Thursday, December 30, 2010

Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn, Asheville NC: A New Year 2011

So hard to believe that another year is just about to end. For almost all of us, this year has continued to make us aware of some tough realities in the economy and in the state of the World. But for now, I hope you will join me in picking out a number of really wonderful moments in your life this 2010.

Some of my moments would include: knowing that I have met a great many interesting, special people again this year who continue to help me see life through their eyes. My younger daughter produced her third healthy child. My oldest granddaughter got braces. Small moments, it might seem. But for me, a really big deal...the kind of moments that will always make you smile and warm inside. Sound corny? Perhaps. But true, nonetheless.

OK. Now, on to the New Year! It's really lovely that we have a chance to look forward, to make a plan, to imagine a new start, and oh yes, to make those ever-optimistic 'New Year's resolutions'! It gives us all the chance to re-think, re-form and re-do some things that are important to us. So, you can tell that there is a serious side to the New Year that's just about here.

But, of course there's also a fun and joyful side of our New Year's celebrations...the kind that makes you want to laugh. Hats. Horns and noise-makers. Confetti. And perhaps a toast at midnight. Yes, for those of you who love to stay up late to welcome the New Year in, have a fabulous time! A bed and breakfast innkeeper, more than likely, is not a 'night person' anymore...that early-rising-time-required- to-prepare-breakfast for you puts a bit of a damper on staying up to midnight, even on New Year's Eve.

So, since we have an English theme and love 'all things British' at this bed and breakfast, I do a little celebratory smile and sing "Auld Lang Syne" at 7pm Eastern time in Asheville North Carolina on December 31st. Why? Because England is 5 hours ahead and that means that 7 pm Eastern time is actually midnight in England! So you too can celebrate the start of the New Year 2011 for any time-zone you like...you can start early or end late!

Whichever you choose, I wish all of you a healthy and prosperous New Year 2011 that will also bring you great happiness!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn, Asheville NC:Before We Get to New Year's Eve







So, now we're all focusing on New Year's Eve...oh yes, maybe after we check out the "after-Christmas sales" online or at the mall. But before we move past Christmas in Asheville, North Carolina altogether, let's take a moment to look at the incredible magic of Christmas Day snow and the day-after-Christmas snow.

Why, you say? Why should we not head straight for New Year's Eve and revelry followed by New Year's Day and parades and lots of football "bowl games"?... especially when the temperatures have been in the freezing cold "teens" (burrr) and for New Year's the temps are forecast to be in the 40s and 50s (great!)

Well, while that is very tempting, if we did we'd miss out on some quiet time and some terrific photos of snow...lots of it, covering the Montford neighborhood where our bed and breakfast is located in Asheville, North Carolina... and changing the lovely landscape into a magical Winter Wonderland! So, please join me, have a cup of tea, and have a look at the world of Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn...after (snow dressed) Christmas, but before (the much warmer) New Year's Eve!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn, Asheville North Carolina: Breakfast is a Lovely Treat, Especially During the Holidays



Hmmmm. Is that the smell of fresh brewed coffee? Yes, it must be morning and breakfast is being prepared for guests at our bed and breakfast. Oh, you prefer tea? Well, you're in luck...we have not only a British theme at this bed and breakfast, but over 20 kinds of tea for you to choose from...and some lovely teapots to go with it. Have a 'cuppa'!

Fruit course, fresh cakes, main course... right at 9am. Breakfast in our everyday world is usually rushed and often a cup of coffee on the dashboard! Our bed and breakfast experience in Asheville, NC offers a friendly, cheerful respite from the break-neck speed of daily life. So relax, take a deep breath and meet some people for the first time, or travel with friends...take the opportunity to slow down, just enough to rejuvenate.

The charm of the "old World" is something we can all appreciate now and again. Take a walk in our neighborhood, the Montford Historic District, just north of Downtown Asheville, before or after breakfast. You'll experience the charm of the "new World" but in a time gone by...with lovely homes all around us that, like Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast, have been here 100 years.

Beautiful food, thoughtfully prepared...always served on crystal and china, on Christmas china at this time of year...shared with other interesting travelers...You'll have stories to remember! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn, Asheville NC: Holiday Decorations Add Sparkle and Glitter to Our Bed and Breakfast




The Holiday Season is a joyful time for us here at Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn. The Montford Historic neighborhood has more than 600 structures in it listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Abbington Green has the Main House dating from 1909 and the Carriage House dating from the early 1920s. We are only a few blocks north of Downtown Asheville, North Carolina and are surrounded by other historic homes and hundred-plus-year-old trees and, of course, our prize-winning English gardens. The setting is beautiful even when it's not Christmastime.

The magical lights of the season are visible in different ways around the neighborhood. Some homes and bed and breakfasts have lots of lights outdoors, while other may have lighted candles in their windows. When you drive up to Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast close to sunset or later, you won't miss it! You'll see garlands and greenery lighted with clear lights on our porches and eight full-size Christmas trees covered in colored lights.

But step inside and you're greeted with Christmas trees and decorations everywhere. I have always loved the glitter and glow of lights at this season. Each room is decorated carefully and with the hope that you'll feel a magical and comforting warmth and welcome. Our fondest wish is that you'll come and celebrate this season, bringing cherished memories with you and making some new memories of Asheville here to take home.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn, Asheville N C: A Unique and Fun Christmas or New Year's Eve Party Theme

It was the very first time I have ever heard of this as a Christmastime or New Year's Eve Party theme. Whether you're in the Montford Historic District at a bed and breakfast in Asheville, or just about anywhere, you too may be looking for a new and amusing theme for your party at home. OK. Would you believe, a "Christmas Tree Skirt Party"!? It just could be the start of a long and lighthearted tradition!

Asheville, North Carolina is a very creative town with many artists and is famous for producing 'the unexpected'. So, here's something to add to the list of the 'unexpected'....why not a "Christmas Tree Skirt Party"!? Everyone must wear a Christmas Tree Skirt to the party...that includes the guys, too. Don't worry,if you think about it, there are lots of ways to adorn yourself with a Christmas Tree Skirt. It could be over both shoulders as a cape...watch out Superman and WonderWoman or even Elvis! Or draped over one shoulder and tied under the other. Or, let's not forget ladies, as a skirt, tied around your waist. And who won't want to recreate the 70s with the largest bell-bottoms, with a tree skirt tied about knee-height on each leg?

Relaxing and letting your imagination go with this is fun. After all, you would not necessarily have to use a traditional 'store-bought' tree skirt. Sports can provide a huge number of design possibilities! And who wouldn't look a perfection with a tree skirt adorned with their favorite college football or NFL colors and emblems? And let's not forget basketball team colors and logos. Or how about NASCAR stars and colors? Or your favorite 'superheroes and heroines'?

You can start with a actual tree skirt ...or with some glue, some fabric and felt and some glitter pens from the nearest hobby supply store...that will get you on your way to creating the most unique (or possibly humorous) 'tree skirt' at your neighborhood party.

Surely the "Christmas Tree Skirt Party" could also include awarding various prizes (voted on by your guests) for "most" something: like "cute" or "unique" or "elegant" or "silly" or even "ugly"! And the party table decor could also include simple paper decorations that also look like tree skirts...the possibilities are almost endless. So, if you're looking for a new and fun holiday party tradition...Start one this year with your own "Christmas Tree Skirt Party"!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn, Asheville NC: A Recipe toWarm You for the Holiday Season and Beyond

As I go through my favorite recipes here in Asheville, North Carolina, I am reminded that some recipes are quite specific to a certain holiday or to a particular time of year. This recipe... for Cherry Soup...is decidedly not one of those. Why do I say that? Because Cherry Soup is so versatile that it can be modified for any season and suited to at least 3 different possible courses in a meal with only a few adjustments.

Cherry Soup is superb served warm as a fruit course at our lovely breakfast here at Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn...with a 'dot' of sour cream and an added sprinkle of Allspice, it's a lovely color, has a lovely fragrance and does not disappoint when it comes to the first (or the last) spoonful. It also is just as tasty served cold ( or even 'iced')in the warmer months of the year.

Cherry Soup also has an added element...that of surprise. I've been making this since around 1975, and at the bed and breakfast each of the 18 years since I started Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast In 1993. In all that time only 4 guests have tasted it and then immediately exclaimed, 'My grandmother used to make something just like this!' In 3 cases, their grandmother was Austrian and the 4th, she had been Hungarian. Seems that Black Forest and such comes to mind...you have to have cherries to have cherry soup! Nowadays, of course, the cherries are likely to be American and probably from Michigan.

So, on to this versatile, easy and surprising recipe for Cherry Soup:

In electric blender, swirl 3 cans (14oz cans) of tart, red cherries...the kind used for cherry pie. Add 3Tablespoons tapioca starch, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/2 teaspoon Jamaican Allspice, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
Over medium/low heat on cooktop,stirring frequently, cook until mixture boils and thickens. (It will appear more 'shiny' when the starch has cooked...15 minutes, or so.) Add stevia powder (a sweet herb) to taste, if you prefer the soup sweeter...that way you don't add to the sugar content.
Variations also include: 1.Increase starch to thicken more, to make a wonderful sauce for pound cake or vanilla ice cream, 2: Eliminate sugar, add red wine to taste and serve as an appetizer with duck or game or turkey. As always, don't be afraid to experiment! As always, I join 'you-know-who' and the French who always said, "Bon Apetit"...but this time it's from Asheville, North Carolina!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn, Asheville NC: What would the Holiday Season be without Chocolate?!

As Christmas draws nearer, and the weather here in Asheville, North Carolina is much colder than it's supposed to be, I always go looking for several recipes that I found many years ago. These are the "Christmas recipes" that my daughters always remembered and we made together when they were little. I can picture myself with them in the kitchen, wrapping aprons around us, kids on step stools so they can reach the countertop, giggles and very sticky fingers.

You can tell you have a really memorable recipe when your (now grown-up) children call and ask for the recipe. This one is Chocolate Fudge (with walnuts) and I serve this to guests on Christmas Day at Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn...not for breakfast, of course! But if you find yourself in Asheville, North Carolina and staying at this bed and breakfast on Christmas, you are likely to find a plate of Christmas Fudge on the table in the Foyer!

But if you can't make it to the Montford neighborhood and stay at Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast this Christmas, this is how you go about making my version of a very easy, 'foolproof' chocolate fudge.

Some fudge recipes can be complicated and difficult...some recipes require a candy thermometer and a sharp eye and a quick hand because if it gets too hot, you'll have a pan full of something that resembles chocolate cement! This one is simple. You may have seen similar ones. But, for me, the proportions are exactly right, it's easy, it doesn't take very long and the results are absolutely yummy! (Yummy is a technical, scientific culinary term!) Please try it, and if you love it, please let me know.

CHOCOLATE FUDGE
2 Cups sugar
2/3 Cup evaporated milk
14 regular size marshmallows
1/2 cup butter
few grains salt

Cook these 5 ingredients over medium heat, stirring constantly, to a boil (bubbles all over the top). Boil and stir 5 minutes more. Then remove from heat.

Stir in 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips until completely melted and smooth. ( I use half Nestle's and half Guirardelli). Stir in 1 cup (or more) cut-up walnuts and 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract.

Spread in a buttered 8-inch square pan. Cool completely...can be refrigerated. Cut in 36 or 64 pieces. Enjoy!



Saturday, December 11, 2010

Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn, Asheville NC: The Sensational "Christmas Jam" is here in Asheville Tonight!

As if anyone needed another reason to visit Asheville, North Carolina...well here it is: Warren Haynes' 22nd Annual Christmas Jam tonight! It's a benefit for Habitat for Humanity and it is an event that starts out every year looking like a concert at the Asheville Civic Center, just south of the Montford Historic District where Abbington Green Bed and Breakfast Inn is located...but always becomes an actual "jam" that goes on into the wee hours of the morning.

Warren Haynes is a "local boy" and a huge guitarist who played, with the Allman Brothers Band. And this year Gregg Allman himself will be joining in. And oh yes, let's not forget Steve Miller and Aaron Neville's son Ivan Neville, Kevin Kinney of "Drivin' and Cryin", members of "Widespread Panic" and others.

That's the good news. The bad news is: it's sold out. But you can learn more about it at www.xmasjam.com. Get ready early to visit Asheville for terrific, eclectic mix of music any time of year, stay at our bed and breakfast Inn... and then come to this incredible event next year!


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn, Asheville N C: Visit us in t he Montford Historic District and get a Special Treat!

Yes, Asheville, North Carolina is a special place...especially during the Holiday Season! And this weekend will no exception. Our bed and breakfast inn is "dressed to the nines" for the Holidays so you'll get in the spirit of things right from the start of your visit.

And this Saturday, history meets the holidays for the Montford Historic District features our 15th Annual Holiday Tour of Homes. From 1pm-5pm you can stroll (or drive) around our wonderful Montford District, where Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn is located, and tour 10 houses, each with an interesting story to tell.

Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn has been on tour many times over the 18 seasons since I turned a wonderful, run-down house into a glorious bed and breakfast inn. In fact we were on the FIRST Montford Holiday Tour of Homes fifteen years ago and we've participated in this fund-raising event at least 4 more times since then...so this year a couple of other bed ad breakfast inns in the neighborhood are on the Tour along with what-looks-to-be a very interesting group of Montford residences.

So come visit Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn this weekend and go on the 15th Annual Montford Historic District Holiday Tour of Homes. Tickets are $20 each and can be purchased at www.montford.org or at the Asheville NC Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center on Montford Avenue. See you soon!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn, Asheville North Carolina: A 'Way-Cool' Santa has come to 'Way Cool' Asheville NC!

Asheville North Carolina, home of cool music, artists, writers, fabulous food... and Bed and Breakfast Inns, too...is now the home of "B-Boy Santa" and a "flash mob" of dancing Santa's helpers! Whether you're in Downtown, the Montford Historic District, Biltmore Estate...or at Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn...Asheville NC will never fail to amuse, amaze and delight you! Check it out http://www.bboysantaasheville.com

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn, Asheville NC: For Holiday fun, "Let it Snow"!



Well, as we say in western North Carolina, "Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!" Especially, I am always quick to add, "designer snow". You know, that's the kind that dusts the tree branches and the ground lightly, but generally leave the roads in very good, drivable condition.

Last night Asheville, North Carolina got another lovely dusting. No mistake, it's cold! But the snow brushed off the car very easily, no shoveling was required for the bed and breakfast porches and stairs and the grassy hills down the block in Montford Historic District Park were just beautiful this morning. There's still a flurry or two around and in the next few days the high temperatures will be back in the 40's. But for now, take a deep breath and a brisk walk in Asheville, NC to look at Holiday decorations. I think you'll be glad you took the time to do it!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn, Asheville NC: A Lovely Dusting of Snow in Asheville




A beautiful addition to the Holiday spirit in Asheville, North Carolina came overnight. It's a gorgeous dusting of snow. Not enough snow to slow things down very much, but enough to get some lovely photos at the Bed and Breakfast and to make the Montford Historic District in Asheville, NC even more magical.

Truth-be-told, this has always been my favorite kind of snowfall, what I call, "designer snow"! It's around just long enough to remind you of the Nutcracker Ballet, of Christmas cookies and Gingerbread Houses, of Christmas cards...and then it's gone and the driving is back to normal.

Visit Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn in Asheville, NC and maybe, if you're lucky and you're not in a hurry, you'll experience a little magical holiday snowfall, too!