Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays!!

From our house to yours, we wish you all the best for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

As you reflect on the year ahead, we'd love to hear any ideas or questions you have for us. Is there anything you've wanted to know about the area? Questions about the inn or innkeeping? Just let us know how we can serve you in the new year, we'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Morning Breakfast Ideas

To help you prepare for family visits, we thought it might be a good idea to re-post some of our favorite recipes. This might be the year to introduce a new Christmas morning breakfast tradition!

These blog posts and website links contain some of our favorite dishes:
  • Crème Brulee French Toast
  • Three Cheese Tart and Meat-Lovin' Man's Quiche
  • Gingerbread Pancakes
  • Baked Ham and Egg Crisp and Lemon Waffles

  • Sunday, December 18, 2011

    Dan and Elizabeth's Wedding in Virginia!

    Bob and Nancy recently walked down the aisle in celebration of their son's wedding!

    Congratulations Dan and Elizabeth!

    Pictures from the big day are posted on our Facebook page:

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    Customized Gift Certificates

    Give (or ask to receive) a relaxing getaway at
    Burlington's Willis Graves Bed and Breakfast Inn!

    We can customize gift certificates for any amount over $25 to be used toward a romantic and relaxing stay at our inn. The recipient can choose between two masterfully restored early and mid-1800s buildings: the 1850s log cabin and the 1830s Federal brick homestead. In every detail, from the luxurious whirlpool baths and steam showers to our full gourmet breakfast served on individual tables dressed in white linens, guest comfort is our top priority. Our goal is to understand our guests and deliver a lasting impression that involves all five senses: the sight of antiques and comfortable surroundings, the sound of soft music, the touch of plush towels, the smell of the freshly ironed sheets, and the memorable taste of homemade cookies.

    Call us at 888-226-5096 to give a memorable gift of relaxation this Christmas!

    Saturday, November 26, 2011

    Home Improvement Project: Pot Rack in Dan's Kitchen

    You may remember a previous blog post about the pot rack that Bob added in our kitchen.

    During a recent visit to see our son, Dan, we all worked together to add a new pot rack in his kitchen. This is another example of using the same construction in an area that has a soffit. When there is a soffit there is not room for a shelf above the rack. If you compare the two photos, you can see the difference.

    Before the pot rack was completed the wood board that spans between both cabinets did not exist. The kitchen cabinets are just stock cabinets, but the wooden valence was added to make the cabinets look more custom. Dan and Bob made the wooden valence and added the small crown molding.

    On the inside you can see the two brackets (old ones that Bob found at an antique store). Bob took all of the paint off and spray painted them black. The copper pipe was added with the rebar inside to keep the copper pipe from bending.

    I filled, primed, and sanded all surfaces that were to be painted. We bought the hooks at the kitchen store Sur la Table.

    The pots are ready to be used, and Dan has already used one to cook eggs!

    Sunday, November 20, 2011

    Burlington's 3rd Annual Gingerbread House Making Contest

    It’s time to preheat the oven, gather your creativity and supplies and enter the 3rd Annual Gingerbread House Making Contest sponsored by the Historic Burlington Business Association!

    As part of the 2011 Historic Burlington Christmas celebration on December 2nd and 3rd, we are inviting people to register and participate in this exciting contest; judging will take place at Noon on December 3rd. On December 3rd, Eagle Bend Alpaca Farm will have a satellite shop with yarns, a spinning demonstration, and an Alpaca on-site.

    The Prizes for the Adult and Child Categories are "To Be Announced"
    - check back soon for updates!

    All ages are welcome to participate, but houses in the adult category must be made from scratch: photos will be required to prove that they are made from scratch, examples must show the person making the house in the photos.

    All houses will need to be displayed in the lobby of the Old Court House at 2988 Washington Square during the Historic Christmas Celebration to qualify. The Old Court House is at the corner of Rt. 18/Burlington Pike and Rt. 338, in the center of historic downtown Burlington. Creations must be delivered on Friday between 12:00-5:00pm. Judging will take place at NOON on Saturday, December 3rd!

    How to Enter
    To register to participate in Burlington’s 2nd 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 ADULT CATEGORY. THE CONTEST IS OPEN TO ALL AGES. KITS MAY ONLY BE USED IN THE CHILDREN’S KIT CATEGORY FOR AGES 12 AND UNDER. For adults, photos taken during the process of making of the Gingerbread House will need to be shown with the person making the house in the photos to qualify.

    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

    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!

    Saturday, November 19, 2011

    Winter is on the Way!

    We woke to an early morning frost recently...

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    Veteran's Day Gratitude

    This Veteran's Day, we honor and give thanks for all those who have served and are serving our country!

    (Nancy and Bob's son Dan is pictured above, he is currently serving our country and he is getting married in a few weeks - all of us working at Burlington's Willis Graves B&B are so proud of him!)

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Lola is moving to the other Commonwealth!

    Repeat guests may have seen our helper, Lola, on the grounds during their visit to Willis Graves B&B. She stays in our private quarters, but she is around during some of our outdoor projects.

    Lola will be joining our son and moving to the other Commonwealth (Virginia) later this month. This week she had a check-up and she has been given a new bed and a new collar with a name tag and her next address, Virginia Beach.

    We are all sad to see her go, but thought that you might want to know about her new adventure!

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    Afternoon Sewing Project 101: Repurposed Quilt into Quick Valence

    Remember the old quilt that we used in 2009 to make a skirt for the sink in Catharine’s Room?

    We recently got the quilt back out so we could add a quick valence in Catharine's Room. It is for the window next to the sink. Repurposing an old quilt and turning it into a simple valence is a beginner-level sewing project that you can do at home.

    First you will want to measure out the width* and height of the valence you want, adding 5/8” (standard hem measure) onto three sides for a handkerchief hem (which will include the bottom and two sides). The top is left for now without a hem since we will turn it inside out and add a hem later.

    *The width includes the width of window plus returns (the part that wraps around each side). The right side of our valence will run into the wall, so we just have one side/return and we allowed an extra 1 1/2 inches for it.

    Pin and cut the fabric.

    Then pin and cut another piece of fabric that will be the liner. Look at the pattern of fabric to know where to cut. Our liner is a lightweight drapery liner. You don’t want anything too thick or it will be too bulky.

    When cutting, cut nice and square it up by finding the center and then cut off excess from ends. You want to make sure to get the excess off when doing flat work like this, because the measurements really matter.

    We wanted to add a little shape to our valence, so we needed to create a pattern. You can make your own pattern easily using parchment paper. Tape together pieces of parchment if your parchment paper comes in sheets instead of a roll.

    Pin and cut parchment to fit fabric.

    Now you can design your pattern. Use anything you have around the house, such as a plate, to give shape or you can draw freehanded. Mark 5/8” from the end to visualize the hem.

    Tip: If you realize the pattern looks too skimpy, tape a little more parchment paper to the pattern and draw on your adjustment.

    Remove the parchment paper and hold up to see if you are happy with the shape and design. You can make adjustments as needed.

    Make sure the fabric is straight, especially if the fabric has a design in it, before attaching your valence parchment paper pattern. Pin pattern in the center to keep it nice and flat on both sides. Finish pinning and then cut.

    Once the fabric and liner have been cut, then take the pins out to remove parchment paper. Now, re-pin the two pieces of fabric (pattern and liner) together with the right sides touching for your hem sewing.

    Sew your 5/8” hem.

    Trim the seams so when you turn it inside out it will be very smooth. Cut up close as you can without potentially having anything fray.

    Leave the liner a little longer than the fabric if you want (grading the edges).

    If you had a stiff piece of fabric, if you had a turn you would want to cut a few small cuts into the liner. As you can see in the first picture below, it does not turn well on its own, but with a few small cuts it can bend nicely. Since we trimmed so close to the edges, we don’t have to do it for this valence, but wanted to show you in case it is helpful during your own project.

    Turn the fabric inside out so the right sides are outside.

    Roll the ends forward a little bit so you won’t see the liner when it hangs. To help with this, start in the middle and push the fabric up, and secure with a pin.

    Trim off any liner excess that bulges from the top when you are finished pinning. Press the fabric well. Pressing can be as important as the sewing!

    Don’t forget that mistakes happen. We got to this point in the project and realized that we forgot to flip the pattern on the fabric during cutting (since the fabric was turned inside out). Since our two sides are not identical (one side was different because it hit the wall), this meant the right side isn’t able to show - oops!

    To recover, we just cut off the straight edge return so it won’t wrap around the window frame and changed the shape of the valence to curve on both sides.

    We are going to hang the valence using “half and half” velcro. The soft side gets pinned and then sewn onto the valence across the top.

    The stiff side of the velco has a sticky side that you glue to your wood valence frame (the piece of wood frame was put up on the window by Bob).

    Once the velcro is in place, Bob was able to hang our finished valence!

    Monday, October 17, 2011

    Boxwood Trimming Tips

    Many people have boxwoods in their landscaping, but you may not realize how easy they are to trim yourself.

    Earlier this summer, I trimmed our boxwoods. You can see the "before" picture below - look at the boxwood on the right.

    To start, lay down an old sheet under the boxwood to catch all the trimmings. This protects the other landscaping plants too.

    You'll want to hold the trimming shears straight down in a vertical line to trim the sides.

    As you get closer to the top of the plant, you'll flip the shears in the other direction.

    Use your hand to kind of "fluff" the branches to let the cut pieces fall loose to the sheet on the ground.

    When you are finished, clean up is easy. Just roll up the sheet and then discard of the debris in your trash.

    And then you are all finished! In our "after" picture you can see the how the trimmed boxwood on the right compares to the one on the left that wasn't finished yet.

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Special Event: Northern Kentucky Wine Festival - October 15th

    Recently announced on the website:

    Located along the tented Sixth Street Promenade, the Northern Kentucky Wine Festival at MainStrasse Village will feature over 15 Kentucky Wineries from around the state. Local restaurants will be also offering delicious food items to complement the wines that will be available for sampling. You will also enjoy visiting with local artists who will be showcasing their works during the event.

    MainStrasse Village is an historic neighborhood comprised of shops, restaurants, taverns and homes, located just off I-75/71. Take the Covington, 5th Street Exit (Exit 192). Free parking is available in the 5th Street Parking Lot, located between Philadelphia Street and Main Street. For more information please call 859-491-0458 or visit

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    Halloween Decoration Ideas

    Fall is finally here and we enjoy decorating the inn for holidays. For Halloween last year, we use a Martha Stewart idea of creating ghosts in the window. This is an easy do-it-yourself project:
  • Purchase vellum at an art store in poster-board size sheets.
  • Draw one ghost on each sheet of vellum.
  • Cut out the ghost and tape to the inside of your window.

  • In the past we have also decorated the foyer table with gourds bought at the Locust Grove Antique Show; they were made by Holly Branch Gourds.

    Happy Halloween!