Sunday October 25th is the last day of Gatlinburg’s Craftsmen Fair at the Convention Center. One guest said it was a step above most fairs of its kind; she is in retail and should know! What is even more important, they made a lot of purchases for the holidays…
How do you go from the beginning of blueberry picking season to the middle of fall color without blogging about what is happening? Guess I was too much in the thick of it to stop and write about it, but okay no excuses. The good news is we have been incredibly busy. It has been a roller coaster of a year, but concerning occupancy we had our best July ever, came within two nights of breaking the August record, and this October is the best month we have had since we opened ten years ago.
Fall color is a little late this year which is good if you want to stay in my empty rooms this November! Had a long rainy season at the beginning and middle of October with cold temps. Warmed up the last few days with some sunshine, and the colors are just starting to snap. I’ll post a picture in the next couple of days taken from the top front veranda.
Have tried a number of new recipes in the last two months and have posted most of them on the recipe page of my website. Have added photos to 20 or more of the 40 some recipes. One of my new favorites is Cheese Enchiladas. A real pain in the neck to make but oh my gosh is it good.
Doing some more design work on my website, should be finished in a couple of days, hopefully. Mizkathleen
www.GracehillBandB.com info@GracehillBandB.com 866-448-3070
A year ago we won Best Pie in the Cove at the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center’s Blue Ribbon County Fair, so, I was a little excited about entering the fair this fall. Two of our recipes won ribbons, a third place finish in the pound cake division and surprisingly, a second place finish in the yeast bread category. I experimented on a Blueberry Almond Pound Cake for a year and my church is probably happy the fair is over because I must have brought it a half a dozen times to various potlucks. They’d ask, “What version is this?”
The Rosemary Feta Cheese Bread was a take off from a recipe in Southern Living. Originally it was made as a loaf of French bread but rules said I had to put it in a loaf pan so I made some more modifications. I wish I could have tasted every entry and picked the brains of the winners.
So, while we are on food… at the prompting of several guests, I took Mom to see Julie, Julia. Actually it was more along the lines of I can’t believe you haven’t seen this movie. What a wonderful film. Meryl Streep is just the absolute best. Walked out of the show and wanted to do some serious cooking. Thank you Julie Powell for perserverance. Mizkathleen
www.GracehillBandB.com info@GracehillBandB.com 865-448-3070
Maxine and Robert Falls Blueberry Farm is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday 6:30am to 8:30pm at 111 Harmon Road, Maryville, TN (865) 982-3457. Directions: Proceed two miles past Blount Memorial Hospital on Hwy 321 going towards Townsend, turn right onto Harmon Road just before the second BP Station you come to after the hospital. Once on Harmon they are the first driveway on the left. Park on the grass. You can just see the bushes behind the BP Station from the highway.
All right, here is the blueberry story. About seven years ago a dear friend, Deanna Wietholter, asked me if I wanted to go blueberry picking with her and her husband Bob the next morning at 6:30am. I said no. No hesitation there. “For crying out loud Deanna, I have a life. I work. As a matter of fact I will be knee deep rolling out scones and preparing breakfast for guests tomorrow at that time!” The next afternoon she showed up with a gallon of little blue dots. I felt pretty bad. Said thank you very much. Mom and I made a few recipes with them and froze a few berries.
Fast-forward one year. Deanna calls. Do you want to go blueberry picking? Well I didn’t want to go anymore than I did the year before, but what could I say? I went, and two other times that year. Froze about 8 gallons and started collecting blueberry recipes. The next year Deanna calls and I said sure. Went once with her and the rest of the time by myself. Picked and froze 55.5 pounds that year. The next year I didn’t wait for the phone call, and I froze 62-1/8 pounds. The next year the crop was wiped out by a freeze and I sent Maxine and Robert Falls at the blueberry farm a condolence card. I wanted to cry. The next year there was a drought and I prayed over each bush I picked from that year.
Blueberry picking is the best therapy I have ever experienced. I usually go late afternoon or early evening, by myself, and zone out. Pick, pick, pick. Took my nephew a couple of times. Sing a few hymns. Pick, pick, pick. Listen to parents converse with their kids who are eating as many as they put in the jug. Pick, pick, pick. I’ve found in the last couple of years I have slowed down a little in the quantity I can pick in the same amount of time (pick, p i c k, p i c k) but I froze 80 pounds last year. Some I picked and some I paid Maxine’s helper to pick. I wanted enough to really be able to start experimenting with recipes.
Two summers ago I won an honorable mention in a pancake contest with Bed and Breakfast.com. The recipe was Lemon, Goat Cheese, Blueberry pancakes. This summer I’d like to enter a contest with a recipe I have been working on for a year changing it here and there. I went blueberry picking for the first time this year, today. I want to see how the final product changes when I use fresh blueberries instead of frozen ones. I’ll share the recipe after the contest. For tips on how to freeze blueberries click on the recipe link above.
Bob and Deanna moved back to Indiana two summers ago to be closer to their kids because Bob was in ill health. Last summer Deanna passed away unexpectedly. Mom and I missed the funeral, held on a day when I was full with guests. We drove up to see Bob a few weeks later and took about 10 pounds of blueberries with us. I would give anything for the phone to ring and have Deanna ask if I wanted to go picking. Thanks for the blue memories sweetie. Mizkathleen @GracehillRead More
Fourth of July Week was our time for the Air Force, past and present. We had one couple here for five days, a third grade teacher, Lois, and her husband John who is a dentist and retired Air Force. They spent their days running the roads, seeing all they could, got in a few hikes, and were back at the B&B every evening in time for sunset. John is an avid photographer and set up his tripod and snapped away each night. For two of those same nights we had another couple; she also taught, and he was a retired pilot from the Air Force who went on to fly for the airlines.
Fast-forward, they all check out and the same day Frank and Janice check in to celebrate their first anniversary. She worked for the State Department and he is an F-16 pilot and instructor. Where am I going with all this? Don’t know. Wish they could have all been here at the same time, along with another F-16 pilot that stayed here last month. None of them know each other but it would have made for interesting conversation!
The evening of the same day Lois, John, and his camera checked out, and Frank and Janice were holed up in Gatlinburg waiting out a monsoon that dropped a couple of inches of rain in an hour, I had the most incredible sunset I’ve had in while. I was sitting in the living room when I realized the lighting was really eerie and the room was glowing. I managed to snap these photos between cloudbursts, spaced about 10 minutes apart. Too bad it was just me.
The next morning Frank and Janice are telling me about this frog that re-visited the same rock on the waterfall outside their room. After breakfast they went on a frog hunt in the back yard by the other waterfall. I have never really paid attention to what plops around in the pond as long as it is not slithering. Maybe I should start. There was a tiny little thing, about an inch long on the flagstone. I looked it up in my reptile and amphibian book and I’m dipped if I can tell if it was a baby green frog, or a baby common toad. The body looked a little like a toad and the head like the frog.
I had repeat guests here about a year ago and the first thing out of their mouth was, “Is the frog still here?” I said sure, we have a variety of noisemakers in the back yard. They said, “NO, THE FROG!” I said, “What frog?” They said, “The one whose picture has been on our fridge the past two years. He was sitting on a lotus pad.” I said, “Jeepers, I am a complete and utter failure as an innkeeper cause I don’t have a clue if it is the same one or not, and furthermore I don’t know where he/she might be at this very moment!” At least as far as I know, Janice didn’t take any photographs of the little leapers so I don’t have to go through this again. Hopefully. (Although, she did name the baby Lil’ Kermit….) Mizkathleen @GracehillRead More
Weekdays in June have been surprisingly busy with guests while weekends relatively slow, which is a little odd. Have had a few drop-in one-nighters, but most of the reservations have been three to five-nighers. Almost all of our guests these last 16 days have been hikers, rather than the shop until you drop variety! Cades Cove has been busy with numerous bear sightings. Weather continues to be beautiful. Gardens doing well and the dog fur has kept the rabbits away. Ta Da!!! (See my previous post.)
We put up a bat house. Bats (five or six) had started roosting under the eave on the front of the house in an area that wasn’t ideal. They showed up last year in the same spot and we ran them off. This year I decided I wanted them as permanent tenants, just not in that spot. They appear to have found the bat house. We rubbed a little bat guano on the house hoping that might help them find it. It can take up to a year or longer for them to find a house, could I be so lucky to have the bats find it that soon?
On a personal note, I woke up one morning ten days ago and decided I needed to start painting again. I mean right then, like, serve breakfast, clear the table, and pick up a paint brush. Don’t know where the urge came from. I haven’t done much in the way of art these ten years I have been inn-keeping. A dear guest who has become a good friend shamed me into a little painting last summer but it is always easier for me to find work to do around the B&B. I finished one painting, worked on another, and started two others in the last ten days. Today is my first day without guests in a while and I thought I would paint all day. Thank the Lord common sense prevailed and I have been a good girl working through the piles on my desk today.
I have been trying to submit/claim my blog on www.Technorati.com for the last three weeks and today it took me one step further than before. I need to post the following number- ynvcjgiqrd, for it to find me. We’ll see if it works. mizkathleen @GracehillRead More
Have been busy these last ten days doing catch up on lots of small jobs, mostly in the office, but outside also. On Thursday Brandy, Hans, and I got in 3.5 hours each, outside, before the heavens opened back up with one heck of a storm. For as small as the rose garden is (80 bushes?) I don’t know where the time went between dead heading, spraying, & tying a few of them up.
Hans has continued to put in some time on Friday and today. For some reason, this year has been a constant battle against the forces of nature in the form of small critters. We always have the occasional bear, boar, turkey, and deer, but have never really had many squirrels and such. This year the rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks have made a tossed salad out of everything we’ve planted. The birds tore up the moss garden for nest building so we put netting over what was left of the moss to anchor it down. You don’t really see it unless it is raining and the water beads up on it.
I tried sprinkling this rabbit/deer away stuff around. It has worked some. It is supposed to irritate their noses so they stay away. I could deal with the tops being eaten off the zinnias, but Mom went out one morning and all the parsley was eaten down to the ground. I’m surprised that the shriek that came out of her mouth didn’t scare them off permanently. We tried using a small trap to relocate them but they didn’t like Kroger brand carrots, I guess. I’ve tried a liquid that you spray on the foliage and it killed the May Night Salvia. So option four- I went to Pet Smart and asked them for all their dog fur out of their vacuum. Hans spread that around in and out of the plants and we’ll see if that works. Anybody have any suggestions other than expediting their trip to heaven I’m open to suggestions! mizkathleen @GracehillRead More