Regional Food From Lancaster: Tell Me About Your Town

Every month, Amanda from Amanda Moments does a fun link up asking bloggers to share specific tid bits about their town/region. This is my first time participating but it’s been fun reading about different areas of the states throughout the past couple of months. 

This month the prompt was a favorite topic for most people: FOOD! So I’m here to talk to you about regional food from Lancaster, PA:


Photo courtesy of

My hometown of Lancaster, PA is known for its Pennsylvania Dutch culture. What is PA Dutch? Not people from Holland….

Pennsylvania Dutch refers to the heritage of German immigrants that made their way to PA in the late 17th century. Some of these PA Dutch immigrants were part of the plain sect Anabaptists who would become what we now know as the Amish. Other assimilated easily with the English and became part of the general community. Yet, PA Dutch culture remains extremely conservative and traditional, with a desire to reject too much change.  

Most of the food that Lancaster, PA is traditional PA Dutch recipes. These are recipes from the 18th century that have changed very little over the years. 

You’d think that with the abundance of fresh produce and meats from the fertile farmland of the Susquehanna Valley we’d have standard healthy and whole recipes. That is not that case. 

Here are a few of Lancaster’s famous PA Dutch foods:

Whoopie Pies


 Two small pieces of cake, made into a sandwich with a creamy center! Deliciousness! These were originated by German immigrants when they had leftover cake batter. Legend says that they got their name because every time farmers or kids would open their lunch pail to find these treats they’d yell out, “Whoopie!” 

PA Dutch Chicken Pot Pie


Lancaster’s version of Chicken Pot Pie is not like your grandmother’s pot pie (unless you’re from Lancaster of course!) This dish is a soup, made in a pot with chicken, veggies, and large flat egg noodles (pot pie noodles). There is no crust. I have no idea why it’s still called a pie…

ShooFly Pie

sho fly pie

 Shoofly pie is a molasses pie that gets its name due to the flies that were drawn to the sweet and sticky ingredients and needed to be “shooed” away. It’s very dense and not a favorite of mine at all. 

Chow Chow


Lancaster is known for its pickles, relishes, and other pickled items. Chow Chow is basically a mix of summer veggies, pickled and mixed together. 



 These fried donuts are such a big deal Lancaster has a whole day dedicated to them! Faschnaut Day is the day before lent, the time to clean out your pantry of all the extra lard, sugar, fat and butter. They aren’t as sweet as any other fried donut you’d have but they sure are popular on Faschnaut Day. You can order ahead at your grocery store and as a child I always looked forward to getting mine during school lunch. 


Pretzels Lancaster-PA

 My favorite salty snack! Lancaster is known for pretzels and many are made right here! Some of the more famous local brands are Hammonds, Sturgis, Martins. There are even pretzel tours you can go on and one local town’s mascot is a pretzel! I prefer mine covered in chocolate (preferably from local Hershey chocolate!) Pretzels not your thing? Utz chips are made locally as well.


 And of course we have Hershey’s chocolate made right here in Hershey, PA. The whole town smells like chocolate, it’s mouth-watering. 

 What food is your town known for? Check out the other bloggers linking up this week talking about their famous regional food! 

Amanda Moments

Our Christmas

You know how sometimes after you come home from a vacation in need of another vacation? That’s how I feel after these past 6 days of celebrating Christmas with our friends and family. 

It was a non stop whirlwind of eating, drinking, and singing. Full of laughs, traditions, old stories and endless hours playing Heads Up, Guestures, and Apples to Apples. If I am what I eat, I am currently Christmas Cookies, Cosmos, Tuaca, Dip, and Chex Mix. I love when my whole family is together (Mom, Dad, my brother Eric, sister-in-law Veronica, Ryan, Pop Pop and myself).

Boisterous, loud, all encompassing love was all around. 

I’m still “re plugging” back into the “real” world.  It was a nice little break. Until I’m back in full force here are some photos from our Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. 

I hope you had a lovely few days celebrating however you celebrate. 


Being Selfish at Chrismastime

MacDonald tree 2013

You know the saying, “The only thing that is constant is change”? Nothing is more true. We grow, we adapt, we change.

Except for one thing; Christmas!

No matter how much change you went through during the year, no matter how old you get, Christmas is always waiting for you in December with the same traditions to comfort your soul and to make you feel like a kid again.

That is until you get married.

Yes. I’m giving you permission to judge. I’m even calling myself out. I’m being a big selfish baby.

If you’ve been around these parts for the past month, you know how much I love Christmas. We also all know that marriage is all about compromise. Ryan loves Christmas almost as much as I do, so this shouldn’t be a problem, right?

But no matter what anyone else will ever tell me, my family’s Christmas day and traditions are the very best ones out there. None will ever compare. I don’t care if you tell me your family brings in real reindeer and offers magical reindeer rides. Or that you have 7 Christmas trees in your house, or that you fly to a gorgeous chalet in the Alps and celebrate like royalty, or that at your house you can eat as much of your favorite holiday food as you want and actually lose weight, or that Santa is actually your dad and you go to his workshop in the North Pole every Christmas eve and help. Nope, not going to change a thing.


My family Christmas is still better because it is ours. It is my family, the loves of my lives. It is the only Christmas that I have known. It has defined what this holiday season so all about for me. But that is changing.

Okay, before you start judging me even more and thinking I’m a total selfish B, please know that we are splitting Christmas and I’m very much looking forward to sharing Christmas with Ryan. I’m looking forward to celebrating with his family for the first time and to trying something new. It’s just HARD.

To you, my Christmas may sound pretty ordinary. My brother and his wife – who I see about 3 times a year, if I’m lucky, travel up to PA this weekend. On Christmas Eve, my family always goes out to our favorite local pub for a fun dinner followed by a night of games, drinks and music. We still wake up early on Christmas morning, eat some baked oatmeal and attack our stockings like we are 5 year olds. We then slowly open our gifts in front of the tree. One gift at a time, taking time to oohh and ahhh over each thoughtful gift. By 11:30 it’s time to head to the kitchen and do the final preparations for our mid day dinner for about 14 guests. We pour the wine and Amaretto and try to stay calm. It’s that fun kind of stressful though, right mom?! After the dinner, same menu for the past 30 years, we gather around the piano with drinks for some happy Christmas sing a longs. The night ends with us having some leftovers, eating too many cookies, and enjoying some laughs over drinks and toasting with Buttery Nipples. The day is special because it is ours. Because it is tradition. Because it stays the same.

This year, we are moving our mid day dinner earlier in the day so that Ryan and I can promptly leave and head down to his family’s Christmas celebration 1.5 hours away. I’m excited to see his own family traditions and celebrate with my new family. I’m sad to miss out on the singing (my favorite) and the relaxing evening and simply being together with everyone. Give and take, isn’t that right? Tis’ the season?

Why am I being so selfish? Because I’m proud of my traditions because they define me so much. Because it is stressful to have to pick and choose. It’s stressful because someone will always be hurt – be left out. Simply put, I don’t like too much change. Christmas is about family, and we have two now, mine and his.

But, really there are three. Because, what about our new family. The family that is just Ryan and I?

ryan and katie tradition

We need to start our own holiday traditions. My goal this week is to be sure to carve out some time to celebrate Christmas in our own way. To remember we are our own family. We hold the power to combine both of our traditions and make something totally unique to us. The definition of our holidays is written by Ryan and I, and I can’t wait to discover what that is. I’m sure it will be simply magical, considering how completely crazy we both are over the spirit of Christmas.

Bonnie and Maggie, Christmas puppies

Oh and don’t forget about the Christmas spirit of the dogs too!

How do you handle sharing Christmas?

  xoxo katie


Christmas Brings Out My Inner 6-year-old

The Daily Tay
Linking up with Taylor from The Daily Tay and Helene from Helene in Between
 I truly believe Christmas brings out the best in us. It makes us enthusiastic for little things like cookies and Christmas trees. It reminds us to be kind to one another (or else Santa may not come to your house!). We take the time to tell our loved ones just how much they mean to us. We recall an era of innocence and wonder and we try to recreate it as much as we can. Christmas makes us all into children for a short while.
Katie and rainbrow bright horse
So happy in 1985! Rainbow Bright was my world! And I still feel like this on Christmas morning.
Here are a few ways that the holiday season turns me into giddy, pigtailed, six-year-old girl, asking 5 billion questions about Santa and singing Christmas carols at the top of her lungs while decorating sand tarts with her mom.
Proof that I turn into 6-year-old at Christmastime:
-My Christmas excitement starts in October. I begin a countdown til Christmas, start playing Christmas music, and plan out my holiday events. I just can’t hold it in.
– I get overly excited over small items or childish activities like hot chocolate! Angels! Scarves! Christmas lights! Candles! Reindeer! Sparkles! Baking cookies! The colors Red, Gold, and Silver! Santa Santa Santa!
– My mom still buys me an advent calendar every year. And I love it. I still can’t wait to open the little picture every day.
My 2013 Advent Calendar – combines my love of Victorian Christmas items and carousels.
Thanks Mom! (I am 30 years old and still love this thing to pieces)
– I listen to Christmas music on repeat. To me, no other music exists during this time of year. I’m in your car and you’re playing Vampire Weekend? I consider you a Scrooge!
– I sing along and know every single word to Christmas songs and love every minute of it. I can’t sing.
Singing our hearts out in 1986
– I can’t fall asleep on Christmas Eve because I’m way too excited!
– On Christmas morning we still wake up bright and early and start our stockings at 8 am (this now has more to do with the fact that we have too much to fit into one single day, but it’s still exciting!)
– We open our stockings first thing on Christmas morning and my parents still stuff the same exact stockings my brother and I had since we were babies with fun goodies.
Katie and Eric 87
Eric and I on Christmas morning 1987. We had two trees that year! An adult one and a kid one. 
– This past Saturday morning I couldn’t get out of bed. Ryan received a text alert from ABC Family (have I mentioned we are nerds?) that the movie Prancer was going to be on within the hour. That news made me jump out of bed and run downstairs to be sure to record this beloved movie of mine. When the DVR was acting up and wouldn’t record at first, I threw a fit until Ryan fixed it.
–  One of my favorite traditions and decorating my mom’s Sand Tarts. She has a handful of cute cookie cutters in shapes that range from typical things like hearts and Christmas trees to camels and Scottie dogs. I intricately decorate these delicious cookies – I give the dogs little sweaters, and the camels fancy saddles, and the gingerbread girls bikinis – in the end it looks like a craft 6-year-old decorated them.
Sandtarts! The secret family recipe!
– I collect Reindeer – because they are 1. adorable and 2. magical. duh!
– I still think it is absolutely criminal that I am expected to work Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas. Not fair!
– But today I woke up to a blanket of snow outside of my bedside window and soon learned I was having a SNOW DAY! Pj’s all day!!! Hot chocolate!
– Every night on Christmas Eve I still save a quiet moment for just me and Santa. Ok, I may not talk to Santa anymore, but I still step outside, gaze up at the stars and say a special wish or two.
Katie and Santa
Having a one on one with Santa in 1986. I’d wear that skirt today.
The traditions that I have celebrated since childhood help bring out that girlish innocence. They tie me to my family and to my parents who have created many  of these traditions for us. And, in my parent’s eyes I will always be a child. These traditions are so deeply rooted into who I am – I can’t wait to pass them on to my future children one day.
Katie and Nanny
Getting some love from Nanny in 1983. I would only have 6 Christmas seasons with her. 
The season gives us freedom to be enthusiastic and to fly our happy flag just because. We don’t have to defend ourselves. We don’t have to hide behind adult cynicism or bitterness. We are kinder and more patient with each other. We give hugs and kisses more freely. We are open with our thoughts and sing out. We are on our best behavior and we are together – united with the joy of Christmas. Katie at Christmas
More Rainbow Bright and family love on Christmas 1985
This season is truly a magical time! Don’t you think the world would be a marvelous place if we acted how we do at Christmastime all year long?
traditions that tie us together

An Ode to the Christmas Tree

tree 2013 2

Linking up with Amber (Mr. Thomas and Me) and Erin’s (Hooley with a Z) 12 Days of Blogging Christmas link up.  

Dear Christmas Tree,

We wait for your presence all year long. For that special time of year when you become the center piece of our little home. No other piece of furniture, decoration, photograph, or picture can make our home as cozy as you do. Our home becomes a safe haven, a place to hide away from the stresses of the outside world and the cold winter weather. The power to bring that solace belongs solely to you.

Yesterday, we trekked out to a farm in the country side to find you. We searched and searched. Some trees were too bushy, too tall, too patchy, or too small. And then there you stood. So majestic. It was as if you were branches were reaching out to us. saying “Yes, I am yours, take me home!”

  tree farm

red boots

Ryan selecting tree

our tree!

 We strapped you atop of our car roof and happily drove you home. Once you were in our living room, you made yourself right at home. Melting into the atmosphere – this is where you were meant to live, to spread your joy. You fill the air with the smell of Christmas.

It smells like a 6-year-old Katie too excited to fall asleep on Christmas eve, after putting out cookies for Santa on that special plate.It smells like a 8-year-old Katie lying under the tree, mesmerized by the season. It smells like singing Up on the House Top at the top of my lungs as Mom plays the piano. It smells like watching Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer with my brother while eating home made chocolate chip cookies. It smells like wrapping paper being ripped open on Christmas morning with grandparents. It smells like love.

We donned you with lights and gave you a skirt. Next came the ornaments. Oh those ornaments. Each one with its own little story. And each one has found a perfect branch to hang from. All of those memories hanging from your branches so brilliantly. I have received an ornament or two every year of my life, there are 30 years displayed on you, dear Christmas tree. You carry it with grace and add to their beauty.

Christmas tree, you fill us with hope. You remind us of the joys of Christmas pasts. You fill us with thoughts of innocence. We are reminded to slow things down. To take time to remember, to be hopeful, and to believe in magic.

When the time comes to take you down, our house will feel barren. The ornaments and their stories will be boxed up until next year when they can once again come out and play and help us believe that anything is possible.

MacDonald  Christmas tree 2013

  xoxo katie

5 Reasons I Celebrate Christmas “Early”

Five Friday Favorites xmas8

This year there seems to be more ho0-ha about people celebrating Christmas too early. The internet is saying that some people think this is a big no-no and that they are forgetting all about Thanksgiving.  I don’t know why this year seems worse than overs – every year stores start putting out Christmas items and decor at the end of September. Have no fret, worry worts, we will all still take the time to be grateful for all our blessings, stuff our faces, and enjoy down time with our family’s over turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving isn’t going to disappear.

(Although I  STRONGLY disagree with Black Friday now starting on Thursday, tearing retail workers away from their families and the right to take a long cozy nap after that carb overload and encouraging individuals to shop in a crowded mall instead of sitting around catching up with their families and leftovers.)

Christmas is my most favorite time of the year. I love that it gives an excuse to make every one be kind to each other and to celebrate. I feel all warm and fuzzy all season long.

As of today, I am all done shopping (minus some stocking stuffers), have the house nearly decorated, our Christmas cards are ready to go, and have planned out our holiday festivities – Christmas movie watching, Baileys hot chocolate sipping, tree cutting down and decorating, festive holiday party throwing and attending, cookie baking and decorating and so on.

So, to clear up some questions for you Scrooges out there that think Christmas celebrations should be strictly held off until midnight on December 1 (at the earliest) here are my 5 favorite reasons to celebrate Christmas “early”.

1. I’d rather spend the month of December reveling in all the Holiday Cheer



I like to get all the Christmas errands, shopping for gifts, shopping for wrapping paper and tape (why am I always running out of tape?), shopping for all your cooking and baking ingredients, cleaning up your guest bedrooms, etc so that I can actually relax and enjoy all the fun activities and events in December.

I’d rather spend my time cuddling with Ryan watching Christmas movies with some spiked hot chocolate than rushing around last-minute trying to find the perfect gift for the in-laws. I’d rather spend my time listening to our favorite Christmas music and decorating sand tarts with my mom rather than bailing because I haven’t had time to dig out my Christmas ornaments yet. I’d rather put the finishing touches on my holiday outfit and relax with a glass of champagne before my guests arrive  than cursing myself because I have to run out to the store AGAIN to pick up napkins 30 minutes before the holiday party starts.

There is simply too much to do (and eat) to squeeze it all in a few short weeks.

Thanksgiving is very late this year which only allows a short 3.5 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. There are too many parties, too many events, too many movies to watch and tunes to listen to, and old and new recipes to make. I never can seem to squeeze all that I want to do during the holidays in. Add the fact that Christmas is on a Wednesday this year, which means only one day of work off that week. Boo! So really only 3 weekends to do all the things you need and want to do.  So, why not start earlier? Why limit yourself on Christmas cheer?

2. Less last-minute stress



I love Christmas, but there is no doubt that the holidays are stressful. You are often pulled in five billion directions between family and friends and you also want to fit in some reflective down time for yourself. More money is being spent, you’re under pressure to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list and there is the daunting pressure of New Years Eve looming in the future. There is a sense of urgency around it all.

By starting early, I give myself some breathing space the week before Christmas. This allows me time to reflect on the past year and for the blessings I’ve received. I can take time to spend time with friends and family and do the things that make me happiest. You’ll never find me running out to the stores the week before Christmas. A crowded mall is the last place I’d ever want to be.

3.  Spread out the budget


You’ll never find me rushing around on Christmas Eve sweating over what to get my great Aunt and finding myself spending $40.00 on a ridiculous bird tray because I couldn’t decide between another scented candle or necklace she’d probably never wear?  I like to spread out my shopping throughout the six months prior to Christmas. Not only does this put less pressure on finding the perfect gift in a short time frame it’s also easier on my budget.

From August to December, I allow a certain amount of money each month to go towards Christmas gifts. I often discover unique gifts for people while travelling or while I’m not under pressure. There are deals all the time – so don’t you worry about all those “Holiday Saving Events”. At least this way I’m not pinching for pennies to pay for all the additional things you find yourself buying or paying for during the holiday season.

4. You get to enjoy the decorations longer


I love to decorate – it take a full weekend to get everything lugged up from the basement and to decide that year’s decoration scheme. Fact: Ryan and I spent a full 1.5 hours on Wednesday night hanging the garland on our banister. We just couldnt’ seem to get it “just so”. Since it takes so much effort and work to decorate – why not enjoy it for as long as you can?

I dread the day I have to take everything down and hide it away in the basement for another 10 months. The house always looks so depressed, so empty, so cold after all the festive decor goes away.

5. It makes me happy and relaxed


There is no simpler way to say this. The holidays make me feel wonderful inside. Love is all around. I love the comfort of knowing all the words to my beloved Christmas tunes. I love knowing that I can throw on a feel good holiday movie at any time. I love the lights, the trees, the decor, the cookies, it’s all so beautiful and magical. I love the memories of innocence and childhood it brings up. I love that my family all comes together and celebrates the same exact way we have since I was born. I love all the traditions.

I love that everyone is happier this time of year. I love that it gives us a reason to be grateful to be more loving and to be more accepting. I wouldn’t put that off any longer than I have to.

What is your opinion on starting to celebrate Christmas before you cut the turkey on Thanksgiving day?


xoxo katie