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Innkeepers Choice: A Day at Shoji Retreat

August 17th, 2012 by abedofroses

Hot tub

Outdoor hot tubs is a peaceful wooded setting

I’m a firm believer in treating yourself well and Shoji Retreat is definitely the place to do it! Just 8 minutes from downtown Asheville, it’s a world away. They advertise that they’re “2,500 ft above stress level” and it couldn’t be more true. It’s a quick drive from Asheville to the entrance of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Just past the Parkway you take a right and wind your way up the wooded road where it gets more and more remote as you climb. The setting is quiet and incredibly peaceful. You can feel yourself relaxing instantly. On our visit Rachel at the front desk was friendly and explained how the spa works, giving us our Japanese Yukatas(robes) and sandals and directing us to the slate showers to begin our day of indulgence. The Summer Celebration Package started with an hour of relaxing in our private hot tub, enclosed with cedar walls on three sides and one side open to the wooded views of the bordering national forest. Above is the open sky and treetops. The only sounds were birdsong and gentle breezes. We alternated between the hot tub and the cold plunge in a separate enclosure. Then after a final invigorating cold plunge it was off to the cedar sauna to wait for our massage therapists to call for us. After a brief introduction and questions about any problems we might be having they brought us to an upstairs room, dimly lit with relaxing music and two massage tables.

Massage setting

Aromatherapy candles

The massage was a wonderful 50 minute Japanese style aromatherapy massage expertly focused on trouble spots and places that tension was stored in the body. As part of the special package we had a choice of a 30 minute cool stone facial massage or a 30 minute foot reflexology massage with a peppermint foot scrub. Two innkeepers on their feet for long hours every day quickly went for the foot massage! After it was all done and the massage therapists left all I could say to my husband was “I think that is the most self-indulgent thing I’ve ever done! We should definitely do this again!” We showered again and checked out in a totally blissed-out state. I couldn’t help sympathizing with Rachel at the front desk having to help people find their keys, tie their shoelaces and get their heads together enough to drive home!

Visit Shoji’s website to see a full menu of their spa services. For a limited time guests staying 2 nights at A Bed of Roses can get $25 each off  of services at Shoji. Ask for your coupon at check-in.

 

Recipes from the Kitchen of A Bed of Roses: Preview from the New NCBBI Cookbook

August 1st, 2012 by abedofroses

Peach Topped Bavarian Torte

Arrange the peaches decoratively on top of the cheescake.

Two new cookbooks are coming out and a bunch of our recipes are appearing in both! The newest edition of the Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association Cookbook has gone to the printer and the North Carolina Bed & Breakfast and Inns Cookbook should be out the first week in September. Here is a sneak preview from the NCBBI Cookbook. Check our recipe section soon for a preview of the newest ABBA cookbook!

Peach Topped Bavarian TorteNorth Carolina Bed & Breakfasts & Inns

My sister Marianne gave me this recipe in 1972. I had to increase her original recipe to fit current spring form pan sizes.  It’s a crowd pleaser. For the B&B I cut it into squares to serve in the afternoons.

Ingredients

Crust

  • 3/4 cup softened margarine or butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/8 tsp vanilla extract (we used Madagascar)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans

Cheesecake

  • 12 oz (1 1/2 8oz packages) softened cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 eggs (not easy to do! I beat the second egg and poured in half)
  • 3/8 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Topping

  • 29 oz can of sliced cling peaches in juice, well drained
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sugar

Preparation

  1. Beat margarine or butter with sugar and vanilla at medium speed until well blended
  2. Add flour and mix.
  3. Stir in pecans.
  4. Flour hands and press mixture into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a spring form pan.
  5. Beat cream cheese and 3/8 cup sugar at medium speed until smooth
  6. Beat in egg and vanilla until blended
  7. Pour into pan
  8. In large bowl combine cinnamon and sugar. Add peaches and toss lightly
  9. Arrange on top of cream cheese mixture
  10. Bake 10 min at 450°
  11. Reduce heat to 400° and continue baking 25 minutes more
  12. Cool in pan 20 min, then carefully remove sides

Serve warm or refrigerate

 

 

How to Beat the Heat – A Scenic Picnic on Mount Mitchell

July 28th, 2012 by abedofroses

Riding along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Mountains along the Blue Ridge Parkway

The highest mountain peak this side of the Mississippi is a quick drive from Asheville. On a fun day-trip the other day the temperature dropped from an unusually steamy 88° in Asheville to a pleasant 66° on the mountaintop. The scenic “slow” route up the Blue Ridge Parkway takes about an hour with spectacular views, woods and scenic overlooks along the way.

Craggy Gardensare definitely worth a stop with scenic trails, picnic areas and a Visitor’s Center. In June and July the rhododendrons are blooming and form a blazing tunnel of flowers along the Craggy Pinnacle trail. The gnarly trees are sweet birch I think- striking in the wintertime.

View from Craggy Gardens Visitor Center

The view from Craggy Gardens Visitor Center

Mount Mitchellis not that far beyond Craggy Gardens. A left on NC Highway 128 from the Parkway takes you right to the summit. Well not exactly. From the parking lot there is a steep little hike along a paved trail to the observation deck, so you can truly say you “climbed Mount Mitchell”! The views from the observation deck are well worth the little climb. At 6,684 feet above sea level you’re likely to see clouds below you and weather forming miles away. The climate at the peak is more like Canada than North Carolina and the vegetation and even the birds are different than just 35 miles away in Asheville.

Climbing to the summit of Mount Mitchell

Climbing the path to the summit of Mount Mitchell

A shaded picnic area at the lower summit parking area was a lovely place to have lunch. There were shelters there as well as picnic tables and grills.

Originally it was thought that Grandfather Mountainwas the highest peak in the area, but in 1835 Dr. Elisha Mitchell, a professor at University of North Carolina calculated the elevation using barometric pressure readings and mathematical formulas to prove that the Black Mountains, the range that Mount Mitchell is a part of, were higher.

Coud moving in over the mountain

A cloud creeps in over the mountain

Of course there was controversy and on a subsequent visit to verify his measurements in 1857 Dr. Mitchell fell from a cliff above a 40 ft waterfall and drowned in the water below. The peak was named in honor of his work in 1858 and he was reburied on top of Mount Mitchell a year after his death.

Until this time the Black Mountain Range was referred to as a single mountain since it’s ridgeline has such an even elevation. Although the elevation of the range is higher, its length is just 15 miles, much smaller than the Blue Ridge Mountains or the Great Smokies. As early as 1787 botanists prized the area for it’s diverse specimens of trees, shrubs and plants. They would bring samples back to Europe to cultivate on royal plantations.

View from Mount Mitchell

View from the summit of Mount Mitchell

The Fraser Fir is named after one such explorer, Englishman John Fraser. The Fraser fir is the most abundant tree along the mountain crest and unfortunately, it has been hit hard by the Wooly Adelgids. An unwelcome visitor that made the trip to the US from Europe around 1900, this tiny insect has destroyed forests throughout the east as well as the northwest. Mount Mitchell was the first place in the southern Appalachians to be invaded by the pest beginning back in 1957, probably because of the high elevation.

Luckily for us the views are still pristine in spite of the Adelgids and the woods are filled with a great variety of trees and shrubs as well as wildflowers. We returned to Asheville refreshed, full from our picnic and a whole lot cooler.

See our Photo Gallery for more pictures!

Where to See the Best in Mountain Arts and Crafts – Asheville’s Premier Crafts Show

July 19th, 2012 by abedofroses

Jen Swearington Fiber Art

A Detail from Jen Swearington’s “The Sea Dream”

The Crafts Fair of the Southern Highlands Craft Guild is a wonderful showcase for the best artists in the Appalachians. This weekend will draw over 200 artists and craftspeople to the US Celluar Center right here in Asheville to display their art, give demonstrations and listen to and play live music from Western North Carolina. Twice a year the Southern Highlands Craft Guild sponsors this show and it’s a must see event for anyone who loves traditional and contemporary crafts. Long before we moved to the Asheville area I would schedule my trips here to visit family around these fantastic shows. The Southern Highland Craft Guild has a long and distinguished history and the fairs have been a local tradition since 1948. Acceptance into the Guild is based on a rigorous jury process, so these artists are definitely the cream of the crop.

Wendy Searward Mask

Wendy Seaward’s “Delirium”

You will see an incredible mix of traditional works with contemporary interpretations of life and nature in the southern mountains. Crafts like hand hammered ironwork and intricate baskets are displayed side by side with whimsical brightly colored polymer clay creations or quilted and stitched mixed media illustrations that tell stories of the imagination. The guild was chartered in 1930, springing from the dream of Frances Goodrich, a Yale graduate and missionary who moved to Buncombe County in 1890. She joined with other leaders of the Southern Arts and Crafts movement in the 1920s and the birth of the guild can be traced to a meeting of these leaders at the Penland School in 1928. It is now one of the strongest craft organizations in the country, operating the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway, just a few miles from Asheville, and conducting educational outreach as well as hosting two major shows a year. They still have close ties to the Penland School of Crafts and the John C Campbell Folk School. If you can’t go to the show, be sure to visit their gallery and shop at the Folk Art Center on your next visit to Asheville!

First Time at a B&B Series: Giving up Control

July 11th, 2012 by abedofroses

Woman in Doubt

Worried about your B&B visit?

Let’s face it. Innkeepers aren’t supposed to say this but there are some guests that are just “difficult”. You can usually tell from the first phone call. They may demand answers to what seem like a million questions or call into question the innkeeper’s basic policies or ways of operating. But it’s not their fault. They aren’t trying to be difficult just to ruin our day. Coming to a B&B requires a leap of faith. You do need to give up control over many things that are basic to your day-to-day life, and that’s not always easy. The first thing to remember is that your innkeeper wants you to have a wonderful time at their B&B and they will go out of their way to ensure that, to a point. An inn’s policies may seem arbitrary from the outside looking in, but there are usually good reasons for them. Things like when you drink your first cup of coffee or what you eat for breakfast may have to be determined by the innkeeper. Your habit of an egg over easy every morning at 6AM may have to be broken if your B&B’s kitchen isn’t set up for short order cooking. On the plus side, you’re likely to trade that familiar breakfast for a two or three course gourmet treat served at 9AM! You may not be able to check into your room as soon as you arrive from out of town. Unlike a hotel, there may not be a “desk staff” that is there 24 hours. When you do check in, however, you’re likely to meet the owners in person and get advice on what to see and do in their town, as well as being personally welcomed into their home. You give to get.

Here are some things that you can do that will avoid head-butting with your hosts and make your stay an enjoyable and stress-free one.

Find out what an inn’s policies are. They are usually posted on the website and most B&Bs will include those policies in their reservation confirmation email.

Decide for yourself what you’re willing to give up control of and what you’re not, then shop around for an inn that can accommodate you. Some inns have multiple seatings for breakfast and others can’t do that. Some can take pets and others can’t. Don’t choose an inn that can’t possibly accommodate you and try to force them to make an exception for you. It’s akin to trying to change a spouse after the wedding. Better to pick one you like to begin with!

That being said, if you’re not sure how flexible a policy is, contact the B&B’s owners. Communication is the key! Some may offer an early continental breakfast for those who can’t stay for the larger meal and a phone call or email to the innkeeper can clarify that. This is also true for special diets. Most will do their best to accommodate dietary restrictions, but always check with them in advance. It may require the innkeeper to adapt the menu for the rest of their guests or to make a special trip to the store. If the website says check-in is between 4 and 6PM and you just can’t get out of work early enough to make that, give them a call. They may or may not be able to check you in later depending on the inn.

Check on-line reviews. If you’re afraid of being given an unfamiliar breakfast and all the reviews rave about the food it may make giving up control of that part a little easier. You can have faith that there will be something on the table you will like. Reviews can also give you a sense of how accommodating the innkeepers are and what to expect from the rooms.

Remember that the innkeeper is on your side! They really do want you to enjoy your visit.

innkeepers bill and emily

A Bed of Roses innkeepers, Emily and Bill

 

New Acquisitions at A Bed of Roses B&B – This is No Movie Set!

June 24th, 2012 by abedofroses

Tiffany Lamp

A Tiffany-style lamp shines in the window

Most of our guests probably think that the way a B&B looks, inside and out, is pretty much static, like a movie set. After all, there are all those photographs on the website. You might think an interior designer came in and Voila! Done! In actuality our inn is changing all of the time, and we’re pretty excited about some of the new changes! Serendipity has been busily at work for months now. A trip to see my sister last January led to a fun day in Salisbury and a great find in an antique shop. We weren’t looking for a wicker couch for the front porch but there it was! Of course, once we put it in place it needed a wicker chair, then a table, then new outdoor rugs with a nice blue patterned border, then another table….

Wicker furniture on the front porch

A new wicker couch led to more porch improvements

Our next shopping adventure came with an email and a new friend. Montford is a wonderful neighborhood to live in and we have a very active neighborhood association complete with an email list-serve. Lost dogs, Greenway clean-up notices, updates on the Montford Players Shakespeare Company all come through the list-serve along with public meeting notices and advice on roofers and window repair. A neighbor we had not met posted a notice that he was downsizing and needed to sell many belongings. When the list included French antiques our ears pricked up! Mario had moved from France via Philips Exeter Academy where he taught Spanish and French. He did indeed have a nice collection of French antiques, but not ones we could use. We did find two chairs with pressed leather seats that were perfect for the Turret Suite, though. After much debate and measuring we returned the next day.

Richly detailed carpet

Richly detailed Kashmar carpet

We decided that a Kashmar carpet would fit in the front parlor and add warmth and rich detail to the room. But I loved the carpet that was there already! What to do. More measuring and yes! It looks like it was always meant to be in the Turret Suite! Back to the parlor. All that rich detail was beautiful, but the floral patterned chair clashed painfully. Alas, Sasha had already shredded the corner of it, so it was history and a solid burgundy chair was put in its place.

And back to the Turret Suite…a window shade crashed down on the cut crystal table lamp, breaking it. There was no way to duplicate the lamp, but it turned into an opportunity to put a new Tiffany Lamp in its place that shines in the window visible from the street. Perfect. Then, while we were online searching for the broken lamp we found one that now graces our front table as well. Victorian ladies hold up a beaded shade and illuminates our guest book. Just like a movie set. Voila!

A Victorian lamp illuminates our guest book

Spring Tour of Inns- Great Food and Beautiful Flowers Benefit the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project

June 3rd, 2012 by abedofroses

Flowers blooming in the yard

Flowers at last year's April Tour of Inns

On Saturday June 9th we are welcoming the public into our inn as part of the Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association’s second annual spring tour of inns. Tour goers will have two days, Saturday and Sunday to visit 15 of our historic B&Bs and their gardens. At each inn, an area restaurant will provide samples of Asheville’s renowned local cuisine. A Bed of Roses is partnering with BOCA this year, one of our favorite places to eat. BOCA describes their cuisine as “Modern American with a Latin Flair” – we describe it as delicious!

A part of the proceeds of the tour will go to the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project  (ASAP) so the tour this year is really geared toward locally sourced foods prepared by the master chefs of our locally owned and operated restaurants. With gardens in full bloom It should be a treat for all of the senses!

Spring Tour 2011

Visitors learn the history of our B&B

We are proud to help support ASAP’s mission of promoting local food, increasing access to fresh healthy food and strengthening community farming.

Last year nearly 200 visitors came on the tour, all curious to see our historic properties up close. We really enjoyed sharing the history of our B&B and giving guests a chance to sample great local food. Asheville residents as well as out of town visitors all enjoyed the day and this tour promises to be even more fun!

Tickets are still available the day of the tour at any participating inn or at the Asheville Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center, 36 Montford Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801. They are $30 each or $50 per couple (cash or check only).

For more information visit The Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association’s new website at ashevillebba.com.

 

Outstanding Music and Art Makes the Montford Historic District Dance!

May 21st, 2012 by abedofroses

Dragon Dancers

The Dragon Dancers

The 9th Annual Montford Music & Arts Festival was a huge success this past Saturday. It was our biggest ever. Over 6,871 people came to the Festival! Bill and I got the rare opportunity to spend the whole afternoon listening to great music, chatting with neighbors and browsing all the colorful booths of art, one-of-a-kind clothing and local crafts and services. We even got to try out some acupuncture! The weather was perfect for strolling, the food was excellent- what more could we ask? We were only sorry that we could only stay to hear four of the sixteen bands that played on three different stages.

We heard everything from the traditional bluegrass of David Holt and the Lightning Bolts to the soul/funk/R&B of the Secret B Sides and the dreamy indescribably haunting sounds of The Judas Horse. It was a treat for the ears.

The Secret B Sides

The Secret B Sides Performed

Our own Montford Park Players were there as well, performing scenes from their current production of The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged). You’ve never seen Shakespeare performed quite like this! We can’t wait to see the whole performance when we get to sample our Montford Players VIP package ourselves. They let you actually get a walk on role in costume!

We were so impressed with the artwork this year. It’s not often that you see top quality fine arts at a street festival. Perry Houlditch was able to show us how his extraordinary paintings catch the sunlight and reveal the depth and radiance of his hand produced pigments.

Oil Painting by Perry Houlditch

Ond of Perry Houlditch's oils with handmade pigments

Cindy Riccardelli’s haunting dolls were on display as well. These are not dolls to play with. Each doll is a beautiful piece of art with it’s own personality and definite attitude!

The Dragon Dancers had everyone smiling as they snaked through the crowd and there were plenty of activities for the kids too.

We topped off the day with a relaxing lunch at Nine Mile. A perfect May afternoon in Asheville!

See more photos at our photo gallery!

 

 

A Bed of Roses Celebrates the Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association’s New Look!

May 6th, 2012 by abedofroses

Asheville Bed and Breakfast Association Logo

ABBA's new logo

On May 8th The Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association (ABBA) is unveiling a brand new look with a Ribbon Cutting to celebrate our exciting new Interactive Kiosk at the Asheville Visitor’s Center. A Bed of Roses is a proud member of ABBA and we’re excited about this event! Now you can walk up to a beautiful touch screen animation of our new logo and request information on any of our member inns, search for inns by location or amenities and even book a room right there! We’ve been busy creating a brand new website with a new logo that we’re unveiling at the same time and we at A Bed of Roses are so proud of all the people in this great organization that have worked hard to get this project off the ground.

The Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association consists of 16 member inns that come together to encourage visitors to experience Asheville from the welcoming home base of a B&B. It’s truly a “better way to stay” as the Professional Association of Innkeepers International has been saying with their campaign to educated the public to the exceptional experience that staying at a B&B affords.

Each and every inn in our organization has something different and exceptional to offer. An ABBA Inn may be a Queen Anne Victorian like ours, or an Arts & Crafts style home or a cabin nestled in the mountains. You can totally tailor your visit to Asheville to fit your style, your budget and your imagination by choosing an ABBA inn. You can call any of our inns or the ABBA main number and be assured that if they don’t have what you’re looking for they will help find an inn that does. We, as an organization make sure that all of our inns are of the highest quality so we can feel good about referring our guests to them.

ABBA, by operating as a group, can also offer special experiences and discounts for Asheville area activities. When you go to our new website you can visit our “Specials” page for opportunities available to ABBA inn guests only.

ABBA Ribbon Cutting Invitation

ABBA Ribbon Cutting Invitation

If you can’t join us at the Asheville Visitors Center, be sure to check out all the changes on our new website at http://ashevillebba.com!

Recipes from the Kitchen of A Bed of Roses B&B – A Cinco de Mayo Breakfast Egg Casserole

May 4th, 2012 by abedofroses

Eggs and jalapenos

Eggs and spicy chiles are a great combo

Start Cinco de Mayo off right with a delicious Breakfast Casserole with a Mexican flair! Just about every B&B has some version of this crust-less Mexican quiche and it’s easy to see why. It’s easy to make, easy to adapt to more or fewer guests, and it’s sure to please everyone. It starts out mild but you can spice it up to taste or add a spicy salsa on the side. I serve mine with a spicy apple salsa that combines sweet and spicy flavors for an unusual twist.

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 10 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups cottage cheese
  • 4 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 2 small cans of chopped green chiles
  • 1 diced jalapeno (optional)
  • 8 Tbs melted butter

Spicy Salsa:

  • 3 Granny Smith Apples
  • 1 red apple
  • 1 diced jalapeno
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1 Tbs jalapeno jelly or to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Combine the first 9 ingredients, eggs through butter, in a large bowl.
  3. Pour into a greased 9”x12” glass baking dish and sprinkle with paprika.
  4. Bake 40 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes and cut into 8 pieces.
  5. Combine salsa ingredients and serve alongside the eggs
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