Archive for January, 2015

Can I Speak To The Owner?

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Will you, our patient and sympathetic readers, allow me to vent… just a little? Thanks. I promise to listen empathetically to your ruminations sometime in the future. What I’m about to share may strike a chord with you or you might just conclude that Steve is losing his grip on his world and needs a much longer vacation than he took in December in Florida, only this one should be in a dark, square room with white, padded walls.

By further introduction to this topic, let me suggest that any of you who spend your Mondays through Fridays making one hundred or more calls an hour trying to convince busy people to unbusy themselves  and listen to your pitch about unbelievably cheap merchant card services … STOP READING THIS BLOG NOW!

“Hello, the Camellia Cottage Bed and Breakfast!” I think I sound pretty friendly and welcoming when I answer the phone. At least I try real hard.  Anyway, after rolling that greeting off the tip of my tongue, I have no idea what the response will be. It’s one big mystery, it is! One that I look forward to each time.

Will it be someone who has questions about what it’s like to stay in a bed and breakfast? I enjoy dispelling  any fears they may have and warming them to the idea of a B&B stay.

Will it be a recent transplant to the Triangle area who wants to know more about what to do in Wilmington? I thoroughly enjoy talking up my adopted city of Wilmington.

Will it be a swimmer or surfer or sunbather who wants to know how far we are from the beach? I enjoy sharing geo-positioning data for Wrightsville Beach as well as our beloved Cape Fear River only four blocks away.

Will it be someone who wants to know how far we are from the downtown historic district? I positively revel in letting them know that we are located smack dab in the heart of one of the largest historic districts in the South.

Even better yet, maybe the caller is ready to make a reservation right then and there over the phone. Pure rapture!!!

Unfortunately, at least five times a day, the response to my friendly and welcoming greeting is 5 seconds of computerized silence followed by “Can I speak to the owner?”

Sometimes I reply “I am an owner. How can I help you?”  Other times, it’s “She’s busy, can I help?”  If you catch me on a bad day, it’s “What do you want?”  Today must have been a really bad day so all I said was “No!” Then I hung up and wrote this blog. I feel better already. I hope you do, too!

Adventures in Fruit

Monday, January 12th, 2015

People just don’t eat enough fruit.  Especially men.  There, I’ve said it.  Never mind that it is part of nature’s bounty, chock-full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and anti-oxidants.   Flavors range from really tart to really sweet and everything in between.  The colors are magnificent and brighten up any plate, bowl or lunchbox.  “Nature’s candy” my mother used to call it.

So, with the start of a new year and all, I’m thinking this is a perfect time to start enhancing your diet with this food group from the gods.  Let’s start small and easy.  You don’t have to dive right into pomegranates or papaya, which can be little intimidating to open, much less eat.  No, let’s start with apples, pears, grapes, clementines, bananas.   You can munch them as snacks, puree them in smoothies, plop them in your oatmeal.  Then, there’s the whole berry family. Who doesn’t love berries?!  Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries.  Maybe wait awhile till you try elderberries , ghostberries and ligonberries.  At least until you can actually find fresh elderberries, ghostberries and ligonberries.    Then you can move on to fresh pineapple (great in cottage cheese), rhubarb (crisp, cobbler), grapefruit (sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon and pop under the broiler till carmel-ey) and the whole citrus family (generously douse your chicken with fresh lemon juice, olive oil and oregano before grilling or roasting.)

While our fresh fruit choices may be fewer in the winter, here is a wonderful way to use what combo of fresh and dried fruits you may have.  Nothing is more comforting than fragrant, warm , cozy fruit at breakfast or plopped on top of ice cream as a dessert.  Double the recipe below, store it in the fridge and use as desired.

So, march bravely into the produce aisle and dig in!  Before you know it……MANGO!

Baked Fruit with Honey and Ginger

4 cups fruit, cut in large chunks, combine with some dried fruit in the winter

1 cup light brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/3 cup honey

3 tablespoons fresh lemon or orange juice

2 teaspoons grated lemon or orange peel

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 375.  Grease glass baking pan, sized to fit fruit in one layer and spread fruit on bottom.  Mix brown sugar, ginger and lemon peel and sprinkle over fruit.  Mix honey and lemon/orange juice, pour over fruit and dot with butter.  Bake until fruit is tender and sauce is slightly thickened.  Serve warm.

We Really Do Hear Church Bells

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

Try to find out where the Camellia Cottage B&B is via the Internet and you quickly determine that we are “on a quaint, brick-paved street in the heart of Wilmington’s historic district, where church bells still ring in the hour.” We are 4 blocks from the fabled Cape Fear River and only 9 miles from a sun bath or dolphin dip at the beach.

But, here is what is most critical about our location — we are surrounded by three churches and a synagogue. Four absolutely beautiful buildings with amazing architectural attributes, rife with religiosity.

Let’s start with our neighbor to the West and South, First Presbyterian Church. We are truly blessed to be located next to this historic church, whose spire is the tallest point in Wilmington. By the way, that little rooster on top of the spire is actually 6 feet tall! Two of our rooms get to look down into their beautiful and peaceful garden. Those same rooms are treated to a night time view of the lighted spire framed in their west windows.

The First Pres hospitality hall does a great job of blocking out all the late night downtown noises that might interfere with our guests’ restful, rejuvenating sleep. It also creates a great little micro-climate in the west part of our yard that allows us to grow some things that would not grow anywhere else on our property or anywhere else on the whole block.

Here’s a few miscellaneous facts about the rest of our religious neighbors —

St. Mary’s Basilica was built 100 years ago by workers imported from Italy. And they did it without incorporating a single piece of wood or a single nail or screw!

Temple Israel is the oldest Jewish congregation in North Carolina. The stained windows and Moorish architectural features are quite unique!

The cemetery behind St. James Episcopal Church has the oldest graves in the area, dating back to the 1730s and the bells in their carillon have the most diverse play list in town!

Come visit us in the heart of downtown Wilmington and also check out our Presbyterian, Catholic, Jewish and Episcopal neighbors. We have most of the bases covered here. And, the church bells are nice, too.