Saturday, May 16, 2015

Nick's Notes 5.15.2015--The Fountains of Abbington Green!


The Fountains of Abbington Green

The Gardens at Abbington Green are in full bloom and look amazing! 

Every guest comments on how beautiful they look. Steve is owning the project and working with two great friends, Ivy and Ken Olson, to bring back the Gardens at Abbington Green to their full beauty and potential. They are doing an amazing job. Steve even took two weeks vacation time from the post office and spent it in the garden every day. Here are a few photos to show you what I mean: 







I believe, a garden is not complete with out the magical sound of a fountain. We have 4 beautiful fountains at Abbington Green. Each of them in a separate garden and unique to the garden. They bring a peace and charm to the gardens and add to the History, Style and Romance of Abbington Green.



My favorite fountain, of the 4, is found in the front yard. We call it  Bailey's Fountain in honor of Bailey our St Bernard who passed away 4 years ago. Bailey was an amazing dog! 

We purchased her in Rockford, Illinois as a puppy. When all 7 St Bernard puppies came running to me she was the one that kept falling over and lagged behind the others.  When she finally got to me, she wanted to be hugged and we connected immediately. 

I wanted Bailey to be a show dog, and went to classes to get trained. In her first show she took 2nd place. A few months later, as Bailey kept growing, she developed a limp. Her joints in her left paw were not developing properly and we tried corrective surgery but it didn't work. She was able to move fine on her own, but would always have a limp. That didn't matter, we loved her..........unfortunately, she could not continue to be shown as a show dog. 

I started thinking about other ways Bailey and I could spend time together and do something good. I stumbled upon the Pet Therapy Program at the Broward Humane Society in Florida. I called and Bailey passed the test with flying colors and we began 10 years of Pet Therapy work together on Saturdays. 

That's what she was meant to do........She was so good with all the Cancer and Alzheimer Patients, and they loved seeing her come into their rooms. I could see how their eyes would light up and they would talk to her. Her height was perfect to the side of the bed as well as wheelchairs. 

As you all know, St Bernards drool, and I always had a  towel with me to wipe her mouth before she got close to a patient. One day one patient said to me, "It's okay honey, we drool too." When patients would get ill and some lapsed into comas, Bailey sensed it and would lay her head next to theirs and then look over at me. I would tell her, "It's okay, they know you're here to see them."

Bailey lived to be 12 years old and it was a sad day when I had to say my final Good Bye. One of the sweetest gifts I ever received was from my District Manager in New Jersey and her team of Store Managers. They purchased an actual Star that is now named Bailey's Star. I have a framed Certificate of the coordinates of the actual star that hangs in the entry way of Abbington Green. 
Even though our Bed and Breakfast is called Abbington Green, the name of our business is called Bailey's Star in honor of the best friend I ever had..............My Bailey!


All the best, Nick

Friday, May 1, 2015

Nick's Notes 5.1.2015--Thanks Mom.............and Dad too!


Thanks Mom.............and Dad too!

     

At Abbington Green bed and Breakfast Inn we decorate for each Holiday. For those of you that know me, I've always loved decorating for the Christmas Holiday and have won prizes for lights in our yard. Now I get to decorate for every Holiday which is even better.

Mother's Day is May 10th so the sleigh on the front porch is brightly decorated for Mother's Day as well as a few other areas in our home.

In the sleigh are photos of Steve's Mom and my Mom.

My Mom is in heaven now but I know she is always looking out for me.  Steve's Mom just turned 80, and still loves to garden in the yard. Happy Mother's Day to both our Moms and all the Moms reading this.

You've taught us right from wrong, kindness and generosity. You've helped shape us into who we are today. You've always supported our successes and showed us your love.

Most importantly Mom (and Dad), you told me to "Live My Dreams." And that's what I'm doing...............owning a Bed and Breakfast and loving every minute of it!

I know you're both looking down on me and smiling because you know I'm happy.

All the Best, Nick

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Nick's Notes 4.17.2015--North Carolina Local

North Carolina Local

Owning Abbington Green Bed and Breakfast Inn in Asheville, NC has already taught me a lot of valuable things in life. I'm meeting wonderful people from all over the world as they come to enjoy the beauty of Asheville and all that NC has to offer a visitor. It's my personal expectation that Abbington Green also offers History, Style and Romance with a connection to North Carolina as well.

History:
It begins with the history of our home, designed by Architect Richard Sharp Smith, who was one of the Architects at Biltmore Estate. I love sharing the history of this house with its two main owners, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Peyton. This house is known as the Jackson-Peyton House on the National Historic Register of Historic Places since 1978.
Style:
Decorating Abbington Green has been fun. We've added our personal things with things we have found at one of the many local antique stores in Asheville. Some recent additions are the stained glass windows and game chest in the living room containing games for guests to enjoy.
We've also partnered with 10 local Asheville, NC Artists and they have transformed our second floor hallways to showcase and sell their work.  Guests enjoy, looking at the pottery, ceramics, paintings, mosaics, and furniture. Many have then gone to the galleries in the River Arts District to make their purchases.

Romance:
Guests continue to comment on how much they enjoy our bath products in our rooms. Our lip balm, bath salts, shampoo, conditioner and lotion are all made locally in North Carolina.

Our Social Hour at 5 PM each evening continue to feature local NC cheeses and meats. Additionally, we serve hot appetizers I make daily, and red and white wine.
Breakfast is what I enjoy the most. We use as much local and organic products as possible in our breakfasts. From apples that we get from a local orchard in Hendersonville, NC, cured meats, Ivy's Homemade Jams, to the organic produce, eggs and dairy products. The details of our breakfasts are important to me as part of the NC experience.
I have a lot of "Pride" in North Carolina and recently added the NC Flag to the front of our home. I truly want our guests to explore Asheville, the Blue Ridge Mountains, amazing local restaurants, and the local NC things...............and in the evening return to Abbington Green to experience a little more of North Carolina History, Style, and Romance.

All the best, Nick.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Nick's Notes 4.3.2015--A Tale of Two Easters

A Tale of Two Easters!


Growing up we always celebrated only the Eastern Orthodox Easter which can vary in the date some years from the Western Christian Easter. I remember as a kid being able to buy all the Easter Candy on SALE after the Christian Easter for our Easter Baskets. This year Orthodox Easter is 1 week after Christian Easter. I thought I would explain a little bit this week about why there is a difference and what some of the Greek Traditions we will be doing at Abbington Green for the next two Sundays to celebrate both Easters....which I now celebrate.

The formula for Easter-"The first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox" is the same for both Western and Orthodox Easters, but churches base the dates on different calendars. Western Churches use the Gregorian Calendar and Orthodox Churches use the older Julian Calendar. The two churches vary on the definition of the vernal equinox and the full moon. The Eastern Church sets the date of Easter according to the actual, astronomical full moon and the actual equinox as observed along the meridian of Jerusalem, site of the Crucifixion and resurrection. The Eastern Orthodox Church also applies the formula so that Easter always falls after Passover, since the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ took place after he entered Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. In the Western Church, Easter sometimes precedes Passover by weeks. 


Either way..............now I celebrate both and still enjoy some of the Greek traditions such as Cracking Eggs and a wonderful Leg of Lamb with Orzo Pasta for dinner. What we are planning to do at Easter Breakfast on Sunday, April 5th and Sunday, April 12th is Crack Eggs together before breakfast begins at 9 AM. The rules: The game is called Tsougrisma in Greek and it involves two players at a time and hard boiled decorated Easter Eggs. Each player holds an egg, and one taps the end of her/his egg lightly against the end of the other player's egg. The goal is to crack the opponent's egg. This continues until one player successfully cracks the eggs of all the other players is declared the winner and is said, will have good luck during the year. Once your egg is cracked you can then crack the backside of the egg with other players that also have one side cracked already to see who will win with the backside of the egg. It should be a fun time here and from all of us at Abbington Green...........Happy Easter and Happy Passover!



All the Best, Nick

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Nick's Notes 3.27.2015--I Love My Job!

Love My Job!

Do you love your job? I can honestly say "I Do!" I thought this week I would share with you the whys behind my love for being an Innkeeper.

I had a wonderful 35 year retail career, but always knew one day I would own a Bed and Breakfast. As I mentioned a few weeks ago in Nick's Notes, this was my dream..........We had a 15 year plan which has now allowed me to live my dream. The sign that hangs outside the front door, "What I love most about my Home is Who I Share it With," talks about the beauty of Abbington Green and the amazing history of our home. But that is not what I love about my job.....those things are different.

I want to share my top 3 things with you..............Why I love my Job! It's hard because there are so many things I love. I take my job as Innkeeper very serious. I actually get choked up when I read the amazing reviews guests have wrote about me and Abbington Green on Trip Advisor. (If you have not read the reviews, please take a look) I value and appreciate what each guest writes. Thank you for taking the time to write them.

The first thing I love most about my job are the amazing people I have met. I love spending time with guests and hearing about their stories, their families, their travel, and so on. I always believe people come into each others lives for a reason. As an Innkeeper it has allowed me to meet so many people. I love the connections I am making. One guest has actually been back 3 times and planning her 4th trip here. That means the world to me............that guests have a wonderful time at Abbington Green and want to return.

The second thing I love about my job is the team I work with. It starts with Steve my partner in life and in the business. 
Nick and Steve
As for the rest of the team we've not been together long, but I know how much they care about the success of Abbington Green. I can see the pride they have in the work they do. We still have a lot to learn, but I feel that Bradshaw, Michelle, Greg, Dennis and now Tina all have the commitment level necessary to grow our business. 
Michelle, Bradshaw and Tina
Greg and Dennis
They all understand our guests are the most important thing and we want them to feel special while they're here. Even Lady Amber Abbington, our dog, loves to spend time with guests when she is allowed.
Lady Amber Abbington
The third thing I love about my job is entertaining guests and preparing breakfast. From setting up for Social Hour at 5 PM everyday to breakfast at 9 AM each morning.....preparing delicious foods is important to me. I love making sure the garnish is perfect and the table is set beautifully with crystal and china differently each day. What can I say.....I like to entertain guests in our home. Before moving to Asheville we were always having friends over for dinners and parties. I just like doing it and get happy knowing that others are happy and
enjoying themselves in our home. 
Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn
I also have to mention one more thing.............I love the fact that each day is different and you never know what tomorrow may bring. I would love for more of you to come check out Abbington Green and become part of something that is very special to me.
All the Best, Nick

Monday, March 9, 2015

Nick's Notes 3.9.2015--The Little Engine that Could

The Little Engine that Could



Nick’s Notes began years ago in my retail career as a way to connect with my employees in all the stores I supervised.  Every Monday, the stores received a copy of Nick’s Notes in an email to print and hang in their backrooms for all employees to read. It was an opportunity for me to share personal learning’s, and reiterate focuses we needed to have to drive results.  As an Innkeeper Nick’s Notes has taken on a new form of a way to reach out to guests. 

Today I wanted to share a little more about me and what I am about.  I am a big over achiever and it started at a very young age.  One of my favorite books as a child was, “The Little Engine that Could.” 

You might find it interesting to know I still have my original book from when I was little.  I use to have my mom read it over and over to me before I could read, and then read it over and over myself when I started reading.  I still probably read it once a year as a reminder that I can do what I set my mind to do, as long as I have a positive mindset, and the will/skill to make it happen.   I’m not sure what drew me to the book when I was young.  Was it the fascination of the little blue engine, the idea that the boys and girls on the other side of the hill needed toys to play with, or the simple fact that even back then I was starting to understand you have to work hard and have the right mindset to get great  results.  Either way it taught me a lot of important lessons in life. 

My dad was a great example of a strong work ethic, my mom pushed us to study and learn to be the best we can be, and I will continue reading the Little Engine that Could each year as a reminder…………My favorite part of the book is when the little blue engine makes it over the hill and proudly says….”I thought I could, I thought I could.”  I know how great it feels when you accomplish something you set out to do.

That’s the feeling I get from being an Innkeeper at Abbington Green Bed and Breakfast Inn.  We work hard here and have so much pride in what we do.  Our team is small, and we are still learning and growing in our roles.  We know the most important thing is our customer’s satisfaction and we make sure their vacation time is as perfect as it can be.  --Nick

Friday, February 27, 2015

Nick's Notes 2.27.2015 - Growing Up Greek


Growing Up Greek

With our upcoming Cooking Class Series each Saturday in March at Abbington Green, I thought I would write today about where my passion for cooking began. (check out details on our cooking class series -

If you've seen the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," then you can visualize how I grew up. Yes, I do have 5 other 1st cousins named Nick Poulos.......the beauty of it is, we were all named after a wonderful man.......my grandfather. My grandparents all came through Ellis Island and eventually settled in the Cleveland, Ohio area. I'm second generation Greek, but went to Greek school to learn the language and upheld all the Greek traditions.
As far back as I could remember, my mom was all about entertaining and preparing delicious appetizers (mezethes as they are called in Greek), and food for friends and family that came to visit. No one ever left our house hungry, and the minute you walked in, the feast began. It's tradition and Greek hospitality to treat your guest this way. I use to watch my two sisters and mom prepare foods in the kitchen and being the youngest, I wanted to join in and help. Little by little, I did.......and I really enjoyed it.


Eventually I started making Saturday morning breakfast for my family. I would get up early on Saturday and watch Scooby Doo and then start making breakfast. We would all sit together at the kitchen table having breakfast and then start our day. I never really prepared anything fancy like I do now. Breakfast usually consisted of Sausage or Bacon, Eggs or Pancakes and Toast. It felt good to make breakfast for my family.
As I moved out on my own, and had a wonderful retail career, I would cook to relax. My Partner Steve always said, one of his favorite things in Florida was our Sunday morning breakfasts I would make us. Just like I did with my family 40 years ago, we sat at our kitchen table and ate breakfast together. Our home in Florida was a perfect house for entertaining and we always had different gatherings, dinners and parties at our home. We were known for Christmas and New Years Eve Dinners.
For me it was all about setting the perfect table and cooking a wonderful dinner.
Working for Williams-Sonoma taught me how the right Cook's Tools and Cookware can really make a difference. It's amazing when the knife is sharp and the pan heats evenly, how easy cooking can be. Mom didn't have those luxuries. She did everything the hard way, by hand with out all the fancy electrics to help. Yes, I do have a well equipped kitchen...........thanks to Williams-Sonoma.

Purchasing Abbington Green Bed and Breakfast Inn has allowed me to combine my passion for cooking and entertaining with my background in exceptional customer service. I am not a chef, as many of the Trip Advisor reviews are calling me. I am a home cook that loves to prepare wonderful breakfasts down to the detail of the perfect garnish.

At Abbington Green I prepare a two course breakfast starting with a fruit and bread course, followed by the main course. I use as much local NC and Organic ingredients as possible. We offer 6 juices and choices of various hot and cold beverages. Our specialties are the Orange Pecan
French Toast with NC Maple Sausage (which just got entered in a cooking contest), and our Organic Corn and Dill Souffle with Ham.........but
every day breakfast is different.
I love listening from the kitchen to the guests in the dining room talking and having a good time at breakfast. It brings back memories of how my family sat around our old kitchen table every Saturday morning having breakfast together.