At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn
Dear Paunxsutawney Phil-Please no shadow! 1 Feb 2016, 6:06 am
As I pen this blog here at the inn, I can still see the remnants of the snow storm that began in earnest on Friday January 22, 2016 and dumped more snow in this area than I’ve seen since our arrival in 1999. When we first claimed Asheville as our home, all the locals were still talking about the “big snow” of 1993. It brutalized this area with such ferocity that there is little doubt that all appliances powered by gas won the day for a long time due to the power outages this snow event left in it’s wake. This storm broke those records.
Love it or hate it, and generally I fall in to the former category of this equation, snow is beautiful!! It descends with a delicate shimmering grace creating new landscapes out of the familiar ones you see every day. As it falls enfolding everything it touches in soft gossamer wings, a sense of magic, possibility for fun and prospects of a unique day filled with exciting possibilities reveal themselves.
That said, when your husband is on crutches, you are now solo, running a small accommodation operation in a Victorian home constructed in 1902 and praying that your limited number of employees will even be able to get in to work- It can be daunting. All that lovely, glistening snow can begin to create more than a few obstacles for your guests being able to really enjoy their visit.
We have lovely off street parking at the inn….Well, that’s when you could still see the driveway. We have old, established boxwood bushes that line that driveway and some graceful trees on it’s other side whose graceful limbs greet guests as they curve around the driveway to our property. To say those limbs were “hanging low” every few hours would be accurate. No worries, Candace, my long time, trusty employee quickly arriving ahead of the snow, my sister (this is when she is wishing she was an “only child”) and myself began each morning right after we served breakfast with the beat the bushes project. This went on every few hours along with the care, maintenance and salting of the front marble steps & the front and the back porches.
To add insult to injury, one of our water heaters decided the biggest snow of the year was a grand time to retire. Calling the repair man necessitates that said repair man is able to reach the site of the repair. As a native New Yorker, I always wondered why Asheville panics at 4″ of snow. It’s the topography of this area! On steep inclines and descents, even 4″ can prove a very challenging affair. Ask the water heater guys and all the many businesses that were brave enough to remain open though staffed only with skeleton crews that were able to walk to work. All public transport was shut down and the roads unpassable as we reached the 16″ mark.
We spent many hours of that weekend on hands and knees manually re-lighting that heater so that our guests could continue to enjoy our handy, dandy jetted tubs and also issuing more than a few prayers it would, Oh Please God re-light. Best not to dwell on the shock of jetted frigid waters in the guest rooms if it didn’t.
Now, on to the last and most important part of this missive, my guests. I was blessed to have the most wonderful, most understanding, most collaborative guests in our home that weekend much more entranced with the wondrous magic of the silver, shining carpet of enticingly beautiful snow than any inconvenience it might present. They were the superstars of guests and I pronounced them each an every one “folks I’d most like to be stranded with in the next snow storm.” My thanks for their graciousness and kindness.
Please though Phil, if you could, no shadow…..Just for this year.
Asheville’s Most Romantic Winter Package-Bon Appetit! 13 Jan 2016, 1:42 pm
Winter is harsh. It’s cold, it can be dreary, sunshine is in short supply and we all need a dash of romance to hold us over till Spring. No worries, we’ve done all the advance work for you. At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn, in joining forces with Vinnie’s Neighborhood Italian Restaurant can offer an inspired special guest menu sure to deliver some amore to spark up those chilly winter nights.
Join us for a two night stay at the inn choosing the Winter Romance Italian Feast Menu Package. After a grand day exploring all the nooks and crannies of our beloved Asheville, return to the inn for a few hours before dinner to enjoy some couple time soaking in a relaxing jetted tub or snuggling up while warming your toes in front of a fireplace. Give us a call or book online using Code: Winter Dinner Package. Please read package details in full on our home page in Innkeeper’s Corner.
When you are ready for dinner, off you’ll go to Vinnie’s Neighborhood Italian Restaurant. We love this place and think you will too. Casual and friendly…. there are no strangers here! A special menu has been created for our guests. You’ll enjoy a shared app, pre-dinner salads, moving right along to choose from 5 specially selected entrees and ending in the bliss of a shared dessert. Bon Appetit!
Here’s the special menu our guests will enjoy:
Antipasti (choose one)
fried calamari, marinara sauce
Long Island style, crispy-fried with fra diavolo sauce
fried risotto balls stuffed with mozzarella with Vinnie’s smoky tomato sauce
House-made fried mozzarella sticks, Vinnie’s marinara dipping sauce
Italian-style fried zucchini with Vinnie’s marinara dipping sauce
lots of garlic butter, parmesan cheese, fresh Italian parsley
Insalata (choose two)
Caesar dressing, croutons, anchovy filet
field greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, olive oil lemon dressing
Romaine lettuce, feta cheese, red onions, olives, pepperoncino, tomatoes, house Greek dressing
Entrees (choose two)
*Spaghetti with “Sunday Gravy”
Aunt Stella’s recipe with sweet Italian sausage and meatballs
Sonny’s recipe, over spaghetti
*Linguini and Clams (red, white, or fra diavolo sauce)
little neck clams, whole and chopped
marsala wine, mushrooms. served with choice of 2 sides
ground beef, veal, sausage, onion, cream, red wine-tomato sauce
Postre (choose one)
lightly lemon flavored, no crust. served with house-made whipped cream and a cherry!
a classic! house-made
*Flourless Chocolate Torte
layers of chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, and chocolate ganache
*Grilled Olive Oil Cake
amaretto olive oil cake marked on the grill, topped with whipped cream
and strawberry-marsala compote
*Bread Pudding (baked or fried)
classic cinnamon-vanilla pudding, baked or fried, with bourbon-caramel sauce and whipped cream
New Year’s Resolution Diary 2016 2 Jan 2016, 9:08 am
In earlier times, it seems everyone adopted a New Year Resolution. Resolutions were talked about as each new year approached as a means by which we could shed all our problem issues of the past and graze new territory in our lives by simply adopting new more successful behavioral strategies.
As easy and maybe even as needed as these resolutions were to adopt and spout off about- I think it became very apparent to nearly everyone that made them that the devil was in the details. Identifying behaviors that cause our lives to be more complex, less fruitful and fulfilling than we’d hoped is not a reach for most of us. In fact, if the question were posed requesting a list of some personal behaviors that we know are not contributing to the success we hoped for in our lives most of us could begin a litany of those flaws in moments.
I used to keep a diary relating ways in which I had responded to certain circumstances and in the next line of the text what choices might have made to create a better outcome. Now, rather than make diary entries strategic and well intention-ed, I try and give a bit more thought to my behaviors prior to enacting them. The devil really is in the details. The resolution became about really absorbing a knowledge that cleaning up poorly managed behaviors requiring resolutions might be a bit less time consuming if I just gave a a bit more thought to things before the fact. Council my words, think about my behaviors a bit longer before acting on them to my own peril and sometimes to the peril of others. Think about the results before doing the deed. It’s working better than the diary I think. It’s a lot less to clean up!
New Year’s Eve Winter Lights 2015 at NC Arboretum 16 Dec 2015, 10:39 am
We have owned our bed and breakfast inn in Asheville for 17 years. As the year winds down and folks plan their holiday foray to Asheville we are often asked for suggestions about what to do during their stay that would make it really special. Many of those questions revolve around what to do for the evening we ring in 2016.
Clearly, with a microbrewery on nearly every right angle in Asheville, a microbrewery tour is always a sought after itinerary. That said, there are always a few souls that are really seeking an “out of the box” New Year’s Eve experience that would provide something outside the norm.
This year, we have the perfect response for that enquiry. Our North Carolina Arboretum, totally a local treasure, is superseding their usual brilliance in a purely illuminating way with their production of Winter Lights. Talk about lighting up the night! In consultation with Disney magic in the person of Jerry Stripling, who was earlier in his career responsible for design and manager of holiday decorations at Disney. The light display is quite simply, breathtaking! The gardens are extraordinary and with these twinkly lights in place and holiday music in the air, the effect is one I am quite sure will ensure a great memory surrounding how you brought in the brand new year of 2016. Take a picture under the 50 ft. Christmas tree….and every one will know you had a really beautiful experience during your stay in Asheville, NC.
Should you find all this fresh air and creative magic brings out the hungry in you….Try on The outdoor Smore Station or dinner options at The Savory Thyme Cafe.
the 50 ft. Christmas tree, the trains and more will guarantee a really special evening.
Montford Historic District Holiday Tour of Homes 2015 10 Dec 2015, 12:09 pm
History is made tangible as the Montford Historic District Tour of Homes makes it visible in architectural terms on December 12, 2015 from 1-5. Many of the homes in our historic district will be available for touring during this event providing ticket holders with a perfect opportunity to see these turn-of-the-century homes in full holiday splendor.
It is believed that the piece of real estate now known as the Montford Historic District was initially built and lived in by well heeled Charlestonians looking for a climatic escape to the oppressive heat that area is known for. The mountains of Western North Carolina, long known for healthful, fresh, cool mountain air became sought after and large, for the time in which they were built, homes began dotting street after street in this premium piece of land located so close to our downtown.
While At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn is not on the tour this year we have opened our home to this tour in the past. It is such a treat to see ticket holders arrive observing in awe the special architectural features present in these old homes. Built in hutches, bookshelves, walls, staircases and mantles showcasing beautiful, now extinct wood, high ceilings, boilers with the charm and sometimes creative beauty of old radiators, sleeping or wrap around porches and butler pantries.
Join our community this Saturday, December 12, 2015 for a bird’s eye view into the gracious, stylized and eternally gone period of days gone by at the Holiday Tour of Homes 2015. Tickets: $25. The likes of these homes will never come again. Call us for details.
Gratitude Journal 1 Dec 2015, 9:21 am
Life moves along sometimes almost by route. The days pass in the routines of responsibility and unless something alters that movement we just move through the pattern of our life as established.
Our routine here at the inn altered on October 21st of this year when my husband severely broke his tibia and fibula. In his efforts to finish the roof of a garden shed at the inn he fell and really did a number on his leg. We actually work at our inn so anyone’s absence is notable. Innkeepers, as a collective, are very aware of all the many tasks that must be accomplished daily to ensure a positive guest experience coupled with the ongoing maintenance of an older home. They also know doing this alone is not easy.
Seemingly out of nowhere, from individuals I was not expecting contact from at all, help of all kinds came streaming out from every front. Beautiful soups and stews, offers of grocery shopping assistance, even offers of a bit of visiting for “ladderman” as he remained immobile and likely a bit lonely after I went to work. Even beautiful guest treats home made that I did not have to bake arrived at the inn all ready to be served to my guests
All of these souls lead very busy lives. They are running their own inns, working other jobs and some also have the responsibility of young children. Still, they arrived. They cooked, picked up items at Sam’s, offered every kind of service they thought might be missing as my husband could not work.
The definition of gratitude is the quality of being
readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
Sometimes, when we need help most, it is difficult to manage the situation we are in. We are overwhelmed and overworked and now things are even more complicated due to whatever issue caused the need for help. Most of us have offered help to another in a challenging situation. Everything in life, if we are open to the lesson, can teach us something. These innkeepers and friends did not wait for me to tell them what I needed or could benefit most from. I really couldn’t think, I was just moving from one task to the next task as I shuttled between requirements at the hospital and my inn. The break was bad and I was worried.
These kind colleagues did not place further “to do’s” on my already profuse list by requiring that I discern what would be helpful. They did something extraordinary! They made tangible their kind offers and I need do nothing but follow this example. In doing so, I know that I will bring some relief to the next person I encounter who is also in need of a bit of help. A card to let them know they are in thought, a cheerful jar of flowers, the magic appearance of an item they needed but didn’t have time to pick up, delivery of warm and so delicious soup, items that can easily be turned in to a sandwich or quick dinner from the grocery. Things anyone can use.
My gratitude journal has included cataloging of all these kindnesses offered in profusion by friends, innkeepers and acquaintances; some expected and some a beautiful surprise. Words would be a pale substitute for the thought, the many kindnesses, the generosity, the sacrifice of their precious time in a season already requiring so much of them spent rendering aid to my husband and me. I will honor your gift the way I think I can best show my thanks – I will pay it forward.
The Best Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe Ever 23 Nov 2015, 10:57 am
Followers of this blog know that I am a true fan of Thanksgiving. It is and has always been my favorite family holiday. I love that it reflects the importance of family. The importance of remembering family and all those in your life throughout the year that have touched your life in one way or another are called to mind. They have shown a kindness, extended a kind word, shown particular thoughtfulness that warms the heart to recall.
Part of those family moments are spent gathered around the table for Thanksgiving dinner. Stories will be shared, anecdotal moments of Thanksgiving’s past will be remembered and hopefully, in the spirit of the holiday, a thought for those less fortunate in our world will be in our hearts.
Thanksgiving is about tradition too. In the tradition of sharing I want to give you all this recipe for some easy, very yummy dressing that will make you forget all about the stove top variety.
At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn hopes you really enjoy this stuffing and it gets to be a tradition at your house too.
The Best Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe Ever
1 loaf of french bread- cubed and toasted till lightly brown.
1 loaf of stuffing loaf bread- cubed and toasted till lightly brown.
In a cast iron skillet place two sticks of butter. Chop 1/2 package celery and 1 pound of carrots. Chop one large onion. Use some fresh thyme, rosemary, parsley, sage, pepper and a bit of salt- (Not too much salt as you’ll be putting in chicken broth.) Put all of this into the cast iron skillet and saute for about 1/2 hour. Don’t overcook this as it is going to be baked in the stuffing. Allow this mixture to cool to room temperature as you’ll be mixing it by hand. It really does a much more thorough job than a spoon.
*Note the bread. Use good quality bread. I only buy one loaf of the “stuffing bread” that is already pre-spiced because I want to add a bit of the spices myself using fresh as above.
Place the toasted bread cubes into a very large bowl. You will want to have enough room to really mix this well. Add the sauteed veggie mixture to the toasted bread cubes. Allow enough time for the moisture in the veggies to seep into the cubes. Then, lastly, you will need to add a bit of chicken broth to get to your particular texture heaven. Some folks like their stuffing very wet and some a bit dryer. The bread used will also play into how much broth you need to add. P.S. If you enjoy baking the stuffing in the actual turkey, remember that the turkey juice will also be another source of additional fluid to your stuffing so don’t end up with stuffing that’s really wet by adding too much chicken broth.
When stuffing is of the consistency you desire, spray a very large baking dish with Pam. I always use a bigger pan to bake because the best bit of stuffing is the crunchy bit and if it’s not crowded in the pan you will have more crunchy bits. This is all there is to the stuffing. It’s simplicity is it’s secret. I have giving this recipe to many guests. Some dress it up with craisins or apples, nuts, meat and more but for me, the perfect alchemy is found in the dance of fine bread, fresh spices, fresh butter merging with veggies, enough room to bake creating that crunchy outside, moist inside rendering a perfectly seasoned accompaniment to turkey and gravy. Feel free to tamper with this at will to create a tradition of your own.
Happy Thanksgiving from Patti, Gary and the gang At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn. Remember all those in need this holiday and help where you can.
Easy Thanksgiving 2015 10 Nov 2015, 4:27 pm
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It always has been. While I completely embrace the “meaning of the season” of Christmas, over the years much of this has been lost in the glitterati of commercialism and overbuying creating such a environment of retail mania that the reason behind this sacred holiday can easily be lost in the shuffle.
Thanksgiving tends to be a family oriented, time together moment of joy much more my style. Everyone collaborates on a grand dinner, stories remembered and told around the table and memories of those present and those now gone permeate the conversation.
All this said, sometimes, circumstances, available time, job requirements, later than expected working hours etc. all combine together to throw a bit of a wrench into the celebration.
With the ideal being a relaxed, not over taxed hostess, a lovely but not necessarily complicated meal enjoyed together in celebration of all the many things we have to be grateful for I have created an ideal dinner menu for the time stressed among us.
Be honest, how many ways do you really want to learn how to use left over turkey. Turkey is a lean meat anyway. Re-heating it over and over and over can leave a less than appreciable difference between turkey and shoe leather. Solution: Think Smaller, think a lovely hen rather than Thomasina Turkey, especially if you have a dark meat lover in the family that would not be pleased with only the roasting of say, a turkey breast.
Think only 1 or two veggies rather than a very large number. While variety is a lovely thing, with all the usual additions to the Thanksgiving feast of stuffing, pie, rolls etc. too many veggie entrees can leave you with a lot of left overs. Think combo: Saw a wonderful pre-holiday show today. Lovely mashed potatoes all finished in the bottom of a casserole dish with sauteed brussel sprouts topping this. Voila….one casserole pan, two nice entrees. Room on your table improves with this idea too.
Who among us can say that there are not some really excellent pre-done rolls on the market now? Whether you go for the crispie nature of a yummy baguette or are more of a Sister Schubert soft bread connoisseur, it is not a mandate to choose Thanksgiving to have to “make the bread.” Buy it and enjoy the time with family…or, if your family is a fan of stuffing, say “no” to the bread period.
Gravy can be made the day before. Easy enough to do and a great time saver. Use wings for your gravy beginnings if you don’t wish to roast your meat of choice the day before.
Cranberry Sauce is the easiest thing in the world to make. Happy to share my recipe if you’d like. Give me a call. This too, can be taken care of the day before and will actually taste better having had the time to merge.
Pie: Choose the pie the whole family will eat. It doesn’t have to be pumpkin. Further, it’s really crazy to have 5 different pies about for one holiday. We all know that the clean up duty of that particular scenario could find you a dress size up by the end of the year. Find consensus among your guests and choose that pie. Just for the record, no one will turn you in to the Martha Stewart police if you buy the pie rather than make it. I mean, Mrs. Smith and Marie Callender really need the money.
Ok, the round up.
A day or more before:
Buy bread and buy pie.
Make the cranberry sauce.
Make the mashed potato for casserole dish. If brussel sprouts are not your thing, work up your own culinary magic to top the potatoes. Carrots would be beautiful. So would yellow or zucchini squash.
Make the gravy. This is a great time saver for preserving your sanity and sense of humor on Thanksgiving day but if you’d rather use the meat you are roasting, there is relatively little left to do if you have already followed the above protocol.
Roast your “SMALL-ish” fowl choice.
Make the gravy if not pre-done.
Heat the food already prepared.
Bake the pie
Have all the time you need to really be with your family, talk to your friends and not be rushing around like a crazy person. Happy, Happy Thanksgiving to all the cooks present and past. They are largely the architects of all the Thanksgiving memories we all carry with us though our lives. Enjoy your family and your Thanksgiving.
Halloween Asheville 2015 31 Oct 2015, 11:28 am
Halloween in Asheville, most especially the Montford historic district, will be in full swing tonight. For the last several years it has rained in celebration of all Hallowed Eve but Ashevillians remained true to our intense dedication to celebrating all things that go “bump” in the night.
As the children arrive at our inn, the real ingenuity, creative spirit and joie de vivre reflected in their costumes shine through. Last year the highlights were a piano keyboard and a refrigerator complete with shelving housing glued in place food selections.
The kids in our neighborhood are treated to a barrage of fear stimulating vignettes as they approach participating neighborhood houses traipsing through machine generated fog drifting through the air as the screaming harridan sound tracks herald the coffin lid opening. The big reveal delivers Count Dracula complete with blood stained teeth and his famous “Good Evening” effectively completing the circuit and delivering the desired effect of bone chilling fear.
For those wishing to support our four legged friends Brother Wolf is hosting Howl-A-Ween from 11 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Theater lovers will enjoy “Day of the Dead” at BB Theatre on Commerce Street from Asheville’s Contemporary Dance Theatre. Or my particular favorite, a cult classic at the Masonic Lodge- The Rocky Horror Show.
For those that consider any holiday, even the most bootiful one of the year, another occasion to shop… The new Outlet Mall is hosting Boo Bash. Fun games, pet adoption opportunities and more from 5-7 p.m. October 31.
Lastly, in tribute to the hit show, The Walking Dead, Asheville
“A Wake for the Living Dead” which is both a vaudeville show and also dinner at Lex 18.
We have a few rooms left guys so if you’d like an evening of thrills and chills, you’ll find us on the porch handing out treats so we don’t get tricked and we’ll be happy to help Halloween 2015 be your most memorable celebration yet.
The above list is only partial because as always, we aim to please and it’s Asheville as You Like It.
Vacation Safety Tips 16 Oct 2015, 10:43 am
Vacation denotes many things to many people. For some it is a time of frenzied activity composed of seizing each and every moment of time and for others it’s fabric becomes one of ease and rest providing an opportunity to be fully present in one’s life path absent the usual demands of job requirements and associated deadlines. For all, just the very idea of vacation takes the shape of a halcyon moment in memory. Sometimes, the actuality can be a bit different.
While we may endlessly research the destination, the things available to do certain things once we arrive there and even the accommodation we choose- it is not all that uncommon to concentrate completely on aesthetics on both of these fronts.
For the purposes of this blog, I’ll concentrate on accommodation offerings you may think reasonable to expect but may be catastrophically absent. In “legal, licensed lodging land”- there are regulations in place providing for nearly every aspect of guest safety that is realistically possible.
Fire and the devastating consequences of that is something no one wants to think about, most especially on vacation. In legal, licensed accommodations, the public safety is looked after by rules and regulations requiring 2 means of egress per room, fire alarms, smoke detectors etc. Even something as basic as a fire extinguisher can save the day in an unexpected emergency. Each legitimate lodging property is thoroughly inspected to make sure they are present, functional and that they stay that way.
Recently, in the state of N.C., where we own our bed and breakfast, there were incidents resulting in deaths by carbon monoxide. Our state legislation responded in record time with requirements enacted requiring all licensed, legal properties to provide carbon monoxide detectors necessary to insure that visitors to the state of North Carolina are protected against this in the future. On site inspections were made to insure that properties complied.
Another off shoot of protection for visitors is food protection. Any legal, licensed property providing or serving food in the state of N.C. is overseen by the Public Health Department’s inspectors conducting site visits to ensure that food is carefully, safely prepared and stored and does place the public health at risk for improper techniques. The costs of these visits are the responsibility of the the hotel or bed and breakfast housing guests legally.
Sometimes, unfortunate things happen and it is no one’s fault. A severe fall at a property could result in guest injury and associated medical expense. Legal, licensed lodging properties in the state of N.C. protect visitors by requiring that those who house them operate in a safety conscious manner. Bannisters near stairs to assist in climbing, floors intact to guard against falls and should the unthinkable happen, they are required to pay for insurance to cover these incidents.
Doing things by the book, doing them right is a responsibility. Rules and regulations are generally in place for a reason. It’s time that these safeguards are observed by everyone offering lodging and not just by those of us that did not cloak what is clearly a business enterprise under the guise of “a sharing economy.” That always seemed an inept name to me anyway. Sharing kind of implies that this arrangement is not transactional-a kindness offered in the absence of any return expectations. Try staying at an Airbnb and just asking them if they’d like to “share” this home, apartment or room with you on a complimentary basis just so you can experience how they live locally and visit their neighborhood. Get back to me on how that goes would you?