What’s Happening Locally

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Road Closures & Piecing the Puzzle

Posted by on Feb 28, 2010 in At The Inn, What's Happening Locally | Comments Off on Great Smoky Mountains National Park Road Closures & Piecing the Puzzle

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail in early spring
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail in early spring
Pieces of the Puzzle
Pieces of the Puzzle
New Years Day 2010, the morning after!  Allen, Jodi, Ashley, and Craig
New Years Day 2010. Looking far too cheery for the morning after! Allen, Jodi, Ashley, and Craig

While  the Cades Cove loop road or Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail are big draws for our guests at this East Tennessee Bed and Breakfast, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is doing some needed repairs on these heavily trafficked roads starting March 1st, 2010.  Roads affected and the targeted completion of these repairs are:

Cades Cove Loop (that will  also close one-way Parsons Branch & Rich Mountain Rd)  5/21 (an update from the Park, the Loop Rd. will open a month early on 4/24!)
Clingman’s Dome 5/28
The Sinks parking area 5/25
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail 5/28
& Cherokee Orchard past the Noah B Ogle cabin 3/19

While these are some of the Park site seeing highlights, these closures will not affect normal  “drive through” traffic on the artery roads.  Trails accessed from the roads under repair will be closed also, but with 900 miles of trails in the Park, you have a plethora of choices to choose from.  As always, for up to date information on closures call the National Park at 865-436-1200.  Extension 631 will give you road closures, and extension 630 is the weather report.

So you might ask yourself WHAT IS A PERSON TO DO while we deal with the face lift?  Jeepers, :-O not to worry!  There are enough outdoor nature activities besides the shop till you drop experience in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge to keep you busy for a week.  Or, why not order a picnic lunch or appetizer tray and stay here?  Come to breakfast in your robe and curl up in front of the fireplace with a good book,  game, or watch a little satellite TV afterwards.

Several years ago on New Years Eve, guests Craig and Ashley stayed here while their friends Allen and Jodi got married in the area.  The next year they came back and brought Allen and Jodi with them,  appearing to have become a yearly tradition.  (Lucky me…) After breakfast on New Years Eve this year, Jodi dug a 1000 piece puzzle out of the game cabinet and said she thought she would put it together.  This was the last full day of their stay and honestly I was thinking she is out of her mind.  It would take me the whole three days of their stay just to pick out the straight edge pieces and get the perimeter put together. A few hours later I took the middle photo you see on the left.  They broke for dinner and went out and about; afterwards, with the four of them watching TV, Jodi continued.  Occasionally someone else would plunk in a piece.  By midnight she was down to the last couple of hundred pieces and had the full attention of all of us.  I think we/SHE finished around 2 or 3 AM.  I believe the government is missing the boat by not offering her a job.  (“Should she choose to accept…”)  I can see her sitting in a room with no windows, low light, and piecing together something that saves us from ourselves.  With five minutes to spare. What a gift.   mizkathleen@ Gracehill

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Four Wheeling with ATV’s in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains

Posted by on Feb 22, 2010 in What's Happening Locally | Comments Off on Four Wheeling with ATV’s in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains

Keri and Tim Meeker on an ATV break at the top of Bluff Mountain in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Keri and Tim Meeker on an ATV break at the top of Bluff Mountain in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Keri and Tim Meeker, here at Gracehill Bed and Breakfast for four days on their 1st anniversary, ran the gamut of what Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Townsend, TN have to offer with one new activity, to me at any rate!  They went ATV four wheeling with Bluff Mountain Adventures  at 866-428-7711 in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Bluff Mountain offers guided ATV Trail Rides at Walden Lodge on Bluff Mountain.  Guests sign in at the ticket office on the parkway in Pigeon Forge, and then proceed down Wears Valley Road to Walden Creek and the site where they pick up their ATV.  Keri and Tim did the hour and half tour that took them up the mountain, crossing streams, to get to the top of Bluff Mountain at 2300 feet.  They said the company not only went out of their way to provide a safe yet scenic tour, they were very conscientious about the strengths and weaknesses of the group and tailor made the ride for them.  Definitely an activity worth repeating as the Meeker’s gave it two thumbs up.  The hot tub was waiting for them when they returned to the B&B.  😉  mizkathleen@ Gracehill Bed and Breakfast

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Gatlinburg’s Craftsmen Fair at the Convention Center

Posted by on Oct 24, 2009 in What's Happening Locally | Comments Off on Gatlinburg’s Craftsmen Fair at the Convention Center

Fall Display 2009

Fall Display 2009

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.

Cheese Enchiladas in Spinach Wraps

Cheese Enchiladas in Spinach Wraps

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

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Smoky Mountain Heritage Center’s Blue Ribbon County Fair and the Movie Julie, Julia

Posted by on Oct 24, 2009 in What's Happening Locally | Comments Off on Smoky Mountain Heritage Center’s Blue Ribbon County Fair and the Movie Julie, Julia

Blueberry Almond Pound Cake

Blueberry Almond Pound Cake

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?”

Rosemary Feta Cheese Bread

Rosemary Feta Cheese Bread

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

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Blueberry Picking, Blueberry Pancakes, and Blue Memories

Posted by on Jul 10, 2009 in What's Happening Locally | Comments Off on Blueberry Picking, Blueberry Pancakes, and Blue Memories

Lemon, Goat Cheese, Blueberry Pancakes

Lemon, Goat Cheese, Blueberry Pancakes

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.

Kane Picking

Kane Picking

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.

First berry of the season, mouth or bucket?

First berry of the season, mouth or bucket?

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 @Gracehill

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The 2009 Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center Annual Fundraiser

Posted by on Jun 3, 2009 in What's Happening Locally | Comments Off on The 2009 Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center Annual Fundraiser

A portion of the silent auction presented by the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center Guild

2009 A Heritage Happening: Landmarks of our Heritage

The Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center

The Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center

The Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center Guild presented the 6th annual Heritage Happening: Landmarks of our Heritage, on Saturday May 30th, 2009, at the Heritage Center in Townsend, Tennessee.  This annual event is the biggest fund raiser the museum has each year.  1,770 invitations were sent out with a near capacity crowd of 325 people.  There is both a silent auction with 9 different categories, and a live auction which is, yes, always lively!  The event grossed around $90,000 with the auction bringing in $54,040 of that.   The live auction items that brought the most attention this year all had to do with food, no surprise: an evening boat ride for 12 complete with a gourmet dinner, a progressive dinner in Laural Valley, and the like.  Besides paid help, it takes roughly 30 volunteers to pull this off each year.  Of course you have the one night a year volunteers like me, and then there are the “a hundred++ hours a year” volunteers like some of my friends.  It’s a lot of fun, particularly when it is over.  :-)  Thanks to Cam King, Doris Gorman, and Betty Jones for letting me pick their brains, and the photo’s taken and provided by Louise Presley.   mizkathleen @Gracehill

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