Archive for December, 2009

Glory

December 31, 2009

No, it’s not all glory.  I can tell you that.  Today, in 40 degree weather, I was on my hands and knees cleaning the floor of the Duchess.  She is going out on her first wedding of the new year tomorrow and I wanted to make sure she was sparkly.  Mr. Kreinke was there cleaning the windows and we exchanged pleasant conversations that ventured into the personal.  You never know about the personal lives of others until you step inside their circle.  Don’t you think we spend most of our time circling outside of everyone’s circle?  Is it fear of rejection or fear of obligation?

He told me a very interesting story.  It seems his wife had painful fibromyalgia for ten years.  She took considerable medication for this condition but was still prevented from most activities.   However a very strange thing took place last year.  Mrs. Kreinke suffered a severe stroke and was near death.  With intervention above and below she recovered.  As she did, she discovered that her fibromyalgia was completely gone.  Now she bikes and hikes and does all manner of activities free of pain.  We are still a mystery, aren’t we?

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Gingerbread Magic

December 28, 2009

I have decided that when I have time, I am going to start tracing the history of trolleys.  Please remember that etiquette  demands that you never refer to our trolleys as buses.  Yes, we know, but we prefer to acknowledge them as fond relatives as opposed to distant associates of those early modes of transportation.   

But before the sparkle leaves me, I want to comment on the Gingerbread Tours.  I finally got to take it this past weekend. (Yes, I paid for my ticket.)  I spent a lot of time observing the other guests because I was really curious to see if they were enjoying themselves and thought the $30 per ticket was a good value.  Yeh, when you come from a large urban area, you tend to by a little cynical about these things. 

I’m not sure if it was the sentimentality, or the memories it evoked or the grandeur of the houses, but these guests were joyous.  I finally got the courage to ask a family who had flown in from California if they thought the value of the tour was appropriate to the cost.  I was reticent because introducing a thought can sometimes reroute a thought.  The mother of the family thought about it a minute and then said,  “For what you get, it is worth it.”  By the end of the evening, I agreed.  So, Innkeepers, “Hats Off” to you for creating  a memorable magical event.

PS.  I don’t know who created that gingerbread fudge, but it was amazing.

Peaks and Valleys

December 26, 2009

Alright, Young Ladies, did he propose on Christmas Day?  Or is he waiting on Valentine’s Day to pop up with Punxsutawney Phil?  Here is a little advice–and oh my goodness,  are you going to get a lot of that in the next several months–prepare for the valley.   Married life is definitely a roller coaster and not a moon launch.  And nothing takes you downhill like money.  Either fighting over it, not enough of it, too many girl toys, too many boy toys, not enough square footage, too much tempation and a savings account nowhere in sight.  However, I know you are going to be prudent and keep those nights on the town and multiple shoes to a minimum.  Right?  To help you get through those trying weeks, here is my penny saver soup which is wonderful and easy to make. 

Penny Saver Soup

1 Med. Onion  (sweet onions are best)
2 cloves garlic
3 T olive oil (can use veg. oil)
1 stalk celery
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can northern beans
1 can kidney beans (can use black beans, black eye peas, etc.)
2 c. water
2 tsp. beef bouillon or vegetable bouillon
1 tsp Italian spices

Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil.  Add tom and celery.  Rinse beans, add.  Add water, bouillon, spices.  Stir well.  Simmer for 30 minutes.

Easy, delicious, can be doubled, lots of variations–macaroni, carrots, etc-and easy on the budget.  Those valleys like this recession won’t last forever but the discipline to stick to a realistic lifestyle will give you a lifetime of happiness.

Wedding Bells

December 26, 2009

Right before Christmas a big white envelope arrived.  What could it be?  Inside was an elegant invitation for the upcoming wedding show in Asheville January 16th. (weddingfestivals.com) I think this is going to be fun.  All those elegant dreamy things in one place…including our trolley.  Well, well now, a trolley can be dreamy.  It’s all in the eyes of the beholder and I am a trolley beholder (as well as the bank.) 

We are hard at work planning for the event.  Or should I say, I’m hard at work planning our presence at this event.  It’s like that you know when you work with a bunch of guys.  You know–*we* cook the turkey and they watch us cook it.  I realize this is somewhat unfair since the guys at Elite work pretty darn hard keeping those vehicles polished and running. 

Let’s see, checking that list twice–tablecloth, trays, flowers, brochures, pictures and of course just loving what we’re doing.  And we really do.

Warm Memories

December 20, 2009

When my children were growing up we had a snowy tradition.  Whenever those flakes started falling I would make cinnamon rolls.  Not the quick and easy method mind you, but the old fashioned stir and rise treasures.  I don’t know which was better–the oven aromas that filled the kitchen or the cinnamon rolls.   Yesterday as the storm rolled through, I got a call from my daughter, “Mom, how do you make those cinnamon rolls?”

Cinnamon and/or Orange Rolls

Basic Dough

4 1/2  cups all purpose flour
1 pkg rapid rise yeast
1  tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
3  T Butter
3  eggs

Warm milk, but do not scald.  Mix in sugar and salt to dissolve.  Add in 3 T butter to melt.  Cool the mixture to lukewarm and stir in yeast.  Beat eggs add to milk mixture and stir  into the flour.  Stir to form a soft dough.   At this point it will be sticky.  Remove it onto a lightly floured surface and knead only a few times.  If the dough is too sticky, you can handle the dough by putting oil on your hands.  Put the dough into a lightly greased bowl in a warm place and let it rise.  If  it’s cold in the kitchen, put your oven on warm, warm the oven, then turn it off and put the bowl in the oven. 

After the first rise, punch it down and put in on a lightly floured surface. (If you don’t have a pastry cloth frame, make that your next purchase.  It is so fabulous.  That’s the only way I ever learned to make pie crust without a ton of flour ruining the light texture.  A pie crust will not stick to a lightly floured canvas pastry cloth.)   Roll it to a rectangular shape.  You are ready for either cinnamon rolls or orange rolls or whatever you invent.

Cinnamon:  Brush on a light coating of butter (2 T).  Spread 1/2 cup of light or dark brown sugar.  (Please remember that just about anything in a recipe is adjustable.  Here is one place in this recipe that is.  Like more sugar?  Like less sugar?  You can adjust that at this point.)  Dust with 2 tsp. cinnamon.   Spread 1/2 cup raisins.  (I don’t want to hear the screams from you two over the raisins!)  Roll up the long end and seal at the end with a little bit of water.  Cut into 1 inch pinwheels.  Place these on a baking sheet that has been lightly greased with shortening.  Place them slightly apart so that they can rise to meet each other.  (I like soft sides. If you don’t, place them farther apart so they don’t touch in the final rise.)  When they have risen, bake at 350 degrees for approx 20 minutes or until lightly golden.  Brush with butter out of the oven.  Glaze with 1/2 cup of confectionary sugar, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and a teeny bit of milk blended together.  Charge $1 for each delicious morsel and you are well on your way to your own 401K

Orange version:  1/2 cup granulated sugar.  1/4 tsp of orange extract, 1 T grated orange peel.  In a jar, mix the sugar, orange extract.  Shake the jar until the flavor is distributed.   Add the orange peel and shake again.  (I bet you could put all three together and it would be okay.)  Spread melted butter (2 T) on rectangle and proceed with construction as above.  For the glaze, mix 1/2 cup confectionary sugar with a teeny bit of orange juice.  You can also add a drop or two of orange extract for more orange flavor.

Bon apetit!

Let it snow. Let it not!

December 19, 2009

There are two words that strike fear into the heart of any transportation company, “wintry mix.”  As soon as the weatherman says those two words, it’s white knuckles.

Just so we didn’t get too carried away with our own importance, Mother Nature came last night to remind us who has the upper hand.  Mountains of snow fell here and anything on wheels came to a halt.  They tell me that there were jackknifed cars all over Black Mountain with rescuers scooping up stranded motorists all night.  I’m not sure how John is getting those limousines out today.  But in my mind’s eye I can see the shovels, the curses, and the slide down to Greenville.

Icy flurries weren’t the only thing flying last night.   Lynn and I were exchanging “should we,  shouldn’t we” gingerbread tour phone calls.  It’s so hard to tell in these mountains.  You can have a blizzard one day and sunshine and blue skies the next.  However, this morning it became pretty apparent that no trolleys were moving today.  Only minutes after hanging up with Lynn,  the cell rang and it was Bruce.  “Eva, I can’t get out of my driveway.”  Well, when your driver says he can’t move, ain’t nothing movin’.

When all is said and done, the children are happy.

Radio Time

December 17, 2009

More than likely John has noticed that I always list trolleys before limousines.  To which I reply, “John, that is the power of the pen and the password.” 

I want to give a “tip of the hat” to Mandy over at An English Flower Cottage for her suggestion to start a blog.   She insisted that all businesses are doing this now with great success.  I’m not sure about success but I will have fun telling you about the trials and trevails of life at a trolley/limousine company.  (There it goes again!) 

Tomorrow morning will be the Lady Innkeepers moment of celeb.  They will be featured on WTZQ telling about their marvelous tour in Asheville (ashevillegingerbread.com).  I generously compliment them often for their vision and tenacity to create this new event.  It’s no small  undertaking to take an idea to reality.  They have done just that while remaining cheerful  along the bumpy way. 

While I’m recognizing some wonderful people,  let me also pass along my thanks to Howard over at Grayline in Asheville.  When his company was not able to provide the transportation for the innkeeper’s gingerbread tour, he recommended us.  That is a mark of a professional who takes the high road.  He certainly didn’t have to do that.  As our school report cards used to say, “Works well with others.”  We are hopeful to return the favor.

I look forward to what the lady innkeepers have to say tomorrow morning.  It may be that only Lynn from the Inn on Montford can come.  I can see her fa-la-la-ing through the door in her seasonal red outfit complete with elf shoes and hat.  Imagine that scene!  Did you know she made the costumes for our drivers? 

So they won’t be too nervous, I will wait in the kitchen, out of sight but within earshot of what’s going on.  I understand Maggie Faulkner, an artist who created one of the gingerbread houses will be there.  Obviously, she must be quite accomplished since she was 4th runnerup at the Grand National Gingerbread Contest held at the Grove Park Inn.

Windows

December 16, 2009

That’s what I’m going to write about today–windows.  I don’t know what it is about windows that is so important to me.  Perhaps it’s because I love the outdoors and they are the temptations to where I ought to be.  Maybe it’s because they are the one part of a house through which you can clearly see the world.  A mirror does that too.  But I prefer windows to mirrors for obvious reasons.

So it is no surprise that I took a special Marine eyeball to our trolley’s windows.  You can have everything washed and polished but if the windows don’t shine, nothing shines.  We had all worked over weeks to clean the windows in The Duchess and Enchantress.  However, our sweat was not rewarded with adequate sparkle.  Trekking through those ole’ yellow pages, I found All Clear Glass Cleaning located in Etowah.  I know the value of professionals where professionals are needed.

I know it must amuse these workmen who come from points beyond the Great Lakes when we ask them in 35 degree weather, “Can you clean the windows when it’s this cold?”  He was charitable in his reply informing me that as a former resident of Wisconsin, he had cleaned in much colder weather.  “How?” I asked.   “Special chemicals in the water.” 

Of course my curiosity got the best of me.  So Saturday morning, I headed out to the yard to see the results.  As my car headed down the steep drive my eyes caught sight of Enchantress.  I was stunned.   Could it be that Mr. Kreinke turned this trolley into another vehicle?  I just walked around it and stared.  It was the most unbelievable transformation involving window cleaning I had ever seen.  Oh, to keep them in this condition!  Yes, we will…try.  Obviously, Mr. Kreinke has found a permanent client.