Posts by theinnkeeper

Quilting Pigeon Forge & Sevierville, Quilts of Valor, Piecemakers Quilt Guild

Posted by on Mar 28, 2014 in What's Happening Locally | 3 comments

by Nancy Younce

by Nancy Younce

by Bonnie Gathergood

by Bonnie Gathergood

Many thanks to the Piecemakers Quilt Guild and Sevier Valley Quilters for allowing me to take photos at the 20th annual “A Mountain Quiltfest,” March 19-22, 2014, held at the Le Conte Center in Pigeon Forge.  What a beautiful new convention center this is with easy access and no cover charge for the show!  Not being a quilter myself, I certainly felt welcomed and picked up tidbits from snatches of conversation here and there.  Many of my friends are quilters, and belong to different quilting groups in the area.  There are various shows each year, and all are always well attended.

What originally attracted me to this particular show was the display section of quilts that are made every year by the two groups putting on this show, and distributed to shelters in the area, like Safe Space, for the children.  Two examples are shownto the right.  Nancy Younce’s quilt is done in a child’s style that made me smile.  Bonnie Gathergood’s was made from blue jeans her children wore when they were young.

Another special section was the quilts made by the Smoky Mountain Chapter of Quilts of Valor.  They meet once a month, at 12:30PM, on the first Tuesday of the month at the John Sevier Senior Center on Chapman Highway/Main Street in Sevierville.  The Quilts of Valor are for returning service members.  The national organization, Quilts of Valor, to date has distributed 98,207 quilts nationwide.  Some quilts are designated for Medal of Honor recipients.  An award ceremony will be held this August in Knoxville where the Medal of Honor recipients will receive their quilts. When President Obama recently announced 24 new Medal of Honor recipients, needles and sewing machines went into overdrive!  If you are interested in this local chapter contact Annie Matuszak at 865-774-7946 who says she likes binding best.  Why, I asked?  “Because you are in the homestretch!”

Award Winning Vintage Button Bouquet by Linda Roy

Award Winning
Vintage Button Bouquet by Linda Roy

Enjoying the show, from the left Phyllis Vlasaty of the Tellico Village Quilt Guild, Sue Ann Tippitt, Shirley Connors and Vickie Mueller

Enjoying the show, from the left, Phyllis Vlasaty of the Tellico Village Quilt Guild, Sue Ann Tippitt, Shirley Connors and Vickie Mueller

I bumped into my friend Sue Ann Tippitt gazing at the “Vintage Button Bouquet.”  She pointed out the characteristics of nationally known quilt designer Linda Roy of Knoxville’s prize winning quilt.  “This quilt wins a blue ribbon everywhere it is exhibited deservedly because of the high quality of Roy’s quilting and her creative design,” said Sue Ann.  The quilt features ruching, an unusual technique in quilts along with meticulous cross-hatching.

I took several hundred photos while walking around the 400+ quilt exhibit.  This link goes to a short 3-4 minute video of 37 of those quilts.   I found out from previous experience that a flash attachment usually washes the color out of the quilt photo, but if you’re not using flash, a tripod helps with clarity on a longer exposure.   Quilt photography can be hard, particularly if it is a geometric quilt, with stripes and borders, which most have.  The viewer doesn’t really notice strips on a slant walking through the show but it can be bothersome in a two-dimensional photo, therefore, I only used one photo out of every 16 quilts.  That issue is my excuse and I’m sticking to it!  So to all the wonderful ladies who hung their blood, sweat and smiles on the wall and didn’t end up in the video, what can I say, asymmetric quilts photograph the best when hanging on a wall…. Next year’s Quiltfest will be March 18-21, 2015.  Some classes will begin on the 17th, but the vendors and the official opening are on the 18th.  Happy stitching.           Blessings, mizkathleen@ Gracehill Bed and Breakfast

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Breakfast- Chicken Crepes Mornay

Posted by on Mar 24, 2014 in Recipes | 0 comments

Many of my breakfast entrees can easily be used as a dinner main course.  This is one of them.  It is also my favorite new main course dish of 2013!

Crepe Batter: 

Chicken Crepes Mornay

Chicken Crepes Mornay

1 C flour
1/8 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 ½ C milk
Spray oil or butter

Chicken Filling:

2 Tbsp butter
1 bunch green onions or med to large onion chopped up
6 oz white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
Couple of ounces of spinach (optional)
½ tsp of salt
2 lbs. chicken, figure about 4 oz. of chicken per crepe. (Either buy boneless breasts and cook in a little water on the stove top or buy one of those cooked chickens from the store and pick it clean.  Let the hot chicken breasts cool in the fridge and then slice very thin.)

Mornay Sauce:

4 Tbsp of butter
4 Tbsp of flour
2 C milk
¼ tsp pepper
1 C Swiss cheese shredded
1/3 C fresh grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

¾ C light cream (half and half)


2 Tbsp chopped up fresh parsley
2 Tbsp butter
½ C seasoned bread crumbs

Cranberry Relish:

1 C sugar
1 C orange juice
1 bag of fresh cranberries.  (I buy many bags when in season, and freeze them whole.)

Beat flour, salt, eggs and milk together to form the crepe batter and let rest for an hour or longer.  I usually let the milk and eggs come to room temperature before mixing, or you can microwave the milk to about 70 degrees.

Melt 2 Tbsp of butter in a large skillet.  Add onion and saute till limp.  Add mushrooms and stir till cooked.  Add chicken, sliced very thin rather than chopped, salt, and stir.

Melt 4 Tbsp of butter in a 4 quart pot.  Add flour and stir until smooth.  Slowly pour the milk into your “roux” and stir rapidly until no lumps.  Cook over medium heat until it starts to boil and thicken. Add remaining salt and pepper.  Stir in grated Swiss cheese and fresh grated Romano or Parmesan cheese. Heat until melted then add one cup of the sauce to the chicken mushroom mixture and stir.  Add ¾ cups half and half to the remaining sauce and stir until smooth.

To make your crepes heat a 7” crepe pan over medium high heat.  Spray pan and put about a ¼ cup of crepe batter in pan and swirl to cover the bottom of the pan.  When light brown, flip over and brown other side.  I then flip them out onto a piece of parchment paper or on a granite counter top and get another crepe cooking.  While waiting for the next crepe, place about a ½ cup of the chicken mixture down the middle of the crepe.  Roll and place in a sprayed 9X13 pan.  Mixture should make about 8 crepes.  When done with the crepes and chicken mixture, spread remaining cheese sauce on top of the 9X13.

Take 2 Tbsp of butter and melt it in a frying pan.  Add the bread crumbs and mix thoroughly.  Cut up the parsley and add it to the bread crumbs.  Sprinkle the whole mixture on top of the cheese sauce.

At this point, you can bake it in a 350F degree oven for 20-30 minutes until bubbly, or cover and place in the fridge overnight and bake off the next day.  If in the fridge, let set out a half hour ahead of baking time and it will then take 30+ minutes to get warm and bubbly in the oven.

When you are lifting these out of the 9X13, you really don’t need to cut them, just put a spatula or two under and lift up.

I like to put about a ¼ cup of cranberry relish on top.  In a 2 quart pot on medium heat mix 1 cup orange juice and 1 cup sugar till dissolved, then add one bag of cranberries and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and cook on the stove till the cranberry’s pop about 20 minutes.  Remove and store in the fridge until needed.     865-48-3070

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The Red Chair Travels to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Posted by on Dec 23, 2013 in What's Happening Locally | Comments Off

Gracehill Bed and Breakfast was lucky enough to be chosen to host The Red Chair, for a couple of days, during a cross country trip Red is doing staying at hundreds of B&B’s across America.  What are The Red Chair Travels?   His own website and blog does a better job describing it than I can!  The following is an account of Red’s stay while being hosted at six different bed and breakfasts, December 2013, here in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Arriving at Gracehill Bed and Breakfast

Arriving at Gracehill Bed and Breakfast

Red showed up in Townsend (TN) on a windy, blustery day when weather was pounding the east coast with snow and rain.  He retired early his first night after having had a hearty dinner at Berry Springs Lodge in Pigeon Forge.  Red was the first guest up the next morning.  We chatted while I prepared breakfast, and he was patiently waiting on the other guests when they surfaced at 9:00.  He enjoyed lively conversation along with popovers with honey butter (no jam for this guy), caramelized pears pistachio, and chicken crepes mornay with a fresh orange cranberry relish.  He had seconds on OJ and decaf coffee.  He said he was so excited about staying at Gracehill and visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that he needed to watch his caffeine intake for the next couple of days.  I did learn he was not keen on sitting too close to the fire.  Good thing I had put him in the only bedroom without a fireplace!  

Guest of Honor at Breakfast

Guest of Honor at Breakfast

Wouldn’t have wanted to spark any bad dreams!  We hung around after breakfast for several hours doing this and that waiting for the weather to clear.  It didn’t, so we took off around 3:30, picked up another friend, and the three of us visited the most popular attraction in the most visited National Park in the United States, Cades Cove.  It is a pioneer settlement, an 11 mile one way loop drive ringed in by mountains.  Of course,  Red had to hop out of the car each time he saw a different animal- white tailed deer, turkeys, but no bears today.  He was quite the attraction himself as several dozen kids and parents wanted to make his acquaintance.  After being disappointed that Berry Springs didn’t really have a nude beach, he decided to go skinny dipping in one stream we had to drive through as water was a little high from all the rain.  He met us on the other side, chilled of course, so I cranked up the heat.  We skipped the hike I had planned to Abrams Falls as he was just warming up, but we did stop at several of the old homesteads.  Back to Gracehill Bed and Breakfast in time for sunset, the big attraction here at the highest house in the county.  Red chatted up our guests this morning, but stuck to coffee himself claiming he had to watch his figure this time of year.  With all the Christmas celebrations, he had packed on a few pounds.  Off today for a stop at Sweet Berries Bed and Breakfast on the Tail of the Dragon, 318 curves in 11.2 miles.  But that is their story to tell.  Maybe it’s a good thing he did skip breakfast.  I’ll pack a Dramamine for him!

Hugs and Kisses, Red, mizkathleen @Gracehill Bed and Breakfast. 

Goose Bumps Skinny Dipping!

Goose Bumps Skinny Dipping!

A bit drafty when you're wet!

A bit drafty when you’re wet!



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Fireflies, Synchronous or Not, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in What's Happening Locally | Comments Off

So, what does the Elkmont area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Malaysian jungle have in common?  Synchronous fireflies, that’s what!  Currently there are 2000+ species of fireflies in the world, and I am fortunate enough to live in one of two areas of the world that have these phenomena once a year in early June. Depending on winter weather, it can be from mid May to mid June, so check before making lodging reservations.  The Great Smoky Mountains National Park will list the dates at this link.  Synchronous fireflies, also known as lightning bugs, blink in unison or in waves.  You’re sitting there in complete darkness and they all blink on and off at the same time. At times it is like a wave of light moving across a clearing.  This is called phase synchronization or spontaneous order.  I know I’d like to glow and have a little spontaneous order in my office, but I’m afraid I just don’t have the right genes along with the other 1998+ species.

La Femme Fatale

La Femme Fatale

Le Poor Duped Male

Le Poor Duped Male

Much varies between these firefly beetles.  Some blink, some don’t. Some fly, some don’t.  The color of their bioluminescence ranges from yellow to orange to red to green.  Usually it is the male blinking to attract females during mating season, but then you have those femme fatales that blink the pattern of another species to attract unsuspecting males for the ultimate act of cannibalism.  This link at wikipedia has a great article on them and much has been written locally, particularly from The Daily Times.  Their last article was Sunday, May 26, 2013.

So, how do you see them?  In years past, you just drove your car up to the Elkmont Campground area and hiked back on some old weed covered gravel roads.  That’s what my mom and I did.  However it became so popular that you now have to catch a shuttle from the Sugarlands Visitor Center outside of Gatlinburg.  Wait time and lines got long enough that the National Park now allows shuttles from the Townsend area too, and you buy your ticket ahead of time.

Don Alexander at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center (865-448-8838) says, sales open up May 1st each year at 10AM and tickets are a $1.00.   This year they sold out in 45 minutes.  It’s not often you can experience something magical for a buck.  The ultimate cheap date, and you get to sit on a blanket in the dark!    They run two shuttles a night from Townsend that hold 18 passengers each for a week to ten days. If you don’t use your $1.00 ticket, which really is a placeholder, your credit card is charged $10.00 for each unused ticket.

These shuttle buses from the Cades Cove Heritage Tours cost a lot more than $18.00 a night to run and this year they were underwritten by, who else, Townsend’s Firefly Café and the Blount Partnership!  You catch the bus at their restaurant location, 7967 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Townsend, TN 37882, (865-738-3507) between 6:30PM and 7:00PM.  The buses return to the same location around 11:30PM each night.  Have dinner at the Firefly before you catch the shuttle.

Townsend's Firefly Cafe

Townsend’s Firefly Cafe

Cozy Seating in the Cafe

Cozy Seating in the Cafe

Deborah Lee, owner of the Firefly Café, has been a restaurant owner in Townsend for years.  Her new location, now in its second year, gets an A+ for décor, service and food.  My favorite is the Elkmont Burger, and they have the best French fries in town.  Deborah says,  “I called it the Firefly Café because I absolutely love the synchronous fireflies of the Smokies, and that they generate their light from within.”  I’m off to create a little spontaneous order.  Not!  mizkathleen@  Gracehill Bed and Breakfast

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Gracehill Gazette July-Aug 2012 (11)

Posted by on Aug 28, 2012 in Newsletter | Comments Off

Click Here For the Complete Reprint

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