Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Painting Box Gutters and Photos of Interior Updates: Thomas' Room and Catharine's Room

As mentioned in previous posts, we have made a few updates in the Main House. In Thomas' Room, the canopy and curtains have been changed since the original photography on our website.

In the next photo, you can see the new beige paint and mirror added to the private bathroom.

In Catharine's Room, we added a new skirt to the sink. It was made using a quilt we had on hand and I plan to create a matching valance in the future.

On the outside of the inn, Bob recently painted the box gutter in the front of the house.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Deck the Halls

Each year we enjoy decorating the inn for the holidays.

While we don't have any snow right now, we can dream about a snow-covered Christmas...

As you decorate and prepare for the holidays, we wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Photo credit for first five pictures: Robin Victor Goetz / www.GoRVGP.com

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Eagle Bend Alpaca Farm and Little Britain Farm

Our daughter, Liz, was in town for Thanksgiving and we paid a visit to nearby Eagle Bend Alpaca Farm. It is just down the road and is a nice destination to consider if you are in the area.

You can visit their website at www.eaglebendalpacas.com to learn more about the largest alpaca farm in Kentucky. According to their website, visits must be scheduled in advance to ensure you have an optimum visit and someone is available for questions.

We also stopped by to see a camel at Kinman Farms, which is not too far from our place.

Another nearby destination for horse lovers in Little Britain Farm. Guests can take a horseback riding lesson at this boarding, show, and teaching stable located just one mile from our inn.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Burlington's 1st Annual Gingerbread House Making Contest

It’s time to preheat the oven, gather your creativity and supplies and enter the 1st Annual Gingerbread House Making Contest sponsored by the Historic Burlington Business Association!

As part of the 2009 A Historic Burlington Christmas celebration, we are inviting people to register and participate in this exciting contest held on December 4th and 5th.

First Prize
The First Prize winner of the HISTORIC BURLINGTON BUILDING category will win a one-night stay at Burlington's Willis Graves Bed and Breakfast Inn (valid Sunday-Thursday, excluding all holidays) and the First Prize winner of the UNUSUAL DESIGN category will win a $50 gift certificate for dinner at The Tousey House. All ages are welcome to participate, but houses in these categories are required to be made from SCRATCH: photos will be required to prove that they are made from scratch with the person MAKING the house in the photos.

Children's Contest
The third contest is a children's contest. Children 14 and under will be allowed to use Gingerbread Kits. Children’s entries are to be dropped off at Burlington Elementary from 4 to 7 pm on Friday, December 4, 2009. Judging will take place Friday at 7:30 pm at the school. Houses will be on display until NOON on Saturday December 5.

All houses in the historic replication and unusual design categories will need to be delivered to the Old Court House on Friday, December 4th, from 1:00 - 3:00pm to qualify. Gingerbread Houses will be located in the lobby of the Old Court House located at 2988 Washington Square (corner of Rt. 18/Burlington Pike and Rt. 338) in the center of historic downtown Burlington. Judging will take place at NOON on Saturday, December 5th!
For the children's contest deadline and judging information, please see the previous section.

How to Enter
To register to participate in Burlington’s 1st Annual Gingerbread House Making Contest, call Nancy Swartzel at 859-689-5096.

Contest Rules/Details
ALL HOUSES ARE TO BE MADE FROM SCRATCH IN THE HISTORIC BUILDING REPLICATION AND UNUSUAL DESIGN CATEGORIES OPEN TO ALL AGES. KITS MAY ONLY BE USED IN THE CHILDREN’S KIT CATEGORY FOR AGES 12 AND UNDER. For all participants in all three categories, photos will need to be taken during the process of making of the Gingerbread House, with the person making the house in the photos to qualify.

The slideshow below includes Burlington's historic buildings that can be reproduced as a gingerbread houses for the contest. You can also click here to see pictures with the corresponding house name. The buildings include: Burlington Methodist Church 1837, Boone County Clerks Office 1853, Willis Graves House c 1830, Robert Chambers House 1832-35, Central House Hotel c 1840, Boone County Deposit Bank 1925, Hogan Log House c 1860, Renaker House c 1830, Senator S Walker Tolin House c 1887, McKim-Crisler House c 1849 c 1897, Latimer-Walden House c 1867, Boone County Recorder Office 1939, Peoples Deposit Bank 1905, Joseph Graves House c 1817, Stephens-Yelton House c 1884, Erastus Tousey House c 1822, James Runyan House c 1840, Burlington Presbyterian Church 1833, and the Foster-Sandford House c 1831.

Need inspiration on how to make a gingerbread house from scratch? Martha Stewart is a valuable resource. Her book, Martha Stewart‘s Christmas Entertaining, Decorating, and Giving (1989), provides details and step-by-step instructions.

You can also visit her website to download templates, click here to see gingerbread information on marthastewart.com.

Martha's Gingerbread Recipe
This recipe is from the Martha Stewart Show (December 2005), adapted from "Martha Stewart Living" (December 1995).

1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup dark-brown sugar
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unsulfured molasses
6 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder; set aside.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Mix in spices and salt. Beat in eggs and molasses.

Add flour mixture; mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Divide dough into thirds and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes, or using template instructions, if desired. Place dough shapes on ungreased baking sheets; chill until firm, about 15 minutes. Bake 15 minutes, or until gingerbread is firm in the center, but not dark around the edges.

Good luck!

A Burlington Christmas Event Schedule: December 4-6

Friday, December 4th
  • 6:00-3:00 Little Place Restaurant open for Breakfast & Lunch
  • 10:00-6:00 Shops open - Stroll through Town, Dinsmore Holiday Shop at Cabin Arts, Eagle Bend Alpaca Farm with items for sale at Cabin Arts as well as visitation at the Farm on East Bend Road, Operating Lionel Train Display at Farm Bureau Building, 2965 Washington St
  • 10:00-8:00 Kinman Farms selling Christmas trees @ Farmer’s Market, Burlington Pike
  • 11:30-10:00 Tousey House Restaurant open for Lunch & Dinner
  • 12:00-3:00 Little Britain House “Cream Tea” - $10.35 per person
  • 1:00-3:00 Deliver Gingerbread Houses for Contest to Old Courthouse
  • 3:00-6:00 Display of Gingerbread Houses (For more info & rules go to www.willisgraves.blogspot.com)
  • 4:00-7:00 Deliver Children’s entries for Gingerbread House Contest to Burlington Elementary, Judging at 7:30
  • 6:15-7:15 Carolers by the Gazebo
  • 6:30 Christmas Tree Lighting and SANTA ARRIVES! Have pictures with Santa at the Gazebo in an antique sleigh, collect Toys for Tots, enjoy hot chocolate and cookies
Saturday, December 5th
  • 6:00-3:00 Little Place Restaurant open for Breakfast & Lunch
  • 8:30-9:30, 10:00-11:00 Breakfast with Santa at Burlington Elementary
  • 8:30-12:00 Children’s Gingerbread House Contest entries on display at Burlington Elementary
  • 8:30-3:00 Burlington Elementary Holiday Craft Fair
  • 10:00-2:00 Boone County Parks – Crafting Ornaments – Old Courthouse
  • 10:00-4:00 Shops open - Stroll through Town
  • Dinsmore Holiday Shop at Cabin Art, Eagle Bend Alpaca Farm with items for sale at Cabin Arts as well as visitation at the Farm on East Bend Road, Operating Lionel Train Display at Farm Bureau Building, 2965 Washington St
  • 10:00-8:00 Kinman Farms selling Christmas trees @ Farmer’s Market
  • 11:00-2:00 Santa around town collecting Toys for Tots
  • 11:00-5:00 Gingerbread House Display at Old Courthouse, Judging at 12:00
  • 11:30-10:00 Tousey House Restaurant open for Lunch & Dinner
  • 12:00-4:00 Washington Square Café & Catering – Coffee, Hot Chocolate, Desserts – FREE!
  • 1:00-5:00 Dinsmore Homestead open for “Christmas in the Country” event for tours, special activities (small fee)
  • 2:00 Little Britain House “Princess & the Tea” for children ($19.95/person – reservations only)
  • 7:00-9:00 Dinsmore Homestead Candlelight Tours, historic dancers, refreshments (small fee)
Sunday, December 6th
  • 10:00-8:00 Kinman Farms selling Christmas trees @ Farmer’s Market
  • 12:00-4:00 Shops open - Stroll through Town
  • Dinsmore Holiday Shop at Cabin Arts, Eagle Bend Alpaca Farm with items for sale at Cabin Arts as well as visitation at the Farm on East Bend Road
  • 12:00-4:00 Washington Square Café & Catering – Coffee, Hot Chocolate, Desserts – FREE!
  • 1:00-5:00 Dinsmore Homestead open for “Christmas in the Country” event (small fee)
  • 2:00-4:00 Little Britain House “Cream Tea” - $10.35 per person
  • 4:30-9:00 Tousey House Restaurant open for Dinner

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Photos of Interior Updates: Exterior Door and the Graves' Suite

As we mentioned in a previous post, we have made a few updates in the Main House.

Things have come a long way since my dad, Bob, helped us with the renovation and construction beginning back in 1995.

We recently painted the former front door of the main house (now a private entrance to the Graves' Suite) using a special paint from an American company, Fine Paints of Europe, that sources interior and exterior paints from Holland. The door had some cracks and was not it good shape. I filled the cracks with spackling and then followed the paint directions. Even though it is oil based, it dried very fast. Using their high quality paint, we were able to extend the life of this historic door. We ordered SK36, Holland LAC Brillant finish.

In addition to the front door, the Graves' Suite living room has undergone a makeover. It started with new upholstery on the tufted couch and led to the entire room being repainted in a coordinating shade of green.

Then I made curtains for the window (fabric and trim from Making Ends Meet in Shelbyville, Kentucky) and we made a few decorative accessory changes.

Coming Soon: Changes to Thomas' Room and Catharine's Room.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tips for Freshly Ironed Sheets and Saving Energy

When weather permits, we save energy by letting the wind iron the sheets for us. These tips can help you save energy and get the same results at home.

  • Whether you will be ironing them by hand or by wind, always wash your sheets on the lowest spin setting. The higher the spin setting, the more wrinkles are set in even before drying.

  • When you remove the sheets from the washer, they will be heavier but consider it a little arm exercise!

  • You definitely want to fold the sheets while they are wet and before you go outside, or the wind won’t let you. Place them in a basket – we call this letting the sheets rest. Some of the wrinkles will come out through this simple step.

  • While the sheets are resting, make sure your clothesline is tight and you have plenty of clothespins. Otherwise the weight of the wet sheets will cause the line to sag. Overlap the ends of sheets if you only have one clothespin on each end.

  • If your linens are really wet on a windy day, the wind should take out all the wrinkles. On a good day items can dry in just twenty minutes, but as it gets colder outside, it will take longer.

  • If you are taking the sheets off the line on a windy day, let the sheet blow away from you and it will be easier to fold.
And if the weather doesn't hold out, we recommend taking the sheets out of the dryer while they are still slightly damp before ironing by hand. When the wind doesn't do the work for us, my mom, Jean, makes sure that all the sheets are pressed and ready to go on the beds.

(Our dog, Lola, likes to help too.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Updates Inside the Main House

In addition to the new projects outside, we have updates inside the inn!

We continuously add to our comprehensive DVD collection. We try to collect a variety of genres to please different types of guests. All the movies are conveniently located in the main entry so that guests can have access to the films at any time of day.

Also, if you are a regular guest in Thomas’ room, you may notice subtle changes on your next visit. The private bathroom has been refreshed with a new coat of beige paint that plays nicely off the white trim. We have also ordered a new round mirror for the sink, replaced the shower curtain rod, and found a new white stand. There never seems to be enough extra space for the guests' personal items.

Our goal is to make your visit as enjoyable as possible and to help you get the rest and relaxation you need, so please let us know if you ever have any feedback for us.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Log Cabin Restoration

As you may know, our Willliam Rouse Suite and Retreat accommodations have not always been a part of our property. About ten years after we purchased the main house and turned it into a bed and breakfast, we paid $1.00 for an 1850s log cabin. It was originally owned by farmer William C. Rouse. When we discovered the cabin, it was wrapped in battered white siding and contained layers of old wallpaper.

The following video contains our photographs of the cabin restoration and how it went from looking like the picture on the left to the picture on the right.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Oktoberfest in September

The first area Oktoberfest will occur in nearby Covington, September 11 to 13, at MainStrasse Village. For more information, visit www.mainstrasse.org.

The following weekend, beginning on September 19th, Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati USA will cover six blocks of Fifth Street; from Race Street to Broadway in Downtown Cincinnati.

According to the event website, "Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati USA is an outdoor festival held in downtown Zinzinnati, Ohio that showcases the rich German heritage of Southwestern Ohio, as well as tasty samples of German-style music, food and beer. First held in 1976, the event has grown to be North America's largest Oktoberfest with over 500,000 people attending each year."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Garden Transformation and Garage Projects

March 2009:

May 2009:

July 2009:


As you can tell from the pictures, our garden has grown with the seasons! Even before we were innkeepers, I loved to garden. Our gardens and landscaping are the first impression greeting guests when they drive up to the inn and we try to create welcoming outdoor spaces. The garden that is pictured also features some herbs that we can use in the kitchen.

A lot of gardening is trial and error. The best garden tip that I have right now is to use Osmocote Slow-Release Plant Food. It feeds up to four months and you just sprinkle it on the plants and then wait to see the best results ever. For years I used a liquid fertilizer and now I would never go back to all the effort that it took to feed flowers using a liquid.
Another thing that I learned from my friend, Marsha Burton, was to plant purple cabbage in with the purple garden. The purple cabbages look great mixed in with all of the hydrangeas, black and blue salvia, and purple geranium. 
Each year there is something new to learn and we are constantly improving our grounds. This year, I promised to get out there and weed more often and the gardens do look better.

Meanwhile, since 1981, Bob (the husband) is still working on the old garage. He finally decided to add central heat and air so that he can enjoy working all year long in garage land.

It sure is nice to have someone else out there while working in the yard. For me, a quick visit into the garage to cool off and to see the progress makes living in this unique place in Boone County even better.

When the inside of the garage is finished, work on the outside to get rid of the old cinder block look will begin. We plan to use a board and baton design for the siding. In addition to the new indoor work space, once and for all our lovely garbage cans will have their own enclosed area.

It is a beautiful time of year to be outside; we hope you are enjoying the cooler temperatures and the opportunity to complete outdoor projects in your own home. As always, feel free to let us know if you have any questions about things you see at the inn.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Mark Your Calendar: Cincinnati's Restaurant Week is September 14th - September 20th

Locally-owned restaurants in the greater Cincinnati area are eligible to join The Greater Cincinnati Independents (GCI) group. Twice each year, this group hosts a Restaurant Week.

Member restaurants invite guests to frequent their establishments and enjoy a three-course prix-fixe dinner for $26.09 (price does not include drinks, taxes or gratuities). The second Restaurant Week in 2009 will take place September 14th through September 20th. Click here for more information and a list of participating restaurants.

Guests interested in a last minute getaway to experience Restaurant Week are eligible for a 20% discount when making a one-night, same day reservation in the Graves’ Suite, William Rouse Suite, William Rouse Retreat, or Thomas’ Room.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Area Attraction This Weekend: Union Center Boulevard Bash

A free 3-day music and food fun festival!
August 14th, 15th, and 16th
The Square at Union Centre

Entertainment Line-up

Friday, August 14, 2009
Main Stage
5:30 - 8:00 pm Sullivan Janszen Band
9:30 - 10:45 pm Gin Blossoms
Acoustic Stage
7:00 - 11:00 pm Big Whiskey

Saturday, August 15, 2009
Main Stage
2:00 - 4:00 pm 3 Day Rule
5:00 - 7:00 pm Bootleg Rider
8:00 - 11:00 pm Off the Hook
Acoustic Stage
4:00 - 6:00 pm Kelly Thomas & the Fabulous Pickups
7:00 - 9:00 pm 2th Day Echo

Sunday, August 16, 2009
Main Stage
2:00 - 5:00 pm Leroy Ellington & the E-Funk Band
6:00 - 9:00 pm Rusty Griswolds
Acoustic Stage
4:00 - 6:00 pm Paul Otten Band
7:00 - 9:00 pm Kevin Fox Band

(All performance times are subject to change.)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Shopping for Outdoor Furniture

During this time of year, our back porch is a popular place for guests to relax. We had a former guest ask us questions about our furniture, so we thought we'd share some tips to help aid your search. When creating outdoor spaces at home, it is important to choose the right materials so they will stand up to the elements.

When buying outdoor furniture look for an all aluminum frame and outdoor webbing (colored PVC pipe material). It will last for years and years without any care. Also make sure that the pillows are awning fabric; Sunbrella is the brand that we use for our outdoor seating.

One company that carries outdoor furniture, Smith and Hawken, recently announced their going out of business sale. You can visit this link to find a location near you.

Monday, July 20, 2009

From Our Kitchen to Yours: Marinated Flank Steak Sliders with Spicy Black Bean and Corn Salsa

For a recent bed and breakfast association meeting we put together a table of refreshments. My mom prepared the spicy black bean and corn salsa for us. It is a regular recipe we use for get togethers and parties - the recipe is always requested by friends and family!

Spicy Black Bean and Corn Salsa
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
5 fresh corn ears, boiled
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2/3 cup fresh lime juice
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons ground cumin, or more to taste
1 cup chopped ripe tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the tomatoes. Cover and chill at least two hours or up to overnight. Just before serving, stir in tomatoes. Serve with tortilla chips.

Yield: 6 to 8 cups.

Pictured: My mom, Jean, after making the salsa.

Herb and Soy Sauce Marinade
Source: Favorite Foods of Wyoming, Ohio

1 1/2 cups salad oil
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worchestershire sauce
2 tablespoons dry mustard
2 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients and mix in blender; makes 3 1/2 cups. Marinate meat for 3 hours or longer.

To make the flank steak sliders, we marinated two flank steaks for two days, grilled them outside, and then cooled the meat in the refrigerator before slicing it for cold summer sandwiches. We topped them with a a mixture of sour cream (24-ounce container) and Meyer's horseradish (8-ounce bottle).

The sandwiches and salsa pair well for an easy and tasty summer afternoon. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Planning a Wedding? Don't Miss the Reading Bridal District and Covington Wedding District

With summer wedding season under way, many brides-to-be are making last minute preparations for their big day or starting the planning process for next year. Considering the current economy, shopping around for the best deal is more important than ever. Visiting designated bridal districts in northern Kentucky and Cincinnati is one way to price match and compare items. These two distinct shopping areas are concentrated with bridal stores and vendors.

We are centrally located just 15 miles from Covington Bridal District and thirty minutes from the Reading Bridal District, which boasts the largest bridal salon in the United States and is home to 25 wedding-related businesses.

For those who are visiting from out of town or just want a local place to getaway from it all, we invite you to consider our inn as the perfect place to stay while you plan and prepare.

Spend your evenings using our complimentary high speed wireless Internet to complete additional research or just relax in the luxurious bathrooms to help ease stress related to the experience of planning a wedding. After a full gourmet breakfast the next morning, drive to either Covington or Reading and access the array of nationally recognized wedding-related businesses. In keeping with your search for the best deal, don’t forget that we offer a multiple-night discount, last-minute rates for same day bookings, and have a special bride-to-be package if you are interested in reserving an in-room massage for the happy bride.

As a newly engaged couple, you may also find our gift certificate program helpful as you create wish lists and gift registries. We can customize gift certificates for any amount over $25 and they are redeemable towards a romantic and relaxing Burlington’s Willis Graves Bed and Breakfast getaway.

As always, just let us know if you have any questions. Best wishes to you as you plan your big day!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Breakfast at Willis Graves

We have recently added menus to our individual tables so that guests have plenty of options before them each morning. After you are seated, enjoy seasonal fresh fruit with our homemade granola while we prepare your main entree.

Each day we normally have our crème brûlée or orange marmalade French toast, our favorite gingerbread pancakes, eggs prepared to order, sausage, bacon, English muffins, wheat toast, oatmeal and low-fat yogurt. We also rotate between our friend Marsha Burton’s breakfast pie or our three cheese tart.

We have several recipes listed on our main website and a few are in the latest Bed and Breakfast Association of Kentucky cookbook, Room at the Table.

Feel free to contact us if you are making anything at home and have a question - we want our guests to be happy and enjoy recreating our dishes at home!