Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Brand-New Inn Keeper!

This past weekend was our first "no vacancy" weekend! Between Thursday afternoon and Tuesday morning, we had four different couples come through our home. They were all delightful - each with their own unique personalities and rhythms. We found great joy in watching them enjoy the place we have created. One "giggle" moment came when we overheard a guest flip out of the hammock and onto the porch floor the other day! (Fortunately he laughed too.)

Following our full weekend, I thought you might enjoy seeing what a day in the life of an inn-keeper is like - at least at this stage of the game:

10:00 pm - The day actually begins the night before. I got a late start on making Cinnamon-Raisin Bread and just at the point to roll it out, our last guests check in. By the time I show them to their room and make "small talk," a half hour has passed. I invite the woman into the kitchen to continue visiting while I roll out the bread and sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar. It still has to raise another hour before I can bake it.

11:00 pm - The bread is in the oven. We crawl in bed and set the alarm on Wayne's cell phone to wake us up in time to take it out.

11:45 pm - Wayne crawls out of bed and retrieves the bread, butters the top and sits it back in the oven to cool overnight.

5:30 am - We are jolted awake by a crazy tune on Wayne's cell phone alarm. You may wonder why we're using his cell phone . . . we had to donate our alarm clock to the second guest room for the weekend!

5:40 am - We hear a car pull out of the driveway. One of our guests is climbing Mt. Marcy (the tallest high peak) today and is getting an early start.

5:45 am - Wayne heads downstairs to brew coffee for a guest who requested coffee at 6 am. I roll back over for another hour of sleep.

6:45 am - I am up and getting dressed. Mentally I review the menu for the morning. Today we are serving fruit and yogurt parfaits, omelets with fresh salsa, sausage and of course the cinnamon raisin bread which is baked to golden perfection.

7:30 am - The parfaits are in the refrigerator, the table is set and we are in that frustrating "waiting" time where we've prepared as much as we can. The rest of the food has to be done all in the last 10 minutes.

7:50 am - The craziness begins. Omelets and sausage are on the stove. I set out water, juice and creamer, sprinkle Maple granola on top of the parfaits and warm the bread in the toaster oven.

7:59 am - The guests are assembled in the livingroom. I invite them into the diningroom and serve the parfaits. Meanwhile, Wayne flips the last omelet.

8:05 am - We deliver the plates - we've decided to try making up the plates this weekend instead of family style. The guests seem appreciative of the effort we've made at "presentation."

8:40 am - The girls are peeking out of the pantry door. "Can we eat yet?" "Almost." The guests linger around the table discussing their plans for the day as Wayne and I begin to clear their dishes.

9:00 am - The guests have all headed off into the woods the girls happily enjoy the leftovers. Over the past weeks, Sodie has said repeatedly, "I love living in a Bed and Breakfast." Her comment usually comes over a plate of food! (Note - they are eating at our "family" table in the kitchen. I don't have laundry hanging outside the windows where the guests sit!)

9:30 am - The dishwasher is loaded and running. Everyone piles in the car and we head into town to deposit Wayne's paycheck. (The banks are always closed by the time he gets home from work.)

9:45 am - We stop at a yard sale on the edge of town. The man is selling an almost brand-new mini-fridge. It would be perfect for the upstairs hallway and would enable guests to refrigerate leftovers and chill beverages. We decide to buy it.

While Wayne loads the refrigerator into the back of the van, I speak to the man who we have heard is a local artist. I ask him if he would be interested in displaying any artwork at the Snow Goose. I have a two-fold reason for asking. 1) I want to celebrate and support local artists. 2) Our walls are bare!

The man is very interested. He shows us some prints and then offers for us to take a look at an original painting. We drive down the road to his home where he shows us a large painting of Baxter Mountain - a true Keene Valley scene. It will be perfect for our livingroom. I am thrilled when he says we can take it right off his wall!

11:00 am - We return home to find a guest reading in the hammock. She watches as we carry in the mini-fridge and painting. I tell her what I tell all the guests, "We are a work in progress. Things keep improving - even while you stay!"

11:15 am - The picture is hung and completes the livingroom beautifully. I can't believe we have a $2400 piece of art hanging on our wall - for free!

(Sorry the picture is blurry)

11:45 pm - We decide that we need lunch before tackling "room service."

12 :30 pm - Wayne and I head to the guest rooms. We have been blessed so far with extremely neat guests. Both couples have made their beds! We straighten, clean the bathroom, empty trash and run the sweeper. Last week, I placed a sign in both bathrooms indicating that a "towel on the rack means I'll use it again" and a "towel on the floor means please exchange." Since I posted the signs, no one has left a towel on the floor - saving tremendously on laundry.

Sodie and CorrieAnne sweep the front porch and wipe the Adirondack chairs. They each earn $1 which goes into their jar. At the end of the summer, they'll have a nice amount to spend on a trip to the city.

1:15 pm - Sodie comes running inside yelling, "Somebody just pulled in!" (We get pretty excited about customers around here!) I hurry downstairs. It is a woman who was scheduled to stay with us this weekend. She was a participant in Ironman - unfortunately she fell and broke her elbow during training last week. She is stopping in to say "hi" and see the Snow Goose. I give her the limited tour - can't show the guest rooms. She loves the place and books two nights for next year's Ironman. This is our first "year-in-advance" booking!

2:00 pm - We are terribly slow with this room service thing! I guess it takes awhile to develop a system. Wayne finishes vacuuming the livingroom while I cut, wrap and label locally made honey soap to put in the guest rooms.

2:15 pm - I check email and respond to a few inquiries. Unfortunately, most of them want rooms for tonight. Every place of lodging is full - due to Ironman. 2,000 athletes and their families and friends have descended upon the greater Lake Placid area. Revenue for this weekend will exceed $7 million. I'm happy to report that we've been blessed with a small portion of that!

3:00 pm - We decide to head back into town. The school is hosting a photography exhibit and we are hoping to snag a few more pieces of art for the walls. One of our guests rides along. The exhibit has some beautiful photos, but none of the artists are available to speak with. We chat with the photo-show's organizers. They are quite enthusiastic when we tell them about our B&B theme: Celebrating Adirondack Arts.

On the way home, we stop at the Valley Grocer to pick up some S'More fixings. We're planning to have a bonfire this evening and have invited our guests to join us.

4:30 pm - I must hurry! We have been invited to a potluck with several Keene Valley families. Even though I am told most of the families are vegetarian, I am making lasagna - simply because that's what I have ingredients for. I have just enough time to get it in the oven. Wayne heads outside to mow the grass around the firepit area.

5:00 pm - The lasagna is in the oven. One of our guests is returning from a dip in the Ausable River. She and I strike up a conversation as she dries off on the porch. She asks me about my writing and before I know it, we're having a lovely conversation about destiny and the greater purpose for life. She is interested in our website and more information about Destiny Ventures. I know I should be writing - have an article due tomorrow - but inspiring others to live with purpose is part of my mission in life.

5:50 pm - The timer is going off. We have ten minutes to get to our potluck.

6:00 pm - We arrive at the potluck. About 8 families have come together - all taking a break from the busy summer season for a night of fun. The girls head off with their new friends to visit the family horses while Wayne and I enjoy the conversation and meeting new people.

6:45 pm - My lasagna pan is EMPTY. Apparently there are some other "meat-eaters" in the group! All of the food is terrific. This group is very committed to organic eating. In fact, most of us buy our veges from one of the couples in the group who have a small organic farm just outside of Keene Valley. It is the first potluck in a long time where I could turn our girls loose at the table and tell them they can eat whatever they want!

7:30 pm - I am sitting on a side porch with the ladies - watching the sun lowering over the mountains. The horses graze near the woods. The view is amazing.

8:30 pm - Time to head home and start our bonfire. We arrive to find the house and driveway empty. The guests are probably in town getting dinner. We wonder what time our "Mt. Marcy" climbing guest returned.

9:00 pm - The fire is crackling. The girls get their pajamas on and sit on our laps to roast marshmallows. The evening sky is crystal clear after an overcast day. The humidity has dropped and the fire actually feels good. Wayne and I talk about how we love living in a way that allows us to do things we love as part of our "job."

9:25 pm - A car pulls into the driveway - a family looking for a room for the night. Wayne tells them that we're full. I doubt they will find anything tonight.

9:30 pm - The girls are curled up - almost asleep when our guests return. The "Mt. Marcy" man is exhausted and heads straight for bed. He did reach the summit only to find the visibility at about 100 feet - disappointing. (On a brighter note, he borrowed one of our plastic containers to carry his cheese. We may never make it to the top of Mt. Marcy, but one of our containers has!)

The other couple also turns in. They hiked most of the day as well. One woman joins us at the fire for awhile. Together we listen to the night sounds. CorrieAnne falls asleep in my arms.

10:00 pm. - We tuck the girls in bed and head downstairs to make preparations for tomorrow's breakfast. We are making a Blueberry Cream Cheese Bake which needs to be prepared and refrigerated overnight.

10:15 pm - OH NO! We realize that we forgot to buy maple syrup when we were in town. We'll never have enough for breakfast and none of the stores will be open early enough. It is our first official "Kitchen Crisis."

After a few minutes of hand-wringing, we come up with a plan. Wayne will head out early in the morning and visit Trail's End - another B&B right up the road from us. They sell maple syrup in their lobby and someone will surely be up early fixing breakfast for their guests.

10:30 pm - The doorbell rings. A young man stands in the livingroom asking for a room for the night. Again, we have to send him on his way. We have rooms for next weekend . . .

11:00 pm. - All is quiet. We lock up the house and climb into bed. Our day has been full, but we fall asleep with a deep sense of satisfaction. Our home is filled with people who have spent the day immersed in the beauty of nature and the comfort of loving care.

Life is good!

Second Room is Done . . . For Now

Our second room is up and running. We decided not to completely re-do it at this point but to just get it functional to get through the summer season. Here are a few scenes from its preparation:

We thought we could "touch up" the floor paint only to discover that the gallon in the basement did not match at all - major setback! We ended up completely repainting the floor only four days before the guests were scheduled to arrive. Did I mention that this room is huge . . . meaning that the floor is huge?!

It's dangerous to visit us these days as you may find yourself with a paintbrush in your hand. Just ask Nancy who graciously painted a bathroom window!

My sister, Cinda, visited for a few days and helped to put the finishing touches on the room.

Fortunately our friend Nancy, who is an artist/photographer, just happened to have some Adirondack prints with her. We created a "cool" collage of winter scenes to match the blue tones in the room.

My favorite part of the room is the fireplace. We've set up a candleabra for the summer since it's too warm for real fires.

Since this room is sort of a "transition" room, we named it Passages. We finished the final cleaning on Thursday morning - about 4 hours before our guests checked in. I tried not to visibly cringe as the gentleman's shoes made slurping sounds on the freshly painted floor.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A "Sign" of Things To Come

The Snow Goose is located on Route 73, the main corridor to and from Lake Placid. While this location is idea for exposure, it also means that it's hard to hide certain things - like our rather unsightly sign!

Being ever the "do-it-yourselfers," we decided to repaint the sign ourselves with the help of our friends, Wes and Karen, who were visiting from Pennsylvania. I thought you might enjoy watching the transformation.

The old sign - apparently our sign was notorious for missing quite a few letters before we arrived. More than one local has told us how they affectionately referred to it as the "Now Goo LoGe." I guess that explains the two different colors of letters.

After taking the sign down, Wayne built a nifty frame on the porch to hold the sign upright while he repainted the background.

Meanwhile Karen and I sanded the old letters.

Next, Wes spray-painted the letters gold while under Karen's careful supervision - "You missed a spot!"

Karen and I painted the face of the letters hunter green. We have a great picture of it, but for some reason, it won't load properly so you'll have to use your imagination to picture us sitting on the porch in the beautiful summer breeze painting and chatting away.

Then came the tedious task of measuring each letter to make sure it was spaced just right.

Wayne had the job of carefully screwing the wooden letters back into place.

Karen and I found a computer font we liked, printed the letters "Bed & Breakfast" out and traced them. Then each one had to be hand-painted.

Ta -Da! The finished product

But the story is not over! In the almost four months that we've lived here, we've never had anyone stop except to ask directions. Not even ONE HOUR after we hung the new sign, a car pulled in and a delightful young couple asked if they could book a room for two nights! YEAH!!!

Even more fun was the fact that they were from Switzerland where he is a rock and ice climbing guide. We had a great time learning more about Switzerland (including the fact that while the Swiss mountains are higher, ours are more true wilderness) and watching them enjoy the unique beauty of the Adirondacks.

I was a bit confused when they came back from an evening drive and told me they had seen a "wash bear." I wasn't sure I wanted such a creature in the neighborhood until they described it as a little round bear with black circles around the eyes - a raccoon! They were also fascinated by the "flashing bugs" that they saw while sitting on the porch after dark.

Our guests seem excited to hear about our dreams for the Snow Goose and to see how we're renovating the house. In fact, some just want to jump in and help. I'll leave you with one more picture:

This past weekend, Wayne had help from our friend, Don Engle (in the background) and a guest, Eldon. The three of them worked for several hours hooking up lights to illuminate the sign at night.

If our first few weeks in the B&B business are a "sign" of things to come, we're going to meet a lot of wonderful people!