally wander behind.

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The 300 block of north Queen street is home to many small shops. Some with art, some for shopping, some that are just fun to walk through, and some to window shop.

The Art and Glass Works is a fun store to walk around, you just have to be really careful not to touch or break anything because it is all glass. The Glass Works has a really interesting back yard with treasures hanging all around.

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They had a make-your-own Fairie house activity. Janeen really wanted to make one for her own backyard…

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…but she didn’t follow the warning signs and we had to leave. Oh well, there’s always this year.

We continued on North Queen and stopped at the Candy Factory.

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This space was home to a pretty neat flea and craft fair. I ended up buying a small wooden cheese board from our friend Handmade by Kanga. She also has a display in Building Character; all hand carved wooden jewelery and kitchen items.

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Upstairs from the Candy Factory in the Keppel Building, are a few artists and their studios. You should venture up the stairs to check it out if you are walking around this year. David Stallings is a wonderful painter and can be found on the top floor. There are some other forms of art up there as well.

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Building Character (that I mentioned above) always has some neat finds and it is ever-expanding. It is now home to an old Lancaster printing press. There is usually a person there to show you how it works and you can print something yourself. The shop also gets in some really interesting antiques… check out the Skee Ball machines they had last year. You can easily spend hours in Building Character looking through all the stuff they have collected there.

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The majority of the galleries in Lancaster are on Prince Street in downtown, but there are a few galleries on Walnut Street. We walked though one that had an extra room opened up with some artists working on an old piano. For the past two summers we have had decorated pianos spread over the city. People donate pianos, artists turn them into a piece of art, and they are placed all over town for people to play and enjoy. Its called Keys for the City.

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Our Art Walk Saturday ended with a performance by The Vinegar Creek Constituency, one of my favorite local bands. They performed in the evening at a store & gallery down town called Tellus 360, which is going to be opening another floor as a music venue this year. IMG_5772

I am going out again tomorrow for brunch with more of my girlfriends and to walk about the Art Walk. I hope you get to experience Art Walk in Lancaster – if you live here or if you are visiting! It’s a great weekend to be out and about.

Febrewary Homebrew Crawl 2013 – preparations

A good bunch of my friends (including Me and Dan) like to brew our own beer.

The past two years in February, we had our own home brew competition. We all came together and set up a brew crawl across the town of Lancaster. A majority of the participants live in Lancaster city so it was pretty easy to hop from house to house. Brewers that don’t live in town just match up with someone who does, giving us a lot of brews to taste!

I’ll post some of the past years beers in a few days, but for now I just wanted to share some of this year’s preparations from Dan and Marisa’s House!

We tried to brew a brown ale this year. It turned out to be a not-quite-brown-ale. Brewing got a little interesting as we discovered we did not have a pot large enough to hold this all grain batch. We rigged something up and got it done… we steeped it in the cooler… monk was a little worried about it. I wrote a post about brewing this batch back in November – check it out for the dog biscuit recipe.

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If you have been reading this blog you probably know that I love to make pickles. I’ve been playing with the idea of making pickles with hops in them for a while now. I tried several batches with different hops. I finally found one that is AWESOME! I used cascade hops steeped in the brine.

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I believe they came out quite delicious. I can not wait for the home brew crawlers to try them!

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I will even admit, the cascade hops were so good steeped in the pickle brine that I ate a few right out of the pot. I can not say the same for some of the other varieties of hops.

I also had this idea to pickle some carrots in the hop brine… it was a great idea.

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I ended up with two pickle varieties for the brew crawl:

Cascade Garlic Hop Pickles

Centennial Dill and Garlic Hop Pickles

I haven’t tried the dill batch yet so I hope they are good!

I also made a new soda…

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Wild Huckleberry Honey Ginger Ale

I used wild huckleberry creamed honey that I found at a beautiful winery in California and fresh ginger. I am fermenting it with champagne yeast so it’s nice and bubbly. I know it’s not beer but I really like to experiment and make new things like this… it is fermented so I think it fits… and when else am I going to get to test it out on this many tasters?

I’ll let you know how the 3rd annual home brew crawl goes. I am sure there will be some awesome home brews. There are two ribbons awarded: one chosen by the official judge and one chosen by the voting crawlers.

Walking around town in the crisp febreway air, tasting good beer, all in good company… I think everyone is a winner during this event!

Central Market: some new stands for 2013!

There’s some new stands popping up at the Lancaster Central Market¬†¬†this year. I thought I spread the word about a few…

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Pureblend Tea serves up specialty tea lattes and Matcha¬†– all organic. I’ve had two tea lattes so far and they were both really good! I tried the blackberry chaikhana and the chocolate chai latte. I liked the teas, just one heads up – some of the¬†lattes have flavor syrup in them. My blackberry tea had blackberry syrup – which wasn’t¬†bad –¬†I was just expecting blackberries in with the tea leaves. Sometimes the syrups are a little too sweet for me. The chocolate chai was yummy, it only had a hint of chocolate right in with the tea leaves. I did decline the square of organic dark chocolate that could have been added to it. I am sure it is good¬†however you order¬†– like a hot chocolate chai.

I am really excited for the opening of Oasis.¬†I saw a sign on a corner stand (that used to be Senorita Burrita) advertising their opening. They will have organic dairy products. I have recently switched over to organic milk instead of drinking soy milk all the time. I’m sure this stand will help me with that.

Also new for 2013 – I am trying really hard not to shop at big grocery stores. I am only allowing myself one visit a month to a chain grocery store like Giant. My husband has gone on a little health kick and has changed his diet –¬†I am following suit. Mostly our switches are to organic dairy products, different¬†types of sugars, cutting out the white flour (I haven’t cut the pasta yet), and making sure we are getting plenty of veggies. I am also trying to buy as local as I can this year. I think that we eat pretty healthy already so it hasn’t been to hard –¬†So far it is going very well. I am definitely cutting down the grocery bill, mostly because I am not buying a bunch of unnecessary items at the grocery store.

But back to Market…

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Rooster Street Provisions¬†specializes in awesome pork products!!! I got their italian sausage¬†this past saturday. I added it to some homemade sauce and poured it over pasta. I loved it! it is worth all these exclamation¬†points!! I can not wait to go back and try some of their other cured meats. I’ll visit them on saturday and pick out something else extra special to snack on. If you want to see some pretty pics of their products – check out their instagram¬†page @roosterst. I also love their yellow framed chalkboard and wooden counters at their stand. Beautifully done!

On the other side of Rooster Street Provisions is…

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Shady Maple – chock-full of baked goods. I haven’t tried anything from here yet… I just noticed that their new sign is huge! What a contrast to the Rooster Street stand. Everyone loves a little variety, right?

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I did pick up a lonely looking cupcake at Wendy Jo’s. This stand has been at market for a while and it continues to be delicious.

Right next to Wendy Jo’s is a food stand called Comfort Bakehouse. They make all kinds of foods from meatloaf to eggs… all¬†in muffin tins! All of their offerings look quite tasty. I’m going to¬†give them a try this week. I’ll have to decide between breakfast¬†or lunch… or maybe I’ll just get both!

I’ve tried Thom’s bread a few times now. They make a pretty solid loaf of bread – actually it is pretty crispy and fresh, not quite solid. The rosemary has been my favorite – but get there early – they have been sold out the last two weekends that I went to market. I have also enjoyed the kalamata olive – we had it with some delicious pasta last weekend. It’s perfect for dipping into sunday sauce.

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I made this super sandwich with a Rustic Italian boule from Thom’s on Saturday. Everything else on this sandwich was also from market – avocado, alfalfa sprouts, mustard greens, smokey turkey and sharp cheddar¬†cheese. If you didn’t notice… there’s my carrot cupcake… it was¬†scrumptious and I enjoyed it very much… I ate all of it!

Remember Central Market is open Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays! Hope to see you there!

Friendly Reminder: Guber Ball Day is Tomorrow!

Hello everyone!

I am writing to remind you that the observance of Guber Ball day is tomorrow – Saturday, December 22, 2012.

The Distlefink Inn/Dirty Ol’ Tavern opens in the morning… with festivities beginning at 10:30am.

Need a map to get there? Here ya go.

If you are curious about this holiday, read the link that describes last year’s Guber Ball Day party.

Bring your condiments and wear your Santa hat and dancing shoes… See you tomorrow!

Downtown for the Holidays in Lacaster

I had a great Saturday with my girlfriends in downtown Lancaster. We went out for a day of shopping and holiday fun.

Here’s how our day went…

We started with brunch at Rachel’s Cafe and Creperie. They have a bunch of special holiday crepes right now and a few special coffee drinks, like peppermint mocha and gingerbread chai served in nice big white mugs.

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We stopped at Lancaster Central Market to pick up some veggies.

Doesn’t everyone look excited!?!

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Saturdays at Central Market are part of my weekly routine. I have been cutting my grocery store visits down a lot and getting everything I need down at the market. I have been picking up the essentials that I can’t get at Central Market at some of the other smaller groceries near my house. I could walk to most of them, like Lemon Street Market. Buy Fresh, Buy Local!

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There’s a new store on King Street! It’s called Seasons Taproom and it is dedicated to quality olive oils and vinegar. I tasted some oils and flavored vinegars and they are excellent quality and the flavors are delicious. I plan on going back to taste more and to maybe make a few purchases. I’m trying to cut back on buying more olive oils because I have many bottles at home that I have to use up. They don’t last forever you know… but I joined an olive oil club that I just can’t quit so I have a lot. Seasons is a great place to buy some nice hostess gifts or something for that friend that just loves to cook.

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And they have those large metal dispensers that I love… just like the other oil shop in Lititz, Pa.

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We walked up King Street to Lancaster’s Eastern Market. A holiday craft market was scheduled from 9-5pm and we wanted to check out the goods. They had a variety of items including cheeses, wines, cards, jewelery, belts, hats, and all kinds of homemade goodies.

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This market is open regularly in the summer months and has a bunch of food and veggies stands. They do have some special seasonal events, like this craft market, at other times throughout the year. They also run skill share weekends that showcase some local talents where you can learn a thing or two. Check the website for upcoming events.

On our way back to the heart of the city, we stopped at Tellus 360 – a shop full of reclaimed wood furniture (beautiful, but out of my budget) and sustainable gift items – some made in Lancaster and some from some major brands. Definitely worth a stop when you are in town! They even have live music some nights and an art gallery in the back.

Here’s our town’s official Christmas tree! If you’re lucky enough to be here on the evening right after Thanksgiving (Black Friday), you can catch the Mayor’s tree lighting and Tuba Christmas.

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Tuba Christmas is an old tradition in Lancaster City where – you guessed it – a whole lotta tubas play Christmas music, everyone stands around outside and the Mayor lights the Christmas tree. Good old-fashioned family fun ūüôā It actually is fun – and there are lots of shops open welcoming customers, market is open late, and there are a good bunch of cozy bars right in the area to choose from to warm your self up in afterwards. Like the Spring House Taproom, Lancaster Dispensing Company, and Annie Bailey’s.

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Onward we marched down to the 300 Block of North Queen Street to visit the antique stores and a huge sort of co-op store called Building Character. They have lots of old stuff turned into new things. Like these magnets:

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It really is fun to look through everything in this warehouse-turned-fancy. You can get an old hinge to match the other old hinges in your house, if you need that kind of thing. You can get second-hand clothes and housewares. You can get new handmade furniture. You can get cards and other crafty stuff. You can even get a rubber duck with a snorkel. It’s also the home to the old printing press that used to be in the Heritage Center. There is a guy there that will show you how to work the press and even let you use it! Building Character also hosts fun events. Check their website to see what’s going on soon!

We ended the night going to see one of our local favorite bands – Vinegar Creek Constituency. We made the trek across the Susquehanna to Burning Bridge tavern. A night of awesome music and lots of friends – and I had this awesome beer to top it all off! Friendship Brew by Green Flash Brewing Company.

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So… I had an awesome day in Lancaster, PA! If you find yourself looking for something to do, go downtown and spend a day just wandering around. There are so many cool shops to stop in and explore.

Check out the Lancaster website for events and information. There are two more weekends before Christmas for you to shop downtown and lots of upcoming events!

Sunday brunch at POUR

I had a brunch date with my husband on Sunday. Brunch just might be my favorite meal to go out and eat. It is always relaxing and fun whether it be with two people or a bunch. You could dress up in your fancy pants, or dress down in jeans and bring along your market bags. It’s a great way to start your day.

Dan and I decided to try POUR on Prince Street. It was kind of a rainy and cold day so we couldn’t sit outside. It was cozy inside and they have awesome coffee that warmed us up from the cold.

POUR has a small but well put together menu that had a nice variety of brunch choices. We both chose egg dishes that included some delicious meats. I had the toad-in-the-hole which was topped with two local sausage links. The bread was a piece of thick cut brioche with a fried egg inside a cut out ring. My only slight disappointment was that the egg was really runny. I like a runny yolk but I don’t like when the white is runny… a little too much slime for me. The sausages were delicious and topped with a mustard gravy. Very Oktoberfest, appropriate for fall, and very tasty.

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Dan had the steak and eggs. His egg was poached perfectly- soft yolk and cooked white, not too slimy. The steak was also cooked exactly how he ordered it (medium). The wild chanterelle mushrooms on the side made this dish a step above your regular steak and eggs breakfast. Everything was served atop creamy grits. Of course I had a taste, a little bite of all of it, and it was delicious.

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We finished up brunch with an order of drinks instead of dessert. The beer menu is impressive here, pretty well curated. Dan ended up with a Hennepin from Ommegang Brewery. I had a Bloody Mary – ordered a little less spicy than they normally make it. It was garnished with some of my favorite things… meat, cheese, an olives… so I loved it!

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One thing that I really wanted to try was the charcuterie offerings. I was so stuffed that I couldn’t create a tray for myself this time but I will be ordering it first next time I come to POUR. They had a variety of meats and cheeses that seemed to all catch my eye. You choose the ones you want and they create a board just for you. This is right up my alley… I need to go back.

Strawberry Festival Saturday!

I haven’t posted on here for quite some time! I have less than a month to go until my wedding day and planning has been keeping me pretty busy. I have had so many culinary adventures in the last month. I’ll be posting about some of my new kitchen equipment soon, so please check back.

Today was the strawberry festival at the Lancaster Central Market. My friend Janeen and I put on our fancy hats and headed down for so homegrown goodness.

I knew it was going to be a good morning when we saw this dreamy guitar player outside getting ready to strum some of his lovely tunes:

The very talented Leo Disanto provided the soundtrack for our strawberry breakfast.¬† Check him out, buy a record, you won’t be sorry ūüôā

The Friends of Central Market had strawberry shortcake outside, made with Lancaster County strawberries, whipped cream and homemade shortcake. It was fresh and delicious!

We paired the berry breakfast with some iced coffee drinks from my favorite coffee stop: Mean Cup. I love this barista… oh sorry, I don’t think he likes to be called a barista… the infamous Vogan Gabor!!!

He remembers my coffee drink every time I go there: iced soy Chai charger. It makes me feel like a VIP. I don’t even have to place my order, he just gets it ready for me before I get through the whole coffee line. It makes me feel like “yea, I’m awesome” when I get my coffee drink and everyone else looks and wonders “who’s that cool girl?”

I love you Mean Cup… Don’t ever go anywhere because my market experience just won’t be the same with you.

There were strawberries for sale at most of the stands but they were selling out pretty quickly. I am going to head back down on Tuesday to see if I could get a few more cartons of the little ruby-red gems. I am going to try to make some home-made strawberry jam this year!

Enjoy strawberry season! It will be here and gone before you know it!

Marisa Cheese!

A new specialty foods shop opened in Lancaster on the 300 block of North Queen Street. Bon Appetit serves coffee, breakfast and lunch. There are plenty of food items to bring home with you as well.

Cheese and cheese items are abundant in the shop, along with spices, specialty cookware, and there is a section near the back with candies and chocolates.

Here’s the first item I purchased:

MARISA CHEESE!

I had to try it of course. I served it thinly shaved on wheat crackers with fresh fig slices. It made a great late night snack one night and I would absolutely get it again to make a nice after dinner cheese plate. It has nutty, salty, sharp flavors that go with all different kinds of crackers and accompaniments.

I have been back to the shop recently for a coffee break. They have good coffee and excellent Chai. The only slight disappointment I encountered was that they were out of soy milk. I’m not holding it against them though, I’ll be back again.

Harvest Breakfast

This Saturday was the annual Harvest Breakfast at Central Market. One of my favorite events of the fall, Harvest Breakfast celebrates the harvest season with food, music, and festivities.

I continuously say that I wish someone would put some tables out in the market alley so people could eat breakfast and lunch outside. This is one weekend where that happens! Tables are set up and some of the usual  stand holders from inside come out into the alley and cook breakfast. There is music playing, pumpkin painting, alpacas to pet, and fall air to enjoy.

The Vinegar Creek Constituency was playing (one of my favorite local bands) and hay was flying in the air (thanks to some kiddos who were really having fun and jumping in it like a pile of freshly raked leaves).

Dan and I enjoyed breakfast outside. We shared the wild mushroom Quiche and the cinnamon french toast.


Both were yummy and breakfast was followed up by some bangin’ coffee and Chai from Mean Cup. I got a whole bunch of nice fall vegetables and turkey sausage from the Turkey Lady. I’m going to make a warm fall meal perfect for a chilly day – sausage with fall veggies and beans – a hearty dish, kind of like stew but no quite. Look for a post later in the week with the recipe.

I had a great day walking around market and all around down town with Dan. I come down town pretty much every weekend, but Dan has been away so much that I haven’t gotten to spend a Saturday wasting time walking around with him in a while. It was really nice and I had a ton of fun being kind of touristy.

We visited the record store, some of the shops on Prince Street, went to a flea and craft market at the Candy Factory, and went in and out of the shops on the 300 block of North Queen Street.

We ended out tour of Lancaster with a stop at The Fridge. The new beer and pizza joint craft beer and fancy flat bread pizza place on the west side of town. Look for a post detailing this place (one of our favorite new stops) later this week.

So… what a great Saturday!

Dan said it was the “greatest hits of Lancaster” in a day: harvest breakfast, Vinegar Creek playing, central market, walk up prince street, record store stop, flea and craft market, historic queen street antique shops, rummaging through Building Character, and afternoon beers.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a day…