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February Woes

     While I'd have to say I'm a pretty darn positive person  but I must admit February is a challenge, especially with the cold weather for so long. It is easy to focus on the weather and lack of life growing outside.  Oh gosh, and I'm tired of hearing the furnace run - whoa, regroup - thank God the furnace is running. 
     It's  the time of year I get the least calls for our business.  You start to wonder if you should continue to pay for the marketing.  Then, like yesterday, you get three calls, one booked a B&B stay and a culinary class.  Another wants to come in the spring with her friend of 40 years, a special time!  
     So, what do we do here on a day so cold - no guests to fill this particular day?  We headed to the Craft and Antique Mall in Painesville, Oh.  It was so busy. They are a collection of many-many vendors with the most unique items to add interest to our home.  I found an adorable tiny lamp to put in the chifferobe I just finished in chalk paint. It looks perfect!  I also found a wall hanging of a beautiful framed quilt square.  Just the right touch for the parlor.  
     When we got home we whipped up a big pot of broccoli-cheese soup and a batch of Morning Glory Muffins, invited our daughters and their families for a quick and chaotic supper.  It wasn't perfect.  It was noisy and the kids grumbled about eating healthy stuff, but hey, they were here!  And I got hugs.  So it was more than good.  
     After they left I settled into a comfy chair to read. I heard the plow go by a couple times but didn't even give anymore thought to more snow coming.  The warm feeling of having our family here drove off the cold for another day....
     

Summertime, It Doesn't Get Any Better

     Summertime is my favorite season, although I do find pleasure in all the Ohio seasons.  It is so great I wake up earlier than I need to because I don't want to miss anything.  For instance, today I was up at 6 am just to enjoy more of the morning and to gather my thoughts.  Warming up a last piece of cranberry scone and enjoying it with a cup of coffee suits me just fine.
     It was another great weekend.  The B & B guests were such a pleasure to talk with and get to know.  It is always interesting to see them experience this area and come back after having a wonderful day.  This weekend's guests were from Columbus and Atlanta.  How cool that they ended up here in Jefferson, Ohio.
     I must admit I am a nerd about organizing each day.  I have a "to do" list I construct each morning after I check the weather forecast.  For today the high is only 84 degrees, so I can pretty much work outdoors all day if I choose. We have some overgrown bushes that need to be pulled out, however I noticed that the tractor has a flat tire.  Time to call in the maintenance department - Paul. 
     Normally, I have two grandchildren here each morning - Chase & Ellie, but today their mom is home with them.  We usually start the day discussing highlights of their weekend, why it is important to be respectful or the benefits of healthy food.  They crack me up with all their ideas. Summertime is even more time to enjoy them.
     Enough of this chit-chat, time to get this day going......


     
     
     
     

Straw-Bale Gardening - the Cure

The Cure - Well, gardening and sunshine may be the cure for many conditions, but this curing is to prepare the bales for this new concept of gardening.  This is the book I picked up at Lowes to describe the process: 


There are four simple steps to this process and it doesn't include weeding! 1. Cure the bales (water) & add fertilizer to accelerate decomposition on the bale. 2. Plant & water 3. Water, watch, & wait. 4. Harvest.  Here are my straw bales.  We've been watering for about 2 weeks now. The rain has taken over some days.   





I'll keep you posted on the progress.  Check back here.  Chris










A Day in the Life - February version

The one thing I like about this business is that there is not a typical day.  A day in February is definitely different than a day in June.  Although there are less guests this time of year, there is still much on my "to do" list. 
Each morning I prioritize and try to start off with a task or project that is my least favorite and get it out of the way.  I also look over my list from the previous day and plans for the week and see what needs to get done.
One of my atypical days look something like this:

  *Up at 5 am, with an idea about an upcoming class - make some coffee and go to the computer
  *Make breakfast and get grand kids off to school -
    Let them help make some pancakes
  *Make new dinner napkins for this Sunday's class -  Can't believe I completed it so quickly (only took 1 1/2 hours), I only thought about it for six months!  Wow did I save money and the quality is great.
 *Shop online for new plates - salads look awesome on a soft yellow or red color.  There's a whole science to this topic, definitely NOT blue.  
 *Send confirmation for class we're doing offsite next summer
 *Answer emails - update website
 *Look over recipes for next class, make grocery list & timeline for      prepping
 *Pick out new fabric to have couches reupholstered
 *Log receipts (keep records)
 *Grab a cleaning project - you can do a lot in just 10 minutes - Do a few of those each day and you are ahead of the game (more notes).  I can tell you when I last did "spring cleaning" in each room.  
 *Prepare for upcoming Toastmaster contest - always continue with self-improvement
 *Add to this, family popping in throughout the day and bringing Dad his   supper 
                                                           *Thank God for                                                                 another great day


 


A Great Autumn in Ohio



     Time to look forward to another upcoming season of biking.  "In December you say?" Heck yeah, if I don't train year round I won't be able to keep up with these quirky friends.  Not that I always keep up with them, but I can see them from down the road.       
     This is part of my fun-Tuesday- night bike club.  We understand each other, we just need to ride.  Sometime we eat pizza and drink a beer afterwards - just good times.  The guy in the middle is Ron, he loves to tell biking stories - he tells it like a guy that's been to war.  The gal on the left is Arlene, she pulls in after work like a tornado, but she always makes it there.  The guy on the right, that's my husband, Paul - he knows he should be there riding but it isn't his idea!  
     Less than a week ago I was out riding my bike.  It was at least my 10th "last ride" for the season.  Many thanks for a long autumn!!
     








They Appear Overnight

     It happens overnight!  They burst out of the loveliest orange blossoms into giants.  You can't miss a day picking them or there it is another "giant".  
     
     The chickens enjoy them in the overgrown state, but I prefer the smaller version of zucchini.  We have been eating sauteed zucchini with a little olive oil and garlic - yum!  Sometimes we grate them to make zucchini bread.  Last weekend I made zucchini muffins with some walnuts and cinnamon - very moist!  Checking on line, you can make just about anything with zucchini.

    Tomorrow night (Sept. 10th) at our Garden to Table Culinary Class here we are going to make Zucchini Spirals to serve along with Perfect Chicken Piccata, Roasted Tomato-Basil Soup, Spicy Italian Salad, and Melon Sorbet.  We'll be using a nifty tool called a "Veggetti".  Here's what the zucchini spirals look like in the raw state.  How fun!

     Zucchini is loaded with good nutrition as well as being versatile.  It is low in calories, high in fiber, vitamins & minerals.  Why, zucchini was only common in this country about 30 years ago, yet Central and South America had been eating zucchini for several thousands of years. 

     Call pronto if you're interested in joining our Garden to Table Culinary Class 440 228-8458.  If you think zucchini was an exciting topic wait till we get to the herbs and tomatoes!!

I Love This Job

     I just love this job being a B&B host!!  Here's the kind of notes I get left by our guests:

     "We just wanted to take a minute to thank you both so much for a wonderful stay at your B&B.  We came here for a girlfriend's get away and found 2 new great friends along the way.
     We enjoyed you cooking class, your gardens and yard, the wonderful breakfasts and the list goes on.  You have created a beautiful home here and we appreciate you opening it up to us.  We really enjoyed our time here."  Marianne, Diane, & Debbie  - from Cincinnatti 

     They are three girls who have been friends since high school. That doesn't happen everyday.

     Not only do we get to enjoy our guests but working at home gives us flexibility to do things like -
     -stepping out on the porch to see our grand kids get off to school for the first day: 


     -going swimming next door with family:


     -gardening:



     -providing encouragement for Dad to exercise (age 93 yr.):




    
 

     We do work hard just about every day.   We now do things like polishing windows at least monthly, washing porch floors, fertilizing plants routinely, and cleaning the refrigerator weekly.  Each morning I go over my plan for the day and week.  It borders on OCD.  Well, just within the vicinity of the border.  
     In a nutshell - we should have done this along time ago.  
      




     
     
 

Swim Your Heart Out

     Best wishes to our guest, Alex Jerden from Franklin, Indiana.  Alex is competing at Spire Institute today at the USMS National Championships.  It was great to hear about his life as an athlete during breakfast this morning.   
     There will be about a 1000 competitors at Spire this weekend.  There is no charge, just a $10 parking fee.  If you have never been to this great facility it would be a great time to see the place in action.  We plan to be there at the Ashtabula County Visitors Bureau booth.  

A Day In the Life

     Someone recently asked me what a typical day was like when running and Bed & Breakfast.    In a nutshell, there is no typical day!  On a daily basis my husband, Paul and I are the staff. For that reason we better be getting along good! 

     Oh, we do thankfully get a hand from our daughters and son-in-law when needed.  Heavy-duty weed trimming jobs magically get done when we are away.  I admit I have tried to groom the grandkids to be part of the team.  Here's Chase learning how to "freshen the mulch" while he earns a couple bucks.  It sounds better than "pulling weeds and raking mulch." 

     There is gardening to do daily.  It is so great to be able to make the time to do it.  Being home more this summer is just awesome.  My eyes can't drink in enough of seeing everything so green.  Every couple days there is a new kind of flower in bloom. 

     We find so many projects to get into around here.  Paul is working on the new sidewalk he is completing.  We saved hundreds of $ by cleaning up used bricks and doing the whole job ourselves.  What character it added to our historic home.  I can't say Paul enjoyed the entire project, he wouldn't look up for the picture at this point. 

     Last week I went to Kelly's Gardens in Ashtabula and did a cooking demonstration for their Herb Day event.  That was a lot of fun, nice-nice staff.  Sometimes I also go offsite to give a talk about herbs.  I even met a gal on a bike trip and ended up giving a talk at her ladies group last fall in Mentor.   I've traveled 80 miles away to do a private class.  Variety makes this job a joy.  Next week I'm going to Mercer, PA to judge 4-H culinary projects.

     There is always frequent cleaning.  Paul and I like clean and we each have out specialties.  Paul does bathrooms and vacuming.   He loves his new Shark sweeper.  I let him call it his own (it's the little things.) 

     Throughout these activities there are texts, emails, and phone calls with questions about reservations.  Paul would rather I take these.  He is convinced that no one books when he answers the phone and they always book when I talk to them.  So if he answers, call back and ask for Chris (LOL). 

     There are always those interesting days - like when the water pump went out and my 93 year old dad shows up for supper early while our guests just arrive.  I got a little nervous when my dad started in on politics with our guests while waiting for supper, but it all worked out.  Paul and our son-in-law had it repaired in two hours! 

     I wonder what tomorrow will bring!

Kelly's Gardens

Saturday, July 18th - 11 am to 3 pm

We're teaming up with Kelly's Gardens in Ashtabula for a great herb workshop.
It's a great line up: Yours truly will be the guest speaker and demonstrating dishes using some favorite herbs. I'll be making Savory Herbed Cheesecake and Watermelon Salad w/Basil & Feta Cheese (11am to 12 pm)

You will also learn to make 6 amazing herb inspired creations while enjoying samples. Robin Weir, Christine Mramer, Bonnie Bradnan, Vicky Kidd and Amy Fecht will dazzle you with their creativity and knowledge about herbs. Cost just $15Reserve your spot pronto by calling 440 969-1114or email at cjkellys@yahoo.com
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Recent Posts

February Woes
Summertime, It Doesn't Get Any Better
Straw-Bale Gardening - the Cure
A Day in the Life - February version
A Great Autumn in Ohio

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