Archive for September, 2014

Putting Heads in Beds

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, we have been innkeepers now for 18+ years. Today I was thinking about the good old days at our first B&B, the Crane House in Milwaukee WI.  Well, maybe they weren’t quite the good old days after all. Actually, we worked our butts off with minimal results to show for it in terms of numbers of guests and the ability to pay all the bills each month.

What has changed since then? Why is it easier to put heads in beds, as the saying goes, today as opposed to 18 years ago? The answer is easy — it’s the technology. Eighteen years ago we rarely ever left the house for fear of missing a call and losing a precious reservation, or rezzie for short.

Now, the mobile phone allows Paula to take a your rezzie while browsing the dairy aisle at the supermarket. Now, our online reservation system handles that 2:00 am rezzie while we blissfully snore away the night, rejuvenating ourselves so we can serve up another Camellia Cottage breakfast in the morning. And now, our web site provides all the info and pics you need to make an informed decision about spending a night, a weekend or a week at Camellia Cottage instead of seeking out this info in an out-of-date B&B guidebook that you got from the local library.

Yes, even though we are technophobes at heart, technology really has made our lives as innkeepers way less stressful, allowing us to put more of our energy and attention where they belong — with our guests.

B&B Gains and Losses

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

We have been innkeeping for 18 years now — 12.5 years here at the Camellia Cottage Bed and Breakfast in wonderful Wilmington and 5.5 years at the Crane House B&B in Milwaukee, WI. Throughout this time span, one of the first questions new acquaintances regularly ask us is AREN’T YOU WORRIED THAT SOME OF THOSE STRANGERS IN YOUR HOUSE WILL TAKE YOUR STUFF?

First of all, once they check in here they are no longer strangers; they are our guests and many become our friends. Our guests don’t take our stuff. Over those 18 years, we’ve lost all of 3 towels to guests! In fact, our guests give us all kinds of stuff —  gifts, ideas (which are often the most valuable of gifts) and sometimes they even leave good stuff behind that they don’t want us to send back to them.

Some of the great ideas our guests have shared with us:

**changes to guest rooms that will make them even more comfortable

**plants that will do well in sunny or shady spots in our garden

**affordable energy-saving devices that will improve our bottom line

**great new restaurants that we haven’t been to yet

**wonderful wines that we didn’t know existed

Last but not least, our guests share with us (well, not really “us”;  just Paula) their favorite tried-and-true recipes which make your breakfasts and our lunches and dinners more tasty and more fun. Here’s one we’ve been using for some time now.  Given to us by a guest in Milwaukee, it was a family favorite made by her Grandmother.  We enjoy it here all year long, using cranberries in the Winter, rhubarb in the Spring, blueberries or peaches (or a combo) in the Summer.

Fruit Kuchen

1/2 cup butter

1 egg yolk

1 ½ tablespoons milk

1 ½ cup flour

1 ½ teaspoon sugar

Cream butter.  Add yolks, milk, sugar and flour, beat till smooth.  Grease 9 x 13 inch pan and spread batter in.  Spread with 6 cups fruit.

Mix together:

9 tablespoons flour

2 ½ cups sugar

3 tablespoons butter

Spread over fruit on crust.

Stir together:

2 eggs

1 ½ cups cream or evaporated milk

2 tablespoons sugar

Pour over all.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.








An Early Morning Walk

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

Sometimes, an early morning walk is just what the doctor ordered .  Where will it be this morning?  You could stroll down to The Riverwalk, follow the Cape Fear River and see what’s happening downtown.  At  6:30 a.m., the sun is coming up, joggers and walkers are taking advantage of the early morning light, the city public works  folks are cleaning up after last night’s revelry, always with a jolly “Good morning” for you.  Shops, bars and restaurants are closed, taking a rest, so it’s easy to just get in rhythm with the current of the river.  Check on how high the tide is by checking on the dolphin statue by The Hilton Hotel.  Is her tail covered?  Can you just see her nose?  Further on,  you check on the progress of the marina/retail/condo development being built just past the Convention Center.  The Riverwalk has expanded out here now, near PPD, and within sight of The Isabel Holmes Bridge  Fishermen are checking on their crab pots with their markers bobbing on the River, pelicans are just as interested and The Battleship North Carolina watches over all.

Or you could drive out to one of our beautiful beaches for sunrise.  There are four in a row, Wrightsville Beach (10miles), Carolina and Kure Beaches (20 miles) and Fort Fisher (23 miles).  At the pre-sunrise hour, you’ve got any of them to yourself.  Run, walk, bike along with the birds.  Check the water for dolphin jumping to say hello.  Watch the sun rise up and out along the horizon.  What a fabulous way to start a vacation day!

Then back to Camellia Cottage for a decadent breakfast shared with other guests and maybe a dog or two.  The whole day still stretches before you for sightseeing or reading on the front porch.  Life is good!