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Archive for the ‘Inn and Innkeeper Activites’ Category

Innkeepers’ Secrets: Fresh Home-baked Cookies from Scratch in a Flash

June 21st, 2014 by abedofroses

Cookies for now and later too

Cookies for now and later too

Nothing beats warm cookies made from scratch the old fashioned way. But we’re all busy and sometimes it seems like too much trouble for just a few cookies. Innkeepers need to have fresh baked cookies available every day whether they have two guests or 14 guests and we can’t get away with anything but the best homemade recipes. Guests expect variety too! You can’t put out the same cookies all week. The way we do it is to make large batches, bake only the number of cookies we need and quick-freeze the extra dough in individual cookie portions.

Place the dough in a glass baking dish

Place the dough in a glass baking dish

The next time you need cookies you take only the number you need out of the freezer, let them defrost on the cookie sheet for a few minutes and bake. Instant cookies that taste just a delicious as they did the day you mixed up the dough!

A one-tablespoon ice cream style scooper is an invaluable tool for this job. Once you’ve scooped and placed the dough you’re baking today onto cookie sheets, scoop the rest of the dough into large glass baking dishes, just far enough apart that they don’t touch each other.

Pop the frozen cooked into a zip lock bag

Pop the frozen cooked into a zip lock bag

Put in the freezer for 30 minutes. Take them out of the freezer and with a little twist of the wrist you can take each cookie off of the baking dish and throw them into a large zip lock freezer bag. Return to the freezer until the next time you crave that home-baked goodness. We keep several different kinds of cookie in the freezer so we can change them every day or mix and match, so be sure to label the bags. Easy!

DOUGH in Asheville makes even baking Croissants a Success for the Home Cook!

April 15th, 2014 by abedofroses

Croissants ready to rest in the "Proof Box"

Croissants ready to rest in the “Proof Box”

I love to cook and I get plenty of practice making breakfast for our guests at A Bed of Roses, but the idea of baking croissants from scratch was pretty intimidating even for me! Pastry Chef Ali Caulfield at DOUGH in Asheville got me, along with a class of 10 or so other home bakers, over our fears this past week in a fun 2 day evening class. DOUGH is an innovative chef-owned market and bakery in North Asheville that also offers an ever-changing freshly made menu of sandwiches, salads and pizzas to eat there in the market or to take out. But the wonderful cooking classes and special events that they offer makes DOUGH totally unique, even for Asheville. Most classes are one-day courses, 2-3 hours each and include everything from cooking Thai or Moroccan food to making handmade pasta or mastering the art of the French Macaroon. They have some Parent-Child Pizza Workshops, too that look like a lot of fun. Even in our class we had a family. The parents and their two daughters have taken several classes at DOUGH and the girls did a wonderful job!

Chef Ali Caulfield demonstrates for the class

Chef Ali Caulfield demonstrates for the class

Lawyers, students, real estate agents, retired professionals and one nervous innkeeper all dug in to learn the art of baking croissants hands-on and the flour literally flew! I brought my camera the first night (go to our gallery to see the photos) and it was covered in white dust by the end of the class! Chef Ali took us through the steps one by one, demonstrating along the way with an angled mirror above her workspace that allowed all of us to see exactly what she was doing.

An angled mirror allowed everyone to see what the chef was demonstrating

An angled mirror allowed everyone to see what the chef was demonstrating

It’s the perfect way to learn! You get to see it in digestible chunks, then do it while the visual is still fresh in your memory. The chef is available to check it and make suggestions right away before you move to the next step. Having the right equipment is as important as proper technique. Once the dough has been mixed you need to pound the cold butter into a thin, 5-inch square with a French Roller*. You can just imagine what it looked like to see a room full of people hauling off and hitting big chunks of butter with wooden bats. It was quite a sight! Then the dough is wrapped around the butter into a packet, that is then folded, rolled out and folded again, four times in all, to get all those luscious layers of dough and butter.

The bright and airy cooking lab made for a relaxed atmosphere

The bright and airy cooking lab made for a relaxed atmosphere

The process involved letting the dough “rest” at various intervals in a “proof box”** and at the end of the first class our dough packets spent the night in the refrigerator before we continued the next day. But even the first night we got to learn and eat what you can do with left-over croissant dough. The cronut! Now there’s a sinful treat. By the end of the second class we each had a batch of beautiful golden croissants to take home with us along with a wonderful feeling of accomplishment, not to mention some new friends.

* A French Roller has no handles and is tapered at the ends.

** A “proof box” is a warm, humid place for your dough to rest. You can use your oven, set at 100° with a bowl of water at the bottom.

You don’t have to live here to enroll in classes at DOUGH. Check out their calendar and get a real taste of Asheville while you’re here visiting! And don’t forget to check out my finished croissants in our photo gallery. They were to die for, if I must say so myself! Yum.

 

A New Year’s Retrospective of 2013 from the Pens of Our Guests

January 10th, 2014 by abedofroses

Online reviews are wonderful- there’s no better way of getting the word out there about a place you love (or not!). But the things guests write in our guest books are so much more personal and expressive! We don’t get a chance to read them every day, but how rewarding it is when we do! They share not only their feelings about their stay at A Bed of Roses, but what’s happening in their lives- their new marriage, their baby coming, their travels and the new places they discovered in Asheville. And the hand drawn illustrations are the best! Here are a few of our favorites from 2013.

We love the little drawings!

We love the little drawings!

April 1, 2013

Our first trip to the cool city of Asheville was made perfect by our gracious hosts Bill & Emily. They love what they do and it shows! We enjoyed downtown, (especially Jack of the Wood pub) and our travels and hiking through the Blue Ridge Parkway (do hike the Frying Pan Tower!) We will definitely be back!

Joel and Andrea

Fort Wayne IN

10-14-13

Recipe for a perfect day in Asheville:

  1. Wake up in a lovely room. Enhance your shower with plushy towels and a chic robe.
  2. Ease into the morning with hot coffee on the porch. Breath deeply. Relax.
  3. Get fueled for the day with a large and sumptuous breakfast by Emily & Bill Stir in some stimulating conversation.
  4. Add a hike along the Laurel River and a drive through Autumn Splendor on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  5. Return for a short nap, with Fall air drifting through the windows (after a cookie!)
  6. Enjoy a famously succulent dinner at the Grove Park Inn – world class tastes & view.
  7. Come home to the SWEETEST B&B in Asheville.
  8. Turn out the lights and dream about tomorrow’s breakfast!

Thanks, Emily & Bill for your TLC! Blessings!

Cathy & Rusty

Olympia Washington

People come from all over the world to experience Asheville.

People come from all over the world to experience Asheville.

Dec 2013

We came to Asheville for our last couples getaway before we have our first child in April. Emily and Bill provided a warm atmosphere and a lovely home for us to enjoyl I am sad to be leaving behind the cozy Carolyn Gray room and Emily’s amazing breakfasts! Thank you for everything!

Zack and Taylor

April 2013

We had a wonderful stay high up in the cozy “nest” with the best breakfasts, very delicious and creative*, we had yet during our 7 weeks travel through the Eastern U.S. Emily and Bill are wonderful hosts. Thank you very much.

Barbara and Wolf

Athens, Greece

*not to forget with beautiful Baroque music

 

The brief message and the wonderful little sketch made this one like a Haiku poem.

The brief message and the wonderful little sketch made this one like a Haiku poem.

November 5th 2013

Beautiful house and

beautiful hosts.

Delicious breakfasts.

 

 

 

Dec 2013

As a honeymooning couple, we needed a cozy retreat to relax and spend time together. Emily & Bill provided us (along with the help of Judith & the cats) with the most perfect spot to spend our first days together as a married couple. They provided the most caring and heartfelt service and we were blessed with the hospitality! We will try to take on their sweet tradition of a candlelit dinner together in our married days to come! Thank you for everything!

Blessings,

Raj & Sara

PS Breakfast was superb!

May 2-13

We came to A Bed of Roses to celebrate our first year of marriage. This was our first time experience staying at a bed and breakfast and our standards are now set HIGH. Emily and Bill are such lovely hosts and know how to make your Asheville experience incredible. Ensure you attend breakfast EVERY morning to enjoy their sensational breakfast creations!

Ben and Kara

And thank you to all of our guests for making this another exceptional year at A Bed of Roses! This is why we love this job!

Emily & Bill

Owners/Innkeepers

A Bed of Roses

 

 

 

Tree Falls on Owner’s Quarters: This Innkeeper is Counting Her Blessings This New Year’s Day

January 1st, 2013 by abedofroses

Tree Damage_0003

A large tree fell on our owner’s quarters

The deafeningly loud crash and flash of light that woke us from our sleep in the middle of Christmas night was definitely not Santa and his sleigh landing on the roof! High winds and rain conspired with insects that had done their damage hidden from view to crack a giant pine tree in our neighbor’s yard and hurl it across the alley onto the roof over our bed. Miraculously the power lines behind our owner’s quarters broke the fall so that only a large branch punctured our roof rather than the entire tree trunk. Stunned and groggy from an abbreviated night’s sleep we ventured out into the rain to find out what happened and take stock of the damage. It was almost 5AM by that time and we had a house full of guests to serve breakfast to. So with half the power out we lit candles, figured out what was working and what wasn’t and came up with a plan for breakfast for 8 over the stove that didn’t require the ovens. This was a first- cooking by the light of a flashlight! We managed to pull it off before the power company shut us down completely to remove the tree. Electricians, appliance repair people, insurance adjusters and roofers are still being dealt with, but we’re back in full operation and incredibly grateful to be alive. After a season of things breaking, a sick kitty that has required a months worth of treatment on the heels of Bill’s October hospitalization it would be easy to get overwhelmed and feel like life is just responding to one crisis after another. I must admit I indulged in a bit of self-pity. But this New Year’s Eve we chose to take stock of all of the challenges we did meet and all the things we accomplished this year. We truly have had a great year.

Antique sconces now light up our goodies

Antique sconces now light up our goodies

Besides meeting the challenges of breakfast under duress the other day and operating the inn with one innkeeper down in October, we’ve met all of our little challenges with success as well. A broken CD player that I put totally out of its misery when it tried to steal my favorite Christmas CDs, pushed us to finally go digital with our sound system for the inn. I had always wanted to find the time to research systems and hook the sound up to our computer, but now I was forced to do it! I couldn’t be happier with our new Sonos system, operating by WiFi to wireless speakers. Business has been up since last year too. December was our busiest yet with lots and lots of people taking advantage of our Biltmore Candlelight Evening Package. This past year I was elected to the Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association Executive Committee  (ABBA) as Secretary, a post I’ve been enjoying and have just been re-elected to. After numerous production delays, we finally succeeded in replacing all of our robes at the inn with new, plush hunter green ones. Table and bed linens have been upgraded and we’ve added a “new” antique carpet and comfy chair to the parlor as well as a reproduction Victorian lamp to the foyer. We upgraded the Turret Suite, changing the carpet and adding a Tiffany lamp and 2 antique chairs. We painted and got new wicker furniture for our cozy front porch as well (see our improvements!) We started the year off by lighting up the kitchen! We added several recessed lights to brighten up our work-space and installed the antique sconces that we brought with us from Boston over the antique buffet where we serve afternoon tea and goodies. And we ended the year with a beautiful and incredibly life-like new 9 foot Christmas Tree from Balsam Hill to match the outstanding garlands we got from them last year. We definitely dressed up the inn for the holidays! As we go into the New Year we hired painters come in this week and re-paint all the guest rooms. We just chose new plush carpeting that will then be installed in the Oliver Davis and Carolyn Gray rooms. And then we will take a well-deserved vacation in St. Martin! We look forward to returning rested and so gratefully alive to a freshly painted and improved inn to start the season again. Happy New Year!

Autumn Colors in Asheville – Saying Goodbye to October in the Mountains of Western North Carolina

November 5th, 2012 by abedofroses

Autumn Leaves on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Late Autumn Leaves on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The colors have become more muted around Asheville, with tones or rust and gold, but the mountains never cease to be breathtaking. As innkeepers, we are often too busy in October to get out to see the peak fall colors, but we managed to get away last week to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Mount Pisgah to see the last colors before the leaves fall and we begin to busy ourselves with Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations. We began the drive with the Folk Art Center. We can never resist a stroll through the galleries of traditional and modern local crafts and fine art. From there we headed south, where the colors brightened.

The French Broad River in late Fall

The French Broad River

Late autumn has it’s own charms. The woods are less impenetrable with fewer leaves allowing you to see deep into them and appreciate the topography of the land. As we climbed we first were treated to views of the French Broad River and then overlook after overlook of mountain views and rich color. A partly cloudy day is often a more interesting time to visit the mountains than a sunny one. The skies and the hillsides become more dramatic.

Late Fall Foliage in the Mountains

Climbing toward Mt. Pisgah

As we got to the top of Mount Pisgah we found ourselves in the clouds winding through the tunnels as the fog rolled around us. At that elevation with the cold snap we were having last week I was a little nervous about snow, but we were lucky and the sun shone as we descended the other side. We circled around through the Pisgah National Forest past the Cradle of Forestry and stopped at Looking Glass Falls before heading home. It was a lovely afternoon.

Looking Glass Falls

Looking Glass Falls

So now the pumpkin has been carved, the trick-or treaters (169 of them!) have come and gone and Thanksgiving is almost here.

The temperature has warmed up again in the afternoons dipping down to the high 30s at night and the leaves are holding their own. It’s not quite time to say goodbye to them yet! By then Christmas will almost be here. The Biltmore Estate has already put up the 35 foot Christmas Tree and their Candlelight Evening tours start in just a few days!

 

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

A Relaxing Day Trip to Black Mountain- The Front Porch of Western North Carolina

March 5th, 2012 by abedofroses

Black Mountain General Store

Downtown Black Mountain nestled in the mountains

Just 15 miles from Asheville is the quaint town of Black Mountain, nestled in the mountains and overflowing with charm. That small town feeling makes for a relaxing day trip of hiking, shopping or enjoying a leisurely lunch at one of their restaurants or cafés. We did just that the other day and took in the beautiful mountain views on the quick drive into town. With a history steeped in the arts, Black Mountain has lots of art & craft galleries to browse through as well as artists studios and unique gift stores. From the 1930s until the 1950s Black Mountain College brought the focus of American culture and arts to the mountains of North Carolina with a dazzling array of artists and thinkers associated with the college. John Cage and Buckminster Fuller taught there and Albert Einstein served on the board of directors to mention just a few. Fuller’s Geodesic Dome was created there.

Mountain Dulcimer Players

Instruction on the Mountain Dulcimer at Song of the Wood

Black Mountain is still a hub of creativity in a peaceful, slow paced way. I could have stayed all afternoon in the dulcimer showroom and workshop where Terry Read Smith crafts beautiful instruments. I particularly loved his richly toned and intricately carved hammered dulcimers. His sister was demonstrating and instructing a customer on a mountain dulcimer at the time and I couldn’t leave without buying one of Terry’s own CDs. Their shop is aptly called Song of the Wood.

Antique stores and gift shops drew us in as well, and we couldn’t miss the old fashioned general store. It was almost warm enough to eat on the lovely patio at the Black Mountain Bistro. Instead we lingered over lunch within a glassed-in area of the restaurant that gave us the views and feel of the patio.

Black Mountain's Lake Tomahawk

The Fountain at Lake Tomahawk

After lunch we explored the neighborhoods, admiring some of the older homes, (our weakness!). We’ve always been hooked on Victorian and Arts & Crafts architecture. We took a lovely stroll around Lake Tomahawk before heading home. All in all, a relaxing getaway for a few hours.

If you go, don’t forget the Black Mountain Music Scene as well. In addition to outdoor festivals such as the Lake Eden Arts Festival, Groovin on Grovemont, Park Rythyms at Lake Tomahawk, the local clubs offer a wide range of live music drawing fans from around the area.

You can find more photos of Black Mountain in our photo gallery.

 

Where do innkeepers stay when they go on vacation? A Better Way to Stay!*

February 6th, 2012 by abedofroses

Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea surrounded our little deck

Staying at B&Bs over the years was a key factor in our deciding to become innkeepers, but we also love going to the Caribbean for a winter break. Hotels and time-shares are the norm on island vacations and something a little different takes time and a little research to discover. We just returned from a relaxing, idyllic trip to St. Martin and we found a place this year that offered the more personal touch we look forward to in our B&B stays. Françoise and Yves Hamel-Camaïeu live on the French side of the island in the Cul de Sac, a remote corner of the island. After winding your way up and down hills and around corners, with glimpses of mountains plunging to the ocean between roofs, you come to their home at the end of the road.

The Bay at the Cul de Sac

The Bay at the French Cul de Sac

They rent only one studio out of their house and you are greeted at the gate by their dog “Moose” and Moses the cat. Françoise leads you to around the side of the house to your private little deck surrounded by a white picket fence and dripping with Bougainvillea. The newly renovated apartment is ultra modern inside and dotted with bright, bold island oil paintings. The couple frame art and run a gallery in Marigot. Although breakfast is not included, like it is at a bed and breakfast, Françoise did leave us a fresh baguette, with little ramequins of apple butter and jam, 2 eggs and some slices of watermelon for our first breakfast on the island. Breakfast on the deck every morning was a delight. A little pot of sugar hanging from a tree drew bright yellow sugar birds to our breakfast nook every day. The little birds were busy constructing a nest of island cotton and twigs in the Bougainvillea above the clothes line. Only the beach could lure us away from our little retreat! That, and the wonderful French restaurants. Next year we hope to spend more time with our charming hosts!

Birds feeding

A Sugar bird and friend visit us for breakfast

 

*A Better Way to Stay is the Professional Association of Innkeepers International campaign to educate the public about the benefits of staying at B&Bs and inns when traveling for pleasure or for business.

 

The Waterfalls of Western North Carolina: First of a Series

September 24th, 2011 by abedofroses

Chimney Rock Hickory Nut Falls

Hickory Nut Falls at Chimney Rock

The Tour de Falls is today and tomorrow, September 24th and 25th!  Western North Carolina’s geography makes it treasure trove of awe-inspiring waterfalls and this tour looks like a good start to appreciating them all. The Tour de Falls is a 12 mile shuttle bus tour of DuPont Forest’s most popular falls. They will tour Triple Falls, High Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Lake Julia. Friends of DuPont Forest are putting this on and no reservations are required. Just show up in the parking area near 1300 Staton Road, Cedar Mountain, NC. Buses will leave at regular intervals between 9AM and 2:30PM. There’s still time to catch the tour tomorrow!

But the Tour de Falls highlights are just the beginning of the waterfalls our area has to offer! Transylvania County, the “Land of Waterfalls”, is a short drive from Asheville. Within the county waterfalls can be found in the Pisgah National Forest, DuPont State Forest and Gorges State Park. Chimney Rock, 25 miles from Asheville in Rutherford County is also home to 404-foot Hickory Nut Falls.

Hickory Nut Falls from below

Hickory Nut Falls from below

Bill and I are on a quest to visit them all and we’ll be sharing our photos with you! We started our quest at Chimney Rock a few weeks ago, a short day trip from Asheville. The hike to Hickory Nut Falls was an easy walk through the woods, with lots of interesting exposed tree roots along the way, the result of natural erosion. You can hear the falls long before you can see them, heightening your anticipation. Our visit came at the end of a dry, hot summer and when we finally got to our destination the volume of water coming over the rocks was less than expected, but the falls were still very impressive. There is something so peaceful about the sounds of a waterfall. Portions of the movie “Last of the Mohicans” were filmed at Chimney Rock and you may recognize this lovely spot from the movie.

Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock

The added bonus of coming to see this waterfall is that you get to see Chimney Rock itself and the spectacular views of Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure from the top. The elevator is temporarily out of service, so be forewarned, there are about 500 steps to get to the top of the rock! We preferred to hike the trails and enjoy the views from the base of the rock.

Last week we continued the search in the Pisgah National Forest with a short stop in nearby Brevard. Our next in the Waterfall series will highlight the Falls there!

See our Photo Gallery for more photos of Chimney Rock and Hickory Nut Falls.

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