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A Simple Note

   I just have to share a note I received from a client today. Last weekend I taught a culinary class at her beautiful home for twelve lovely baby- shower guests.

     "Chris, I can't thank you enough for making our shower event such a success. EVERYONE replied how much fun it was and as you know, the food was delicious and interesting." 

     Even after eighteen years of teaching culinary classes sometimes at the end of the day I still wonder how it went from their perspective. Years of being a member of Toastmasters International has actually made me more cautious with regard to my presentation skills. Cooking is one thing but presenting it to my best ability is another. 

     I have a basket on my cookbook case and in it I keep special messages like these. Sometimes my granddaughters ask my why I keep all those old note cards. I tell them "because it reminds me of all the nice people that have passed in and out of my life!' 

Around the Bend

April 5, 2018 - While much of the conversation around here lately is about the weather (which isn't very positive), I have tried to focus on what's around the bend. I'm pretty confident we will have spring soon and then summer. We'll forget how we had extra time on our hands and weren't driven by what needed to be done that day. 
     So, this is the time of year we plan,  paint, start seeds, organize, and learn. Earlier this winter I attended a fabulous class - Go Biz Grow, about starting and growing businesses. It was a life changer!
     On a recent trip to Arizona my friend taught me how to track expenses and have better control of finances on Excel. Another life changer. As my husband tells me "It's time to get rid of the wringer washer." We always remember how reluctant my mom was to advance with an improved appliance. Now if he can just learn to set a table.
     Along with the planning, I took advantage of some super shopping yesterday. We'll be freshening things up with new dishes and bedding. 
I can't believe we're starting our eighth year as a bed & breakfast already! 
     This week we had a lovely group of ladies from the Wooster area. Each one of them had been here before at different times with their husbands. This time the purpose was a birthday and to celebrate their friendships. We are so honored they chose to come here. I know we will see them again. It's guests like them that make us want to be a better B&B! 
     We still have those farm-fresh eggs to enjoy with our guests. Yesterday I was proud to serve a beautiful Cheddar Cheese Quiche for breakfast.  Just by replacing a portion of the half & half with 2% milk and using Crisco Baking Sticks instead of regular Crisco I trimmed loads of extra fat calories. 
     Along with those fresh eggs we always serve some kind of fresh fruit. One of my favorite combinations is fresh pineapple with mango and banana. Pretty easy to find nice selections all winter long. I'm still on the search to pluck up some fresh mint for garnish. Perhaps in another week. 
     Off to go see if that last piece of quiche is still in the frig......


We still has five weeks to go before we call it another year. I cannot   believe all the joy and surprises so far in 2017. Sometime you just         can't imagine the twists and turns.
Our B&B occupancy has increased 42% over last year.  Our guests have   been some of the most interesting people - from artists, leaders (in both   public & spiritual avenues), over achievers, travelers and a wealth of   enjoyment. 
We did a few culinary classes and a few special event dinners.   Memories   of good food and soft breezes out on the porch still linger. Our breakfast   chats can last a couple hours, especially when there is a group out under   the arbor on a sunny morning with a view of the gardens and horses   grazing. 
Paul and I work hard, we are the main staff here (with a helping hand from   both daughters, Heather & Maegan and our son-in-law, Ron) . We take no   shame in a 20 minute nap in the afternoon when there are no guests. We   felt it was important to enjoy a little travel before the weather got nice   here so we visited the desert, the ocean, the mountains & Disney. Each   trip included some family. It's been a good year!
Much thanks to our local friends who put up with our spontaneity. So many 
 times you have invited us out for an evening and we show up when we can, 
 after checking in guests and sending them off for their evening in our   beautiful county. Each meal we share together and chats have meant so   much. Oh, and thanks for coming to my birthday party I moved from   December to June. 

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:


     -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.  


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