Friday, August 26, 2016

Nick's Notes, 8.26.2016--A Familiar Face in a New Role at Abbington Green

A Familiar Face in a New Role at Abbington Green

Many of you know about my retail background as a Regional Vice President at Williams-Sonoma.  During that time I supervised 70 stores and worked with an amazing group of District Managers. We were a great team!

One of them was Carey.  We only worked together a short time before Carey and her husband, Robert, were married and moved to Munich, Germany for his job. Steve and I went to visit them and Carey showed us all around---we visited Munich, Prague, Vienna and Salzburg.

When we purchased Abbington Green in 2014, Carey and Robert had just moved back to the US. Carey came to help several times--unpacking boxes, helping with guests, working in the kitchen, decorating for Christmas, and giving Amber some love.

Carey started working on some Social Media projects for me to ease my work load.  She was a huge help to allow me to focus on all the updates going on at the Inn.

In January, 2016, Steve and I took a wonderful vacation, a cruise.  Carey and Robert came to Asheville to watch the Inn and spend time with Amber.  We closed the Inn, but left huge lists for Carey and the team to work on.  The team loved working together, and it was great to come back to a completed checklist.

Carey and I had been talking for a while about the possibility of working together again at Abbington Green. Robert enjoyed Asheville while he was here and they even found a house that they could rent.

We continued to talk about the role Carey would play at the Inn and soon decided that it was the right thing for all of us.  Things fell into place quickly and in June, Carey and Robert moved here to Asheville!

Carey has now taken on the role as our General Manager which allows me more time to focus on additional initiatives here at the Inn. We have some big plans for 2017...and with Carey added to the team, more of my dreams will become reality.

So Carey and I are back to working together again.  It seems like just yesterday that we were working together at Williams-Sonoma.  We compliment each other and guests love her already.  I love my new partner at Abbington Green.  Come visit and meet her soon!

All the best,

Saturday, August 20, 2016

A Heartfelt Thank You from Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn

It has been an exciting 18 months here at Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn. Thank you to all of our wonderful guests and friends for helping us to make our dreams come true.

To read more information about the Top US B&B Award from Bed&, click here.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Nick's Notes 7.1.2016--Bailey, Cassie and Chance are back together at Abbington Green

Bailey, Cassie and Chance are back together at Abbington Green

When you walk up to the front porch of the Inn, you can't help but notice the 3 dog statues in the front yard: a St. Bernard fountain, a Boxer and a Golden Retriever. These statues represent my 3 dogs Bailey, Cassie and Chance.

Yes, we had 3 large dogs at the same time, and I loved every minute of it. Finding statues that look like them was important for me to have displayed here at Abbington Green.

There is so much that I want to share with you about them. I got Bailey, my St. Bernard, as a puppy from a breeder in Illinois.
I wanted her to be a Show Dog, and she actually won 2nd Place in the only competition I entered her in. Bailey developed a limp in her front paw and could no longer be shown. It was a birth defect, and surgery did not work to fix it.  I learned about a Pet Therapy Program at the Broward County Humane Society where you could take your dog to schools, hospitals and nursing homes.

Bailey passed the test on her first try, and on Saturdays we would visit a hospice in Boca Raton, Florida, visiting mainly cancer and Alzheimer patients. Bailey was amazing at it! Based on her height, patients could easily reach her without bending over or getting out of bed.

I have to say, this was the most rewarding and fulfilling thing that I have done in my life. Bailey touched many lives and was an exceptional Therapy Dog. Even when a patient went into a coma, she would lay her head on their shoulder in bed as if she was still communicating with them.
Cassie, my Boxer, was a gift for my 40th birthday. She was so sweet and tiny compared to my big, 155lb. Bailey.
Bailey took her under her paw immediately. even teaching Cassie how to be house broken. I remember one of the first days Cassie had an accident in the house. Bailey pushed Cassie to the sliding glass door to go out.  Their bond with each other and us grew so strong.  Eventually, Cassie started to climb on top of Bailey and sleep on top of her...and Bailey let her.
When Bailey started to get too old and it was harder for her to walk so much at the nursing home, Cassie became a Certified Pet Therapy Dog and took over where Bailey left off.  Both Bailey and Cassie knew when we would say..."Let's go visit your friends"...that it was time to put on their green vest that said "I love working for hugs and kisses", and head over to the nursing home.
When Cassie was 3 and Bailey was 6, Cousin Chance, a Golden Retriever, stayed over for a visit while good friends went away on vacation.  They were all 3 instant friends, with Bailey taking on the "Big Alpha" Dog role, in charge.
A few months later, Chance joined our family as a permanent member. You certainly get a lot of stares when you walk 3 big dogs down the street! Chance was never the smartest of the 3, but he was loyal and loving.
I lost my "Bailey Girl" in December of 2011. It was such a hard loss for me. Bailey had been there for me during some difficult times in my life and she had become my personal Therapy Dog too. She always knew how to cheer me up. She was twelve years old. That is a long life for a St. Bernard, as most pass away at 8-10 years old.
I found a website that creates Andy Warhol-like photo prints on canvas and I decided to have three made for Bailey, Cassie, and Chance.

In February of 2012, I found Amber, a 4 month old mixed breed puppy, on the highway.  She reminded me of 'Scrappy Doo' with her big head and her small body.

We tried to find who she belonged to, but had no luck and after a week at the house, Amber, Cassie and Chance had become best friends.  I think that it helped them get over the loss of Bailey too. Cassie even tried to sit on Chance like she did with Bailey, but he would have no part of it.  Amber brought the puppy out in both of them and they loved playing with her.

I always say that things happen for a reason. In April 2012, we had to put both Cassie and Chance down, 10 days apart from one another.  First Cassie developed a brain tumor and went blind. She started having seizures.  Then we found out that Chance had developed stomach cancer. Sadly, we lost them both very quickly.

Amber was there to support us and needed our love too. She was still only 6 months old, so full of energy and she needed to play. She helped give us the strength to move on. Amber has grown into a beautiful dog..."Lady Amber Abbington"... as guests and our team refer to her.
She will be my next Therapy Dog, and our goal is to be out visiting nursing homes here in Asheville as soon as she is ready to be trained and passes her test.

I think of Bailey, Cassie, and Chance often and love having the statues of them in the front yard at Abbington Green. I hope that you will too.

All the best,


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Steve's Say --5.18.2016--At Work in The Gardens

At Work in the Gardens

When we purchased Abbington Green in the fall of 2014, it became clear that Nick was planning on having me be in charge of taking care of the gardens.  So I set aside 2 weeks of vacation in May last year to work on them.

Although we did a lot of gardening in Florida, it was more just maintaining and weeding our grounds since everything grows so fast there.  Here in North Carolina, when things started to come up I had to decide what to add, keep or move.  

The previous owner, Valerie had done an amazing job laying out the gardens by design and what plants she used.  I didn't want to take away from the English style gardens that she created, but I wanted to add some of my own personal choices to the grounds.   

My mother always had a large vegetable garden along with many varieties of flowers on her large property. When I was young, I helped her with her vegetable gardens growing up, mostly by just picking them when they were ripe. 

At the Inn, we had to decide where to put the vegetables and which ones we wanted to grow here at Abbington Green.  Our friends, Ken and Ivy helped with picking out what annuals we should plant along with some perennials that would come up every year. They suggested growing a variety of berries that we could use for jams for our breakfasts. 

We decided to plant blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and black raspberries. For vegetables we planted, lettuce, spinach, carrots, cucumbers, asparagus, tomatoes, radishes, and green peppers.

During those 2 weeks last May, I spent most of the day outside working in the gardens.  Our guests would compliment me on how good everything looked-even going as far as to compare our gardens to the amazing gardens of the Biltmore Estate....but a smaller version. 
A few guests even gave me pointers and tips on how to do a few things.  My biggest fear was what and when to prune and when and what to fertilize.  It was a trial and error learning experience for sure.  Some plants did better than others and I kept that in mind when choosing what to plant again this year.

It is a large property, and having a full time job doesn't give me a lot of free time for the gardens. I took off another 2 weeks to work in the garden this May. I was feeling much more confident this year in what I wanted and needed to do. 

I like to kid with Nick and our guests that gardening could almost be a full time position here. 

Having just finished the majority of things to do this year, I can honestly say, I enjoy working in the gardens while on vacation and on my days off.  I love that we support the local wildlife in the area with our gardens, and am proud that we are a designated Certified Wildlife Habitat. We have many varieties of birds, butterflies, rabbits and hummingbirds that live in and visit our gardens. 

We are a TripAdvisor GreenLeader, and we don't use pesticides and make it a point to garden our property organically.

It's really not work when you enjoy what you are doing.  I wish I could spend more time in the gardens of Abbington Green. Retirement is approaching, though, and then you can be sure to catch me outside most of the time.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Nick's Notes 4.29.2016--Mom's Rose Garden

Mom's Rose Garden

One of my sweetest memories of my Mom is her love for roses. When I was 4, we moved into our new house and Mom had a bigger yard to grow her roses. The rose gardens started as a side garden along our property line, but when the new patio went in, this provided her another great location to add a large rose garden. Each year they were well tended and properly trimmed, with new white stones put down to cover the ground around them. We even got creative and lined the edges of the garden and around the base of each rose with clam shells. (Yes, we ate a lot of clams as a family)
So, Steve and I decided to dedicate to one of our rose gardens here at Abbington Green to my Mom.  
We recently purchased 4 Cherub Statues playing musical instruments that are now a part of this special garden. 
New roses have been added and they are just starting to bloom.
The garden lines the driveway as guests drive to the lower parking lot. My Mom loved both music and roses, so I know the partnership of the roses with the cherubs and their musical instruments would have made her very happy.

This is perfect timing to dedicate this garden to her with Mother's Day on May 9th and her Birthday would have been on May 12th. I miss you,  Mom, and want you to know I will think of you every time I see our new Rose Garden.

Love, Nick