Burlington's Willis Graves Bed & Breakfast Inn
Nancy and Bob on WKRC News... 29 Jan 2016, 7:29 am
Top 10 U.S. B&Bs of 2015 Award by BedandBreakfast.com 17 Jan 2016, 1:53 pm
Bob and Nancy Swartzel renovated their 1830s Federal homestead next to the Boone County Fairgrounds and opened it for business in 1995. They later made history when they saved a cabin that sat squarely in the middle of a proposed runway at the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, by purchasing it - for $1 - to salvage a second historic landmark. This 1850s log cabin was wrapped in battered white siding and lined with layers of faded wallpaper. Nancy and Bob arranged to have the two hundred and sixteen poplar logs dismantled and hauled on flat bed trucks over four miles to their inn. After two years of reassembly and renovation, their log cabin getaway opened to guests in November 2004. This honor by BedandBreakfast.com is a perfect milestone to celebrate their twenty years in business.
Top 10 Winner - Burlington's Willis Graves Bed & Breakfast Inn, Burlington, Kentucky
"Travelers rave about this B&B's cleanliness, marvelous breakfasts and complimentary snacks, and unparalleled service. In-room features range from fireplaces to hand-carved canopy beds. 'The whirlpool tub was very nice but the show stopper was the steam shower—there are no words to explain how you feel when you take the time to relax in the steam shower,' says a guest. In the morning, choose from a multi-course hot meal or Continental offerings. 'Breakfasts were decadent. I highly recommend the orange marmalade and cream cheese French toast,' says a reviewer."
Gluten Free Twist on a Guest Favorite Breakfast Dish: Bacon and Spinach Two Cheese Quiche 10 Jan 2016, 9:25 am
Bacon and Spinach Two Cheese Quiche
4 bacon slices, cooked and cut into small pieces
2 large handfuls of baby spinach, chopped into small pieces
glug glug white whine
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
half a square block (approximately 4 ounces) Gruyère cheese, shredded
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup half and half
Dash ground cayenne red pepper for a little kick
Two springs fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped
Six or seven leaves of fresh rosemary, chopped fine
Couple shakes of Penzey's Italian herb blend
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place four strips of bacon on a cookie sheet that is placed inside a rimmed baking sheet, and add to preheated oven. After six minutes rotate the sheet halfway. After another six minutes, remove the bacon and squeeze in paper towels to remove extra grease. Chop into bite-size pieces. Turn oven down to 350 degrees.
While the bacon is cooking, take the chopped spinach and add to a small saucepan over medium heat. Add a "glug glug" pour of white wine (we used a chardonnay) to the saucepan and let it come to a boil and cook down the spinach for a few minutes. Drain remaining liquid.
Spread the cooked spinach and bacon in the bottom of a pie dish. Add the cheeses on top.
In a separate bowl, mix eggs, heavy cream, half and half, fresh herbs, Italian herb blend, and cayenne pepper. Be careful with the cayenne pepper.
Slowly pour egg mixture over pie, sprinkle the fresh parsley on top, and then add a couple turns of freshly cracked pepper.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Yield: 6 servings.
Holiday Gift Giving: Our Gift Certificates are Available Online 3 Dec 2015, 1:16 pm
We can customize gift certificates for any amount over $25 to be used toward a relaxing stay. Your recipient can choose between two masterfully restored early and mid-1800s buildings: the 1850s log cabin and the 1830s Federal brick homestead. Our goal has always been 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.
Recent Cabin Restoration Details 27 Oct 2015, 12:35 pmGuests this Fall and Winter will notice our recent updates to the cabin restoration...
It started in early Spring, as we hired a painter to paint the main house and to seal the logs on the cabin. At that time we were only going to seal the logs and repair the chinking (the area between the logs) where needed. We went to a store called Log Home Center close to Noblesville, Indiana. We decided to use their products to seal the logs and the chinking. We bought top of the line products that included a 3-step process, to seal the cabin after fixing the chinking and cleaning the logs. We picked out a nice grey stain for the logs and the chinking. We bought what we thought was enough chinking for the repairs and we were on our way. The rest of the product was mailed to us because we needed to test the color on a section of one of the logs once we got home.
At that point we didn't know what batch was wrong. As it turned out the first batch was too dark and the second batch was the correct color. The painter was able to blend the light and dark together so it worked out - the good news is that we decided that we liked the new dark grey color.
About a month later the painter came back to finish the porches. We decided to keep the cedar stain that we used 11 years ago when the cabin was reconstructed. That produce is called Sikkens. The contrast between the grey and the cedar looks great.
As for the chinking, Bob and I worked side by side for more than a month on ladders making all repairs to the chinking. Every time we ordered chinking a few days later we ordered more. Not sure how much chinking we bought, Bob thinks about 40 small tubes and about 10 large tubes - that is a lot of chinking!! We worked in the hot sun and sometimes the nice shade. Sometimes we worked when big dark clouds were looming. At one point I told Bob that I would never say the word again (chinking). All the hard work paid off because now that its all done, it looks great. Some of our regular guests arrived when we were still working, so they got to see the changes in action.
Our sources for stains and finishes: The product called Sikkens (sikkens.com) is sold in different places throughout the country. We bought the product at an old hardware store in Cincinnati called Doppes J B Sons Lumber Company (www.doppeslumber.net) at 1001 Dalton Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45203. And we visited the Log Home Center (loghomecenter.com) at 16907 Mystic Rd, Noblesville, IN 46060.
"The 50 Best B&Bs in America" - MSN Travel 21 Oct 2015, 1:52 pmWe were surprised and thrilled to see our inn included in MSN Travel/Business Insider's recently released feature article, "The 50 Best B&Bs in America", a great resource if you are looking for travel ideas: http://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/tripideas/the-50-best-bandbs-in-america/ss-AAf8D4y?ocid=HPCDHP#image=15
Not everyone has the time or resources to hit all fifty in this article, but it makes for a fun wish list. Also, if you are ever interested in a regional bed and breakfast experience, we do offer a two-stop adventure with our friend, Marsha, for those interested in experiencing two bed and breakfasts during a two-day weekend adventure!
Last-minute Special for THIS weekend: 30% Discount for the Log Cabin Suite 23 Sep 2015, 12:11 pm
Notes from an Innkeeper: The Transformation of Thomas' Room 6 Aug 2015, 4:30 pmWelcome to our new series, Notes from an Innkeeper, which will include a behind-the-scenes view of the inn, room by room with information you can use for your own home decorating projects. It will feature paint colors, furniture and decor sources, our favorite antique discoveries, project tips, and more. If there is anything you've ever wondered about our interiors - just let us know in the comments or on Facebook. We look forward to journeying through the inn with you and reminiscing about its transformation over the last twenty years. Keep in mind that we are always making updates, so the photos below are from different time periods with decorating elements that have changed since they were originally shot. Please don't be surprised to see different looks in each room upon arrival, as part of the fun is keeping things fresh and interesting. First up...
In August 1995, the inn opened for business. It was declared a National Register of Historic Places Home on June 19, 1979. ￼Inside the Main House, Thomas' Room is just up a set of timeworn, original stairs and to the right.
- Wall paint color - Porter Paint "Antique Lace"
- Trim - Williamsburg Gray was Pratt and Lambert - Martin Senour Paints W1090 Purdie House Gray Paint color, Porter Paint matched it.
- The Nightstand table was made by Spicer, it is a vintage reproduction piece, but the company is no longer in business.
- The queen bed frame is a reproduction by David T. Smith and is a tiger maple pencil post in style.
- The sewing was all done at the inn (a curtain tutorial is also on the blog). The fabric was found for the curtains and canopy at Tassle's in Louisville - quite a find at only $4.99/yard! - while on a shopping trip with Marsha, who is the innkeeper at Inn at Woodhaven.
- The needlepoint looking rug was found at TJMaxx, but is no longer in the room.
- Antique Mirror is a 19th century chippendale miniature from Bob's collection.
- The swivel lamps were from Pottery Barn, with new shades.
- The fresh flowers and cheese plate are an add-on option for overnight guests.
- The bed linen layering system is the same in all the inn's rooms: We begin with 100% cotton sheets, a down blanket, another sheet, covered with a quilt, down pillows (we have PrimaLoft for those with allergies) and then a plate of our homemade cookies is usually waiting on top. A helpful tip is to buy sheets that are 100% all cotton, always avoid poly blends. Our sheets are ironed and often line-dried, weather permitting (Nancy's tips for fresh sheets). The white quilt is a reproduction and covers the triple-sheeting mentioned previously. When sheets pill after washing then that is a sign of lower quality, the length of thread isn't long enough so when it spins it pills. One sheet brand to look for at Home Goods is Ralph Lauren, the thread count is 300 and on the package it says Dunham Sateen. These sheets come in a lot of colors, but we only use white. The inn has other brands too, but this set works well and can also be found at places like Marshalls and T.J. Maxx.
- The inn's pillows and down blankets are from a line sold to the hospitality trade from Downlite, you can order them through us if you enjoy them during your stay (details about the inn's pillows).
- The ice bucket holding the champagne was bought in California at the Domaine Chandon Winery, made in Europe. Guests are welcome to bring their own wine since the inn does not have an alcohol license. Glasses and a bottle opener are in each room.
- The base carpet was just a neutral short carpet, it has since been replaced.
- The chair has been reupholstered, a tip is to buy well-made pieces and then you can recover them as needed as you redecorate. This red chair is a Baker piece, and is now off-white. Several of our reupholstered pieces were recovered by a gentleman in Louisville, feel free to call Nancy directly at the inn if you would like his contact information. ￼
- The nightstand contains books about Boone, Lewis and Clark, and John Adams.
- The work desk was one of the first antiques we ever bought at the Burlington Antique Show, and we walked it on down to the house. It was a great find, only $135, with nice old paint.
- The lamp was by Turtle Creek Pottery (division of David T. Smith) and the lampshade is from Pallet Studios in Cincinnati. Pallet Studios is like a lamp shade doctor, they adjust the harp underneath to the shade and give excellent advice on which shade to choose.
- We have since re-covered the lamp shades since this was photographed, and replaced them with new office white shades.
- Luggage stores are a good source for quality luggage racks. ￼￼
- The painting above the work desk was purchased at auction, but part of it needed total restoration. It was restored by Old World Restoration in Cincinnati. Several guests ask if the painting depicts Willis Graves' son, Thomas, for whom the room is named after, but the portrait is of an unknown gentleman.
- On the tray, the china is from our collection including Johnson Bros. and Villeroy and Bach pieces, the tea pot is Spode.
- The Christmas ornament hanging from the canopy is a reproduction German ornament.
- The flat-screen television sits atop an antique green chest of drawers that is part of our private collection, the old paint finish has great character.
- Changing the fabric in curtains and canopy covers can change the whole look of a room, Nancy made both the versions in this post, with tan fabric (described previously) and before that the room was dressed in the red version, which was an old decorator fabric, more expensive and most likely from Calico Corners. ￼
- The needlepoint stool was bought at an antique auction, probably 18 years ago, and the pole lamp (similar to current Circa Lighting offerings) was from a house auction.
- The chest of drawers (in a previous photo) was from the Burlington Antique Show, its unique with an alligator-like finish, but the mirror is no longer on it.
- The needlepoint pillows are no longer in the chair, styles have changed and we make updates.
- The yellow print comforter at the bed's base in the older photographs was a Ralph Lauren bedspread.
- The long brass antique bed warmer on the wall was used (before heat was commonplace) to warm a bed with coals in it.
- The wall print above the chair was a Courier and Ives print of the Summer House Homestead in Spring.
- Also in the photo to the right: A very vintage computer laptop. :)
- The teapot on the tray is used often in the dining room for our guests' breakfast. It has an insulated interior and felt lining under the silver cover, from Williams-Sonoma online.
- The wooden antique chair is not currently in room; it was replaced with an upholstered chair.
- You can see in the photo above to the right, the tricks of the trade... the work desk is a great antique with beautiful legs, but the traditional front side with a drawer had an upturned surface, so we just turned the table around to cover the "flaw" (which really is code for "character" - you can barely see it just behind the lamp).
- Nancy and Bob's good friends used to own a stone and tile store, and you will notice beautiful tile and stone throughout the inn. In the Thomas' Room private bathroom, large porcelain tiles were laid on the floor at an interesting angle, and ceramic was used in the shower/tub enclosure with a rope trim. Brands and names unknown since the bathroom was re-done over 13 years ago and the store is no longer open.
- Mirror is from Restoration Hardware or Pottery Barn.
- The robe pictured is older, we now have slightly different robes from Robeworks that are branded with our logo and available for purchase through the inn.
- A variety of towel brands are used in the inn, one example is Ralph Lauren. We always use white towels to give a spa-feeling to all the bathrooms.
- The faucet is Delta, sink is Kohler and the large apron/lip of the surface is intentional - it makes it easy for guests to store toiletries on it or rest a hair appliance.
- Many bed and breakfasts, and residences too, use pedestal sinks. If you do, don't forget to look for one with an apron ledge on it, as this makes it much easier to get ready in the morning.
- Light fixtures are Restoration Hardware.
- Paint colors in the bathroom are unknown, it was matched from a paint chip but the name did not transfer to the can.
- Information about the Airjet tub can be found in the guest room binders; the brand is Aquatic Serenity.
- Great smelling Hand Soap can be found at HomeGoods.
- An example of our continuous updates, this older photo of the bathroom was back when the bathroom had a different mirror, brass light fixture/make-up mirror, and tan shower curtain.
We are Open during 4th of July Week for the first time in years! 1 Jun 2015, 11:12 am
Below is a list of events that usually occur around the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Check back at CincinnatiUSA.com closer to the holiday for specific event info including dates and times once they are set by the community.
Larosa’s Balloon Glow at Coney Island – Spend the day enjoying Sunlite pool, live music, family entertainment and classic rides. In the evening, the sky illuminates when hot air balloons of every color glow for all to see from 8-10pm. At 10:00pm, the grand finale is a spectacular Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks display over the banks of Lake Como.
4th of July Bash on Fountain Square – Fountain Square provides nightly entertainment throughout the summer. At 10:00pm, experience a dazzling Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks display overtop of the square and Macy’s downtown store.
Ault Park Independence Day Celebration - A full day of family-friendly fun including: Children's Parade, Food, Festivities and Music. The event starts at 11am and concludes after the fireworks at 10pm.
Fireworks at Kings Island – Starting at 10pm, this colorful pageant in the sky will be 10 times the size & scope of the traditional nightly fireworks display at the park. The park stays open until midnight on the 4th to enjoy even more thrills.
Fireworks Friday at Great American Ball Park – Attend the Cincinnati Reds game at 7:10pm, then stay for the post-game fireworks show with soundtrack starting approximately 15 minutes after the end of the game. If you can’t make it to the ballpark, the fireworks will be visible nearby on both sides of the river. Try Smale Riverfront Park or Newport on the Levee for great views.
Florence Freedom Post-Game Fireworks – Enjoy the World Famous Rozzi's Fireworks Show following the 6:35pm Florence Freedom baseball game versus the Washington Wild.
Red, White and Blue Ash – Celebrate Independence Day in the northern suburb of Blue Ash with free live entertainment by national acts and Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks at 10pm.
Red, White, and Boom! – The Cincinnati Pops presents all-American favorites alongside May Festival Chorus and Classical Roots Community Mass Choir at Riverbend Music Center. Then stick around for post-concert fireworks!
Welcome Home: A Salute to Service - An all-day celebration of veterans at Sawyer Point that includes a parade, festival for veterans, children's activities, music, food, and concludes with fireworks.
Fourth of July Fireworks at Washington Park. Spend the day enjoying this newly renovated public park in historic Over-the-Rhine, then watch as the sky lights up with fireworks at dusk.
Best Breakfast Recipe and YOUR chance today to win a $500 BedandBreakfast.com Gift Card 30 Mar 2015, 12:57 amNancy's signature Three Cheese Tart was recently selected as a finalist in the 4th Annual Best Breakfast contest sponsored by BedandBreakfast.com, and today it is up for vote as the public decides the winner through a series of brackets (a la March Madness tournament-style). We could use your help by taking a minute to vote - and your vote enters YOU to win a $500 BedandBreakfast.com Gift Card!
This is the first bracket as a finalist, if we win will will advance to the next round. Thank you for your time, support - and your vote!
"Years ago I figured out that blending Feta, Parmesan and Gruyère cheeses makes a unique taste that almost no one can resist when baked in a quiche. Even guests who typically overlook the words 'tart' or 'quiche' on a menu absolutely love it! Using the same cheese and herb measurements will allow for adding vegetables as written in the base recipe, or you can substitute anything from your local farmer. My weekly trip to Eagle Bend Farm for eggs makes me relax alongside innkeeping, and our guests can experience this haven too since Eagle Bend is open by appointment. They raise alpacas and wonderful chickens, so many different kinds of chickens, and there is even a fiber studio with knitting classes. The chickens who lay our favorite blue eggs are called Araucana. This original recipe is special to us since it has been a guest favorite for so many years, and we hope you can enjoy making it at home now too. If you host any out-of-town guests for a Kentucky Derby party this Spring, consider preparing this tart for brunch and use Kentucky country ham to create a true regional specialty. The ham makes it even better. Enjoy!” - Nancy Swartzel
Willis Graves' Three Cheese Tart
1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced fresh cherry tomatoes
1 (9-inch) homemade pie crust or high-quality, store-bought version
Salt and black pepper to taste
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 3/4 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
8 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese
4 local eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup white wine
Dash ground cayenne red pepper for a little kick
Fresh herbs to taste, such as thyme or rosemary
Freshly cracked black pepper
Fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley springs for garnish
Also known as quiche or breakfast pie, this tart is a perfect way to showcase regional, in-season vegetables and goods from the farmer’s market. The mushrooms and tomatoes can be substituted with an equivalent amount of produce and/or breakfast meats. When possible, our eggs are sourced from nearby Eagle Bend Farm in Burlington; their fresh golden yolks yield a wonderful flavor.
Bake the empty pie crust at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, remove from oven and let cool for approximately 10 minutes before adding other ingredients. Once the pie crust is cool, place mushrooms and tomatoes (or substitutions) in the bottom of the pie crust and season with salt and pepper. Layer all three cheeses on top of the vegetables.
In a separate bowl, mix local eggs, heavy cream, white wine, fresh herbs, and cayenne pepper. Be careful with the cayenne pepper - a little goes a long way! Slowly pour egg mixture over the pie and sprinkle the extra shredded Parmesan cheese and freshly cracked black pepper on top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. To serve, garnish with fresh parsley and enjoy!
Yield: 6 to 8 servings.