Monday, January 30, 2012

Creating space for your guests

If you frequently have guests - or are a guest, you know that packing everything one might need for a trip rarely happens (unless you are my best friend, in which case her old station wagon was barely big enough to haul what was required for a weekend away).

Aside from your good food and company, nothing makes a guest feel more welcome than knowing you have tried to take all their needs into consideration. A well supplied guest closet does just that. Make sure it is one of the first things you point out when they are settling in.

Creating your own “Stuff Closet” is easy.

1. First, find the space.  You don’t have to dedicate an entire closet for this. It can be smaller than a breadbox. A linen closet in a common area (hallway or guest bath) is perfect as everyone in the house has access to it.  A drawer or shelf in the guest clothes closet would work, too. Even space under the bed can be utilized.

2. Find a container that fits the space.  An open wicker basket for a hall closet, a plastic tub with a snap-on lid for a humid bath area or an old shoebox with “Guest Stuff” marked on the end and stored above the clothes in the closet also works. You mainly want it easily identifiable, retrievable, and permissible. As a guest, I always seemed to need something after my host had retired for the night. Knowing where to look relieves you from feeling like you are rummaging through private things.

3.What to stock? If you have the room – everything.   Everything we personally use is stocked for our guests: shampoo, conditioner, lotion, soft soap, razors & shaving cream, dental hygiene products, cotton balls & Q-tips, first aide kit, hair dryer, makeup mirror, iron, fingernail polish remover, etc.  When we personally run out of something we get what is left in the “stuff closet” and get a fresh box/bottle for the guests next time we are out.  This insures the aspirin, cold relief medicine, TUMS, etc are rotated for freshness and we always have what we need.  Those little samples the dentist gives you are perfect for this space. 

But also consider things you never use, but often want when traveling.  For some reason, my digestive system seems to come to a standstill or work overtime when I am on the road.  We keep remedies for both and they get used up.  Also recommended – earplugs. Your spouse may be used to your snoring but your guests may not. Or, if two friends are traveling together, they may not be accustomed to each other’s habits when sharing a room.

Whatever you can provide for the comfort of a friend staying under your roof will be appreciated. It can be as simple as a clean set of folded towels laid out on the bed, a fresh flower in a vase on the night stand or a warm smile…anything that says, “I’m glad you are here.”

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why I became an Innkeeper

Many people ask if I always wanted to be an innkeeper and the answer is no...and yes. When I look back over my notebooks of decorating ideas and boxes of recipes and when I think back to childhood dreams of having a big house in the woods where homeless animals could come, and all my training (waitress, janitor, hospital aide, teacher, customer service and a degree in Psychology), it becomes apparent I was headed this direction without knowing it.

The more obvious beginning of the journey came from traveling and staying in B&Bs and thinking, "wouldn't this be fun."

My mom was the first to try a B&B in Jefferson, TX.  She fell in love and began joking about how we should open an inn so she could cook fun breakfasts and I could do what I love - keeping house (very similar to keeping inn). And, as Mike and I drove the back roads of America (without reservations for lodging) I would always encourage him to drive one more mile because I knew that around the next bend in the road, up on a hill, would be the perfect little place.

We never found that place so we decided to build it.   And we always tell people, "when you think you have gone too far just go one more mile. We are around the next bend, up on the hill."

Here is an excerpt from a journal entry I kept from our opening weekend:

Well, we are now "official" innkeepers!  We had a full house both Friday
and Saturday nights and all went as well as could be expected
considering the workmen left 2 hours before the first guest arrived and
I forgot to put water glasses in the bathrooms. (I discovered a whole
new level of stress and finally hit what long distance runners call a
"wall"...moved passed it into some kind of blessed numbness) The great
news is I have finally found what I want to be when I grow up.  I love
this job!!  I love helping people and making them comfortable, I love
cleaning, I love serving...I love it.  I have finally found a place to
be a permanent "Mother Hen" and 16 is just about the right number of
chicks.  2/16/98
In the weeks and months to come, I am sure, with your help, I can figure out this blogging thing. My hope is to publish stories on Mondays and tutorials/recipes on Thursdays.  Please feel free to offer advice, criticism or suggestions. I'll welcome your comments and any requests for specific topics.