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Archive for the ‘Seasons at A Bed of Roses’ Category

Recipes from the Kitchen of A Bed of Roses- Chocolate Thumbprint Christmas Cookies

December 21st, 2016 by abedofroses

cookies with chocolate middles

These will go quickly!

It’s time to bake Christmas cookies! These little gems are baked from a favorite family recipe that my sister Marianne passed along to me. We double this recipe to bake enough each year to give as gifts. They are highly prized favorites in our house! We pack them into holiday cookie tins along with our Swedish Spice cookie cutter cookies and cinnamon and nut filled horns of plenty. They are baked first and cooled before making the melted chocolate drops for the middle. You can make the dough ahead of time too. Just roll the dough into balls and place in a single layer on a glass baking dish.  Put in the freezer for 1/2 hour, then drop into a zip lock bag and return to the freezer. You can later defrost as many as you like. Just bake and spoon the melted chocolate into the thumbprint so they’ll be fresh and yummy for your guests!

For the cookies:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp real vanilla, like Madagascar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 Tbs milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped semisweet chocolate
  • Confectioner’s sugar

For the chocolate filling in the middle:

  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate
  • 1 Tbs. shortening
  • 2 Tbs. white corn syrup
  • 1 Tbs. water
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla



  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Beat butter, salt, vanilla and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Blend in flour, milk and chopped chocolate.
  4. Roll into balls, about 1 Tbs. each, and place on a cookie sheet. Press thumb in the middle of each to form a depression for the filling.
  5. Bake 10-12 minutes.
  6. Let cool slightly then roll each cookie in confectioner’s sugar. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare filling:

  1. Melt chocolate in a double boiler with the shortening, stirring frequently.
  2. Cool slightly, add corn syrup, water and vanilla.
  3. Spoon into the center of each cookie.

Springtime in Asheville- Our Top Ways to Make the Most of Spring in the Mountains

March 24th, 2016 by abedofroses

Magnolias in bloom

Magnolias in bloom

My number 1 favorite thing about Asheville- Springtime!

Spring here in the western North Carolina Mountains is long and glorious. It is my favorite time of year. The afternoon sun is warm and the mornings are crisp. Everything is starting to bud and a fresh green gradually spreads over the hillsides. It’s the perfect time to see the mountain landscapes, before the leaves on the trees are so large as to obscure your view. First are the Lenten Rose Hellebores popping up through last Fall’s leaves as soon as the days begin to warm.

The Lenten Rose

The Lenten Rose

Then the flowering trees blossom in colorful waves, from Magnolias to Redbuds to Bradford Pears to all varieties of Cherry. Soon will come the dogwoods and azaleas. The spring festivals and events have already started too and there’s so much to do this time of year in and around Asheville. Here are some ways to enjoy the mountain spring in and around Asheville.

  1. The Biltmore Gardens

    The Biltmore Gardens

    Biltmore Blooms! This festival of flowers started March 19th and runs through the end of May. The meticulously tended formal gardens of America’s largest home are a delight to visit, even if the magnificent Biltmore Estate and winery were not over the top enough!



A Bradford Pear Tree in Bloom

A Bradford Pear Tree in Bloom

Take a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway! This scenic drive literally wraps around the city of Asheville. Part of the National Park system, it winds 469 miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains and the wide range of elevations, just in the Asheville area alone, means that a rich variety of flowering trees and bushes can be found throughout the Spring and Summer. A guide to when and where to find peak blooms can be found at the Blue Ridge Parkway Association. Or you can call (828) 298-0398 and select option 7 for the up to date local wildflower report. The Blue Ridge Parkway is well known for it’s Flame Azaleas, Catawba Rhododendron’s and Mountain Laurels.

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms

Attend one of the many Floral Festivals happening this Spring in and around Asheville! The Asheville Orchid Festival is April 15-17th. Sponsored by the Western North Carolina Orchid Society, this is a judged show held in the Education Center at the NC Arboretum. They are also hosting the Rhododendron & Azalea Flower Show April 30th to May 1st. Along Bent Creek you will find the amazing collection of the National Azalea Repository!

The View from Our Front Porch

The View from Our Front Porch

There are plenty of other Festivals going on as well, from the Photo + Craft Festival March 31st, to the Appalachian Trail Founder’s Bridge Festival Saturday, April 9, 2016 or the Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest April 24th.

Or you can just enjoy sitting on the front porch at A Bed of Roses Bed & Breakfast, sipping a lemonade and taking in the scenery in our rose garden!

The History Behind Our Beloved Holiday Traditions and the Best Ways to Celebrate them in Asheville: Part 1- The Christmas Tree.

December 4th, 2014 by abedofroses

Christmas at A Bed of Roses

Christmas at A Bed of Roses

T’is the season! We love Christmastime and all the trappings, decorating the tree, singing carols, eating holiday goodies, kissing under the mistletoe, exchanging gifts with our loved ones. But what is behind the traditions we hold so dear? Many of them were popularized during the Victorian era, the period in which our inn, A Bed of Roses, was built. Many started much earlier.

Evergreens have always held special meaning for ancient inhabitants of northern climates, and many believed that they keep away illness, witches and evil spirits.  Christians in Germany first adapted these “pagan” practices into their religious traditions by decorating an evergreen tree and bringing it inside. Although the Christmas tree has been a German tradition as early as the 16th century, Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, introduced the custom to the royal family in 1841 and a tinted etching of the decorated tree was published in the Illustrated London News, causing Christmas trees to be all the rage in Victorian England. They decorated the live trees with lighted candles (do not do this!), ribbons, paper chains, fruit and candies. The fashion conscious American East Coast Society quickly followed suit.

The Christmas Tree in the Grand Banquet Hall at the Biltmore Estate

The Christmas Tree in the Grand Banquet Hall at the Biltmore Estate

While Europeans decorated small trees, Americans, of course, went for the biggest, floor to ceiling trees. In Asheville, the grand Biltmore Estate demonstrates this passion for the biggest and most elaborate Christmas trees. George Vanderbilt first opened the Biltmore House to friends and family on Christmas Eve 1895 and Christmastime has been celebrated there in grand style ever since. The mansion is filled with dozens of uniquely decorated trees, but the most impressive is a 35 foot tall fraser fir that has been raised in the Grand Banquet Hall, ablaze with lights. The most magical and romantic time to see the impressive display of trees and decorations is during the Biltmore Candlelight Evenings. All the fireplaces are aglow as carolers and musicians play throughout the house guiding you from one spectacular holiday scene to another. A Bed of Roses offers several Biltmore Candlelight Evening Packages, customized to let you choose your special holiday experience.

Stay tuned for more holiday traditions and the joyous ways we celebrate them here in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Happy Holidays from Our Home to Yours

Happy Holidays from Our Home to Yours

What a Glorious May at A Bed of Roses- Where to See Spring Flowers in Asheville

May 25th, 2014 by abedofroses

Our Gardens this May

Our Gardens this May

May was a glorious month in Western North Carolina. It’s hard to believe Memorial Day is already here and in Asheville the spring bulbs are giving way to roses in abundance. The gardens at the Biltmore Estate have a fabulous display that you shouldn’t miss.  The Biltmore International Rose Trials competition was just held on May 24th. Twelve categories of roses were judged this year coming from breeders in Canada, France Ireland, Germany, and the UK as well as from the US. The roses were planted in the historic gardens two years ago and cared for by their expert horticulturalists in anticipation of this day. Our own rose garden displays an example of an heirloom variety rose bush from the Biltmore greenhouses, a memento from a lovely past guest.

A Bed of Roses Front Porch overlooks the Rose Gardens

A Bed of Roses Front Porch overlooks the Rose Gardens

All of Asheville is filled with beautiful gardens this time of year. Don’t miss the beautiful gardens and fascinating displays at the North Carolina Arboretum while you’re in Asheville this Spring and Summer. They are located within the Bent Creek Experimental Forest of the Pisgah National Forest just southwest of downtown Asheville and a stone’s throw from the Blue Ridge Parkway.  They hosted the Asheville-Blue Ridge Rose Society Exhibition May 24th and 25th.  They also have a wonderful Bonzai collection and woodland trails.

Trillium at the Asheville Botanical Gardens

Trillium at the Asheville Botanical Gardens

And for native plant gardens The Botanical Gardens at Asheville located adjacent to the UNC Asheville campus offers beautiful wooded trails dotted with native flowers and plants, with informative labels. They are run by an independent non-profit organization and include a wide collection of plants native to the Southern Appalachian Mountains. These Gardens are walking distance from A Bed of Roses along a soon to be completed Greenway, The Reed Creek Greenway.

You can also enjoy abundant flowers in right in our own neighborhood. The historic Montford District is a wonderful place to stroll and take in the carefully tended gardens. See our photo gallery to see how truly glorious May has been in our own gardens at A Bed of Roses. You can even see our newly planted kitchen garden where we hope to harvest lots of fresh herbs and luscious vegetables for our  gourmet breakfasts this Spring and Summer.

Spring is Officially Here! April in Asheville.

April 7th, 2014 by abedofroses

Magnolia blossoms

Magnolia blossoms

The Cherry Blossoms and the Bradford Pear trees are in full bloom, but the real sign of Spring in this city tucked in the mountains is the first Drum Circle of the season!  This past weekend kicked off the Spring Season in Asheville with the first Drum Circle on Friday night in Pritchard Park and the season’s first Downtown Asheville Art Walk. Biltmore Blooms is already in full swing as well, as more and more of those flowering bulbs are filling the gardens of America’s Largest Home. This week also marked the opening of the North Asheville Tailgait Market at UNC, a long awaited harbinger of good eating ahead. Before you know it every weekend will be hosting a street festival with live music, art and great local food. After a cold cold winter across the country we’re all ready for that!

Pritchard Park Drum Circle

The Drum Circle in Pritchard Park

The Drum Circle is a must-see tradition in Asheville that will get you moving! Every Friday night dozens of drummers come together at little Pritchard Park in the heart of downtown and all kinds gather to dance, tap and enjoy the rhythm that you can literally feel from blocks away! Great people watching too!

Glass hands

Meditation in Pink by John Littleton & Kate Vogel at the Blue Spiral Gallery

Asheville is a mecca of artists and crafts people. Another Friday evening tradition takes place on the first Friday of every month from April until December. More than 20 downtown galleries, studios and museums host the Downtown Asheville Art Walk from 5-8PM. All are within a half mile radius so you can take a leisurely stroll and see why Asheville is called the “Paris of the South”. Many serve up light hors d’oeuvres with their art to wet your appetite for one of the myriad of independent local restaurants that will dot your path.

Asheville is also known for keeping it local. Our excellent independent restaurants stress fresh farm to table cuisine and with over 17 local tailgait markets we all can share that local flavor. Our favorite is the North Asheville Tailgait on the UNC campus. In a lovely shaded setting, the market is a social gathering place as well, with live local music, crafts and baked goods along with the farm fresh food. You’ll find local cheese makers, jams and sauces, even hot foods and native plants for sale.

farmers market

The North Asheville Tailgate Market

Spring in the mountains is truly a special time.

Ready or Not Here Comes Santa! Christmas in Asheville

November 21st, 2012 by abedofroses

Santa and his wife

Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive at the Asheville Holiday Parade

The Biltmore Estate Candlelight tours have begun, Asheville held its Holiday Parade this past Saturday and the Grove Park Inn’s Gingerbread Competition winners have just gone on display. In spite of my stubborn reluctance to even think about Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving, I can’t help but start to give in to the excitement surrounding the holidays. The Christmas season is here, like or not, and I absolutely love this time of year. There’s something magical about the decorations and the music, the parties and even the shopping. Downtown Asheville has a holiday shop window competition that brings out everyone’s creativity and helps get you into the spirit.

Snowman at the Spa

Mr Snowman at the Spa

Sensibilities Spa won the competition with their clever snow-people enjoying the spa treatment, complete with a snow ancestor portrait above the fireplace! The holiday parade was quite an extravaganza with innumerable floats, performers, marching bands playing holiday music and our own Olympic silver medalists, Lauren Tamayo and Manteo Mitchell serving as Grand Marshals of the parade. Santa was the last to arrive with his entourage of festooned live llamas, bobbing Christmas-tree characters, and dancing reindeer people. Families camped out along the parade route and excited children darted into the street to catch a glimpse of what was coming.

Kids at the Asheville Holiday Parade

The cutest float at the Holiday Parade

It was great family fun. The Gingerbread Competition winners are always amazing to see and it gives you an excuse to enjoy the outstanding Arts & Crafts Architecture and original mission furniture of the Grove Park Inn. These are not run-of-the mill gingerbread houses. They are amazing edible sculptures and the bakers come from as far away as Massachusetts to compete. There are no less than 6 productions of The Nutcracker or variations thereof in Asheville this year. They range from the Asheville Puppetry Alliance’s “In the Nutcracker Mood”, featuring holiday music, to a modern interpretation with all dance and no singing or speaking at the Flatrock Playhouse and Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre‘s “The Return of the Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” a surreal, imaginative telling of “The Nutcracker”. And of course, the Asheville Ballet will perform the full original ballet from Imperial Russia.

Biltmore at Christmas

The Biltmore Library at Christmas

There will be choral performances and parties as well, but nothing can compete with the Grand Biltmore Estate in full Christmas regalia. By candlelight, with harpists playing and choirs singing in the Conservatory, the myriad of trees sparkle even brighter. My own 9 foot Christmas tree has arrived from Balsam Hill trees and it’s all I can do to keep from setting it up now. Right after Thanksgiving it’s going up! Happy Holidays!

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!


A Christmas Wedding at A Bed of Roses

December 25th, 2011 by abedofroses

Tiered stand of Cupcakes

Sisters McMullen Wedding Cupcakes

We’ve just had our first Christmastime Wedding at the inn! It was a lovely event and we’re so proud that the newlyweds, Sherry and Richard chose A Bed of Roses for such an important occasion. For three days we became their family headquarters as they prepared for the special day. Although they live in Texas, they have family in Asheville so their days were filled with visiting and soaking up the local holiday attractions with their family and friends, from the Spa at the Grove Park Inn to the Christmas decorations at the Biltmore Estate. The Red Stag Grill was the setting for the wedding party dinner the night before. Located in the Grand Bohemian Hotel, just outside the entrance to the Biltmore Estate, the Red Stag is a wonderful choice. The design of the grand lobby and restaurant is meant to emulate how the Biltmores might have appointed their family hunting lodge. The morning of the wedding was busy with spa appointments at the Grove Park Inn, where the international gingerbread competition winners are still displayed, and hair appointments. The inn was all decorated for the holidays and we rearranged furniture, sparkling poinsettias and flowers to ready a space in front of the fireplace for the ceremony. The dining room was laid out with a red holiday tablecloth topped in lace on which Everyday Gourmet spread a beautiful array of food in preparation for the reception.

Exchanging wedding rings

Exchanging of the wedding rings

Suddenly it was time for the ceremony! The bride descended the garlanded front staircase from the Turret Suite in a sleeveless white satin gown with train and a bouquet of red roses as cameras flashed. The wedding party was in red and black for the holidays. The bride took her place next to a tuxedoed Richard and Rev. Suzy Green began the ceremony with heartfelt readings and lovely vows. They included a wonderful Celtic tradition in the ceremony called handfasting, that involved tying the bride and grooms hands together with a white satin ribbons. After the ceremony, with the formal photographs all taken the celebration began! In another sweet twist, the bride and groom chose a tiered stand of delicious McMullen Sisters cupcakes instead of a traditional wedding cake (see photo top left), but that didn’t stop them from keeping to tradition and feeding each other cupcakes!

We feel so honored to have been a small part of this wonderful family’s special occasion.

Wedding Party

A Family Christmas Wedding

Christmastime at A Bed of Roses

December 13th, 2011 by abedofroses

Sasha under the tree

Sasha loves to sit under the tree

Last year was our first Christmas at the inn and it was a White Christmas straight out of the storybooks. The snow was gently falling all Christmas day. We had closed the inn and moved into the Revell Room, our favorite, with the cats until Monday. Snug in the house making Beef Wellington (for the first time) for Christmas dinner, we relished that quiet peaceful time. For me, Christmastime has always been special and magic. I love the decorations and the lights, the sparkle and the lush opulence of Christmas. I get to be creative, adding ribbons and lights and greens to every nook I can find. Every year comes out a little bit different. This year we found great new garlands from Balsam Hill to drape outside along the porch and the balcony as well as inside up the stairway.

Christmas Tree in the Foyer

The decorated foyer

My sisters helped me decorate the tree with ornaments Bill and I have collected over the years. Some I had even before meeting Bill, like the Byzantine Star that tops the tree, and they all have special memories attached. I enjoy finding that special gift that’s perfect for a friend or family member, but it’s not about presents for me. It’s all about creating the magic of the holiday in our home and in our hearts.

Asheville has so many magical things to do over the holidays too. We spent the afternoon touring the National Gingerbread Competition winners displayed at the Grove Park Inn. The Montford Players are performing A Christmas Carol, and last weekend Biltmore Village hosted a Dickens Festival with performers roaming the historic streets and shopkeepers dressed in Victorian garb. The Biltmore Candlelight Evenings are a special treat that we got to enjoy last Christmas. Seeing the magnificent estate filled with ornately decorated trees, totally decked out for the holidays, by candlelight and accompanied by live celestial music is dazzling and entrancing.

This year, instead of closing the inn, we’re sharing our snug Christmastime Getaway with a house full of guests! We’re having a Christmas Wedding at A Bed of Roses! We’re all very excited. What could be more magical and romantic than a Christmas Wedding!

Decorations from outside

Our front window decorated with stars

Visit our photo gallery for more photographs of A Bed of Roses in her full holiday regalia.


A Halloween Stroll Through the Historic Riverside Cemetery

October 30th, 2011 by abedofroses

Riverside Cemetery View

The rolling hills of the Riverside Cemetery

In the heart of the Montford Historic District is 87 acres of rolling hills and parkland dotted with monuments to Asheville’s most illustrious residents.  What more fitting place to take a walk on this Halloween weekend than a cemetery! This easy hike through the tombstones is anything but scary, though! The hillsides are filled with beautiful trees and shrubs, lovely views and grave markers and mausoleums that are beautiful and fascinating sculptures as well as tributes to the dead. The historic Riverside Cemetery was established in the summer of 1885 and remains an active cemetery run by the city of Asheville since the 1950s.

The list of notable residents of the cemetery is long and includes famous authors Thomas Wolfe and William Sydney Porter, known by his pen name O. Henry, as well as a bodyguard to Abraham Lincoln, James H. Posey and Queen Carson, Asheville’s first female public school principal. They share the lovely shaded hills with Confederate generals and prominent citizens. Oliver Davis Revell, the entrepreneur who built the Queen Anne Victorian that is now A Bed of Roses B&B, occupies a prominent spot accompanied by his wife the former Caroline Gray.

Even though the cemetery was started in the Victorian period, the oldest tombstone is dated 1814 and marks the grave of John Lyon, a famous English botanist who lived here for many years and collected rare plants to ship to English gardens. His grave was moved three times until finding it’s final resting place in Riverside Cemetery. Several other graves were removed from previous burial grounds and reinterred at Riverside.

Stained glass window in mausoleum

The stained glass inside a mausoleum

On a recent beautiful fall day I took a walk there with my camera. The photos can be seen in our photo gallery. I’ve always been particularly fascinated with mausoleums and there are several impressive ones at Riverside. Peering through their gates you can see the intricate stained glass windows designed to be illuminated from the outside and viewed only by the mausoleum’s inhabitants.

Detail of a carved mausoleum door

Detail of a carving on a mausoleum door

The door of one notable mausoleum is a striking and elegant sculpture in itself. The Green mausoleum, made entirely of marble is the work of a craftsman involved in the construction of the Biltmore Estate. A stone carver for the Biltmore, Fred Miles, carved the Buchanan family’s angel from limestone left over from the construction of the Biltmore Estate.

Audio tours of the historic cemetery are available on CD at the Asheville Visitors center or the Pack Place Information Desk on Pack Square. Asheville Historic Tours has also released an iPhone ap to allow visitors to tour the cemetery guided by their iPhones! It is available at the App Store or iTunes. The virtual tour can also be downloaded as an MP3 file at www.history-at-hand.com.