Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What is Chocolate Weekend?

A few years back we were looking for a midwinter special that might coax people to brave the elements in the Northeast and spend a couple of nights away from home.

Seely comes from a long line of chocoholics and David, who is pretty good at remembering birthdays and anniversaries, had a curious mental block when it came to Feb. 14th. He frequently needed to make amends (usually a couple of days late) which required more expansive action than a timely gesture would have.

The convergence of these two personal weaknesses led to a brainstorm a few years back to offer an event that would satisfy the strongest craving for chocolate and schedule it on the weekend of (or immediately following) Valentine's Day. Two nights in a cozy B&B with treats and desserts of all kinds seemed the perfect antidote to winter blues or forgetful lovers. That brainstorm became Chocolate Morning Noon and Night Weekend.

In addition to breakfast, on Chocolate Weekend we prepare two buffets every day:

In the afternoon (4 p.m. to 6 p.m.), we serve finger foods such as brownies, chocolate chip cookies, cream puffs, cannoli and various chocolate dipped fruits.

After the dinner hour (8 p.m. to 10 p.m.) we bring out the heavy-duty desserts, chocolate chip cheesecake, Black Forest Cake, Snickers Pie.

And if that doesn't satisy your sweet tooth, we can even offer a little extra at breakfast.  Chocolate chips instead of blueberries in your pancakes or some ganache on your French toast. We're still working on how to chocolatize the egg dishes. Mole' perhaps?

Everything we offer is cooked or prepared by us on site. Seely can't bear to even look at the oven for at least a week after the event.

And when the guests have gone, we invite our student boarders and a few neighbors in for an after-party to work on those leftovers. Anything to remove the temptation to do too much grazing ourselves.

If you have procrastinated there are a few rooms still available for this year. And it isn't too soon to plan for next year....

posted by Innkeeper David

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Storing tax records on the cheap

You would think in a house of this size there would be plenty of storage. Unfortunately, Victorians didn't really think much of closets unless they needed a place to stash my Irish ancestors (AKA, the help) over night. They liked having big flashy pieces of furniture to show off to their friends instead.

Every year I drag out our business records and prepare documents for our CPA to figure out. (She's a saint.)Then I have to save all of those documents for eternity. Well, seven years at least. We have several file cabinets chok-a-bok full of records. Each year one year's worth gets pulled out and a new year gets stored.

Y'all know you can't just toss stuff in a drawer though and expect to be able to find something the CPA wants when she calls next year. That means you have to store each year's valuables in something. Obviously every retailer in town has boxes and files galore to sell you but I am just too cheap to spend that kind of money on something that is going to sleep in a file drawer before going into the fireplace seven years from now.

My solution is to go to a Dollar Store and purchase appropriately sized gift bags with handles. One year I found wedding bags. One year it was party stripes. This year I've gone with florals. Usually I can get everything in two bags so I always buy three that match. (Better to have an extra for a gift than a mismatch in the drawer.) The matching bags help me find my files by year even if both bags don't fit in one drawer.

And that's what Works for me on Wednesdays.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Not all that long ago...

Not all that long ago we blogged three times a week whether anybody read it or not. Then December came along and two milestones disrupted our lives. Blogging, among other things, became a sporadic event.

The first milestone was Seely's entry into the academic world as a last minute Adjunct Professor at Johnson and Wales University. She was asked to teach the Small Properties Management class during the Winter Trimester. The course covers issues related to running lodging establishments between 3 and 40 rooms with emphasis on the 10-20 room inn. The class was larger than expected (36 students) and has been quite challenging at times. The class meets on Monday and Wednesday afternoons but much time is devoted to correction assignments and preparing lesson plans.

The second milestone was our decision to do some kitchen remodeling after our old stove died. This project has been put off repeatedly over the years yet materials had been collecting for it. The gutting for the flooring went quickly but the delay over the stove went on for (seemingly) forever.

We worked out a routine: Seely would go to class and Dave would destroy part of the kitchen. Seely would come home from class, compliment Dave on his work, and rebuild part of the kitchen. It was quite the system.  At this point 14 of the 16 cabinets are installed, the flooring still looks wonderful, the commercial fridge and freezer are in place, and all the other appliances have homes. The only big job left is installing the new laminate on the new counter but at least it is on order. Not a stylish space but functional and we like it.

The class? Well, they still have to turn in their group projects although most of their rough drafts show promise. There is one more paper to write. Then there is the final exam which they probably dread as much as I dread making it up. There's only a few weeks left in the trimester and a lot for all of us to learn.