Innkeeper's Wife's Blog

Destination: Mechanicsburg

Irresistible? Brittle Bark!

Growing up, my mom had a very dear friend who us kids thought of as another grandmother.  She was Granny Dee to us, a fixture at Sunday dinners and every holiday and milestone in our lives from elementary school through college graduation.  Granny Dee was, like my mom, a fountain of wisdom on topics from marriage to etiquette – “Girls, never marry a man under thirty.  It takes them that long to figure out what they want in life!”, “A proper foundation makes the outfit!”, or “Smile when you walk into a room, it relaxes people!”

So it’s no surprise that Granny Dee’s annual Christmas Eve party gift of a two-pound box of Russell Stover Nuts and Chews was delivered with good sound advice on how to share them.

 Certainly “Once on the lips, forever on the hips,” was advice politely imparted to the plump.  Choclaholics were cautioned, “He who is greedy is always in want.”  But perhaps the biggest bit of advice we heard was echoed years later in the film Forrest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.”

 Which brings me to the pink stuff.  Somehow, camouflaged in a perfect dark chocolate coating, mimicking the shape of a much coveted caramel, nestled amongst the other nuts and chews, was one piece of candy that had a pink filling.  And nobody liked the pink filling.  Etiquette dictated that if you took a piece of candy from Granny Dee’s box, you had to eat it.  Nothing slowed down the attack on the box quite like the dread of getting the piece with pink filling.  


Perhaps it is this experience that has made Brittle Bark a wild success in my family.   The brainchild of local entrepreneur Diane Krulac, Brittle Bark started out making peanut brittle, but has expanded to a full range of brittles and chocolates.  The beauty of brittles is that they are “inside out” so you know exactly what you are getting.  Now for birthdays and special occasions, we often go to Brittle Bark, pick out a wonderful container from the selection in the store (the hat boxes are my personal favorite) and fill it with beautifully packaged candies.  Diane or one of her team decorates the top of the hat box with ribbon and silk flowers – the boxes are almost too pretty too open.   

Diane and her team make the candy in a little grey house, two doors down from the retail shop.  Brittle Bark’s retail shop is located at 215 West Main Street, Mechanicsburg, PA  17055 (yes, this is just one short block from the Orris House Inn – many of our guests are repeat customers.) Open Wednesday through Friday 10:00am through 4:00pm and Saturday from 9:00am until 2:00pm.

You can also buy Brittle Bark online at  Definitely check out the great online video of Diane’s factory tour and candy making demonstration for Senator Pat Vance.  You’ll find the link to the video on the bottom of the Brittle Bark home page.


The Groom Wore Spats

Marriage is a lot like ballroom dancing.  To do it right, both partners need to be active participants. You can’t both just do your own thing; a lot of effort goes into synchronizing your activity.  And someone has to lead and someone has to follow.  Traditionally of course, the gentleman leads and the lady follows.  But as married life is a little more complicated and hopefully lasts longer than a tango, over the course of say, twenty-five years, you might find you switch the lead / follow roles from time to time.

Saturday’s bride and groom met on the dance floor in a swing class.  They were a joy to watch together.  Poised, graceful, and perfectly in tune with each other on the dance floor and across the room.  We wish them a lifetime of Foxtrots, tangos and swings, spiced with the occasional merengue.

( PS. Technically, the groom didn’t wear spats – his shoes were perfectly polished swing spectators.)

Salon Row, First Stop: MODA

Except for one brief, misguided episode in the mid-eighties, I have pretty much stuck to three low maintenance hairstyles:  my husband’s favorite –long and straight and usually pulled into a ponytail, my favorite – the pixie cut my mother introduced me to when I was a toddler, and the inevitable in-between bobs during those years when I was in transition between pixie and ponytail. 

I am currently in pixie stage.  Pixie places few demands on my time from day-to-day, but requires the attention of a good stylist every three weeks.  Let it go four weeks, and I’m well on the way to one of those transition bobs.   Subject it to the touch of a lesser stylist, and I look like I stepped straight out of the barber shop.  Main Street Mechanicsburg has become a magnet for high-style salons, so I decided to venture out the front door and down a few blocks to see if one of the new salons was up to the challenge of a great three-week haircut that requires nothing more than a comb to maintain.

The first salon between the Orris House Inn and the town center is Moda, a new salon opened by a young couple with experience operating a successful salon in Harrisburg.  I called Moda, described my haircut and preferences, and made an appointment with the stylist recommended by the helpful receptionist for the next day. 

The interior of the salon is bright and contemporary, with exposed brick walls, hardwood floors and white frosted glass pendants over the stylists’ stations.   My stylist, Hassie, listened to what I wanted and proceeded to mist and clip away, carefully, but efficiently.  Twenty-two minutes later I had a great looking haircut.  She did something clever with a jar of gel to make my hair much more “high style” than I would ever do myself, so of course my new haircut looked terrific walking out of the salon.  Dress-up, out-to-dinner terrific.  But it’s the next day, and the next week, with my limited hair care skills that puts a cut to the true test.

The next day after I washed it and invested a whopping two minutes to blow it dry it looked great.  One week later, even if I skip the blow dry it still looks great.  I’m beginning to regret that I didn’t pay close attention when Hassie did her wonders with the gel.  Perhaps even I could manage a more styled look.  I definitely will return, and most likely a jar of gel and a styling lesson by Hassie will be part of my next trip to Moda.

Moda is located at 56 W. Main Street, Mechanicsburg, PA  17055.  (717) 766-1115 

Open 11am to 9pm, Tuesday through Friday and 9am to 3pm on Saturdays


There’s an energy about the very first garden wedding of the season that is unique. Watering the potted flowers early in the morning, sweeping the last of the dropped cherry blossom petals and the first of the whirly maple tree seeds from the patio, moving chairs into place in front of the arbor for the ceremony – all tasks which will be repeated dozens of times before the season ends in October – are tackled today with a sort of opening-night excitement, in anticipation of what the day will hold.

The traditions are the same from wedding to wedding – a beautiful dress, flowers, rings, cake, toasts, dancing. But the interpretation of the traditions from wedding to wedding is as varied as the couples who choose our garden to make their commitment to a life together.

So as the crew finishes preparing the gardens and the florist, bakery, caterer and musicians begin to arrive, we watch with delight as the lovely backdrop of the Inn and the gardens transform into a fairytale setting for today’s bride and groom.

Gallery Reception, Friday May 7th, 6 to 9pm

Gallerie Thirteen, located at 13 East Main Street, is hosting a reception on Friday evening, May 7th from 6pm to 9pm.  In addition to the gallery’s collection of fine arts and fine craft, there will be a special exhibit on display by the Senior art students from Mechanicsburg High School.

Enjoy live music, wine and cheese, and meet many of  the artists in person.

Remember!  We love our ice cream here in Mechanicsburg, so on you way home from Gallerie Thirteen, stop in at Eckel’s (where Hershey’s ice cream is dished up) or walk up Market Street to Rakestraw’s (our very own ice cream factory) for a double dip cone in your favorite flavor.

Freight Station Museum

Mechanicsburg is one of very few towns to have preserved the town’s original railroad buildings.  Our Museum Association works diligently to not only preserve the Passenger Station, Station Master’s House, Freight Station and Washington Street Station, but to keep these important landmarks open to the public.  There are lectures held at the Passenger Station, tours conducted of the Station Master’s House, and rotating exhibits at the Freight Station Museum.  The current exhibit, running through May 1, 201o, is “The Craftsman’s Journey,” an exhibition of fine craft by local craftsmen from the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen.  Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday, 12:00 noon to 3:00pm.