Inn at the Crossroads

5010 Plank Road, Charlottesville, Virginia 22959
Innkeeper(s): Jim and Janet Stern
 

The Saga of the Koi Pond Continues 21 Mar 2015, 4:52 pm

Spring has sprung and with it comes the urge to get back to work outside.  In between the cold and wet and sometimes snowy days, we continue to work on the cottage and the accompanying landscaping project. We are finally finishing up the siding on the back of the cottage and have also fixed the drainage around the base of the cottage, channeling water around the cottage and back porch.  This involved digging down a couple of feet in some areas and removing large chunks of tree roots.  We are also close to finishing the second private sitting area.  From the front it doesn't look like anything has changed but if you look at it from the back side, you can see where we added dirt and flattened it down. Next comes the patio pavers. And then finally we can get back to the actual water feature! Max loves working outside with us and although he is not much help with the digging he loves rolling around in the fresh dirt. It's a good thing he is ruby colored; the dirt blends in nicely with his fur until bathtime.

Meet Max 10 Feb 2015, 1:53 pm

Max, the newest Innkeeper

Meet our newest Innkeeper, Max. Max comes to us as a puppy from the animal rescue and is learning to be a junior innkeeper. Currently he is being trained to accompany us to and from the Inn and to greet guests as they arrive.  He gets quite a bit of practice. As our children get older and move on to college and beyond, we decided the time was right to add to our family.  It's nice to have company on days when there are no guests and even when we are full. Max does not live in the Inn; he happily stays at the house but you may see him with us when we are on the property.  Please say hello! to Max when you arrive.  We're glad to have you stay!

Max is waiting for guests to arrive while having a bit of fun.

Warm Bread on a Winter Day 14 Jan 2015, 7:43 am

After a few months of perfecting, I've come up with a yummy banana bread recipe that's been a hit with our guests!  

Extreme Banana Bread

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/3 cup vanilla greek yogurt

1/2 cup buttermilk

4 large bananas, mashed

1 tsp vanilla

3 cup flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup mini dark chocolate chips

1 cup frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray 2 loaf pans with cooking spray.

Cream butter and sugar then add eggs one at a time. Beat in yogurt, bananas and vanilla.  Mix together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon then add mixture to the wet ingredients.  Add up to 1/2 cup buttermilk to make a thick batter. Hand stir in the chocolate chips and raspberries.

Spoon batter in prepared pans then bake for 60-65 minutes until tester comes out clean.  Allow bread to cool completely before cutting.  This bread tastes best 2 days after baking!

Here Comes the Sun 6 Dec 2014, 11:26 am

As autumn draws to a close and daylight savings time joins us for a while, we are working diligently to winterize the Inn and prepare for our off season projects. Those of you who are keeping up know that the koi pond was a major focus for the summer. While we got a good start, we did not have enough time to complete it. So it will be winterized until the warmer weather arrives. This season, we will revisit the dining room french doors which were an add on many years ago.  The weight of the bricks are causing the door frame to sag and so support must be added. This will also help the main entrance and front door which sometimes does not want to close properly.  But it is a slow project since you can only jack up your support 1/8" per month!  The third floor will also get a makeover to make it more usable for the family. Painting is always in the plans - every room gets a touch up! The cottage will also get a back porch makeover.  Hopefully all will be done in time for the start of our busy season in 2015.  With the smaller amount of sunshine each day, it will be a challenge.                                      

The sun sets on another day at the Inn

Happy Anniversary 11 Nov 2014, 5:19 pm

This past weekend we had our 25th couple get engaged at the gazebo on our property. It's so lovely to see the love and happiness as young couples begin a new life together. We reflect on past weddings at the Inn and remember some of the more memorable moments. Now that Pippin Hill Vineyard has come on the scene, we don't do many weddings, just the occasional small ceremony with 25 guests or less. But that's ok, because we often get to see weddings every weekend from our upper property.  To all of our couples, Happy Anniversary! We hope you'll come back to visit us!

Hot Fun in the Summertime 6 Sep 2014, 1:13 pm

This weekend marks the second annual Lockn' Festival in nearby Nelson County. There was so much good music at this year's festival.  The major headliners will be playing tonight and tomorrow night. Because we are close enough to the festival we can enjoy some of the music and then come home to the Inn. We are looking forward to the next music festival, the Festy which happens in October. These festivals are a definite reminder of the thriving music scene here in Charlottesville. In the 12 years that we have been here, we have listened to our fair share of great music at several of the local venues. Maybe we'll see you out there on the scene! 

It's All Random 14 Jul 2014, 1:47 pm

Take the time to enjoy what's around you.  Case in point, this year I have been watching petunias of all colors spring up all over the property. It's been a rather wet summer and conditions are ripe for good blooms. I'm not sure where they all came from but I'm glad they are there to brighten the day. Although, I have had to mow around all of these random flowers because I can't bear to cut them down. The garden is the best it has ever been - tomatoes galore, beans plentiful and melon vines everywhere just waiting to fruit. The herbs are also growing like weeds, basil, mint and spring onions are ripe for the picking and I have been using them in creative ways at breakfast time. They say this year we will have a bumper crop of peaches and I am looking forward to hitting the local orchards to enjoy this most awesome fruit and share it with the guests at breakfast time.  What's growing where you are?

Growing in the yard

Growing at the edge of the driveway

Growing under the porch

The Kitchen Garden Grows 3 Jun 2014, 11:27 am

New walkway to the upper sitting area and lower portion of running stream.

Last month we broke ground on our kitchen garden and private sitting area next to the cottage.  As most projects do, this one has expanded since we started. Originally we designed the area to provide much needed water diversion and drainage away from the Summer Kitchen Cottage. After a couple of extremely heavy rainfalls, we discovered that we needed to rework some of the drainage. And with that change, came the addition of a koi pond and running stream and a second seating area for Inn guests.  This is in addition to the private seating area for the guests of the Summer Kitchen Cottage and the kitchen herb garden.  We also decided to finally, after 8 years, finish the sidewalk that goes nowhere and incorporate it into sitting area. We are eagerly awaiting the end of the school year so the kids can begin helping us to complete the project. Our youngest is particularly excited about her new fish pond! Stay tuned as we update you on our progress.

It's All About the Marle 29 Apr 2014, 12:05 pm

The grading work continues around the Summer Kitchen Cottage to improve drainage.  Jim continues to pick ax through the marle, which are the hard packed clay chunks that resemble rock.  Unfortunately, underneath the marle are remnants of an old coal pile which is almost as tedious to dig through.  This pile suggests that the cottage may in fact have been used for blacksmithing as was told to us by several people who lived in the area a long time ago.  In any case, once the digging and grading is complete, we hope to put in a kitchen herb garden and private seating area for the cottage.  We have several ideas for the layout and design of the garden and planting area.  As we get farther along, be sure to check back for pictures of our progress!

First view of the drainage and grading of the kitchen garden and sitting area. Note that what appears to be rocks are actually clumps of marle.

Our Best Scone Recipe 26 Mar 2014, 11:34 am

It may be spring, but the weather is still chilly. Why not bake up some delicious scones to savor with your coffee, tea or hot cocoa? This is our most requested scone recipe.

Lemon-Ginger Scones

Makes 12

Preheat oven to 400F. Add the following to a food processor fitted with blade:

2 1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon baking powder

zest from 1 lemon

1/2 cup crystallized ginger, broken into small pieces

1 stick butter cut into tablespoon size pieces

Blend until dough looks like course sand.

Add 2/3 cup heavy cream and continue blending until dough just comes together. Add additional cream by the tablespoon if needed.

Shape dough into triangles and place on baking sheet.  Bake in preheated oven until tops are golden, about 14 minutes. Serve warm with butter.

Triangles can be frozen and baked as needed.