Timberwolf Creek Blog

Mid-spring Walkabout

It was time to take a walkabout as spring looks like it’s coming to an early close, with summer right on its heels.  I took a picture of the last of the daffodils, the last of the hyacinth, the early azaleas and peaches.  But the real bonanza is these crazy hostas!  They are insanely huge, and very happy.  Here are some photos.

Last of the daff and hyacinth…

 

And here are the early azaleas.  I do love azaleas, especially the whites.  They’re like little tiny spring-time lilies, ha!

 

And peaches – we’re going to have a nice abundant crop of white Georgia peaches, this year!  Unless that family of raccoons recalls where they had the all you can eat buffet two years ago…

 

And the trillium came en masse, this spring – so many that I may need a new bed for them!

Oh my goodness, would you look at that?  This post is already so big, I’m going to have to let the hostas have their very own!  So here it is, only the middle of April, and spring is well established and on the wane.  It has been a spectacular one so far, I must say.

–Sandee

 

Daffodils, Lilacs and Hostas – Oh My!

It must be April! The daffodils have already been blooming like mad in an early spring frenzy. The one pictured here is a late-comer (if you can imagine a daffodil being late on the first of April. But isn’t he a beauty, all white and dapper with his pale yellow collar…

 

 

His name is actually Loth Lorien, which is ‘the fairest forest of the realm’ in JRR Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings, and is not only home to the Elves, but a place where time stands still… and that’s pretty much what happened to me when I spotted these this morning – I just froze and stared at them for I don’t know how long.

 Ah, Spring time…

And the Hostas are coming out nicely, down by the creek – looks like they’ll be enormous this year.  Scott came and split the beauties growing at the Cottage and put them all around the property.  This one is called American Sweetheart Hosta, and it is a particular favorite of mine.  The American Sweethearts and Patriots (similar colors but in reverse, with creamy white margins around a deep green center) are heirloom plants, put here by Colonel ‘Pug’ Pugmire when he built the Creek House in the 60s.  We’ve tended and split and shared many of this one’s offspring.

American Sweetheart Hostas by the Creek

Even the lilacs are putting on an early show for us this year.  I did take pictures of the ones already blooming (after pressing my face deep into the middle of them and inhaling their intoxicating fragrance.  Not like I couldn’t smell them from further away, but I could, so I did.  What luxury!  Bliss! -wait a second, what was I saying?)  Oh yes.  I did take pictures of the full blooms, but this one with the buds just seemed to show the promise of spring better than any of the others, so presented here, for your pleasure…  Lilacs in bud:

Lilacs in Bud

The lilac is actually another of Pug’s legacies.  The one he planted is way down the creek bank, and stays in full shade.  It continued to grow, of course, but didn’t reach the sun until I’d been here a full dozen years – I was stunned to come out one morning to the heady scent of lilac and wondered, ‘What in the world?’  Looking far up into the tip-top (about ten feet!) there was a single bloom, and the breeze sent the fragrance sailing.  It was downright magical.  But everything here is, you know.  No big surprise there.  It started putting out little shoots that year, and I transplanted two to the roadside beds, where they’d have the afternoon sun.  This is only the second year for lilacs out there, and this photo is one of dozens of blooms on that bush!  I’m pretty happy about that.

Now, anybody who knows me knows that I am mad for Lilies.  Day lilies.  Oriental lilies.  Asiatic lilies.  Tiger lilies.  Turk’s Cap and Trumpet lilies and Easter lilies.  I love the lilies.  All this wonderful stuff in spring is, for me, just the forerunner of summer when the lilies arrive.  The day lilies are far earlier, of course, and I have different varieties that bloom from late spring right through the end of summer, but the others – the true lilies – don’t start until late June and continue through August.  I was astonished to find that I they are up and out of the ground and growing like crazy!

Stargazer and Casablanca Lilies

Stargazer and Casablanca Lilies, already growing in April!

It was a spectacular spring day,
as I wandered with the camera trying to capture bits and pieces to remember…
Here’s the creek – my little bit of paradise.
You can see that even the Rhodies are planning to make a grand entrance,
since they are already budding.
So glad to be able to share this place with all our wonderful guests.

Springtime at Timberwolf Creek

Springtime at Timberwolf Creek

 

Wishing you all a wonderful spring, and hope to see you here soonly!

~

 

 

s’More Apples

Ok, so I bought the teeny tiny itty-bitty micro mini squishy marshmallows to make scones.  Because I was buying raspberry chocolate chips for scones, and lemon drops for scones, and cinnamon bits for scones, and I already had milk chocolate chips and graham crackers at home… so when I spotted the teeny tiny itty-bitty micro mini squishy marshmallows, I thought, “Aha!  S’more scones!”

But this morning wasn’t about scones.  We were having Cherry Chapelure (my version of oven French toast) with a pecan praline topping, and I had these lovely apples for the fruit course.  I really (really) didn’t want to make baked stuffed apples.  And the t.t.i-b.m.m.sq. marshmallows were just sitting there… trying to look all innocent… temptation in the making…  irresistible…

So, I peeled, cored and sliced the apples.  This next step will revolutionize your morning, if you haven’t figured it out already:  put the apple slices in a bowl with a healthy splash of orange juice (toss ’em around in it).  The OJ will keep them from browning.  Now cover and steam them in the microwave until they are just tender.  They get a head start on cooking, and it helps them keep their shape.

I sprayed ramekins and layered the apple slices with a sprinkling of t.t.i-b.m.m.sq. marshmallows.  Not too many.  Just enough to make the apples say ahhh.  Then I put graham crackers and vanilla wafers into a big baggie, sealed it shut, and rolled them just like a pastry with my rolling pin, until I had nice coarse crumbs.  Added just a hint of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves to the baggie, shook it up, and topped my apples.  Then I melted way too much butter and drizzled it over the top.  Off it went into the oven to bake with the Chapelure and sausage patties, and voila – breakfast.

This was all packed into the breakfast basket along with cinnamon-vanilla syrup, maple syrup, orange juice, and everything they needed to make a picnic breakfast happen, covered in pretty linens, flowers tied to the basket, and delivered to the cottage door.

And voila.  S’more Apples.  A new addition to my breakfast repertoire, for sure!

 

Just a plain breakfast, please

'We would just like plain fruit, please'

After a request for a ‘plain’ breakfast, and a bit of discussion, guests have had a breakfast basket delivered daily with ‘plain’ food.  Today’s was a pretty crystal tray of fresh cut fruit (nectarines, kiwi, and grapes) with no dressing or yogurt or sauce, per request.  Frittatas made with eggs and ham, potatoes, peppers, onions and herbs (and a little cheddar because I can’t help myself).  Cheese grits, by request, and yes there’s a little jalapeno in there because, well, I’m pretty sure there’s a law about that…  And some decidedly un-plain cherry scones.  I just love this Southern man to pieces – he wants sweet tea at every meal.  How precious is that?

Breakfast Basket Menu

We just want a Plain breakfast, please

 

 

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Aha, Omigosh, Hit me over the head, B&Bs are the Better Way to Stay!

It’s always a pleasure for me to find the BnBFinder innkeeping newsletter in my Inbox.  While reading it this morning, I found myself nodding and saying, “Yes, exactly!”   Mary has captured the essential difference of hotel vs bed and breakfast -not just in amenities, but in how we view our guests.  Even upscale hotels, like the one Mary writes about, simply cannot provide the experience of a bed and breakfast…  Their focus groups and market research, and determination to “break into our market” with B&B-styled packages, is completely missing the point.   They can’t help it, really.  Their focus is corporate and bottom-line, which is of course as it should be.  Our focus is on our guests and you just can’t get that at a hotel.

A Note From Mary White       –Mary is the President & Founder of BnBFinder

It was more than an “aha!” moment. It was an “Oh my gosh, hit me over the head, how can they not realize moment” when I once again grappled with the question, “Why do guests not realize how special B&Bs are?”   The moment I’m referring to happened recently when I attended a conference with my husband held in a very nice and well-known hotel chain. To thank him for being an Preferred Guest, they gave us a card upon check-in entitling us to a free bottle of water at no charge (how generous). We needed to replace the small bottle of water in the mini-bar with the card so we wouldn’t be charged. Then, one evening we wanted to have a cup of coffee in the room. As a coffee snob, I don’t like the powdered creamer provided; so, in order to have milk or cream I would have to order room service, pay for the milk, and add a $4.99 delivery fee as well as a 20% gratuity (an additional tip also would be welcomed). These and similar experiences are all accepted in the hotel world and why, when guests try a B&B for the first time, they are blown away by the value not to mention the personalization, service, amenities and more.

This would be a good time to mention the Better Way to Stay campaign, being promoted world-wide.  Tell your friends.  Tell your neighbors.  B&Bs truly are a better way to stay.  And then…. take the time to treat yourself.  Come see us.  We’ll show you the difference.

 

~

 

Wedding Trend: the Sash Pin

The Perfect Dress - Wedding Gown - Sash Pin

My brides are getting older.  That’s not to say they’re aging– rather that my brides are more likely to be adults, with established careers, their own homes, chosen lifestyles, and a firm sense of their own particular preferences.  This makes it lots of fun for me, because I get to see the culmination of their search for The Perfect Dress.

We’ve ‘seen it all’ at Timberwolf Creek.  From gowns with eight foot trains, heavily encrusted with beading and embroidery, rivaling Britain’s royal weddings, to biker leathers and cowboy boots (on the bride).  All have been marvelous!  Once, the bride -this one actually was from Great Britain- packed her full length gown in a suitcase, and popped it out perfect and ready to go!  It was crushed taffeta and gorgeous.  An excellent plan.  And while we’ve had designer gowns that likely cost more than the event, several brides have bragged that they got their traditional white gowns from eBay, for a song.  So cost isn’t what determines what these women choose.

It’s the dream.  A wedding is a Dream Come True kind of day.  And the dress is just part of the experience.  It needs to be flattering and make her feel beautiful and confident.  For some, comfortable is a requirement.  For others, not so much.  Mostly, it needs to match up with her ideal.

And that doesn’t always include a big bow on the back.  Not to knock bows!  A sash on a wedding gown, with a perfectly tied bow, can be lovely.  It can be smaller than your hand, with the ties hanging loose, or a great big picture-perfect bow with the center knot smoothed and the ties twisted under so that it stays straight and pleated just so, or a softly tied bow that drapes loosely from a gentle knot.

For some women, though, bows were left behind with pigtails and dotting their i’s with hearts.  So, here they are, trying on wedding gowns in the quest for The Perfect Dress… and there it is…  Exactly the right fit.  Just the right style.  Perfect fabric and embellishment.  Maybe a bit of lace here, or embroidery there, or a pleat, or a smooth expanse of satin.  Precisely the right straps or sleeves.  Except… there’s this sash that ties in the back.

What to do?  You can loop it over once, in a half-knot, and let it hang.  Sometimes that looks nice.  Sometimes that looks like your bow came undone, or that you forgot to finish it.

Enter the Sash Pin.

This is an opportunity just waiting to shine.  The chance to really show off your creativity and individuality.  Maybe you’ll use your great grandmother’s antique brooch.  Or the pin your aunt wore when she eloped.  Or a diaper pin your mother saved with your baby things.  Your dad’s tie-tack.  Or maybe you’ll choose something that matches your colors – a fabric flower pin, or a brooch of colored beads.  Or a kilt pin.  Or a cameo.  Your Girl Scout trefoil pin.  I Like Ike.  Beam me up Scotty with a Star Trek pin.  Or anything from the millions of jeweled brooches you can find.  Glorious pearls and rhinestones – or diamonds and precious jewels – in every imaginable shape and color and size and style.

And suddenly, those sash ties are your chance to make a statement, and make The Perfect Dress uniquely yours.

Finally, a word to the ladies who like bows:  you can still have a sash pin.  Just put it smack in the middle of your bow!

 

 

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Good Times at PAII

It should come as no surprise that my closest friends are innkeepers.  Right now, most of them are at the Innkeeping Conference put on by PAII (Professional Association of Innkeepers International) in Little Rock, Arkansas.  They’re posting on facebook, and sending me email, and telling me what I’m missing…  as if I didn’t know!

At last year’s PAII convention, in Charleston, I took reams of notes.  Everything from wedding contracts to food photography was covered, including all the stuff you expect to see about internet presence and good website design and stain removal and breakfast recipes.  There was an astonishing amount of information – far more than I could absorb – and I’ve still only put about 20% into practice.  (Isn’t that always the way?)  So I really didn’t have an excuse to spend the thousands of dollars it would have cost to attend the conference this year.  Cardinal rule:  All Expenditures Must Be Justified.  And I couldn’t very well justify it as play time, since we just spent the first part of a week in New Orleans with a dozen of us, and then a bunch of us went sailing to the Caribbean.  Oh yes, I qualify for the ‘plays well with others’ t-shirt.

Lots of information from the conference is online for me, and we have friends/innkeepers in attendance who are coming to visit us when it’s over, and I’m sure they’ll be bubbling over with insights and new products from the vendor floor.  And still…  I am sooooooo jealous.  I want to hang out with my buds!  I want to take reams of notes!  I want to try new stuff!  I want to… um… sleep on substandard hotel sheets with flat pillows and get up predawn to drink hotel coffee with powdered creamer from a styrofoam cup and hike to the convention floor… no… wait…  (Oh baby, B&Bs have spoiled me rotten for the good stuff.)

[SIGH] Ok, that’s the stuff you put up with to go to the conference.  But it’s worth it.  It is.  And next year, I’ll be back at the PAII conference.

That is, unless I can get ten besties onto another cruise ship.

Now:  If only we could convince the cruise lines to make a wonderful breakfast…

 

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Words with Friends: the game that ate the space-time continuum

Bad news.  I have discovered Words with Friends.  So from now on, I’m going to stay up far too late, oversleep, and not want to cook breakfast or make beds or answer reservation requests.  But hey, I’m winning…

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Veteran’s Day 11/11/11

A wedding, a re-marriage, a renewal of vows ceremony…  Lifelong friendships forged, commitments made, shared laughter and lots of love in the air…  This was such a joyful day for all!

 

A little team-building…

I took the wedding fairies to the Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival for a little team-building.  Oh, fine, all right, ok, it was an excuse to go be foodies in Florida now that wintry weather has set in.  And it was fabulous!  Photos and recipes and inspirations to follow.  Just a heads up: anything you can serve for dinner can find its way onto a breakfast plate, with just a little bit of creativity.  Stay tuned…  There’s more to come…

 

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