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Anne Spencer’s Home and Garden

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Home of Anne Spencer

Home of Anne Spencer

Anne Spencer's phone booth

Phone booth

Recently we toured Anne Spenser’s home and garden located at 1313 Pierce Street in Lynchburg.  Our tour guide was Shaun Spencer-Hester, the granddaughter of Anne Spencer and daughter of Chauncey Spenser, one of the Tuskegee Airmen.   Walking through the home was like stepping back in time.  There were photos, letters scattered around the home.  The “phone booth” in the home has names and phone numbers scribbled on the walls. The furnishings belonged to Anne and Edward and you got the sense that they would be coming back from the store any moment. There were invoices and cancelled checks sitting on the desk and Anne Spenser’s cookbook was on the kitchen table.  You could tell that these were real people and this was their home.  All too often house museums have been “sterilized” with the removal of many personal items, but not in this case. All too often it is easy to clean house and throw things away, fortunately the family keep all these treasures so that we can now enjoy those traces of the past. The attic hosts a train set and it is easy to visualize Anne’s grandchildren playing in the attic and listening to records on the old record player.

Anne Spencer House

Child’s record player

We heard stories of how Edward, Anne’s husband built the home and how he recycled many items by using them in the home.  Edward was a parcel post carrier (mail man) who also raised chickens so it wasn’t unusual for him to deliver your mail as well as some freshly laid eggs.   Edward was a man of many talents  who not only built his home, but several others, built Anne’s private writing retreat, Edankraal , in the garden.  The name Edankraal was derived from Edward, Anne and kraal, the Afrikaans word for corral or homeplace.

Kitchen in Anne Spencer's home

Anne Spencer’s Kitchen

Anne Spencer (1882-1975) was an internationally acclaimed poet during the Harlem Renaissance period of the 1920’s and she continued her writings throughout her life.  Because of the historical significance of her body of work, it was turned over to the University of Virginia to be catalogued and preserved for future generations.  When Anne wasn’t writing, teaching, raising children you could often find her in her garden behind the house which served as a place of inspiration for her writings.  Today many of Ann’s bulbs, peonies roses and shrubs still survive and offer visitors a burst of color when visiting the garden.   Today,Lynchburg’s Hillside Garden Club has adopted the garden and is responsible for maintaining it.

Edankraal

Anne Spencer’s private retreat, Edankraal.

The gardens are open to the public November-March , but the home is only open on special days or by appointment.  This private museum is a must see.  To schedule a tour please call the museum at 434-845-1313.  Admission prices $5.00 for seniors and $10.00 for adults.  Of course donations are always welcome.  If you will be staying with us while in Lynchburg and are interested in touring this home (we highly recommend it) let us know when you make your reservation and we will call to set up your tour.  Ideally, two weeks notice would be appreciated.

A poem by Anne Spencer about her garden:

This small garden is half my world
I am nothing to it-when all is said,
I plant the thorn and kiss the rose,
But they will grow when I am dead.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day!

Valentine’s Day is just 10 days away and the search for someone special or something special for your special someone can sometimes be challenging.  Today, finding that special person to share your life with is much easier with technology.  There are many dating sites where both men and women put in their ideas about the perfect match and before you know it, you have a list of prospects, but what did we do before computers?  Many of us found our special person by chance, others were introduced by friends and others resorted to the media.  Newspapers and magazines publish “personal” ads whereby the readers can respond to someones request.   These personal ads have been around for quite some time.  During the Civil War two such ads (with poems) ran in Lynchburg’s  Daily Virginian,

February 19, 1863

Wife wanted-I am anxious to marry-have sufficiency to take care of a wife–have been in service for eighteen months, but am now exempt for the war, have heretofore surrendered to no Arms, but am now willing to surrender to a Woman’s.

 I want a handsome, gentle wife,
To share the joys and sweets of life,
I’m neither old, ugly nor cross
I’ll give up the pants and won’t be boss
Address immediately, Volunteer, Howardsville, Albemarle co., Va.”
 

February 26, 1863

“Husband Wanted.  A Lady of Lynchburg who is tired of living in maiden style and would be willing to become ‘Boss’ proposes the ‘Volunteer’ will come up and make himself known.  He must be tall, handsome, good, intelligent, rich and elegant, otherwise he might as well stay where he is, as there are any number of that sort here already.-

She will make a gentle wife,
Will share the joys of life,
Is beautiful – not cross
Will take the pants and Will be the Boss,
He must give her all she wants
Not use her ill – or harass with taunts.
Must love her as a good man should,
She will love him, as only a woman could.”
 

If you are looking for a special getaway with that special person we invite you to stay at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast in Lynchburg.  Like the above ads/poems this home was built in the same era and you can enjoy your our grand mansion or carriage house which is elegantly restored having many of the original elements of the home when it was built.  To make your celebration even more special, we will include a chilled bottle of Prosecco, when you mention this blog post when making your reservation.  In February we will be making our famous Chocolate Waffles.  This is the third year for our chocolate waffles and this year’s recipe (look for it in a later post this month) promises to be the best yet!

Kathy and I wish all you you a Happy Valentine’s Day and wish this day be filled with joy and happiness.

 

 

 

I would never stay at a bed and breakfast!

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This is NOT Breakfast at a bed and breakfast

This is NOT Breakfast at a bed and breakfast

As we were getting ready to open our bed and breakfast in the fall of 2007 we were doing some market research on what type of guest would stay at bed and breakfast.  We posed the question to my brother-in-law who, at the time, traveled quite a bit for his job, “What would a business traveler look for when staying at a bed and breakfast?”   His response was simple and direct, “I would never stay at a bed and breakfast!”   I wasn’t prepared for that answer but I continued asking him why he wouldn’t stay at a bed and breakfast and he proceeded to tell me his reasons.

First, he didn’t want to be in a stranger’s house.  He thought it would be like visiting his mother or aunt but only worse because they were a stranger and when he was traveling he wanted some peace and quiet.  He didn’t want to be in someone’s guest room, you know, that room in the house with the old uncomfortable furniture.  Obviously if you made the bed too comfortable house guests might never leave.  Or, perhaps he would be staying in the kid’s room that is away at school or has moved out, but mom and dad kept the room the way it was in high school.  Even worse than staying in a stranger’s house would be the requirement to eat breakfast and speak with strangers.  Out of all his excuses I found this one to be the strangest comment he made because Jeff is not afraid to talk to strangers, is quite intelligent and can carry on a conversation.

Ok, maybe he isn’t our target market.  I assumed our target market was someone traveling away from home needing a safe and comfortable place to stay while away from his/her family.  A place that isn’t as sterile or impersonal as a hotel.  A place where you are fed a great breakfast before you head off to work or meeting, then it hit me.  Before we decided to open a bed and breakfast, I too would have never stayed at a bed and breakfast either.  It just wasn’t on my radar.  When I traveled to a conference or convention I stayed at a hotel, preferably a Marriott because I wanted to get those loyalty points, much the same way as I tried to fly on United.  The thing about Marriott, the rooms in Washington, DC weren’t much different than the rooms in San Francisco, same bed, same decor.  You knew before you got there what to expect.  It’s kind of like flying.  You know the lines are long, getting through security is always a pain, the seats are small the food…well, no one flies for the food and so on.   I chose Marriott and United out of some sort of loyalty and since I had never stayed at a bed and breakfast there was no loyalty, They just weren’t on my radar.

After stepping back and thinking about it from Jeff’s point of view I understood the challenge that was ahead of me.  If very few people have ever stayed at a bed and breakfast then how am I going to get them to change their thinking so that they will consider a stay at a bed and breakfast?  Our rooms are much nicer than a hotel, our food is much better than the breakfast buffet at the hotel; our amenities are much nicer…  I know, I sound like a parent; my kid is smarter, faster, prettier than…

Well, it’s been six years since we opened and Jeff still hasn’t stayed at a bed and breakfast while traveling for business but I have stayed in lots of them since we decided to become innkeepers.  There have been some really great ones and then there have been some that…..let’s just say that will be a future blog post.   We do have some very loyal business travelers that wouldn’t consider staying any place but here, but still the vast majority of business travelers don’t stay at a bed and breakfast.  Having said that, I will be publishing more posts about our industry so that the next time you are traveling you will at least consider a stay at a bed and breakfast and if your travels ever bring you to Lynchburg, Virginia you will want to stay at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast.

This blog is the start of a new approach to marketing.  Before I would stand up and tell you how great we (I mean my bed and breakfast) are, all the awards we have won, all the wonderful experiences our guests have had…and because you are polite you would listen and then go about your day and the next time you traveled you guessed it, you wouldn’t think about staying in a bed and breakfast, you would just go online and book your hotel room.  My new marketing approach is trying to get people to start thinking about bed and breakfasts, hopefully mine, but if not mine than someone else’s.

I know change is hard and the fear of the unknown may be what’s holding you back or probably, you like me 6+ years ago it wasn’t on your radar.

Before I close, I would love to know your thoughts.  Would you consider a stay at a bed and breakfast?  Have you stayed at a bed and breakfast?  When you travel, does it even cross your mind about staying at one?

Hey, they aren’t (most of the time) scary places.  Here is a link to a video (its less than one minute) of our bed and breakfast.  I just wanted those who have never stayed at one or even knows about them to be able to peek inside one of one of them.  It’s like going to the beach and dipping your toe in the water before you take the plunge.   After watching the video is a bed and breakfast option on your radar?   Please be brutally honest…I think getting the word out about bed and breakfasts is going to be a big job…I just want to know how big of a job I am undertaking.

Please shoot me an email with your thoughts and comments:  mike@TheCarriageHouseInnBandB.com

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

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Bed and breakfast recipe for Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Very light and airy Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

These lemon ricotta pancakes are light and airy with a little tang from the lemon.  Normally I would use buttermilk to make pancakes, but when you mix lemon juice with milk you end up with buttermilk so for this recipe, skip the buttermilk and use whole milk.  It is always a good idea to have your ingredients at room temperature so that everything mixes together and the batter doesn’t break.  Remove the eggs, ricotta and milk out of the refrigerator about an hour before you start making the pancakes.  I would suggest putting the ricotta in a strainer, to allow it to drain, while it is warming up.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 4 tablespoons Granulated Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 cup fresh Ricotta (strained)
  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk (you could substitute skim or 1-2% if that is all you have on hand)
  • 6 tablespoons Butter (melted plus more for greasing pan)
  • 6 tablespoons Lemon Oil (see recipe below)
  • 2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Powdered sugar for garnish

For the Lemon Oil:

  • 1 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Lemon (washed and cut into small pieces)
  • Pinch of Salt

Directions for making the Lemon Oil:

Place ingredients in a blender (the whole lemon that has been cut into about 8 small pieces, skin and fruit but make sure the lemons were washed before you sliced it into pieces) and puree. Strain into a bowl, reserving pulp.

Directions for making the lemon ricotta pancakes:

  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt.
  • In a second bowl, whisk together all of the wet ingredients (milk, eggs, ricotta, melted butter, lemon oil and vanilla).
  • Whisk the wet into the dry mix until fully incorporated. The batter is very light so you don’t have to whip it too much. There should be a few lumps.
  • Let the batter sit for about 8-10 minutes while griddle is preheating.
  • Add some butter to grease the preheated griddle. Pour a few tablespoons of batter (for silver dollar sized pancakes) or ladle about 1/4 cup (for regular sized pancakes) onto the hot griddle and cook until bubbles appear and a few pop.
  • Flip with a spatula and continue to cook on the second side until golden. You can keep these pancakes warm by placing them on the rack in the oven that has been preheated to 200 degrees or serve immediately.
  • Serve with maple syrup or a fruit syrup such as raspberry, strawberry or blueberry.   If you have fresh blueberries on hand you can add  cup of them to the batter.  They will provide a burst of sweetness that works well with the tang of the lemon.

Helpful Tip:

  • You can use the remaining pulp from the strained lemon oil is on chicken or fish so you won’t want to throw it out.

We hope you enjoy this recipe for lemon Ricotta Pancakes as much as the guests of The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast in historic Lynchburg, Virginia. Of course it is much easier to have us do the cooking so feel free to call us at 434.846.1388 and book your next visit.  We look forward to seeing you in the near future.

 

Little Libraries in Lynchburg

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Little Library at the Community Market in downtown Lynchburg

Lynchburg, Virginia is one of the newest locations, in the United States, of the Little Free Library project.

In 2009, Todd Bol, a resident of Hudson, Wisconsin started the movement.  He built a model of a one room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former teacher and avid reader.  He filled it with books, put it on a post in his front yard with a sign FREE BOOKS and his friends and neighbors loved it.  He and his friends set a goal of 2,510 Little Free Libraries throughout the United States by January 2014.  They estimate that by year’s end there will be over 10,000 small structures promoting the slogan take a book, return a book, far surpassing their goal.

Photo by The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast

Little Library on the Blackwater Creek trail head.

Lynchburg has debuted four little libraries throughout the city.  They are located at the Community Market, Riverside Park, the Ed Page Entrance of the Blackwater Creek Trail and at WordWorks located on the roundabout on Fifth Street.  Books are selected by a “Steward.”  Depending on the Steward and little library location the books may follow a theme, for instance the Blackwater Creek library has several bird watching books.

The structures are also an interesting part of the Little Free Library project.  They are not just a utilitarian box but are built by hand in all shapes and sizes.  The structure at the Community Market looks like a barn, the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club modeled the structure at       after an Appalachian Trail shelter.  And the structure at WordWorks resembles a

The goal of the Little Free Library project is to share favorite books and to grant access to people who don’t have books, allowing them to stop and take a book.  For more information stop by and take a book or visit the website www.littlefreelibrary.org.

 

Estates and Consignments, a treasure hunter’s dream

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photo by The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast in Lynchburg

I’m looking for a new home. Come get me at Estate & Consignments

 

Located on 12th Street between Main and Commerce

Located on 12th Street between Main and Commerce

Estate and Consignments is always looking for a good home for one of their many treasures.  Let’s face it, we are all going to die and when we do, what happens to all our stuff.  When the children leave the nest and it is time to downsize we also have that same problem, what are we going to do with all the stuff that won’t fit into the new place.  Estate and Consignments is one of two companies in downtown Lynchburg that purchases these estates and then they try to find kind loving homes for these items.

An antique oak shaving stand.

An antique oak shaving stand.

You need to frequent Estate and Consignments regularly since they bring in one or two estates each week so you will never know what you will find there from week to week.  Prices are much lower that you would find if buying the stuff new and part of the fun is finding that treasure that you can’t live without.  If you are looking for a junk shop this isn’t the place.  Most items are in really great shape or gently worn.  From time to time you will find antiques.  There is usually a dozen sets of china and dining room suites as well as bedroom suites.

A number of our guests have visited Estate and Consignments and have walked away with some great pieces.  If you happen to be visiting Lynchburg and are staying with us (The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast), we have been known to store some large pieces until transportation can be arranged.  We happened to be there after the first of the year and fell in love with this antique sleigh (below), but unfortunately we don’t have a place to display it….Do you?

A great antique sleigh

A great antique sleigh

Estate and Consignments is located in a huge warehouse located at 139 12th Street in downtown Lynchburg between Main Street and Commerce Street.  Their phone number is:  (434) 528-3667.  They are open seven days a week!  Below is a photo of their warehouse (interior) and a couple of other pieces that caught my eye.

Warehouse full of treasures!

Warehouse full of treasures!

One of many dining rooms

One of many dining rooms

You need to see all this stuff!

You need to see all this stuff!

We will be featuring a different downtown merchant on our blog every 6-8 weeks so keep reading as we have some fantastic shops with more and more opening all the time.  It is very exciting to be in Lynchburg as the downtown area is becoming a destination, much as it was from the 1800’s through the 1960’s.