Saturday, January 17, 2015

Our Latest Deneen Pottery Mugs Have Arrived

We're really excited to share that we have two new mug colors at the Inn on Mill Creek B&B.



Our mugs are custom, high quality, handthrown pottery mugs by Deneen Pottery, a well-known and respected company in the Bed & Breakfast world and beyond. Guests love sipping their coffee and tea from these mugs, and happy guests = happy innkeepers.

With our two new colors, we now have six colors split over two mug styles. Our original colors are Forest Green (marble glaze), Chocolate (marble glaze), Sand (solid) and Cinnamon (solid):

Original mug colors at the Inn on Mill Creek B&B
 And here are our new colors: Midnight (a dark blue marble glaze) and Chocolate (solid):

Midnight marble glaze mug from Deneen Pottery
Chocolate solid mug from Deneen Pottery

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Downton Abbey Exhibit Comes to Biltmore, Feb. 2015

Downton Abbey characters [Photo: PBS.org]
Any fans of Downton Abbey out there? We started watching last year after several of our guests and friends raved about the show, which follows the lives of the Crawleys -- the Earl of Grantham and his family -- at their English country estate, as well as the (sometimes more interesting) lives of the servants and workers on the estate. We did the obligatory binge viewing session of the first three seasons and then got ourselves caught up to catch season 4 in real time. And just FYI, if you're staying at the Inn on Mill Creek B&B, you have TV in your room, but if you want to watch Downton (or any of your favorite shows or sports) on a big screen, we've got a sweet setup in our Great Room common area, with a 7x12 foot HD projection TV.

So, back to Downton Abbey: For fans of the show, there's an awesome exhibition coming to the beautiful Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, which, let's be honest, is the perfect place for a Downton Abbey exhibit.

Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC
The exhibit is called Dressing Downton and will feature more than 45 costumes from the PBS Masterpiece series, on display inside Biltmore House. Fashion trends during the time of Downton Abbey show's setting, the early to mid-1900s, changed over time and the costumes of the show reflect that.

Dressing Downton will be at Biltmore from February 5 to May 25, 2015, and is included with admission to Biltmore. And here's some good news for our guests: you can purchase discounted tickets to Biltmore at the Inn on Mill Creek B&B and your tickets are good for a FREE second consecutive day at Biltmore. This comes in handy since there is so much to see at Biltmore, even in wintertime. It allows you to be more flexible and to take things at a more leisurely pace. The entrance to Biltmore is about 20 minutes west of the Inn on Mill Creek.

More information about the Dressing Downton exhibit can be found at www.biltmore.com/events/dressing-downton-1.

Friday, January 2, 2015

2015 Quiet Season B&B Getaway Discount Begins


The sun rises on a new year at the Inn on Mill Creek inside Pisgah National Forest

Happy 2015! Our guests rang in a relaxing and quiet New Year at the Inn on Mill Creek B&B, and we continue that theme with our Quiet Season B&B getaway special: discounted rates on stays of two nights or more from January through March.

On the fence about deciding whether to plan a winter getaway to the mountains of western North Carolina? Here are the top 5 reasons to take advantage of the Quiet Season in the Asheville and Black Mountain area:

1) No crowds...this means no traffic, easy parking downtown, and you may even have the most popular hiking trails all to yourself.

2) Less wait time at restaurants...Asheville and Black Mountain are serious foodie destinations and in the summer and fall, it can be a challenge to get a table at popular eateries. In the wintertime, wait times are noticeably shorter, even on Friday and Saturday nights.

3) Better views...while the Blue Ridge Parkway may be closed in the winter months, there is no shortage of great hiking trails around Asheville, Black Mountain and Old Fort, including awesome waterfall hikes. In addition, with all the foliage off the trees, the views of our beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and Black Mountains are more expansive.

4) Great events...things may be quieter in our neck of the woods, but that doesn't mean that the area event calendar dries up. From free wine tastings at the Artisan Gourmet Market in Black Mountain every Thursday to the "Dressing "Downton" exhibit coming to Biltmore Estate in February, there are events big and small going on in the wintertime in Western North Carolina.

5) Reserve a room and save...in the Quiet Season, it's easier to book the room you want on the dates you want at the Inn on Mill Creek B&B due to less demand than, say, October [which, by the way, we are already getting October bookings, so time to plan ahead if you want specific dates and a specific room during fall foliage season!]. Wintertime is the perfect time to de-stress and get a relaxing start to the New Year in a quiet location off the beaten path. In-room fireplace...Jacuzzi tub...

One of the rooms at the Inn on Mill Creek B&B

Sound good? Check our availability at www.innonmillcreek.com.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Kiva Loan Wrap-Up for 2014

As a small business, we like helping other small business owners to succeed, especially those who face adversity. It's why we have been involved in funding microloans through Kiva (www.kiva.org). Our final Kiva loan for 2014 goes to Hortencio in Mozambique, a country in eastern Africa, where the average annual income is just under $1,400.

Hortencio is in his 30s and has a small family, plus he is financially responsible for his parents' welfare. He has worked as a florist for two years and the loan he received, funded by us and 21 other lenders around the world, will help him to buy more plants for his business so he can continue on the road to lifting his family out of poverty and helping his community's economy. We wish him luck!


In 2014, our goal was to start lending to borrowers in each of the countries helped by Kiva. There are now 85 countries, and we've helped borrowers in 38 of them. We'll continue working towards that goal in 2015!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Recipe: Red Velvet Kiss (and Hug) Cookies

Red Velvet Kiss (and Hug) Cookies
For Christmas 2014, we wanted to mix up our Christmas cookie, but just a little bit. Each year for the holidays, we've done a chocolate-based cookie: mint chocolate chip, chocolate gingerbread, chocolate snickerdoodles, you get the point. This year, the chocolate is not only in the cookie but also in the form of a kiss (awwww).

You may be familiar with the traditional peanut butter cookie that features a Reese's Cup or a Hershey's Kiss in the middle. Well, we found a recipe for a red velvet cookie and had to try a variation of it because, well, it's red velvet. Yum. So here is our version of the Red Velvet Kiss Cookie, actually a kiss and hug since it uses Hershey's Hugs (milk chocolate Hershey Kisses covered in white chocolate). It's such a sweet little cookie.

Red Velvet Kiss (and Hug) Cookies from the Inn on Mill Creek Bed & Breakfast
from the Inn on Mill Creek Bed & Breakfast
Prep+bake time: 45 minutes + bake time / Makes 3-4 dozen

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients

12 Tbsp (1 + 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 + 3/4 Cups packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 Tbsp red food coloring
1 + 3/4 Cups all-purpose flour
3/4 Cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 bag of Hershey's Hugs, or Kisses if you like, unwrapped
1/2 Cup red tinted sugar (here's how we make colored sugar)

Directions

1. In a large mixing bowl, mix butter with brown sugar until blended well, and then add egg, vanilla and red food coloring one at a time until well blended.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and baking powder (we sift them all together).
3. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix well. If your dough is sticky, refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour -- you don't want it sticking to your hands for the next step.
4. Put red tinted sugar in a small bowl. Roll dough into balls and roll them around in the tinted sugar until well coated.
5. Place cookies on cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Do not overbake or else they'll be too hard.
6. When you take the cookies out of the oven, let sit for 1-2 minutes and then transfer to cooling rack. Immediately place one hug (kiss) into the center of the cookie and press in gently. Let cool. If you place the hugs (kisses) into the cookies too soon after they come out of the oven, the hugs (kisses) will melt and you'll have Salvador Dali versions of this cookie.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

North Carolina Mountain Birds: Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren [photo from Wikipedia Commons]
We wrap up this year's 12 Months of Birding at the Inn series with one of our favorite little birds, the Carolina Wren, which makes Pisgah National Forest near Asheville, NC, its year-round residence.

The Carolina Wren is one of the easier birds in our neck of the woods to identify. It has a small but round body with varying shades of brown, a thick white stripe above its eye, a tail that it will often stick straight up, and downward curving, pointy bill. And it may be small, but what the Carolina Wren lacks in size, it makes up for in song. It's essentially the bird version of an exclamation mark, punctuating the forest with a lively "Tea-kettle! Tea-kettle!"

Our guests will often see the Carolina Wren venturing out from the thick evergreen bushes next to the Pool Garden. In the summer months, guests might also see Carolina Wrens hanging out in the thick brush along the pond and fluttering about in the forsythia along the split-rail fence near the driveway. They also like to forage in the woods beyond the North Terrace Room. Their diet consists of insects and fruit.

Occasionally, the Carolina Wrens hop around the piles of firewood on the property, where they might have nests. We have an Eastern Phoebe who lives above the back porch door, and the Wren and the Phoebe will sometimes get in a little neighborly disagreement since the Phoebe also likes the Wren's woods beyond the North Terrace Room, while the Wren likes to frequent the kindling and firewood near the Phoebe's house at the back porch door. Their squabbles don't last long; they are both good sports in the end and sort things out.


We hope you've enjoyed our 12 birds of 2014. Stay tuned...2015 is just around the corner and our 12 Months of Birding at the Inn continues in January with one of our owl residents. We'll tell you hoot...er...who... it will be next month.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Asheville/Black Mountain Restaurants Open for 2014 Christmas Eve and Christmas

Image from Pinterest
Traveling to the Asheville/Black Mountain, NC, area over the holidays? Below are a few of the restaurants in our neck of the woods that will be open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Restaurants are in Asheville unless otherwise noted:

Open Christmas Eve
Bier Garden (sports bar/restaurant): www.ashevillebiergarden.com
Restaurants at Biltmore: www.biltmore.com 
Blackbird: (American/New Southern): http://theblackbirdrestaurant.com
Curate (Spanish Tapas): www.curatetapasbar.com
Restaurants at the Grove Park Inn: www.groveparkinn.com/christmas-dining
Pack’s Tavern (Gastropub; American): http://packstavern.com
Posana Café (Farm-to-Table; all gluten free): http://posanacafe.com
Red Stag Grill at the Grand Bohemian (European): www.bohemianhotelasheville.com/dining
Vincenzo’s (Italian): www.vincenzos.com
Palate (American; located in Black Mountain): www.themontevistahotel.net/#!dining/c24i2
Thai Basil (Thai; located in Black Mountain; no website)

Open Christmas
Bier Garden (sports bar/restaurant): www.ashevillebiergarden.com
Restaurants at Biltmore: www.biltmore.com
Restaurants at the Grove Park Inn: www.groveparkinn.com/christmas-dining
Red Stag Grill at the Grand Bohemian: www.bohemianhotelasheville.com/dining
Palate (American; located in Black Mountain): www.themontevistahotel.net/#!dining/c24i2

See more options at www.citizen-times.com/story/entertainment/dining/2014/12/16/asheville-restaurants-open-christmas/20481805/.