Friday, December 24, 2010

Innkeeper uses 12 Herbs and Spices to add flavor to recipes instead of salt.

It seems that there are lots of news and magazine articles out about reducing the salt content in our diets.   As innkeepers we always ask about dietary restrictions as we travel the country taking care of guests for Bed and Breakfast owners.   So, how do you keep the flavor and reduce the salt?   Use herbs and spices in your recipes.
The herbs and spices naturally contain very small amounts of sodium but add lots of flavor.  Remember, the cheeses found in your recipes usually contain salt, so there probably isn't any reason to add any additional.

Now the herbs can be used in either the fresh or dried form.   For the fullest flavor, fresh herbs work best, so, if you can, plant a small herb garden.  Just make sure that the herbs are chopped finely.   Some of our favorite herbs are basil, chives, dill, oregano, parsley (Italian or flat leaf), rosemary, sage, thyme and depending on the dish, maybe some mint.   Any of these herbs can be used successfully in main dish egg entrĂ©es or in side dishes such as potatoes.  One thing to remember is that dried herbs will give you a more pungent flavor.

Some of the spices we use are nutmeg, allspice, clove, cinnamon, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder.   If you are using the onion or garlic in dried form, make sure they are not onion or garlic salt.  That would defeat the purpose of reducing the sodium content.   The spices can be used either in whole or ground form depending on your recipe.  We use the spices in our egg dishes, fruit sauces, side dishes and baked goods (breads, cookies, or scones).  In fact, you will find that just about all of our egg dishes have at least some nutmeg.

Be creative, let your taste buds experience new flavors.   It is fun to play around to find just the perfect addition to that old family recipe or to one that you have acquired from someplace else.

Lynda and Howard Lerner
Inn Caring

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Innkeepers - Do you know what is stored in your garage?

Just heard some upsetting news about one of our clients.  They had a garage fire that was a total loss.  Fortunately, the B and B main buildings did not suffer any damage.  However, it brings to mind the following question - Do you know everything that you have stored in your garage or for that matter in all of the rooms in your bed and breakfast?

Disaster situations happen whether they are from a fire, flood, earth movement, or wind damage.  For whatever reason, you are now faced with a loss that can be devastating to your business.  All insurance policies are different.  However, if you can provide your insurance adjuster and agent with a list of all that has been lost, you will be one step closer to replacing those lost items and getting back to business. 

A garage sometimes becomes a storage place for those things that you just can't find room for anywhere else. The items may be in plastic storage boxes (extra bedding and linens, seasonal items, decorations) but that just keeps out the dust.  It doesn't save the items when disaster strikes and the items are destroyed. 

Then there are the bulk items you get from the discount stores that find their way into the garage as well as supplies for your amenities.  There isn't any room for all of the excess in the main buildings.  Yes, it pays to buy in bulk, but when the bulk items are destroyed there is no more back up to draw from. 

What about the extra refrigerator and freezer, both of which are so important to every innkeeper and usually reside in the garage.   They will need to be replaced along with all of the contents inside of them.   Plus don't forget that there may be an extra wash and dryer that also resides in the garage.  They are a vital part of keeping the laundry flowing so that it can all get processed in a timely manner. 

Finally, don't forget the items you would usually find in the garage - tools both large and small, garden items both hand and mechanical, lawn mowers, snow blowers, pool equipment, maybe even water heaters, water softeners, pool motors etc, etc.  The list just keeps going on and on. 

So, if you haven't done so already, be proactive.  Take your laptop computer (if you have one) and set yourself up in your garage and start making that inventory now.   When you have finished that large repository (and don't be surprised if it takes you a few days to get it all down) start on your kitchen next.  You will be amazed at just how much "stuff" exists in an innkeeper's kitchen. 

When you are finally finished with your inventory, save a copy and put it in a safe place off-site (maybe leave a copy with your insurance agent).  Just be sure that you update it regularly when major changes or additions take place.

Of course, we always hope disaster doesn't strike and that the innkeeper never has to access that list.  But the old Girl and Boy Scout motto of  "Be Prepared" is always good advice. 

Lynda and Howard Lerner
Inn Caring

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Learning To Be An Innkeeper - A Success Story

Over the years many people have taken our Aspiring Innkeeper and Aspiring Interim Innkeeper classes.  However, the student who took our Combination Class this past October was by far the best prepared and the best at follow through.

Our student wanted to eventually own her own bed and breakfast.  She had been taking business classes at a Community College and had read a number of books on running a bed and breakfast.  However, she felt that she needed to take our hands on class to get a real feel for what she ultimately wanted to do.  She knew that she wasn't going to be able to purchase her own bed and breakfast right now, but she could become an interim innkeeper or inn sitter in the meantime. 

The student had come prepared with a whole list of questions.  We told her to hold her list until the end of class, as we were sure that all of her questions would be answered.  We spent the next six days going over all of the ins and outs of running a bed and breakfast from taking a reservation to cleaning a toilet and everything in between.  We also provided her with a whole list of things that she needed to do once our class ended.  

At the end of the class, we went over the question list that the student had brought with her.  Sure enough, every question had been answered along with a lot that she hadn't even thought about.

In the weeks since that class, she has picked her business name, registered it with the state, and is working with her accountant on setting up her business.  She is practicing on the four different reservation software programs we gave her access to, and has gotten her Serve Safe Food Handling certificate.   She has been practicing the various recipes we made during class as well as others she requested from our recipe binder. She is exploring her options on choosing a website designer and knows the questions she needs to ask them.   Finally, she has made contact with a local inn, near where she lives, so that she can shadow the innkeeper and continue to improve the skills she learned during our class. 

As teachers, we can provide the information a student needs.  However, it is up to the student to follow through on what they have been taught.   It has only been a month and a half since that class, but her follow through is top notch.  We are so proud of her.

Lynda and Howard Lerner
Inn Caring

Sunday, October 10, 2010

20 Things Needed by an Innkeeper or Inn Sitter?

Individuals interested in our Aspiring Innkeeper or Interim Innkeeper (Inn Sitter) classes want to consider changing careers and becoming innkeepers who either own or take care of bed and breakfasts.  However, they sometimes will ask us if they have the "right stuff" to make that change. Here are some necessary character traits and abilities we feel are important for them to consider:

1.   Patience - lots of patience.
2.   Be willing to always have a smile on your face.
3.   Be flexible in reacting to people and situations.
4.   A sense of humor! You have to be able to laugh at yourself and at the circumstances no matter what may have happened.
5.   Generosity - you must share your space with strangers.
6.   Empathy - ability to listen to others.
7.   Ability to say no when necessary.
8.   Organizational skills.
9.   Be computer proficient.
10. Be able to follow through on projects you start.
11. Like to talk on the telephone.
12. A desire to work long hours - be up early and go to bed late.
13. Be able to cook and serve breakfast to people who may have a variety of dietary needs.
14. Desire to make sure that everything in the B&B is perfect and ready for guests when they arrive.
15. Enjoy being a concierge and tell the same stories or give directions over and over as well as share your knowledge of the surrounding area.
16. Be willing to clean rooms with a high standard of cleanliness and the ability to be meticulous on demand.
17. Ability to carve out a niche that is unique for you.
18. Ability to self-promote - You know best what works for your bed and breakfast or for you.
19. Willingness to not have a lot of private time or to have your private time interrupted by guests.
20. Be willing to sleep in quarters that aren't anything similar to what the guests will sleep in.

If the individuals have these abilities and traits, they most likely have the "Right Stuff" to succeed as Innkeepers or Inn Sitters (also called Interim Innkeepers).
Lynda and Howard Lerner
Inn Caring

Friday, October 8, 2010

Chocolate Lovers Delight in Oregon

I am a confirmed chocolateholic.   When I realized that there were two chocolate factories close to the bed and breakfast we are innsitting at, I was thrilled.   I managed to find some time to visit both places.

Dagoba Chocolate is located in Ashland, OR, just a hop skip and a jump from the Country Willows Inn.   I enjoyed the variety of flavors, especially the Lavender Blueberry Chocolate Squares.    Of course, I also managed to purchase some Chocolate Hand Cream.   It is a perfect way to satisfy my craving for chocolate.  Just smell my hands and my taste buds are happy. 

The other Chocolate factory is LillieBelle Farms.  They are located in Central Point, OR, about twenty minutes or so from the bed and breakfast in Ashland.   You can stand behind the glass windows and watch their Chocolatiers make the different types of chocolates.  This is truly an art form.
My favorite was their Chocolate Lavender Caramels - Lavender infused caramels topped with Fleur du Sel salt. What a combination of tastes.  My other favorite was their handmade Smokey Blue Cheese Ganche.  This was made using the Blue Cheese from the Rogue Creamery just two doors away.   The Rogue Creamery also has windows where you can watch the cheese makers at work. 

For you wine enthusiasts, between these two stores is the Daisy Creek and Madrone Mountain Wineries tasting room.  What a perfect combination.  Cheese, Wine, and Chocolate.  Who could ask for anything more. 

Lynda and Howard Lerner
Inn Caring

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

B and B's offer free stay for military for Veterans Day

It's not too late to join more than 400 other bed and breakfast innkeepers in the U.S. and Canada to offer free rooms on Nov. 10 to active and retired military and their families.

As innkeepers, we know the importance of rest and renewal. Participating in this program is one way to help give back to those that are or were there for us when our country needed them.

The date is one day before Veteran’s Day and the movement was sparked by one innkeeper in West Virginia. A valid military or Veterans Administration ID is required for each reservation.  To sign up, or for a complete list of participants go to 
Lynda and Howard Lerner
Inn Caring  

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Supermarket time savers for Innkeepers or anyone else who shops.

Innkeepers are always looking for ways to save time.  Grocery shopping is one of those necessary tasks that need to be accomplished at least once a week if not more often.  I came across this article on some time savers ideas

I really like the how to load the car hint.  At the bed and breakfast we currently are working at, we have a cold storage room that is about 25 yards away from where we normally park close to the back door of the B and B.  We usually will drive our car up to the storage room door and unload the items which go in there first.   Now if I can just get Howard to load the car so that all the items that go in the storage room are at the back of the car so they can be taken out first. 

Of course, we will also need to re-educate the baggers at Costco who put our items into boxes.  While you can carefully separate your items into groups, it seems that they will fill the boxes in a random order to get the most in each box. 

As for keeping an inventory list, we keep a pre-printed market list of everything we normally use in the B&B posted on the refrigerator.  Our housekeepers are pretty good about highlighting the items on the list when they break into the last of the back stock.   Same goes for those working in the kitchen.  Finally, we take the time to review what we have on hand before we leave for the store.  

We always take our cell phone with us when we are shopping.  It helps if the shopper sees some item on special that wasn't marked and wants to check and see just how much back stock is left of that item.  Or, if someone at the B&B remembers, at the last minute, that they forgot to put an item on the list. 

The only hint that I take exception with is the timing of the shopping.  Being in the Bed and Breakfast business an innkeeper is occupied with putting breakfast on the table in the early mornings.  Late in the evenings, I don't know about other innkeepers, but all I want to do is put my feet up and relax.  Shopping isn't on the agenda. 

Lynda and Howard Lerner
Inn Caring

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Poached Egg Pods - Innkeepers Friend

We came across this new product called Poach Pods at the bed and breakfast we currently are working at.  They may have been out for some time, but they are new to us.  They are a modern silicon egg cooking tool which you can use to cook poached eggs.  They actually float in about an inch and a half of water. 

All you do is bring your water to a boil in a sauce pan, crack your egg into a pod which has been sprayed with an aerosol pan coating and gently lower the pod into the boiling water which you have reduced to a simmer.  You cover and cook for 4 minutes.  Remove the pod with a slotted spoon and the eggs pop right out of the little cups onto the serving plate.

No more messy white floating in the water and uneven looking poached eggs.

They were a snap to make, easy clean up, and they looked great. 

We have added these little gems to our traveling cooking box which we take to all of our interim innkeeping assignments.  You can find them at most kitchen stores. 

Lynda and Howard Lerner Inn Caring

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Vegetarian things you never knew

We have had some interesting guests these past few months many of which are vegetarian or variations thereof.  Here are some of the things that we learned about these guests and their food choices..

Flexitarian's avoid but occasionally eat meat. 

Pollotarians eat chicken and other poultry, but not mammalian meat, fish or seafood.

Pescetarians eat fish and seafood, but not mammalian meat or poultry.

Then there is the woman who is a vegetarian when she comes with her husband, but isn't a vegetarian when she comes with her girlfriend.  -  I'm not sure which category she would fall in.

Howard is a cross between a carnivarian, a pollatarian, and a pescetarian depending on how the mood strikes him. 

Lynda and Howard Lerner Inn Caring

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gentle Summer Breezes in Ashland, Oregon

I never understood the words gentle summer evening until we came to Ashland, Oregon.  We are currently sitting out on the lawn of the B and B we are consulting to, listening to the owner play his guitar and singing to our guests.  We are all enjoying a glass of wine and some cheese, crackers and fruit.  The guests heads are bobbing and their feet are tapping keeping time to the music.

There is a gentle summer breeze as we sit under the shade of a giant weeping willow tree.  The geese are even cooperating tonight and are not making noise.  Their pond is behind where we are sitting.  We are on an old fashion guider chair, looking up at the mountains that surround the city.  Since we are at the top of a hill, we overlook some of the city.  Being on five acres, we are very much in a country atmosphere.  The butterflies and hummingbirds abound.

We are very much enjoying  our time here in Ashland.  We have hit the half way point of our consulting/innkeeping assignment at the Country Willows Bed and Breakfast Inn.  This is the longest that we have ever been away from our home base of Manitou Springs, CO.  Things are progressing nicely.  We have installed the new reservation system.  Thank heavens for RezOvation GT.  It has really made things easier.  Of course, having a new computer and then its replacement both have blue screens of death did challenge  us and the owner's son (who is an comp sci person).  We have gotten that resolved but thank heavens for back up manual books and hard copies of paperwork as we were without computer access for a day and a half.

One of the more unusual things for this B and B is the number of repeat returning guests which they have.  This is mostly due to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival her in Ashland.  We actually have had guests who have been coming to the B and B for over 20 years through all 4 sets of owners. 

Many of the guests book for the following year right before they leave.  We have some weekends where we already are fully booked a year in advance.  Some of the guests come year after year the same week each year and have become friends with others who also come at the same time.   It is fun to see them greet each other when they return and see familiar faces.

Lynda and Howard Lerner Inn Caring

Monday, July 19, 2010

We are alive and well in Ashland, OR

It seems like it has been forever since we last blogged.  Our intentions were to blog right from the beginning of our new assignment.  Things just didn't work out that way.

So, to all of you who have been waiting for a new post, We'll try to catch you up as best as we can. 

We have been in Ashland, OR for two months now at the Country Willows Inn Bed and Breakfast    Kara and Dan are new owners and have taken to innkeeping like a duck takes to water.   We are acting as consultants and innkeepers for them during this very busy summer season.  This is a 9 room B&B on 5 acres.   There is a pool, spa, geese, goats, lots of lawn and grounds, including a grape arbor, and a huge herb and flower garden.   Every morning Lynda goes outside and chooses the herbs and flowers that Howard then adds as garnish for the fruit and entree plates. 

Lynda has always loved to garden and is definitely getting her share of experiences.   So far she has helped harvest and then pit cherries, and harvest, strip, and bundle lavender.  Did you know that it takes about 2 hours to get 2 cups of lavender blossoms.   Lynda has planted tomatoes and Howard is patiently waiting for them to get ripe so he can use them in our dishes.

Of course with all the fresh food around, Howard has come up with some new sauce recipes - we now have Sauce D (Mint Sauce)  & E (Lavender Sauce) to add to our other sauces A (Port Wine) , B (Sour Cream Coffee Liquor) , & C (Orange Ginger).   Send us an e-mail if you would like one of the recipes

Lynda and Howard Lerner Inn Caring

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Password Protection Hints

I don't know about you, but there are so many places where I have to enter a password on a website. My mind goes crazy trying to remember them all. Here are some tips which I received in a Max Secure Software Team newsletter which I had signed up for at

1.  Create random passwords.  A password should not be all letters, or all numbers.   The password should be a random mix of letters, numbers and even characters; anything on the keyboard is fair game.   Sometimes it is difficult to remember random passwords, so try to use a sentence you can remember. For example, I Like To Spend My Weekend Shopping and use first letter of each word and replace S with $ sign. So your password will be ILT$MW$

2.  Keep your password secret.   Since your password allows access to extremely valuable data, guard it carefully. Don’t share it with others or enter it in front of those you can’t trust. Don’t write your password down and carry it around in your purse or wallet.

3.  Don’t store it on your computer in an unencrypted file. Beware of sharing passwords over email, instant messenger, or the phone.

4. Change your password frequently, at least once in every 3 months.  Frequent password change can also reduce the risk caused by accidental exposure of a password.

Lynda and Howard Lerner
Inn Caring

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Innkeeper's Kitchen Helpers

Many an innkeeper or inn sitter working in a bed and breakfast kitchen has looked at a piece of equipment and thought "what else can I use this for?". Here are some of my favorite items and their alternate use

Rolling Pin - Place food items in a heavy-duty self-sealing plastic bag and then use the pin to do one of the following:
- Flatten skinless chicken breast halves to a uniform thickness for even cooking
- Grind nuts without using a food processor to use in dips or for crumb toppings
- Crush spices for the freshest flavor to add to your dishes.

Pastry Blender: works best with soft foods.
- Egg or Tuna - use it to slice up eggs and flake tuna more quickly for use in salads or sandwiches.
- Avacados for Guacamole - the avocados are soft enough to mash with the pastry blender. It will add body and chunks to the dip.
- Mashed Potatoes - use to break up cooked potatoes. Then you can add some butter and warm milk for a smooth creamy side dish.

Paper Towel Roll - flatten this tube when all the paper towels have been used up and insert a knife that won't fit in a butcher block. It sheathes the blade safely when stashed in a drawer.

Bamboo Steamer - since these items have holes in them to let air in and out, they are also well suited to storing onions, garlic, and shallots. All these items require ventilation and should not be refrigerated. Set on the counter for quick access.

Seam ripper - while not usually found in the kitchen, this handy sewing item makes fast work of removing plastic packaging from around bottles.  Slip the sharp pointed edge under the wrapping to break the seal.

Chopstick - use a chopstick to measure the height of liquid in a pan when you are reducing it.

And, last but not least, use large coffee filters between two sauce pans or frying pans to keep them from scratching each other.

Lynda and Howard Lerner
Inn Caring

Monday, February 22, 2010

Breakfast Recipe For Late Risers - It's All In The Planning

Innkeepers, or their inn sitters, are generally early risers due to the nature of the bed and breakfast business. After all, one of the things that a guest expects is a good bed to sleep in and a tempting breakfast.  How long does it take to get breakfast ready?  For those who like to sleep as late as they can, I would say about an hour from when you hit the kitchen to food on the table for guests to eat.

How does the innkeeper manage to get it all done, and on the table, sometimes as early as 8am?  Planning!  Much can be done the day before, in preparation for the next days breakfast. All of the juices, in their containers, can be placed in the refrigerator ready to serve.  Condiments such as jellies and butter can be filled and in their containers (or single serving packets) and placed in the refrigerator, just waiting to be brought out. The table can be set and the coffee service stocked ready to go.  Coffee and water can be measured and in the coffee pot waiting for the innkeeper to push the start button or for the automatic timer to turn on.

All well and good, but what about the food portion of the meal?  This is when many innkeepers, when faced with a full house, will opt for an overnight egg dish.  These dishes are assembled the night before and covered in their baking dishes.  Usually, whether it be for a strata or French toast, there is a need for the entree to soak overnight so that the egg is absorbed into the bread.  All that the innkeeper needs to do is take the dish out of the refrigerator and put it in the oven to cook. While this dish is cooking, the fruit course can be prepared, bread can be sliced, and meats can cook on the top of the stove.

One thing that any organized innkeeper needs is a timer that has two or sometimes three settings.  This will help keep the innkeeper on track, especially if they are the only one doing all of the food preparation.  If you are a lucky innkeeper who has two ovens, you might even be able to make fresh cooked muffins.  All it takes is planning.

If you would like a copy of our Overnight Green Chili Strata Breakfast Recipe, let me know.

Lynda and Howard Lerner
Inn Caring

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Social Media for Your Business

I came across this in a Hub Spot e-mail that came in my in box this morning.   It made sense and I wanted to share it with others.  Monitoring your business' social media presence daily is very important. You need to respond to people talking about your brand and understand how people view your company. However, it does take time.  This is important whether you are an innkeeper or inn sitter  If you set up a solid routine, monitoring your online presence doesn't have to be a hassle at all.

From Hub Spot, here are five free, easy steps you can take to get things started. Do each task in the morning when you start work, and you should be good to go.

1) Check Twitter for chatter about your company (takes maybe 2 minutes): Use tools like TweetDeck or Twitter Search to monitor conversations about your company in real-time. To check once a day, set up an RSS feed for a specific Twitter Search to go straight to your Google Reader. Do this by clicking the little RSS icon after you complete a search. Now, ongoing search results will be sent to your reader.

2) Scan Google Alerts (should take about 1.5 minutes): Check your Google Alerts for your company name, products, executives or brand terms. To set this up, enter your search terms and select to receive updates as they happen or once daily. Now, when people blog about your products, an alert will be sent to your inbox. You can read the articles and respond right away!

3) Check Facebook stats (should take about 1 minute): Visit your Company Page's Facebook Insights. This can be found by clicking "more" under the page's main photo. Scan your fans and page views count. If you are a member of a group, check to see if any new discussions started.

4) Answer Industry-related LinkedIn questions (should take about 3 minutes): Search for questions on LinkedIn that you or members of your company can answer. You can set up an RSS feed for specific question categories to go to your Google Reader as well. When you find a relevant question, respond and include a link to your website.

5) Use Google Reader to check Flickr, Delicious, Digg and others (should take about 2.5 minutes): Also set up RSS feeds for searches on your company name and industry terms in other social media sites. Similar to monitoring LinkedIn and Twitter, your Reader will serve as a great place to centralize your other searches too!

So, whether you own a bed and breakfast or are the temporary inn sitters paying attention to social media is very important.

Lynda and Howard Lerner
Inn Caring

Saturday, February 6, 2010

What Can A Burned Out Innkeeper Do?

When you are burned out by the demands of your chosen innkeeping profession and feel overwhelmed by the many hats you are required to wear as a bed and breakfast or other lodging property owner or manager, let a professional Interim Innkeeper or Inn Sitter step in and give you some much needed rest. Renew that freshness you once had by allowing yourself the down-time you deserve, and require, to give a genuine welcome to your guests. How can you pamper your guests and give them a sense of peace and relaxation if you need that very thing yourself ?

Interim innkeepers or inn sitters will run your bed and breakfast or other lodging facility your way. Their mission is to ensure that your inn continues to operate at the same standard of excellence that you provide when you are there. You can feel comfortable leaving your property in the care of experienced, trustworthy professional interim innkeepers or innsitters.

These professionals will continue to answer your phone. They will be there to take that reservation for next month or maybe even next year. Why miss out on short term and long term revenue? There is no need to give that guest to your competition if you have hired an interim innkeeper or inn sitter to continue running your lodging operation.

Most Basic Daily Inn Sitting Fees Usually Include The Following
* Check-in and check-out of guests
* Making and confirming future reservations
* Concierge service for your guests
* Breakfast Preparation and service (including clean up)
* Limited outdoor services - sweeping porches, cleaning patio furniture, watering plants & lawns
* Credit card processing, deposits, etc.
* Innsitter Reports-activities presented to you upon your return

For innkeepers who have no outside housekeeping staff, or may require occasional housekeeping during staff days off, there may be an additional cost.

So, don't get to the point where you don't like what you are doing because you are so tired and overwhelmed. Plan to take that time off and it doesn't have to be only during your slow time of year. It actually is more cost effective to schedule your innkeeper time off when your bed and breakfast or other lodging property is busy. There is greater income being brought in to offset the cost of having an inn sitter running your operation.

If a short vacation will not do the trick and you need to sell your facility, this can take time.  Consider hiring an Interim Innkeeper to run your facility full time acting as the manager doing everything that you normally would do.  This will allow you the time to pursue other interests, or business opportunities, while still maintaining your operation in a normal manner until a buyer can be found. 

Please contact us if you have other questions on Innkeeper Burnout

Lynda and Howard Lerner
Inn Caring

Monday, February 1, 2010

What to do Valentine's Weekend in Colorado

As Interim Innkeepers or Inn Sitters, we still try to keep track of what is going on in our own backyard even if we happen to be staying and taking care of  another B&B in different part of the country.  Having been former owners and innkeepers of a bed and breakfast in the Colorado Springs area, we have first hand knowledge of some interesting events which take place. 

So if you are trying to stay close to home and keep your costs under control,  try this staycation in the Colorado Springs area over Valentine's Weekend.  You can either visit for the day or plan on staying overnight, at one of the many bed and breakfast or other lodging facilities in either Colorado Springs or Manitou Springs.  

The event will take place in Manitou Springs, just a few miles from downtown Colorado Springs.  You can be part of the Carnival Parade and Mardi Gras celebration on February 13th!  There will be a Mumbo Gumbo Cook-off with fabulous chefs competing with their secret recipes starting at 8:00am in Soda Springs Park.  Starting at 11:00am, following the judging, the public can purchase tastings of the gumbo for a nominal cost.  A Mardi Gras Carnival Parade through Downtown Manitou Springs will follow the cook-off at 12:00 noon.

After the parade, you can visit any number of restaurants along Manitou Avenue.   However, one of the best kept secrets for non-locals is the Keg Lounge Bar & Grill.  Located at 730 Manitou Ave. they have been at this location for over 25 years and are family friendly. 

They are home to the "Best Buffalo Burger and Famous Berry Salad".  What is really neat to view is the collection of patches from Law Enforcement, Fire, Rescue departments brought or sent in by patrons from throughout the United States.  There are even some international patches.  As a patch collector, I can appreciate all the patches all over the walls even if my collection is totally different.

The food is wonderful, as well as priced right, plus the service is exceptional.  However, don't plan on paying by credit card - cash only.  If you are desperate, they do have an ATM machine to help you out. 

Lynda & Howard Lerner
Inn Caring

Monday, January 11, 2010

Should you buy a Bed and Breakfast and become an Innkeeper?

Here are some things to consider when you are thinking of buying an existing bed and breakfast or starting one from scratch:

1. Do you have a business plan and start up money to carry you through the first few months?   Even if you are buying an existing B&B you need a war chest to begin with so that you can make any desired changes or additions. 

2. Do you have good planning, organizational, and management skills?  All of these are needed even for a small inn owner.  Whether you have 3 rooms or 20 rooms, the skills you need are still the same.

3. Are you a work-a-holic or, at least, have good stamina?  You will be up early and going all day.   Sometimes, your day ends late in the evening when the last guest arrives, or you finish getting the dining room set for the following day.  Of course, there is always that late evening reservation that comes in and needs to be processed. 

4. Are you disciplined and have a slight competitive streak?  When you own a B&B you own a small business.  You have to check what your competition is doing and figure out what you need to do to stay competitive or come up with a niche market. 

5. Can you multitask, focus and manage your time well?  You will wear multiple hats at the same time.   Many things will need to be done during the course of the day.  You have to be a good time manager to make sure they all get done.

6. Can you entertain a variety of people, even those you don't like?  You never know who will be staying with you.    You have to be able to deal with those that are over demanding as well as those that are extra needy.   Your own personal views on race, religion, and politics should be left back in your own quarters. 

7. Do you have passion? Will you do whatever it takes to make your business work?    This is not only your business, but your life.  You will live and breath the bed and breakfast business.  It is not something that you can do half way.  You always have to be "ON" and willing to do what is necessary to have satisfied guests. 

So, if you are considering making a career change to innkeeping, then our Inn Caring hands on Aspiring Innkeeper seminar is just for you.  Making a decision to become an innkeeper is an important one. The insightful information, hands on experience and interaction with innkeepers all provide you with the information you need to come to a conclusion about the right course of action to take.   Owning a bed and breakfast is not for everyone.  However, education can provide you with the knowledge to make an informed decision. 

We would love to have you as students and help you wade through the ins and outs of bed and breakfast ownership. 

Lynda & Howard Lerner
Inn Caring

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hint about Clothes Dryers Can Save You Money

I read somewhere that "Dryer Sheets" can cause us to loose some of the effectiveness of our clothes dryers. We always clean the lint from the filter after every load of clothes. However, the article suggested that if you take the filter over to the sink and run hot water over it after you have removed the lint you will be surprised. I know I was.

Most dryer filters are a fine mesh. I went to the sink and ran water through the mesh screen of my filter. Some of the hot water just laid on top of my mesh filter!!! The water didn't go through it at all!!

It seems that the dryer sheets cause a film over that mesh and that's what burns out the heating units more often than not. You can't SEE the film, but it's there. The best way to keep your dryer working for a very long time (and to keep your electric bill lower) is to take that filter out and wash it with hot soapy water and an old toothbrush (or other brush) at least every six months. It will make the life of the dryer last much longer!

So, I got my brush and hot soapy water and gave the filter a good wash. The flow of water increased dramatically. No more puddles of water on top of the mesh.

Sources ranging from manufacturers to consumer agencies agree with the recommendation to wash clothes dryer lint filters occasionally with warm, soapy water and a soft brush to remove chemical residues left by fabric softener sheets. A clogged lint filter not only hampers dryer efficiency, experts say, but can cause overheating, which increases wear and tear on the appliance as well as the risk of fire.

Learn something new everyday that can save you money!
Lynda & Howard Lerner
Inn Caring

Monday, January 4, 2010

Honey - Did you know?

As Innkeepers we often come across interesting information.  Here is what I have found about about honey:

Honey is the only food on the planet that will not spoil or rot.  It will do what some would call turning to sugar.

In reality honey is always honey.  However, when it is left in a cool dark place for a long time it will "crystalize". 

When this happens loosen the lid, boil some water, and sit the honey container in the hot water, turn off the heat and let it liquefy. It is then as good as it ever was.

Never boil honey or put it in a microwave To do so will kill the enzymes in the honey.

Honey is reported to be very healthy for you, especially when combined with Cinnamon.  I knew there was a reason I liked both of those items.

Have a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.

Lynda & Howard Lerner
Inn Caring