Friday, December 13, 2013

Daily Exercise - Just Run A Bed and Breakfast

I never have to worry about getting enough exercise when we are taking care of a bed and breakfast. Exercise is built into the job. Just think of all the walking you do as an innkeeper.

1.  You show each new guest to their room sometimes going up and down stairs multiple times in any one day.  

2.  If you are a small inn, you are also back and forth to the guest rooms multiple times a day taking laundry from the room to the washer then back to the storage closet.  That doesn't include making the beds with the new laundry

3. Of course you are walking back and forth restocking supplies, carrying out dirty dishes or glasses from the rooms and putting fresh amenities into the rooms.  

4.  Then how many times you go back and forth answering the front door. Sometimes you even are giving tours of the house to those who stop by.  

5.  Most innkeepers take a walk around each room after it has been cleaned just to make sure all is ready. 

6.  In the morning you are back and forth from prep area to sink to stove to counter any number of times. Once the dishes are ready you are back and forth from the kitchen to the guest tables to serve and clean up afterwards. 

7.  Don't forget going to the grocery store and going up and down the aisles and carrying the bags in from the car afterwards and putting the groceries away.  

In other words, as innkeepers we are always on our feet.  

Lynda Lerner
Owner of Inn Caring 
www.inncaring.com

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Innkeeper Tip of the Day - Keeping Strawberries Fresh

Both my husband and I love strawberries as do so many of the guests we serve breakfast to on our Interim Innkeeping assignments.  If we try to buy strawberries in bulk we are faced with the prospect of how to keep them all fresh looking as the day that they were bought no matter what the season.

The solution is simple.  The strawberries must be stored in a tightly sealed container and then refrigerated.  I have been most successful in storing them in a flat Tupperware contain that I can "burp" the air out of.  I place the strawberries on top of a paper towel in the container stem side down.  I loosely cover the strawberries with another paper towel to catch any moisture which may collect on the underside lid of the container. 

I have stored strawberries this way for up to a week or two and they all remain fresh.  Most strawberries don't last any longer than that either in our house or at the B&B's we work at.  

Lynda Lerner
Inn Caring
www.inncaring.com

Monday, September 24, 2012

There's More To Running An Inn than Just Making Breakfast

Doing some work on our blog I realized that this post from our 2010 Oregon assignment at the Country Willows Inn never made it out of it's draft form.  Somehow, the days (and years) just seemed to get away from me.   However, the subject matter is still valid. 

The weather was a lot different than what I expected.  However, the setting could not have been more wonderful.  We had many adventures with the various animals that were on the property.  One cat (Sammy was bashful so no picture), two goats (Cleopatra and Patches) , and four geese (I never was able to tell them apart) came with the property when the new owners Kara & Dan Burian bought the Bed and Breakfast.  It was our responsibility to feed them and let them out in the morning and put them away at night.  The guests enjoyed seeing them, but really didn't have any interaction with them.  .




So, all you potential interim innkeepers, yes, there are other duties besides just taking care of the Bed and Breakfast - there may be other animals that you will need to take care of in addition to your regular duties.   One day I  had to gather all of the eggs one of the geese had laid.  Unfortunately, be the time she let me near them they had started to turn rotten.  (not fertilized as the geese were all girls)

The time I loved best however, was my time in the Garden.  While I have had an herb garden before, this was the first time I really had a true vegetable garden as well.  We had tomatoes, squash, zucchini, eggplant, cucumber, lettuce, strawberries, apples, pears, cherries, plums, figs, and kiwi.  It was fun seeing just how much was produced and harvested.    The herbs, lettuces and edible flowers kept me very busy. Yes, this is another aspect of innkeeping in a country setting.   Though the cherries were wonderful, they did have to be picked almost daily as they ripened.   That goes for all of the other fruits and vegetables we grew.  However, the cherries were the most labor intensive.

We have developed a new recipe - a cherry filling for our breakfast crepes.  E-mail me if you would like a copy of the recipe. 

Lynda and Howard Lerner
Inn Caring
www.inncaring.com

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Pinterest - Innkeepers Should You or Shouldn't You Get Involved?

The latest buzz in Social Media is Pinterest.  There are statistics out there that indicate that it is sending more traffic to people's websites than Facebook.   I wasn't sure, but thought I should investigate this new media.  I wanted to be able to give a first hand opinion as to its value.

Let's just say, I am convinced.   I have set up just a few boards in Pinterest - Inn Caring  that I have been working on.  One is Inn the Kitchen and the other is In the Garden.  I uploaded a lot of my own pictures.  In addition, as I have found other pictures on the internet that I like, I have pinned them and added them to my boards.

The other day, I found a picture of a bright sunny daffodil on a bed and breakfast blog that I follow.  I repinned the picture to my board with a comment.   Later that evening, to my surprise, I had likes and repins from people whom I didn't know.   By the next day, I had 7 likes and 8 repins as well as 2 comments which of course I answered.  Does this platform work?   You bet it does!  When I add pictures, I try and give a personal view of what I think about the picture or why it was something special to me.  Of course, if someone does make a comment, I always answer and try and engage them in more conversation. 

I have continued to pin pictures and every once in a while, I'll make a comment that I've put up new pictures to my boards on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  

Innkeepers can take this concept and expand it in a variety of ways.  You can highlight food you make, your gardens, or your rooms.  You can add a board for local restaurants, local shops, places to see or events that take place in or near your area.  If you do weddings or events you can post pictures showing off your facilities.  The possibilities are endless.

So, if you haven't done so already, it is time to get on the Pinterest band wagon. 

Lynda and Howard Lerner
Inn Caring
www.inncaring.com

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Service Animals and Your B&B - What you can and can't do

There are many Bed and Breakfast owners who think that just because they have a "No Pet" policy they do not have accept service animals in their establishments.  This is not the case.  A service animal is not considered to be a pet, but rather an animal that has a job to do that is necessary for the well being of their owner.    In addition, there are other bed and breakfast owners who will argue that they are a small inn (under 5 rooms) and they live on the property, therefore, they do not have to comply.  Again, this in not correct. 

A publication put out by the U.S. Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division - Disability Rights Section  addresses what an establishment can and cannot do.   The link to the entire publication is    
         http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/smallbusiness/smallbusprimer2010.htm#serviceanimals

The article covers a lot of different things, but I felt that it was important for B&B owners, managers, and interim innkeepers to see the section that specifically deals with Service Animals.  I have copied the section below and underlined, and enlarged three important areas.  The first is a definition of a service animal as of 2012, the second is excluding comfort or thearpy dogs from a service dog category, and the third explains the only two questions that you can actually ask a guest.  

It would be helpful if there was an official certification which service animal owners were required to carry.  Unfortunately, that is not currently an option.

Reprint from U.S. Department of Justice Publication:  Service Animals

Often businesses such as stores, restaurants, hotels, or theaters have policies that can exclude people with disabilities. For example, a "no pets" policy may result in staff excluding people with disabilities who use dogs as service animals. A clear policy permitting service animals can help ensure that staff are aware of their obligation to allow access to customers using service animals. Under the ADA's revised regulations, the definition of "service animal" is limited to a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person's disability. For example, many people who are blind or have low vision use dogs to guide and assist them with orientation. Many individuals who are deaf use dogs to alert them to sounds. People with mobility disabilities often use dogs to pull their wheelchairs or retrieve items. People with epilepsy may use a dog to warn them of an imminent seizure, and individuals with psychiatric disabilities may use a dog to remind them to take medication. Service members returning from war with new disabilities are increasingly using service animals to assist them with activities of daily living as they reenter civilian life. Under the ADA, "comfort," "therapy," or "emotional support animals" do not meet the definition of a service animal.

A service animal gives a can of soda to a young man using a wheelchair.
Service animals provide many types of assistance for people with disabilities.

Under the ADA, service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal's work or the individual's disability prevents him from using these devices. Individuals who cannot use such devices must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls. Businesses may exclude service animals only if 1) the dog is out of control and the handler cannot or does not regain control; or 2) the dog is not housebroken. If a service animal is excluded, the individual must be allowed to enter the business without the service animal.

In situations where it is not apparent that the dog is a service animal, a business may ask only two questions: 1) is the animal required because of a disability; and 2) what work or task has the animal been trained to perform? No other inquiries about an individual's disability or the dog are permitted. Businesses cannot require proof of certification or medical documentation as a condition for entry.

RESOURCES -   ADA INFORMATION
U.S. Department of Justice
For more information about the revised ADA regulations and 2010 ADA Standards, please visit the Department of Justice´s ADA Website or call our toll-free number.
ADA Website
http://www.ADA.gov/
ADA Information Line
800-514-0301 (Voice)
800-514-0383 (TTY)

24 hours a day to order publications by mail.
M-W, F 9:30 a.m. 5:30 p.m., Th 12:30 p.m. 5:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) to speak to an ADA Specialist. All calls are confidential.

"Reaching Out to Customers with Disabilities" explains the ADA's requirements for businesses in a short 10-lesson online course (www.ada.gov/reachingout/intro1.htm).
ADA National Network (DBTAC)
Ten regional centers are funded by the U.S. Department of Education to provide ADA technical assistance to businesses, States and localities, and persons with disabilities. One toll-free number connects you to the center in your region:

800-949-4232 (Voice and TTY)http://www.adata.org/
Access Board
For technical assistance on the ADA/ABA Accessibilty Guidelines:
800-872-2253 (Voice)
800-992 -2822 (TTY)
Internal Revenue Service
For information on the Disabled Access Tax Credit (Form 8826) and the Section 190 tax deduction (Publication 535 Business Expenses):
800-829-3676 (Voice) or 800-829-4059 (TTY)http://www.irs.gov/
Lynda and Howard Lerner
Inn Caring
www.inncaring.com

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Innkeepers - How Safe is Your Refrigerator?


Your refrigerator is essential to your bed and breakfast.  How safe is it? The following is a check list of some refrigerator does and don’ts.
   Most importunately, the temperature in your refrigerator should be kept between 35° - 40°.  The freezer should be at 0°.  Refrigerator thermometers should be placed in both the refrigerator and the freezer compartments.  The thermometer should be placed in the middle of the compartment for maximum accuracy.  

Image Courtesy of FSIS-USDA



Cooling is lost every time you open and close the door. To maintain optimum temperature in your refrigerator, do not open doors any more than is absolutely necessary. 

   Proper air circulation is essential.   If the contents of the refrigerator are too tightly packed together, efficient cooling will not occur and spoilage will be accelerated.  Do not block the air vents in either the refrigerator or the freezer.  Additionally, the compressor unit will have to work harder to keep the optimum temperature.  
 
   Clean the refrigerator regularly.  Also, clean up any spill or leakage as it occurs. 

   Consume the food prior to its expiration date.  Use an indelible Sharpie marker to indicate the expiration date.  This is especially important on items such as milk, cream, and cheese; which, accordingly to many health departments, should be discarded no more than a week after opening.     
             

Image from Crate & Barrel
   Fruit and vegetables should be stored in the crisper of your refrigerator (place a piece of paper toweling on the bottom to absorb and liquid).  If your refrigerator does not have a crisper, use plastic tubs (which can be found in stores like Walmart, Target or Crate & Barrel).


    Fruits and vegetables breathe require air circulation. If your refrigerator has crisper drawers, this will help to prolong the life of your foods. Tupperware makes a line of containers specifically designed for the refrigerator. This line is called FridgeSmart www.tupperware.com This product line regulates the air flow needed to keep your fruits and vegetables longer. Items such as celery, carrots, cucumber, and grapes require less air flow, while lettuce, beans broccoli, spinach, asparagus require more air flow.  

  While door shelves are convenient, they are also the warmest area in the refrigerator.  Do not put highly perishable foods there.  They are designed for condiments, soda, bottled sauces, etc.  Every time the door is opened, the temperature of these products changes immediately.  Be sure to check any opened containers often. 
   Meat and eggs should be stored on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Again, place the meat products in plastic tubs. Eggs need air circulation around them. It is recommended that you not remove them from their cartons for optimum air circulation.

Lynda and Howard Lerner
Inn Caring
www.inncaring.com

Thursday, March 1, 2012

What's an Innkeeper to do when they need to get away from their Bed and Breakfast?

When we owned our own Bed and Breakfast, there were times when we needed to get away.  We had an eight room inn and sometimes we just couldn't be there.  We, as innkeepers, needed time off to renew our own energy.  Sometimes, a family emergency, or happy occasion, may have happened, and we wanted or needed to be away.  For us, as for many other innkeepers, it was not an option to just close the doors of the bed and breakfast.  Over the ten year period of time that we owned the B&B, when we needed to get away, we used the services of professional interim innkeepers to help give us some relief.

So what are  professional interim innkeepers (also known as inn sitters)?  They are individuals who may have owned their own inn at one time (such as ourselves), have taken classes and have done some supervised shadowing of other innkeepers, or had actual experience working at B&B's.  They act as independent contractors.  Many of us also belong to professional associations such as PAII or the Interim Innkeepers Network, however, these groups are not placement agencies.

Professional interim innkeepers strive to operate your Bed and Breakfast in the same manner as the owner/innkeeper does so that the Bed and Breakfast guests do not see any difference in the type of service they get. Can we be the owner/innkeeper, of course not. However, we try to come as close to what is currently done as we can.

So next time you feel that you have reached overload or you have some family matter that you want to attend, don't despair, think of us.  We can help give bed and breakfast owners or innkeepers peace of mind in knowing that their revenue stream will continue and that they can get some special time away to renew and recharge their energy.
Lynda and Howard Lerner 
Inn Caring 
www.inncaring.com

Monday, January 9, 2012

An Innkeeper's Winter Garden To Do List

I know that I always look forward to Spring when I can again get into the garden and bring forth not only great looking flowers, but also herbs and other edibles that can be used in the bed and breakfast.  However, in the winter and in areas where plants usually go dormant,  there are still things that an innkeeper can do in their  garden.
  1. If it hasn't snowed in two or three weeks or if you haven't gotten rain, be sure to water plant beds.
  2. Replenish mulch in any areas where strong winds or animals have created bare spots to protect the plants and their roots that are wintering over.
  3. Make sure your tools are stored in a dry place out of natures way.  
  4. Clean all dirt from garden shovels, forks and trowels.  You can even rub the metal tool heads and wooden handles with linseed oil.
  5. Sharpen or replace any dull blades on pruning shears or loppers so that they are ready for when you need them come spring. 
  6. Review what worked in your garden and what you need to replace with something else. 
  7. If you have pots, empty out all of the used soil.  Scrub the pots clean and spray with diluted bleach water. Let them dry completely.  This way, they will be ready when you bring out the spring plants.
  8. For any weeds that pop up between pavers in a pathway, pour boiling water on the weeds.  Keep the kettle close to the ground so that you don't splash the hot water on yourself or nearby plants. 
Happy gardening -

Lynda and Howard Lerner
Inn Caring
www.inncaring.com

Friday, December 16, 2011

How Innkeepers Can Be Creative When Guests Have Dietary Needs


Over the seventeen years that we have been innkeepers, we have been challenged with many guest dietary needs.  In the beginning we were frazzled.  As we became more experienced, we embraced the challenge.



Several years ago we had a guest who, upon her arrival, she presented us a business card listing all of the food she was allergic to.  We told her “no problem.”  We were either able to change the dish we were serving to all guests, change the recipe, or make something different just for her (we could always make her an omelet).



Lately, many guests are on a vegan diet, have celiac disease (a reaction to eating gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats), or may be both gluten and lactose intolerant. 



While on an assignment in Southern California, we had a couple stay with us who were on a strict vegan diet.  They were concerned as to whether I could accommodate their dietary needs.  My response was…of course I can!



Did you know that most extra firm tofu, does not contain wheat (but check the back for ingredients, just to be sure), and can be used in a variety of vegan and gluten free recipes.   If you crumble the tofu and season it with a little salt, pepper, garlic powder, and turmeric (the turmeric will stain the tofu yellow, and then add it to sautéed vegetables of your choice, the presentation looks and tastes like scrambled eggs.  The guests were thrilled with the presentation – they even asked for the recipe. 




This last summer, while on assignment at the Carr Manor (www.carrmanor.com) in Cripple Creek Colorado (www.cripple-creek.co.us), we prepared an overnight, Blueberry Strata French Toast for a Sunday morning breakfast.  That afternoon, when one of the guests arrived, we were informed that his wife just found out that she had celiac disease.  Being that this was a new illness, she was just learning about food she could eat.  She said to just giver some fruit and maybe some eggs.  I told her that I could do better that that. 



I made her an individual Blueberry Strata French Toast using gluten free bread instead of French bread.  She was thrilled that she could eat the same dish as her husband.  She now learned that she could continue making some of her favorite recipes which require bread, but could substitute the type of bread used. 



So now I come to the issue of milk substitutes.  If you are looking for a product that is lactose free you can use Silk, soy milk, almond milk, or rice milk.  However, if you need a product that is gluten free you are limited to Silk.  I have done some research with the product Lactaid.  Some people with celiac disease and/or lactose intolerance are experiencing some adverse reactions with Lactaid.  I would talk to your health care provider before using Lactaid in your cooking.



Peanut and nut allergies are another situation that I will take up in another blog post.  Below are some resources for you to explore if you would like more information on the things that I have discussed.



Resources

Veg Web                http://vegweb.com/

Vegan Cooking     http://www.vegancooking.com/   

Gluten Freeda       http://www.glutenfreeda.com/ 

Celiac Recipes     http://www.celiacrecipes.net/  



Howard Lerner 
Inn Caring 
www.inncaring.com

Friday, November 25, 2011

Handy Hints for Everyone Including Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers

For years, I have been a collector of handy hints.  I thought that I would pass on a few of my favorites that can be used everyone, including innkeepers who are running our countries bed and breakfasts.

Instead of trying to use your fingers, or the egg shell, to separate the egg yolk from the egg white, use a slotted spoon.  Gently crack an egg over a slotted spoon which has been set on top of a bowl.  The white will flow through the openings, leaving the yolk intact.

Fresh flowers are wonderful to look at, but getting rid of the leftover gunk in the flower containers afterward is a pain.  Once I have disposed of the old arrangement, I fill the vase with water and then drop in two Alka-Seltzer tablets.  You can watch the bubbles get rid of the green grime.  This is really great for narrow vases especially when you don't want to get your bottle brush full of grime.

At this time of year, it seems that the leaves on my plants get dusty.  To clean the leaves of dust and dirt, I use an envelope moistener which has been filled with water.  The small sponge gets into places where a big cloth or large sponge can't go. 

If you have a lot of chives or scallions to chop, use a rubber band to hold them together about two inches from the bottom You can then just keep moving the rubber band up as your chopping gets closer.  It will keep the chives or scallions closely held together and makes for faster and crisper cuts.

I love to recycle things and have found that old pillow cases can have a second life as garment bags for my finer clothes. These cases are breathable unlike the plastic dry cleaning bags.   All you need to do is cut a small slit in the folded top edge of the pillow case so that the hanger can go through.  

If you are in an area that has to dig up your bulbs and tubers to store for the winter, here is a way to ensure that you know what you will be replanting next year.  Using a permanent marker, write the variety or color of the plant directly onto each bulb.  Then you can store your bulbs in peat moss or newspaper in a cool dark place.  When you go to plant them in the spring, you will have an easier time replanting them in just the right location.  

Howard loves using Dijon or other fancy mustard's.  When there is just a tiny bit of mustard in the bottom and sides of the jar, add some crushed garlic, or minced shallots along with some tarragon or rosemary.  Add some balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper.  Put the lid back on and shake real well.  Then add some olive oil (3 parts of oil to 1 part of vinegar).  Shake again so that the dressing is emulsified.  Use over salads or as a marinade.  If kept tightly stored in the refrigerator it should keep for about a week. 

My least favorite pest inside of the house are ants.  Winter cold will drive them inside.  You can make a nontoxic repellent by using equal amounts of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle.  Shake then spray in areas when ants are commonly found such as kitchen floors or the crevices in painted baseboards.  You can also use the spray on patios and porches.  The vinegar smell dissipates quickly.

Finally, I love eating fresh corn, but hate getting all of the silk off.  Once you think you have as much off as you can, take an unused tooth brush and use the bristles to get off any stray silk threads suck between the kernels.  

Hope you all have had a happy Thanksgiving.  Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Lynda and Howard Lerner 
Inn Caring 
www.inncaring.com
www.facebook.com/InnCaring