Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Our 100th Post

What does 2009 have in store for you? I'm beaming with pride this New Year's Eve while reflecting back over our accomplishments (including this ... our 100th post!) and I have hopeful expectation of the new year.

Here are my top 10 favorite posts for Innside Story 2008 ...

1) Featured Inn: The Grandview Bed & Breakfast
“It is not just opening a door,

or standing when someone is being seated.
Being a true gentleman, truly chivalrous,
is more than any one act or deed.
It is a way of life based on consideration.”

In continuing my quest to be a backyard tourist, I packed my overnight bag and makeup case and rode down to a meandering driveway only four blocks away from my home ... but a world away. With a large wrap around porch enveloping the main house, swaying palm trees and a windmill cottage the Grandview Bed & Breakfast is a classic small Southern estate. Read More ...

2) Inn The Kitchen: Making Pumpkin Bread
I luuuuv to bake. And I'm not a chef at all (like other Innkeepers) but I can bake up a storm. Must be my sweet tooth calling. I think subconsciously I burn dinner just so that I can skip straight to dessert. I'll have to learn how to develop my savory side. Anyway, this week, I took Christopher's Inn Pumpkin Bread recipe and had a go at it in my kitchen. Take a look below for some hints, tips and photographic evidence of my first Inn The Kitchen experiment. Read More ...

3) Inn The Kitchen: Making Tourtiere
I recently posted a recipe for Tourtiere, a French-Canadian meat pie recipe that my Grandmother makes around the holidays. I invited her over to my home so we could have a little family time in my kitchen while she helped me create a visual to the recipe. I learned a couple more tips and also some things to do differently next time. Read More ...

4) Last Minute Holiday Kiss
So ... your dog ate the dessert ... or perhaps while carrying a bunch of packages, food, etc. your holiday party dish ended up face down in the driveway. Don't despair! Here's a QUICK and easy recipe idea for you that only involves 3 ingredients that you can buy at any 24 hour large-chain pharmacy or convenience store. Read More ...

5) Going Green Saving Blue
So, what does it take to "go green?" While a lot of things that are labeled "green" or "organic" have inflated prices, there are many things you can do that still save you some green in your wallet as well. It is possible to conserve and save on your electric and water without spending a fortune. Read More ...

6) Featured Inn: Farnsworth House Bed & Breakfast
Sometimes, when you are traveling, you just want to have the comforts of home. A soft bed, a hot shower, a warm cup of tea and a friendly smile. A place where you can let your hair down, kick off your shoes, relax and just be yourself. That’s what you’ll find at the Farnsworth House Bed & Breakfast. Read More ...

7) Confessions of a Wino
How did your wine journey begin? Mine started in college with a fruity, fizzy, wine "cooler" that actually had no wine in it at all. But I thought I was cool. I then graduated to a Blue Nun Riesling. (That makes me wince and grit my teeth just thinking about it.) I tried to impress a boy in my class by telling him my favorite wine was a "Riesling." Yeah. He was a wine rep. Not cool. But what did my young inexperienced pallet know? Read More ...

8) The Grandview Hotel
Ever wonder what it was like 100 years ago? People were certainly not worried about the price of gas since the main form of transportation was by horse or train. Eggs were 14 cents a dozen. Sugar was 4 cents a pound. Coffee was 14 cents a pound. And the cost to spend a night at an Inn in Mount Dora was $2.50 if you wanted a bath. Read More ...

9) Featured Inn: The Heron Cay Bed & Breakfast
How am I ever going to keep my trim girlish figure while getting to know all the local Innkeepers and tasting their breakfast specialties! I LOVE it! I guess I'll just have to jog more. This past weekend we were invited to Sunday Brunch at the Heron Cay Bed & Breakfast, a Victorian gem with Island-style that sits on a hillside overlooking Lake Dora. Read More ...

10) Back Pain & Bourbon

Innkeepers are always looking for a reason to celebrate. That's just the entertainer in us. Every week we all get together to clank wine glasses, break bread, make sure everyone has heads in beds, and exchange funny stories of our hospitality experiences and our Guest-zillas. Yes, I said guest-zillas. Anyone that works in some sort of Customer Service roll knows exactly what I'm talking about. But I won't be sharing those stories today. Read More ...

See you next year!


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ring In The New Year At The Adora Inn

Still looking for plans this New Year's Eve? The Adora Inn is offering a fabulous evening package including ... a candle lit "Dinner at the Inn" and one night stay so you don't have to drive home after midnight! I like the idea of just crawling into bed after a night of new year celebrations!

The menu includes:

Appetizer: Tomato Basil Risotto
Entree: Filet Mignon topped with a wild mushroom ragout
Dessert: Flourless Chocolate Volcano's with raspberry coulee
Complimentary Beverages
Rooms are limited, so contact John & Arthur at the Adora Inn soon to reserve your spot!


Video Featuring Mount Dora Historic Inn

Okay, so the diet will start January 1st. But, until then I've been enjoying the tasty treats of my fellow innkeepers while making videos and also snacking on all the sweets left over in my house over the holidays. What's a holiday without a few extra calories?

Anyway, here's a link to a video I made for the Mount Dora Historic Inn: Click Here To See Video

Also, there is a fabulous recipe I found on PW for what to do with left over sweets and cookies. (In case you have any of those.) I know that sweets don't last long enough in our household to make leftovers out of them.

Does anyone have any good January-first-stick-to-your-resolutions diet plan they can recommend? Just checking.

Hope you enjoy the video ...


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Last Minute Holiday Kiss

So ... your dog ate the dessert ... or perhaps while carrying a bunch of packages, food, etc. your holiday party dish ended up face down in the driveway. Don't despair! Here's a QUICK and easy recipe idea for you that only involves 3 ingredients that you can buy at any 24 hour large-chain pharmacy or convenience store.

Ingredients ...

1) a bag of square pretzels
2) a bag of Hershey Kisses,
3) a bag of red & green peanut M&Ms (or other hard candy)

The hardest part of this whole recipe will be unwrapping the Hershey kisses ... and not eating them along the way ...

Cut a piece of parchment paper to line the inside of a cookie sheet. Then, place your square pretzels in a row with the Hershey Kiss on top. I used the dark chocolate kisses.

Next, bake at 250 degrees for 10 minutes. This is just long enough to soften the chocolate without melting it into a blob. Let them cool for one minute, and then press your M&M's in the middle of each kiss. The only holiday M&M's that were left at my local grocer were the almond kind. A little big. So, I also used some other red & green candy I found.

After pressing in all the M&Ms ... cool in your refrigerator until the chocolate is hardened. I put some trivets down on a shelf and just placed the entire cookie sheet of treats in the refrigerator. Don't try to pick them up until they're completely cooled. Trust me. You'll get a thumb full of scalding hot chocolate. After about 30 minutes, they'll be ready to go! Enjoy!

Tremain Street Cottages

Monday, December 22, 2008

Making Chocolate Raspberry Crumb Bars

Nothing like being only 3 days away from Christmas to inspire some late-night baking. Something about stress and chocolate morsels that just really go well together.

Someone had made some chocolate raspberry dessert bars awhile back that were just yummy. I liked the idea of the red raspberry adding a holidayish color to a simple dessert. So I googled "chocolate raspberry crumb bars" and printed a few recipes to take back to my kitchen to experiment with.

Here are the players ...

A little flour, a little sugar, a little butter, and a bag of chocolate.
Everything that is good in the world.

Whoops! I've spilled a few tasty morsels. Well, I can't let good chocolate go to waste!
Guess I'll just have to sample a few while I'm baking.
You'll notice all my photos have a certain "dark" quality to them. Yeah. That's what I get for baking at night and depending on the lights from the Christmas tree in my living room.

Now, the recipe instructions said to let butter soften to room temperature and then blend until creamy. Yup. I was a little impatient with that ... so I melted the butter a tinsy bit on the stove first and then blended the softened bits with the liquid bits.
I now know the true meaning of splatter.

There goes that late-night-orange-colored photo again. I did try the flash. Flash doesn't do well with stainless steel bowls. I blinded myself for a couple of minutes. But I digress ... Anyway ... the next step in the recipe was to blend the dry ingredients into the creamy butter. Flour, sugar, and a pinch of salt. (I forgot to include the salt in the family photo above.)

Now it's starting to look like something good!

Powdering up my hands with flower and pressing the crumb mixture into the pan was pure therapy. I doubled up the recipe so I could use a cookie sheet instead of a 13x9 baking pan. What's strange is the original recipe called for one 13x9 baking pan yielding 3 dozen bars ... yeah, I don't think so! Maybe a dozen?! Someone else was doing some late-night recipe writing for sure.

While the crust is baking, I had to put the chocolatey morsels to better use than snacking. Melting them into a can of sweetened condensed milk.

Like my cartoon-dog shaped chocolate blob? The next step in the recipe called for spreading the gooey chocolate mixture "over a hot crust." This is why I disagree ...

Ever worked with hot melted chocolate before? It's sticky! And it was messing up the crust! Here's a recipe modification ... let crust cool and THEN add the chocolate. At least it's a "crumb" bar, so a few crust nibbles on the top will blend in.

After making what looks like a chocolate pizza ... I added the toppings by mixing a 1/2 cup of chopped pecans with the remaining crumb mixture and sprinkling that on top. Then I dolloped on spoonfuls of raspberry jam and popped it into the oven at 350 for 35 minutes. The raspberry jam popped and danced all over the place. Thought it was kind of cool (or at least it was last night) so I experimented with a little point-and-shoot video below.

After letting it cool overnight in the refrigerator, this is what I woke up to in the morning ...

Much better lighting in the daytime, don't you think?

For the complete recipe, click here: Chocolate Raspberry Crumb Bars


Chocolate Raspberry Crumb Bars

Here's the recipe for the Inn The Kitchen: Making Chocolate Raspberry Crumb Bars


2 Sticks of Butter (softened to room temperature)
2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup of Light Brown Sugar
Pinch of Salt (1/4 tsp)
2 Cups of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 Can of Sweetened Condensed Milk (14 ounce)
1 Cup Seedless Raspberry Jam
1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans (optional)


1) Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 13x9 baking pan. (I used parchment paper and doubled the recipe for a cookie sheet)

2) Beat butter until creamy. Then add in flour, sugar and salt until you have a crumb mixture. Set aside 3/4 cup of crumb mixture for topping.

3) Powder up your hands and fingers with flour (to prevent sticking) then press crumb mixture into bottom of your prepared baking pan.

4) Bake crumb crust for 10 to 12 minutes.

5) While crust is baking, mix 1 Cup of chocolate morsels and sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan over low heat. Stir until smooth and then spread over a COOLED room-temperature crust.

6) Combine chopped nuts with remaining crumb mixture and sprinkle over chocolate topping. Sprinkle on remaining chocolate morsels and then dollop spoonfuls of raspberry jam.

7) Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes.

8) Cool on a wire rack, cut and then serve!


Friday, December 19, 2008

Don't Be A Scrooge ... Answeres from the Magnolia Inn

Holiday favorites from Betty at Magnolia Inn ...

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping Paper

2. Real tree or Artificial? Real Tree

3. When do you put up the tree and when do you take it down? After Thanksgiving, then "Down when Brown!"

4. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Egg Nog

5. Favorite gift received as a child? Sled

6. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail Cards

7. Favorite Christmas Movie? Tis A Wonderful Life

8. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Turkey

9. Favorite Christmas song? Anything by Elvis (I wonder if Betty & Gary know their shared love for Elvis at Christmas?)

10. Angel on the tree top or a star? Angel

11. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? Christmas Morning

12. Favorite ornament theme or color(s)? White Lights

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Don't Be A Scrooge ... Answers from The Captain's Inn

More Holiday favorites from Tamara at The Captain's Inn ...

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping Paper

2. Real tree or Artificial? Real Tree

3. When do you put up the tree and when do you take it down? Thanksgiving to January 6th (Boxing Day)

4. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Hot Chocolate ... unless there is Brandy for the Egg Nog

5. Favorite gift received as a child? A doll house with my name on it

6. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail Christmas Cards

7. Favorite Christmas Movie? It's a Wonderful Life

8. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Ham

9. Favorite Christmas song? All I Want For Christmas Is You

10. Angel on the tree top or a star? Angel

11. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? Christmas Morning

12. Favorite ornament theme or color(s)? Blue & Silver

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Don't Be A Scrooge ... Answers from the Mount Dora Historic Inn

More holiday favorites from Ana at the Mount Dora Historic Inn...

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? WRAPPING PAPER


3. When do you put up the tree and when do you take it down? HMMM…WHENEVER WE ARE READY.


5. Favorite gift received as a child? HULA DANCE LESSONS


7. Favorite Christmas Movie? MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET…LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT.

8. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? JIM’S TUSCAN TURKEY, OR, HIS FILIPINO CRISPY PATA (LECHON)


10. Angel on the tree top or a star? STAR

11. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? CHRISTMAS EVE…JUST JIM, OUR BABIES (NIKKO & BRIE, OUR YELLOW LABRADORS & ECHO, OUR TUXEDO CAT) AND ME.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy Ending for Toys For Tots

The Grinch didn't steal Christmas this year! Even after our March of Wines event had to be canceled due to unforeseen circumstances, local businesses and restaurateurs still gathered to share the Christmas spirit. Over 60 people stopped by Maggie's Attic on Sunday to show their support, enjoy some free food and drop off their unwrapped toys for Toys For Tots collecting well over 100 gifts for children of Lake County. Maggie's also generously donated 10% of all wine sales that evening toward Toys for Tots. The Wine Den contributions are still forthcoming.

Hopefully next year we'll be able to enjoy the progressive holiday wine tasting featuring local restaurateurs, tour Mount Dora's festively-adorned inns, and enjoy the spirit of the holidays.

Until then,
The Mount Dora Lodging Association would like to thank everyone who contributed their time and talent in planning for this unrealized event. A big thank you to the following ...

Warren Acting Company
The Wine Den
The Cellars at Maggie's Attic
Wine Cellars of Mount Dora
Goblin Market
Frosty Mug
5th Avenue Café
One Flight Up
Saucy Spoon Catering
Carolers from the First Presbyterian Church
Mount Dora Trolley
Ridgeback Winery
Euro Donnelly Footwear
Instead of Flowers
Capillo Salon & Spa
The Painter's Daughter
Dr. Mike Baker
Carol & Jane
Adora Inn
Award Winning Magnolia Inn
The Captain's Inn
Coconut Cottage Inn
Christopher's Inn
Farnsworth House Bed & Breakfast
Grandview Bed & Breakfast
Heron Cay Lakeview Bed & Breakfast
Mount Dora Historic Inn
Mount Dora Cottages
Tremain Street Cottages

Congratulations Farnsworth House

Congratulations to The Farnsworth House Bed & Breakfast who were just awarded the prestigious 2008 White Glove Award from the Superior Small Lodging Association. Debi Dyer, with Lake County Tourism & Business Relations presented the award to Innkeepers Bob and Vivian. To read the whole press release, click here: Lake County Tourism.

I've re-posted the Feature Story for the Farnsworth House below ..


Sometimes, when you are traveling, you just want to have the comforts of home. A soft bed, a hot shower, a warm cup of tea and a friendly smile. A place where you can let your hair down, kick off your shoes, relax and just be yourself. That’s what you’ll find at the Farnsworth House Bed & Breakfast. A late 1800’s farm-style home tucked away on one and a half acres in the quiet side of Mount Dora. A meandering driveway lures you into a step back in time with mature oaks, green gardens and a camphor tree over 200 years old. If trees could talk, this one would probably have many stories to tell. The Farnsworth House is surrounded by history, but with the modern comforts of a hot tub, screened-in gazebo, and plenty of outdoor seating to get lost in book … or a nap.

After a corporate career and an artist’s life in Miami, this was just the escape that Innkeepers Vivian & Bob were looking for. While spending nights and weekends fixing up the home with their tender loving care, Vivian and Bob named her like a captain would name his ship. Abigail. And she’s quite a beauty for her ripe old age of 122. Originally the Farnsworth family home, the estate became a boarding house in the 1920’s. On the front porch you can still find the multiple door bells and mail slots from the era. The home is decorated with period antiques and some of the Innkeeper’s original artwork. When I asked Vivian and Bob what their favorite part was about Innkeeping, she answered,
“We really enjoy spending time with our guests, just sitting around the dining room table talking and laughing over breakfast and coffee. It’s our favorite part. It’s amazing the connections you find and the people you meet.”

Breakfast at the Farnsworth House is a belly-filling feast. I joined Vivian, Bob and their guests during the Bike Festival to partake in the morning festivities. We started with fresh fruit and homemade crumb cakes. I have quite a sweet tooth, so I love dessert first! I begged Vivian to let me post the recipe, but she says you have to come stay with her to taste it. Next, Bob served their Leander Pancake Wraps with Vermont maple syrup and breakfast steaks. This has all the goodness of breakfast wrapped up into one. Eggs, potatoes, cheese, and pancakes. A little sweet and a little salty.

The most unique thing that Vivian is known for is her juice mixes. We all played a little guessing game before she would reveal her secret ingredients. Our juice cocktail blend contained cranberry, orange, lime, pineapple and blueberry. Vivian’s watermelon cooler was such a popular treat that over the years she inadvertently started a collection of watermelon themed gifts.

If you're looking for a home away from home, a peaceful escape, and a scrumptious breakfast ... then the Farnsworth House Bed & Breakfast is the place to be.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Don't Be A Scrooge ... Answers from the Adora Inn

Here are some more holiday favorites from John at the Adora Inn ...

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Gift bags unless wrapping is a must.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Real Tree

3. When do you put up the tree and when do you take it down? two weeks before and one week after

4. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Egg Nog

5. Favorite gift received as a child? a yellow bike with a big black banana seat

6. Mail or email Christmas cards? Email

7. Favorite Christmas Movie? The very first version of Scrooge

8. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Two things...if we have an Italian Christmas Eve dinner its the seafood soup, if its an American one it would be the honey baked ham and ham sandwiches the following day.

9. Favorite Christmas song? "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire" by Nat King Cole

10. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star

11. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? Both

12. Favorite ornament theme or color(s)? All white lights with silver, white & clear glass colors

John & Arthur

Don't Be A Scrooge ... Answers from Coconut Cottage

This is from Gary at Coconut Cottage.
His sense of humor really shines through his answers!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Trash bags.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Real.

3. When do you put up the tree and when do you take it down? July 26th through August 16th.

4. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Hot chocolate.

5. Favorite gift received as a child? The gift of speech.

6. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards? Mail.

7. Favorite Christmas Movie? The Godfather

8. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Pine cones, library paste, and stuffing.

9. Favorite Christmas song? Silent Night

10. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star

11. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? Christmas morning.

12. Favorite ornament theme or color(s)? Elvis.

panther quick and leather tough.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Don't Be A Scrooge

With only 12 days until Christmas ... we've got 12 fun holiday questions for you to get to know your Innkeepers. The first is from Rachelle at Tremain Street Cottages.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both. I've been trying to do some creative eco-gift wrap including using scarves, maps, and the comic section of the newspaper. Gift bags are great for re-using.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Real Tree. No storage. Great mulch after the holidays.

3. When do you put up the tree and when do you take it down? The Saturday after Thanksgiving. It's become a fun trip down memory lane as our ornaments are a collection we've grown through all our our travels and big life events. Everything from my 5-year-old thumb print reindeer to a handmade ornament from Sorrento, Italy. We take it down the weekend after New Years.

4. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Mmm ... both. Depends on my mood.

5. Favorite gift received as a child? The most memorable was a white jean jacket with gold embroidery. I coveted that jacket in the store window for 2 months. I actually still have it in my closet as a "memento." You never know ... a lot of things come back in style eventually (wink).

6. Mail or email Christmas cards? Definitely regular mail … more personal and more fun.

7. Favorite Christmas Movie? White Christmas with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. I still cry at the end. Something about people being nice and doing something thoughtful for another. Seems rare these days.

8. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Sugar cookies ... with hot coffee or cocoa to dip them in. And my Grandmother's Tourtiere

9. Favorite Christmas song? Winter Wonderland, Rockin Around The Christmas Tree

10. Angel on the tree top or a star? Blinking Star

11. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning: We used to stay up all night Christmas Eve watching holiday movies and then open gifts at midnight. Christmast morning we'd have a great big breakfast and then go visit family.

12. Favorite ornament theme or color? Traditional Red & Green.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Lights, Camera, Decorations

Where has the month gone? Is it really already the 8th??? I refuse to believe it! I seem to have been so caught up in trying to create some video blogs that I've neglected the "good ole fashioned" written blog. Ha! Seems funny to say that, but it's true. In the middle of trying to learn something new and create some fresh content, I've also been sucked into the eggnog-drinking-sleigh-bell-ringing-light-hanging-bow-making holiday vortex. Anyone else there with me? Writing holiday and Christmas cards, trimming the tree and planning decorations for our cottages for an event happening this coming weekend (The March of Wines). Sure, I thought that would all be done in a days work. A little overly ambitious in my plans.

I wish I had some little elves to help me along with all of these festive preparations. I even had to do a little unexpected home re-decorating. Or maybe I should call it re-organizing. We went out and picked a live tree this year (more later on the eco-friendliness of this choice), but when we brought it home and cut the twine ... it seem to have exploded. Yes, exploded. Pine needles everywhere. We thought it was going to be a "small" tree because of it's height, but it is actually so fat and fluffy it takes up half of our small little cottage living room. Ha! At least it puts me in the holiday spirit because it makes me giggle every time I have to side step around it to get through the house.

Now, about the eco-friendly tree thing. Real tree or fake tree? At first glance, you would think the mantra for eco-enthusiasts would be to save the trees. However, most artificial trees are made with PVC, are not biodegradable or recyclable and usually end up in the garbage. Real Christmas trees are grown with the very purpose of being enjoyed for the holidays and then the crops replanted. After the holidays, it can be recycled, mulched or just thrown away as it is 100% biodegradable. There are even some trees you can purchase (roots and all) and plant in January. I even heard on the radio that there is a rent-a-tree where they re-plant them later. Check out the National Christmas Tree Association website for more interesting and fun facts.

Happy decorating!


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Turkey Stats

I recently picked up a publication that glossed over the stats of holiday economics. It's hard to believe we're in a "down" economy when you read these sales projections ... 30 million live Christmas trees sold ... over $5 billion spent on games and toys ... over 100 million pounds of eggnog consumed. These big numbers sound fascinating and surreal to me. I thought, wouldn't it be interesting to get some of these types of facts locally from our Innkeepers?

One local Innkeeper, Tamara at the Captain's Inn, not only had a house full of guests, but a house full of relatives as well! A total of 10 guests, 8 relatives and two neighbors came over for Thanksgiving dinner. So what does it take to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for a party of 20? Considering that I'm an only child and my holiday dinner parties typically never exceed 6 people ... inquiring minds want to know ...

Let's see ...

144 eggs

20 loads of laundry ... (and as of today) 8 more to go ... 3 washers and 3 dryers running

30 lb turkey

25 lb ham

40 potatoes

4 gallons of milk

2 gallons of orange juice

2 gallons half & half

2 home baked apple pies

2 home baked pumpkin pies

6 cases of soda

over 500 ornaments decorating 7 Christmas trees throughout the house

and too many bottles of wine to count!

Although she's practically been living in the kitchen for the past 3 days, Tamara says she loves entertaining. "I've really enjoyed spending time with my family. Especially my 12 year old granddaughter. Everybody pitches in and helps out." And isn't that what the holidays are really about!



Light Lure

Edward Johnson created the first string of electric Christmas lights in the late 1800's and it seems we have been in awe of the luminescence of the season ever since! You can't help but smile while driving by homes and businesses decorated with strands of lights, illuminating the night during the darkest month of the year.

Even before we donned trees with candles and then electric lights, Innkeepers used to place a candle in a window to show that the room was vacant and this tradition later evolved into a universal sign of "welcome."

Last night we enjoyed that warm and fuzzy "welcome" feeling as we watched our city flip a switch for Light Up Mount Dora. This festival kicked off the holiday season turning on a display of over 2 million lights that will sparkle throughout Donnelly Park during the season.

If you happened to miss it, don't despair. The lights will be on every night through the end of January and there are several other events of merriment with entertainment, carolers, late shopping and even Santa Clause. Mount Dora's Christmas Walk will be taking place this coming Friday in downtown from 6 to 9 pm.

Later this month, there will be an old fashioned Christmas parade and a lighted boat parade, snow in the park for the kids, a Movie In The Park (Polar Express), and the Innkeepers 2nd Annual March of Wines benefiting Toys for Tots. For more specific information about these events, please visit

Come and see us! Enjoy the season.


It's a Wonderful Life

It is a wonderful life to be an Innkeeper ... during the season especially! The month of December is bringing with it a ton of fun ways to celebrate. In addition to the March of Wines event, Christmas Walk next Friday and our local community theater performing It's A Wonderful Life, several of our local Innkeepers are also offering packages to make it a wonderful life for our guests as well.

I've included a brief description of season specials below. Please click through to each Inn's website for more information and availability.

Adora Inn
Tis The Season Package --
Enjoy two nights in a wonderful room and receive a complimentary culinary gift to take home with you.

New Years Eve at Adora Inn -- Book a one night stay on New Years Eve or the following weekend and include a wonderful candle lit "Dinner at the Inn" for two.

Farnsworth House
Special Christmas themed room, movie nights & horse drawn carriage rides.

Mount Dora Historic Inn
Gift Certificate specials great for gifts and stocking stuffers.

Captain's Inn
Winter Weekday Getaway Package -- 3 Day/2 Night package includes
breakfast in bed for two, Saturday afternoon boating on Lake Dora exploring the Dora Canal and a private candlelight romantic dinner for two.

New Years Eve with The Captains -- 4 Day/3 Night package includes Historic Lakeside Inn Gala New Years Eve Party, late day breakfast in bed and exploring the Dora Canal with Captain Barry aboard the "Mount Dorable."

Tremain Street Cottages
5-Night Seasonal Special, boat tours, and horse drawn carriage rides available to view Lights of Mount Dora only 1 block away.

Blogs In Motion

Doing a little experiment this week with blogs in motion. Remember the story I posted called "By The Wayside?"

Below is a video I was able to create on that trip. I hope to post more videos about our local Inns soon. Let us know what you think!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

March of Wines

One of the things I enjoy the most about the holidays are the drinking and merriment. Great wine and great friends. The warm and fuzzy feeling of joy you get when you participate in something fun that is simultaneously helping others. Such is the March of Wines event presented by the Mount Dora Lodging Association.

To raise funds for the Marine Corps' Toys for Tots campaign, the Mount Dora Lodging Association will present the Second Annual March of Wines on Sunday, December 14, 2008 from 5 to 9 pm, in downtown Mount Dora. The progressive holiday wine tasting will tour five festively-adorned inns, including the Heron Cay, Farnsworth House, Captain's Inn, Adora Inn, and Tremain Street Cottages.

The spirit of the holidays begins as Christmas carolers from the Warren Acting Company greet guests boarding an old-fashioned trolley. Arriving at the inns, guests will sample a selection of regional wines provided by The Wine Den, The Cellars at Maggie's Attic, and Wine Cellars of Mount Dora. Showcased wines will be paired with select finger foods and desserts prepared by the Goblin Market, Frosty Mug, 5th Avenue Café, One Flight Up, and Saucy Spoon Catering. Wrapping up the tour, Victorian-costumed carolers from the First Presbyterian Church will entertain with songs of the season.

Many guests will leave for home carrying their own Christmas gifts courtesy of Mount Dora merchants, restaurateurs, and innkeepers who are donating exclusive raffle items such as bed and breakfast gift certificates, decorated gift baskets, complimentary dinners, wine packages, salon treatments and more.

"Last year's event was a big hit," says John Cataldo, president of the Mount Dora Lodging Association. “Not only was it a sellout, we filled two SUV's with toys and donated a $1,000 in cash. This year with more Inns participating we're hoping to contribute even more to Toys for Tots.”

Tickets for the 'March of Wines' holiday tour are $50 per person and limited seating is available. Attendees are encouraged to bring a new unwrapped toy donation for Toys for Tots. For more information and to reserve your seat now, contact the Adora Inn at (352) 735-3110.

Chow Chow

If you love to travel with your pets, then gather up your furry pals and come visit us in Mount Dora. Perhaps one of the most pet friendly towns in Florida, Mount Dora has a number of pet friendly lodging establishments for your travel needs. For longer term stays and larger breeds try Tremain Street Cottages or Mount Dora Cottages in the Historic Downtown. If you want a cozy Bed & Breakfast atmosphere you will find pet friendly accommodations at the Grandview Bed & Breakfast, The Farnsworth House, The Captain's Inn and the Heron Cay Lakeview. For a complete list of pet friendly lodging establishments please visit the Pet Friendly section of the website.

Mount Dora even has it's own website dedicated to showcasing each pet that resides in Mount Dora at The Dogs of Mount . Here you can find out about each pet that lives in our town along with their heartwarming stories and photos to make you smile.

We have our own Mount Dora Dog Park, Mount D.O.R.A. (Dog Off-leash Recreation Area). The City of Mount Dora along with private citizens built this park last year and kicked the whole thing off with the first annual BarkFest. They raised enough money for future expansion of the Dog Park.

Downtown on the corner of 4th and Donnelly you will find Piglet's Pantry, Mount Dora's only dog bakery, and in fact one of the only dog bakeries anywhere in the country. Here you will find an assortment of treats that are sure to please the canine pallet.

We also have Hobscott Pet Supplies which is a holistically minded pet store specializing in natural pet foods. The owners are true pet lovers and have over 40 years experience to share in the trade. Be sure and take your pet for a visit.

Also, a number of eateries and restaurants in town allow pets in the outdoor seating areas. Pets are welcome outside at 5th Avenue Cafe, Chew Chew Express, Cecile's French Corner, One Flight Up Coffee Bar, The Mount Dora Coffee House and Pisces Rising on the deck. Some of these establishments will provide fresh water and treats for the furry visitors.

Plan your next trip to Mount Dora with your pet in mind.

Chow Chow for now,


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Easy As Pie

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Last year, I remember slaving in the kitchen for an entire day making a spiced pumpkin cheesecake with bourbon cream. Straining the pumpkin ... folding the pumpkin ... making the ginger graham cracker crust from scratch. All-in-all it took me about 6 hours to make. Then I find out that there are more people coming to our dinner party than planned and I thought, "oh crap! There's not going to be enough cheesecake!" So, knowing that I didn't have another 6 hours to whip up another one of these babies, I made a simple pumpkin pie from the recipe off the can. And would you believe, everyone loved the PIE more than the CHEESECAKE!?!?! The pumpkin pie was gone as soon as I put it down on the table, but I had leftovers of cheesecake for the entire week (not very good for my girlish figure).

Maybe it is the tradition of the dessert that gives us comfort and a little sentimental nostalgia, but pumpkin pie is always a Thanksgiving favorite. In case you need to whip one up last minute this Thanksgiving Day, here is the recipe to show you how quick and easy it is. Enjoy the holiday! Don't stress over dessert.


1 Can Pumpkin (15 oz)

1 Can Evaporated Milk

1 Unbaked 9" Pie Shell

3/4 Cup Sugar

1 Tsp Salt

1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/2 Tsp Ground Cloves

2 Eggs

1) Mix all of your dry ingredients together ...
sugar, salt, cinnamon, & cloves. Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.

2) Beat eggs in a separate bowl. Like my action shot?
I'll call it my egg blob. Yeah, it's not really a high-tech sports camera. Ha!

3) Add pumpkin to sugar and spice mixture.
Then slowly add in eggs and evaporated milk.

4) Pour mixture into pie shell. Then, take one beaten egg white
and gloss the pie crust for that browning effect.
In the absence of a pastry brush, it's just as easy to use your fingers.

5) Cover just the edge of the crust in tin foil (to prevent burning)
and bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for 45 minutes.

Voila! Easy As Pie!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 24, 2008

Cornbread Stuffing

Here is another Thanksgiving recipe courtesy of Coconut Cottage Bed & Breakfast. Nancy says, "I don't generally write things down when I cook , whatever I accomplish is pure luck and happenstance." I am the same way in the kitchen. A dollop of this ... a pinch of that ... let's try a little of this ... it is experimental and fun. Enjoy!

(serves four-six)


2 boxes of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
9 eggs
2/3 cup milk
A dollop of mayonnaise
3 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 medium onion
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons of butter
parsley, sage, salt & pepper (to taste)


Prepared 2 boxes of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix by adding 3 eggs and 2/3 cup milk and mix.
Add a dollop of mayonnaise .
Add 3 tablespoons of sugar.
Stir until blended, batter may be lumpy.
Pour mix into two round cake pans
Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

While cornbread is baking:
- Finely chop 1/2 cup celery
- Finely chop one small – medium onion
- Coarsely chop 1/2 cup pecans

Boil turkey or chicken livers and finely chop.

Boil remaining 6 eggs and slice.

Will need turkey or chicken stock to blend.

In a large round pan, melt two tablespoons of butter and remove from stove. Crumble both pans of bread, add celery and onion, livers and turkey or chicken stock and mix.

If stuffing is too thick add a touch of water and extra butter, until you achieve desired texture. Add salt, pepper, sage and parsley to taste. Mix together and cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes, until celery is soft.

Fold in the pecans and boiled eggs and let settle.



Sunday, November 23, 2008

By The Wayside

Ever have the opportunity to thank someone that inspired you to make a big change in your life? This past week, I had such an opportunity.

I was in the DC area for training and I had two interesting moments of looking back at my past through a lens.

The first of those moments was when I pulled off the interstate at the exit of the town I grew up in. I had no plans. I didn't know where I was going. I didn't remember my exact address since I was only 7 when we moved, so this was going to be one of those adventures of getting lost. Don't you just love those!? It's my favorite kind of trip. Anyway, after about 15 minutes of wrong turns, I found the house I grew up in. Absolutely surreal. Sometimes I think our past plays in our head like some movie we once watched ... but this type of moment validates that "yes, it really happened. I really did live here!"

My second moment was visiting the bed & breakfast that inspired Brian and I to become Innkeepers. It's the Wayside Inn, in Ellicot City, Maryland. David's hospitality was the inspiration for me to get out of the corporate world, trade-in my high heels for flip flops, and get into tourism and entertainment.

The Wayside Inn is over 200 years old, which appeals to my inner-history buff. I pretty much just stand there silently in awe. There is a tree on the property that has been there since the Declaration of Independence was signed and local lore states that famous guests included General George Washington and John Quincy Adams. The exterior brick is 22" think solid granite, enveloping modern renovations and amenities sophisticatedly done with comfort in mind.

David's finesse made being an Innkeeper look so easy! And as I have learned later from operating our own lodging establishment, that is not always so. But even on the days where it seems like we're working really hard, the perks more than make up for it. I'm definitely enjoying this chapter of my life of Innkeeping.

Tremain Street Cottages

Friday, November 21, 2008

Holiday Feast & Fixin's

I feel like I just gained a whole week of my life back. For the longest time I thought THIS past week was Thanksgiving. Thank goodness I was set straight before putting a turkey in the oven!

If you haven't done your T-day shopping or if you are just browsing for some more holiday cooking ideas, I've wrapped up our best holiday recipes below and included one new one that will probably blow your mind.



Peanut Butter Turkey Baste
by Magnolia Inn

Now, this one was the WOW-BLOW-MY-MIND turkey tip for me and one that we have not yet previously posted. Betty, Innkeeper at the Magnolia Inn, shared that they always smother their turkey in peanut butter. Yes, I said peanut butter. I love peanut butter. I'm even a big fan of Elvis' PB & Banana sandwich, but I would have never thought to baste a turkey with it! According to Betty, the peanut butter seals in all the juices making the turkey extremely moist. I'll have to try this one!


Crazy Easy Cranberry Sauce
by Tremain Street Cottages


If you have family over and are planning to make breakfast too,
then definitely take a look at these pancake recipes.

Apple-Puffed Pancakes
by The Captain's Inn

Leander Pancake Wraps
by The Farnsworth House

Sweet Potato Pancakes
by Mount Dora Historic Inn


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Confessions of a Wino

How did your wine journey begin? Mine started in college with a fruity, fizzy, wine "cooler" that actually had no wine in it at all. But I thought I was cool.

I then graduated to a Blue Nun Riesling. (That makes me wince and grit my teeth just thinking about it.) I tried to impress a boy in my class by telling him my favorite wine was a "Riesling." Yeah. He was a wine rep. Not cool. But what did my young inexperienced pallet know?

What happened next I'm ashamed to admit. Boxed wine at camp-outs and pink wines that came in a jug. Wooooow. It's about that time that winemakers started jazzing up their labels with catchy names and graphics. Then I started picking my wine based on whether or not I liked the picture on the bottle. A label snob in all the wrong ways. I became a fan of Yellow Tail and had to try one of each "color." From the yellow label, to the blue label, to the hot pink label ... I drank them all. But at least it introduced me to reds.

One wine I picked up entirely because I liked the label was a bottle of Tango Malbec. The label lured me in with a hologram where the dancers feet moved when the bottle was rolled from side to side. Malbec. Boy, oh, boy, did I think I was pretty smart because NOW I could order something that wasn't a usual choice on most house wine lists. But at this point wine was becoming more than just a way to get a buzz with my friends on a Friday night, it was becoming a pleasurable experience of discovery.

I finally learned the only real rule about wine ... you either like it ... or you don't like it ... and either way, it's okay. I'm currently at a great place in my wine tasting journey. I'm not afraid of tasting something new. I can openly admit when I don't know about a certain wine ... and yet I know just enough to be dangerous. But I have to admit, I still do feel silly sticking my nose in a glass of wine and snorting a big whiff the way the "experts" do.

Which brings me to the monthly wine tastings at the Adora Inn. Their wine-pairing dinners have given me plenty of tasting practice to get me out of my old bad habits. Luckily, they're our neighbors, so I can taste all I want and then walk home.

This past month's wine tasting featured Dutch Henry, a small family owned vineyard winery in California. We were fortunate enough to have one of the wine makers from Dutch Henry sitting at our table. He was quite the entertainer, not only through his knowledge of wine, but through music as well. He talked about the same evolution of "cool" of wine drinkers. I guess we've all experienced that journey at one point or another.

The first wine poured was a Rose. Hmm. I had flashbacks to the pink wine in a jug that I used to drink and wrinkled my nose at the thought. However, I trusted the pairing expertise of my neighbors and since the wine maker was actually sitting right there in front of me, I gave it a whirl and was sweetly surprised! Well I'll be darn, I discovered I like Rose. And it was not a fruity little light wine like I expected. It stood well on it's own and was even better when paired with the first course of Arthur's savory pumpkin soup. I could go into great detail about how deliciousness of the food and wine ... but then you'd just get drool and get saliva all over your keyboard. So, to spare you the clean up I'll just invite you to attend the next wine tasting dinner at Adora Inn. Where are you in your wine tasting journey? Tantalize your senses with a traditional Italian-style Christmas including wines perfectly paired at the Adora Inn's next wine tasting on December 13th.