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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Our new co-manager of guest relations

We're pleased to announce that Napoleon's Retreat has a new staff member. The little black and white fellow on the right is Gus. Gus will be working with Delilah as co-manager of guest relations. Delilah is 5 years old and has been a member of our team since 2015, while Gus just joined us a couple months ago and is still very much a puppy. Both dogs are shy, but Gus is very timid. We really appreciate all of the kindness and patience Gus has received from our guests over the past few months as he learns the ropes of his new job greeting guests and receiving belly rubs.

Delilah & Gus

For those guests with dogs allergies, don't worry! Gus and Delilah reside in our private quarters and do not enter guests' rooms. They can sometimes be seen in our courtyard or main floor, but only if we are present.

Guests who have stayed with us over the years have had the pleasure of getting to know our sweet little girl Indiana and her brother Peanut. Sadly, Indie passed away earlier this year after 17 joyful, wonderful years to join Peanut, who passed away in 2014.

Indie & Peanut

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Makeover - Part 3

Part 1 and Part 2 of our blog posts contained the "Before" and "After" photos of new paint and new carpet in our guest rooms. Here are some odds and ends of even more renovations we recently performed:
After: A medallion and crystal chandelier
Before: kinda boring hallway light

Before: brown hallway carpet

After: a pleasing, subtle pattern
Before: yellow, yellow everywhere!
After: Josephine approves of the dignified linen wall color

Before: Old valances in the Lafayette
After: modern valences to match the new carpet

Before: mismatched yellow and slate greyish-blue walls
After: The subtle, pale blue walls of the Napoleon room

Makeover - Part 2

As mentioned in the previous post, we tackled some major renovations at Napoleon's Retreat this past winter. In addition to HVAC upgrades and a serious amount of painting, we installed new carpet throughout the main house. There are too many "Before" and "After" photos for just one blog page! Here are the photos of the new carpet:

Before: 20-year-old carpet in the Lafayette
After: the Lafayette's plush, luxurious new carpet!

Before: The Burgundy carpet had seen better days
After: the Burgundy's new carpet feels so soft underfoot!

Before: why was there teal carpet in the Napoleon??

After: The Napoleon's gorgeous dove grey carpet brightens the room!

Our "Painted Lady" gets a makeover! - Part 1

The past few months, we've been hard at work renovating our 137-year-old Victorian mansion. It started with a project to update the ductwork. Dampers were installed and ducts added to the Lafayette and Napoleon bathrooms. The dampers control the temperature for each individual room, providing each guest with their preferred temperature during their stay. Hooray for zoned heating! 

In order to upgrade the ductwork, the ceilings of our second floor had to be ripped apart. The Burgundy and Lafayette rooms were under siege from drywall dust and construction debris! Once the HVAC work was complete, new drywall was installed and the painting began. Stacy painted the 12-foot ceilings of the Burgundy and Lafayette rooms, the Burgundy and Lafayette baths, the closets in the Lafayette and Napoleon rooms (new ductwork was run through the closets), and the hallway starting on the 3rd floor and stretching to the 1st floor. All of that painting took 2 weeks to complete. 

The final phase of our renovation: new carpet throughout the main house. The results are stunning! We look forward to sharing our (even more) gorgeous "Painted Lady" with our guests!

There were so many "Before" and "After" photos that we decided to break up this post into multiple pages. Part 1 contains the photos of the Burgundy, Lafayette, and Napoleon baths. A fresh coat of paint makes such a difference!

After: New paint in the burgundy bath matches the decorative tile
Before: bright yellow Burgundy bath

Before: mint green Lafayette Bath
After: modern, soothing neutral tone

Before: another mint green bath in the Napoleon!
After: tranquil blue Napoleon bath

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The sweet life

It's that time of year again! Lafayette Park is painted with a breathtaking fall pallet, and here at Napoleon's Retreat comfort food takes center stage.

Today's sweet breakfast featured one of our favorites: Oatmeal Raisin Pancakes. These hearty and heart-healthy pancakes almost taste like you're eating cookies for breakfast! We served the pancakes with a side of candied bacon and sautéed apples. The recipe for the candied bacon can be found here: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/221007/candied-bacon/ Be sure to use a large-sized cookie sheet wrapped in aluminum foil for easier clean-up. Also, we've had to adjust the temperature of this recipe to 375F to crisp the bacon before applying the glaze.

 For the pancakes:

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk, divided
  • 1 cup quick-cooking old fashioned oats (not instant)
  • 3 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly grated makes a huge difference!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup raisins
In a small bowl, combine the oats with 1 cup buttermilk and let it stand for 10 minutes. In another small bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg lightly and stir in the vanilla, butter, oat mixture, and remaining buttermilk. Add the raisins. Heat a griddle to 350F until butter sizzles on the surface. Use 1/4 cup to scoop the batter onto the griddle. Flip when bubbles form. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The secret ingredient is.... Lavender!

If you've never tried cooking with lavender, I highly recommend it. I'm still discovering new ways to use it. I've made lavender shortbread cookies and lavender tea cake, lavender lemonade and lavender-infused cocktails. The flavor pairs nicely with blueberries and lemon. Our lavender is blooming for the second time this summer and Michigan blueberries are in season.

My favorite lavender-inspired treat begins with a blueberry buckle recipe courtesy of Alton Brown. http://altonbrown.com/blueberry-buckle-recipe/ Alton is a huge fan of using a kitchen scale to measure ingredients, so the recipe is a bit fussy. He goes so far as to tell you the precise temperature the softened sick of butter needs to be before blending it with the sugar (60 degrees, if you're curious). Don't worry, the recipe is much more forgiving than Alton makes it seem. Guests arrived after I blended the butter and sugar, and in the middle of incorporating the flour. The batter sat for 30 minutes before I could put it in the oven, but it turned out perfectly.

The changes I made to the recipe include:

  • Adding the buds and flowers from 8-10 sprigs of lavender to the batter when I stirred in the blueberries. The easiest way to "chop" the lavender is by using kitchen shears to snip off the flowers directly into the batter.
  • Adding most of the zest of 1 large lemon to the batter. I saved about 1/4 of the zest to add to the crumble topping.
  • Omitting the nutmeg and ginger from the recipe. I love these spices, but I wasn't sure if they'd taste right with the lemon and lavender.
My next experiment will be blueberry lavender gooey butter cake with a lemon crust :-)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

WoW your sweetie with a personalized gift!

Recently, our guests have been delighted to find our new Napoleon's Retreat trinket boxes in their rooms. The boxes were designed and made by our resident craftsman, Brian. Numerous guests have taken home a special memory of their stay.

Brian has now added glass etching to his skills. We are happy to share his work by offering custom engraved wine glasses to our guests!

Commemorate your special occasion by ordering personalized wine glasses when you request a "toast of the town" package. Imagine how impressed your sweetie will be to receive a wine glass wishing them a happy anniversary, birthday, or simply stating "I love you".

Enquire about our custom glasses when placing your reservation. Please allow one week's notice to design your gift.