Atlanta, #1 City for Romance

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romance, valentine's day, weddings, stonehurst place

Stonehurst Place is Atlanta’s perfect backdrop for romance.

Atlanta, #1 City for Romance

February is the Month of Romance and, with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, many people are considering what their Most Romantic Destination could be. You might think romance needs Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the background, a Michelin starred restaurant, or maybe a bouquet of red roses is your style. No matter what, you’ve started thinking about how to make your Valentines Day getaway something special and that’s what’s important – Valentine’s Day takes planning to properly pull it off! Consider Atlanta and a stay at TripAdvisor® 2016 Travelers’ Choice Stonehurst Place choosing our Candlelight Romance Package during your booking.  Atlanta was recently named the #1 City for Romance in the USA.  A personal finance resource, WalletHub, ranked 150 US cities for romance, and Atlanta came first!  Although WalletHub is not my go-to source, the survey seems reputable; data sources included federal agencies such as the Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Gallup Healthways and more.

Stonehurst Place and Atlanta together are Romance HQ!

beautiful bride poses in STonehurst Place Dining Room

Beautiful bride poses in the DiningRoom at  Stonehurst Place.

Honestly, I was not that surprised Atlanta ranked first in romance. You just need to look at the variety of events Atlanta going on around Valentine’s Day to see Atlanta has so much romance to offer. Walking distance from Stonehurst Place is the Atlanta Botanical Garden, a draw for many who enjoy romance while being surrounded by lush gardens and flowers.  During Valentine’s Day weekend the Atlanta Botanical Garden celebrates with an elegant evening of music, dancing and cocktails. Tickets to this event sell out fast, so book here now.  Other romantic activities include the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, which is offering an evening of Romantic Jazz Music on Saturday the 13th (tickets here), or the Atlanta Ballet, performing Moulin Rouge through Saturday the 13th.

Stonehurst Place itself is a wonderful spot for romance.  Recently awarded TripAdvisor’s highest designation, the 2016 Travelers’ Choice Award (one of only two such highly-ranked hotels in all of Georgia) you can’t do better than choosing a stay at Stonehurst Place! With repeat anniversary deals and offers, as well as honeymoon and wedding packages, Stonehurst Place was built with romance in mind. Our innkeepers attentively host couples both old and new, allowing you to have the most relaxing getaway possible.

So, if you’re looking for the #1 Romantic Hotel in the #1 City for Love in America, Stonehurst is the Place for you.

Barb

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Georgia’s 2016 Best Food Festivals

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Georgia is such a wonderful state, sometimes I feel like I don’t represent it enough in my writings. Last month I wrote about Horseback Vacations in England, but let’s talk about something closer to home: Food Festivals in Georgia. I’ve complied a list of my Top Five Favorites for you; if you’re driving a measurable distance to any of them consider using RoadTrippers to plan some fun side stops along the way!  I love this travel app; how else would I have found the Lunchbox Museum on a road trip with my best friend?  For fun, I’ve noted for you some off-the-beaten-path places near each festival that I found using the RoadTrippers app.

Georgia’s Best Food Festivals

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival
Practically in our backyard, the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is top of my list. It’s close to Stonehurst Place, obviously a plus if you stay with us because you can just stroll over, but also at the top because it’s world famous and for serious foodies. The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival celebrates Georgia’s culinary successes between June 2–5, 2016.  The festival weekend is full of fun, with a variety of different experiences and something for everyone. The 2015 festival boasted 243 award winning chefs, mixologists, sommeliers, distillers and microbreweries, more than 100 different food-based classes and nearly 10,000 guests. Definitely worth a visit! RoadTrippers find: the Telephone Museum.

Shrimp and Grits Festival
Nothing sounds quite as amazing to me as a weekend celebrating Georgia’s two most beloved foods – shrimp and grits. Like any good Southern girl, I would go to this festival in a heartbeat. I love shrimp and grits! Moreover, the Georgia Shrimp and Grits Festival features many fun activities: cook-offs, shrimp boat tours, cooking demonstrations and so much more.  I’m getting a craving for shrimp ‘m grits as I write!  RoadTrippers find: The Tree Spirits of St Simon’s Island.

Taste of Atlanta
Taste of Atlanta is another food festival right in our neck of the woods. Stay at Stonehurst Place while you enjoy Taste of Atlanta’s premier food, wine, beer and cocktails, all showcased in the festival. The diversity of Atlanta’s restaurants and the wealth of its culinary spirit have attracted thousands to Atlanta for the last 14 years. Taking place in the heart of Midtown at Tech Square, and spreading as far as Spring Street and 5th Street, patrons of the festival will be spoiled with the rich variety of foods.  RoadTrippers find: The Tree That Owns Itself

Decatur Craft Beer Festival
Located about 15 minutes outside of Atlanta, the Decatur Craft Beer Festival is an easily accessible, fun, autumnal event for all beer connoisseurs. Showcasing more than 100 local and American Craft beers, as well as offering festivities in the form of live music and food from local restaurants, this festival is a treat!  RoadTrippers find: Scream 2 Film Location

Savannah Food & Wine Festival
The famous Savannah Food and Wine Festival takes place in November. Celebrated for its attraction of celebrity chefs as well as blending together local and national culinary talent, the festival has gained a lot of traction in the last decade. It draws international winemakers, top wineries and experts to its ranks, earning its reputation as one of the best food festivals in the South. Road Trippers find: Stoney-Baynard Plantation

It was not a shameless ploy to get you to book; the festivals in Midtown Atlanta are so much fun but parking is not.  Neither is having to scale back on wine drinking at a food and wine festival because you’re driving home!  Do consider a stay at Stonehurst Place if you attend the festival, you will be so happy you did!

Barb

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“Ideal!”

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This property is exactly what I enjoy most for time away – a historic property beautifully restored that also has the best of modern amenities. Rooms are well appointed, and the common areas are lovely and inviting. No detail is missed, right down to the well curated selection of books and movies available to borrow. The innkeepers, Paul and Lori, are extremely helpful and down-to-earth, and breakfast was always very good. The property is a quick walk to Piedmont Park, Atlanta Botanical Gardens, and several tasty looking local restaurants. Downtown is a $5-$6 Uber ride, and there is convenient parking onsite. We hope to be back!

Posted on TripAdvisor by FarmerGrrl, Indianapolis, IN on January 13th, 2016

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“Beautiful B&B”

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The house is beautiful and the owners are very kind and helpful. We stayed in the Master Suite. The room is large and has a view into the gardens, stairs that lead out back for a personal entrance/exit, and the room also has a sitting area and a desk. The bathroom is insanely huge with a 2 person walk-in shower, heated floors, jetted tub, etc.

There are several community areas through the house where you can access the internet, have coffee or tea, or just relax. The house is a well kept Victorian style house with modern amenities.

My only complaint is the house is HOT. Granted it is Georgia and we stayed in July, but the a/c just wasn’t able to cool the room much at all. I need it cool to sleep well, so I was uncomfortable at night. I know it is an old house and we were on the top floor, but it has been updated and for the price, I feel like it should be equipped with better air conditioning. It was approximately 80 degrees in our room at night. So be warned, if you stay mid-summer, it will be hot!

Posted on TripAdvisor by HeatherSue007, Greensboro, North Carolina on January 13th, 2015

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Potato Art

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Stonehurst Place

The elusive potato art, a true Barb Shadomy original, hangs in a secluded corner

(Potato?) Art at Stonehurst Place

Stonehurst Place began for me as an artistic project.  While finishing interior and garden design school in London, I found this beautiful historic treasure in my hometown that needed TLC, a keen design eye, and a thoughtfully historic restoration.  I became my own first client, and in doing so created a living piece of art.  Since Stonehurst Place opened in 2008, it has also became an opportunity to share art from our private collection with guests.  Our art is varied and interesting; Stonehurst Place guests are provided with a Guide to Art at Stonehurst Place in the A-Z  information book in their rooms and suites. It’s fun to walk through the inn and find people with guide in-hand, carefully scrutinizing art works on the walls.  There are original Warhol drawings from his pre-Pop Art period as an illustrator, Picasso etchings, a Jim Dine platinum photographic print, a trio of creative William Wegman pieces and my most beloved piece, Lucia, Knockers V by British artist Nina Mae Fowler. Most of our paintings are identified in the guide and are museum quality works of art, which people admire vocally during their stay.  One piece of art, however, hangs unassumingly behind the grand piano.  It’s small, unmarked, and isn’t mentioned in the art guide.  I have sometimes stood in hallways and listened as people ponder that mysterious unnamed work of art, thoughtfully questioning the prestige it must carry to justify its place among our other pieces.  What they are discussing, actually, is a true Barb Shadomy Original – it is a piece of potato art I made when I was a child.

Stonehurst Place Art

My artistic marvel ;)

I love this little inside joke I have with myself; during the renovation of Stonehurst I had found this painting in a file of childhood miscellany that my mom had handed over, and now this painting aspires to greatness, surrounded by the works of masters.  I had always thought the idea of potato art was funny, until recently I came across an artist who does this seriously.  Christoph Niemann is a German illustrator and graphic designer whose children’s book, The Potato King, features art he creates using potatoes to make stamps (just like I did!).  The story is an utterly delightful telling of how Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, introduced the potato to his subjects in the 1700s. All the reviews agree that what the potato stamp graphics lack in detail they make up for with their unique bit of whimsy.

The Potato King reminds me of my little potato painting, as well as my inside joke of hanging it in between a Picasso and a Warhol.

 Shadomy, Stonehurst Place

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“B&B is A+A+A”

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An incredible experience for 4 nights.Everything and anything you might need is there to make your stay perfect.Walking was easy and short to fantastic restaurants, park and Fox theater.Amazing breakfasts made to fit your schedule. The perfect place to spend time with that special person .Thank you again Paul & Lori.

Posted on TripAdvisor by michael k, Fairfield, Connecticut on January 5th, 2016

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What’s in the Pantry?

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The Stonehurst Place Gourmet Breakfast starts in our pantry

Making a gourmet breakfast for a house full of guests as well as keeping the sideboard laden with sweets can be a daunting task, especially when you do it seven days a week straight from the pantry.  Many times I’m asked “Where do you shop? How do you do it?”

Perhaps if I wasn’t such a persnickety chef, shopping might be a bit easier.  But ingredients are the key, and my favorites come from a variety of sources. For fresh ingredients my first choice is local organics, although I’m not willing to pay inflated chain-store organic prices so I shop farmer’s markets or even buy from farmers themselves. I have favorite staple items, too, which means I shop a variety of grocery stores to pick up ones I consider the best.  A bit of time spent on the highway procuring foodstuffs is worth it on the breakfast table!

Nora Mills in our pantrySome of the best ingredients come straight to our door. Stonehurst Place’s high-quality bacon and filler-free sausage patties come from Edwards of Surrey, Virginia. Your pancakes or waffles will be served with maple syrup from family-run Stewart Maple in Cuttingsville, Vermont. Our grits, oatmeal, cornmeal, and Pioneer’s Porridge are milled at Nora Mill Granary in Helen, Georgia. They grind fresh grains in a 100+ year-old mill, without

Stonehurst Place Cornbread with Honey Butter

Stonehurst Place cornbread and honey with ingredients from our well-stocked pantry

preservatives or additives. Our honey comes straight from the back yard, where the Stonehurst honeybees work diligently every day.  So, at Stonehurst Place, a slice of warm cornbread with honey is a mouthful of heaven!

One key to smooth operations in the kitchen is being prepared. I buy in bulk, when I can, and keep my pantry, fridge, and freezer stocked. I keep a notebook on the counter with running lists for each store. Crazy? I don’t think so. It’s rare that I run out of any ingredient I use on a regular basis, because there’s no time for an emergency grocery run.

Here’s a list of what I keep on hand at all times:

Refrigerated:

  • Eggs, lots of eggs! I can use two dozen just at one breakfast.
  • Milk: Whole, Low-fat, Lactose-free, and Buttermilk
  • Butter, unsalted and salted
  • Cheese, always Cheddar, plus a few varieties
  • Juices: orange, apple, cranberry, grapefruit, and tomato
  • Breakfast meats: bacon, sausage, chicken sausage, and Canadian bacon
  • Sour Cream

Pantry:

  • Flour; I use White Lily because I like the lightness of it
  • Sugars: white, brown, powdered
  • Grains: cornmeal, grits, oatmeal, and Pioneer’s Porridge
  • Condensed milk, powdered milk, and boxed milk for an emergency
  • Pecans and walnuts
  • Chocolate chips, of course, and melting chocolate
  • Raisins and Craisins
  • Jams and jellies
  • Oils: canola and olive
  • Extracts: vanilla, almond, and lemon
  • Cinnamon and a few other basic spices
  • Baking Soda
  • Baking Powder, aluminum-free
  • Salt
  • Cornstarch
  • Maple syrup
  • Green Chilies, for the Stonehurst Place signature Green Chili Egg Puff

Sure, there are other item in the pantry, but these are the essentials. Although we prefer guests let us know about food restrictions in advance many times they don’t, so I always have on hand gluten-free staples, and other items that will get me through a last-minute menu change.

How does your pantry match up? You may not have twenty-five pounds of flour, but you should have some.  Are your spices and baking powders fresh; within six months of purchase?  Just some basic ingredients and a little creativity and you can whip up a gourmet breakfast at your house, too!

~ Innkeeper Lori

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travel ideas – Horseback Vacation in England

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Horseback Vacation

As someone who grew up riding, nothing sounds more appealing to me than a horseback vacation exploring the English countryside.  I’ve always loved horses; the smells in a barn take me back to my childhood.  To me horses are like a bigger version of dogs; they are comfortable to bond with, easy to trust, and fun to be with.  The idea of spending a day with a pal on his or her back, knowing you’re going to end up for dinner and spend the the night in a spectacular manor house in the British countryside, sounds like a dream come true.  That’s why I’ve put a vacation with Stately Rides on my list of future getaways.

Stately Rides – with Zara Colchester and Charlotte Sainsbury-Plaice, explore the English Countryside on horseback.

 

Get Out and Go!

I lived in London from 2004 to 2007, and looking back I realize my favorite thing about those years was the easy access to the English countryside unlocked for me.  The English countryside is unlike any other in many ways, sometimes I yearn for its lush, green beauty. My partner and I covered every inch of England that we could; we’d put the dogs in the back of our Discovery and head out of London for a weekend exploration or short holiday.  England is a country rich with history in a special way; Europe has its old castles, but generally not in the good condition British ones enjoy.  England, with its National Trust and private owners, takes preservation of historic character to heart.  As a result there are wonderful historic monuments, gardens, country manors and castles to visit.  I loved driving through the countryside; I crave those small winding roads with only hedges dividing me from fields where boundaries were established hundreds of years ago.

And so, when I think about horseback riding these same routes, I’m inspired.  To experience the same excitement, explore the same terrain, but on a different beast, one that allows me to be more connected with both the history of England and its unspoiled countryside.

In my car I am bound to roads; on a horseback vacation, I can finally pick the road less travelled.

Barb SIgnature Blog

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