Sunday, December 11, 2016

Nick's Notes 12.9.2016--I Love the Holidays Each Year!

I Love the Holidays Each Year!

We begin to decorate Abbington Green on the first of November for Christmas to coincide with the Biltmore Estate being fully decorated.  I always tell our guests that the main difference between Abbington Green and the Biltmore is that they have 2000 employees to help and we have 8... so it takes about 2 weeks to finish the 20 trees in the house, display the over 180 Nutcrackers, string hundreds of lights, and to light the exterior of the Inn and the property.

We always leave the dining room decorated for Fall until after Thanksgiving, and we host a full 3-course Thanksgiving Dinner for our guests that are interested. We will do the same for Christmas Day Dinner, since most restaurants are closed for the holiday.

This past Thanksgiving was wonderful.  We had 6 repeat guests and 12 new guests for dinner--we are always welcoming new guests to become a part of our Abbington Green family!

The dinner this year was amazing! We served 2 turkeys, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean and sweet potato casseroles, Steve's Mom's stuffing recipe, salad, cranberry relish, and rolls.  To finish off the meal, we had an amazing assortment of desserts.

My compliments to Zack and Carey in the kitchen for helping me prep for days ahead of Thanksgiving.  Also to Steve and our friends Ivy and Ken who helped on Thanksgiving Day by serving our 18 guests.

I thought you all might want to see a few photos from our Thanksgiving Dinner:

We have so much to be thankful for.  The holidays are always busy, but it is really important to take a moment and stop to think about how fortunate we are.  I'm extremely thankful for my family and great friends. I'm thankful that I believed in myself and that Steve believed in me so much that he'd be my partner in taking steps to achieve my dream of owning an Inn.  I'm thankful for the wonderful staff and great guests I get to meet each week--all of them with interesting lives and stories to share.

Abbington Green allows me to experience so many wonderful things and people from all of the world.  I've truly been blessed with a great life!

All the best,

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Top Ten Lists and Doing What You Love--Carey's Turn at the Blog

Top Ten Lists and Doing What You Love--Carey's Turn at the Blog

Not so long ago, when I traveled back and forth from up North to visit Abbington Green and pitch in a little help in decorating for the winter holidays and such, I was lucky enough to meet a guest staying at the Inn and “his lovely wife” as he jokingly asked us to refer to her during their stay in order to gain some husband points…

At that time, the idea of coming to Asheville to work at Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn hadn’t yet been hatched.  Somehow, though, the guests had a premonition that I’d be here permanently and wrote out this list, David Letterman Top Ten style, to influence a decision to come and work at the Inn should the opportunity arise.

I have been carrying this list, written in their handwriting, around with me since last year November:  

Top 10 Reasons Carey Should Move to Asheville…(and work at the Inn)

10.  Husband can work from anywhere
  9.  Shop small, also = work small
  8.  Clearly you are a hostess at heart
  7.  Embrace your inner decorator
  6.  The view from the front porch at Abbington Green B&B Inn
  5.  Free breakfast
  4.  Puppy love from Lady Amber Abbington whenever you need a fix
  3.  Mild winters and cool summers
  2.  Guests love you
And the #1 reason to move to Asheville and work at the Inn…Never miss an opportunity to work with someone you love.

So…that is just what we did. Our lease in Connecticut came to a close and we moved to Asheville this past June.  We love it here and we’ve never looked back.
We are still exploring and learning about the area. It is always fun for me to hear about what the guests are up to during their day as it gives me great ideas of things to do on my days off. We have a list of restaurants (really, it is the one that Nick sends out to our guests that are his favorites) that we have been exploring and my husband and I have no trouble hopping in the car and taking off to see the sights from the Blue Ridge Parkway, visiting an orchard or two, or picking an interesting named place (like Bat Cave) and pointing our car in that direction.
We have always loved taking drives, and living in Asheville has certainly given us inspiration to get in the car and go!  
Beauty surrounds you here in Asheville. It catches me by surprise every now and again. The mountains, beautiful sunsets, getting to see a black bear in the mountains…it is all a part of the Asheville experience. In addition, the great restaurants, shops, donut shops and ice cream joints will keep me busy exploring for a long time.  Not to forget the Biltmore Estate and its beautiful grounds…we have season passes now and popping over for an afternoon is in our plans.
Abbington Green is also such a pretty place to get to come to work in every day. This historic house is one of a kind, and getting to see our guests appreciate it is very rewarding. As I type this, there is a lively 5pm Social Hour taking place on the grand front porch of the Inn. Conversations are easy, wine is flowing and friendships are being forged. It is terrific.
We have big plans coming up in the coming months for the Inn. We’ve started decorating all of the rooms but the dining room (which stays firmly rooted in Autumn/Thanksgiving) for the winter  holidays—to match the Biltmore’s holiday decorating schedule. I can’t wait to see what design Nick has planned for us to implement…as it changes each year.  This will be my third time getting to decorate the Inn for the holidays, but my first full holiday season at Abbington Green!  We’ll also be cooking and hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with and for the guests of the Inn…

As far as plans for next year, we’ve been hard at work updating the Abbington Green website, , to better reflect the updates and improvements that have been made to the Inn.  I have gotten the chance to be a part of some terrific initiatives at Abbington Green:  such as having fresh flowers in each guest room, and our work with Clean the World to create new soap bars from our gently used soap that our guests leave behind.  We send them to Orlando to be boiled down and reshaped in to new soap bars that are then distributed to the people of developing countries to help curb dysentery. We also have plans for a new on-site spa to offer services and treatments that will enhance our guests experience even more! Stay tuned for details....

It is an exciting time to be at the Inn and to be in Asheville. I'm honored to work with this wonderful team and I look forward to having the chance to meet you and have you stay with us!



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.