Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Top 10 Myths About Bed & Breakfasts

Recently we stumbled across this informative (and entertaining) article about the Top 10 Myths About Bed & Breakfasts.  We just had to share it with you!

1. There is no privacy.
The vast majority of inns, and all of the good ones, have plenty of privacy. Your room should be quiet and free from interruption. You won't be forced to interact with other guests, nor will you have to sit down with the innkeeper and look at old family photos. At a small inn, you may be able to go through your entire stay without ever seeing any other guests -- try that at a hotel! Innkeepers tend to be very concerned with their guests' privacy and do everything they can to respect it.

2. The innkeepers are hiding.
This is almost the opposite of myth #1. Some guests are concerned if they don't see the innkeepers when they return from dinner, or sometimes even at check-in. (Some inns leave a key in a pre-arranged spot to facilitate a late check-in.) In most cases, the innkeepers live in the same building that guests are staying in, so they're never too far away. They're probably just trying to respect your privacy.

3. You'll sit with strangers at breakfast and have to make small talk.
It is true that sometimes breakfast is served at one or two large tables, so guests who don't know each other may sit together. But in all the times that my husband and I have stayed at B&Bs, this has never been a real problem. Most people don't try to force conversation when it becomes apparent that you'd rather enjoy a quiet meal. If it does become a problem, you can talk to the innkeeper about it and time your future breakfasts so that you're almost sure to be alone.

4. B&Bs have staff and a front desk clerk on duty 24/7.
In most cases, particularly with inns of less than 10 rooms, the innkeeper/owner is the only person (or couple) working at the inn. Sometimes, they might have a maid help with room preparation in the morning, but by and large that person is handling everything. This means that you should arrive on time, or at least call if that's not going to be possible. Innkeepers often plan their day (including shopping for your breakfast foods) around guests' arrival times.

5. Innkeeping is a hobby.
Most innkeepers couldn't make a living just by running their B&B, but that doesn't make it a hobby. It is a serious business with many facets.

6. Breakfast is simple to make, and innkeepers can just whip something up.
Most B&Bs plan breakfasts days or even weeks in advance, so you need to let them know ahead of time if you have any special dietary needs or restrictions. Going back to myth #5, the innkeeper is often also the cook, the waiter and the dishwasher. The best breakfasts I've ever eaten have been at B&Bs, and that didn't happen by accident.

7. B&Bs are very expensive.
Not necessarily. There are some expensive B&Bs, but there are also some very affordable ones. It depends on the inn's location, amenities, and other factors. But if you've avoided looking at B&Bs as an option because of the cost, think again. In New York City, for example, high-quality B&Bs are very competitive with hotel prices. In areas less often visited by tourists, B&Bs can be an amazing bargain. 

8. Business travelers can't stay at B&Bs.
Many B&Bs have all the amenities important to business travelers, and many will offer a discount for an extended stay. This might have been true 10 or 15 years ago, and is still true to some extent – but many B&Bs now cater to corporate travelers.

9. Innkeepers are rich.
If they are, it's not because they're innkeepers. Although they might own beautiful homes which have been restored and immaculately decorated, most innkeepers don't even make all their income at the inn. If a B&B has less than 10 rooms, the chances are very good that the innkeeper, the innkeeper's spouse (or both) has outside income.

10. There will be strange rules and a curfew.
Sometimes an inn will have rules that mystify me. But I've never stayed anywhere that had what I would call "strange" rules. And no B&B has ever had a curfew. Innkeepers will sometimes ask you to be quiet if you come back to the inn late, out of respect for other guests. Make sure you read all of an inn's policies on their web site before making a reservation and you should never be staying at a B&B with truly strange rules. Innkeepers are not control freaks -- they want you to have a great time, and they want you to come back.

--Article by Elizabeth Arneson (About.com)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Fourth of July Crafts

Looking for some quick, DIY crafts to spruce up your home for the holiday?  Here are a few (some even kid-friendly!) ideas to get you on track!  

Flag Shirts

All you need is a white t-shirt, red rickrack, blue ribbon, fusible tape, and an iron to make these quick shirts for you or your kids.  Visit the above link for how-to and pictures.

Easy Patriotic Clothespin Wreath

This easy wreath can be made with about 100 clothespins, red, white, and blue spray paint, white star stickers, and a metal floral wreath.  This wreath would make a great addition to any front door!  

Tin Can Windsocks

Just by using some empty tin cans, red & white ribbon, blue spray paint, star stickers, and some twine, you can manage to create a cute addition to your front porch or living room.  The kids can even help with this one!  Click on the link above to read the full instructions and photo how-to.  

Fourth of July Bunting
(from Alpha Mom)

A star fruit cut in half and some red and blue acrylic paint makes this DIY project a breeze.  When you and the kids finish with this simple craft, it can actually be hung up to blow in the breeze! Check out the website link above to find more instructions.  

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Independence Day Recipes

With Independence Day right around the corner, you may be looking for some easy patriotic treats to serve for your barbeque, picnic, or gathering.  Here are just a few simple snacks, desserts, and appetizers to get you started.
Fourth of July Strawberries
(adapted from The Sisters Cafe)

Dip fresh strawberries in melted white chocolate, and then follow with a quick dip in blue sugar or sprinkles.  For full recipe and instructions, visit the link above.

Patriotic Fruit Salad
(adapted from Chica & Jo)

Slice a watermelon in ½ inch to ¾ inch rounds, then use a star shaped cookie cutter to cut shapes from the watermelon.  Gently toss with fresh blueberries and strawberries for a colorful addition to any meal.  Visit the above link for complete instructions.

Layered Patriotic Punch
(adapted from Our Best Bites)

Fill a glass to the top with ice.  If you have star shaped ice cube trays, this would be a great time to use them! Next, fill a third of the glass with red Hawaiian Punch.  Slowly pour another third of blue Gatorade down the side of the glass to avoid mixing colors.  Top with Sierra Mist for a tri-colored Fourth of July refreshment!

Red, White, & Blueberry Muffins
(recipe from SophistiMom)

These beautiful muffins are not only patriotic but healthy, too!  A combination of fresh blueberries and raspberries give these muffins their tasty flavor and gorgeous color.  Visit the link above for ingredient list, instructions, and additional photos.  

Patriotic Pancakes
(recipe from Tasty Kitchen)

Alternately layer plain and red velvet pancakes and top with blueberries for a delicious start to your Fourth of July.  Full recipe located at link above.  

Looking for a fun activity on the Fourth?  Come celebrate our nation's independence in Downtown Blackstone with a parade!  Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/420633011377014/ for more information!   


Friday, May 31, 2013

Events in the Area for Saturday, June 1st, 2013

Looking for a fun weekend activity for you and the family?  Virginia's State Parks have so much to offer!

On Saturday, June 1st, in honor of National Trails Day, High Bridge Trail State Park, located in Farmville, will be hosting a "Life is Complicated, Running is Simple"  5K Race.  Visit http://www.virginia.org/Listings/EventsAndExhibits/NationalTrailsDayLifeisComplicatedRunningisSimple5kRace/ for more  information on registration.

Is running not quite your thing?  Check out the Holiday Lake Bluegrass Festival, located in Appomattox.  Gates open at 11 AM and music will be played from 12 to 8 PM.  Featured bands include Half Bad Bluegrass Band, James River Cut-Ups, Shaky Grass Band, and Clearwater Branch.  Other activities include vendors, crafts, face-painting, and games.  Admission is $10 and children under 12 are  free.  Visit http://holidaylake4h.com/blue&brew.php for more information.

Not interested in running OR bluegrass music?  Not a problem!  Take the whole family swimming at Twin Lakes State Park and enjoy the 90-degree weather tomorrow!  Check out http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/parkfees.shtml for parking and admission fees.

Want to take a breather and check in for a relaxing stay at the Grey Swan Inn?  We still have several rooms available for the weekend!  We'd love to have you stay with us and enjoy our delicious breakfasts!  The inn is only a short drive from the previously mentioned events.  Check out our website http://www.greyswaninn.com/ for room availability. 

Have a safe and happy weekend!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Innkeeper Speaks about Peace Corps

Jim and I met long after his two year venture with Peace Corps and I still like hearing about his experiences for those years. Last night was another one of those opportunities when he was the speaker for Blackstone Rotary Club.He opens the meeting speaking an incomprehensible string of sounds.. and using mime. Repeating over and over, we start getting what he was talking about. And then he explains, that's how he learned Marshallese. Jim joined Peace Corps right out of college going to San Jose for an introduction... or as he put, they worked very hard at trying to talk those interested into backing out.... The interviewers were former Peace Corps Volunteers and knew the hardships first hand. He was told he was going to be all alone and isolated without other Americans for two years. That didn't daunt him. He then when to Hawaii for 10 weeks of training. Hawaii??? That a tough training site, right??

Jim then went to an island in Central Pacific with only 200 people and lived with a family that spoke no English. He job assignment was to teach English as a second language (TESL) . He continued to tell the Rotarians about foods eaten (fish, coconut, and lots of commodities - canned bologna and Spam), fishing adventures, how he lived on the island, and live among the Marshallese.

Peace Corps is celebrating 50 years this year - thank you, Jim, for sharing your Peace Corps experience with me again and with my fellow Rotarians!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Blackstone, Virginia is on the National Register of Historical Places and is a good walking tour for visitors to Blackstone. The Grey Swan Inn Bed and Breakfast is a part of the registered site, located at 615 South Main Street. Other places of interest include downtown Blackstone (which is a Virginia Main Street community), Schwartz' Tavern and The Carriage Museum. Wear good walking shoes, bring your camera, and enjoy Blackstone's history!!

Below is a walking tour map beginning at The Grey Swan Inn and outlines the residential areas that are part of the National Register:

View Larger Map

Monday, February 21, 2011

What a President Would Have Eaten

Happy President's Day!

While volunteering at our local Blackstone Friends of Library bookstore, The Book End, I found a wonderful little cookbook "Monroe Family Recipes" which was published in 1988 by Ash Lawn-Highland, College of William and Mary, the home of James and Elizabeth Monroe in Charlottesville, Virginia. What a find... it gave a bit of the history of the cooking and foods available during Monroe's time.

Here's one of the recipes which we'll want to try at the Grey Swan Inn when the summer tomatoes are in:

Tomatoes and Eggs

(Original recipe: Grease muffin tins; put one thick slice of unpeeled tomato into each tin; season with salt and pepper; break one egg on top of each slice; again season with salt and pepper and put a small piece of butter on top of each egg. Back in an oven until the egg is set. Serve on rounds of toast and garnish with parsley. This is good with cheese grated over the egg.)

1 large ripe tomato

6 eggs

salt, pepper


6 slices of bread, toasted


1/4 cup grated cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease six muffin cups thoroughly with butter. Place one thick slice of toato in each cup. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Break one egg into each cup. Season it with salt and pepepr and place about 1/2 tsp. butter ontop of each egg. Back until the eggs are firm and set.

Serve on hot toast with cheese and parsley sprinkled over each egg. Serves 6.