Blessings on State
Innkeeper(s): Gwenn and Glenn Eyer
"Sweethearts" Month at Blessings on State 23 Feb 2013, 6:57 am
Forget Valentine's Day - it's Valentine's Month at Blessings on Sate! As an innkeeper, I enjoy decorating and celebrating each holiday and each season. For me, it's always an opportunity be creative and artistic in both food preparation and home decor. Valentine's Day is a big holiday for us at the B&B, so we've decided to extend the celebration. We're calling it "Sweethearts Month." Our guests have ranged from young newly married couples to those closer to our age who have been married for many years.
This year I determined to find red and white china for my "Sweethearts" place settings. Mixing and matching items (and sellers) on EBay paid off with a beautiful set of red and white china! Loving reminders are prominently displayed throughout our home, including vintage red heart garlands strung on the fireplace mantels in each suite. The mantel is the front parlor is graced with a collection of wooden hearts. We've served heart shaped cookies at bedtime, and chocolate covered strawberries with breakfast. We're playing romantic music on our baby grand as guests arrive and in the background as they have breakfast. Though not all of our guests are couples, it's been fun to think of ways to enhance the romance, and I'm thinking Sweethearts Month has a chance of becoming Sweethearts Year at Blessings on State!
Dorothy's Little House on the Illinois Prairie 6 Dec 2012, 7:37 am
A dear friend's sweet mama left her earthly home early this week, relocating to her new home in Heaven. The angels are rejoicing, but it's sure causing mixed feelings for those of us left behind. Sadness that she's gone from our lives for this moment, but renewed anticipation of Heaven's glory when we'll be reunited with those who have gone before.
Dorothy was the mother of one of my closest friends and colleagues. (My Facebook friends have heard of Terry - she is one of my dedicated Christmas Elves and a big supporter of B&B's for Vets.) Her mama's home was my safe landing place when I lived in Alton and needed to stay overnight to work in the Springfield office. It was so much better than staying in a cookie-cutter hotel - there was just no comparison! Dorothy's home was my own personal Bed & Breakfast (and sometimes lunch and dinner!) Even after moving from Alton to Jacksonville I visited Dorothy, both in her home and in her new (nursing) homes.
Ya'll probably know that our current home is a vintage mansion in a grand neighborhood of many large, beautiful homes in the flourishing town of Jacksonville. I can't tell you the number of square feet - I can't even remember the number of rooms without counting - but, it's big! Dorothy lived in a very small house in a very small town. My house is huge and her house size was tiny, by comparison. However, her house was tiny only in size. The warmth and feelings of love and belonging were immeasurable. It was a beautifully decorated little house and was always so warm and welcoming. I never felt like a stranger at Dorothy's. She always welcomed me with open arms, a sweet smile and a mischievous twinkle in her eye. (More about that twinkle in a bit!)
The second that I walked in Dorothy's front door all the cares of the world, all the work concerns, all the things that tugged and pulled my mind and heart a hundred different directions, drifted away. (It might have helped that Terry had often planned ahead and there was a pot of soup on the stove or dinner on the table!) I remember that it was an amazing transformation to total relaxation. It was like coming home.
We visited a lot when I stayed with Dorothy. We chatted and watched Little House on the Prairie and Hallmark movies. We went for fruit and waffles at Ruby's. We carried in fried chicken from Cherry's. She talked with me about my Bed & Breakfast while it was still a big idea full of hope. She knew that it was a long-time dream, and she wholeheartedly supported me as it came to fruition. She loved my family and welcomed them to come with me to visit. When Valerie became an even bigger part of our lives Dorothy loved having her visit, even without me, often sending her home with a stuffed kitty cat. Dorothy's home welcomed many visitors - she had many, many friends - and I hope that my B&B guests feel even a portion of the love, warmth and welcome that was "Dorothy's house".
When I was there we talked a lot and laughed a lot. Dorothy was so much fun to spend time with, although she did have an ornery streak, and I got caught more than once! The funniest illustration I can remember - funny NOW - is the time that Dorothy and Terry were in the kitchen early one morning while I was still sleeping soundly. Dorothy wore a call button around her neck, and I'd often wondered what I'd do if she fell and had to push the button while I was there. (I'd spent some time reviewing in my mind what steps I'd take.) The story goes that as I was sleeping away, Dorothy asked Terry what she thought would happen if she pushed the button, buzzing the alarm box that was set about six inches from my pillow. Terry insists to this day that she discouraged it, but... Dorothy thought it might be funny, and.... she pushed it! I flew from the bedroom to the kitchen, feet barely touching the floor! As sleepy as I was, I could quickly see that there was no crisis, only a slightly sheepish Dorothy, with an impish grin, watching my panicked flight. After catching my breath and getting my heart rate back under control, even I could see that it was a little bit funny. However, as time passed it became funnier and funnier and Dorothy reveled in revisiting that buzzer-induced early morning wake up call!
I have many, many fond memories of Dorothy, and like others who knew and loved her, will miss her greatly. It's a blessing to know that she's enjoying her new home in the warmth and wonder of Heaven, and we'll be visiting again before too long.
How Does YOUR Garden Grow? 16 Aug 2012, 8:52 am
There's No Place Like Home 27 Jul 2012, 3:22 pmI've had the opportunity to do a little traveling during the past several months. Here are a few things I've learned:
1) There's no place like Charleston and Savannah in the springtime. However, even in the loveliest cities I missed my porch and gardens in Jacksonville.
2) Hotel housekeeping is a wonderful thing. However, the added expense of room service... not so wonderful.
3) You can hardly beat the mountain view from the second floor balcony at Hyatt Regency Tamaya. However, when one locks herself out on the balcony with two children when the temperature is 95 degrees, it loses some of its appeal.
4) I really miss the young one when she goes to camp in another state. However, road tripping in Kentucky with my husband to fill time while she's away is a lot of fun!
5) One can learn about Native Americans baking bread, weaving, and baking bricks at Tamaya. However, I can stay home and learn about the Civil War and the Underground Railroad practically in my own back yard.
6) Hotel suites can be luxurious and well appointed. However, there's nothing better than sleeping with my head on my own pillow in my very own bed.
Step One: New Towels - Mission Accomplished! 5 Feb 2012, 1:25 pmBlessings on State officially opened in the May, 2008. We've crossed the three-year threshold, and I'm doing some upgrading! We started with nice towels - luxurious, soft - and had a maximum of two sets of each kind. When I found something I liked, I bought it, in pairs. Now we're upgrading. I recently purchased dozens of thick beautiful towels from the Turkish Towel Company. These luxury towels are made from 100% Turkish cotton and are super absorbant. I chose classic white towels for a spa look and feel. They're unpacked and pre-washed and I'm very pleased with them! Come try them out!
Step one on the Upgrade Trail: Mission Accomplished!
Refreshed, Renewed, Revitalized! 28 Jan 2012, 12:50 pm
I just returned home from my first ever national Innkeeping Conference. As an educator and conference planner, I’m a big believer in educational conferences and this one was a winner! The opening keynote impressed us with The Magic of S.I.L.K. I loved P. Allen Smith’s slide show presentation and would love to visit his Moss Mountain Farm. I’m kind of going kicking and screaming into the whole social networking thing, but appreciate the tips and techniques shared by Buuteeq. The Trade Show was eye-opening and really gave me great resources for moving ahead as a lodging leader in our region. Plus, the whole time I was there learning from the educational sessions and the trade show, I was also gathering tips and information from other innkeepers from all across the country. What an exciting, innovative and professional group! I left Little Rock refreshed, renewed and revitalized! You may count on some upgrades and changes in coming weeks at Blessings on State and in the next few blog entries I’ll detail some of the coming transitions, including linen lines, décor, gardens and web site.
Please stay tuned….
I Have Followers! 19 Jan 2012, 10:43 am
I have followers! Does that scare you as much as it scares me?? I'm working hard to establish this blog and I've just started in with Twitter. I have to tell you it was kind of exciting when I got my first followers! My first follower here is Deanna from Home Haven, and the oldest continuously published newspaper in Illinois is following me on Twitter - no pressure there! Following me... following my words. Viewing the photographs I post. Wow. What a responsibility! What shall I say? Shall I be funny? Inspiring? Heartwarming? Motivational?
Today I'll tell you that I am also a follower. I am following the Journal Courier, Home Haven, and several others. I'm reading what they write and paying attention to their words, and their words may have an impact on my life, positive or negative. Even more than this, though, I am a follower of Christ. I can have confidence that my path is straight when I follow Christ as my leader in life. I wonder... am I reading what He's written? Do I spend as much time reading my Bible and communing with the Lord as I do studying the photos on the blogs and reading others' words? I think not.
Like the children in Peter Pan, we're "Following the leader, the leader, the leader... We're following the leader, wherever he may go."
Are you a follower? Best be sure whom you are following and how closely you follow.
And... We Have Snow! 12 Jan 2012, 2:16 pm
Roxie has been here five times during the past couple of years, stopping to rest as she transports cherished items to their new home. She's a funny, wise, and independent woman. I've loved getting to know her and hearing about the beloved town and restored older home she's leaving behind. It's been fun to keep up with her and interesting to follow the progress on their move. The snow didn't cause any major problems for me, as I went out early to sweep the front porch and back deck, then went out with them to sweep off their car and truck. Yes, sweep. It's a very light fluffy snow - the kind that blows and drifts, rather than the let's-go-build-a-snowman kind. It’s been snowing and blowing all day, and I say, “Let it snow!”
Winter in the Midwest 9 Jan 2012, 7:20 pm
I'm a Midwesterner. I grew up in the Heartland. Farm country, cold winters, snow drifts, the whole works! I love living in the Midwest because we have four seasons. Well, we did have four seasons.
The calendar currently says that it is winter. On occasion, the thermometer says that it's winter. It's almost cold enough long enough to make it feel like it's winter. Then we get a day like last Thursday when the temperature nearly hit 60 degrees! In the Midwest. In the Heartland!
We haven't even had a hard frost! People are talking about that. I'm not sure what it means, except that you're supposed to trim your fruit trees. Or maybe you're not. I don't remember the rule. To me it means that it doesn't really "feel" like winter in the Midwest. Sixty degrees is about 40 degrees too hot for winter. It hasn't been cold enough long enough. I miss the snow. I love this big old house looks all cozied up in a blanket of snow. No, I don't have to plow it, and I don't have to shovel it... I just get to enjoy it. In the absence of any real snow, please enjoy this picture of a lovely snowy night from years past... that's all we can do for now.
Un-Decking the Halls 4 Jan 2012, 7:44 pm
I don’t know about you all, but I’m still celebrating Christmas here at Blessings on State. I’m still celebrating the Savior’s birth. The nativities still show Mary and Joseph with the Christ child. The trees are still up and the stockings are still hung. I’m still listening to Christmas music. I’m even still enjoying some remaining Christmas cookies!
I’ll have to give in at some point. The cookies are almost gone and it will soon be time for the decorations to come down. I’m amazed at those who take all their decorations down the day after Christmas. Their homes are cleaned and totally back in pre-Christmas order by the end of the year! Our home is clean, but I can’t think of taking down the Christmas décor until at least the first or second week of January.
This was our fifth Christmas in Jacksonville, our fifth Christmas in this vintage mansion we now call home. I’m very thankful for the opportunity the Lord has given us to live here and operate our Bed & Breakfast. Those who know me well know that it was the desire of my heart, and I’m thankful every day. I love this big old house and I love our large yard and I love our town. I’m also a big fan of snow and flocked trees and icicles. I think we need at least one heavy snow each winter, preferably more than one. We did not have snow for Christmas, so I’ll leave the white lights on the gazebo and the pine roping up for a few weeks in hopes that I’ll be able to see it all trimmed in snow. It’s so beautiful here on a still, snowy night in the Midwest!
In the meantime, it’s not a quick job, un-decking these halls. We have six full-sized trees to take down and ladders are required for most of them. My organizational plan involves storing ornaments by type and color: bright red and lime green, the cupcakes and cotton candy child's tree, gold and crystal for the front parlor, the Victorian tree, etc. My theory is that I’ll fill one box at a time. No dragging down every box for me – it’s too overwhelming! I’ll just do a little bit each day.
Maybe I'll start...